If you’re new to these here parts, every Monday I like to do what I call Medieval Monday. In past issues, I highlighted a specific term from the medieval ages and expanded on the definition, as well as described its appearance. However, I’ve decided to broaden what I cover and from now on Medieval Monday will cater to a whole host of different topics. The one thing every post will always have in common, though, is that it deals directly with the medieval age.
For the month of February, to carry the theme of Valentine’s Day, I have four medieval romances lined up. As always, if there is something you would like to see featured in a Medieval Monday, hop into the comments and say so.
Elizabeth Woodville was a widowed commoner with two sons in 1400’s England. Her deceased husband, Sir John Grey of Groby, fell in battle at the Second Battle of St. Albans in 1461, fighting for the Lancastrians to take the throne. Despite being both a commoner and a widow, Elizabeth was still known as the most beautiful woman in England.
Just a few short years later, Elizabeth became the first commoner ever to marry a sovereign, wedding King Edward IV. The marriage was both ironic and ill-met. First, because Elizabeth was a commoner. Second, because her family had supported the Lancastrians in war who’d sought to depose King Edward IV.
Sadly, upon King Edward IV’s sudden death, Elizabeth’s life became filled with hardships. Richard III moved to sieze the throne from Elizabeth’s son, Edward. Richard had Elizabeth’s marriage with Edward declared invalid (an act of parliament called the Titulus Regius) and her children with the deceased king illegitimate. Two of Elizabeth’s sons were moved to the Tower of London where they famously became known as the Princes in the Tower. Their exact fate is unknown, but it is speculated they were murdered on the orders of Richard.
In 1485, Henry Tudor invaded England and King Richard III was slain in battle. With Hendry VII the new King of England, he revoked the Titulus Regius and Elizabeth was accorded the title of a Dowager Queen. Despite this, Elizabeth did not return to court, but spent her final years living a religious, contemplative life at Bermondsey Abbey until her death in 1492.
To learn more about Elizabeth and Edward IV, you may go here.