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Answer 63. Queen Elizabeth sought sanctuary from King Richard III in the Abbot’s house (now the Deanery) of Westminster Abbey on 1 May 1483.


The Queen was in the palace of Westminster, where Parliament now stands, when she learned that Richard had intercepted her eldest son on his way to London and had taken him to the Tower:

‘With which tidings, the Quene, in great flight and heaviness, bewailing her child’s ruin, her friends’ mischance, and her own infortune… gat herself in all the haste possible with her younger son and her daughters out of the palace of Westminster, in which she then lay, into the sanctuary, lodging herself and her company there in the abbot’s place.’

IMG_4744 SanctuaryElizabeth took her furniture with her, as the Archbishop of York discovered when he paid her a visit:

‘About whom he found much heaviness, rumble, haste and business, carriage and conveyance of her stuff into sanctuary – chests, coffers, packs, fardelles, trusses, all on men’s backs, no man unoccupied, some lading, some going, some discharging, some coming for more, some breaking down the walls to bring in the next way…

‘The Quene herself sat alone, alow on the rushes, all desolate and dismayed, whom the archbishop comforted in the best manner he could.’

Elizabeth had every reason to be alarmed. Richard’s troops quickly surrounded the place so that no one could escape. The standoff continued until 1 March 1484, when Richard made Elizabeth a solemn promise, witnessed by the peers of the realm and the mayor and aldermen of London.

HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 64. What did King Richard III promise Queen Elizabeth on 1 March 1484 to get her out of sanctuary?

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