Catherine of York

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Catherine of York
Countess of Devon
Katherine of York.jpg
Born14 August 1479
Eltham Palace, Greenwich
Died15 November 1527(1527-11-15) (aged 48)
Tiverton Castle, Devon
Burial3 December 1527
Spouse William Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon
Issue Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter
Edward Courtenay
Margaret Courtenay
House York
Father Edward IV
Mother Elizabeth Woodville
English Royalty
House of York
Coat of Arms of Edward IV of England (1461-1483).svg
Edward IV
The five daughters of King Edward IV (1461-1483) and Elizabeth Woodville, (left to right): Elizabeth, Cecily, Anne, Catherine, and Bridget. Royal Window, Northwest Transept, Canterbury Cathedral The Daughters of Edward IV.jpg
The five daughters of King Edward IV (1461–1483) and Elizabeth Woodville, (left to right): Elizabeth, Cecily, Anne, Catherine, and Bridget. Royal Window, Northwest Transept, Canterbury Cathedral
ArmsOfWilliam Courtenay10th EarlOfDevonTivertonChurch.jpg
Arms of William Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon (died 1511), above the south porch of St Peter's Church, Tiverton (detail). The arms are Courtenay impaling the paternal arms of his wife, Katherine of York. They are thus the arms of King Edward IV, emphasising his descent from Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence (1338–1368), third son of King Edward III (on which basis the House of York claimed the throne), who married Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster (1332–1363). Their daughter Philippa de Burgh married Edmund Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March, whose son Roger de Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, was the great-grandfather of King Edward IV; (Quarterly 1st: Arms of Edward IV; 2nd & 3rd: Or a cross gules (de Burgh), 4th: Barry or and azure, on a chief of the first two pallets between two base esquires of the second over all an inescutcheon argent (Mortimer)) [1] These arms were also borne, with baton sinister, by Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle, KG, (died 1542), the illegitimate son of Edward IV

Catherine or Katherine of York (14 August 1479 – 15 November 1527) was the ninth child and sixth daughter of King Edward IV by his wife Elizabeth Woodville. From birth to death, she was daughter to Edward IV, sister to Edward V, niece to Richard III, sister-in-law to Henry VII and aunt to Henry VIII.

Edward IV of England 15th-century King of England

Edward IV was the King of England from 4 March 1461 to 3 October 1470, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death. He was the first Yorkist King of England. The first half of his rule was marred by the violence associated with the Wars of the Roses, but he overcame the Lancastrian challenge to the throne at Tewkesbury in 1471 to reign in peace until his sudden death. Before becoming king, he was Duke of York, Earl of March, Earl of Cambridge and Earl of Ulster.

Elizabeth Woodville 15th-century Queen consort of England

Elizabeth Woodville was Queen consort of England, as the spouse of King Edward IV from 1464 until his death in 1483.

Richard III of England 15th-century King of England

Richard III was King of England and Lord of Ireland from 1483 until his death. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. His defeat and death at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the last decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses, marked the end of the Middle Ages in England. He is the protagonist of Richard III, one of William Shakespeare's history plays.


Early life

The daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, Catherine of York was born at Eltham Palace in 1479. [2]

Eltham Palace historic house museum

Eltham Palace is a large house in Eltham in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, in south-east London, England. It is an unoccupied former royal residence owned by the Crown Estate, and managed since 1995 by English Heritage which restored the building in 1999 and opened it to the public. The interior of the Art Deco house has been critiqued as a "masterpiece of modern design".

During her early years, one potential husband for Catherine was John, Prince of Asturias, eldest son of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. [3]

John, Prince of Asturias Prince of Asturias

John, Prince of Asturias, was the only son of Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon who survived to adulthood.

Ferdinand II of Aragon 15th and 16th-century King of Aragon, Sicily, Naples, and Valencia

Ferdinand II, called the Catholic, was King of Aragon from 1479 until his death. His marriage in 1469 to Isabella, the future queen of Castile, was the marital and political "cornerstone in the foundation of the Spanish monarchy." As a consequence of his marriage to Isabella I, he was de jure uxoris King of Castile as Ferdinand V from 1474 until her death in 1504. At Isabella's death the crown of Castile passed to their daughter Joanna, by the terms of their prenuptial agreement and her last will and testament. Following the death of Joanna's husband Philip I of Spain, and her alleged mental illness, Ferdinand was recognized as regent of Castile from 1508 until his own death. In 1504, after a war with France, he became King of Naples as Ferdinand III, reuniting Naples with Sicily permanently and for the first time since 1458. In 1512, he became King of Navarre by conquest. In 1506 he married Germaine of Foix of France, but Ferdinand's only son and child of that marriage died soon after birth; had the child survived, the personal union of the crowns of Aragon and Castile would have ceased.

Isabella I of Castile 15th and 16th-century Castilian queen

Isabella I reigned as Queen of Castile from 1474 until her death. Her marriage to Ferdinand II of Aragon became the basis for the political unification of Spain under their grandson, Charles V. After a struggle to claim her right to the throne, she reorganized the governmental system, brought the crime rate to the lowest it had been in years, and unburdened the kingdom of the enormous debt her brother had left behind. Her reforms and those she made with her husband had an influence that extended well beyond the borders of their united kingdoms. Isabella and Ferdinand are known for completing the Reconquista, ordering conversion or exile of their Muslim and Jewish subjects, and for supporting and financing Christopher Columbus's 1492 voyage that led to the opening of the New World and to the establishment of Spain as the first global power which dominated Europe and much of the world for more than a century. Isabella, granted together with her husband the title "the Catholic" by Pope Alexander VI, was recognized as a Servant of God by the Catholic Church in 1974.

According to an agreement drawn up in 1487, Catherine would marry James Stewart, Duke of Ross, second son of James III. [4] This agreement was nullified with the death of James III in 1488. [4]

James Stewart, Duke of Ross Scottish bishop

James Stewart, Duke of Ross was the second son of King James III of Scotland and Margaret of Denmark.

James III of Scotland King of Scots

James III was King of Scotland from 1460 to 1488. James was an unpopular and ineffective monarch owing to an unwillingness to administer justice fairly, a policy of pursuing alliance with the Kingdom of England, and a disastrous relationship with nearly all his extended family. However, it was through his marriage to Margaret of Denmark that the Orkney and Shetland islands became Scottish.


In October 1495, Henry VII arranged a marriage between Catherine and William Courtenay. [2] They were parents to three children:

Henry VII of England King of England, 1485–1509

Henry VII was the King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizure of the crown on 22 August 1485 to his death on 21 April 1509. He was the first monarch of the House of Tudor.

William Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon nobleman and magnate from Devon, England

William Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon, feudal baron of Okehampton and feudal baron of Plympton, was a member of the leading noble family of Devon. His principal seat was Tiverton Castle, Devon with further residences at Okehampton Castle and Colcombe Castle, also in that county.

Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter English nobleman

Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter, 2nd Earl of Devon, KG, PC, feudal baron of Okehampton, feudal baron of Plympton, of Tiverton Castle, Okehampton Castle and Colcombe Castle all in Devon, was a grandson of King Edward IV, nephew of the queen consort, Elizabeth of York and a first cousin of King Henry VIII. Henry Courtenay was a close friend of Henry VIII's, having "been brought up of a child with his grace in his chamber."

Margaret Courtenay was the only daughter of William Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon and Catherine of York. Her maternal grandparents were Edward IV of England and Elizabeth Woodville.

Henry Somerset, 2nd Earl of Worcester English Earl

Henry Somerset, 2nd Earl of Worcester was an English nobleman. He was the son of Charles Somerset, 1st Earl of Worcester and Elizabeth Herbert, 3rd Baroness Herbert. On his father's death on 15 April 1526, he succeeded as the second Earl of Worcester. From his mother, he inherited the title of Baron Herbert.

