Thursday, April 25, 2013

Misconceptions on Margaret Beaufort

Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond

There are many people to which, the Tudor dynasty owes it's rise to power and one of those is Margaret Beaufort, mother of the first Tudor king, Henry VII. But, with most characters of that time period, there's misconceptions people have and the real Margaret has become hidden beneath layers of what i like to call, "Misconceptions". That's why i decided to write today's post, to tell the world about the true Margaret Beaufort and hopefully you'll remember next time you decide to read about her.

 Here's a list of misconceptions on Lady Margaret along with explanations as to why they are wrong:
  • Margaret Beaufort was Elizabeth of York's worst nightmare. I have no idea why but people, especially Pro-Yorkists ones, tend to think that Margaret Beaufort was a monster of a mother-in-law to Margaret Beaufort, who took all of Elizabeth's power away from her. This is actually far from the Truth, Margaret let Elizabeth stay in her household once before she married Henry VII (around the time Richard III was king) and Margaret really did hate Elizabeth, why let her stay? Well, if you check the facts Margaret and Elizabeth were actually good friends, and Elizabeth (submissive by nature) was always willing to hear Margaret's advice.
  • Margaret never loved Edmund Tudor. If you believe this misconception, think about this. if Margaret hated Edmund, why continue to refer to herself as "Countess of Richmond"? Truth is, if you look at the real facts, Margaret was truly in love Edmund, and Edmund, with her. I believe i even read somewhere that Margaret wanted to be buried beside Edmund at one point. Does that sound like the action of a women who hated her husband?
  • Margaret was an inconsiderate snob. Elizabeth Wydeville fans especially tend to use this as a depiction of Margaret. Actually, Margaret Beaufort was famous for her piety and when Henry VII became king, she spent lots of time, energy, and money in charitable works. She even took in young Edward Stafford (Buckingham's son) into her household as a ward out of kindness. Does this sound like an "inconsiderable snob" to you? I don't think so!
  • Margaret had a love affair with her brother-in-law, Jasper Tudor. As i explained in my series on Jasper Tudor, Margaret and Jasper did love each other, but not the romantic scene. They always thought of each other as brother and sister, nothing more. And Jasper's education, which was supervised by the ultra-pious Henry VI mind you, would have turned him against such ideas. It impossible to say the least.
There are lots of aspects of Margaret's life that have been misconstrue but these are the main ones you have to watch out for. Margaret Beaufort was truly a remarkable women and one of my personal favourite Tudor characters and hopefully if you thought any of this was true, I've changed your mind.


  1. I love that you are writing to destroy the horrible misconceptions about MB, which are very rampant now due to certain authors who shall remain nameless. However, I would like to point out that #2 is not so cut and dry. Calling herself Countess of Richmond had nothing to do with love, as it was her legal title after his death, just as Countess of Derby was added as her title after 1485. Their marriage may have had loving affection or may not, as romantic love marriages as we have today were not commonly entered into even as recently as 100 years ago, and especially marriages between those of noble birth were always arranged. There is no way of knowing if they loved each other, and it was not a necessity for their marriage. She had no say in the marriage, as noble women who arranged their own marriages for love can be counted on one hand. We tend to view events/people in the past in the lens of our current models, even when they never actually applied. And, likewise, taking in Edward Stafford had less to do with affection and more to do with monetary gain (when someone became your ward you were paid to care for them) and familial obligations, as she had been married to Henry Stafford. It does not show anything of her personal character to have taken on a ward.

    1. Yes, Margaret Beaufort is one of my favourite Tudor characters so I hate to see people thinking that that is the real Margaret. I've always believed that Margaret and Edmund really loved each other, but since the lack of evidence we can never really know for sure. Thanks for your comment though :)

  2. I love your blog and your passionate interest in the Tudor-era and it's great to see all your knowledge and passion about this subject. On this very one however, I'm with Liz above, I'm afraid.

    There's no way for us today to actually say with absolute certainty what the reasons and motivations behind our ancestors actions, 600 years prior, were.

    We often don't understand people from different cultures and of different ethnic origins today, although we share the same time slot, and it's indeed very difficult to apply our own modern (western) mindset to medieval and earlier/later time periods. It frequently doesn't take much more than one generation for us humans to encounter misunderstandings and misconceptions - I seriously cannot understand some of the things my mum went through in the 1950s, let alone what my gran went through in the 1930s and this despite a lot of documentation (letters, photographs, direct story telling etc).

    So when you're dealing with something that happened as far back as the 1400s, things get infinitely more complicated.

    I absolutely understand the temptation to engage in a certain type of glorification and guess work when it comes to things we cannot fully know - and indeed, I think this is a must for any historian worth his or her salt, the ability to be able to imagine and fill in certain gaps. But we also need to be very careful so that we dont't extend those gaps even more.

    Thanks for an interesting article!

  3. Great stuff. I have posted a couple of articles on Margaret Beaufort on my website that might interest you. Thinking of which I think I will go an post my History piece on Margaret Douglas now.
    Glad you are interested in her - I am too!

    1. Thanks! I read some of your articles and enjoyed them, I also read your book on the Grey sisters and thought that was great too! Margaret Beaufort sure is fascinating to study insn't she? :)

  4. I just discovered this blog and I'm sure looking forward to exploring it.

    For me this is the most interesting time in English history - the original Game of Thrones.

    Margaret was 12 ? when she was married to Edmund Tudor who was 24 ? She was a kid forced to marry a man she did not know in a place she did not know ( it must of been so cold and grey in a Welsh castle in winter ) Their baby was born when she was 13 It The birth took 2 days and probably destroyed her chances of another child. In my mind it doesn't seem possible that she could of loved Edmund nor he her but they did produce a future King of England which was possibly the reason her mother sent her off to be married when she did.

    Of course this is only my opinion : )

    Margaret is definitely an interesting character.

    1. Thanks! I hope you like my blog :) I cannot tell you how many people I've heard asserting that Margaret could never have loved Edmund, (probably inspired by the infamous "Red Queen" novel) liked it's a proven fact and though they may not have been Romeo and Juliet, I've always believe Margaret admired her husband, (as she continued to be known as the Countess of Richmond) but with Edmund's untimely death, they hardly got time to know each other.

  5. At that time though it was the done thing, to keep your first husbands title, until you remarried at least. This doesn't mean that she loved him. Just saying.