The White Princess – Who is who?

(Screenshot/fair use)

While the White Princess begins with the House of Tudor, to understand how we got there, we must begin several years earlier.

King Henry VI of England from the House of Lancaster ruled England from the age of 1 from 31 August 1422 until 4 March 1461. His grandfather had usurped the throne in 1399. He was married to Margaret of Anjou and together they had a son, Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales (born 1453). Henry suffered from bouts of insanity, and he even failed to recognise the birth of his own son. Disgruntled nobles supported the rival of the House of York, whose claim came from the senior descent of Edward III. Their claim was represented by Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York. The subsequent Wars of the Roses caused much turmoil. Richard of York was killed at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460 and his claim was inherited by his eldest son, Edward.

Elizabeth Woodville

Edward defeated the Lancastrian army at the Mortimer’s Cross and the Battle of Towton in 1461. Margaret of Anjou and her son fled to Wales, as Edward proclaimed himself King Edward IV. King Henry VI was kept hidden in several places during this time. Edward married Elizabeth Woodville, a Lancastrian woman whose first husband had been killed in battle. Together, they had ten children, including Elizabeth of York, Cecily of York, Edward V and Prince Richard, Duke of York. 

Elizabeth of York
Cecily of York

King Henry VI was briefly restored to the throne in 1470, while Edward took refuge in Flanders. He managed to enter London unopposed and took King Henry VI prisoner. The Lancastrian cause was finally defeated at the Battle of Tewkesbury, where Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales was also killed. King Henry VI was murdered a few days later. Edward IV was King again. Margaret of Anjou was taken prisoner, and was eventually allowed to return to France.

King Edward Iv died on 9 April 1483 and he was succeeded by his young son, King Edward V. The young King and his brother were taken to the tower by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the younger brother of King Edward IV and Lord Protector of England, to await Edward’s coronation. Elizabeth Woodville did not trust him and Elizabeth and her daughters took refuge. Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville’s marriage was declared invalid on the grounds that Edward IV had a precontract with Lady Eleanor Butler. The young King and his siblings were now considered illegitimate and could no longer claim the throne. Richard, Duke of Gloucester was offered the throne and became King Richard III. The boys eventually disappeared from the Tower of London and were never seen again.

King Richard III was married to Anne Neville and together they had a son, Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales. Edward of Middleham died on 9 April 1484 and left Richard without an heir. His wife Anne died just under a year later on 16 March 1485, paving the way for rumours that Richard would marry his niece, Elizabeth of York. He was faced with a rebellion in 1483 and Henry Tudor landed in England, before learning that the rebellion had failed. Henry was forced to retreat this time.

Margaret Beaufort

Henry Tudor was the son of Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond. Edmund Tudor was the son of Catherine of Valois, Queen of England and mother to King Henry VI of England and Owen Tudor. Margaret Beaufort, a descendant of the House of Lancaster through an illegitimate line. Margaret Beaufort was just 13 years old when she gave birth to Henry Tudor and Edmund died of the plague on 3 November 1456, before his son was even born.

Henry Tudor

Henry tried again 1485, with the support of the Woodvilles and a promise to marry Elizabeth of York. He managed to defeat Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485. Richard was killed in the battle.

This is where the White Princess will begin. With her brother presumed dead, Elizabeth of York is the heir to the House of York and a marriage with Henry Tudor would merge their claims.

Additional cast:

Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy – Margaret of York was Edward IV and Richard III’s sister. She married Charles the Bold in 1468, but they had no children. She was the stepmother of Mary of Burgundy. She was a staunch supporter of anyone willing to challenge Henry Tudor.

Margaret Plantagenet

Margaret Plantagenet (later Margeret Pole, Countess of Salisbury) – Margaret Plantagenet was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence and Isabel Neville. George was the brother of Kings Edward IV and Richard III and he was executed for treason in 1478. Her mother was a sister of Richard III’s Queen, Anne Neville. Isabel died in 1476.

Edward Plantagenet

Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick – Edward was Margaret Plantagenet’s younger brother and he was considered a serious threat as another heir to the House of York. He inherited his title Earl of Warwick, from his grandmother in 1492.

Cecily Neville, Duchess of York – She was born in 1415 as the daughter of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland, and Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland and she was the wife of Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York and subsequently the mother of Kings Edward IV and Richard III, George, Duke of Clarence and Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy.

Bridget of York – Youngest daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.

Catherine of York – Sixth daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.

The White Princess has released a short video explaining the family relations, but Elizabeth of York is called Lizzie and Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick is called Teddy.

About Moniek Bloks 2769 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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