|Princess Bridget of York|
Nun at Dartford Priory
Bridget joined the large York royal family just over a year after her older sister, Katherine, and only months after older sisters, Mary and Cecily, had been made Ladies of the Garter. Queen Elizabeth's last child is often overlooked in the drama that occurred during her early life, but Bridget would leave it all behind for a monastic life just as her namesake, St Bridget of Sweden, had done.
Born at Eltham Palace, Bridget was baptized the following day with her eldest sister, Elizabeth, standing as godmother. It is likely that the decision to dedicate this child to the church had already been made. Cecily of York, Bridget's grandmother, had recently retired to Berkhamsted to devote her life to religious study and worship. She is thought to be the one to suggest the unconventional name of Bridget for the youngest York princess.
As a toddler, Bridget went with her mother and sisters into sanctuary when her father died in 1483. Hearing that Richard of Gloucester had taken control of the boy who was now Edward V, Elizabeth panicked and rushed her remaining children to Westminster Abbey. While the rest of the family waited in fear to see how events would unfold, Bridget was young enough to be blissfully ignorant.
The girls did not leave sanctuary until March of the following year, after Queen Elizabeth had convinced the man who was by then Richard III to publicly promise to see to the protection and well-being of her five surviving daughters. Blessed by her youth, Bridget would not have understood the loss of her two brothers that devastated her mother and older sisters. Edward V and little Richard of York would never be seen again.
Then, in 1485, the world shifted again. The Plantagenet dynasty, which had begun in 1154, came to an end when Richard III was killed in the Battle of Bosworth by the forces of Henry Tudor. In an underdog victory that none could have foreseen, the Tudor dynasty was born and Bridget found herself the youngest princess of a defeated regime. She was almost five years old.
Since Bridget's eldest sister, Elizabeth, became Henry Tudor's bride, her position was safe if uncertain. What would Henry VII decide to do about all those York girls with royal blood running through their veins? Parliament had bastardized them, but Henry quickly had them legitimized for his wife's sake. Their marriage would unite their houses and bring peace, but who could he safely marry her sisters to?
Bridget died in 1517 and was buried at the priory. However, the exact location of her grave was lost due to the Dissolution of the Monasteries by her nephew, Henry VIII.