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Elizabeth Woodville

Elizabeth Woodville (1437-1492) was the queen-consort of King Edward IV of England 1464-1483.

She was the daughter of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. In about 1452, she married Sir John Grey[?], 2nd Baron Ferrers of Groby, who was killed at the second Battle of St Albans in 1461, fighting for the Lancastrian[?] cause. (This was ironic, as Edward IV was the Yorkist claimant to the throne.) Elizabeth had two sons from the marriage, Thomas (later Marquess of Dorset) and Richard[?].

Edward had many mistresses, the most notorious being Jane Shore, but Elizabeth insisted on marriage, which took place secretly (from the public but not from their family and friends) on May 1, 1464, at her family home in Northamptonshire. At the time, Edward's adviser, the Earl of Warwick, was negotiating a marriage alliance with France. When the marriage to Elizabeth Woodville became common knowledge, it was the cause of considerable rancour on Warwick's part, and when Elizabeth's relatives, especially her brother, Earl Rivers[?], began to be favored over him, he changed sides. (Nor was Warwick the only one who resented the way the queen's relatives scooped up favours and lucrative opportunities; in 1480, for example, when Elizabeth's obscure brother-in-law Sir Anthony Grey died, he was interred in St Albans Cathedral with a brass marker to rival the one for that abbey's greatest archbishop. That was nothing compared to the marriages the queen arranged for her family, the most outrageous being when her 20-year-old brother John Woodville married the dowager Duchess of Norfolk, widowed three times and nearly 80 but very, very wealthy. The queen also married her 24-year-old sister Katherine (or Catherine) Woodville to Elizabeth's 12-year-old ward Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, who was quite wealthy already, too.)

Elizabeth and Edward's marriage had produced ten children, including two sons who were still living at the time of the king's sudden death in 1483. The elder, Edward, had been born in sanctuary at Westminster Abbey in 1470, during the period when Edward IV was out of power during the Wars of the Roses. Elizabeth now, briefly, became Queen Mother, but on June 25, 1483, her marriage was declared null and void by Parliament in the act Titulus Regius on the grounds that Edward had previously promised to marry Lady Eleanor Talbot Butler, which was considered a legally binding contract that rendered any other marriage contract invalid as bigamous. (Eleanor Talbot had done the same thing Elizabeth Woodville did later: A widow who caught Edward's eye, she refused to give in to him until he promised to marry her.) This information came to the fore when Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells, testified that he had carried out the ceremony. On the basis of his evidence, all Elizabeth's children by Edward, including King Edward V, were declared illegitimate, and her brother-in-law, Richard III, accepted the crown and kept the two princes in the Tower of London, where they had already been lodged to await the coronation. The exact fate of the so-called Princes in the Tower is unknown but both were dead in this or the next reign. Elizabeth and her other children were in sanctuary again, fearing for their safety. This may have been to protect themselves against jealous courtiers who wanted their own back on the entire Woodville clan.

Elizabeth then conspired with Lancastrians, promising to marry her eldest daughter, Elizabeth of York, to the Lancastrian claimant to the throne, Henry Tudor (later King Henry VII), if he could supplant Richard. Following Henry's accession in 1485, Elizabeth Woodville's children by Edward IV were once again legitimised (because Henry wanted his wife to be the Yorkist heir to the throne, to cement his hold on it). The former Queen Elizabeth Woodville, now simply Dame Elizabeth Grey again, died on June 8, at Bermondsey in London and was buried in the same chantry as her husband King Edward in St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.

Children of Elizabeth Woodville :



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