Margaret of Burgundy

From Academic Kids

Margaret of Burgundy (May 3, 1446 - November 23, 1503) - more commonly known as Margaret of York - was a daughter to Richard, Duke of York and Cecily Neville, a sister of Kings Edward IV of England and Richard III of England, third wife to Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. She was born at Fotheringay Castle, Northamptonshire, England, and she died at Mechelen (Malines), near Antwerp, Belgium.

Her marriage to Charles the Bold at Bruges, on July 9, 1468, was made for dynastic reasons: aiding the alliance between England and Burgundy. It had been long delayed by Charles's enemy, King Louis XI of France, who had wanted matches for each of the partners with members of his family, the senior line of the Royal House of Valois. The wedding was extravagant even by the standards of the Burgundian court, the most opulent and cultured court of the day. The celebrations included the "Tournament of the Golden Tree" that was arranged around an elaborately detailed allegory, designed to honor the bride. During the wedding, Margaret wore a magnificent crown adorned with pearls and with enamelled white roses for the House of York set between red, green and white enamelled letters of her name, with gold C's and M's, entwined with lovers' knots; it can still be seen in the treasury at Aachen Cathedral. The parades, the streets lined with tapestry hung from houses, the feasting, the masques and allegorical entertainments, the jewels, impressed all observers as the marriage of the century. It is annually reenacted at Bruges for tourists.

Margaret and Charles had no children together, but she became a devoted stepmother to Marie de Bourgogne (1457-1482), his daughter by Isabelle de Bourbon, and the hieress to his dominions in Burgundy and the Netherlands. After Marie's death following a riding accident, Margaret took care of Marie's two small children, Philip and Margaret, whose father was Maximilian von Habsburg, the future Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor.

After the deaths of her brothers, King Edward IV and King Richard III of England, Margaret, by then Dowager Duchess of Burgundy, became a staunch supporter of anyone who challenged Henry VII's hold on the throne of England, including Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck. Although Warbeck was undoubtedly an impostor, Margaret acknowledged him as her nephew, Richard, Duke of York.

William Caxton, who introduced the new art of printing into England and was a staunch Yorkist supporter, counted Margaret as one of his patrons. The single surviving copy of The Recuyell of the Histories of Troy, his first book printed in English (1475), has a specially made engraving showing Caxton presenting the book to Margaret. The volume is now in the Huntington Library, San Marion, CA.

Of the many splendid manuscripts commissioned by Margaret when she was Duchess of Burgundy, the richest, most powerful and stylish Duchess of Europe, pride of place goes to the illuminated Visions of Tondal illuminated by Simon Marmion (now at the Getty Museum; a facsimile has been published).

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