Spotlight: Elizabeth Woodville

Name: Elizabeth Woodville (Wydeville) / Elizabeth Grey / Elizabeth Plantagenet.

Title/s: Queen Consort of England / Lady Grey / White Queen / Dowager Queen of England.

Birth / Death: c. 1437 – 8 June 1492

Spouse: Sir John Grey (1432 – 1461) / Edward IV of England (1442 – 1483)

Children: Thomas Grey, Earl of Huntington 1453-1501 / Richard Grey 1457-1483 (by John Grey) / Elizabeth of York, Queen of England 1466-1503 / Mary of York 1467-1482 / Cecily of York, Viscountess Welles 1469-1507 / Edward V, King of England 1470-1483? / Margaret of York 1472 / Richard Duke of York 1473-1483? / Anne of York, Lady Howard 1475-1511 / George Duke of Bedford 1477-1479 / Catherine of York, Countess of Devon 1479-1527 / Bridget of York 1480-1517 (by Edward IV).

Parents: Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers 1405 – 1469 & Jacquetta of Luxembourg 1415/16 – 1472

Siblings: Lewis 1438 / Anne, Countess of Kent 1439-1489 / Anthony, 2nd Earl Rivers 1442-1483 / Mary, Countess of Pembroke 1443-1481 / Jacquetta, Baroness Strange 1444-1509 / John 1445-1469 / Lionel 1447-1484 / Eleanor Grey 1452-1512 / Martha Bromley ?-1500 / Richard, 3rd Earl Rivers c.1453-1491 / Edward, Lord Scales d.1488 / Margaret, Countess of Arundel 1454-1490 / Catherine, Duchess of Buckingham & Bedford c.1458-1497

Noble Connections: Elizabeth’s first-born son became Earl of Huntington. Her first-born daughter became Queen of England as wife to Henry VII. Her two surviving sons by Edward IV became the missing Princes in the Tower. Her mother was descended from the royal family of Luxembourg.

Events of their Lifetime: Wars of the Roses between York and Lancaster, murder of Henry VI 1471, disappearance/murder? of her sons the Princes in the Tower 1483?, Battle of Barnet 1471, Battle of Towton 1461, and the 2nd Battle of St Albans 1461.

Controversy: The mystery of the Princes in the Tower has confounded historians for centuries. It has never been discovered whether they were in fact murdered, but some bones were dug up in an excavation of the Tower of London, and it appeared to be two boys.

Works of Fiction:
Darwin, Emma, A Secret Alchemy (2009)
Gregory, Philippa, The White Queen (2009)
Hawley Jarman, Rosemary, The King’s Grey Mare (1972)
Penman, Sharon Key, The Sunne in Splendour (1982)
Peters, Maureen, The Woodville Wench (1972)
Plaidy, Jean, The Sun in Splendour (1982)
Worth, Sandra, Lady of the Roses (2008)

Portrayals on Screen:
Penelope Allen, Looking for Richard, 1996, directed by Al Pacino
Susan Engel, Wars of the Roses, 1965, 2 episodes
Rebecca Ferguson, The White Queen, 2013, 10 episodes
Keeley Hawes, The Hollow Crown, 2016, 2 episodes
Jane Wenham, An Age of Kings, 1960, 3 episodes
Maud Yates, Jane Shore, 1915, directed by Bert Haldane

Further Reading:
Baldwin, David, Elizabeth Woodville: Mother of the Princes in the Tower (2002)
Carter, Alicia, The Women of the Wars of the Roses: Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Elizabeth of York (2013)
Davies, Katharine, The First Queen Elizabeth (1937)
Fahy, Conor, ‘The Marriage of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville a New Italian Source’, English Historical Review, 76 (1961)
Gairdner, James, Elizabeth Woodville: Queen of Edward IV of England (2011)
Gregory, Philippa, The Women of the Cousins’ War: the Duchess, the Queen and the King’s Mother (2011)
Gristwood, Sarah, Blood Sisters: the Women Behind the Wars of the Roses (2012)
Hilton, Lisa, Queens Consort: England’s Medieval Queens (2008)
Laynesmith, J.L., The Last Medieval Queens: English Queenship 1445-1503 (2004)
MacGibbon, David, Elizabeth Woodville (2013)
Okerlund, Arlene Naylor, Elizabeth Wydeville: the Slandered Queen (2005)
Scofield, Cora L., ‘Elizabeth Wydeville in the Sanctuary at Westminster 1470’, English Historical Review, 24 (1909)


The arms of Elizabeth Woodville as Queen.
The arms of Elizabeth Woodville as Queen.


Elizabeth Woodville c.1471.
Elizabeth Woodville c.1471.

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