Did Elizabeth of York Want to Marry Her Uncle Richard lll?

To continue on the theme of Richard lll and his niece, Elizabeth of York – Were they planning to marry in the event of the death of the queen?

possibly by George Vertue © National Portrait Gallery, London

possibly by George Vertue © National Portrait Gallery, London

 

 

Here are a couple excerpts from, Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses, by Sarah Gristwood.

Sir George Buck, who in 1619 wrote, History of King Richard the Third  says that he took this quote from a piece of a letter which Elizabeth of York wrote to her uncle, John Howard, Duke of Norfolk:

First she thanked him for his many courtesies and friendly offices, and then she prayed him as before to be a mediator for her in the cause of the marriage to the king, who, as she writes, was her only joy and maker in this world, and that she was his in heart and in thoughts, in body, and in all. And then she intimated that the better half of February was past, and that she feared the queen would never died. And all these be her own words, written with her own hand, and this is the sum of her letter, whereof I have seen autograph or original draft under her own hand.

Polydore Vergil, the Tudor historian wrote:

“To such a marriage the girl had a singular aversion. Weighed down for this reason by her great grief she would repeatedly exclaim:”

I will not thus be married, but, unhappy creature that I am, will rather suffer all the torments which St. Catherine is said to have endured for the love of Christ than be united with a man who is the enemy of my family.

In all fairness, Vergil wrote his part a quarter of a century after the fact. I’m sure everyone at court and everyone since then has had an opinion on the matter. I don’t think we’ll ever know for certain the relationship status of Richard lll and his niece. It seems gross to me that an uncle would be interested sexually in his niece, but things were different back then for the royal families. A papal dispensation would make everything okay.

Blood SistersElizabeth_of_York_from_Kings_and_Queens_of_England (1)

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