History would be a much more boring place without Margaret Beaufort. Without her, we’d never have two of the most famous monarchs in history, King Henry VIII and his daughter, Queen Elizabeth I. Those two often overshadow the royals who came before them—which is a shame, because Margaret Beaufort’s story is absolutely jaw-dropping. From her perilous childhood to her adult courtly schemes, there was often little difference between her life and an episode of Game of Thrones. Buckle in for these facts about the scheming teen mother of the Tudor Dynasty, because it’s going to be a wild ride.
1. The Odds Were Against Her
Margaret Beaufort’s father John was a prominent general who helped the English lead campaigns against the French. His position should’ve brought his family great wealth and honor, and ensured a prosperous future for Margaret. There was just one problem. He wasn’t exactly good at his job.
2. He Didn’t Have Long With Her
During his career, John Beaufort saw his fair share of humiliating failures on the battlefield. Early on, he spent 13 years as a prisoner of France. After his release, he married and climbed the career ladder. In 1443, Margaret was born—but this joyous occasion was followed up by an utter disaster.
3. She Was On Her Own
John Beaufort passed on a year later, in 1444—but the story behind his death is truly twisted. Beaufort was just 40, and the cause of his death was ambiguous, which led many to believe that he’d taken his own life. He had recently experienced a humiliating military blunder in France. It had been such an embarrassment that the king had banished him from court and accused him of treason.
Margaret Beaufort never knew her father, who left the world with shame and mystery hanging over his name—and hers, as a result.
4. The King Betrayed Her Father
John Beaufort had been quite wealthy, and all that now passed down to Margaret, making her one of the most eligible brides at court, even though she was still just a toddler. John may not have been great at planning his military campaigns, but he had planned for Margaret’s future. He’d asked King Henry VI to make Margaret’s mother her sole guardian—but the King had other ideas.
Henry VI passed on Margaret’s wardship to one of his favorites, William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk, who quickly formulated his own plans for the young heiress.
5. Her Line Was Illegitimate—At First
See, there was something they all knew about Margaret Beaufort—something that she was far too young to comprehend. She had a tenuous connection to the English throne. If you trace her lineage back, her branch of the family had been the result of an illicit affair between King Edward III’s son, John of Gaunt, and a mistress.
John had married his mistress and legitimized their children shortly before his passing, creating that connection to the crown that so many were ready to exploit. But there was a catch…
6. They Tried To Stop It
When John of Gaunt had his children legitimized, his older brother, who was King at the time, had added a catch. It said that while they were legitimate descendants of King Edward III, they would never have any claim to the throne. Well, when it came time to exploit that connection to the English throne, the people around Margaret Beaufort were all too eager to ignore that one sticking point…
7. He Was Using Her As A Pawn
For the Duke of Suffolk, Margaret Beaufort was his ace in the hole—and he was ready to deploy her at just the right time. Unfortunately for him, he had similar luck to her father. The English were on a downward trend when it came to losing territory to the French, and someone had to take the blame. It ended up being Suffolk, who faced banishment. So he came up with a sinister plan.
In a panic to ensure his son’s future, he married the boy, John de la Pole, to his ward, Margaret Beaufort. The bride was maybe seven years old, and the groom, not much older.
8. Her Home Life Was Unstable
William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk, set sail away from England after his exile, only for sailors to nearly immediately capture and execute him. Once again, Margaret was adrift—and stuck with her dud child-husband. Margaret was still under the care of her mother, but her wardship, along with that of John, fell once again to King Henry VI.
This time, he wasn’t about to shunt her off to some courtier. No, he was going to exploit her connections for himself.
9. He Kept It In The Family
In 1453, the King summoned Margaret and her mother to court and transferred her wardship to his two half-brothers, Jasper and Edmund Tudor. Does that name sound familiar? Well, Margaret was about to make it sound a lot more familiar. Next, he dissolved Margaret’s marriage to John de la Pole, leaving the boy out in the cold. But he still had more in store for the young girl…
10. He Needed Her Pregnant
In due time, Henry VI’s grand plan came to light. He wanted to marry Margaret Beaufort to his half-brother Edmund Tudor in order to keep her ostensible claim to the throne within the family. That wasn’t unexpected—but there was a sinister side to the plot. He wanted to do it immediately, and for the couple to have an heir as soon as possible.
