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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ. Queens of England. Vol.1.

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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
page 308



QUEEN OF EDWARD THE FOURTH distinguished for the courage and prowess displayed by him in the wars in France. But, however brave a warrior, he was but a timid wooer. The Duke of York, Protector of England, and the Earl of Warwick, named by the people the "King maker," earnestly recommended him to the love of the fair Mistress Woodville, in two lengthy letters still extant. Elizabeth, then a bashful maiden in her teens, although of royal descent, scorned to be wooed by proxy, and as the amorous knight was a Yorkist, and withal had nothing but his well-tried sword to endow her with, she rejected his suit and bestowed her hand on Sir Hugh Jobnes, a Lancastrian partizan, and the beir of the wealthy house of Ferrers of Groby, and possessor of the ancient domain of Bradgate. During the lifetime of her husband, who, on the death of his father in 1457, succeeded to the title of Lord Ferrers, Elizabeth gave birth to two sons, Thomas and Richard, both of whom were born at Bradgate. In the wars of the Roses, Elizabeth foUowed her husband in his campaigns. At the second battle of St. Albans, before the action commenced, she visited the camp of Warwick, ostensibly to ask his assistance, but really to act as a spy for Queen Margaret. On that day her husband commanded the royal cavalry, and by the information she had imparted to him, was enabled, by a resolute welltimed charge, to win the day for the red rose. But the triumph cost him his life. He received a mortal wound, of which he died, February tho twenty-eighth, 1461, the day after the battle. Elizabeth deeply mourned tho loss of her lord; and on the downfall of the house of Lancaster, the victorious Yorkists deprived her and her children, the eldest but four years old, of the inheritance of Bradgate, and forced her to seek refuge in Grafton castle, the dower of her mother. Here she lived in deep seclusion and comparative poverty, till one day, on learning that Edward the Fourth, perhaps the handsomest man in England, was hunting in the neighbouring forest of Wbittlebury, she resolved to waylay the gaUant king, and implore him, for her children's sake, to restore the confiscated inheritance of Bradgatc. Tradition marks the spot where, holding her fatherless boys in her hands, she earnestly besought the commiseration of the young king, under the shade of a spreading oak, whose hollow trunk, known as the Queen's Oak, remains even to our own times as a venerable record of the romantic fact. The widow's pleadings, the doubtless eloquent address of the fond mother, have unfortunately not been recorded ; but history informs us that her beauty, earnestness, modest mien, and imploring looks, not only obtained the suit, but with it the heart of the victorious monarch. Bradgate was restored, and Edward frequently visited Elizabeth in secret, using every art to prevail upon her to become his on other than honourable terms. But knowing how many other women he had undone, for he was a great libertine, she spiritedly repulsed him, declaring, that although not good enough to be his Queen, she was far too good to be his mistress. The mother of Elizabeth, a crafty but talented woman, whose successful undertakings, the result of sound judgment and experience, men attributed to sorcery, on becoming acquainted with her daughter's conquest, took the direction of the affair into her own hands, and so managed that, on the dawn of the first of May, 1464, the marriage of King Edward to Elizabeth Woodville was solemnized with great privacy at Grafton, near Stoney Stratford, none being present but the Duchess of Bedford, the priest, two gentlewomen, and a young man, to sing. Secret as were the King's visits to Elizabeth, rumours of their marriage reached the court. Amongst the personages most offended by it were, the haughty Duchess of York, mother to the King, and the powerful Earl of Warwick. They reproached Edward with violating his marriage engagement with Elizabeth Lucy, and urged him, if he could not fix his affections on that lady, to take to wife Eleanora Butler, the daughter of the great Earl of Salisbury, to whom he had been betrothed in his


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