Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York

In 1830, Nicholas Harris Nicolas published Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York, from which these extracts are taken. They cover the last year of Elizabeth’s life, from March 24, 1502, through her death on February 11, 1503. The complete book can be found on Google Books and is also available here.

This was a sad year for Elizabeth, whose eldest son, Arthur, died on April 2, 1502. She and Henry VII, who is often stereotyped as cold-hearted, comforted each other:

“Immediately after Arthur’s death, Sir Richard Poole, his Chamberlain, with other of his Counsel, wrote and sent letters to the King and Counsel, at Greenwich, whre his Grace and the Queen lay, and certified them of the Prince’s departure. The which Counsel discreetly sent for the King’s ghostly father, a friar observant, to whom they showed this most sorrowful and heavy tidings, and desired him in his best manner to show it to the King. He, in the morning of the Tuesday following, somewhat before the time accustomed, knocked at the King’s chamber door, and when the King understood it was his confessor, he commanded to let him in. The confessor then commanded all those present to avoid, and after due salutation began to say ‘Si bona de manu Dei suscipimus, mala autum quare non sustineamus,’ and so showed his Grace that his dearest son was departed to God. When his Grace understood that sorrowful heavy tidings, he sent for the Queen, saying that he had his Queen would take the painful sorrows together. After that she was come and saw the King her lord, and that natural and painful sorrow, as I have heard say, she, with full great and constant comfortable words besought his Grace that he would first after God remember the weal of his own noble person, the comfort of his realm, and of her. She then said, that my lady, his mother, had never no more children but him only, and that God by his grace had ever preserved him, and brought him where that he was. Over that, how that God had left him yet a fair prince, two fair princesses; and that God is where he was, and we were both young enough; and that the prudence and wisdom of his Grace sprung over all Christendom, so that it should please him to take this according thereunto. Then the King thanked her for her good comfort. After that she was departed and come to her own chamber, natural and motherly remembrance of that great loss smote her so sorrowful to the heart, that those that were about her were fain to send for the King to comfort her. Then his Grace, of true, gentle, and faithful love, in good haste came and relieved her, and showed her how wise counsel she had given him before; and he, for his part, would thank God for his sone and would she do in like wise.

Despite this sorrowful event, most of the expenses concern mundane daily matters. They pretty much speak for themselves, but note the care Elizabeth took of her fool, her taste for venison, and her rich clothing (contrary to some novels that have Henry forcing his queen to wear threadbare gowns).

Itm….delivered to John Goose my lord of Yorkes fole in rewarde for bringing a Carppe to the Quene ———-xij d.

Itm….to Robert Aleyn for a rewarde by him geven to the doughtier of the keper of the Kinges place at Westm{r} for bringing a present of almond butter to the Quene to Hampton Courte ———-iij s. iiij. d.

Itm….to a Mynstrell that played upon a droon before the Quene at Richemount in rewarde ———-iij s. iiiij. d.

Itm….to a servaunt of my lady Nevile wif to S{r} Thomas Darcy, in rewarde for bringing a present of Sele to the Quene to Richemount ———-x s.

Item….the same day to a pore man that brought a present of Oranges and Apples to the Quene at Richemount ———- xij d.

Itm….delivered to S{r} William Barton preest for thofferinges of the Quene to oure lady and Saint George at Wyndesoure and to the Holy Crosse there ij s. vj d. to King Henry [i.e., Henry VI] ij s. vj d. to oure lady of Eton xx d. to the Childe of grace at Reding ij s. vj d. to oure lady of Caversham ijs. vj d. to oure lady of Cokthorp xx d. to the holy blode of Heyles xx d. to Prince Edward v s. to oure lady of Worcestre v s. to the Holy Rood at Northampton v s. to oure lady of Grace there ij s. vj d. to oure lady of Walsingham vj s. viij d. to oure lady of Sudbury ij s. vj d. to oure lady of Wolpitte xx d. to oure lady of Ippeswiche iij s. iiij d. and to oure lady of Stokeclare xx d. ———-Sm{a} xlviij s. iiij d.