That’s even though Margaret was only 12 years old, and her groom was twice her age. She’d already spent her youth having men use her to get at her claim to power—and it was about to get so much worse.
11. She Was A Child Bride
People said that it was a terrible idea. Margaret had barely hit puberty and had a very small, fragile frame. However, the King and Edmund didn’t care. The marriage took place on November 1, 1455, and they consummated the union immediately. Within a matter of days, Margaret Beaufort had lost her innocence.
One day, she was a child, and the next, a wife with a baby on the way—but that was just the beginning of her nightmare.
12. She Lost Her Husband
Men close to Margaret Beaufort—like her father, John, and her custodian, the Duke of Suffolk—seemed to meet tragic, sudden fates. Well, her husband was no different. It was the early stages of the Wars of the Roses, and Edmund Tudor was out fighting in Wales. King Henry VI deposed a nobleman named Richard of York, and as a result, the furious York sent his men out for revenge.
The Yorkists captured and imprisoned Edmund Tudor. Then, while in captivity, Edmund succumbed to the plague. He and Margaret had been together for all of six months.
13. She Almost Didn’t Make It
Margaret Beaufort was now a widow at 13, and six months pregnant on top of that—but her ordeal was just beginning. Margaret almost died giving birth to the Tudor dynasty. Her youth and petite stature proved dangerous to not only Margaret herself, but her unborn baby as well. It was a painful, gruesome nightmare which Margaret barely survived—and it left a multitude of scars, both physical and psychological.
14. It Changed Her
Despite the traumatic circumstances of the birth, both Margaret and her son made it, and she named him Henry Tudor—nailing home the boy’s connection to the throne. Margaret was both a widow and a woman, so the law dictated that her properties automatically went to her son, even though he was just an infant. Margaret had lost nearly every person who was supposed to protect her. She had little agency. From the time she was an infant, people had pulled her in different directions.
She was absolutely determined to stop the same thing from happening to her son. This was the moment when Margaret Beaufort went from pawn to ruthless matriarch.
15. She Found An Ally
As Margaret’s grit and determination began to show themselves, her luck started to change. It didn’t hurt that she was no longer alone. After her husband passed on, his brother Jasper had stepped in to protect her. Even during the Wars of the Roses, when family members and old friends frequently turned on each other, Jasper remained a champion and ally to both Margaret and her son Henry. As we’ll see, she needed as many allies as she could get.
16. She Needed To Marry Again
As a young widow, English society expected Margaret to remarry. However, when it came to picking a mate, she was at the mercy of the English court during a very tumultuous time. King Henry VI’s mental health was deteriorating, and letting him pick her next husband could’ve proven disastrous. Luckily, her protective brother-in-law Jasper came through for her.
He arranged a marriage with Sir Henry Stafford, the son of a Duke. However, the match was a bit inappropriate, in more ways than one.
17. They Were Too Close For The Court
For one thing, the groom was way too old for the bride—this time, about 33 years old to her 14. But that wasn’t the only problem. There was also the fact that the pair were second cousins. Yikes. Sure, there were lots of um, ahem, close marriages at the time, but this one went a bit too far. They had to seek a papal dispensation for their marriage, which they eventually got.
After her official mourning period for Edmund was done, they tied the knot. Margaret was moving on with her life, as was expected of her—but there was an unfortunate side effect.
18. She Lost Custody
Margaret’s son, Henry Tudor, was still a ward of his uncle, Jasper Tudor. That meant that he had to stay with Jasper, while Margaret was headed off for her happily-ever-after with her husband. Mother and son were separated when he was about two, though Margaret and her husband were allowed to visit him at Pembroke Castle in Wales, where Jasper lived.
In short order, it would become clear that the boy being sequestered away in Wales was a blessing in disguise—at least at first.
19. Things Were Heating Up
Margaret had been playing her own game of thrones, navigating the world after the birth of her son. All the while, things in England were getting more and more tumultuous by the day—until they reached a fever pitch. The Wars of the Roses were raging. After Henry VI and his wife (the Lancasters) fled to Scotland, the Yorkist forces won the Battle of Towton.
