Duchess of York  

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Fashionable Contrasts (1792) by James Gillray   As well as being blatant in his observations, James Gillray could be incredibly subtle, and puncture vanity with a remarkably deft approach. The outstanding example of this is his print Fashionable Contrasts;—or—The Duchess's little Shoe yeilding [sic] to the Magnitude of the Duke's Foot. This was a devastating image aimed at the ridiculous sycophancy directed by the press towards Frederica Charlotte Ulrica, Duchess of York, and the supposed daintiness of her feet. The print showed only the feet and ankles of the Duke and Duchess of York, in an obviously copulatory position, with the Duke's feet enlarged and the Duchess's feet drawn very small. This print silenced forever the sycophancy of the press regarding the union of the Duke and Duchess.
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Fashionable Contrasts (1792) by James Gillray
As well as being blatant in his observations, James Gillray could be incredibly subtle, and puncture vanity with a remarkably deft approach. The outstanding example of this is his print Fashionable Contrasts;—or—The Duchess's little Shoe yeilding [sic] to the Magnitude of the Duke's Foot. This was a devastating image aimed at the ridiculous sycophancy directed by the press towards Frederica Charlotte Ulrica, Duchess of York, and the supposed daintiness of her feet. The print showed only the feet and ankles of the Duke and Duchess of York, in an obviously copulatory position, with the Duke's feet enlarged and the Duchess's feet drawn very small. This print silenced forever the sycophancy of the press regarding the union of the Duke and Duchess.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Duchess of York is the principal title held by the wife of the Duke of York since the creation of the title in 1384. The title is gained with marriage alone and is forfeited upon divorce. Four of the twelve Dukes of York did not marry or had already assumed the throne prior to marriage, therefore there have only ever been eleven Duchesses of York.

The eleven Duchesses of York (and the dates the individuals held that title) are as follows:

  1. Infanta Isabella of Castile (1372–1392) – The wife of Edmund of Langley, Isabella predeceased her husband and died at Kings Langley Manor House in Hertfordshire, England.
  2. Joan Holland (1393–1402) – Edmund of Langley's second wife, Joan survived her husband and went on to marry three other noblemen: William de Willoughby, 5th Lord Willoughby de Eresby; Henry Scrope, 3rd Baron Scrope of Masham; and Henry Bromflete, 1st Lord Vessy.
  3. Philippa de Mohun (1402-1415) – A twice widowed noblewoman, she married Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York, Duke of Albemarle. Her two previous husbands were Walter FitzWalter and Sir John Golafre.
  4. Cecily Neville (1425–1460) – Cecily married Richard Plantagenet and survived her husband and all four sons, entering into a largely religious life and dying in 1495 after receiving a papal indulgence.
  5. Anne de Mowbray, 8th Countess of Norfolk (1478–1481) – Anne was the child bride of Richard of Shrewsbury, one of the Princes in the Tower. She did not survive her young husband and died at the tender age of nine.
  6. Anne Hyde (1660–1671) – Anne predeceased her husband James before he became King, having contracted breast cancer.
  7. Mary of Modena - Later Queen Mary, the second wife of James II of England. Although she was a Roman Catholic and bore him a son James Francis Edward Stuart, because of his religion he did not succeed and instead was supplanted jointly by her stepdaughter Mary II and Mary II's husband William III. Mary of Modena's direct descendants were known as the Jacobites and remain so to this day.
  8. Princess Frederica Charlotte of Prussia (1791–1820) – Princess Frederica received a warm welcome to Great Britain but following a troubled relationship with her husband Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, the couple separated. She died in 1820.
  9. Princess Victoria Mary of Teck (1893–1901) – Princess Mary ceased to be known as the Duchess of York when her grandmother-in-law Queen Victoria died in 1901. That year she became Princess of Wales as the wife of the Prince of Wales. However, the title of Duchess of York remained among her subsidiary titles until her husband succeeded to the British throne as George V.
  10. Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1923–1936) – Known as "The Smiling Duchess," she ceased to be known as the Duchess of York when her husband's succeeded to the throne as George VI following the abdication of his elder brother, Edward VIII.
  11. Sarah Ferguson (1986–1996) – Considered a close friend of Diana, Princess of Wales, she was introduced to the second eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Andrew. Following their high-profile marriage and divorce, she became known as Sarah, Duchess of York (the proper address for the divorced wives of peers). In addition, she lost the style of Royal Highness as well as all other dignities related to the title of British princess. Contrary to popular belief, Sarah, Duchess of York, is not The Duchess of York for that is the title reserved for the wife of the Duke of York. She retains only the style, not the title of Duchess of York. This is to emphasize her changed status from wife to former wife of the Duke of York.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Duchess of York" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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