Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Survivor of the week - LADY MARGARET BEAUFORT

My survivor #2, Margaret Beaufort, began life as the product of a marriage between 2 medieval power broker families. Her father died at the age of 2, and she was raised by her mother until her powerful uncle (the Duke of Suffolk) removed her and made her his ward, betrothing her to his own son and heir. For reasons I'm not exactly sure about, the Duke was executed later that year. From there, her other uncle, King Henry VI decided to betroth her to his half brother, Edmund Tudor who was more than twice her age (Edmond's mother was daughter of Charles VI of France). All this by the age of 9. At age 12 she was finally married to Edmund. Almost a year later Edmund died leaving Margaret as a 7-month pregnant, 13 year old widow. ARE YOU STILL WITH ME?

As a side note, Margaret's life falls between the history pages of 'The War of the Roses' which was an ongoing saga between two rival families - the house of Lancaster and the house of York for the throne of England.

After the death of her husband, Edmund, Margaret moved to Pembroke Castle where she gave birth to a son, Henry VII. After her uncle, King Henry VI was deposed from the throne, and replaced with the Yorkist, Edward IV, Margaret sent her son into exile for safe keeping.

To cut an incredibly long story short, over the next 14 years Margaret Beaufort did just about anything to stay alive. Ultimately, it was a plan she covertly hatched with the Dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville (widow of Edward IV and mother to the historically famous 'The princes in the Tower') to overthrow Woodvilles brother-in-law Richard III and replace him with a King and Queen who would finally join the House of Lancaster with York and restore peace and stability to England. That is, a marriage between Margaret's son, Henry VII and Elizabeth's eldest daughter, Elizabeth (yes, confusing I know!). By the way, did you know this is how the Tudor Rose came into being? was a union of the red Lancaster Rose with the white York Rose.

What amazes me about this women is, she was in fact the person with the greater claim to England's throne - not by marriage, but in her own right. Yet, she made it her life's ambition to secure the throne for her son. The words from the Air Force trainer describing mothers as survivors ring loud and true here:
They understand sacrifice. They’re driven by a purpose greater than themselves. They’re problem solvers and multitaskers. They’re accustomed to delaying gratification. In short, they’re very effective survivors.
Margaret outlived her son, just shy of 2 months. Was this her enduring legacy? A mother who never relinqueshed the responsibility of care and protection for her son, to the extent of outliving him? Margaret was 66 years old when she died, and her son was aged 52 at the time of his death. History records her as the mother in law from hell so perhaps this is indeed our answer. Whatever the case, she still remains in my heart as a survivor to rival any other.

I hope you've enjoyed this post. There is so much information I could have included, but where do you stop?! If you have any questions, let me know. xxx

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