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The Woodville Women (Hardback)

100 Years of Plantagenet and Tudor History

P&S History > British History > Tudors & Stuarts P&S History > Royal History Women of History

By Sarah J Hodder
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 272
Illustrations: 16 Mono
ISBN: 9781399094566
Published: 12th December 2022

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Elizabeth Woodville, queen to Edward IV and mother of the Princes in the Tower.

Elizabeth of York, daughter of Elizabeth Woodville and the first Tudor queen of England.

Elizabeth Grey, granddaughter of Elizabeth Woodville and Countess of Kildare, whose life both in England and across the Irish sea was closely entwined with the Tudor Court.

This is the tale of three generations of women, linked by their name, Elizabeth, and by their family relationship. The story begins in the reign of the great Plantagenet Kings with the life of Elizabeth Woodville and ends in the reign of perhaps England’s most famous dynasty, that of the Tudor kings and queens. Through the life of Elizabeth of York, the first Tudor queen and Elizabeth Grey, cousin to Henry VIII and Mary Tudor, we explore the Tudor court and its dealings with the Earls of Kildare.

From the birth of our first Elizabeth to the death of our last, these three women lived through wars and coronations, births and deaths, celebration and tragedy and between them they experienced some of the most exciting and troubled times in English history. Mother, daughter and granddaughter: individually they each have their own fascinating story to tell; together their combined stories take us on a journey through a century of English life.

This book covers 3 generations of Plantagenet women who all had a lasting, significant impact on English history. Elizabeth Woodville, her daughter Elizabeth Tudor, and a granddaughter, Elizabeth Gray.

This book was well researched and written in a way that was informative, enlightening, and entertaining. These three women all experienced love, war, and tragedy. Their places in history are well established and we are lucky to be able to learn how these women (and others of the era) made their mark and influenced history.

NetGalley, Rae Nason

As a possible relation to the Plantagenet families, any book referencing the women is always an interest to me. I did really enjoy reading this book and one day hope to verify an ancestry link.

NetGalley, Jennifer DiCenzo

As featured on Lady Jane Grey Reference Guide

Lady Jane Grey Reference Guide

Absolutely fascinating history of the often misunderstood and maligned women of this family. There’s a lot of misogyny surrounding the Woodvilles treatment and this book does a lot to dispel that and to good effect.

NetGalley, Rebecca Fachner

The Woodville Women is a well-researched and well-written book that is sure to appeal to anyone interested in English history or the lives of women in the Middle Ages. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn more about these fascinating women.

Read the Full Review Here

The History Fella

The Woodville Women is a combined biography of Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth of York and her cousin who you probably never heart of: Elizabeth Grey. She was the daughter of Thomas Grey, Maquis Dorset who was of course Elizabeth Woodville’s son by her first marriage.

There have been biographies of Elizabeth Woodville and Elizabeth of York before. I don’t think this book is an alternative to them so much as complimentary. It highlights the familial connections of the three women who are the subjects & at times what they were willing to do to help and protect their families. Their lives spanned over 100 years of the 15th and 16th century, and the most tumultuous period: because of their marriages and the status their birth afforded them they became Queens or the companions of Queens.

There’s a tendency to see The Woodville Women (and Medieval women in general) as passive and helpless, but Sarah Hodder shows how these women could take control of their own destinies even if it was to a limited extent. Some might complain about the use of terms like “might” and “perhaps” but there are certain things we do not know for certain in history and we can only speculate: especially about the thoughts and feelings of people who lived 500 years ago.

NetGalley, Joanna Arman

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Three generation of women who share a common name, Elizabeth. They share more than a name, their lives are intertwined through the Royal Tudor court. The three women experienced love, family and tragedies. A poignant story of the lives of these women and what they had to endure as women in a royal court. They carved a place in history. This a wonderful account of their lives.

NetGalley, KindleLover 1220

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Three generations of Woodville women, two queens and one great-aunt of another queen, they lived during a transformative time in English history. The first Elizabeth won the heart of Edward IV and was his Queen and the mother of his legitimate children, including the second Elizabeth. Edward and his brother Richard were the last Plantagenets. The little princes who died in the Tower were her children too and would have followed their father on the Throne. Needless to say, those years of “musical” Kings, were fraught with danger for her and her daughter. In those days, power was masculine and all that a woman could wield was influence and intrigue.

