|Queen consort of England|
|Tenure||1 May 1464 – 3 October 1470|
|Coronation||26 May 1465|
|Tenure||11 April 1471 – 9 April 1483|
Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire, England
|Died||8 June 1492 (about 55)|
Bermondsey, Surrey, England
|Burial||12 June 1492|
|Father||Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers|
|Mother||Jacquetta of Luxembourg|
Elizabeth Woodville (also spelled Wydville, Wydeville, or Widvile) (c. 1437 – 8 June 1492) was Queen of England from her marriage to King Edward IV on 1 May 1464 until Edward was deposed on 3 October 1470, and again from Edward's resumption of the throne on 11 April 1471 until his death on 9 April 1483.
At the time of her birth, her family was of middle rank in the English social hierarchy. Her mother, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, had previously been an aunt-by-marriage to Henry VI. Elizabeth's first marriage was to a minor supporter of the House of Lancaster, Sir John Grey of Groby. He died at the Second Battle of St Albans, leaving Elizabeth a widowed mother of two sons.
Her second marriage to Edward IV became a cause célèbre. Elizabeth was known for her beauty but came from minor nobility with no great estates, and the marriage took place in secret. Edward was the first king of England since the Norman Conquest to marry one of his subjects,and Elizabeth was the first such consort to be crowned queen. Her marriage greatly enriched her siblings and children, but their advancement incurred the hostility of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, 'The Kingmaker', and his various alliances with the most senior figures in the increasingly divided royal family. This hostility turned into open discord between King Edward and Warwick, leading to a battle of wills that finally resulted in Warwick switching allegiance to the Lancastrian cause, and to the execution of Elizabeth's father, Richard Woodville, in 1469.
After the death of her husband in 1483, Elizabeth remained politically influential even after her son, briefly proclaimed King Edward V of England, was deposed by her brother-in-law, Richard III. Edward and his younger brother Richard both disappeared soon afterward, and are presumed to have been murdered. Elizabeth subsequently played an important role in securing the accession of Henry VII in 1485. Henry married her daughter Elizabeth of York, ended the Wars of the Roses, and established the Tudor dynasty. Through her daughter, Elizabeth was a grandmother of the future Henry VIII. Elizabeth was forced to yield pre-eminence to Henry VII's mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort; her influence on events in these years, and her eventual departure from court into retirement, remain obscure.
Elizabeth Woodville was born in about 1437, possibly in October,at Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire. She was the firstborn child of a socially unequal marriage between Sir Richard Woodville and Jacquetta of Luxembourg, which briefly scandalised the English court. The Woodvilles, though an old and respectable family, were gentry rather than noble, a landed and wealthy family that had previously produced commissioners of the peace, sheriffs, and MPs, rather than peers of the realm; Elizabeth's mother, in contrast, was the widow of the Duke of Bedford, uncle of King Henry VI of England.
In about 1452, Elizabeth Woodville married Sir John Grey of Groby, the heir to the Barony Ferrers of Groby. He was killed at the Second Battle of St Albans in 1461, fighting for the Lancastrian cause. This would become a source of irony, since Elizabeth's future husband Edward IV was the Yorkist claimant to the throne. Elizabeth Woodville's two sons from this first marriage were Thomas (later Marquess of Dorset) and Richard.
Elizabeth Woodville was called "the most beautiful woman in the Island of Britain" with "heavy-lidded eyes like those of a dragon."
Edward IV had many mistresses, the best known of them being Jane Shore, and he did not have a reputation for fidelity. His marriage to the widowed Elizabeth Woodville took place secretly and, though the date is not known, it is traditionally said to have taken place at her family home in Northamptonshire on 1 May 1464.Only the bride's mother and two ladies were in attendance. Edward married her just over three years after he had assumed the English throne in the wake of his overwhelming victory over the Lancastrians, at the Battle of Towton, which resulted in the displacement of King Henry VI. Elizabeth Woodville was crowned queen on 26 May 1465, the Sunday after Ascension Day.
In the early years of his reign, Edward IV's governance of England was dependent upon a small circle of supporters, most notably his cousin, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick. At around the time of Edward IV's secret marriage, Warwick was negotiating an alliance with France in an effort to thwart a similar arrangement being made by his sworn enemy Margaret of Anjou, wife of the deposed Henry VI. The plan was that Edward IV should marry a French princess. When his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, who was both a commoner and from a family of Lancastrian supporters became public, Warwick was both embarrassed and offended, and his relationship with Edward IV never recovered. The match was also badly received by the Privy Council, who according to Jean de Waurin told Edward with great frankness that "he must know that she was no wife for a prince such as himself".
