The Godmother’s Secret
by Elizabeth St.John
Publication Date: October 4th, 2022
Publisher: Falcon Historical
Page Length: 350 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction / Historical Mystery
What if you knew what happened to the Princes in the Tower. Would you tell? Or would you forever keep the secret?
November, 1470: Westminster Abbey.
Lady Elysabeth Scrope faces a perilous royal duty when ordered into sanctuary with Elizabeth Woodville–witness the birth of Edward IV’s Yorkist son. Margaret Beaufort, Elysabeth’s sister, is desperately seeking a pardon for her exiled son Henry Tudor. Strategically, she coerces Lancastrian Elysabeth to be appointed godmother to Prince Edward, embedding her in the heart of the Plantagenets and uniting them in a destiny of impossible choices and heartbreaking conflict.
Bound by blood and torn by honour, when the king dies and Elysabeth delivers her young godson into the Tower of London to prepare for his coronation, she is engulfed in political turmoil. Within months, the prince and his brother have disappeared, Richard III is declared king, and Margaret conspires with Henry Tudor to invade England and claim the throne. Desperate to protect her godson, Elysabeth battles the intrigue, betrayal and power of the last medieval court, defying her husband and her sister under her godmother’s sacred oath to keep Prince Edward safe.
Were the princes murdered by their uncle, Richard III? Was the rebel Duke of Buckingham to blame? Or did Margaret Beaufort mastermind their disappearance to usher in the Tudor dynasty? Of anyone at the royal court, Elysabeth has the most to lose–and the most to gain–by keeping secret the fate of the Princes in the Tower.
Inspired by England’s most enduring historical mystery, Elizabeth St.John, best-selling author of The Lydiard Chronicles, blends her own family history with known facts and centuries of speculation to create an intriguing alternative story illuminating the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower.
Chapter Two, in which Lady Elysabeth Scrope intervenes to deliver her future godson, Prince Edward.
When the bells toll for Lauds, the queen’s head lolls to one side.
The midwife shrieks and mutters, and I shout over my shoulder to shut her up.
“Meg, make the queen push when I tell you.” We have one chance, I think to myself, before they both die.
The fire surrenders, and grey light slips beneath the window covers, the winding cloth of a chill dawn. The crone snores in her drunken sleep.
“Push, Your Grace, push to bring your child into the world.” I fill the stifling room with my order. “Push to give your husband the York heir he so desires.” No men’s battle lines now. This war is between mother and child.
The queen screams and shudders and pushes, and the child almost somersaults from the womb, and I spread the cord and pull the child free.
Mary, Mother of God. A boy. A boy born to the triumphant cries of women, who together conquered darkness and delivered light into the world.
The child sucks air, shudders. He is one breath from living, one breath from dying. The future of the House of York squirms in my hands. Holding the newborn to my breast, I embrace life, a mother’s instinct over men’s conflict.
“A boy! A lively boy, Your Grace.” I am in tears, and so is Meg. The queen lifts her head, fixes her eyes on me with a look of surprise, and then closes them again as we help her back to the bed.
My first duty is done. If that is what King Henry and Margaret Beaufort intended. God’s witness to the birth of their enemy’s heir. Would Margaret have fought so hard to save his life? Will the king recall his insane command to me? I quickly push the disturbing thoughts to the very back of my mind.
Queen Elizabeth's son, King Edward’s successor to the throne. I bow my head. And now the conflict begins.
I am to be godmother to a York prince.
God protect him.
God help me.
Elizabeth St.John spends her time between California, England, and the past. An acclaimed author, historian, and genealogist, she has tracked down family papers and residences from Lydiard Park and Nottingham Castle to Richmond Palace and the Tower of London to inspire her novels.
Although the family sold a few country homes along the way (it's hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth’s family still occupy them— in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their legacy. And the occasional ghost.
But that’s a different story.
Having spent a significant part of her life with her seventeenth-century family while writing The Lydiard Chronicles trilogy and Counterpoint series, Elizabeth St.John is now discovering new family stories with her fifteenth-century namesake Elysabeth St.John Scrope, and her half-sister, Margaret Beaufort.
Connect with Elizabeth: