Anne Neville wife of King Richard III 1456–1485

Anne Neville wife of King Richard III 1456–1485

Anne Neville (11 June 1456 – 16 March 1485) was an English queen, the daughter of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (the “Kingmaker”). She became Princess of Wales as the wife of Edward of Westminster and then Queen of England as the wife of King Richard III.

Anne Neville
11 June 1456 – 16 March 1485
Lady Anne Neville
Princess of Wales
Queen of England

Born
11 June 1456
Warwick Castle, Warwickshire

Died
16 March 1485 (aged 28)
old Palace of Westminster
London

Burial
Westminster Abbey
London

Husband
1 Edward of Westminster
Prince of Wales
13 October 1453 – 4 May 1471
Married December 1470

Husband
2 Richard III, King of England
(2 October 1452 – 22 August 1485
Married 12 July 1472

Children
1 Edward of Middleham
Prince of Wales
December 1473 – 9 April 1484

Father
Richard Neville
16th Earl of Warwick

Mother
Anne de Beauchamp
16th Countess of Warwick

Siblings
1 Isabel Neville
Duchess of Clarence
Married George, Duke of Clarence

Anne Neville was born at Warwick Castle, the younger daughter of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, and Anne de Beauchamp. Her father was one of the most powerful noblemen in England and the most important supporter of the House of York.

 

Her grandfather’s sister, Cecily Neville, was the wife of Richard, Duke of York, who claimed the crown for the House of York.

Much of Anne Neville’s childhood was spent at Middleham Castle in Wensleydale, in the county of North Yorkshire, England. It was built by Robert Fitzrandolph, in 1190. In 1270 the fully complete Middleham Castle came into the hands of the Neville family.

 

At Middleham Castle she and her elder sister, Isabel, met two younger sons of the Duke of York: Richard, Duke of Gloucester (the future Richard III) and George, Duke of Clarence.

Richard especially attended his knighthood training at Middleham since mid-1461 until at least the spring of 1465 or possibly since 1465 until late 1468. It is possible even at this early stage, a match between the Earl’s daughters and the young dukes was being considered.

 

The Duke of York was killed on 30 December 1460 but, with Warwick’s help, his eldest son became King Edward IV in March 1461. Most of England’s leading families had remained loyal to Henry VI or remained uncommitted in the recent conflict. The new regime, therefore, relied heavily on the support of the Nevilles.

 

Warwick wanted an alliance with france, acting on Edward’s behalf, he made arrangements with King Louis XI of France for Edward to marry either Louis’ or his sister in law Bona of Savoy. He was humiliated and enraged to discover that, while he was negotiating, Edward had secretly married Elizabeth Woodville, the widow of John Grey of Groby, on 1 May 1464.

The Earl of Warwick had been at odds with Edward IV for some time, resenting the rise in the king’s favour of the new queen’s family, the Woodvilles. In 1469, the earl tried to put his son-in-law George on the throne, but met resistance from Parliament.

After a second rebellion against King Edward failed in early 1470, he was forced to flee to France, where he allied himself with the ousted House of Lancaster in 1470. With King Henry VI imprisoned in the Tower of London, the de facto Lancastrian leader was his consort, Margaret of Anjou, who was suspicious of Warwick’s motives.

 

To quell these suspicions, Anne Neville was formally betrothed to the son of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou, Edward of Westminster, at the Château d’Amboise in France. They were married in Angers Cathedral, probably on 13 December 1470 to make Anne Neville the Princess of Wales.

Part of Warwick’s plan was winning over King Edward’s younger brother, George Plantagenet, possibly with the prospect of installing him on the throne. The nineteen-year-old George had shown himself to share many of the abilities of his older brother, but was also jealous and overambitious.

 

Warwick restored Henry VI to the throne in October 1470, however Edward IV returned to the country in March 1471 and quickly captured London and Henry VI.

 

The duke of Clarence’s defection weakened Warwick, who nevertheless went in pursuit of Edward. On 14 April 1471 the two armies met at Barnet. Fog and poor visibility on the field led to confusion, and the Lancastrian army ended up attacking its own men. In the face of defeat Warwick attempted to escape the field, but was struck off his horse and killed.

