Why did Henry Tudor Marry Elizabeth of York?
Why did Henry Tudor marry Elizabeth of York?
On the 18th January 1486, Henry Tudor married Elizabeth of York after his public promise to do so on Christmas day 1483. He did this not only to secure his dynasty with offspring but also to consolidate his power by unity of Yorkists and Lancastrians as well as minimising what could have become a major threat to the throne.
It was important for Henry Tudor to marry Elizabeth of York quickly after his reign in order to secure his dynasty as soon as possible. By creating an heir which he did so on 20th September 1486 (Arthur Tudor), Henry was able to strengthen his position in ensuring a solid Lancastrian heir to the throne should he die. This would also have made him a less vulnerable target for Yorkist attack as it would now have been harder for any Yorkist claimants to the throne to get a look in- they now wouldn't just have to kill Henry Tudor, but also Elizabeth of York and Arthur Tudor. This marriage to Elizabeth of York also ensured that Henry had a back up heir to the throne should his first son Arthur Tudor die (Henry VIII). Futhermore, Henry was able to produce daughters with Elizabeth of York such as Mary Tudor and Elizabeth Tudor who he could use as political pawns for marriage treaties ect which would also have increased Henry's power.
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Although there was more to Henry Tudors marriage to Elizabeth of York other than just producing offspring- for he could have done this with any wife. One of the most important reasons for his marriage was in order to placate the Yorkists. His promise to marry Elizabeth of York before the battle of Bosworth was one of the main ways in which Henry Tudor was able to get support from Yorkists and he had to follow through with this promise in order to maintain this support otherwise this could have led to major rebellion. Tudor's marriage to Elizabeth of York marked the unification of the two rivalling factions who had caused so much turbulence over the past 30 years and perhaps would gain the support of people tired of the instability that the War of the Roses had brought. This unification also meant that there would be less opportunity for Yorkist's to challenge the throne who wanted a Yorkist on the throne as Elizabeth of York was already queen.
Perhaps the most important reason for Henry Tudor's marriage to Elizabeth of York was to suppress her strong claim to the throne. Through this marriage, Tudor was able to wipe out any threat the she could have posed as the heir to the Yorkist throne which would have made the Tudor dynasty vulnerable. Also, because Elizabeth of York was powerful in her own right being the daughter of previous king Edward IV, it consolidated the authority of the throne even more and made her and Henry Tudor's joint dynasty very powerful. Although Henry made sure to marry Elisabeth of York two years after his own coronation to make it clear that he was claiming the throne through his own right and not through his wife's which would have made him even more powerful as a King is seen as more powerful than a queen.This would have meant that any heirs that they would jointly produce would be able to claim the throne without much of an opportunity for anyone to oppose as they would have had such a strong claim with royal blood on both sides of the family.
In conclusion, Henry Tudor married Elizabeth of York to minimise the threat of any opposition. This would mainly have been from Yorkists but they would have been less likely to rebel after this marriage because they had a Yorkist queen on the throne. Other people would also have been less likely to rebel after Henry was able to secure his dynasty and he may also have been able to gain more support with the idea of greater peace and stability due to the unification of the Lancastrians and the Yorkists which would have brought an end to the War of the Roses. The most important threat that Henry was able to minimise was from Elizabeth of York herself and this would have led to a more stable dynasty with heir's who had a very powerful and unopposable claim to the throne.