In 1500, Catherine and William Courtenay moved to their home on Warwick Lane. [3] After this point, the couple was regularly at court. [3]

Catherine was the chief mourner at the funeral of her sister, Elizabeth of York, in 1503. [3]

In 1504, William Courtenay was charged with treason in relation to his dealings with Edmund de la Pole. [2] Catherine remained at court. [2] William Courtenay was pardoned in 1509 [5] and restored by Henry VIII in 1511. [2]

Later life

After William Courtenay's death in 1511, Henry VIII gave Catherine control of the earldom. [2] The title went to the couple's son Henry. [2]

On 13 July 1511, Catherine took a vow of celibacy in the presence of Richard FitzJames, Bishop of London. [6]

For the rest of her life, Catherine remained in the favour of Henry VIII. She was godmother to his daughter Mary. [2]

Catherine outlived all of her siblings by over a decade, dying in 1527. [5] She died at Tiverton Castle and was buried next door at St Peter's Church following an elaborate funeral. [7]


The arms of Catherine were her husband's arms impaling her own paternal arms: Baron: Quarterly, first and fourth: or, three torteaux (Courtenay); second and third: or, a lion rampant azure (de Redverd); Femme: quarterly, first: France modern and England, second and third: or, a cross gules (de Burgh), fourth (Mortimer). [1] These arms may be seen, exposed to the elements and thus very worn, sculpted above the south porch of St Peter's Church, Tiverton, Devon.


Related Research Articles

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Earl of Devon

The title of Earl of Devon was created several times in the English peerage, and was possessed first by the de Redvers family, and later by the Courtenays. It is not to be confused with the title of Earl of Devonshire, held, together with the title Duke of Devonshire, by the Cavendish family of Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, although the letters patent for the creation of the latter peerages used the same Latin words, Comes Devon(iae). It was a re-invention, if not an actual continuation, of the pre-Conquest office of Ealdorman of Devon.

Henry Stafford, 1st Earl of Wiltshire English Earl

Henry Stafford, 1st Earl of Wiltshire was an English nobleman.

Catherine Woodville, Duchess of Buckingham English noblewoman

Catherine Woodville was an English medieval noblewoman. She was the sister-in-law of King Edward IV of England and gave birth to several illustrious children. Catherine was the daughter of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers, and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. When her sister Elizabeth married King Edward IV, the King elevated and promoted many members of the Woodville family. Elizabeth Woodville's household records for 1466/67 indicate that Catherine was being raised in the queen's household.

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Tiverton Castle Grade I listed historic house museum in Mid Devon, United Kingdom

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William Courtenay (1477–1535) leading member of the Devon gentry and a courtier of King Henry VIII

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Colcombe Castle

Colcombe Castle was a now lost castle or fortified house situated about a half mile north of the village of Colyton in East Devon.

The manor of Modbury was a manor covering the ecclesiastical parish of Modbury in Devon. The manor house, last occupied by the Champernowne family and known as "Court House", was situated on the north side of the parish church of St George, on or near the site of Modbury Priory, founded in the 12th century by the Vautort lords of the manor. It was destroyed during the Civil War (1642–1651) and the remnants were sold for building materials in 1705.


  1. 1 2 "The House of York". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Levin, Carole; Bertolet, Anna Riehl; Carney, Jo Eldridge (3 November 2016). A Biographical Encyclopedia of Early Modern Englishwomen: Exemplary Lives and Memorable Acts, 1500–1650. Taylor & Francis. ISBN   9781315440712.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Weir, Alison (3 December 2013). Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN   9780345521385.
  4. 1 2 Stevenson, Katie (30 May 2014). Power and Propaganda: Scotland 1306–1488. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN   9780748694198.
  5. 1 2 Panton, James (24 February 2011). Historical Dictionary of the British Monarchy. Scarecrow Press. ISBN   9780810874978.
  6. England), Cambridge Antiquarian Society (Cambridge (1859). Antiquarian Communications. Macmillan.
  7. Edited by Todd Gray, Margery Rowe and Audrey Erskine (1992). Tudor and Stuart Devon: The Common Estate and Government. Published by University of Exeter Press. p. 13.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)