John Woodville

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Sir John Woodville (c.1445 – 12 August 1469) was the second son, and fourth child, of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers and Jacquetta of Luxembourg.

In January 1465, Woodville's sister, Queen Elizabeth, procured his marriage to Catherine Neville, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk (born c. 1400 – died after 1483), who was aunt to the powerful Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick.[1] As the Duchess was about 65 years of age at the time and Woodville was only 19, the marriage was seen by all, particularly Warwick, as an indecent grasp for money and power by the Woodville family. One chronicler described it as a "maritagium diabolicum" (the diabolical marriage).[2]

In 1465, John was appointed Knight of the Order of the Bath by his sister's husband King Edward IV.[3]

In 1469, Woodville and his father accompanied King Edward on a march north, to put down what was thought to be a minor rebellion supporting Edward's brother the Duke of Clarence as the legitimate king. Before they met the rebels both Clarence and Warwick had announced their support for the rebellion; by the time the King met the rebels, the rebel force was far stronger than his. In a parley, the rebels told the King that they had no fight with him but advised him to distance himself from the Woodvilles. In no position to argue, the King sent the Woodville party away.

Woodville and Rivers went first to the Rivers' house at Grafton and from there made their way westwards towards Wales. They were captured by Warwick's men on the western bank of the Severn and taken to Coventry in Warwickshire.

Before leaving Calais to support the uprising, Warwick had published a manifesto citing the Woodvilles in general, and the Earl and John Woodville specifically, as his reason for supporting Clarence against the King. The publication of this manifesto was deemed, by Warwick, to justify the execution of Rivers and his son. They were beheaded on 12 August and their heads placed on spikes above the gates of Coventry. Woodville died childless.


  1. ^ Harris, Barbara J., English Aristocratic Women, 1450-1550: Marriage and Family, Property and Careers, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, p.161.
  2. ^ Ross, Charles Derek, Edward IV, University of California Press, 1974, P.93.
  3. ^ Ross, p.95.