Catherine Woodville was born in around 1458, the youngest child of fourteen born to her parents, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Countess Rivers and Baron Rivers, Richard Woodville.
At aged 6, Catherine was married to the young Henry Stafford, later 2nd Duke of Buckingham who was three years older. Some sources claim that Henry wasn’t happy with the match feeling that Catherine was below him in status, however it is also conceivable that a nine year old boy would quite likely be unhappy to marry any girl. Whatever the circumstances, Catherine and Henry went on to have a fairly successful marriage.
Following her sister’s coronation in 1465, during which the young Duke and Duchess in waiting were carried on the shoulders of squires, Catherine appears to have spent some years being raised in the Queen’s household, quite possibly to learn details of court life, towards her future, and also to maintain a degree of separation from her husband for the duration of their minority.
By the time she reached adulthood, Catherine took her place at the side of her husband and the couple went on to have four surviving children; Edward, Elizabeth, Henry and Anne, in the space of around five years. The first three seem to have been born in rapid succession, over the space of two years, then there appears to have been a gap of three years before Anne was born in 1483. As there are some allusions to one or two other children, who probably died as infants, Humphrey and Margaret (named for Henry’s parents) it seems likely that they were born in the period between 1480 and 1483.
Following his efforts to support Richard III’s claim to the throne in the spring of 1483, Henry, now Duke of Buckingham following the deaths of his father and then grandfather the first Duke, switched sides to support rival Henry Tudor’s claim later that year. This has been attributed to a combination of the loss of a portion of his inherited de Bohun lands which passed on marriage to Henry Bolingbroke and then subsequently absorbed into Crown property, his dislike of the level of inclusion the Woodvilles were afforded in Court, despite being married to Catherine, and finally the alleged disappearance of his nephews – a mystery for which Buckingham has been cast as both perpetrator and failed liberator.
As a result, in November 1483 Henry was convicted of treason after his rebellion failed, and executed leaving Catherine a widow at aged 25 with four very young children. Two years later, following Henry Tudor’s success at Bosworth, in November 1485, Catherine married his uncle, Jasper Tudor, son of Dowager Queen Catherine of Valois and Owen Tudor following the death of her first husband Henry V. Catherine was 17 years younger than her new husband, however the marriage lasted ten years until Jasper’s death in 1495. There were no surviving children however the couple may have had a stillborn son in 1490.
Following Jasper’s death just three months later in around February 1496, Catherine married for a third time to Sir Richard Wingfield, of Kimbolton Castle. Despite Catherine being much higher in status by this point than her third Husband, he at 40 years old, was the unmarried childless, eleventh son of a mere knight, and probably looked on this match as a ticket from Heaven, making him through the union, the uncle by marriage of the Queen of England, Elizabeth of York. The marriage was short-lived and childless, when Catherine died on May 18th 1497 aged about 39. Her cause of death and place of burial are unknown.