With the arrival on the scene of the new queen came many relatives, some of whom married into the most notable families in England.Three of her sisters married the sons of the earls of Kent, Essex and Pembroke. Another sister, Catherine Woodville, married the queen's 11-year-old ward Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, who later joined Edward IV's brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, in opposition to the Woodvilles after the death of Edward IV. Elizabeth's 20-year-old brother John married Katherine, Duchess of Norfolk. The Duchess had been widowed three times and was probably in her sixties, so that the marriage created a scandal at court. Elizabeth's son from her first marriage, Thomas Grey, married Cecily Bonville, 7th Baroness Harington.
When Elizabeth Woodville's relatives, especially her brother Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers, began to challenge Warwick's pre-eminence in English political society, Warwick conspired with his son-in-law George, Duke of Clarence, the king's younger brother. One of his followers accused Elizabeth Woodville's mother, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, of practising witchcraft. She was acquitted the following year.Warwick and Clarence twice rose in revolt and then fled to France. Warwick formed an uneasy alliance with the Lancastrian Queen Margaret of Anjou and restored her husband Henry VI to the throne in 1470. But the following year, Edward IV, returned from exile and defeated Warwick at the Battle of Barnet, and the Lancastrians at the Battle of Tewkesbury. Henry VI was killed soon afterwards.
Following her husband's temporary fall from power, Elizabeth Woodville sought sanctuary in Westminster Abbey, where she gave birth to a son, Edward (later King Edward V of England). Her marriage to Edward IV produced a total of ten children, including another son, Richard, Duke of York, who would later join his brother as one of the Princes in the Tower.Five daughters also lived to adulthood.
Elizabeth Woodville engaged in acts of Christian piety in keeping with conventional expectations of a medieval queen consort. Her acts included making pilgrimages, obtaining a papal indulgence for those who knelt and said the Angelus three times per day, and founding the chapel of St. Erasmus in Westminster Abbey.
Following Edward IV's sudden death, possibly from pneumonia, in April 1483, Elizabeth Woodville became queen dowager. Her young son, Edward V, became king, with his uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, acting as Lord Protector. In response to the Woodvilles' attempt to monopolise power, Gloucester quickly moved to take control of the young king and had the king's uncle Earl Rivers and half-brother Richard Grey, son to Elizabeth, arrested. The young king was transferred to the Tower of London to await the coronation. With her younger son and daughters, Elizabeth again sought sanctuary. Lord Hastings, the late king's leading supporter in London, initially endorsed Gloucester's actions, but Gloucester then accused him of conspiring with Elizabeth Woodville against him. Hastings was summarily executed. Whether any such conspiracy really occurred is not known.Richard accused Elizabeth of plotting to "murder and utterly destroy" him.
On 25 June 1483, Gloucester had Elizabeth Woodville's son Richard Grey and brother Anthony, Earl Rivers, executed in Pontefract Castle, Yorkshire. By an act of Parliament, the Titulus Regius (1 Ric. III), it was declared that Edward IV's children with Elizabeth were illegitimate on the grounds that Edward IV had a precontract with the widow Lady Eleanor Butler, which was considered a legally binding contract that rendered any other marriage contract invalid. One source, the Burgundian chronicler Philippe de Commines, says that Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells, carried out an engagement ceremony between Edward IV and Lady Eleanor.The act also contained charges of witchcraft against Elizabeth, but gave no details and the charges had no further repercussions. As a consequence, the Duke of Gloucester and Lord Protector was offered the throne and became King Richard III. Edward V, who was no longer king, and his brother Richard, Duke of York, remained in the Tower of London. There are no recorded sightings of them after the summer of 1483.
Now referred to as Dame Elizabeth Grey,she, with Duke of Buckingham (a former close ally of Richard III and now probably seeking the throne for himself) now allied themselves with Lady Margaret Stanley (née Beaufort) and espoused the cause of Margaret's son Henry Tudor, a great-great-great-grandson of King Edward III, the closest male heir of the Lancastrian claim to the throne with any degree of validity. To strengthen his claim and unite the two feuding noble houses, Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort agreed that the latter's son should marry the former's eldest daughter, Elizabeth of York, who upon the death of her brothers became the heiress of the House of York. Henry Tudor agreed to this plan and in December 1483 publicly swore an oath to that effect in the cathedral in Rennes, France. A month earlier, an uprising in his favour, led by Buckingham, had been crushed.
