The King's Daughter. A Novel of the First Tudor Queen
by Sandra Worth

Published: 2008-12-02
Paperback : 416 pages
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Elizabeth of York, England's first Tudor queen was born into the era of violence that ended the valiant Plantagenet dynasty and ushered in the reign of the Tudors. She lived at the very epicenter of the Wars of the Roses and knew intimately four very different kings: her golden father, Edward IV, ...
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Elizabeth of York, England's first Tudor queen was born into the era of violence that ended the valiant Plantagenet dynasty and ushered in the reign of the Tudors. She lived at the very epicenter of the Wars of the Roses and knew intimately four very different kings: her golden father, Edward IV, who she adored; her unfortunate brother, Edward V, one of the Princes in the Tower; her uncle, Richard III, who she loved; and her husband, Henry VII, who she pitied. For a brief moment in history she alone held her own destiny, and the fate of her people, in her hands. Through the shocking twists and turns of her dramatic life, England's beloved queen, “Elizabeth the Good” would come face to face with the consequences of her decision, one that changed the face of England forever, and sealed the fate of those she loved.

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Daughter of the King, 1470
Hoodman's Bluff was so much fun with my fa-
ther! I hid behind a pillar and peeked out. He was heading toward me, fumbling like a blind man. “Elizabeth, Elizabeth!” he called. “Where are you? I can't see you.” I laughed. Of course, he couldn't see me! He was blindfolded with the black silk scarf I had tied tightly around his eyes. I ran through the chamber, shrieking with delight as I evaded his outstretched hands. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. From her youth, Elizabeth of York displays an extraordinary generosity of spirit, buoyed by the affection of her father, Edward IV, and her uncle, Richard III. As the wife of Henry Tudor, do these earlier relationships afford Elizabeth the courage to face a difficult future or blind her to the devious natures of those who dominate the Tudor court?

2. Elizabeth falls deeply in love with Richard III; on her deathbed, his queen, Anne Neville, encourages the girl to comfort Richard when she is gone. How do you feel about Elizabeth's love for her uncle Richard and Anne's unusual request? Is it shocking? Is it possible to remain faithful to the memory of love?

3. Confinement is a recurring theme in Elizabeth of York's life, in sanctuary with her mother, Bess Woodville, through Anne Neville's long journey towards death and years of virtual imprisonment by Henry and Margaret Beaufort. How do such restrictions define Elizabeth's world and the choices she makes?

4. Elizabeth of York is a pawn to her mother's ambition, and Bess's consummate greed rivaled only by Henry Tudor's mother, the overweening Margaret Beaufort. Discuss the relationships of these three women. Why is Elizabeth so unlike her mother and mother-in-law?

5. When Richard III is killed at Bosworth Field, the Age of Chivalry dies with him; the victorious Henry Tudor, crowned Henry VII, initiates a reign of terror, impoverishment and war. As Henry's wife, Elizabeth is powerless against a vindictive husband and a mother-in-law who controls her every move. How does Elizabeth adapt to her changed circumstances?

6. In Henry VII's revisionist history, Richard III is a hunchback, “two years in the womb”, a monster. From the advantage of Elizabeth's perspective, do you have a different opinion of Richard? Would such a man be capable of murdering the princes in the Tower?

7. The royal daughter of Edward IV, Elizabeth is loved by her subjects, relieving the suffering of her subjects whenever possible. How does Elizabeth of York's popularity contrast with the country's hatred of Henry VII and his mother? Why does Margaret Beaufort replicate Elizabeth's gowns, shadowing the queen's every move?

8. After the devastation of the War of the Roses, Elizabeth hopes to unite the kingdom through her marriage to Henry Tudor. But after the death of Perkin Warbeck and Elizabeth's cousin Edward, it is clear Henry will destroy any perceived threat to his throne. Given the consequences of her union with Henry, has Elizabeth made a terrible mistake in thinking she alone can change the course of history? Why/ why not?

9. Witness to Henry's every heinous act, Elizabeth later regrets her lack of assertiveness: “All my life I had avoided confrontation so much that I rarely voiced thoughts when they were unpleasant.” Is Elizabeth's penchant for peacemaking a flaw or a gift? Explain.

10. Because of her enduring love of Richard III, Elizabeth has a profound empathy for Catherine Gordon, widow of Perkin Warbeck, who may be Elizabeth's brother Ned, one of the princes in the Tower. Which suffers the most despair, Catherine, who publicly grieves, or Elizabeth, who must hide her feelings? Do the memories of Richard sustain Elizabeth or bring her more pain?

11. One of Elizabeth's great conflicts is her feelings toward her sons. She adores Arthur, a noble son and heir to the throne, and is frightened of the arrogant Harry, who flaunts his cruelty (“He's a Tudor and Arthur was a Plantagenet.”). Why does Elizabeth so easily love her eldest son, yet find it impossible to feel the same way about his brother? What might she have done differently with Harry?

12. Reflecting on Anne Neville's unabated grief, which contributes to Richard's despair, Elizabeth endures; after many losses, she declares, “Death has grown over fond of me and refuses to release its embrace.” Discuss Elizabeth's belief in God's will and her reliance on prayer to survive the most difficult of circumstances.

13. The fate of the princes in the Tower remains history's great mystery? After reading The King's Daughter, what do you believe might have been the fate of these boys? Who was responsible for their deaths? Was Perkin Warbeck really Elizabeth of York's brother, Ned?

14.. How do you feel about Elizabeth of York's life: the short years of Richard's devotion, the marriage to Henry Tudor that fails to fulfill its promise, the heartbreaking irony of Arthur's death and young Harry's frightening pragmatism, the boy who will become Henry VIII? Daughter of a king, sister of a king, wed to a king and mother of a king, what is Elizabeth's legacy?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

What made you want to write this book? What was the idea that sparked your imagination?

Elizabeth of York made an appearance in my previous novel on Richard III, The Rose of York, and I couldn't forget the young, compassionate princess who had fallen in love with her uncle, and who later won the hearts of her people and became known as Elizabeth the Good. I found myself wondering what it was like for her to be married to Henry Tudor, and to be mother to the future Henry VIII. My research led me into the dark corners of her life, and with the help of a medievalist friend, we made some amazing and dramatic discoveries. When Penguin asked me for another book, there was no question -- I knew it had to be Elizabeth of York!

What do you want readers to take away with them after reading the book?

I would like my readers to remember this lost queen who is virtually forgotten by history, and what it was like for her back in that time. She found the strength, courage and faith to see her through her challenges, and perhaps, across the centuries, Elizabeth can reach out to us and inspire us to do the same.

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Member Reviews

Overall rating:
  "Historical figures from the era are presented in an intriguing and interesting manner that leads to many discussions."by Bernice J. (see profile) 03/10/09

Our book club held a phone conference with Sandra Worth. I enjoyed the whole experience. I was a bit apprehensive at the idea, but she impressed me with her depth of knowledge of the historical period... (read more)

  "Elizabeth of York was a very wise woman who was full of wisdom and emotion and love,"by Mary L. (see profile) 03/10/09

I had a hard time in the beginning because I had a hard time keeping up with so many characters. After the first 100 pages I got engrossed in the book and felt more at ease with all the characters. the... (read more)

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