Her daughter, the second Elizabeth was the conciliator between the Plantagenets and the Tudors as the wife of Henry VII and mother of Henry VIII. Her years as Queen were tempestuous too but they established the dynasty of the Tudors. The final Elizabeth, niece of the first and cousin of the second, also lived a colourful life in the Courts of England and France. Her life is less documented but provides the link that validated Jane Grey, the nine day Queen. All three women named Elizabeth had impact of varying degrees but through their lives, we see the world from the War of the Roses to the reigns of Mary and Elizabeth.

Well written and researched, it is a fascinating story. I enjoyed it immensely. Five purrs and two paws up.

NetGalley, Susan Johnston

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I'm a bit of a history geek and this looked intriguing.
Loved this.
Really well researched and learned loads.

NetGalley, Maria Martignetti

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Having previously read Sarah's books; The Queen's Sister's, The York Princesses and Cecily Bonville-Grey, I was thrilled to see Sarah continuing to write women's history and especially women I am really interested in.

Sarah looks at three women; Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth of York and Elizabeth Grey and I loved every word. I really enjoyed reading about the background of all three women, particularly Elizabeth Woodville and her parents, Jacquetta and husband Richard Woodville. Rather than focusing on the bits that are much more known we are treated to aspects of their lives that are not commonly written about such as where they resided and how they spent their time.

Sarah uses her research to track where the women would have been during certain times to tell a rounded history of three generations. Between them these women lived through some of the most tumultous times in England and it was wonderful to read about this era of history from a refreshingly different perspective.

To say I enjoyed this would be an understatement, its a well researched, detailed but not boringly so, wonderfully written book. I was so entranced by reading about Elizabeth Woodville and her coronation I could almost see it.

Sarah clearly has a passion for this subject and as a huge fan I can only hope she continues to bless us with her work.

NetGalley, Amy McElroy

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A great book, this period of time has always fascinated me and I enjoyed this too much! It kept me awake at night I could not put this down!

NetGalley, Aisha Bari

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

What an amazing biography of Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth of York, and Elizabeth Grey! Every time I picked up "The Woodville Women", I was whisked away back in time, and learned so much about these three women, as well as the life and times in which they lived.

The War of the Roses, Tudor Era, and the Elizabeth Eras are three of my favorite time periods to study! As soon as I saw this book, I just knew I needed to read it!

Sarah J Hodder is such an incredible author. This book is so well-researched (I can only begin to imagine the amount of time she spent researching it oh my goodness!), informative, and gripping. This book felt almost like a novel in that everything flowed brilliantly from one moment to the next, and I often forgot I was sitting on my couch reading!

Elizabeth Woodville married King Edward IV and became queen, Elizabeth of York (Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV's daughter) married King Henry VII and became queen, and Elizabeth Grey was Elizabeth Woodville's granddaughter through her son Thomas, who was one of her two sons from her from her first marriage. Throughout this non-fiction read, I really feel I got a deep understanding of these women's lives, and they intertwine in many ways. They were so involved in everything going on around them, both in their own personal lives as well as historic events surrounding them too. As the reader, I was seeing and learning history here from the women's perspectives, and I can't wait to do more research on these three women on my own time as well.

If you love history, I highly recommend this book! I look forward to reading what Ms. Hodder writes next!

NetGalley, Ashley Maimes

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Fabulous read….. This is the tale of three generations of women, linked by their name, Elizabeth, and by their family relationship. The story begins in the reign of the great Plantagenet Kings with the life of Elizabeth Woodville and ends in the reign of perhaps England’s most famous dynasty, that of the Tudor kings and queens. Through the life of Elizabeth of York, the first Tudor queen and Elizabeth Grey, cousin to Henry VIII and Mary Tudor, we explore the Tudor court and its dealings with the Earls of Kildare.

NetGalley, Michelle Coates

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant! This is well reached and well written. A great insight into the lives of the woodville women.

NetGalley, Rebecca B

Interesting account of Elizabeth Woodville, her daughter Elizabeth of York and grand daughter, Elizabeth Grey. Their stories take us from the latter Plantagenet years towards the end of the Tudors. A very neat and interesting account full of detail of the royal courts and family life.

NetGalley, Sarah Quince

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

What a fascinating book packed with such important history over 100 years, but told from the female line which is very unusual which made it all the more fascinating. The author has certainly revealed lives and facts that you very rarely hear about and whilst the Woodville's are well-known there were many facts that are less well known.

These women witnessed and were part of such an important time in our history which saw the end of the Plantagenets and the birth of the Tudors. I am aware of all three and have read many books about them but knew less about Elizabeth Grey and her family in Ireland until this book.

Because it was about the women you also learnt facts about the times which you would not normally hear about

I really enjoyed this book because it felt much more personal and provided a different perspective on such an important part of history.

