Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret of Anjou

Susan Higginbotham shares some more of her research on the Plantagenets.
The assertion that Elizabeth was one of Margaret’s ladies comes from Tudor sources. Sir Thomas More in his History of King Richard III writes in passing that Elizabeth was “in service with Queen Margaret,” and Hall’s Chronicle makes the same claim. At first glance, this is confirmed by Margaret of Anjou’s records. As A. R. Myers and George Smith each note, an Isabel, Lady Grey, was among the English ladies sent in 1445 to escort Margaret to England. Myers notes as well that an Elizabeth Grey, a lady in waiting to Margaret, received jewels from the queen in 1445-46, 1446-47, 1448-49, 1451-52, and 1452-53. “Isabel” and “Elizabeth” were often used interchangeably during this period, and Elizabeth’s first husband was John Grey.

As Myers, Smith, and other historians have noted, however, there are problems with assuming that the lady in the records is Elizabeth Woodville. Her birth date is generally estimated as being around 1437, which means that for Elizabeth to be the Isabel or Elizabeth Grey of the records, she would have been married and serving as Margaret’s attendant beginning at age eight. Girls did marry as children, but would an eight-year-old girl be assigned to travel to France to escort Margaret to England and to serve in her household? If she was there at all, it seems more likely that she would have been merely tagging along with her mother, Jacquetta, the Duchess of Bedford, and would not have been important enough to the queen to be the recipient of gifts in her own right. (Read entire post.)

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