As a result, there was a new Yorkist king in England: Edward IV. Would this immediately turn Margaret’s world upside down? You bet.
20. They Had To Switch Sides
The new Yorkist king had automatically stripped Margaret’s son of his land and properties. On top of that, Margaret’s husband Henry Stafford had fought with the Lancasters at the Battle of Towton and lost. Things were not looking good. But then, even though Stafford was loyal to the Lancasters, he made a dramatic sacrifice for Margaret.
He sought pardon from King Edward IV, and as a result, was able to purchase the wardship of her son Henry for £1,000. Stafford then sent the boy to live with the Yorkist nobleman who had taken over Jasper Tudor’s earldom. Margaret’s son was safe—for the moment.
21. She Watched Them Begrudgingly
Despite her connections to the Lancasters, Margaret’s husband cemented his alliance with Edward IV, who then gifted the couple a manor…which he’d taken from her in the first place. Thanks, you shouldn’t have! They even had to occasionally host the king at their home. And, while many historians report that Margaret’s marriage to Henry Stafford was a happy one, they definitely differed politically. Occasionally, this took them to some strange places.
22. She Tried To Get What Was Hers
When Edward IV’s brother the Duke of Clarence and his ex-advisor Richard Neville rose up against him in 1869, the rebels captured and imprisoned Margaret’s husband. She was quick to negotiate his release—but she had ulterior motives. Margaret also tried to convince the Duke of Clarence to give her son and all of his holdings back to her. It didn’t go right, but it didn’t exactly go wrong, either…
23. She Got To See Him Again
Henry VI recaptured the crown, and for just a moment, Margaret got everything she wanted. The king invited her, her husband, her son, and Jasper Tudor to the palace. But sadly, the Wars of the Roses raged on. Their happy reunion became one fleeting moment of joy. Things were about to get really, really ugly.
24. She Worried About Him
Edward IV and Henry VI were involuntarily tossing the crown back and forth like a game of opposite hot potato. Then, the Battle of Barnet broke out. When the dust settled, the aftermath left Margaret Beaufort utterly devastated. Her husband, Sir Henry Stafford, hadn’t returned from the battlefield with the Yorkist victors. Panicked, she sent a rider to Barnet. They sent word back that he’d suffered some serious injuries in battle.
Eventually, they brought him back to their manor—but his homecoming was far from joyful.
25. She Lost Her Husband…Again
Before the Battle of Barnet, Stafford had quickly jotted down a will, in case things went south. Its contents were heartbreaking. In the document, he refers to Margaret Beaufort as “my most entire belovyd wyff.” Throughout the summer of 1471, he tried to heal and rest at home. Sadly, his wounds were just too serious—and they soon proved to be fatal.
Margaret was once again a widow, and at just 28 years old.
26. It Threw Everything Into Chaos
The loss of her husband wasn’t the only devastating event that summer. Edward IV had slain Henry VI’s son at the Battle of Tewkesbury, leaving the Lancasters without a clear heir. It was dire—and it was about to get so much worse. Henry VI passed on while imprisoned in the Tower of London. While some of Edward’s supporters claimed that melancholy had taken his life, others whispered that Edward had the former king murdered.
Either way, Margaret and her son were in deep trouble.
27. The Timing Was Terrible
Now, with Henry VI gone, Margaret’s son Henry Tudor was the foremost Lancaster claimant to the throne. Great news—unless you’re going up against Edward IV. After his victory at the Battle of Tewkesbury, Edward had systematically picked off his rivals for the throne. Margaret knew what was coming, so she begged her son to flee to France.
Her plan worked, and the boy landed safely in Brittany—but there was an unintended, heartbreaking side effect. Margaret couldn’t have predicted it when she sent him off, but mother and son wouldn’t see each other for another 12 years.
28. She Used Him
With her son safely ensconced in Brittany, Margaret’s next job was to protect herself. Just nine months after her husband’s passing, she remarried to Lord Thomas Stanley, a widower with strong ties to the House of York. From Margaret’s first marriage to Edmund Tudor (she didn’t count her childhood union as official), she’d gotten her son. From her second marriage, she’d experienced real love. For her third marriage, she wanted only one thing: power.
