Jacquetta of Luxembourg

Descended from a mermaid

Undoubtedly one of the most amazing people in the whole Woodville saga and the reason behind this family’s rise to fame is Jacquetta of Luxembourg, a remarkable woman whose bloodline is found in every European royal family to this day.  She was born Jacquetta de Pol, the daughter of Count Peter I of Luxembourg and St Pol, who sided with the English during the 100 year War between France and England. Jacquetta’s cousin was Sigismond the Holy Roman Emperor, on her father’s side she descended from Duke John II of Brittany and on the mother’s side she descended from British royalty.  

Her lineage through European royalty went back into the times of myths and legends and the first Count of Luxembourg, Siegfried, who was said to have married the water goddess Melusina. When he spied on her taking her monthly bath he discovered she was half-woman, half-fish or a mermaid. In those days, the story of Melusina was taken more or less as fact. 

The Counts of Luxembourg were responsible for the capture of Joan of Arc and shortly after Joan was handed over to the Duke of Bedford to be tried and burnt at the stake for witchcraft, the teenage Jacquetta was married to the Duke, brother of King Henry VI. Two years later the Duke died and Jacquetta, now about 19, married the handsome young knight Sir Richard Woodville in secret. The first of their 16 children Elizabeth Woodville was born in the winter of 1437 or 1438. Jacquetta was charged with witchcraft by the political enemies of the Woodvilles but avoided death when her son-in-law Edward IV was restored to the throne and had the charges dropped. 

Anyone wishing to know more of this remarkable woman and her role with the British royalty should look no further than some remarkable books by historic writer Philippa Gregory. Gregory’s chapter on Jacquetta in The Women of the Cousin’s War (Simon and Schuster UK Ltd, 2011) is a great historical biography on Jacquetta. More detail is available in her historic novels The Lady of the Rivers (Simon and Schuster UK Ltd, 2011) and The White Queen (Simon and Schuster UK Ltd, 2009).  

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