NetGalley, T B

This work explores the lives of Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth of York, and Elizabeth Grey, three women who were influential in England’s history during the 15th and 16th centuries.

I enjoyed the author’s use of primary documents, both as sources and for direct quotes, but that she also used modern histories and research as well. I do think the quotes would have been more impactful if only portions of letters/documents were used in the original text while the remainder was summarized. The inclusion of in-text references and a list of the sources at the back was wonderful. This greatly added to the depth of the work and my confidence in the author’s writing. This work was fascinating – gaining insights into these women adds so much to European history of the 15th and 16th centuries.

While this work was about the women, the author also made sure to include plenty of context. Relevant cultural details surrounding topics such as childbirth or religion at the time also added to this work. I also enjoyed that the author used the lives of these women to discuss the social and political events and changes that were occurring during their lives. This was an excellent way to ground the book in the broader context of history.

NetGalley, Abi McCoy

These are the women who impacted British history and have mostly been forgotten. The three Elizabeths were fantastic to read about. The intricate details of their marriages, children and stories were all there and the best part is that it was all about them. This is a book for anyone who loves the hidden side of history.

NetGalley, Naomi Sutherland

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth of York, and Elizabeth Grey. Mother, daughter, and granddaughter. Three women witnessed the end of the Plantagenets era and the Tudors. The first two Elizabeths are well-known from the various fictions; the third one was new to me. Therefore, I was happy to learn something new.
I would call this book history from the women's point of view. The standard history books are full of politics, battles and male roles. Here we can read how the women felt when their men fought. However, there is much more in The Woodville Women. Besides the expected biography of the three family members, we can learn a lot about other women of that time (their surnames are famous for the lovers of this period!). The general facts related to the subject of this book (the dark and warm room in which women gave birth to their children should recreate the womb) are also included.
I enjoyed this book because it provided me with thorough information on the period I know from fiction. Moreover, the Woodville Women allowed me to meet real historical characters.

NetGalley, Magdalena Šejdová

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

As a Yorkshire girl, I could not wait to read this book. I wasn't disappointed, the story is fascinating and extremely well researched. I recommend this book to anyone who loves history and has an interested in the war of the roses.

NetGalley, Wendy M Rhodes

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Woodville Women is a fascinating book, full of things that I did not know about these women. We hear so much about the men-- the Plantagenet and Tudor ones, but the women are described by their looks, suspected witchcraftery, or on their ability to bear children from this time. Sarah J. Hodder does a great job discussing their importance, their contributions and their lives. I did not know of Elizabeth Grey before this book!
Gorgeous cover, narration and story of these women's lives. I was happy to receive this as an ARC by Netgalley and would recommend to anyone interested in history, especially for history rarely written about!

NetGalley, Vanessa Stoner

As someone deeply familiar with these women and this time period, this book is a great reminder of why they are so interesting and an excellent study of the interconnectedness and value of family in this time period.

NetGalley, Joy Henhoeffer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I was thrilled to receive this book as I’ve long since had a fascination with Tudor History and I’ve watched countless tv dramas recreating the life of Elizabeth Woodville and read fiction novels about all The Woodville Women .

When I read the first page I just knew that this book was going to be incredible, you can just tell that so much research has gone into it and that makes the words just leap off the page.

I was fascinated learning all the intricate details of each woman’s family and ties that brought them to be at the forefront of our history.

I recommend this to anyone who loves history and strong fierce women.

NetGalley, Carly Rushforth

The Woodville Women follows three generations of women from the same family: Elizabeth Woodville, her daughter Elizabeth of York, and her granddaughter Elizabeth Grey.

This work reminded me why I love reading history books. It was well researched but also very readable. I liked how it used the lives of the three women to explore the political and historical changes of the period. I also appreciated how, even though for most of the time it's impossible to know what these women felt or thought, she attempted to challenge some popular misconceptions about them, and how she tried to explain some of their actions.

NetGalley, Elena Vivenzi

This was probably one of the most straightforward accounts of the Wars of the Roses that I have read. Sarah Hodder provided enough political context within her accounts of the Woodville Women, that it was extremely easy to follow. Writing history without making the subject matter sound stuffy and dull is difficult. Hodder created a space to enjoy this historical account without feeling like you have to hold a Ph.d in Medieval history. Highly recommend for fans of the White Princess tv series or Philippa Gregory.

NetGalley, Darrah Culp

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Sarah J. Hodder presents to us a well-researched history of three women: Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth of York, and Elizabeth Grey, Countess Kildare. Three generations of the same family, all tied to the English crown.