While married to Henry Stafford, he’d been in the driver’s seat. This time, Margaret wanted to be the one to play hardball with the power players of the English court.
29. She Climbed The Ladder
Henry VI was gone and Edward IV was firmly in power. It seemed like the Wars of the Roses were done—or at the very least, at a standstill. The action wasn’t happening on the battlefield anymore, it was happening in the royal court, giving Margaret a prime opportunity to participate in the political maneuvering. She put on a smile, got to work, and immediately proved herself.
Margaret charmed the pants off of the king and his wife, Elizabeth Woodville. Before long, they were making her godmother to one of their children. She was exactly where she wanted to be. But, let’s remember, it was also one of the most turbulent times in English history.
30. Their Friendship Was A Facade
Margaret Beaufort was playing the game of thrones, but she wasn’t the only one. After Margaret became godmother to one of his kids, Edward IV suggested that perhaps they could hook up her son, Henry Tudor, with his daughter, Elizabeth of York. Cute, right? And proof that Margaret’s plan was moving right along. Well, there was a sinister dark side to this proposal.
Many believe that Edward IV was actually trying to get Henry Tudor to return to England in order to assassinate his rival to the throne. Well, he didn’t know who he was dealing with.
31. He Couldn’t Fool Her
Margaret Beaufort may have been playing nice with the king, but she was no fool. Many think that she warned her son of Edward IV’s devious plot. As a result, he was able to escape at the last minute from Edward’s men. The king couldn’t strike back at Margaret. Doing so would only expose his true intentions. So, he kept trying other ways to get the boy back to England, and Margaret kept outsmarting him.
But all that was about to become moot anyway…
32. Everything Changed
Despite all of their respective strategizing, it had been a relatively peaceful time for Margaret in Edward’s court. Well, all that was about to change. In 1483, Edward IV passed on after a short battle with a mystery illness. Soon after, his brother Richard locked Edward and Elizabeth Woodville’s two sons in the Tower of London, claiming that it was in preparation for the eldest’s coronation.
She had her own son to think about, but still, the mysterious disappearance lit a fire under Margaret Beaufort.
33. She Stood By Her Friends
For all her courtly schemes and intrigue, there is one thing that can be said of Margaret Beaufort: She was always loyal and warmhearted with her female friends. Many believe that she was part of a plot to try and help Edward’s widow, Elizabeth Woodville, retrieve her missing sons from the Tower of London. Sadly, it went nowhere, and the boys were never seen again.
Edward’s brother claimed that the king’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was invalid, making their children illegitimate, and then took the throne—crowning himself King Richard III.
34. She Played Both Sides
They say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer, and that’s exactly what Margaret Beaufort did. Despite her allegiance to Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret and her husband attended the coronation of Richard III, where she carried his wife Anne Neville’s train. She may have been playing nice, but underneath the surface, she was already planning her next move—and it would be utterly jaw-dropping.
35. It Was Time For Her To Make It Happen
Margaret smiled and dutifully served the new king and queen in court—but behind the scenes, she was devising her most explosive plot yet. She was in regular contact with Elizabeth Woodville, and proposed an alliance that would solidify her son’s claim to the throne. She suggested that he wed Edward IV and Elizabeth’s oldest daughter, Elizabeth of York. Two claims is better than one, and that’s exactly what the pair had. But that’s not all that Margaret was planning…
36. She Built Her Team
Margaret had found an unexpected ally in an unlikely place. His name was Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, and if that sounds familiar, it’s because he was Margaret’s second husband’s nephew and namesake. While Buckingham had initially backed Richard III, he became increasingly disenchanted with the new king…which was something Margaret sought to exploit.
Margaret and her son Henry offered to back Buckingham if he’d gather men to rebel against Richard III—and soon enough, he took her up on this offer.
37. She Wanted The People On Her Side
Margaret Beaufort took a very comprehensive approach to plan her son’s ascent to the throne. Not only was there the marriage proposal and the rebellion, but also some healthy propaganda. She commissioned a reprinting of the French romance Blanchardin et Eglantin, whose story had suspicious similarities to the alliance she made with Elizabeth Woodville in wedding their kids together.
