Jacquetta of Luxembourg


Jacquetta of Luxembourg was born around 1416 as the eldest daughter of the French Peter I, Count of Saint-Pol and Margaret de Baux. Jacquetta had five brothers (Louise (who was beheaded in Paris in 1475 for treason against Louis XI), Thibaud, Jacques, Valeran and Jean) and two sisters (Catherine and Isabelle)

She grew up with the French - English War raging around her. Her family were cousins to the Holy Roman Emperor.

John, Duke of Bedford, the Regent of France, was the youngest son of King Henry IV and had lost his first wife, Anne of Burgundy (daughter of John the Fearless) in 1432 and he arranged to marry the 17-year-old Jacquetta, who was his social equal. They married in Therouanne on 22 April 1433.

Although married for two years their marriage remained childless and John died in September 1435. King Henry VI instructed Jacquetta to come to England and ordered the late Duke of Bedford's Chamberlain, Sir Richard Woodville, to arrange it.

Being still considered the King's aunt, gave Jacquetta a high rank at the English court, in fact, one of the highest female ranks of that time, only being preceded by the King's wife Margaret of Anjou,

The King could have easily married her off to one of his wealthy Lords, but instead, Jacquetta decided to marry Richard Woodville, and this time for love.

The couple was fined 1000 pounds but were nevertheless allowed to let their children inherit. The couple produced fourteen children. They lived at their manor at Grafton Regis in Northampton and in 1448 Richard was given a new title, Earl Rivers, ensuring his and his family's support to Henry VI in the dynastic struggles during the Wars of the Roses. The situation changed with the Yorkist victory at the Battle of Towton in 1461 and the seizure of the throne by Edward IV. Jacquetta and Richard's eldest daughter Elizabeth had married a Lancastrian supporter, John Grey of Groby, who died at the 2nd Battle of St Albans in 1461, leaving Elizabeth a widow with two children.

By the spring of 1464, the King was expected to marry a foreign princess for diplomatic advantages and negotiations for this had been going on for quite some time, But Edward left his court and contemporaries shocked when in September, news broke out about his secret marriage to Jacquetta's eldest daughter Elizabeth,

Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville
Illuminated miniature depicting the marriage of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, Anciennes Chroniques d'Angleterre by Jean de Wavrin, 15th century

Edward's councilors were left in shock but there was little they could do about the marriage. It was said that 'almoste none but her moder was of counsayll' and possibly a few servants attended the wedding. Jacquetta’s rank had not passed on to her children and the English nobility was alarmed, as the large amount of unmarried Woodville siblings of the new Queen would require suitable marriages. Not surprising that the Woodville family was considered to be opportunists at court.

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick who had been instrumental in Edward gaining the throne, now stood to lose the most. Warwick's influence faded as the Woodvilles became more influential. In 1469, Warwick seized power and imprisoned Edward, ruling in his name. Warwick captured Rivers and his son John and had both executed at Kenilworth Castle. Warwick then had one of his supporters accuse Jacquetta of using witchcraft in order to make Edward marry her daughter Elizabeth.

Drawing of Grafton Regis Hermitage, possibly where the marriage took place.

The mother of the Queen of England was put on trial and was convicted for using sorcery. Soon after, Kind Edward escaped his imprisonment and reclaimed his crown, Jacquetta was soon cleared of all charges.

Jacquetta died not long after on 30 May 1472 at the age of around 56. She was buried at Grafton Regis. Sadly, no record of her tomb survives.


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