The Truth About Margaret Beaufort, Mother Of The Tudors

An 1884 song observed that "A Boy's Best Friend is His Mother," an observation repeated in 1960 by Norman Bates in Psycho. Which doesn't mean it's not true. It perfectly describes the relationship of King Henry VII of England — father of the future Henry VIII, grandfather of Queen Elizabeth I — and his mother, Margaret Beaufort. History Extra tells us that Margaret was but nine years old when she was introduced to court. She had her own royal blood, of a sort; unfortunately, she came by it illegitimately, and although later legitimized, the family was barred from ascending to the throne. Which shows what they knew.

She married at the age of 12 and a mother by 13 — her only child, who would grow up to be Henry Tudor: Henry VII. Her husband died before the child was born, a victim of plague, and within a year she agreed to marry Sir Henry Stafford, son of the Duke of Buckingham. In the meantime, Edward, Duke of York, prevailed (for the moment) in the War of the Roses (often referred to as the inspiration for Game of Thrones) and took the throne of England from King Henry VI. The new Edward IV decided that young Henry Tudor would be separated from his mother, a ward of William Lord Herbert.

Her son became King Henry VII

Edward died suddenly. His son, Edward V, was deposed and imprisoned, with his brother, by Richard of Gloucester — soon to reign as King Richard III. The "princes in the tower" disappeared at some point — some suggest Margaret murdered them in order to pave the way for her son's eventual ascent to the throne, but that's never been proved. Margaret's political position meant her life hung by a thread, probably saved more by her husband's position than her own power. Her son, Henry, had fled England, but in 1485 returned with his own army to invade Wales and engage the forces of Richard III at Bosworth Field. The battle ended in Richard's defeat and death. Henry took the throne. As The Independent relates, Margaret was reported to have "wept mervaylously" throughout the coronation.

Historians of the times comment that Henry rarely made a decision without consulting his mother. She went on to found colleges at Oxford and Cambridge. She outlived her son the king, and helped assure a smooth transition to the throne for her grandson, Henry VIII. She died at age 65, two months after her son.