IN Dei nomine, Amen. The Xth daie of Aprill, the yere of our Lord Gode Mcccclxxxxii. I Elisabeth by the grace of God Quene of England, late wif to the most victoroiuse Prince of blessed memorie Edward the Fourth, being of hole mynde, seying the worlde so traunsitorie, and no creature certayne whanne they shall departe from hence, havyng Almyghty God fressh in mynde, in whome is all mercy and grace, bequeath my sowle into his handes, beseechyng him of the same mercy , to accept it graciously , and oure blessed Lady Quene of comfort, and all the holy company of hevyn, to be good meanes for me. It`m , I bequeith my body to be buried with the body of my Lord at Windessore, according to the will of my said Lord and myne, without pompes entreing or costlie expensis donne thereabought. It`m, where I have no wordely goodes to do the Quene`s Grace, my derest doughter, a pleaser with, nether to reward any of my children, according to my hart and mynde, I beseech Almyghty Gode, to blysse here Grace, with all her noble issue, and with as good hart and mynde as is to me possible, I geve her Grace my blessing, and all the forsaide my children. It`m, I will that suche smale stufe and goodes that I have be disposed truly in the contentac`on of my dettes and for the helth of my sowle, as farre as they will extende. It`m, yf any of my bloode wille any of my saide stufe or goodes to me perteyning , I will that they have the prefermente before any other. And of this my present testament I make and ordeyne myne Executores , that is to sey, John Ingilby, Priour of the Chartour-house of Shene, , William Sutton and Thomas Brente, Doctors. And I besech my said derest doughter, the Quene`s grace, and my sone, Thomas, Marques Dorsett, to putte there good willes and help for the performans of this my testamente. In witnesse wherof , to this my present testament I have sett my seale, these winesses, John Abbot of the monastry of Sainte Saviour of Bermondefley, and Benedictus Cun, Doctor of Fyfik. Yeven the day and yere abovesaid.
~~ Last Will of Elizabeth Woodville, Dowager Queen of England ~~
On the 8th June 1492, Elizabeth Woodville, by the Wrath of God, Queen of England, died at Bermondsey Abbey. The White Queen had been Edward IV`s consort until his unexpected death in 1483, thus kick starting a chain of unfortunate events which culminated in her brother-law Richard deposing her young son, and placing himself upon the throne of England……The rest is history as they say. By the time of her death at the age of around 55, all of her eleven brothers and sisters were dead, except her youngest sister, Katherine. Only one of her known sons is thought to have survived her: Richard Grey had been eliminated by Richard, Duke of Gloucester , in 1483, and her two sons born to King Edward, Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, disappeared from public view later in the same year.
Despite persistent rumours of her not seeing eye to eye with her son-in-law, Henry Tudor after Richard III had been killed at Bosworth Field in 1485, she appears to have voluntarily turned her back on the court and end her days at Bermondsey, a perfectly respectable lodging for a dowager Queen. After such a spectacularly vivid and eventful life, Elizabeth had little of monetary value to leave at her death, although the fleeting phrase…..”smale stufe and goodes” she refers to, may indicate she may have enjoyed a certain amount of creature comforts during her self imposed exile. By her death, virtually all of her family, and people of note she had personally known and locked horns with, in the advancement and defence of her siblings and children, were no more. The attrition rate of the great, the good, and the not so good of her life and times was as astronomically high as the prizes they fought and died for. The quiet and humble leaving of her life, belies her family reputation for greed and avarice: perhaps she had plucked down the forbidden fruit and found it`s taste ultimately wanting.