18 JANUARY 1486: The Union of the Red and the White Rose:
On January 18th, 1486 Henry VII married Elizabeth, Princess of York, eldest surviving daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. There is a not a lot of information regarding the wedding ceremony. Henry VII had swore he would marry Elizabeth when he had been in exile in Brittany, at Vannes Cathedral, three years prior. A lot had happened since then though. The papal dispensation that their mothers had secretly plotted to get had to be reissued. The papal dispensation covered the Earl of Richmond and the natural daughter of Elizabeth of York (meaning the Lady Elizabeth, not the legitimate daughter and heiress of Edward IV). It was vital that the couple married under the good eyes of the church. The fifteenth century had descended into chaos when two branches of the Plantagenet House had annihilated each other, their descendants had married off to other noble houses and as a result (after Bosworth), Henry claimed the crown. But he was not blind, conquering and ruling were two different things. He needed stability or at the very least, give the illusion of it to the people to put down civil unrest. Therefore he needed to marry Elizabeth who was the eldest living descendant of the first Yorkist King. The papal dispensation took time, and meanwhile Henry had to establish himself as the realm’s ruler. He established his claim to the throne through his “right of conquest” and his mother, Margaret Beaufort whose family descended from John of Gaunt via his third marriage to his mistress, Katherine Swynford. Nevertheless, his claim to the throne was still seen as weak, which was why parliament asked him on December 1485, two months after he had been crowned, to keep his promise to marry the Princess Elizabeth, and strengthen the claim of his descendants.
“Marrying Edwards eldest daughter was essential to holding that support and trying to restore some stability to the English royal line.” (Jones, Hollow Crown)
The pope had finally granted the dispensation at the beginning of the year, and it was confirmed in England by the papal legate, the Bishop of Imola on 16 January, two days later the coupe were married.
The wedding ceremony was officiated by the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Bouchier. Given the statement that Henry wanted to make, as it was mentioned earlier, about their union; the Abbey would have been filled with Tudor imagery that Henry had created that gave a new interpretation of the dynastic conflict that is now known as the wars of the roses. By intertwining the white rose of York (Edward IV’s favorite symbol besides the sun in splendor) with the red rose, Henry VII’s union with Elizabeth meant to give a powerful message of peace. Illusory as it was, its impression lasted and their descendants continued to use this device and celebrate the union of their ancestors, Henry and Elizabeth. The building would have been decorated by royal colors such as “purple and gold, silk, ermine and delicate cloths of tissue.” And the bride, adds Licence: “would have been splendidly dressed and adorned with jewels, lace, brocade and ribbons.” She would not have worn white, given that white was not a color worn for wedding dresses.(The first royal bride who did was in fact her daughter-in-law, Katherine of Aragon, when she married Prince Arthur). Elizabeth would have likely worn purple as it symbolized royalty, or taken one of her many new gowns.
After the archbishop placed the golden ring on Elizabeth, the couple said their vows. Following royal custom, Elizabeth promised to take Henry as her husband “for fairer, for fouler, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to be blithe and amiable, and obliging in bed and at board” till death do them part.
“The wedding was celebrated in the customary fashion, with "wedding torches, marriage bed and other suitable decorations,” followed by “great magnificence … at the royal nuptials … Gifts flowed freely on all sides and were showered on everyone while feasts, dances and tournaments were celebrated with liberal generosity to … magnify the joyous occasion.” (Jones, Hollow Crown)
Besides the expenses, that no doubt would have been great, Elizabeth would have seen the new rose, the Tudor rose in every corner as well as her husband’s other badges. By intertwining the white rose of York (Edward IV’s favorite symbol besides the sun in splendor) with the red rose, Henry VII’s union with Elizabeth meant to give a powerful message of peace. Illusory as it was, its impression lasted and their descendants continued to use this device and celebrate the union of their ancestors, Henry and Elizabeth.
In recent fiction the two have been portrayed as an unhappy couple, pushed into the marriage by their shrewish mothers, but this is an interpretation based on secondary sources that have come many years (more than a century in fact) after the even took place. Francis Bacon writes very colorfully of Henry, and negatively of his mother but Francis was writing a century after the events took place and the two George Bucks themselves wrote even later. It is very easy to believe these sources, but if we want to look at the couple, we just have to look at their actions, at what they faced and what moral attitudes people had in this period.
