Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World – Alison Weir

Elizabeth of yorkThe Princess Elizabeth, first child of Edward IV, grew up in a splendid court. As the daughter of a beloved king in a prosperous country, she was destined for a great marriage. She would have known her worth. But things went horribly wrong when her father died too soon. With her brothers imprisoned in the tower and her uncle taking the throne as Richard III, Elizabeth’s future seemed bleak. Her mother, however, had plans and arranged a betrothal to Henry Tudor, the pretender to the throne who was living abroad. Against all odds, Henry unseated King Richard and Elizabeth became Queen of England.

This gracious and lovely woman, mother to Henry VIII and grandmother to Elizabeth I, seems to have melted into the background. She is mentioned in official documents and correspondence, but very little has been written about her personal life. Alison Weir did a fine job of uncovering this life, and she did most of it by examining the queen’s Privy Purse expenses. Her expenditures reveal so much and give a wonderful look into her world. Food, clothing, medicine, entertainment, gifts to and from the queen, costs for servants and ladies-in-waiting are all part of the itemized expenses. Everything was recorded. The amounts were converted into present values, so I could understand what things really cost. For example, soon after she was crowned, Elizabeth of York was provided with ten yards of black velvet costing about $600 a yard in today’s money and twelve yards of purple velvet at about $800 a yard for two gowns. The furrier was paid $34,728 for ermines for the furring of one gown. I loved the lists, but if they’re not your thing, they can be easily skipped. (I further converted the amounts into USD.)  This is a carefully researched and beautifully written book based on facts, not speculation. Highly recommend.

eGalley review Publication date 12.3.13

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