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Lady Margaret Beaufort, 1443-1509

Lady Margaret Beaufort (31 May 1443 – 29 June 1509), Countess of Richmond and Derby, was the mother of King Henry VII and grandmother of King Henry VIII of England. Lady Margaret played an important part in bringing the disastrous Wars of the Roses to an end. After the battle of Bosworth Field, her son Henry, head of the Lancastrian party, became King in large part through her political strategies. He then united the warring houses of York and Lancaster through his marriage to Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV.

Margaret Beaufort's relationship with her only child Henry was extraordinary. She was 13 years old when he was born. Then she barely saw him since from the age of two, he lived with his father's family in Wales and from the age of fourteen, he lived in exile in France. During this period, their relationship was sustained by letter and few visits

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. Her regency was short lived however, as she died on 29 June 1509 in the Deanery of Westminster Abbey, just over two months after the death of her son. She is buried in a black marble tomb topped with a bronze gilded effigy and canopy, between the graves of William and Mary and the tomb of Mary I of Scotland, in the Henry VII Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey.

In 1497 she announced her intention to build a free school for the general public of Wimborne, Dorset. With her death in 1509, Wimborne Grammar School, now Queen Elizabeth's School, came into existence. In 1502 she established the Lady Margaret's Professorships of Divinity at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. In 1505, following the accession of her son Henry VII to the throne, she refounded and enlarged God's House, Cambridge as Christ's College with a royal charter from the King. She has been honoured ever since as the Foundress of the College. In 1511, St John's College, Cambridge was founded by her estate, either at her direct behest or at the suggestion of her chaplain. Lady Margaret Hall, the first women's college at the University of Oxford, was named in her honour.

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