Itm….the seconde day of May to William Botery for a yerd quart’ di quart’ of blake tynselle saten of the riche making for an edge of a gowne of blake velvet for the Quene at xxxiij s. iiij d. the yerd xlv s. x d. Itm a yerd quarter di quarter of blake saten for an edge of a gowne of crymsyn velvet at viij s. the yerd xj s. Itm seven yerdes of grene satten of Bruges for a kertell for my Lady Anne at ij s. viij d. the yerd xviij s. viij d. Itm for xij yardes sarcenet of eight divers colours for girdelles for the Quene at iiij s. the yerd xlviij s. Itm iiij yerdes di of sarcenet of tawny grene and russet at xxij d. the yerd viij s. iij d. ———- vj li. xj s. ix d.

Itm….the xvij{th} of Juyn to a servaunt of the Maire of London in reward for bringing a present of cherys to the Quene at Windesour ———– vj s. viij d.

# Itm….the ij{de} day of July to William Worthy otherwise called Phip for the bourde of William the Quenes fole for iij monethes ended the last day of Juyn that is to wit from the last day of Marche unto the furst day of July at ij s. the moneth Sm{a} ———- vj s.

Itm….the same day to the said William Phip for his wages for keping of the said fole by the space of iij quarters of a yere ended at Midsomer last past ———- xx s.

Itm….to the same William for money by him payed to Rauf Wise of Grenewiche for the diettes and othere necessaryes of the said fole there being sik by the space of iiij wekes —- —– iiij s.

Itm….the same day to Edmund Calver page of the Quenes chambre for a payre of shois for the Quenes fole vj d.

Itm….in rewarde to the keper of the parke of Miserder for bringing thre bukkes to Monmouth ———– v s.

Itm….the same day to High Denys for money by him delivered to a straungier that gave the Quene a payre of clavycordes in crownes for his reward ———- iiij li.

Itm….the same day to Thomas Woodnot for the expenses of the Quenes greyhoundes for the monethes of July August and Septembre that is to wit iiij{xx} xij dayes at ij d. the day ———- xv s. iiij d.

# Itm….the xij{th} day of Novembre to Doctoure Undrewood the Quenes confessoure for money by him dault in aulmous in London by the Quenes commaundement ——- — xx s.

Itm….the same day to S{r} Richard Lewes Knight for a cheyne of golde with vij knottes wayeng vij onz di and di quarter price the onz xxvj s. viij d. Sm{a} ———- x li. iij s. iiij d.

* Itm….the xxvij{ti} day of Novembre to Richard Justice page of the robys for his costes going from Westminster to London in the nyght for a gowne of blewe velvet for the Quene and for his bote hyere viij d. Itm for conveyeng alle the Quenes lyned gownys from Westminster to London by water and for mens labour that bare the same gownys to the water and from the water v d. Itm for bringing the Quenes furred gownys from London to Westminster and for mens labours that bare the same to and from the water v d. Itm for his costes from Westminster to London to take the remaynes of suche stuf as remaineth there iiij d. Itm for going from Westminster to London for vij yerdes quarter di of blake damaske and for a frontlet of golde for the Quene iiij d. and for maing a newe key to the grete standard being in the warderobe of the robys and for mending of boeth lokkes to the same vj d. Sm{a} ———-ij s. viij d.

Itm….the same day to Henry Bryan for xvij yerdes of blake velvet for a gowne for the Quene at x s. vj d. the yerde viij li. xviij s. vj d. Itm for xiij yerdes of blake satten delivered to Johnson for a riding gowne for the Quene at ix s. the yerde C xvij s. Itm for a yerde di quarter of blake velvet for an edge and cuffes for the same gowne at xj s. vj d. the yerde xiij s. Itm for vij yerdes di of blake bokeram for lynyng of the same gowne at ix d. the yerde v s. viij d. ob. Itm for a nayle of sarcenet for fentes for the same gowne iiij d. and for an elle quarter of canvase for lynyng of the same gowne vj d. Sm{a} ———-xv li. xiiij s. xj d. ob.

