Queens: The Three Elizabeths

From 1461 to 1603 there were three Elizabeths with the title of Queen – granted two were Queen consorts and one was Queen regnant, but regardless, for the sake of this post they were all queens.

  • Queen Elizabeth Woodville (c. 1437 – 1492) – the consort of King Edward IV
  • Queen Elizabeth of York (1466 – 1503) – the consort of King Henry VII
  • Queen Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603) – Queen regnant of England
Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth of York and Elizabeth I

The first Elizabeth, Elizabeth Woodville, was a commoner who married King Edward IV in secret and caused an uproar at English court. Many, including the “Kingmaker” saw the King’s choice to marry the widowed Woodville as unacceptable. The country was in the midst of the War of the Roses and even this marriage could not stop others for vying for the throne of England. Elizabeth Woodville was a strong woman in her own right. It appears her main objective was to ensure her children received what was rightfully theirs in the end. Unfortunately, she lost two sons in the Tower after her brother-in-law, Richard III deemed them illegitimate. The two princes were never seen again. Elizabeth was instrumental in negotiating the marriage between her daughter Elizabeth and Henry Tudor – an act that would end the War of the Roses.

The second Elizabeth, Elizabeth of York, was the eldest child of Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV – she became Queen consort when she married King Henry VII a couple of years after the Battle of Bosworth. Their marriage inevitably ended the Wars of the Roses by joining together the houses of Lancaster and York.

The third Elizabeth, Elizabeth Tudor, was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. She became Queen Elizabeth in her own right in 1558. Elizabeth was declared illegitimate by her father when she was just a child but was eventually named as a successor after her brother (Edward VI) and older sister (Mary I). Neither sibling had children. The hand of fate made it that the daughter of Anne Boleyn became Queen Regnant of England. Anne Boleyn would have been proud.

A quick family tree refresher for you:

Edward IV & Elizabeth Woodville

? Daughter: Elizabeth of York

Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville and Elizabeth of York

Henry VII & Elizabeth of York 

? Son: Henry VIII

Henry VII, Elizabeth of York and Henry VIII

Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn

? Daughter: Queen Elizabeth I

Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I
  • Elizabeth Woodville gave birth to Elizabeth of York, who was also the daughter of Edward IV.
  • Elizabeth of York gave birth to Henry VIII, who was also the son of Henry VII.
  • Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth (future Elizabeth I).
  • Queen Elizabeth I was the granddaughter of Elizabeth of York, and great-granddaughter of Elizabeth Woodville.

What would Elizabeth Woodville have thought of her great-granddaughter’s reign? Would she be proud of Elizabeth or disappointed in her for not having any children and ending the Tudor line? Both Elizabeth Woodville and her daughter Elizabeth of York were very fertile woman – having many children.

During the reign of Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville was referred to as a woman who wanted power and would do whatever it took to bring titles to her family and to ensure her children were offered every opportunity that a royal prince or princess were entitled to.

Elizabeth of York on the other-hand, is only referred to in loving tones. Something her mother never truly experienced. Elizabeth does not appear to be a vocal counterpart of her husband (the King) unlike her mother. Would she have been proud of her granddaughter?

Elizabeth I was very similar to her great-grandmother, Elizabeth Woodville – she was strong, bull-headed and confident in her title. She knew what she wanted and for the most part got it….save Dudley. That wasn’t meant to be.

What do you think?

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3rd Duke of Buckingham: Victim of Hearsay

Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham was born 3 February 1478, at Brecon Castle in Wales to Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Lady Katherine Woodville.

Katherine Woodville was sister to Elizabeth Woodville who became Queen of England after secretly marrying Edward IV.

Photo Andrew Tivenan
Photo Andrew Tivenan – Brecon Castle


Edward Stafford had a viable claim to the throne through his paternal grandfather, Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham, who was the son of Anne of Gloucester, daughter of Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester, the youngest son of Edward III. Some said Buckingham boasted that his claim was stronger than Henry VIII’s since Henry’s father was from the illegitimate line of Edward III through his son, John of Gaunt.

The discussion, or hearsay, began after it became evident that Henry VIII’s queen, Katherine of Aragon would no longer be able to produce a male heir. It was assumed that the Tudor line would die out since a girl (Princess Mary) had not been considered as an heir.

When Henry VIII was informed of the things his royal cousin was “saying” he requested and investigation.

“On April 8, 1521, the duke was ordered to London from his castle at Thornbury. He set out for the court, seemingly unaware of any danger, and was greatly shocked when arrested along the way and taken to the Tower. At his trial, he was charged with ‘imagining and compassing the death of the king’, through seeking out prophecy from a monk named Nicholas Hopkins about the chances of the king having a male heir. Evidence was supposedly obtained from disgruntled former members of the duke’s household.

Buckingham denied all charges. But a jury of 17 peers found him guilty, led by the duke of Norfolk, who condemned him “while weeping.”

