Portrait of Margaret Beaufort (1441/1443-1509), Countess of Richmond and Derby (1485), the mother of King Henry VII (1485-1509)
Lady Margaret Beaufort, later Countess of Richmond and Derby (31 May 1441/1443 – 29 June 1509), was the mother of King Henry VII and paternal grandmother of King Henry VIII of England. She was a key figure in the Wars of the Roses and an influential matriarch of the House of Tudor. She was the daughter and sole heiress of John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset (a great-grandson of King Edward III through his third surviving son, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster by Katherine Swynford, later his wife). Margaret was born at Bletsoe Castle, Bedfordshire, on 31 May 1441 or 1443. The day and month are not disputed, as she required Westminster Abbey to celebrate her birthday on 31 May. After her son won the crown at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the Countess was referred to in court as "My Lady the King's Mother". As such, she enjoyed legal and social independence which other married women could not. Her son's first parliament recognised her right to hold property independently from her husband, as if she were unmarried. As arranged by their mothers, Henry married Elizabeth of York. The Countess was reluctant to accept a lower status than the dowager queen Elizabeth or even her daughter-in-law, the queen consort. She wore robes of the same quality as the queen consort and walked only half a pace behind her. Many historians believe the departure from court of dowager queen Elizabeth Woodville in 1487 was partly at the behest of Henry's influential mother, though this is uncertain. The Countess was known for her education and her piety, and her son is said to have been devoted to her. He died on 21 April 1509, having designated his mother chief executor of his will. She arranged her son's funeral and her grandson's coronation. At her son's funeral she was given precedence over all the other women of the royal family.
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