Itm for xxxvij payre shoes for xxxvij{ti} poure women at the Quenes Maundy at v d. the payre xv s. v d.

Itm….to Cornishe for setting of a carrelle upon Cristmas day in reward ———- xiij s. iiij d.

Itm….to the children of the Kinges Chappelle in rewarde to theim geven upon Cristmas day xiij s. iiij d. ———- xiij s. iiij d.

Itm….to the Quenes grace upon the Feest of Saint Stephen for hur disporte at cardes this Cristmas ———- C s.

Itm….to the keper of the parke of Odiham for bringing of ten does to the Quene to Richemounte on newe yeres even last passed ———– x s.

4 thoughts on “Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York”

  1. Nice post, Susan. I'm always astonished that people can believe (of anyone) that they are so utterly one dimensional as Henry Tudor is often portrayed. Even if he was the cold, miserly monster of popular myth, the death of a child is still the death of a child. I don't know very much about their marriage (beyond the myths) but even if it wasn't loving, or even companionable, their child, and his death, was something they shared. I've always found their response and the comfort they got from and gave each other to be very moving, even moreso if they weren't normally in the habit of this level of emotional sharing.

  2. I have to concede that I have yet to read some of those threadbare historical romances given that I have enough to do coping with the even more threadbare arguments of fanciful historians including hysterical thoughts on historic doubts.

    One of the things that has become clear during a year looking into the dual mystery surrounding R3 (actual subject EOY) – er what mystery? – is that the real maligned king is H7and that attempts to malign/blacken him particularly by the R3 lobby are at best ill-conceived. Furthermore it’s not just a case of a lack of sound logical argument but in the case of both kings and other personages a lack of research or proper research as well and some very obvious cherry-picking. One of the worst offenders is Walpole who hasn’t half dropped some right clangers and who seems to have been unaware that Edward V was not around at the time of his father’s coronation, that Margaret of York did return to England after her marriage and that there can be no confrontation between two people if one of them is already dead.

    It is worth noting that Buck who began the process of vilifying was removed from his royal post on the grounds of insanity; no doubt King James facing earlier troubles thought that a safer bet than on the grounds of treason. Indeed if Buck thought he could get away with making disparaging comments about his royal boss’s great-great-grandparents, he must have been mad. For those authors of Ricardian romances based on a certain alleged letter, I have further bad news; his claims of provenance are looking pretty sick too.

    That the lack of logic has extended to the matter of EOY’s clothes is one on which I am not sure whether to laugh or cry. Like any king, particularly one in the same situation of H7, would even consider that his consort would appear in public in anything but right royal robes. And let’s not forget certain ambassadors of hard-to-please parents of his future daughter-in-law who had to be suitably impressed.

    An examination of H7’s own PPE contains more than enough to refute the allegations of a miserly king and unloving husband which includes a rather endearing record of H7 having an arbour built in the grounds of Windsor Castle for his wife during a communal stay there where she could sit, rest, contemplate or shelter from the unruly elements. Further entries not only reveal how much money he spent on his wife including baling her out in the matter of certain financial embarrassment, but on himself including a staggering amount of jewels and royal plate, royal residences including Richmond Palace and Baynard Castle and royal entertainment which includes the first recorded use of royal fireworks which happened at his wedding – what a nice surprise for the bride. But the most revealing entries of all are his losses, all duly paid up, at backgammon, cards and tennis – hardly suggests a miser to me.

    Finally here’s a tasty morsel to chew on in the matter of royal expenses. If E4 was the first monarch to become solvent and H7 died with a cool million in the kitty no mean feat for one who when he got there found the cupboard was bare who was responsible for such a state of threadbare finances and whose method of accumulating wealth was even more reprehensible than that of H7?

    One begins to wonder in consideration of the tsunami of historical codswallop (present company excepted) that has been my lot over the last year whether I have in fact been reading historical fact or historical fiction. Indeed in the matter of questionable historical fiction it is a moot point who is to blame the novelists or the historians.

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