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 3, 1520-1526 – 12 May 1521 – Gasparo Contarini to the Signory:

It is reported from England that the King had ordered the arrest of the Duke of Buckingham, the chief personage in that kingdom, together with two other Knights of the Garter. The real cause is not known, but according to report the Duke had plotted to assassinate Cardinal Wolsey. This the English ambassador denies, though he does not know the reason, affirming merely the fact of the arrest, and that the King had surrendered the Duke for trial by the peers of the realm.

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 3, 1520-1526 13 May 1521 – Gasparo Contarini to the Signory:

The Royal Courts (li eonsegli regj) have condemned the Duke of Buckingham to death. He will be definitively sentenced this morning (13 May) at Westminster, the final sentence having been passed ordering him for decapitation; and he is gone back to the Tower to be executed according to the custom here, and they will do by him as was done by his father and grandfather.

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 3, 1520-1526 – 14-17 May 1521 – Lodovico Spinelli, Secretary of the Venetian Ambassador in England, to his brother Gasparo Spinelli, Secretary of the Venetian Ambassador in France:

This morning the late Duke of Buckingham was taken ‘in forza de’ brazi‘ from the Tower to the scaffold, at the usual place of execution, with a guard of 500 infantry. He addressed the populace in English. Then on his bended knees he recited the penitential psalms, and with the greatest composure calling the executioner, requested that he would dispatch him quickly, and forgave him; after which he took off his gown, and having had his eyes blindfolded, he laid his neck on the block, and the executioner with a woodman’s axe (fn. 11) severed his head from his body with three strokes.

The corpse was immediately placed in a coffin and carried to the church of the Austin Friars, accompanied by six friars and all the infantry.

The death of the Duke has grieved the city universally. Many wept for him, as did one-third of the spectators, among whom was I. Our Italians had not the heart to see him die. And thus miserably, but with great courage, did he end his days on the 17th of May.

On 17 May 1521, Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham was executed for treason.

Scandal of Buckingham Sisters – 1510

A little insight on Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and the scandal of his sisters (Anne & Elizabeth) which caused havoc with the relationship of Edward Stafford and King Henry VIII:

Letter from Don Luys Carroz to Miguel Perez De Almazan, First Secretary of State of King Ferdinand the Catholic, 29 May 1510:

Note: We believe the man referred to as Conton is actually William Compton, friend of Henry VIII.

Anne Stafford
Buckingham’s sister, Anne Stafford

What lately has happened is that two sisters of the Duke of Buckingham, both married, lived in the palace. The one of them is the favourite of the Queen, and the other, it is said, is much liked by the King, who went after her. Another version is that the love intrigues were not of the King, but of a young man, his favourite, of the name of Conton, who had been the late King’s butler. This Conton carried on the love intrigue, as it is said, for the King, and that is the more credible version, as the King has shown great displeasure at what I am going to tell. The favourite of the Queen has been very anxious in this matter of her sister, and has joined herself with the Duke, her brother, with her husband and her sister’s husband, in order to consult on what should be done in this case. The consequence of the counsel of all the four of them was that, whilst the Duke was in the private apartment of his sister, who was suspected [of intriguing] with the King, Conton came there to talk with her, saw the Duke, who intercepted him, quarrelled with him, and the end of it was that he was severely reproached in many and very hard words. The King was so offended at this that he reprimanded the Duke angrily. The same night the Duke left the palace, and did not enter or return there for some days. At the same time the husband of that lady went away, carried her off, and placed her in a convent sixty miles from here, that no one may see her. The King having understood that all this proceeded from the sister, who is the favourite of the Queen, the day after the one was gone, turned the other out of the palace, and her husband with her. Believing that there were other women in the employment of the favourite, that is to say, such as go about the palace insidiously spying out every unwatched moment, in order to tell the Queen [stories], the King would have liked to turn all of them out, only that it has appeared to him too great a scandal. Afterwards, almost all the court knew that the Queen had been vexed with the King, and the King with her, and thus this storm went on between them. I spoke to the friar about it, and complained that he had not told me this, regretting that the Queen had been annoyed, and saying to him how I thought that the Queen should have acted in this case, and how he, in my opinion, ought to have behaved himself. For in this I think I understand my part, being a married man, and having often treated with married people in similar matters. He contradicted vehemently, which was the same thing as denying what had been officially proclaimed. He told me that those ladies have not gone for anything of the kind, and talked nonsense, and evidently did not believe what he told me. I did not speak more on that subject.”


Eleanor Percy
Eleanor Percy

Edward Stafford
Edward Stafford

Family Tree of Edward Stafford and Eleanor Percy:

Mary Stafford (born c. 1495) She married George Neville, 5th Baron Bergavenny. They were the parents of:

  • Mary Neville, Baroness Dacre

Elizabeth Stafford (c. 1497 – 30 November 1558). She married Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. Together they were the parents of:

Catherine Stafford (born abt. 1499 – 14 May 1555); She married Ralph Neville, 4th Earl of Westmorland. They were parents of:

    • Henry Neville, 5th Earl of Westmorland
    • Sir Thomas Neville
    • Edward Neville
    • Christopher Neville
    • George Neville
    • Ralph Neville
    • Cuthbert Neville
    • Dorothy Neville
    • Mary Neville
    • Margaret Neville
    • Elizabeth Neville
    • Eleanor Neville
    • Anne Neville
    • Ursula Neville

Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford (18 September 1501 – 30 April 1563); He married Ursula Pole, daughter of Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury.
They were parents of:

  • Henry Stafford
  • Thomas Stafford
  • Henry Stafford, 2nd Baron Stafford
  • Edward Stafford, 3rd Baron Stafford
  • Richard Stafford
  • Walter Stafford
  • William Stafford
  • Elizabeth Stafford
  • Anne Stafford
  • Susan Stafford
  • Jane Stafford
  • Dorothy Stafford, Lady Stafford
    2 daughters whose names are not known

Interesting Notes:

Edward Stafford’s father, the 2nd Duke of Buckingham was executed for treason against Richard III. His mother, Katherine Woodville, married Jasper Tudor. Jasper was the son of Catherine of Valois and Owen Tudor. Jasper Tudor was brother of Edmund Tudor – father to Henry VII.




‘Venice: May 1521’, in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 3, 1520-1526, ed. Rawdon Brown (London, 1869), pp. 119-130. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/venice/vol3/pp119-130.

The Redemption of Elizabeth of York

Part 1: Elizabeth of York, mother of Arthur, Margaret, Henry, Elizabeth, Mary, Edmund & Katherine Tudor

ElizabethWoodville (2)
Elizabeth Woodville
Maragaret Beaufort
Maragaret Beaufort

In 1485 Henry Tudor took the throne of England from Richard III on the battlefield — with this win he successfully ended the Wars of the Roses.

Elizabeth Woodville, the mother of Elizabeth of York, and Henry Tudor’s mother, Margaret Beaufort, had made an arrangement for Elizabeth of York to wed Henry if he won at the Battle of Bosworth against Elizabeth’s uncle Richard.

As history has recorded, the army of Henry Tudor was successful and thus Elizabeth of York was betrothed to Henry VII.

During the reign of her uncle, Elizabeth was declared illegitimate — when once she had been a prized princess, Richard branded her an outcast and she became less desired for a royal marriage. What Margaret Beaufort and her son Henry were offering was legitimacy — a way to end the wars that had ravaged both of their families for decades.

Henry Tudor was crowned King of England but did not immediately wed the young Elizabeth. Some historians have said that he intentionally waited so he could assert his power as a Tudor and not have it diminished by the daughter of a York. Some believed that Elizabeth deserved the crown over Henry since she was the eldest daughter of Edward IV and she had no surviving brothers (The Princes in the Tower). In addition, Henry and Elizabeth were third cousins — by joining in marriage they together strengthened their combined claims to the throne.

On 18 January 1486, about five months after the Battle of Bosworth, the couple were married. By 20 September 1486, Elizabeth gave birth to their first child, a son — Arthur. In November 1487, she was finally crowned queen consort.

Henry VII
Henry VII
Arthur Tudor, c. 1501 - Public Domain
Arthur Tudor
Elizabeth of York
Elizabeth of York






You just read Part 1 of the Series – Catch up here:

Part 2: Arthur: The Man Who Would Be King

Part 3: The Thistle and the Rose: English Princess, Scottish Queen

Part 4: The Legacy of Henry VIII

Part 5: Mary Tudor: English Princess, French Queen

Part 6: Elizabeth Tudor: Lost English Princess

Wars of the Roses – Beginning to the Battle of Towton

When it comes to the Wars of the Roses I am most attracted to it because it’s cousins fighting over the throne of England. Richard, 3rd Duke of York attempted to take the throne from his cousin Henry VI but failed. Eventually his son, Edward, Earl of March would succeed as Edward IV, but not without many battles of his own. These wars are what eventually led to the Tudor Dynasty – the one my site is primarily based on.

Edward lll
Edward III

The beginning: Edward III’s descendants are behind the Wars of the Roses. Edward III had seven sons – five of which survived to adulthood: Edward The Black Prince (Duke of Cornwall/Prince of Wales), Lionel of Antwerp (Duke of Clarence), John of Gaunt (Duke of Lancaster), Edmund of Langley (Duke of York) and Thomas of Woodstock (Duke of Gloucester).

The Black Prince
The Black Prince
John of Gaunt
John of Gaunt

As the eldest son, Edward the Black Prince would have succeeded his father had he outlived him – he died in 1376. So when Edward III died in 1377 his grandson, Richard of Bordeaux (Plantagenet) succeeded his grandfather as King of England at only ten years old.  He became Richard II of England.

Richard II – Getty Images

By February 1400 Richard II was dead. Henry IV (House of Lancaster) was the new King of England. He was the son of Edward III’s third surviving son, John of Gaunt. This is where you can say the problems started. Henry IV’s claim to the throne, some would say, was not as strong as his cousin Edmund, Earl of March who was a descendant of Edward III’s second surviving son, Lionel of Antwerp. Subsequently, the Earl of March was arrested and thrown into prison. Henry IV also seized his estates.  All of this to remove any question of who was the rightful king of England.