What better way to sell a foreign invasion than a love story? Margaret knew exactly what she was doing.
38. It All Happened Too Fast
Margaret’s son Henry Tudor, still exiled out in Brittany, had a massive team of supporters there. The plan was for them to join with a number of regional forces in England and march on London. However, a rebellion in Kent broke out early, alerting Richard III to the fact that the Duke of Buckingham had turned against him.
On top of that, gale force winds had diverted Henry and his men’s ships. Things were not looking good for Margaret’s first official attempt to put her son on the throne.
39. She Lost Her Ally
The king reacted swiftly to the rebellion—and the consequences were devastating. He put bounties on the heads of Buckingham and any other rebels. Some were captured, but many escaped. The Duke of Buckingham was not one of them, and he was convicted of treason and executed. One of Margaret’s best allies was gone, but she had a lot more up her sleeve.
Unfortunately, the king was now aware of her intentions, and had to punish her too…
40. Her Husband Became Her Keeper
Margaret had been acting against Richard III right underneath his nose, and his reaction was swift and brutal. He stripped Margaret of her titles and estates (not that she had much access to them as a woman) and accused her of high treason. However, the punishment didn’t exactly match the gravity of her transgressions. He simply transferred her property fully to her husband Lord Stanley, and imprisoned her in Stanley’s home.
Soon enough, she would come to make him regret showing mercy.
41. She Made Her Biggest Plan Yet
Margaret Beaufort continued to contact her son in secret, and both worked tirelessly to gather forces to support him—him in Brittany, and her in England. Margaret knew that she’d gotten off easy after the last rebellion and that she might not have the same luck were she to fail again. Their next attempt would be their final chance to capture the throne, and they’d have to do it right—so they got to plotting.
42. Her Husband Didn’t Pick Sides
Margaret and Henry Tudor stayed one step ahead of Richard III. The king convinced leaders in Brittany to give up Henry—only for Henry to flee to France, where he found more support. All the while, Margaret’s husband Lord Stanley had been something of a fence-sitter. Margaret didn’t seem to mind, but it drove Richard III up the wall.
In due time, Margaret’s husband would show his true colors.
43. It Was Time To Enact The Plan
Thus far, Margaret’s plotting had taken place in the royal court. Now, it was time for her son to take it to the battlefield. Henry Tudor made it to English shores and began a slow tour toward Richard’s forces, picking up more supporters as he went. They finally met near Ambion Hill in Leicestershire, where Richard was waiting. It just so happened that at the time, Margaret’s husband Lord Stanley and his family had finally picked their side.
It was that of Margaret and Henry Tudor. Richard was furious, and he acted drastically.
44. Her Husband Was Ice Cold
Richard then took Margaret’s stepson hostage and threatened to execute him. Lord Stanley’s reply was so disturbing, it’s impossible to forget. He told the king: “Sire, I have other sons.” Ouch! Richard tried to get his troops to behead Stanley’s son, but they refused, saying that battle was imminent. They were absolutely right.
45. She Couldn’t Be Part Of It
The Wars of the Roses culminated in the Battle of Bosworth Field, which was brutal, bloody, and decisive. Margaret, still a prisoner at her husband’s home, prayed and waited for news. Her son Henry had little to no experience in battle. Richard came within sword’s length of Henry, who smartly retreated—only for William Stanley, Margaret’s brother-in-law, to come through with his forces and take down the king. The battle ended, and a new king was crowned.
46. She Finally Got What She Wanted
In the end, although Henry Tudor did have a familial claim to it, it was the right of conquest that won him the crown, and he became King Henry VII. It was Margaret’s husband, Lord Stanley, who placed the crown on his head shortly after he’d won the battle. Margaret Beaufort had fought for her entire adult life to get her son on the throne, and now she’d finally done it.
So, did she put up her feet and relax for once? Absolutely not.
47. She Claimed What Was Hers
See, Margaret was fighting for her son, but she was also fighting for herself, and what was rightfully hers. After her father’s passing, the money and land that should’ve been hers had been passed from male guardian to husband to trust and back again. And despite their long separation, Margaret and her son Henry VI were still thick as thieves.
