1st May 1464 is regarded as the date of the wedding of Edward IVth the Yorkist claimant and defacto King to Elizabeth Woodville, the widow of Sir John Grey of Groby; who died at the Second Battle of St Albans, leaving Elizabeth a widowed mother of two sons.
Edward’s marriage to this impoverished commoner was one of the reasons for the rift between Edward and his cousin Richard Neville the Earl of Warwick, “The King maker.” By marrying Elizabeth, Edward had derailed Warwick’s plans to marry Edward to a French princess and undermined Warwick’s position as Edward’s principle adviser. The consequences of the rift would be the resumption of the Wars from the rebellions fermented by Warwick in the late 1460s and Warwick’s eventual ill fated alliance with Margaret of Anjou and adoption of the Lancastian cause.
It has been suggested that the reason that the young Edward agreed to marry Elizabeth was because he had been influenced by Elizabeth’s beauty and her insistence on marriage as a price for her remaining virtue. Or maybe, as suggested by popular fiction she had used some occult charms on Edward.
However, the idea that Edward was head over heels in love with Elizabeth deems at odds with his subsequent behaviour throughout their marriage, Edward was also an astute politician. His marriage to Elizabeth, from a large, fecund and impoverished family was not without its advantages, It gave Edward a clan of followers entirely reliant on him. It may have been a mere co-incidence that Elizabeth’s dowry included the services of talended in laws such as Earl Rivers was a very fine soldier, or perhaps an eye for an opportunity. Marrying the widow of a Lanacastrian was a gesture of reconciliation to others who took up arms for Henry VI. It is around this time that Edward had tried to effect a reconciliation with Somerset.
The winner of this war was Elizabeth Woodville, whose descendants still occupy the British throne.
Although there was a state wedding in 1465 the secret wedding is alledged toi have taken place at the Hermitage in the village of Grafton. There has some archaeological work to find the site of the hermitage, reported here
There is also a traditional site of where Edward met Elizabeth under an oak street and offered to marry her, a historic site of a clash in the battle of the sexes.