Margaret of York, The Diabolical Duchess by Christine Weightman Book Review

diabolical duchess

I’ve been meaning to read more about Margaret of York ever since I went to Mechelen to find the Palace of Margaret of Austria, which also happened to be right across the street from Margaret of York’s Palace. You can find that blog post here.


Palace of Margaret of York, now the City Theatre 

I put this particular book on my wishlist a while ago and finally bought it. Margaret of York, The Diabolical Duchess, was released a while ago and is definitely not a new book. This edition is from 2012.

Margaret of York was born on 3 May 1446 at Fotheringhay Castle. Her, perhaps more famous, siblings include Edward IV, George, Duke of Clarence and Richard III. She had a total of 12 siblings, but some died young. Her parents were Cecily Neville and Richard of York.

Margaret was still unmarried at the age of 20, when her future husband’s second wife, Isabella of Bourbon died in 1465. Charles had only a daughter from his first two marriages, and he intended to marry again. After some delay, the marriage finally took place in 1468. Mary wore this fabulous crown during the marriage celebrations.

The marriage produced no issue, but Margaret enjoyed an excellent relationship with her stepdaughter Mary, and that is what I enjoyed reading about the most in this book. The two women were only 11 years apart in age, and after Mary became Duchess regnant of Burgundy in 1477, Margaret was a valuable adviser to Mary. It shows that Mary named her daughter after Margaret. Margaret was now the Dowager Duchess at a relatively young age, but she never remarried and instead choice to focus on governing Burgundy and advising Mary. Mary died tragically early after a fall from her horse in 1482. In 1483 Edward IV died, and after his sons disappeared from the Tower, Margaret could only watch from abroad as her younger brother became Richard III. After Henry Tudor became Henry VII 1485, she supported the claims of the pretenders Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, which earned her the nickname ‘The Diabolical Duchess’. I wouldn’t call her actions diabolical per se; she was simply a woman doing what she believed to be the right thing. She was also far too busy with the Burgundian politics to be concerned with England, after all, she was no longer an English Princess but rather a Burgundian Duchess.

Margaret took care of her step-grandson Philip’s children when he and his wife Joanna of Castile left for Castile where they were proclaimed heirs. Joanna later became Queen regnant of Castile in 1504. Margaret would not live to see it. She died on 23 November 1503 in Mechelen. There is no trace of her tomb, but she was most likely buried in Mechelen in the church of the Franciscan or Grey Friars, of which only a part remains.

I really enjoyed reading about Margaret, and I was quite surprised at her vigour towards the Burgundian cause. The book was easy to read. I had read another review that described it as written scholarly, but it didn’t bother me at all, and I’m not even a native English speaker. Overall, I highly recommend this book about Margaret. (UK & US)

About Moniek Bloks 2662 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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