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Margaret of York (1446–1503)

Margaret of York (1446–1503)

Duchess of Burgundy and religious patron . Name variations: Margaret Plantagenet; Margaret of Burgundy; Margeret. Born into the House of York on May 3, 1446, at Fotheringhay Castle in Yorkshire, England; died on November 28, 1503, in Malines, Flanders; interred at the Church of the Cordeliers, Malines; daughter of Richard Neville (b. 1411), duke of York, and Cecily Neville (1415–1495); sister of Edward IV (1442–1483), king of England (r. 1461–1470, 1471–1483), George (d. 1478), duke of Clarence, Richard III (1452–1485), king of England (r. 1483–1485), Edmund (d. 1460), earl of Rutland, Edward (d. 1471), prince of Wales, Elizabeth de la Pole (1444–1503, wife of John de la Pole, duke of Suffolk); became third wife of Charles the Bold (1433–1477), duke of Burgundy (r. 1467–1477), on July 3, 1468; no children.

Margaret of York was the daughter of Richard Neville, duke of York, and Cecily Neville ; two of her brothers, Edward IV and Richard III, held the throne as the Yorkist monarchs. Her family arranged a marriage for her as a means of securing French support for the ongoing Wars of the Roses between the Yorkists (whose symbol was the white rose) and the Lancastrians (who used the red rose). Thus, in her early teens Margaret moved to France to wed Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy. Margaret had been well educated in England, and possessed both a deep piety and a great love of learning. She is primarily remembered as a patron of the church, especially the Order of Poor Clares. She gave generously of her substantial wealth to support and establish religious institutions.

In addition, Margaret was an avid book collector. In her possession was a famous manuscript on the life of the religious reformer Colette (1381–1447). The book was richly illuminated and cost a huge sum of money; on her deathbed, however, Margaret left it not to her family but to the Poor Clares of Ghent, asking them to pray for her soul in return. Duchess Margaret outlived her husband by 26 years, in which time she gained a reputation as a devout and holy woman; she was greatly mourned on her death at age 57.


LaBarge, Margaret. A Small Sound of the Trumpet: Women in Medieval Life. Boston: Beacon Press, 1986.

suggested reading:

Weightman, Christine. Margeret of York, Duchess of Burgundy 1446–1503. NY: St. Martins Press, 1989.

Laura York , Riverside, California

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