Bishop Stillington’s Testimony: Was it Enough under Church Law?

Bishop Stillington eyewitnessed the exchange of vows between Edward IV and Eleanor Talbot. Was that enough to prove the marriage contract in a church court?

RICARDIAN LOONS

Richard III remains one of the most controversial kings of England because of the manner in which he came to the throne: not by battle or conquest, but by a legal claim that Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was invalid, rendering their children ineligible to stand in the line of succession. The grounds for the legal claim were enumerated in a petition brought forth to the Three Estates in June 1483, and were later entered into the January 1484 rolls of Parliament under the Act commonly referred to as Titulus Regius (title of the king).

On close inspection, Titulus Regius asserted four reasons justifying the invalidation of Edward IV’s marriage to Woodville:

First, he did so without consulting his own royal council, government, or the peers of the realm (‘And here also we consider how that the said pretensed marriage betwixt the above-named King Edward and Elizabeth Grey was…

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