Henry lV
Henry IV
Henry V
Henry V

In 1413 Henry IV had died and passed the throne to his son named, Henry V.  Henry V died in 1422 at age 35. When he died he had one son, Henry VI to take the throne, however Henry VI was not yet one year old. He was the youngest ever, at nine months old, to inherit the throne of England. At this time England would be ruled by a council of men.

When Henry VI grew into adulthood and could run his own kingdom (1437) he did not seem to be able to run it as successfully as the council had done.

In 1450, Richard, 3rd Duke of York (who also had a strong claim to the throne through Edmund of Langley – Duke of York), was persuaded to return to England from Ireland and claim his rightful place on the council and put an end to bad government.

In 1453 Henry VI’s queen, Margaret of Anjou became pregnant. This was the time that King Henry had his first bout with mental illness. His illness lasted for the best part of a year. Margaret gave birth to a son and heir – Edward, Prince of Wales on 13 October 1453 while Henry VI was still in the midst of his illness.

After the birth of the young prince there were questions on who was in charge of the kingdom – and so begins my favorite part of the Wars of the Roses.

Before we get into some of the battles, let’s learn about the people who were involved to better understand the situation.

Richard, Duke of York:

Richard, Duke of York

Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, was born on 21 September 1411,[1] the son of Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridgeby his wife Anne Mortimer, the daughter of Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, and Eleanor Holland. Anne Mortimer was the great- grand-daughter of Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, the second surviving son of King Edward III (1327-1377). This ancestry supplied Anne Mortimer, and her descendants the Dukes of York, with a claim albeit not in a direct male line, to the English throne supposedly superior to that of the reigning House of Lancaster, descended from John of Gaunt the third son of King Edward III.

On his father’s side, Richard had a claim to the throne in a direct male line of descent from his grandfather Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York (1341-1402), fourth surviving son of King Edward III. [1]

Cecily Neville:

Cecily Neville

Cecily Neville was a daughter of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland, and Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland. Her paternal grandparents were John Neville, 3rd Baron Neville de Raby, and the Hon. Maud Percy, daughter of Henry de Percy, 2nd Baron Percy. Her maternal grandparents were John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, and his third wife Katherine Swynford. John of Gaunt was the third surviving son of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. By her mother, Cecily was a niece of King Henry IV of England.

She was the aunt of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, one of the leading peers and military commanders of his generation, a grand-aunt of Queen consort Anne Neville, and a great-great-grand-aunt of Queen consort Catherine Parr, sixth wife of her great-grandson, King Henry VIII. [2]

Henry VI: (The basis of the beginning of the wars)

Henry Vl

Henry was the only child and heir of King Henry V. He was born on 6 December 1421 at Windsor Castle. He succeeded to the throne as King of England upon his father’s death on 31 August 1422 at the age of nine months: he was the youngest person ever to succeed to the English throne. A few weeks later, on 21 October 1422, he became titular King of France upon his grandfatherCharles VI‘s death in accordance with the Treaty of Troyes of 1420. His mother, Catherine of Valois, was then 20 years old. As Charles VI’s daughter, she was viewed with considerable suspicion by English nobles and prevented from playing a full role in her son’s upbringing.

On 28 September 1423, the nobles swore loyalty to Henry VI. They summoned Parliament in the King’s name and established a regency council to govern until the King should come of age. One of Henry V’s surviving brothers, John, Duke of Bedford, was appointed senior regent of the realm and was in charge of the ongoing war in France. During Bedford’s absence, the government of England was headed by Henry V’s other surviving brother,Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, who was appointed Protector and Defender of the Realm. His duties were limited to keeping the peace and summoning Parliament. Henry V’s half-uncle Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester (after 1426 also Cardinal), had an important place on the Council. After the Duke of Bedford died in 1435, the Duke of Gloucester claimed the Regency himself, but was contested in this by the other members of the Council.

Henry’s half-brothers, Edmund and Jasper, the sons of his widowed mother and Owen Tudor, were later given earldoms. Edmund Tudor was the father of Henry Tudor, who later became Henry VII. [3]

Margaret of Anjou:

margaret of anjou

Margaret of Anjou was the wife of King Henry VI of England. As such, she was Queen of England from 1445 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471. Born in the duchy of Lorraine into the House of Valois-Anjou, Margaret was the second eldest daughter of René of Anjou and Isabella, Duchess of Lorraine.

She was one of the principal figures in the series of dynastic civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses and at times personally led the Lancastrian faction. Due to her husband’s frequent bouts of insanity, Margaret ruled the kingdom in his place. It was she who called for a Great Council in May 1455 that excluded the Yorkist faction headed by Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York, and thus provided the spark that ignited a civil conflict that lasted for over thirty years, decimated the old nobility of England, and caused the deaths of thousands of men, including her only son Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. [4]

Edward, Prince of Wales:

Edward was born at the Palace of Westminster, London, the only son of King Henry VI of England and his wife, Margaret of Anjou. At the time, there was strife between Henry’s supporters and those of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, who had a claim to the throne and challenged the authority of Henry’s officers of state. Henry was suffering from mental illness, and there were widespread rumours that the prince was the result of an affair between his mother and one of her loyal supporters. Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset and James Butler, 5th Earl of Ormonde, were both suspected of fathering Prince Edward,[1] however, there is no firm evidence to support the rumours, and Henry himself never doubted the boy’s legitimacy and publicly acknowledged paternity. Edward was invested as Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle in 1454. [5]

Edward would marry Anne Neville, daughter of Richard, 16th Earl of Warwick when he father became a supporter of Henry VI because he was upset with Edward VI marrying Elizabeth Woodville and his loss of personal power.

Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick:

Richard Neville

Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, known as Warwick the Kingmaker, was an English nobleman, administrator, and military commander. The son of Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, Warwick was the wealthiest and most powerful English peer of his age, with political connections that went beyond the country’s borders. One of the Yorkist leaders in the Wars of the Roses, he was instrumental in the deposition of two kings, a fact which later earned him his epithet of “Kingmaker” to later generations.

Through fortunes of marriage and inheritance, Warwick emerged in the 1450s at the centre of English politics. Originally a supporter of King Henry VI, a territorial dispute with the Duke of Somerset led him to collaborate with Richard, Duke of York, in opposing the king. From this conflict he gained the strategically valuable post of Captain of Calais, a position that benefited him greatly in the years to come. The political conflict later turned into full-scale rebellion, where in battle York was slain, as was Warwick’s father Salisbury. York’s son, however, later triumphed with Warwick’s assistance, and was crowned King Edward IV. Edward initially ruled with Warwick’s support, but the two later fell out over foreign policy and the king’s choice of Elizabeth Woodville as his wife. After a failed plot to crown Edward’s brother, George, Duke of Clarence, Warwick instead restored Henry VI to the throne. The triumph was short-lived however: on 14 April 1471 Warwick was defeated by Edward at the Battle of Barnet, and killed.

Warwick had no sons. The elder of his two daughters, Isabel, married George, Duke of Clarence. His younger daughter Anne had a short-lived marriage to King Henry’s son Edward of Westminster, who died in battle at the age of 17. She then married King Edward’s younger brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who later became King Richard III. [6]

Edward IV:

Edward lV

Edward of York was born at Rouen in France, the second son of Richard, 3rd Duke of York (who had a strong genealogical claim to the throne of England[5]), and Cecily Neville.[6] He was the eldest of the four sons who survived to adulthood.[7] His younger brotherEdmund, Earl of Rutland, died along with his father at Wakefield on 30 December 1460.[8]

With the support of his cousin Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (“The Kingmaker”), Edward’s father, Duke of York routed theLancastrians at the First Battle of St. Albans on 22 May 1455.[9] At this battle, several prominent Lancastrians including Edmund, Duke of Somerset, Henry Percy and Lord of Clifford were killed.[10] Additionally, Somerset’s son Henry Beaufort, Earl of Dorset,Thomas, Earl of Devon and Buckingham were all wounded. This was the first battle of the conflict that became known as the Wars of the Roses.

Richard, Duke of York’s assertion of his claim to the crown in 1460 was the key escalation of the Wars of the Roses. When he was killed during the Battle of Wakefield on 30 December 1460,[8] his claim to the throne of England did not die with him. Instead it passed to his son, Edward. [7][7-1][7-2][7-3][7-4][7-5]

Elizabeth Woodville:

ElizabethWoodville (2)

Elizabeth Woodville was Queen consort of England as the spouse of King Edward IV from 1464 until his death in 1483. At the time of her birth, her family was mid-ranked in the English aristocracy. Her first marriage was to a minor supporter of the House of Lancaster, Sir John Grey of Groby; he died at the Second Battle of St Albans, leaving Elizabeth a widowed mother of two sons. Her second marriage, to Edward IV, was a cause célèbre of the day, thanks to Elizabeth’s great beauty and lack of great estates. Edward was only the second king of England since the Norman Conquest to have married one of his subjects, and Elizabeth was the first such consort to be crowned queen. Her marriage greatly enriched her siblings and children, but their advancement incurred the hostility of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, ‘The Kingmaker’, and his various alliances with the most senior figures in the increasingly divided royal family.

This hostility turned into open discord between King Edward and Warwick, leading to a battle of wills that finally resulted in Warwick switching allegiance to the Lancastrian cause. Elizabeth remained politically influential even after her son, briefly proclaimed KingEdward V of England, was deposed by her brother-in-law, Richard III, and she would play an important role in securing the accession of Henry VII to the throne in 1485, which ended the Wars of the Roses. After 1485, however, she was forced to yield pre-eminence to Henry’s mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, and her influence on events in these years, and her eventual departure from court into retirement, remains obscure. [8][8-1][8-2] 

Elizabeth of York:

Elizabeth of York

Elizabeth of York was queen consort of England from 1486 until her death. As the wife ofHenry VII, she was the first Tudor queen. She was the daughter of Edward IV, niece of Richard III and married the king following Henry’s victory at the Battle of Bosworth which ended the Wars of the Roses. She was the mother of Henry VIII. [9]

Edmund, Earl of Rutland:

Edmund, Earl of Rutland was the fifth child and second surviving son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville. He was born in Rouen.

