Margaret of York – The devoted Duchess (Part two)

Margaret as portrayed in The White Princess (Screenshot/fair use)

Read part one here.

Margaret was still only 34 years in 1480, but she never remarried. There were very few men available who could offer Margaret the same status and she had not had children with her first husband. Margaret devoted herself to the Burgundian cause, and she became a valuable asset in the government. As the war with France continued, Margaret raised money and men. In September 1481, Mary gave birth to her third child, a son named Francis, but he died at just a few months of age. Another tragedy was looming. In March 1482, Mary was on a falcon hunt in the marshes of Wijnendale Castle. Somehow, she was thrown from her horse. She had no visible wounds but was in great pain, and she was carried back to Brussels in a litter. Margaret hurried to her side and even had the relic of the Holy Blood brought to her, but it was all in vain. Mary begged Margaret to watch over her children. Mary died on 27 March 1482 and was buried in the Church of Our Lady. Her husband had been named as sole governor of the heir and Regent of Burgundy to bitter opposition.

A betrothal was proposed between Mary’s three-year-old daughter Margaret and the French Dauphin, and she was to be handed over to the French immediately. She was passed into the care of Anne de Beaujeu, daughter of King Louis XI and later regent over the infant King Charles VIII. The death of Margaret’s brother King Edward IV and the following situation that saw his sons declared illegitimate and his brother declared King Richard III in 1483 came at the worst time. Margaret’s reaction is not recorded, but she was most likely kept well informed. Her reaction to the accession of the Tudor King Henry VII and his marriage to Margaret’s niece Elizabeth of York is also not recorded, but he ignored the trading privileges granted to Margaret by her brother, which she must have resented.

Her subsequent support of both Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, who pretended to be her nephews Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick (son of George, Duke of Clarence) and Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York (son of King Edward IV) respectively was probably not motivated by this as the trading privileges were nothing compared to her rich dower. She probably supported them because it suited the Burgundian government. King Henry VII continued blamed Margaret was interfering and supported another “feigned lad.” In the Intercursus Magnus treaty in 1496, which restored the trading relations between them, Margaret was specifically named and forbidden from helping any of King Henry VII’s enemies. She abided by the terms of the treaty, at least publically.

Mary’s daughter Margaret returned to Burgundy in 1493 after her betrothed had married the wealthy heiress Anne of Brittany. She was now 13 years old and had been raised to become a Queen. The following year, Philip became of age. A great double marriage could now be arranged. Philip was to marry Infanta Joanna of Castile while his sister Margaret was to marry Joanna’s brother, John, Prince of Asturias. Joanna arrived in September 1496, and both Margarets went to greet her. The following January Mary’s daughter Margaret left for Spain to marry John. Tragically, he would be dead within the year, leaving a pregnant Margaret behind. She gave birth to a stillborn daughter in December. She returned home to her step-grandmother in April 1499. She would remarry in 1501 to Philibert, Duke of Savoy but he too died after just three years.

Philip and Joanna’s marriage was at least lucky enough to produce plenty of children, and by a twist of fate, Joanna became the heiress of Castile. But Joanna was considered to be mentally unstable and would spend much of her life incarcerated. Philip would die young, but his son became the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

Margaret died suddenly in Mechelen on 23 November 1503 during the festivities of Philip’s return to the Low Countries. The court was plunged into deep mourning. She was buried in the church of the monastery of the Recollects in Mechelen, but her tomb has unfortunately not survived.1

  1. Read more: Christine Weightman – Margaret of York (US & UK)






About Moniek 1209 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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