One of his first decrees was to restore her right to her own wealth, and to give her a degree of independence practically unheard of for women at the time.
48. She Didn’t Share
Neither Margaret nor Henry VI went back on their promise to the former queen, Elizabeth Woodville. Henry not only restored her children’s statuses as legitimate, he also tied the knot with her eldest daughter, Elizabeth of York. Margaret’s old friend lived out the rest of her life at Bermondsey Abbey—it seemed like there was only room for one mother-in-law in the palace, and that was Margaret.
49. He Gave Her Everything
As she was never a “Queen” herself, Margaret Beaufort could not be titled a “Queen Mother.” Instead, Henry VII gave his mom the specially-made title of “My Lady the King’s Mother.” As Lord Stanley had helped Henry at the Battle of Bosworth, Henry made him an earl, which also made Margaret a countess by extension.
As if that weren’t enough, Henry also gave Margaret a position of honor within the court. Mother and son were most definitely making up for lost time—but Margaret didn’t stop there.
50. She Was Top Dog
Did Margaret consider herself the uncrowned Queen of England? Signs point to yes. She wore clothes of the same quality as her daughter-in-law, Elizabeth of York. Likewise, Margaret walked only a half-pace behind the Queen. Now, remember that Margaret technically ranked below Elizabeth in her son’s court. From anyone else, such conduct would have been flagrantly rude.
Margaret Beaufort, of course, was not “anyone else” in Henry Tudor’s court. He knew what—or rather who—got him there.
51. She Let Them Know Who Was In Charge
There’s even more evidence that Margaret considered herself the real boss. From 1499 onwards, Margaret styled her signature as “Margaret R,” which reads a lot like “Margaret Regina,”—as in, queen. Some historians insist the “R” simply stood for “Richmond,” i.e. the region of her second husband. However, she had been styling herself as “M. Richmond” for decades before. Why the change, Maggie?
52. She Was A Doting Grandmother
At the same time, Elizabeth of York was basically pumping out children (AKA, prospective heirs) for Henry VII. Lest we forget, Margaret and her son were separated for most of his childhood. Well, this time around, she insisted on looking after her Tudor grandkids from the nursery to their honeymoon suites. And I do mean that quite literally—but more on that later.
53. She Wasn’t Just Power Hungry
It may seem like Margaret’s entire life was just schemes and devious plots, but there was a lot more to the woman than that. Margaret was definitely scholarly, and in addition to keeping a private library, she also supervised multiple translations of important texts. On top of that, she was actually one of the most devout religious members of the entire noble class in England. However, that led her to some weird places.
53. She Was Over It
As we all know, Margaret had chosen her third husband, Lord Stanley, now Earl of Derby, for political gain. And if that wasn’t already clear enough to him or anyone else in the royal court, in 1499, she chose to underline the transactional nature of their marriage in a peculiar way. That year, Margaret took a vow of chastity. On behalf of Lord Stanley, I say: ouch.
However, it’s not quite as cold-hearted as it seems.
54. It Was A Strange Move
Sure, it was very unusual for married women to take this vow, but it actually wasn’t unheard of. And on top of that, Margaret did have her husband’s permission to do it. Did she end up regretting it? After her husband Lord Stanley passed on in 1504, she took yet another vow of chastity. It was clear that that part of her life was over, and she was way more interested in the increasingly messy lives of her descendants.
55. They Were Her Sole Focus
After Elizabeth of York started popping out babies left and right, Henry VII gave Margaret the responsibility of overseeing their childhood household, and even named his eldest daughter for her. The great hope for the future of the Tudor name lay in the king’s eldest son, Arthur, who the entire family doted on. Of course, Margaret’s form of doting was a bit…heavy-handed.
56. She Planned Everything For Him
From the time Arthur was basically an infant, Margaret Beaufort dutifully planned for his future wedding. After the success of her son’s marriage, she hoped for an even more politically advantageous match for her grandson Arthur. Sensing that an alliance with Spain would put them in a good position, she convinced the King of Aragon to wed his daughter Catherine to her grandson.
