|Lady Margaret Beaufort at prayer|
Fifteenth century England was dominated by the wars of the roses but for the vast majority daily life continued as usual. While the peasantry fought the twin perils of pestilence and penury, the nobility’s battle was for the English crown. For the upper classes the constant fluctuation between York and Lancaster made life unstable and monarchy and allegiance became fluid. The fall of one’s preferred king could mean loss of status, financial ruin and even death. One had to tread very cautiously; a careless word, a smile in the wrong quarter could spell the end of prosperity, the acquisition of property, the stripping of a title. The wisest kept their heads down and hoped the ‘right’ monarch would come out on top but for most, this was not an option. Margaret Beaufort, the protagonist of my trilogy The Beaufort Chronicles, was given no choices. She learned from a young age to think before speaking, to consider her actions before carrying them out and to place her trust carefully.
|Tomb Effigy of Edmund Tudor|
Even in the early days of the conflict, war had a direct effect on Margaret. The homes she shared with Edmund at Caldicot and Lamphey would have rung with the boots of soldiers, the coming and going of messengers, and her husband was constantly away fighting. She was widowed just a year after the wedding when Edmund Tudor died at Carmarthen in 1456 in the act of defending Henry’s holdings in Wales. He left Margaret six months pregnant and vulnerable. She quickly turned for protection to her brother in law, Jasper Tudor, who housed her for the duration of her pregnancy at Pembroke Castle where she gave birth to a son, Henry Tudor. Shortly after his birth, keen to avoid another arranged marriage, she took matters into her own hands and with Jasper’s aid, betrothed herself to Henry Stafford, the younger son of the Duke of Buckingham.
|Portrait purported to be of the first Earl of Derby but the costume is of a later period.|
|The earliest surviving portrait of Richard (c. 1520, after a lost original).|
Despite her apparent acceptance, the denouncement of Edward’s heirs and Gloucester’s accession to the throne rekindled Margaret’s political ambition, and shortly after the first reports of the disappearance of the princes in the tower, she began to plot with the dowager queen against King Richard.
|Buckingham finds the River Severn swollen after heavy rain, blocking his way to join the other conspirators.|
|Margaret's son — Henry VII|
At Caldicot Castle and Lamphey Palace Margaret must put aside childhood, acquire the dignity of a Countess and, despite her tender years, produce Richmond with a son and heir.
While Edmund battles to restore the king’s peace, Margaret quietly supports his quest; but it is a quest fraught with danger.
As the friction between York and Lancaster intensifies 14-year-old Margaret, now widowed, turns for protection to her brother-in-law, Jasper Tudor. At his stronghold in Pembroke, two months after her husband’s death, Margaret gives birth to a son whom she names Henry, after her cousin the king.
Margaret is small of stature but her tiny frame conceals a fierce and loyal heart and a determination that will not falter until her son’s destiny as the king of England is secured.
The Beaufort Bride traces Margaret’s early years from her nursery days at Bletsoe Castle to the birth of her only son in 1457 at Pembroke Castle. Her story continues in Book Two: The Beaufort Woman.