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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Margaret Beaufort

b. 1443, England; d. 1509, Westminster, England

Margaret Beaufort, daughter of the duke of Somerset, was married at twelve to Edmund Tudor; at thirteen, she was a widow, six months pregnant with her son, the future Henry VII. She was a shrewd player in the often dangerous succession struggles that would bring her son to the throne in 1485, thus founding the Tudor dynastic line. As mother of the king, she greatly augmented her landholdings and became the leading benefactor of Cambridge University. A patron of literature and music, she was also a scholar herself, translating several devotional texts into English. She died in 1509, the same year that her dream of a free public school at Wimborne, Dorset, was realized.