Edmund died at the age of seventeen after the Battle of Wakefield during the Wars of the Roses. He had fought in the battle at the side of his father. [10]

George, Duke of Clarence:

George Plantagenet

George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence was the third son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, and the brother of English Kings Edward IVand Richard III. He played an important role in the dynastic struggle between rival factions of the Plantagenets known as the Wars of the Roses.

Though a member of the House of York, he switched sides to support the Lancastrians, before reverting to the Yorkists. He was later convicted of treason against his brother, Edward IV, and was executed (allegedly by being drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine). He appears as a character in William Shakespeare‘s plays Henry VI, part 3 and Richard III, in which his death is attributed to the machinations of Richard. [11]

Isabel Neville:

Lady Isabel Neville was the elder daughter of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (theKingmaker of the Wars of the Roses), and Anne de Beauchamp, 16th Countess of Warwick. She was the wife of George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence. She was also the elder sister of Anne Neville, who was Princess of Wales, by her first marriage and Queen consort of England by her second.

Isabel Neville was born at Warwick Castle, the seat of the Earls of Warwick. In 1469, her ambitious father betrothed her to England’s heir presumptive, George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, the brother of both King Edward IV and Richard, Duke of Gloucester(later Richard III). The king opposed the marriage as it would bring the already powerful Earl of Warwick too close to the throne. The ceremony however took place in secret at Calais on 11 July 1469, conducted by Isabel Neville’s Uncle George Neville, archbishop of York. Following their marriage Clarence joined forces with Warwick and traitorously allied with the Lancastrians led by Margaret of Anjou, queen consort to Henry VI. After Isabel Neville’s sister Anne was married to Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, the son and heir of Henry VI, Clarence rejoined his brother, realizing that it was now unlikely that he would become king. [12]

Richard, Duke of Gloucester/Richard III:

Richard lll

Richard III was King of England from 1483 until his death in 1485, at the age of 32, in the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. His defeat at Bosworth Field, the last decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses, marked the end of the Middle Ages in England. He is the subject of the fictional historical play Richard III by William Shakespeare.

When his brother King Edward IV died in April 1483, Richard was named Lord Protector of the realm for Edward’s son and successor, the 12-year-old Edward V. As the young king travelled to London from Ludlow, Richard met and escorted him to lodgings in the Tower of London, where Edward V’s own brother Richard of Shrewsbury joined him shortly afterwards. Arrangements were made for Edward’s coronation on 22 June 1483; but, before the young king could be crowned, his father’s marriage to his motherElizabeth Woodville was declared invalid, making their children illegitimate and ineligible for the throne. On 25 June, an assembly of Lords and commoners endorsed the claims. The following day, Richard III began his reign, and he was crowned on 6 July 1483. The young princes were not seen in public after August, and accusations circulated that the boys had been murdered on Richard’s orders, giving rise to the legend of the Princes in the Tower. [13]

Anne Neville:

Anne Neville

Lady Anne Neville was an English queen, the daughter of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick(the “Kingmaker”). She became Princess of Wales as the wife of Edward of Westminster and then Queen of England as the wife ofKing Richard III.

As a member of the powerful House of Neville, she played a critical part in the Wars of the Roses fought between the House of Yorkand House of Lancaster for the English crown. Her father Warwick betrothed her as a girl to Edward, Prince of Wales, the son ofHenry VI.[1] The marriage was to seal an alliance to the House of Lancaster and continue the civil war between the two houses of Lancaster and York.[1]

After the death of Edward, the Dowager Princess of Wales married Richard, Duke of Gloucester, brother of Edward IV and ofGeorge, Duke of Clarence, the husband of Anne Neville’s older sister Isabel. Anne Neville became queen when Richard III ascended the throne in June 1483, following the declaration that Edward IV’s children by Elizabeth Woodville were illegitimate. Anne Neville predeceased her husband by five months, dying in March 1485. Her only child was Edward of Middleham, who predeceased her. [14] [14-1]

Margaret Beaufort:

She was the daughter of Margaret Beauchamp of Bletsoe and John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset. Margaret’s father was a great-grandson of King Edward III through his third surviving son, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. At the moment of her birth, Margaret’s father was preparing to go to France and lead an important military expedition for KingHenry VI. Somerset negotiated with the king to ensure that, in case of his death, the rights to Margaret’s wardship and marriage would belong only to his wife.

Somerset fell out with the king after coming back from France, however, and he was banished from the court and about to be charged with treason. He died shortly afterwards. According to Thomas Basin, Somerset died of illness, but the Crowland Chronicle reported that his death was suicide. Margaret, as his only child, was the heiress to his fortunes.[4]

Margaret was the mother of King Henry VII and paternal grandmother of King Henry VIII of England. She was a key figure in the Wars of the Roses and an influential matriarch of the House of Tudor. [15] [15-4]

Edmund Tudor:

In 1452 Lady Margaret Beaufort, the nine-year-old daughter of the Duke of Somerset was summoned to the court of her second cousin, King Henry VI and the following year Edmund was granted wardship. On 1 November 1455 at Bletsoe Castle, she was married to Edmund. By the end of the following November, he was dead, leaving his 12-year-old widow pregnant with the future King Henry VII.

