Bridget of York – The Yorkist Princess Nun

(public domain)

Bridget of York was born in November 1480 at Eltham Palace. She was the tenth and youngest child of King Edward IV of England and his wife, Queen Elizabeth Woodville.

Bridget’s early years were filled with turmoil; her father died in 1483, two of her brothers went missing and were presumed dead and finally her uncle Richard III seized the throne and declared Bridget and her siblings illegitimate. Her family had gone from being the ruling house to being viewed as bastards overnight and were forced to seek sanctuary in Westminster Abbey for their own safety. Their futures only seemed a bit more positive once Richard III died and was succeeded by King Henry VII who then married Bridget’s elder sister Elizabeth of York. This marriage alliance saved the family from destitution and united the Yorkist and Lancastrian families, ending the Wars of the Roses.

Once Richard III was dead, Elizabeth Woodville could once again supervise the upbringing of her own children and helped to arrange illustrious marriage matches for the older girls. It seems though that as a seventh daughter, Bridget was always to be destined for a religious life as was common for families with many daughters to provide for.

As was requested of her, Bridget moved to Dartford Priory to become a nun before 1492. Dartford was seen as a fitting location to send the Princess as it was one of Medieval England’s most important priories. Here the princess was well educated and was devoted to her religious life, taking her vows at around thirteen years of age.

Bridget rarely left the priory but stayed in touch with her siblings by letter and was supported financially by her sister Queen Elizabeth. Bridget died in 1517 and was buried in the grounds of Dartford Priory where she had spent most of her days. Sadly the grave can no longer be located as much of the Priory was destroyed after the Dissolution of the monasteries was carried out by Bridget’s nephew King Henry VIII after his break with the Catholic Church.

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