Margaret of York and Chocolate

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis   in News

Margaret (3 May 1446 – 23 November 1503) was the sister of Edward IV and Richard III.  She married Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, in 1468.  He died on 5 January 1477 and the dowager duchess remained influential in Burgundian politics until the end of her life.

Did Margaret like Chocolate?  Hardly, chocolate hadn’t been introduced to Europe during her lifetime.  A pity really, as today Belgian chocolates are world famous and as Duchess of Burgundy, Margaret would have been right on the spot.

Chocolate was only introduced into Europe after Hernan Cortes saw the Aztecs drink the beverage during his visit around 1519.  In Belgium, chocolate was only produced on a large scale in the 19th century and what comes to mind when we hear the term ‘Belgian chocolates’ was only developed in the early 20th century.

So, what is the connection between chocolate and Margaret of York?  The answer is the town of Herne (the Belgian one, not the German one).

After her death, Margaret was buried in the church of the monastery of the Recollects in Malines, though her tomb was destroyed in 1572.  However, according to a legend her heart was buried at the charterhouse in Herne.   According to some sources, this was confirmed by an only recently discovered part of her will of which so far only one fragment was deemed to have survived.

This is possible, though I could not find any direct reference for Margaret with regard to Herne.  It is, however, well-known that Margaret was very interested in Carthusian thinking, and was on close terms with the Carthusian scholar and teacher, Denis van Rijkel (1402 – 12 March 1471).  The first Bible (containing only the Old Testament without the Psalms) in Dutch was printed in Delft during Margaret’s time as dowager duchess of Burgundy in 1477.  This translation is based on one done in the mid 14th century at the Charterhouse in Herne.

Today Herne, 5 km north of Enghien, on the border of Brabant and Hainaut, is home to Chocolat at Home, a supplier of premium quality ingredients and equipment for home chocolatiers.   In memory of Margaret of York and her connection with Herne, they have created a special praline-filled chocolate heart kit in a gold-foiled casket.  The kit contains 300g dark and milk chocolate, a heart mould, two sorts of filling, a gold-foiled casket, tissue, recipe and technique cards as well as a brief history of Margaret’s life.

Even if Margaret herself would not have known what chocolate was, this seems to be the ideal gift for a person who is a Yorkist at heart.  And as it is said that the way to a guy’s heart is through his stomach, this just might convert some die-hard Lancastrians!


Christine Weightman, Margaret of York, the Diabolical Duchess.  Amberley Publishing, 2009.  ISBN 978 1 84868 099 9

Kate Bradbury, ‘About Belgium Chocolate’, Chocolate Expert, 11 September 2010.  URL:  http://www.chocolateexpert.co.uk/Belgium-chocolate.html Date accessed:  14 June 2011

Edmund Gurdon, ‘Denys the Carthusian’,  The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 4,  Robert Appleton Company, New York, 1908.  URL:  http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04734a.htm Date accessed:  14 June 2011

Ivan Sache, ,Herne (Municipality, Province of Flemish Brabant, Belgium)’, Flags of the World, 18 July  2007.  URL:  http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/be-vbrhn.html Date accessed:  13 June 2011


‘Chocolate’s European Debut’, All Chocolate.  URL:  http://www.allchocolate.com/understanding/history/old_meets_new.aspx Date accessed:  14 June 2011

‘The (Chocolate) Heart of Margaret of York’, Response Source, 10 June 2011.  URL:  http://www.responsesource.com/releases/rel_display.php?relid=65266 Date accessed:  11 June 2011

‘20. Delft Bible’, KB KoninklijkeBibliotheek.  URL:  http://www.kb.nl/galerie/100hoogtepunten/020-en.html Date accessed:  14 June 2011


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