The Wars of the Roses had begun and Edmund (a Lancastrian) was captured by Yorkist partisan William Herbert in mid-1456. Herbert imprisoned him at Carmarthen Castle in Wales, where he died of the plague on 3 November 1456. [16]

Henry Tudor/Henry VII:

Henry Vll

Henry won the throne when his forces defeated the forces of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the culmination of the Wars of the Roses. Henry was the last king of England to win his throne on the field of battle. He cemented his claim by marrying Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV and niece of Richard III. Henry was successful in restoring the power and stability of the English monarchy after the political upheavals of the civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses. He founded the Tudor dynasty and, after a reign of nearly 24 years, was peacefully succeeded by his son, Henry VIII.

Henry’s paternal grandfather, Owen Tudor, originally from the Tudors of Penmynydd, Isle ofAnglesey in Wales, had been a page in the court of Henry V. He rose to become one of the “Squires to the Body to the King” after military service at Agincourt.[1] Owen is said to have secretly married the widow of Henry V, Catherine of Valois. One of their sons was Edmund Tudor, father of Henry VII. Edmund was created Earl of Richmond in 1452, and “formally declared legitimate by Parliament”.[2]

Henry’s main claim to the English throne derived from his mother through the House of Beaufort. Henry’s mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, was a great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, fourth son of Edward III, and his third wife Katherine Swynford. [17] [17-1] [17-2]

Jasper Tudor:


Jasper was the second son of Owen Tudor and the former Queen Catherine of Valois, the widow of Henry V of England. He was the half-brother to Henry VI, who, on attaining his majority in 1452, named Jasper the Earl of Pembroke. Through his father, Jasper was a direct descendant of Ednyfed Fychan, Llywelyn the Great‘s renowned Chancellor. This connection added greatly to his status inWales.

was the uncle of King Henry VII of England and the architect of his successful conquest of England and Wales in 1485.[1] 

[18] [18-1]

The Battle of Wakefield – 30 December 1460

The Battle of Wakefield would be the last fight for Richard, 3rd Duke of York and his son Edmund, Earl of Rutland. Richard was killed in the fight and the Earl of Rutland was murdered when he tried to escape. The Earl of Rutland was the only son of the Duke of York fighting with him in the battle since Edward, Earl of March was fighting for the same cause in the west. The Earl of Rutland (Edmund) was captured – he attempted to beg for his life by offering a ransom, but was killed anyway.

By the account given by Roderick O’Flanagan in his 1870 biography of Edmund:

Urged by his tutor, a priest named Robert Aspell, he was no sooner aware that the field was lost than he sought safety by flight. Their movements were intercepted by the Lancastrians, and Lord Clifford made him prisoner, but did not then know his rank. Struck with the richness of his armour and equipment, Lord Clifford demanded his name. “Save him”, implored the Chaplain; “for he is the Prince’s son, and peradventure may do you good hereafter.”

This was an impolitic appeal, for it denoted hopes of the House of York being again in the ascendant, which the Lancastrians, flushed with recent victory, regarded as impossible. The ruthless noble swore a solemn oath: “Thy father”, said he, “slew mine; and so will I do thee and all thy kin;” and with these words he rushed on the hapless youth, and drove his dagger to the hilt in his heart. Thus fell, at the early age of seventeen, Edmund Plantagenet, Earl of Rutland, Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

689px-'The_Murder_of_Rutland_by_Lord_Clifford'_by_Charles_Robert_Leslie,_1815Edmund, Earl of Rutland was then executed by order of the Lancastrian Lord Clifford, or by the man himself. So has been depicted in this portrait – the young Edmund begging for his life.

The death of Richard, Duke of York and Edmund, Earl of Rutland were revenge killings (as were many) by the Lancastrians, for their many losses. Richard’s eldest son Edward was now Duke of York.


The Battle of Mortimor’s Cross - 2 February 1461

When Edward, now Duke of York, advanced towards Mortimor’s Cross, to stop two Lancastrian armies from joining, his army witnessed what was presented to them as a good omen – a meteorological phenomenon known as a sun dog.  A sun dog in the sky makes the sun appear as there are three suns in the sky at once. Edward took this to represent his father’s three remaining sons, himself, George and Richard.

At this battle, Sir Owen Tudor was was captured and put to death – he was the grandfather of Henry VII. This battle was a win for the York faction and Edward, Duke of York.

The Second Battle of St. Albans - 17 February 1461

Here, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick waited to join forces with the army of the Edward, Duke of York, near London. While waiting the Lancastrian army surprised them and attacked – Warwick fled. As the Yorkists retreated, they left behind the bemused King Henry, who is supposed to have spent the battle sitting under a tree, singing.

The Battle of Towton - 29 March 1461

This battle has been described as the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil. More than 50,000 soldiers from both sides fought for hours amidst a snowstorm. The battle took place on Palm Sunday. It was reported that 28,000 men died on the battlefield.

