10 March 2015

Today's Princess: Elizabeth de Scales

Woodville's Coat of Arms
Despite the fact that her father Thomas 7th Baron Scales died supporting the Lancasters, Elizabeth de Scales (d. 1473) became the sister-in-law of the Yorkist Queen Elizabeth Woodville. Upon her father's death in 1460, Elizabeth de Scales became 8th Baroness Scales, thus enriching her husband, Henry Bourchier, son of the powerful 1st Earl of Essex.

When Henry died in 1462, she became a great prize for King Edward IV to award--every single man around the king would likely have been thrilled to be granted her hand in marriage. (Her feelings about the matter were likely not considered.) It is this moment in her life that is immortalized by Shakespeare. In Henry VI, Part 3, the Edward's brothers bemoan the fact that they have been overlooked as grooms in favor of the brother of the upstart Queen. Whether The Duke of Clarence and the future King Richard III actually resented this particular snub or not, Edward did indeed allow his brother-in-law, the capable Anthony Woodville, to marry Elizabeth and Anthony wasted no time claiming his right at the new Baron Rivers by right of that marriage. In 1469, Anthony succeeded his father as 2nd Earl Rivers, making Elizabeth Countess Rivers.

She herself died only a few years later. With no children from either of her marriages, Anthony kept her titles and her lands after she her death. The Scales title died with Anthony in 1483, while the lands passed to his brother and heir, who liked to style himself as Lord Scales. The title has remained vacant over the centuries but not without claimants; the most recent claim was made in 1857.

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