 

Edward IV then incarcerated Henry VI in the Tower of London. Following the decisive Yorkist victory at the Battle of Tewkesbury on 4 May, Henry was reported to have died of “pure displeasure and melancholy,” although “The Great Chronicle of London” reported that Richard, Duke of Gloucester was responsible for his death. As Constable of England, he probably delivered King Edward’s order to kill Henry to the Constable of the Tower.

 

Margaret of Anjou had returned to England with Anne Neville and Prince Edward in April bringing additional troops. At the Battle of Tewkesbury, Edward IV crushed this last Lancastrian army. Prince Edward was killed in or shortly after the battle, and Anne Neville was taken prisoner.

 

She was taken first to Coventry and then to the house of her brother-in-law the Duke of Clarence in London, while her mother Anne Beauchamp, Warwick’s wife, sought sanctuary in Beaulieu Abbey. When the crisis settled down and the Countess wished to be restored to her estates, Edward IV refused her safe conduct to plead her case, she wrote to Queen Elizabeth and several others to no avail.

Anne, now widowed, became the subject of some dispute between George of Clarence and his brother Richard of Gloucester, who still wanted to marry her. Anne Neville and her sister, the Duchess of Clarence, were heiresses to their parents’ vast estates.

 

Clarence, anxious to secure the entire inheritance, treated her as his ward and opposed her getting married, which would strengthen her position to claim a share. Clarence hid her in a London cookshop, disguised as a servant, so that his brother would not know where she was. Gloucester tracked her down and escorted her to sanctuary at the Church of St Martin le Grand

In order to win the final consent of his brother George to the marriage, Richard of Gloucester renounced most of Warwick’s land and property including the earldoms of Warwick (which the earl had held in his wife’s right) and Salisbury and surrendered to Clarence the office of Great Chamberlain of England.

 

In early 1472, Richard petitioned Rome for a dispensation to marry Anne. This was approved on April 22 and the couple were married on 12 July 1472 shortly after Anne’s 16th birthday. For Richard, tapping into Anne’s family’s estate would give him the land and resources to put him on par with his brother George.

The couple made their marital home in the familiar surroundings of Middleham Castle, Yorkshire, after Richard was appointed Governor of the North on the king’s behalf. Upon her marriage, Anne was styled Duchess of Gloucester.

 

They had only one child, Edward, born at Middleham in December 1473. Edward was mostly kept at Middleham, and was known to be a sickly child.

 

Anne’s mother, the dowager Countess of Warwick, joined her daughter’s household in 1473 after Richard obtained the king’s permission to release his mother-in-law from her guarded sanctuary.

 

Anne’s sister Isabel Neville died on 22 December 1476, two and a half months after the birth of Richard. It is now thought the cause was either consumption or childbed fever, yet at the time her husband accused one of her ladies-in-waiting of having murdered her.

 

In 1477 George was a suitor for the hand of Mary, who had just become duchess of Burgundy. Edward IV objected to the match, and George of Clarence, left the court.

 

The Duke of Clarence was imprisoned in the Tower of London and put on trial for treason against his brother Edward IV. He was guilty of “unnatural, loathly treasons” Following his conviction, he was “privately executed” at the Tower on 18 February 1478, He chose to be drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine (the queen’s favorite, she was said never to drink it again).

On 9 April 1483, Edward IV died. It is not known what actually caused Edward’s death. Pneumonia and typhoid have been conjectured, as well as poison. Some attributed his death to an unhealthy lifestyle as he had become stout and inactive in the years before his death.

 

Anne’s husband Richard was named Lord Protector for his 12-year-old nephew Edward V. The young king and his brother Richard, Duke of York were transferred to the Tower of London to await the coronation.

 

But on 25 June 1483, Edward V and his siblings were declared illegitimate on the grounds that Edward IV had a precontract with the widow Lady Eleanor Butler. The brothers remained in the Tower of London. There are no surviving sightings of them after the summer of 1483.

 

Richard ascended the throne as King Richard III. Anne Neville was crowned alongside her husband on 6 July 1483, This had only happened three times before.