Richard III's first Parliament of January 1484 stripped Elizabeth of all the lands given to her during Edward IV's reign.On 1 March 1484, Elizabeth and her daughters came out of sanctuary after Richard III publicly swore an oath that her daughters would not be harmed or molested and that they would not be imprisoned in the Tower of London or in any other prison. He also promised to provide them with marriage portions and to marry them to "gentlemen born". The family returned to Court, apparently reconciled to Richard III. After the death of Richard III's wife Anne Neville, in March 1485, rumours arose that the newly widowed king was going to marry his beautiful and young niece Elizabeth of York.
In 1485, Henry Tudor invaded England and defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. As King, Henry VII married Elizabeth of York and had the Titulus Regius revoked and all found copies destroyed.Elizabeth Woodville was accorded the title and honours of a queen dowager.
Scholars differ about why Dowager Queen Elizabeth spent the last five years of her life living at Bermondsey Abbey, to which she retired on 12 February 1487. Among her modern biographers, David Baldwin believes that Henry VII forced her retreat from the Court, while Arlene Okerlund presents evidence from July 1486 that she was already planning her retirement from court to live a religious, contemplative life at Bermondsey Abbey.Another suggestion is that her retreat to Bermondsey was forced on her because she was in some way involved in the 1487 Yorkist rebellion of Lambert Simnel, or at least was seen as a potential ally of the rebels.
At Bermondsey Abbey, Elizabeth was treated with the respect due to a dowager queen. She lived a regal life on a pension of £400 and received small gifts from Henry VII.She was present at the birth of her granddaughter Margaret at Westminster Palace in November 1489 and at the birth of her grandson, the future Henry VIII, at Greenwich Palace in June 1491. Her daughter Queen Elizabeth visited her on occasion at Bermondsey, although another one of her other daughters, Cecily of York, visited her more often.
Henry VII briefly contemplated marrying his mother-in-law to King James III of Scotland, when James III's wife, Margaret of Denmark, died in 1486.However James III was killed in battle in 1488.
Elizabeth Woodville died at Bermondsey Abbey, on 8 June 1492.With the exception of the queen, who was awaiting the birth of her fourth child, and Cecily of York, her daughters attended the funeral at Windsor Castle; Anne of York (the future wife of Thomas Howard), Catherine of York (the future Countess of Devon) and Bridget of York (a nun at Dartford Priory). Elizabeth's will specified a simple ceremony. The surviving accounts of her funeral on 12 June 1492 suggest that at least one source "clearly felt that a queen's funeral should have been more splendid" and may have objected that "Henry VII had not been fit to arrange a more queenly funeral for his mother-in-law", although simplicity was the queen dowager's own wish. A letter discovered in 2019, written in 1511 by Andrea Badoer, the Venetian ambassador in London, suggests that she had died of plague, which would explain the haste and lack of public ceremony. Elizabeth was laid to rest in the same chantry as her husband King Edward IV in St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.
Elizabeth Woodville is thought to have been the author of one of only three lyric poems in Middle English ascribed to a woman author. A "Hymn to Venus", found in one single manuscriptin which it is ascribed to "Queen Elizabeth", is a complex six-stanza poem that praises Venus, the goddess of love. It is an "elaboration of the sestina", in which the first line of each seven-line stanza is also its last line, and the lines of the first stanza provide the first lines for each subsequent stanza.
Edward IV's love for his wife is celebrated in sonnet 75 of Philip Sidney's Astrophel and Stella .(written by 1586, first pub. 1591).
She appears in two of Shakespeare's plays: Henry VI Part 3 (written by 1592), in which she is a fairly minor character, and Richard III (written approx. 1592), where she has a central role. Shakespeare portrays Elizabeth as a proud and alluring woman in Henry VI Part 3. By Richard III, she is careworn from having to defend herself against detractors in the court, including her titular brother-in-law Richard. She is one of Richard's cleverest opponents, as she sees through him from the beginning, but she is also melodramatic and self-pitying. Although most modern editions of Henry VI Part 3 and Richard III call her "Queen Elizabeth" in the stage directions, the original Shakespearean Folio never actually refer to her by name, instead calling her first "Lady Grey" and later simply "Queen."
Novels that feature Elizabeth Woodville as a character include:
Edward IV was King of England from 4 March 1461 to 3 October 1470, then again from 11 April 1471 until his death in 1483. He was a central figure in the Wars of the Roses, a series of civil wars in England fought between the Yorkist and Lancastrian factions between 1455 and 1487.
Elizabeth of York was Queen of England from her marriage to King Henry VII on 18 January 1486 until her death in 1503. Elizabeth married Henry after his victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field, which marked the end of the Wars of the Roses. Together, they had seven children.
Anne Neville was an English queen, the younger of the two daughters and co-heiresses of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick. She became Princess of Wales as the wife of Edward of Westminster and then Queen of England as the wife of King Richard III.
The Princes in the Tower refers to the apparent murder in England in the 1480s of the deposed King Edward V of England and Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York. These two brothers were the only sons of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville surviving at the time of their father's death in 1483. When they were 12 and 9 years old, respectively, they were lodged in the Tower of London by their paternal uncle and all-powerful regent the Duke of Gloucester. This was supposedly in preparation for Edward V's forthcoming coronation. However, before the young king could be crowned, he and his brother were declared illegitimate. Gloucester ascended the throne as Richard III.
Cecily Neville was an English noblewoman, the wife of Richard, Duke of York (1411–1460), and the mother of two kings of England—Edward IV and Richard III. Cecily Neville was known as "the Rose of Raby", because she was born at Raby Castle in Durham, and "Proud Cis", because of her pride and a temper that went with it, although she was also known for her piety. She herself signed her name "Cecylle".
Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Countess Rivers was the eldest daughter of Peter I of Luxembourg, Count of Saint-Pol, Conversano and Brienne, and his wife Margaret of Baux. She was a prominent, though often overlooked, figure in the Wars of the Roses. Through her short-lived first marriage to the Duke of Bedford, brother of King Henry V, she was firmly allied to the House of Lancaster. However, following the emphatic Lancastrian defeat at the Battle of Towton, she and her second husband Richard Woodville sided closely with the House of York. Three years after the battle and the accession of Edward IV of England, Jacquetta's eldest daughter Elizabeth Woodville married him and became Queen consort of England. Jacquetta bore Woodville 14 children and stood trial on charges of witchcraft, of which she was exonerated.
Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers, also Wydeville, was the father of Elizabeth Woodville and father-in-law of Edward IV.
Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset, 1st Earl of Huntingdon, 7th Baron Ferrers of Groby, was an English nobleman, courtier and the eldest son of Elizabeth Woodville and her first husband Sir John Grey of Groby. Her second marriage to King Edward IV made her Queen of England, thus elevating Grey's status at court and in the realm as the stepson of the King. Through his mother's assiduous endeavours, he made two materially advantageous marriages to wealthy heiresses, the King's niece Anne Holland and Cecily Bonville, 7th Baroness Harington. By the latter he had 14 children.
Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, was the sixth child and second son of King Edward IV of England and Elizabeth Woodville, born in Shrewsbury. Richard and his older brother, who briefly reigned as King Edward V of England, mysteriously disappeared shortly after Richard III became king in 1483.
Richard Woodville, 3rd Earl Rivers succeeded his brother, Anthony Woodville, as the third Earl Rivers. He was the son of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers, and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. Richard was the brother of the English queen Elizabeth Woodville.
Catherine Woodville was an English medieval noblewoman.
Cecily of York, Viscountess Welles was an English princess, the third daughter of Edward IV, King of England, and his queen consort Elizabeth Woodville, daughter of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers, and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. She was First Lady of the Bedchamber to her sister, Queen Elizabeth of York, in the years 1485–1487.
Events from the 1460s in England.
Events from the 1480s in England. This decade marks the beginning of the Tudor period.
Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset was an English peer, courtier, soldier, and landowner.
Cecily Bonville, 7th Baroness Harington, 2nd Baroness Bonville was an English peer, who was also Marchioness of Dorset by her first marriage to Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset, and Countess of Wiltshire by her second marriage to Henry Stafford, 1st Earl of Wiltshire.
Anne Woodville, Viscountess Bourchier was an English noblewoman. She was a younger sister of Queen Consort Elizabeth Woodville to whom she served as a lady-in-waiting. Anne was married twice; first to William Bourchier, Viscount Bourchier, and secondly to George Grey, 2nd Earl of Kent. Anne was the grandmother of the disinherited adulteress Anne Bourchier, 7th Baroness Bourchier, and an ancestress of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex.
Katherine Neville, Baroness Hastings, was a noblewoman and a member of the powerful Neville family of northern England. She was one of the six daughters of Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, and the sister of military commander Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, known to history as Warwick the Kingmaker.
The White Queen is a 2009 historical novel by Philippa Gregory, the first of her series The Cousins' War. It tells the story of Elizabeth Woodville, queen consort of King Edward IV of England. The 2013 BBC One television series The White Queen is a 10-part adaptation of Gregory's novels The White Queen, The Red Queen (2010) and The Kingmaker's Daughter (2012), and features Rebecca Ferguson as Elizabeth Woodville.
Anne St Leger was a niece of two kings of England, Edward IV and Richard III. Before she was 8, she had inherited a vast fortune and been disinherited of it. Married at 14, she had 11 children, and is a link in the maternal line that was used to identify the remains of Richard III.
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