Elizabeth, their oldest child, was a beautiful young woman and at the age of fifteen she married a baronet, John Grey. He was killed in battle fighting on the Lancastrian side of the Wars of the Roses. His assets were confiscated by the Yorkists and Elizabeth was left destitute with two young sons.
When she heard that the Yorkist King, Edward IV, was to be hunting in a nearby wood, she waited for him by a tree in a clearing, a small son on each side. When King Edward arrived, she threw herself on the ground before him, begging for the return of her children's inheritance.
Now Elizabeth was considered in her time at court to be the most beautiful woman in Britain and Edward was captivated.
The ploy worked because Edward began to woo her and promise her good things. But, like future queen Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth wouldn't settle for the role of mistress, and eventually Edward decided to marry her. It was done in secret and sent shock waves around the country when the news came out five months later. Elizabeth, in spite of her high born maternal line, was considered a commoner because her father was a mere knight. It was the first time a commoner had become Queen.
It took time for the dust to settle but Elizabeth became installed at court bringing many family members with her. The Woodvilles now thrived with suitable marriages and honours settled on them. They were resented by many for their ambitions and their increasing permeation though all aspects of court life.
Edward and Elizabeth had ten children, but their life wasn't all smooth sailing. Civil war broke out with the Lancastrians taking another run for the throne under Henry VI. At one bad time when Edward was forced into temporary exile, Elizabeth had to flee for safety just before giving birth to a son. Soon Edward was in control again and life went on more smoothly. Their court became a display for beautiful furnishings and expensive style.
Their marriage seems to have been happy but that didn't stop Edward from taking mistresses. It was the done thing in those times. One of his mistresses Jane Shore even spent time at court.
Edward died in 1483, throwing Elizabeth's life into chaos. Their son, Edward V was declared king with his uncle Richard of York as Protector. Soon evidence was found that Elizabeth and Edward's marriage was invalid due to a previous betrothal contract entered into by Edward. The boys, Edward and Richard, were confined to the Tower and Richard III became king. Elizabeth spent most of her remaining life in retirement at Bermondsey Abbey. She died in 1492,but not before seeing her daughter Elizabeth become the Queen of Henry VII.
The tree where Elizabeth waited for Edward became known as the Queen's Tree.