They hurried the wedding along, acquiring a papal dispensation so that Arthur could be married at the age of 11. Margaret Beaufort worked fast. Sometimes, too fast.
57. She Was Overbearing
The couple had a marriage by proxy and only ever exchanged letters until they were finally old enough to officially become husband and wife. However, Margaret’s meddling didn’t stop there—it even extended to their wedding night, in the most creepy way. Margaret was obsessed with maintaining an image of royal legitimacy, so she organized a public bedding ceremony for her teenage grandson and his bride. Yup, that’s…almost exactly what it sounds like.
58. The Ceremony Was Creepy
After their wedding ceremony, Catherine of Aragon’s ladies-in-waiting (all hired by Margaret, natch) undressed her and laid her down in the marriage bed, while Arthur’s courtiers brought him into the room as music played. A bishop then blessed their union and, thankfully, the crowd then left them alone. Terrifying? Absolutely. But Margaret wasn’t completely callous when it came to her family.
59. She Stood Up For Other Women
During Henry VII’s reign, one of the surviving York princesses, Cecily, married a commoner without the king’s permission. Henry punished Cecily with banishment and the loss of her lands. Perhaps this reminded Margaret of her own struggles to keep her estates against the odds, when so many men tried to take them from her.
As we all know, Margaret wielded immense power—and when she intervened with her son on Cecily’s behalf, he immediately folded like a house of cards. Mama’s boys, am I right?
60. Her Happiness Couldn’t Last Forever
Compared to the Wars of the Roses that had preceded his reign, Henry VII’s first decade-plus as king was relatively peaceful. That is, until a series of dire tragedies befell the Tudor family. Sadly, it all began with one of the most important members of the family: Henry’s heir and Margaret’s beloved grandson, Prince Arthur.
Shortly after his marriage, Arthur and his wife Catherine began to ail with a mysterious sickness. While Catherine made it, Arthur did not. The loss devastated Margaret and the rest of the family—and it also put the Tudor dynasty in jeopardy.
61. She Needed A Plan B
Immediately, Margaret recovered the only way she knew how—by going into overdrive planning what would happen next. Her grandson Henry was now the heir apparent, and Margaret plotted who would become part of his household, and which position they’d occupy. On top of that, there was the matter of Arthur’s widow to deal with. Margaret and King Henry VII came up with an…unconventional plan.
62. She Wasn’t About To Let Her Go
Margaret had worked so hard to arrange a marriage for Prince Arthur that would create a strong political bond with Spain. So, even though Arthur was gone, why let all that hard work go to waste? Margaret and her son sought papal dispensation for Arthur’s widow to move on with…his younger brother, Prince Henry. Keep it in the family, right? Well, things were going to get weirder, but first, they were going to get more tragic.
63. She Lost Two People At Once
Henry VII’s wife, Elizabeth of York, was not only recovering from the loss of her eldest son, but she was also pregnant with the couple’s eighth child. As if that weren’t bad enough, her last two children hadn’t even made it out of infancy before they passed on. She was hanging by a thread—and it was tragically too thin to hold.
Elizabeth gave birth to a daughter in 1503, but the girl only lived a few days. Soon after, Elizabeth succumbed to a post-partum infection. The loss devastated Henry VII and sent Margaret into a tailspin.
64. It Was All Falling Apart
Margaret’s hopes for a Tudor dynasty were crumbling around her, and on top of that, her son Henry VII was paralyzed by grief. On top of his heartbreak, he fell ill and refused to see anyone but Margaret—not a great look for a ruler. As he recovered, his courtiers sought out potential candidates for a second wife, but all of his specifications just described Elizabeth.
Then, just as quickly, he swung the other way—and considered marrying his son’s widow, the teenaged Catherine of Aragon. Things were getting a bit too weird, and it was time for someone to take control. Guess who?
65. She Took Over
After the tragic loss of Elizabeth of York in 1503, Margaret took over many of the queen’s jobs. She moved into the same manors as Henry’s oldest daughter, Princess Margaret, who was named after her. Henry’s dwindling brood meant that it was not only important to get his son hitched to someone powerful, but that he should probably do the same for his daughters, as well.
