How was Elizabeth Woodville and Edward 4's wedding a secret, when they had a note from the Pope (cause they were 2nd cousins)


Forum Staff
Aug 2016
It doesn't sound like it remained a secret for long. Maybe they just wanted a small, private wedding without the usual fuss and bother of a state occasion. The secret was that they told very few people beforehand. Afterwards, it no longer mattered who knew. I'm not finding any references to a papal dispensation, but I'm certainly no expert.

Tercios Espanoles

Ad Honorem
Mar 2014
Beneath a cold sun, a grey sun, a Heretic sun...
What "note from the pope" are you referring to? I've never heard of any.


Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
Las Vegas, NV USA
Was there ever a ban on second cousins? Perhaps first cousins before the Reformation. After the Reformation there was apparently no ban in England on royal first cousins marrying.
Sep 2014
Queens, NYC
If there was such a dispensation, they must have been very secretive indeed in applying for it and getting it and bringing it to England. Every history I have read on this is to the effect that the marriage was secret, not revealed by Edward IV until some months later, and even then only because he had to tell why he wasn't proceeding in negotiations for marrying Bona of Savoy.
Jul 2019
New Jersey
As far as I'm aware there was no need for a papal dispensation. Following the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) the Church only prohibited marriage within the fourth degree of consanguinity (first cousins or closer).

Edit: But maybe I'm wrong. Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile were second cousins, and yet they still required a papal dispensation to marry. I think I'm making a mistake in the meaning of degrees of consanguinity. Does anybody know any more on the subject?
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Tercios Espanoles

Ad Honorem
Mar 2014
Beneath a cold sun, a grey sun, a Heretic sun...
I think the OP is confusing Elizabeth Woodville with her daughter, Elizabeth of York.
Jan 2009
Elizabeth Woodville's mother, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, was married (first marriage) to John, 1st Duke of Bedford, the brother of Henry V. Under Medieval consanguinity rules, marriage does form a consanguinity bond, IIRC. So Elizabeth's consanguinity ought to be the same as any children John would have had. The common ancestor would have been Edward III, who is Edward IV's great-great-grandfather, and John's great-grandfather, so Elizabeth's great-great-grandfather by marriage, too. Thus, the consanguinity bond is third cousins, 8th degree, and they should be fine.

Now what I didn't do was to check what was going on in the House of Luxembourg, if they would have had some dealings with the House of Burgundy, and some conflict there. However, since Margaret, the sister of Edward IV, got married in 1465 and Edward in 1464, this shouldn't matter.