The author has done her work particularly in the case of Elizabeth Woodville, showing her noble lineage and how false the stories were of her being of “low birth.” Further, she illustrates how close Elizabeth of York and Henry VII were. Finally, her hard work recounts the not-well-known life of Elizabeth Grey which is of great interest. The research around Elizabeth Grey’s life, tied up in the Irish Rebellions of the time, must’ve been labor intensive.

I found that the author’s explanations of family relationships (i.e who is related to whom and how) was the first time that I really understood the royal houses of this time period. THANK YOU! Author Hodder’s tracking of family relationships became crystal clear in a time period in which there were far too many Elizabeths, Marys, Thomases, and Henrys! Finally, from these explanations, I can also see how Lady Jane Grey wound up being crowned and then executed.

What a refreshing change of pace with historic FACT instead of the FICTION presented on TV and in novels.

NetGalley, Sheila Paul

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely fascinating fantastic amazing book, takes the reader back to time of the Plantagenet and Tudor
A time in history where be a royal could be more deadly then some of the diseases around.
This time we meet the women who are equally important.
Worth reading.

NetGalley, Karen Bull

I have been fascinated by this period and intrigued about Elizabeth Woodville and Elizabeth of York ever since I watched the series on Starz based on the same. This book is an amazing and informative read if you too are intrigued about these women who lived and played a significant role during this period.

It is well researched and the narrative style is quite engrossing. I loved the introduction section that provided an overview to set the context before we get into the book.

NetGalley, TIYASHA GANGULY

I learned a lot and was pretty blown away by the amount of detail. I loved that the author used first hand sources as well as modern and I have just become a big fan of her work.

NetGalley, Leslie Hall

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Three women in one family who shared the same first name saw England change over a tumultuous century. They saw the end of the Plantagenet dynasty and the rise of the Tudors while on the sidelines of great battles. Through heartaches and triumphs, the women of the Woodville family became princesses and queens that would transform the political landscape of England forever. These three women, Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth of York, and Elizabeth Grey, were incredible examples of what it meant to be medieval royal women. They are featured in Sarah J. Hodder's latest book, "The Woodville Women."

I want to thank Pen and Sword Books and NetGalley for sending me a copy of this book. I have read other books by Sarah J. Hodder about women from the Woodville family, so when I heard about this title, I wanted to see what new information she would share with her audience.

We begin our adventure into the Woodville family by exploring the matriarch of this rather extraordinary family, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, the future wife of Richard Woodville. For a woman of Jacquetta's status to marry a man well below her rank was unheard of in medieval Europe, but their union would change history during the tumultuous time known as the Wars of the Roses. Their daughter, Elizabeth Woodville, would marry a Lancastrian soldier named Sir John Grey of Grosby, but when John died, she caught the eye of the young Yorkist king, Edward IV.

During King Edward IV's reign, Elizabeth Woodville, now queen of England, showed her true strength. As a mother to a large family, including the infamous Princes of the Tower, and her eldest child Elizabeth of York, Elizabeth Woodville fought for her children's rights, even after her beloved husband's death. Elizabeth of York would follow in her mother's footsteps and become Queen of England when she married the victor of the battle of Bosworth Field, Henry Tudor, the patriarch of the Tudor dynasty.

The woman who proved the most fascinating character in this particular book for me was Elizabeth Grey, the daughter of Thomas Grey and Cecily Bonville. Elizabeth Grey would marry Gerald Fitzgerald, 9th Earl of Kildare, who she met at the Field of Cloth of Gold. They would live in Ireland and have many children together, but things were not smooth sailing as Kildare's rivalries would lead to rebellions in Ireland and land him in the Tower of London a few times. Although Kildare had a rocky relationship with King Henry VIII, Elizabeth Grey was cordial with her royal relation.

Hodder was able to tell the stories of these three women in an illuminating way that reminds readers of the tales of Elizabeth Woodville and Elizabeth of York while giving new insights into their lives and telling the story of Elizabeth Grey. This book was engaging and informative, just like Hodder's previous books. If you want a book that tells the thrilling tales of Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth of York, and Elizabeth Grey, you should check out "The Woodville Women" by Sarah J. Hodder.

NetGalley, Heidi Malagisi

Sarah J. Hodder has written a most readable, informative and enjoyable history of the Woodville women. I like to read history like that.

NetGalley, Flora Fung

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Edward IV's family and courtiers were shocked when he married the beautiful commoner Elizabeth Woodville. He was supposed to marry a French princess, or at least a foreign royal. 'Heavy the head that wears the crown' goes the old saying, and Edward IV had to bear great trials during his reign, due to his battles with Henry VI, and the treachery of his brother George and The Kingmaker. Elizabeth, a supportive wife, helped him through it all, but she is still accused of being too ambitious for her family. Rumours of witchcraft still abound! She lived through exciting and dangerous times, involving two terrifying escapes into sanctuary.

