Monday, October 01, 2007

Question from Mike - More on Elizabeth Woodville...

Just to piggy-back off of Gordy. Why was Elizabeth Woodville denied her dower lands? I'm sure it has alot to do with the politics of the time but, I'd like it if you can give me a little more information on the subject.

Thank you,



  1. Elizabeth Woodville lost her dower lands for the first time upon the accession of Richard III in 1483. Richard's claim to the throne over that of Elizabeth's son, Edward V, was predicated on the assertion that the marriage between Edward IV and Elizabeth was invalid and Edward V therefore illegitimate. Richard based his assertion on a questionable claim of pre-contract between Edward IV and either Eleanor Butler or Elizabeth Lucy. The marriage being declared invalid, Elizabeth had no legal claim to royal dower rights. Upon Henry VII's defeat of Richard III in 1485, however, her dower rights and lands as a widowed Queen of England were temporarily restored to her in March 1486. Yet medieval royal precedent did not usually allow for two queens to hold royal dowers simultaneously, in this case Elizabeth Woodville as the widowed queen of Edward IV and her daughter Elizabeth as the new wife of the first Tudor king. Henry VII was also notoriously parsimonious and thus unlikely to have been eager to dower both his wife and mother-in-law. Perhaps as a result, Elizabeth Woodville was accused in 1487 of plotting against her own daughter, Henry's queen, almost certainly without any real basis. A great council again deprived her of her lands based on this (probably) spurious charge. All of Woodville's royal dower rights and lands were transferred to her daughter, Elizabeth Tudor.

  2. Elizabeth Woodville was given Greenwich manor on her marriage to Edward IV, something she presumably held for 19 years. This yearly income alone would have made a comfortable living and placed her in a very strong position to decline her dower when Henry VII married her daughter Elizabeth of York. This is rarely reported and perhaps is one of many perks granted to Elizabeth by her husband.


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