Margaret Beaufort: Part Two

Margaret Beaufort
May 31, 1443 – June 29, 1509

Continued from Margaret Beaufort: Part One

A Lancastrian in Yorkist England

After Henry Stafford’s death at the Battle of Barnet, Margaret Beaufort married again. In 1472, she married strategically to Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby. Although in good standing with the Yorkists, Stanley’s allegiance was suspect. The earl had a reputation for refusing to commit to either side. Despite having Lancastrian relatives, Margaret’s marriage to Stanley gave her good standing at court.

Throughout the remainder of his reign, Edward IV attempted in vain to gain custody of Henry Tudor from his protector, Francis II of Brittany. However, Margaret remained safe from the king’s wrath. After Edward’s death in April 1483, the king’s son, Edward V, would be overthrown by his uncle, Richard III, in June. Richard’s seizure of the throne and the disappearance of Edward V caused unrest amongst the Yorkists. Seeing an opportunity to depose the new king, Margaret Beaufort secretly allied herself with Edward IV’s queen, Elizabeth Woodville.

An arrangement took shape as Margaret and Elizabeth plotted Richard III’s downfall. Both women agreed that Henry Tudor would marry Elizabeth’s eldest daughter, Princess Elizabeth, to reunite the Lancastrians and Yorkists. With the deaths of Henry VI, Prince Edward, Edward V, and his younger brother, Richard, the likely hood of Henry becoming king increased. His marriage to Elizabeth would all but ensure his kingship upon Richard’s defeat.

Plotting Against the King

Richard III of England
Richard III of England

In October 1483, Henry Stafford (not to be confused with his uncle), 2nd Duke of Buckingham, invaded England with a rebel army. Although initially a supporter of Richard III, Buckingham quickly grew disillusioned with the king. Championing Henry Tudor’s cause, the duke secretly had the support of Margaret Beaufort. Landing before Henry, Buckingham’s rebellion would be crushed by Richard, and the duke was executed. Fortunately for Margaret, Henry didn’t share the same fate. Aware of his ally’s fate, Henry and his forces escaped capture by returning to Brittany.

In retaliation for her son’s rebellion, Richard III punished Margaret by stripping her of her titles and lands. The king also decreed that she be imprisoned in her husband’s castle and that Thomas Stanley stop any communication with Henry. Showing his duplicitous nature, Thomas did nothing to prevent Margaret from writing to her son. Using her influence, Margaret continued to build support for her son in England.

The Battle of Bosworth Field

In early August 1485, Henry Tudor made his second attempt at invading England. On August 22, Henry’s army met Richard’s Yorkists near Bosworth. Although outnumbered by the king’s men, the Lancastrian army gained a much-needed boost from Thomas Stanley. Having watched the battle from afar, Lord Stanley decided to support his stepson rather than his king. After a last-ditch charge at Henry from Richard, Lancastrian soldiers brutally killed the king. Upon his death, the Yorkists fled, and Thomas Stanley crowned Henry on the battlefield with Richard’s discarded crown.

Dawn of the Tudor Dynasty

Henry VII of England
Henry VII of England

Upon her son’s accession as King Henry VII, Margaret Beaufort was rewarded for her efforts. The king returned his mother’s titles and lands while granting Margaret legal independence from her husband. During her son’s reign, Margaret exercised tremendous political influence as one of Henry’s advisors. The king valued his mother’s wisdom and relied heavily on Margaret’s guidance. Within the family, Margaret dictated how the household would run, despite not being queen.

After the death of Queen Elizabeth in February 1503, the devastated Henry VII entered into a two-month period of mourning. The king forbade anyone from bothering him during this time except for Margaret. When he finally emerged from his chambers, Henry was a broken man. During the final six years of his life, the king dealt with various health scares that brought him to the brink of death. As Henry fought to stay alive, Margaret oversaw the education of her grandson, Prince Henry.

Upon Henry VII’s death on April 21, 1509, Margaret Beaufort was left as the executioner of her son’s will. To ensure a smooth succession, Margaret arranged for her son’s funeral and her grandson’s coronation. As with Henry VII, Margaret advised the newly crowned Henry VIII on who he should appoint to his council. Five days after Henry’s accession, Margaret died on June 29, 1509, having outlived her beloved son by only two months. The countess had lived long enough to secure the Tudor succession for the next generation.


Margaret Beaufort was a cunning noblewoman who left her mark on English history. Living most of her life during the Wars of the Roses, the countess skillfully lived through the bloody conflict. Avoiding the wrath of the Yorkists, Margaret’s alliance with Elizabeth of York culminated in her son taking the throne. Through her wisdom, the fledgling Tudor dynasty thrived and continued into further generations.


Cawthorne, N. (2012). Kings & Queens of England: From the Saxon Kings to the House of Windsor. London: Arcturus.

Griffiths, R. A., & Thomas, R. S. (2005). The Making of the Tudor Dynasty. The History Press.

Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Margaret Beaufort. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved February 16, 2023, from


Andy Tree

I'm a European history enthusiast who seeks to share his passion with others. I hope to inform and inspire readers with my posts!

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