“For women of all social classes in the late fifteenth century, becoming a wife marked a significant change in status … Marriage and motherhood were the ultimate social goal, contracted for mutual benefit as well the advancement of an entire family. As the wife of the King, although not yet crowned in her own right, Elizabeth was the highest-ranking female in the land.” (Amy Licence, Elizabeth of York)
A young woman such as Elizabeth would not have missed the opportunity to regain her status as Princess, and much less to be Queen. After being bastardized, and forced into hiding at Westminster, then in the midst of intrigue in the Ricardian court (with rumors -whether they are true or not, we will never know- that her uncle wanted to marry her shortly after his wife’s passing and he later recanted after people protested at such an idea that he began to look elsewhere for a bride, and a spouse for Elizabeth); she would have no doubt welcome this new change in status. Elizabeth was a Princess-born, she had at one point been betrothed to the heir to the French Crown. She could not accept no better offer than to be a Queen, as it would also bolster her family’s position as well and it did. Henry VII rewarded the Woodvilles. Richard Woodville as the third Earl of Rivers lived comfortably, Elizabeth Woodville kept some of her dower properties and when she was present, she always took precedence. Even Margaret Beaufort had to walk behind her as the older woman was Queen Dowager whereas Margaret was just a Countess -a Countess in her own right but a Countess nonetheless. Sir Edward Woodville, Elizabeth of York’s uncle who took after his late eldest brother, was a highly pious and adventurous individual who proved his loyalty many times and was favored. The Catholic Kings themselves spoke very finely of him after his death. The set of ordinances that Edward IV had made for princes and that Anthony Woodville had supervise for Elizabeth’s brother, Prince Edward, was kept and used for Arthur’s upbringing. And Elizabeth herself was not left behind.
“Like her parents, Elizabeth was a patron of William Caxton and his successor at the Westminster printing press, Wynkyn de Worde.” (Weir, Elizabeth of York)
Furthermore, as Queen, she ruled over her own court and her own properties (some of which had previously belonged to her aunt, Isabel, Duchess of Clarence). As for Henry, this was also a personal triumph. Born to Margaret when she was thirteen (a birth that scarred her immensely. She would have no more children). Given as a ward to William Herbert who was given his uncle Jasper’s earldom of Pembroke, and raised to be the perfect Yorkist to neutralize the threat he might pose in the future, he was then sent into exile after the Lancastrian Readetion failed and every member of the royal house was eliminated. Henry lived in a period of uncertainty, danger, and now it was all over. He was King. And he could also boast of having one important advantage. Many royal couples did not have the luxury of getting to know one another. They were married to this person or that, and whether or not they liked each other, they were expected to fulfill their duties. Henry fortunately did no have this problem. In the five month period that they waited for the dispensation to come, the two got to know each other. So when they walked down the aisle, they were not complete strangers.
After the ceremonies ended, came the consummation. Elizabeth proved herself an exemplary Queen, living by the virtues of the day and this, as well as her fertility, made her well-remembered and loved. She would not be crowned until the following year, after “she proved herself” by giving Henry a male heir that autumn, less than nine months after their marriage. Given the speed in which they conceived, it is possible that the marriage could have been consummated before (since being betrothed was as good as being married. And the pope had given his approval, they knew it was only a matter of time before the bull came). But there is also the possibility that Arthur could have been premature.
Henry and Elizabeth’s marriage would remain strong, and the two would later rely on the other when tragedy came.
(Not a spoiler based fic, but a little AU Captain Duckling ficlet based on this photo. I’ll tag this with ouat spoilers just to be on the safe side though)
It’s supposed to be the happiest day of her life.
The superb diamond betrothal ring on her finger, the pristine silk wedding gown, the castleful of waiting guests and the royal groom from the far away kingdom in need of a queen.
It’s supposed to be everything she’s ever dreamed of.
Emma wandered the little garden bower hidden in the shadow of the west tower, uncaring if the hem of her pristine gown dragged through the dew and pulling the pins out of her hair so that the curls fell down loose on her back. Her maids would be horrified when they saw the damage she’d done to the elaborate hairstyle and the new dress, but she didn’t care. It was the worst day of her life, marrying a man she barely knew and didn’t love while the one she did was gone, sailing away on his ship after breaking her heart.
“Life on the Jolly is hard and dangerous, it’s not a life fit for a lady, Emma. Go home to your parents and forget about me.”
“Was it all a lie then? All those pretty words you spoke and the promises you made, was it just to seduce the naive little princess so you could brag and boast about your conquest in the taverns, Hook?”
A muscle ticked in his jaw and he looked away, the wind ruffling through his hair, “I’ll not steal away another woman who deserves better than this. All I can offer you is poor rations and one hand and you should have so much more. I’m sorry, love.”
He leapt easily from the dock to the deck, giving the order to leave port while the tears poured down her face and the sobs tore from her throat. As the sails were raised and the gap between them grew wider while the ship started to move, he looked back with misery and sorrow etched on his face. But he didn’t give an order to return and his ship quickly disappeared into the night.
She returned home in the morning and accepted the foreign king’s proposal, sending her response back to his court with his messenger and sliding the ring he had sent onto her shaking finger.
oh my gosh this is going to be hard since there’s a bunch I love:
1) Caterpillar poop is called frass
2) There are blood sucking moths (take that professor who said lepidopterans are boring).
3) Hyper parasitism–it’s so crazy that there are parasitic wasps that parasitize other parasitic wasps. That’s some Alien sci-fi stuff right there.
4) There are eusocial beetles! An Australian species of weevil demonstrates eusociality. I learned that the other week from my boss.
5) Hangflies are mecopterans that do a nuptial gift. The length of time the female eats the gift determines the reproductive success of the male. But wait, if the female spends too much time eating the gift, he will be an jerk and take it away to give to some other female because it’s a trade off between many mates and reproductive sucess.