Wife of King Edward IV: Elizabeth Woodville

Britain of the 1400’s was embroiled in a civil war, known as the “Wars of the Roses.” 

In 1437 Elizabeth Woodville was born to parents Sir Richard Woodville and Jacquetta Woodville of the royal house of Burgundy and had links with King Henry VI and his wife Margaret of Anjou.

In 1450 Elizabeth was dispatched to live with Lady Grey, to learn the finer things and become a lady.

In 1452 Elizabeth Woodville and John Grey were married, and she bore two sons; Richard and Thomas.

England was at war; the Lancastrians against the Yorks, each fighting for the English crown.  The Woodville’s and Greys were both Lancastrians.

At the Battle of St.Albans in 1461, the York’s were victorious, and her husband John had been killed.  Her lands were seized by the Yorkists and she was forced to return to the family home in Grafton.

In 1464, Elizabeth begged of King Edward IV to have her lands returned to her.  Negotiations took an unexpected twist between Edward and Elizabeth, when they were married in secret that same year, and she was crowned Queen of England on the 26th May 1465.

A Lancastrian and York had joined in marriage, and this event was hated by the Kings mother and Lord Warwick, who forced Edward out of England.  Elizabeth and her three daughters and only son Edward, took sanctuary in Westminster Abbey.

In 1470, Edward returned to English shores defeating Warwick’s forces, and Warwick died in the battle.

King Edward IV died on the 9th April 1483 of pneumonia, and was succeeded by his son Edward V, with his brother Richard as Lord Protector.

Richard, placed the new king; Edward V in the Tower of London, supposedly awaiting his coronation.  In fact he declared that Edward V was an illegitimate, and evidence put forward to parliament, meant he was appointed as King Richard III of England.

Elizabeth’s sons of her first marriage; Richard and Thomas grey joined in battle, to overthrow Richard III.  Richard Grey was beheaded and Thomas joined Henry Tudor’s forces.

Elizabeth entered into an alliance with Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor the Lancastrian heir.

In 1485 Henry Tudor invaded England and defeated Richard III in battle, and Henry was crowned King Henry VII of England and so the Tudor dynasty was born.

In January of 1486, Henry Tudor married Elizabeth of York, an arranged marriage by Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort.  The marriage was designed to unite warring factions, bring the Wars of the Roses to an end, and ensure the English throne to descendants of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.

In 1487, Elizabeth Woodville came under suspicion of plotting against Henry VII, her dowry was seized, and she lived the remainder of her life at Bermondsey Abbey.

In April of 1492 she died and was buried in St.George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

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