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'White Queen' died of plague, claims letter found in National Archives

Tatiana Dokuchic
4 weeks ago
1,752 posts

Elizabeth Woodville.jpg

An interesting article from The Guardian:

A 500-year-old letter discovered in the National Archives has revealed that the “White Queen” Elizabeth Woodville, the grandmother of Henry VIII, may have died of the plague.

Elizabeth, the wife of Edward IV, mother of Edward V and maternal grandmother of Henry VIII, died in 1492 after spending the last five years of her life in Bermondsey Abbey in London. No cause of death was recorded at the time, and there are no known contemporary accounts of her passing. However, while digging through transcripts and translations of Venetian documents relating to England, National Archives records specialist Euan Roger stumbled on a letter from the Venetian ambassador to London, written 19 years after her death.

The letter, dated July 1511, sees the ambassador, Andrea Badoer, state that “the Queen-Widow, mother of King Edward, has died of plague, and the King is disturbed”.

It also references To Be Shut Up’: New Evidence for the Development of Quarantine Regulations in Early-Tudor England

Elizabeth Woodville certainly lived in interesting times (as the Chinese curse goes) and I wish there was more biographical information about her and her daughter Elizabeth of York.  Recently, Philippa Gregory has introduced the "White Queen" to a modern audience with her fictional novels (and the mini-series spinoffs) but sadly these portrayals are dreck.

It's also sad to think that after surviving so much hardship her life was ended by plague.  Hard times indeed.

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