ARC Book Review: Elizabeth Of York

Elizabeth Of York CoverBook: Elizabeth Of York by Alison Weir

Expected Publication Is December 3, 2013 by Ballantine Books|Expected Number Of Pages: 536

Where I Got It: netgalley.com, which hasn’t influenced my review in any way.  Promise!

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction- History- Tudor England

You can find Elizabeth Of York on goodreads|You can find Alison Weir at her website

Goodreads Summary: Many are familiar with the story of the much-married King Henry VIII of England and the celebrated reign of his daughter, Elizabeth I. But it is often forgotten that the life of the first Tudor queen, Elizabeth of York, Henry’s mother and Elizabeth’s grandmother, spanned one of England’s most dramatic and perilous periods. Now New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir presents the first modern biography of this extraordinary woman, whose very existence united the realm and ensured the survival of the Plantagenet bloodline.

Her birth was greeted with as much pomp and ceremony as that of a male heir. The first child of King Edward IV, Elizabeth enjoyed all the glittering trappings of royalty. But after the death of her father; the disappearance and probable murder of her brothers—the Princes in the Tower; and the usurpation of the throne by her calculating uncle Richard III, Elizabeth found her world turned upside-down: She and her siblings were declared bastards.

As Richard’s wife, Anne Neville, was dying, there were murmurs that the king sought to marry his niece Elizabeth, knowing that most people believed her to be England’s rightful queen. Weir addresses Elizabeth’s possible role in this and her covert support for Henry Tudor, the exiled pretender who defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth and was crowned Henry VII, first sovereign of the House of Tudor. Elizabeth’s subsequent marriage to Henry united the houses of York and Lancaster and signaled the end of the Wars of the Roses. For centuries historians have asserted that, as queen, she was kept under Henry’s firm grasp, but Weir shows that Elizabeth proved to be a model consort—pious and generous—who enjoyed the confidence of her husband, exerted a tangible and beneficial influence, and was revered by her son, the future King Henry VIII. 

Drawing from a rich trove of historical records, Weir gives a long overdue and much-deserved look at this unforgettable princess whose line descends to today’s British monarch—a woman who overcame tragedy and danger to become one of England’s most beloved consorts.

I’m super-fascinated by the Tudors, and I’m also a huge fan of Alison Weir, so I knew I had to read Elizabeth Of York.  I don’t know much about her, or the Wars Of The Roses, since I tend to read about Henry VIII and his wives and children.  It was great reading about Elizabeth, since I didn’t know a lot about her.

The first few chapters…they were a little hard to go through, mostly because I found it hard to keep up with all of the people and events Weir writes about.  It’s fairly easy to understand, but it’s a lot to take in, and I think I need to read the book a few more times with pen and paper to have a better grasp of everything.  It’s very readable, but my head swam with names and such.

One thing I thought was interesting was how Henry VII kind of needed her to make his role as king legitimate.  It’s not surprising, given there was a war over who should be king, but it’s still interesting that marrying someone like Elizabeth neutralized some claims to the throne.  Not completely, of course, and some of them must have taken their toll on her.

Another interesting thing was the possibility that Henry VIII named his daughter Elizabeth after his mother.  I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before, but it does make sense.  I also thought that Henry would want to have a relationship like the one his parents had to be interesting.  It seems like Elizabeth and Henry VII had a really good relationship and marriage, so Henry had a relationship to look up to.  I don’t know why that surprises me, but it does.  Of course, trying to find someone like his mother wasn’t conclusive or anything, since having heirs was really important.

While I found the first chapters confusing, they were also really interesting.  I liked reading about her childhood, and you could easily focus in on that part of her life.  Having to live somewhere really secure because of living in uncertainty, and losing her 2 brothers and not knowing if they were dead or alive, and holding out hope…I do have a lot of sympathy for her.

A lot of the book, especially those early years, focus on what was going on around Elizabeth, since there isn’t a lot we know of that time in her life.  So I don’t mind that part of the book is more about the people around her, because it shows how she became the person she did, and why things went the way they did.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, Elizabeth Of York was very readable, and I liked learning more about her.  It was hard to keep track of what was going on at the beginning, but in the end, I learned a lot!  Elizabeth Of York gets 4 stars.

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