 

King Richard and Queen Anne processed from White Hall to Westminster Hall, walking on a carpet of vibrant red cloth. They walked barefoot, as was traditional, behind a large cross and members of the clergy. The queen’s train was borne by Margaret Countess of Richmond, whose son would become Henry VII

 

Richard and Anne’s son Edward of Middleham was created Prince of Wales in York Minster on 8 September 1483 following their Royal Progress across England.

Anne was on good terms with her mother-in-law Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, with whom she discussed religious works such as the writings of Mechtilde of Hackeborn.

 

Her son Edward of Middleham died suddenly in April 1484 at Sheriff Hutton, while his parents were in Nottingham on their way to visit him. Both Richard and Anne were overwhelmed with grief at this news.

 

 

Anne was particularly heartbroken, and she fell gravely ill only a few months later.

 

On 1 March 1484, Elizabeth and her daughters came out of sanctuary after Richard and Anne publicly swore an oath that her daughters would not be harmed or molested and that they would not be imprisoned in the Tower of London or in any other prison.

 

Elizabeth of York and perhaps a few of her younger sisters, such as Cecily became Queen Anne’s ladies in waiting

A tale spread that the king was determined to marry Elizabeth either after Anne’s death or by means of a divorce for which he believed he had sufficient grounds. These rumors undoubtedly found their way back to Anne and must have made her question their reliability. The queen was well aware of her inability to produce any more children, and Princess Elizabeth was the daughter of a woman who had produced at least twelve.

 

By the late winter of 1484 Anne was suffering from a ‘mortal illness.’ There are few clues as to the identification of Anne’s illness. All we know is that its duration was two months and that Richard was advised by his physicians to avoid her bed.

 

Anne may have been suffering from tuberculosis, a common airborne illness which in the medieval period had a high mortality rate. Another possibility could be an attack of influenza, which combined with a weak immune system and other ailments could be fatal. Richard may have wished to poison Anne so he could finally marry his niece.

 

During this time, a marriage deal involving Elizabeth was being considered for Richard’s widowhood. It was to be a double marriage between Richard and the Portuguese Princess Joanna, and Elizabeth and the Portuguese Prince Manuel. Joanna was a highly pious woman and had already vehemently refused several marriage propositions, but these plans came to nothing.

 

Anne Neville died on 16 March 1485. The day she died, there was an eclipse which some took to be an omen of her husband’s fall from heavenly grace.

 

She was buried in Westminster Abbey in an unmarked grave to the right of the High Altar, next to the door to the Confessor’s Chapel.

 

Richard is said to have wept for weeks…

There was no memorial to Queen Anne until 1960, when a bronze tablet was erected on a wall near her grave

 

Cultural depictions
.Claire Bloom in Richard III (1955)
.Kristin Scott Thomas in Richard III (1995)
.Winona Ryder in Looking for Richard (1996)

.Faye Marsay in The White Queen (2013)
.Phoebe Fox in The Hollow Crown (2016)
.Rose Hobart Tower of London (1939)
.Joan Camden Tower of London (1962)

. Gladys Malvern, The Queen’s Lady (1963)
.Jan Westcott, Set Her On A Throne (1972)
.Frances Irwin, The White Pawn (1972)

.Frances Irwin, The White Queen (1974)
.Evelyn Hood, The Kingmaker’s Daughter (1974)
.Lesley J. Nickell, The White Queen (1978),
reprinted in 2014 as “The White Queen of Middleham”

.Maureen Peters, Beggar Maid, Queen (1980)
.Philippa Wiat, The Kingmaker’s Daughter (1989)
.Jean Plaidy, The Reluctant Queen
The Story of Anne of York (1990)

.Anne O’Brien, The Virgin Widow (2010)
.Philippa Gregory, The Kingmaker’s Daughter (2012)
.Julie May Ruddock, A Daughter of Warwick (2012)

.Paula Simonds Zabka, Anne of Warwick
The Last Plantagenet Queen (2012)
.Liz Orwin, The Maid’s Tale: Anne (2016)
.Olive Eckerson, The Golden Yoke
(Coward-McCann, 1961)

.Sandra Worth’s The Rose of York trilogy
.Amy Licence, Anne Neville: Richard III’s
Tragic Queen (2013)
.Michael Hicks, Anne Neville: Queen to
Richard III (2006)

Anne Neville
11 June 1456 – 16 March 1485

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Well written and informative

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