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Jacquetta of Luxembourg was the elder daughter of Peter I., Count of St Pol, Conversano and Brienne and his wife Margaret de Baux (Margherita del Balzo of Andria). She was the mother of Elizabeth Woodville, queen consort of King Edward IV. of England.

Family and ancestry:

Her father Peter of Luxembourg, Count of Saint-Pol was also the hereditary Count of Brienne from 1397 to his death in 1433.

Peter had succeeded his father John of Luxembourg, Lord of Beauvoir and mother Marguerite of Enghien. They had co-reigned as Count and Countess of Brienne from 1394 to her death in 1397.

John had been a fourth-generation descendant of Waleran I of Luxembourg, Lord of Ligny, second son of Henry V. of Luxembourg and Margaret of Bar.

This cadet line of the House of Luxembourg reigned in Ligny-en-Barrois.

Jacquetta's mother, Margherita del Balzo, was a daughter of Francesco del balzo, 1st Duke of Andria and Sueva Orsini.

Sueva was a daughter of Nicola Orsini, Count of Nola and Jeanne de Sabran.

Nicola Orsini himself was a son of Roberto Orsini, Count of Nola and Sibilla del Balzo.

Sibilla was a daughter of Hugh de Baux, Great Seneschal of the Kingdom of Naples.

Roberto Orsini was a son of Romano Orsini, Royal Vicar of Rome and Anastasia de Montfort. Anastasia was the oldest daughter and heiress of Guy de Montfort, Count of Nola and Margherita Aldobrandeschi.

Guy de Montfort was a son of Simon V. de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester and Eleanor of England. Eleanor was the youngest child of John of England and his Quenn consort Isabella of Angoulême.

First marriage:

On 22 April 1433 at 17 years of age, Jacquetta married John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford at Therouenne. The Duke was the third son of King Henry IV. of England and Mary de Bohun.

Jacquetta was a distant cousin of Sigismund of Luxembourg, the reigning Holy Roman Emperor, and King of Bohemia and Hungary. The marriage was meant to strengthen the ties of the Kingdom of England with the Holy Roman Empire and to increase English influence in the affairs of Continental Europe.

Second marriage:

Sir Richard Woodville, son of Sir Richard Wydevill who had served as the late Duke's chamberlain, was commissioned by Henry VI. of England to bring the young widow to England. During the journey, the couple fell in love and married in secret (before 23 March 1436/1437), without seeking the king's permission. Jacquetta had been granted dower lands following her first husband's death on condition that she did not re-marry without a royal licence. On learning of the marriage, Henry VI refused to see them but was mollified by the payment of a fine of £1000. The marriage was long and very fruitful: Jacquetta and Richard had fourteen children, including the future Queen consort Elizabeth Woodville. She lost her first-born son Lewis to a fever when he was 12 years old.

By the mid-1440s, the Woodvilles were in a powerful position. Jacquetta was related to both King Henry and Quenn Margaret. Her sister, Isabelle de Saint Pol, married Margaret's uncle Charles de Maine of Anjou while Jacquetta was the widow of Henry VI's uncle. As royalty, she outranked all ladies at Court, with the exception of the Queen. As a personal favourite and close relative of the Queen, she also enjoyed special privileges and influence at court. Margaret influenced Henry to create Richard Woodville Baron Rivers in 1448, and he was a prominent partisan of the House of Lancaster as the Wars of the Roses began.

Wars of the Roses:

The Yorkists crushed the Lancastrians at the Battle of Towton on 29 March 1461, and Edward IV., the first king from the House of York, took the throne. Elizabeth's husband Sir John Grey had been killed a month before at the Second Battle of St. Albans, a Lancastrian victory under the command of Margaret of Anjou. At Towton, however, the tables turned in favour of the Yorkists.

Three years later, in 1464 the beautiful, widowed Elizabeth and her two young sons approached the young king as he hunted in Whittlebury Forest near the Woodville manor. Elizabeth pleaded with the King for the estates confiscated from her husband to be restored to her sons. Edward offered to make Elizabeth his mistress, but she held out for marriage.

A desperate Edward married Elizabeth in secret, but the marriage was not disclosed for months. Once it became common knowledge, however, the alliance displeased the Earl of Warwick, the King's most trusted ally, and his friends.

With Elizabeth now Queen of England, the Woodvilles rose to great prominence and power. Richard was created Earl Rivers and appointed Lord High Treasurer in March 1466. Jacquetta found rich and influential spouses for her children and helped her grandchildren achieve high posts. She arranged for her 20-year-old son, John Woodville, to marry the widowed and very rich dowager Duchess of Norfolk, Catherine Neville. The bride was at least 45 years older than the groom at the time of the wedding. The marriage caused a furor and earned the Woodvilles considerable unpopularity.

The rise of the Woodvilles created widespread hostility to them. They had deserted the Lancastrian side and were now displacing longtime Yorkists in the King's favour, such as Warwick and the King's brothers George and Richard.

Heritage:

Through her daughter, Queen Elizabeth, Jacquetta was the maternal grandmother of Elizabeth of York, Queen and wife of Henry VIII.

Tudor

As such, she is an ancestress of all subsequent English and British monarchs, including HM Queen Elizabeth II., and seven other present-day European monarchs.

Issue of Jacquetta de Luxembourg and Richard Woodville

  1. Elizabeth Woodville, married first Sir John Grey, second Edward IV. of England

  2. Lewis Woodville, died in childhood

  3. Anne Woodville, married first William Bourchier, Viscount Bourchier, second Sir Edward Wingfield, third George Grey, 2nd Earl of Kent

  4. Margaret Woodville, married Thomas Fitzalan, 17th Earl of Arundel

  5. Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers, married Elizabeth Scales, 8th Baroness Scales

  6. Mary Woodville, married William Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke

  7. Jacquetta Woodville, married John le Strange, 8th Baron Strange of Knockin

  8. John Woodville, married Catherine Neville, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk

  9. Richard Woodville, 3rd Earl Rivers

  10. Martha Woodville, married Sir John Bromley

  11. Eleanor Woodville, married Sir Anthony Grey

  12. Lionel Woodville, Bishop of Salisbury

  13. Edward Woodville

  14. Catherine Woodville, married first Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, second Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford