Today, 18 May, we commemorate the death of Katherine Woodville, who died on this day in 1497.She was the wife of Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford and Earl of Pembroke and Sir Richard Wingfield and was around 40 when she passed away. She was a sister to Queen Elizabeth Woodville and, out of, probably, 13 children, she was very likely the youngest daughter of Jacquetta of Luxembourg and Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers.
Katherine married three times, first when still a child, somewhere in 1465, to Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, with whom she had 5 children. The oldest, Edward, was born in 1478, who would succeed his father as Duke of Buckingham, followed by Elizabeth, Henry, Humphrey (who died young) and Anne.
Eventhough fruitfull, according to Dominic Mancini, an observer of English affairs during this time, it was claimed to be an unhappy marriage. Mancini declared that Henry Stafford “had his own reasons for detesting the queen’s kin; for, when he was younger, he had been forced to wed the queen’s sister, whom he scorned to wed on account of her humble origin.” It's impossible to say whether or not this is true. What is also known is that Katherine followed her husband in the final stage of his life while fleeing for Richard III after his betrayal.
Katherine's life changed drastically in 1483 when, Buckingham being, along with Richard Duke of Gloucester, responsible for the death of Katherine's brother and nephew, Anthony Woodville and Richard Grey, changed side again when Gloucester had seized the crown as King Richard III and rebelled against the monarch he first had given all of his support. As a result Buckingham was executed on 2 November. Just-widowed Katherine found herself in a difficult situation, with four very young children.
Two years later, when Henry Tudor became King, Katherine's life once again changed when she was soon, on 7 November 1485, married to the King's uncle, Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford and Earl of Pembroke. Jasper was aroung 20 years her senior but together they would spend a considerable amount of their ten years ahead of them together at their Manor at Thornbury and Sudeley Castle. Jasper and Katherine's marriage was a one of strategic benefits and whether they were happy together is unknown.It was rumoured that the couple had a still born son in 1490.
On 15 December Katherine's husband, Jasper Tudor made his last will at their manor at Thornbury, mentioning his wife only briefly, nearly at the end of his will: ''I will that my lady my wife and all other persons have such dues as shall be thought to them appertaining by right law and conscience." Jasper died 6 days later, on 21 December 1495, being in his mid-60's.
This time Katherine decided to take faith in her own hands and quickly remaired again. Jasper's will and the fact that Katherine, who was now in her late 30's, very hastily remarried a man named Richard Wingfield, a young man twelve years her junior, without a royal license, which also indicates a not very passioned relationship to her former husband. She possibly even had an affair with young Wingfield before Jasper's death. King Henry VII fined the couple two thousand pounds for their presumption. Katherine would have probably known Richard Wingfield for some time; Wingfield’s mother was connected to Anthony Woodville’s second wife Mary and two of Richard’s brothers, and perhaps Richard himself, had served in Katherine’s household. Katherine's 3rd marriage wasn't, unlike her previous two marriages, of any strategic benefit for her and likely this final matrimony was one made for love.Unfortunately for Katherine she was unable to enjoy her marriage for very long. Barely one year after, she died of unknown cause. Her burialp lace also unknown. She did not have any surviving children from either Jasper Tudor or Richard Wingfield. Wingfield did remarry and had many children with his second wife Bridget Wiltshire. In his will in 1525 Wingfield requested masses to be said for Katherine’s soul.
(This is a reised version of an earlier blogpost, taken from my earlier blo 'Debra's 15th and 16th Century Blog')
If you are interested in reading a bit more about Katherine Woodville or Jasper Tudor, my book 'Jasper Tudor, Godfather of the Tudor Dynasty' is now available worldwide in paperback or kindle. Click here to order it now!
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