Margaret Beaufort

Margaret Beaufort

Mother of Henry VII of England

1441 – 1509 A.D.

Margaret was the only daughter and heiress of John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset (grandson to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster), by Margaret Beauchamp, his wife. She was born at Bletshoe in Bedfordshire in 1441. While very young she was married to Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, by whom she had a son named Henry, who was afterwards king of England, by the title of Henry VII.

On November 3, 1456, the Earl of Richmond died, leaving Margaret a very young widow, and his son and heir, Henry, not above fifteen weeks old. Her second husband was Sir Henry Stafford, knight, second son of the Duke of Buckingham, by whom she had no issue. Soon after the death of Sir Henry Stafford, which happened about 1482, she married Tomas, Lord Stanley, afterwards Earl of Derby, who died in 1504. After spending a life in successive acts of beneficence, she paid the great debt of nature on June 29, 1509, in the first year of the reign of her grandson, Henry VIII. She was buried in Westminster Abbey, where a monument was erected to her memory. It is of black marble, with her effigy in gilt copper; and the head is encircled with a coronet.

Margaret was celebrated for her devotion and charity, though slightly tinged with asceticism. She rose at five in the morning, and from that hour until dinner, which in those days was at ten, spent her time in prayer and meditation. In her house she kept constantly twelve poor persons, whom she provided with food and clothing; and although the mother of a king, such was her active benevolence that she was often seen dressing the wounds of the lowest mendicants, and relieving them by her skill in medicine. She also evinced her respect for learning, both by her own works, and by the munificent endowments for its encouragement. She was a mother to the students of both universities, and a patroness to all learned men of England. Two public lectures in divinity were instituted by her, one at Oxford and another at Cambridge; but those generous efforts were surpassed by her last and noblest foundations, the colleges of Christ and St. John in the latter university.

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Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence, and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World published by the King-Richardson Co. in 1903.