What kind of relationship did jacquetta Woodville and Margaret of Anjou have before Jacquetta's daughter Elizabeth became Edward IV's Queen? Did Margaret know Elizabeth personally?
Before 1461, from what we can see, they had a pretty close relationship. Jacquetta was from Luxembourg (a principality allied to the duchy of Burgundy and thus in on-and-off conflict with France) while Margaret was from Anjou, and thus they had a lot in common. Both the Burgundian court and the court of Anjou under Margaret’s father René were famous for literature, art, and courtly display. Furthermore, Jacquetta was Henry VI’s aunt by her first marriage (despite being only five years older than him), and she retained the title Duchess of Bedford as well as the use of the Bedford lands after her husband’s death in 1435. Then she chose to contract a secret (scandalous) marriage to a knight of her husband’s household named Richard Woodville.
Which is all to say that, no matter what nonsense The White Queen peddled, the Woodvilles were emphatically not commoners. Richard Woodville was a member of the landed gentry and his father was a knight. That being said, it was an enormous step down for the Duchess of Bedford and, strictly speaking, Jacquetta wasn’t supposed to marry without royal consent. But she got away with it after paying a £1000 fine to the crown and making an official apology to Henry VI for breaking his rules. All of this happened in 1437, around the time that Elizabeth Woodville was born.
After her remarriage, Jacquetta is largely absent from chronicle accounts, although there are some records mentioned by Helen Maurer and J.L. Laynesmith of gifts passing between Margaret and her. It is probable that she spent some time in court, and may even have been a member of Margaret’s household. For some time, it was believed that Elizabeth had been one of Margaret’s ladies-in-waiting, but as far as I’m aware, that is no longer an accepted theory.
The most interesting reference to Jacquetta appears in one of the Yorkist chronicles in early 1461. Shortly after the second battle of St. Albans, the victorious Lancastrian army moved south toward London. They closed the gates to the north and sent three emissaries to treat with Margaret in hopes that she would spare the city. One of these was Jacquetta Woodville, still called the Duchess of Bedford.
Shortly before that, there are one or two accounts of Jacquetta, her husband Richard, and their eldest son Anthony being taken prisoner aboard a ship in the English channel where they were taunted by Richard Neville, the earl of Warwick, and the future king Edward IV for their comparatively low birth and Lancastrian loyalties.
We don’t know if either of those accounts is completely accurate, but they do paint a picture of an influential relationship between Jacquetta Woodville and Margaret of Anjou. There is no doubt that that changed after Margaret went into exile in 1461 and the Woodville family bowed to the Yorkist Edward IV. There are records of Edward meeting with Richard and Anthony Woodville in the early 1460s alongside a number of other prominent Lancastrian partisans, so it seems like he made some effort to win them over–and that may have been how he first encountered Elizabeth, who he eventually married.
As far as we know, Margaret and Jacquetta did not see one another again after 1461–possibly even on that day in London, since Margaret’s army turned north and she fled to Scotland after the battle of Towton. If letters passed between Margaret and other English nobles, they have not survived, so we don’t know if they communicated during Margaret’s exile, or if Margaret encountered members of Jacquetta’s family during her short stay in Burgundy. So even if they were friends at one time, they found themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.