Thursday 11 February 2021


 Elizabeth of York, wife of Henry VII and mother of Henry VIII (her sole surviving son), was  born on this day in 1466 and died on her birthday exactly 37 years later. She was regarded as a woman of rare beauty, on a par with her mother Elizabeth Woodville, reputedly the most beautiful woman in England in her day. It is hard to judge from her funeral effigy in its undressed state and without her red-gold hair, but something like beauty survives in that face. This effigy would have been carried in her funeral procession, as was standard practice with royals and nobles. Henry was devoted to Elizabeth, and was apparently shattered by her death, for once in his life overcome by emotion and obliged to retire from the world while he recovered his equilibrium. Their son Henry VIII was equally devoted to her memory, and commissioned a magnificent tomb for Henry and Elizabeth in the lady chapel of Westminster Abbey. Designed by Pietro Torrigiano, it brought a rare touch of Italian renaissance brilliance to the abbey. It is still a pretty stunning sight...

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