Good morning, we are continuing our dive into women in history. This time I am going to look into a woman who ended the Wars of the Roses: Margaret Beaufort. Historian Dan Jones is finally giving this woman her due. The run time for this documentary is 45:07.
Over 600 Years ago, England was torn apart by bloody battles in the struggle for the throne. The crown changed hands seven times. It all came to an end at Bosworth Field. Henry Tudor, a minor noble, beat Richard III and became the first Tudor King. How does this nobody become king? Who orchestrated his rise to the throne? It all came down to a woman. A woman who plotted and schemed behind the scenes to protect her only son. It is a woman who ends the Wars of the Roses. She is the one who put her son Henry Tudor on England’s throne.
Margaret Beaufort was her name and her story begins in a Welsh Castle. She is thirteen years old and is giving birth to her son. Even by the standards of the day, she is young to be pregnant and the birth is traumatic for Margaret. She will never have another child. Margaret gives birth to a son and names him Henry. This pair will change the history of England. From the start, they are in a struggle for survival. Her husband had died, leaving her a widow, and would be considered helpless. Her only protector is her husband brother’s, Jasper Tudor. Jasper’s power to protect her is limited. Jasper was the half-brother of the King. So as long as the King is on the throne, they are safe. However, the king is useless. The throne is under attack, threatening everything Margaret loves, especially her son the infant Henry.
Margaret has to gather her thoughts. She knows what she must do: she must find a new husband. This means she would leave her son behind in the care of her brother-in-law. She cannot take Henry with her. Despite the pain, Margaret is a ruthless pragmatist and knows baby Henry will be cared for. Margaret is taking her fate into her own hands when she searches for her new husband. She wants control over her own destiny: she wants the power to protect herself and her son.
Henry Stafford becomes her second husband. He comes from an important noble family. As a second son, Margaret brings him wealth. Together, they have the ingredients to prosper in the Medieval World. This is a marriage of mutual respect and affection. However, things turned upside down for Margaret when King Henry VI’s army is annihilated and Edward IV becomes king. The Beaufort Family is on the losing side of the battle. Henry Stafford is taken prisoner and her son is seized by Edward IV’s men. The infant has grown into a five-year-old child.
Henry is brought up as a prisoner in the countryside. He would have been afforded the status of becoming his nobility. He is safe from harm for now. However, little Henry is stripped of all his lands. During this time land equals power and security. Without his lands, little Henry’s position is shaky. So, Margaret works to try to get her son’s lands restored to him. She ingratiates herself with the new King. She turns her enemies into friends. Henry Stafford swears loyalty to the new king and gains a pardon. Eventually, an estate is restored to Margaret.
Unfortunately, things change again and the newly crowned King is forced to run for his life. Henry VI is released from the tower and is back on the throne. Margaret seizes the opportunity to get her son’s lands back. It is a risky trip to London because she had cozied up to Edward IV. However, Margaret presents her fourteen-year-old son Henry to the newly restored King. King Henry VI told his nephew and namesake that one day he would sit on the throne of England. However, Margaret’s world gets turned upside down again. How would Margaret cope with the changes again? How could this one woman maneuver her son to the throne? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out!
This documentary was a fascinating look at Margaret Beaufort and is persuasive to the fact that it was a woman working behind the scenes to end the War of the Roses. It seems that in history classes her story gets lost in all the battles of the Wars of the Roses. I would show this documentary to a history class because not only it tells Margaret’s story, it is a good summary of the Wars of the Roses.
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