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Caxton Window with Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. Getty Images / Hulton Archive

Elizabeth and King Edward IV

by Jone Johnson Lewis
Updated July 31, 2017

Elizabeth Woodville had a key role in the Wars of the Roses and in the succession between the Plantagenets and Tudors. She's known to many as a character in Shakespeare's Richard III (Queen Elizabeth) and title character in 2013 television series The White Queen.

She lived from about 1437 to June 7 or 8, 1492.  She is also known in historical records as Lady Grey, Elizabeth Grey, and Elizabeth Wydevill (spelling in that time was quite inconsistent).

Most sources stress that Elizabeth Woodville, who married a king, was herself a commoner or minor noble, but it is worth noting that her mother, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, was the daughter of a Count and a descendant of Simon de Montfort and his wife, Eleanor, daughter of England's King John. Jacquetta was the wealthy and childless widow of the Duke of Bedford, brother of Henry V, when she married Sir Richard Woodville. Her sister-in-law Catherine of Valois also married a man of lower station after she was widowed. Two generations later, Catherine's grandson Henry Tudor married Jacquetta's granddaughter, Elizabeth of York.


How Elizabeth met Edward is not known for certain, though an early legend has her petitioning him by waiting with her sons beneath an oak tree.

Another story circulated that she was a sorceress who bewitched him. She may have simply known him from court. Legend has her giving Edward, a known womanizer, an ultimatum that they had to be married or she would not submit to his advances. On May 1, 1464, Elizabeth and Edward married secretly.

Edward's mother, Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, and Cecily's nephew, the Earl of Warwick who had been an ally of Edward IV in winning the crown, were arranging a marriage for Edward with the French king. When Warwick found out about Edward's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, Warwick turned against Edward and helped restore Henry VI briefly to power. Warwick was killed in battle, Henry and his son killed, and Edward returned to power.

Elizabeth Woodville was crowned Queen in Westminster Abbey on May 26, 1465. Both her parents were present for the ceremony. Elizabeth and Edward had two sons and five daughters who survived infancy. Elizabeth also had two sons by her first husband. One was an ancestor of the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey.

To view Vernia "Ma Byars" Swindell Byars' many kinships to Elizabeth, Queen of England, copy & paste this link:

Elizabeth and King Edward IV

Owner/Source"Family Tree of Elizabeth Woodville",, forwarded Thursday, November 2nd, 2017, by Martha Ann Millsaps,, recorded & uploaded to the website,, Thursday, November 3rd, 2017, by David A. Hennessee,
File name37412_37405.jpg
File Size154.77k
Dimensions900 x 600
Linked toFamily: /Lucy Wydeville (F13843)

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