For today’s post, I have decided to take a look at the connection between the Arthurian figure Morgan le Fay and the late medieval Queen Elizabeth Woodville. In the past, I did a post about the connection between Elizabeth Woodville and Guinevere. That one had some obvious connections with both being Queens married to warrior Kings, as well as the obvious romantic nature of each figure.
Today’s post will look at a different side of Elizabeth Woodville. Her connection to the great Arthurian Sorceress is obvious to those who are knowledgeable of her history of being accused of witchcraft. During her reign as Queen consort of England her own mother, Jacquetta Duchess of Bedford was accused of witchcraft. She was even put on trial twice by the Kingmaker but was found not guilty of being a witch.
However, the belief that Elizabeth and her mother practiced witchcraft did not begin with these incidents, nor would it end after she was acquitted. Through her mother, it is said that Elizabeth Woodville was descended from the Faery Queen Melusina who is known to have mated with humans and is believed to have had many half-human children. Interestingly this is another point of connection between Morgana and Elizabeth, as Melusina has deep connections to Avalon. It is said her mother took her and her sisters there when they fled Melusina’s father and that Melusina likely returned to Avalon when she left her own husband. This obviously brings in a tie to Morgana, as Avalon is her sacred isle!
It was long thought that Elizabeth Woodville would use her knowledge of the dark arts to cause strife amongst those she saw as her enemies at court. One of her primary accusers was her brother-in-law George, Duke of Clarence. After his wife died in childbirth, he said that the Queen had cursed her to death. This would lead George to attempt to kill both the Queen and his brother, the King. Such an obvious act of treason could not be overlooked and the Duke of Clarence was sentenced to death via execution. He was allowed to choose his method of execution, so being a famous drunk he chose to be drowned to death in a cask of malmsey wine! That is not a joke, it is literally how they put him to death at his own request.
This whole event characterized how she was perceived as this wicked Sorceress, very much a Morgana le Fay type of character. Her role as a Queen can be seen as similar to Morgana as the Faery Queen of Avalon. Her role as a seductress, given that many believed she used her magic to entrance the King into marriage, can be seen as similar to Morgana as Faery Lover! Finally, her role as a mother is similar to the fact that Morgana is very often depicted as a mother.
I hope that you have enjoyed this short post about the connection between Elizabeth Woodville and Morgana le Fay. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is Elizabeth Woodville. I found the image on https://britishheritage.com/history/henry-vii-grandaughter-elizabeth-woodville-plague.
- Royal Witches: Witchcraft and the Nobility in Fifteenth-Century England by Gemma Hollman
- Le Morte D’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory