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Danse Macabre’ Around the Tomb and Bones of Margaret of York
Paul De Win
The Ricardian, Vol.15 (2005)
Over 500 years ago on 23 November 1503, at Malines, in present day Belgium, died Margaret of York, sister to Edward IV and Richard III of England and third and last wife of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, whom she survived by a quarter of a century. In her will she had asked to be buried in the church of the Franciscan or Grey Friars at Malines, which is situated opposite the west entrance of the present St Rombout’s Cathedral. It is certain that her body was actually buried in the Franciscan church, of which the main building survives today as part of the Malines Cultural Centre. Her heart was interred at the Carthusian house of Herne, about twenty-five kilometres south-east of Brussels, and her intestines at the Carthusian house of Scheut, near Brussels. Of Margaret’s funeral monument not a trace remains, but it can be deduced from a number of written sources where – approximately — she was buried, and what her monument – more or less – looked like. The oldest and probably best source is a manuscript containing numerous descriptions of epitaphs from mainly Brabantine churches, produced between 1550 and 1560 and now in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris.
Folio 146 reads:
Over the doorway to the choir within an arch is the high and mighty lady Lady Margaret of York, sister to Edward […] of that name, third wife of Charles, Duke of Burgundy, and she is on her knees, being presented by St Margaret. And on the other side of the same doorway is the same lady lying dead on a cloth wrapped in a shroud, a crown on her head and attended by three Franciscan friars. The whole is made of alabaster, and there is an angel supporting her coat of arms on a lozenge. The epitaph on a copper plaque says: