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House of York - Elizabeth Woodville

Name: Elizabeth Woodville
Father: Richard Woodville
Mother: Jacquetta of Luxembourg
Born: October 1437 at Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire
Married:(1) Sir John Grey, on 1452
Married (2): King Edward IV, on May 1, 1465
Children: 2 sons Thomas and Richard by her first marriage. 3 sons, including Edward (later Edward V), and 7 daughters including Elizabeth of York (wife of Henry VII) by her second marriage to Edward IV.
Died: June 8, 1492 at Bermondsey, London, aged 54 years, 8 months, and 7 days
Buried at: Windsor

Elizabeth Woodville was the daughter of Richard Woodville a knight, and Jacquetta daughter of Peter of Luxembourg. When she was 15 years old Elizabeth married John Grey, but he was killed at the Battle of St Albans in 1461 fighting for the Lancastrian cause leaving her a widow with two young sons. Her second marriage in 1464 to the Yorkist king Edward IV who had come to the throne 3 years early after defeating the Lancastrians at the Battle Towton, was held in secret at her home in Northamptonshire. When Edward’s marriage to Elizabeth who was a commoner and from a family of Lancastrian supporters became known, it was badly received by the Earl of Warwick and the Privy Council who had been negotiating for Edward to marry a French Princess. Elizabeth was crowned Queen on 26 May 1465.

Warwick and Edward’s brother the Duke of Clarence fell out with Edward and rose in alliance with the Lancastrian Queen Margaret of Anjou in revolt defeating Edward and restoring Henry VI to the throne in 1470. Edward fled into exile and Elizabeth sought sanctuary in Westminster Abbey where she gave birth to Edward (later Edward V). Edward returned a year later defeating Warwick at the Battle of Barnet and restoring himself and Elizabeth to the throne. They had 10 children.

When Edward IV died suddenly in April 1483, Elizabeth became the Queen Mother and her son briefly became King Edward V. However his uncle Richard of Gloucester imprisoned young Prince Edward and his brother Richard of York in the Tower of London, and crowned himself King Richard III. The princes were never seen again and presumed murdered. Elizabeth allied herself with Lady Margaret Beaufort who was conspiring to put her son Henry Tudor who was in exile in France on the throne, and they agreed that to promote their cause Henry would marry Elizabeth’s eldest daughter Elizabeth of York uniting the Houses of Lancaster and York.

In 1485 Henry Tudor returned to England and defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. Henry was crowned Henry VII and married Elizabeth of York. Her mother Elizabeth became the Dowger Queen, living her final years in Bermondsey Abbey having in her lifetime been wife to King Edward IV, mother to Edward V, mother-in-law to Henry VII, and grandmother to Henry VIII.