Elizabeth of York and Her Six Daughters-in-Law

Elizabeth of York and Her Six Daughters-in-Law: Fashioning Tudor Queenship, 1485–1547 (Queenship and Power) 1st Edition

Queens consort in late medieval and early modern England performed significant and essential court roles. Their subjects viewed them as exemplars of womanhood, providing models for their female subjects to follow. When foreign born, their presence embodied diplomatic as well as cultural and financial dimensions. Even if native Englishwomen, they could develop friendships with foreigners, especially ambassadors. Because other court residents assumed they had great influence over their husbands, they could find themselves in difficulty if and when dissatisfaction with crown policies emerged. Many critics hesitated to blame monarchs for issues of misgovernment from fear of arrest for treason, but they sometimes targeted their so-called evil councilors instead. If their queens had not restricted their behavior to acting as “pious intercessors and charitable benefactors,” they might find themselves named among the “evil councilors.”1 Giving birth to royal heirs remained, of course, their most important familial duty. Delivering sons early enough in their marriages for them to reach adulthood before their fathers died constituted a major triumph. The consorts’ other important roles included appointing numerous officials to handle household and financial administration; collecting honorable female attendants; supervising various family matters; relying on churchmen and almoners for spiritual support; patronizing individuals; both lay and religious; participating in various royal rituals; and attending to other public duties, such as acting as intercessors or regents.

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