Elizabeth's legacy lived on through her daughter, Elizabeth of York, who united the White and Red Roses by marrying Henry VII, Henry VIII's father. Elizabeth had to battle her powerful mother-in-law, but by all accounts, she and Henry had a loving and happy marriage. Elizabeth was kind and generous to her family.

Elizabeth Grey married a feisty Irishman, who often got into trouble with Henry VIII, even being imprisoned in the Tower. Her story could be a novel, and I would love to find out more about her.

Sarah J. Hodder brings these women to life in this captivating book, which is, as always, well-researched. She recreates the atmosphere of the times vividly, with extracts from documents and letters, and descriptions of the colourful era.

NetGalley, Lisa Sanderson

"The Woodville Women" by Sarah J. Hodder is an engaging read. She focuses on the lives of Elizabeth Woodville, wife of King Edward IV; their daughter Elizabeth of York, wife of King Henry VII & mother to the ever famous Henry VIII; and Elizabeth Grey, cousin to Henry VIII. These three women lived through some turbulent times, and endured losses that would probably emotionally destroy most women. Yet Hodder is able not just to tell their story but to demonstrate the strength and grit these women had to survive. Secondary (and I use this term lightly) figures include Jacquetta of Luxembourg, mother to Elizabeth Woodville; Cecily, sister to Elizabeth of York; and finally, all the various males that made life difficult, from king down, with their political machinations and power struggles.
No matter how many books I read on the Wars of the Roses & the Tudor era, I always learn something new with each new book on the time period. That was the case with this book. I learned about Jacquetta's background, about Elizabeth Woodville's first marriage and the drama following the first husband's death, and about Elizabeth Grey, whose descendant Jane Grey would briefly (extremely briefly) be Queen of England. It was great discovering more about these figures... this was worth reading because it gave a new take on a period in time on which soooo much has been written.

NetGalley, Mariama Thorlu-Bangura

Loved this book looking at the Woodville women one of which was the mother of a queen. And one who would be the mother of King Henry the eight. And would shape the fate of England for years to come.

NetGalley, Carissa Miller

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is an informative and very well-researched book about the influential Woodville women. especially the three Elizabeths. All of them had a voice behind the throne. of England. The facts have been woven into a well-described narrative. of one hundred years. It is a compelling read from the myth of Melusine to royalty, and dynasty.

NetGalley, LOIS ELIYAHU

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Three generations of women: Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth of York and Elizbeth Grey.

Hodder digs deep into the record to go back multiple generations of Elizabeth Woodville's family, on both the paternal and maternal line, showing how she wasn't as low born as her enemies tried to make her out to be. Hodder tracks her rise from minor nobility to queen, and fairly paints a portrait of a woman who worked hard to try and help those she loved as well as having to deal with so much criticisms.

As we see her story play out we learn more and more about her eldest daughter, Elizabeth of York, who then goes on to be queen of England herself, thanks largely in part to her own mother's finagling. Hodder rejects previous portrayals of Elizabeth of York as powerless and in a cold marriage, showing just how close she and Henry VII grew and what she was able to do for the people around her.

And then, as we get into the reign of Henry VIII, Hodder explores the often overlooked life of Elizabeth Grey, granddaughter of Elizabeth Woodville and niece to Elizabeth of York. Due to this Elizabeth's marriage to the Earl of Kildare, she gets sucked into the violent bog of Irish politics, but she never just goes along with events, always working hard to protect her family and to try and keep them safe.

Hodder does a good job finding specifics about the lives of each woman, and when the record is sparse, she takes a wider view at what most women of the era were going through, showing both the lives of these specific women, but also showing how England changed in so many ways over these three generations. A fascinating study of the era and of this family.

NetGalley, Kara Race-Moore

About Sarah J Hodder

Sarah J Hodder began her career as a production manager for Shire Publications, a unique niche publisher that introduced her to an eclectic mix of subjects and encouraged her already well-founded love of books. After leaving Shire to raise her daughter, she was able to explore and develop her passion for history, particularly medieval and Tudor. 
Her focus is very much on social history and family relationships and she writes mainly on the lives of women during this period. Sarah is the author of The Queen’s Sisters (Chronos Books, 2020), The York Princesses (Chronos Books, 2021) and Cecily-Bonville-Grey, Marchioness of Dorset (Chronos Books, 2022).

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