Hand-to-hand combat lasted hours which exhausted the armies. “The arrival of Norfolk’s men reinvigorated the Yorkists and, encouraged by Edward, they routed their foes. Many Lancastrians were killed while fleeing; some trampled each other and others drowned in the rivers, which are said to have made them run red with blood for several days. Several who were taken as prisoners were executed.” [19]

The power of the House of Lancaster was critically reduced after the battle. King Henry VI fled the country, and many of his most powerful followers were dead, including Henry Percy, 3rd earl of Northumberland, or in exile after the encounter which allowed Edward rule England uninterrupted for nine years until a brief restoration of Henry VI to the throne in 1470.

The Timeline of Wars of the Roses – via warsoftheroses.com

Year Date Event
1421 6 December 1421 Henry VI born
1429 1429 Margaret of Anjou born
1442 28 April 1442 Edward IV born
1450 August 1450 Return of Richard, Duke of York from Ireland
1453 December 1453 Henry VI first bout with mental illness
1454 April 1454 Start of York’s first protectorate
1455 February 1455 End of York’s first protectorate
22 May 1455 Wars of the Roses begins
22 May 1455 First St. Albans
1459 23 September 1459 Battle of Blore Heath
12 October 1459 Battle of Ludford Bridge
1460 10 July 1460 Battle of Northampton
30 December 1460 Battle of Wakefield
1461 2 February 1461 Mortimor’s Cross
17 February 1461 Second St. Albans
28 March 1461 Ferrybridge
29 March 1461 Towton
1464 25 April 1464 Hedgeley Moor
15 May 1464 Hexham
1469 26 July 1469 Edgecote Moor
1470 12 March 1470 Losecote Field
4 November 1470 Edward V born
1471 14 April 1471 Barnet
4 May 1471 Tewkesbury
21 May 1471 Henry VI dies
1483 9 April 1483 Edward IV dies
1485 22 August 1485 Richard III is killed at the battle of Bosworth
Battle of Bosworth
1487 16 June 1487 Stoke
16 June 1487 Wars of the Roses ends



[1] Quoted from:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_of_York,_3rd_Duke_of_York#Ireland_.281445.E2.80.931450.29 

[2] Quoted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecily_Neville,_Duchess_of_York

[3] Quoted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_VI_of_England

[4] Quoted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_of_Anjou

[5] Quoted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_of_Westminster,_Prince_of_Wales#Early_life

[6] Quoted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Neville,_16th_Earl_of_Warwick

[7] Quoted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_IV_of_England#Reign

[7-1] thePeerage.com – Person Page 10187. Retrieved 5 December 2009.

[7-2] Biography of EDWARD IV – Archontology.org. Set sail on 2 October 1470 from England and took refuge in Burgundy; deposed as King of England on 3 October 1470. Retrieved 5 December 2009.

[7-3] Charles Ross, Edward IV (English Monarchs Series), 1998 ISBN 978-0-300-07372-0

[7-4] BBC Edward IV

[7-5] York was a direct descendant of Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, the fourth surviving son of Edward III. The House of Lancaster was descended from John of Gaunt, the third surviving son of Edward III, and as such had a superior claim over the House of York. However, Richard Plantagenet’s mother was Anne de Mortimer, the most senior descendant of Edward III’s second surviving son, Lionel of Antwerp. Lionel had been the eldest son of Edward III to leave a surviving line of descent; as such, by modern standards, his line had an indisputably superior claim over that of his younger brother, John of Gaunt. By contemporary standards, this was by no means so certain; nonetheless, it allowed Richard and then Edward a good title to the throne.

[8] Quoted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Woodville


  1. “Women in Medieval England”. google.co.uk.
  2. Jump up^ Baldwin, David, Elizabeth Woodville: Mother of the Princes in the Tower

[9] Quoted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_of_York

[10] Quoted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund,_Earl_of_Rutland

[11] Quoted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Plantagenet,_1st_Duke_of_Clarence

[12] Quoted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabel_Neville,_Duchess_of_Clarence

[13] Quoted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_III_of_England

[14] Quoted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Neville

[14-1] John A. Wagner. Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses, ABC-CLIO, Jan 1, 2001. pg 171.

[15] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Beaufort,_Countess_of_Richmond_and_Derby

[15-4] Jones & Underwood, 35.

[16] Quoted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Tudor,_1st_Earl_of_Richmond#Capture.2C_captivity_and_death

[17] Quoted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_VII_of_England

[17-1] Kendall, Paul Murray. Richard the Third. p. 13

[17-2] Williams, Neville. The Life and Times of Henry VII. p. 17.

[18] Quoted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jasper_Tudor,_Duke_of_Bedford

[18-1] Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry: R. S. Thomas, “Tudor, Jasper was a duke of Bedford (c.1431–1495)”, first published 2004

[19] Quoted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Towton#CITEREFGravett2003

Video: Wars of the Roses: A Bloody Crown

The Wars of the Roses by Martin J. Dougherty