Considering her history with politically-driven marriages, you’d think that Margaret Beaufort would be a-ok with this. Well, apparently not…
66. She Was Protective
King Henry VII hoped to marry his daughter off to the King of Scotland, James IV. Margaret’s reaction was completely unexpected. It was rare for mother and son to disagree, but she insisted that her granddaughter, 10 at the time, was far too young to go off with the Scottish king, who was in his late 20s. (Frankly, she has an excellent point).
Margaret demanded that they wait—and her reasons why were absolutely heartbreaking.
67. She Didn’t Want The Same Thing To Happen Again
Margaret had never forgotten the trauma of her first wedding night and the subsequent birth of her son at 13 years old. She didn’t want the same thing to happen to her namesake granddaughter, and didn’t trust the infamously lusty James IV to wait until his bride was ready. Margaret begged Henry VII to put it off. As with many things, Henry gave way to his wise mother.
Princess Margaret didn’t leave for Scotland until she was 13—which is only hardly “better” by our standards, but Beaufort deserves points for trying.
68. She Lost Her Driving Force
Despite their infrequent disagreements, there was no mother and son pair more devoted to each other’s success and well-being than Margaret and Henry VII—which makes what happened next all the more tragic. In 1509, Henry contracted tuberculosis, and passed on soon afterward. Henry had been Margaret’s reason for being since she’d been a teenager, and now, she’d outlived him. She was utterly heartbroken—but also determined to make sure that her life’s work hadn’t been for naught.
69. She Couldn’t Stop
Even while dealing with the loss of her son, Margaret took on the reins of responsibility. While she planned his funeral, she simultaneously organized the coronation of her grandson Henry, who would become King Henry VIII, and his wedding to Catherine of Aragon. Of course, Henry VII made her executor of his will and at the funeral, she had precedence over every other female family member, including his daughters. He was definitely a mama’s boy to the very end.
70. She Carried The Pain With Her
Margaret was so single-mindedly dedicated to her family, it raises the question of why she didn’t have any other children. True, her first husband passed before their child was even born—but the real reason may be even more heartbreaking. If you’ll remember, Margaret’s first birth occurred when she was just 13, still underdeveloped and small of frame.
It was so painful and harrowing, it likely caused permanent damage, rendering her infertile—not to mention the psychological trauma.
71. She Never Forgot Him
Despite the traumatic circumstances of her son’s conception and birth, Margaret would honor her only boy’s father in memory. When preparing her will, Margaret disregarded her two other (more long-lasting) marriages. She asked to be buried next to Edmund Tudor, the father of her son, upon her passing. It was good optics for the Tudor dynasty, after all.
72. She Was A Trailblazer
Margaret was deeply concerned with education throughout her life, and that’s reflected in her legacy. The first Oxford University college to admit women is named in Margaret Beaufort’s honor. “Lady Margaret Hall” was founded in 1878 and bears the motto of its resilient namesake: “Souvent me Souviens,” which is Old French for “I often remember” or “Think of me often.”
73. People Wondered How Ruthless She Really Was
As mentioned earlier, Margaret Beaufort had remained loyal to the deposed Elizabeth Woodville, and perhaps even tried to help free the Princes in the Tower. However, one historian has advanced a different, much more disturbing possibility. She claims that getting rid of the two boys would’ve helped clear Henry Tudor’s path to the throne, and that it’s entirely conceivable that Margaret had been the one to give the order to have the brothers murdered.
However, despite Margaret’s penchant for political scheming, most historians believe she was incapable of going that far for what she wanted.
74. She Didn’t Leave Until The Job Was Done
In the weeks following Henry VII’s passing, Margaret was driven by the pure desire to ensure her grandson successfully married and took the throne—and, just as she had many other times in the latter half of her life, she got exactly what she wanted. The last family events that Margaret witnessed in her eventful life were the wedding of her grandson Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon and the couple’s joint coronation.
75. She Got Everything She Wanted In The End
Margaret passed on just two months after her beloved son, at the ripe age of about 68. It also happened to be just five days after the coronation of Henry VIII, and one day after his 18th birthday—almost as if she were waiting for the last Tudor male to be a majority-age king in his own right before she retired forever.
Margaret Beaufort did not leave loose ends.