Anne Neville – A woman of “gracious fame” (Part two)

anne neville
Faye Marsay as Anne Neville in The White Queen (2013)/Screenshot/Fair Use

Read part one here.

Then life changed on 9 April 1483 when King Edward IV died. He had named Richard Protector on his deathbed, and the new young King Edward V was to return from Wales. Richard offered to join the procession to London, and Anne began to pack up to go to London for her nephew’s coronation. Once Richard had joined the procession, he ordered the arrest of King Edward V’s maternal uncle, Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers and assumed charge of the royal procession. Elizabeth Woodville promptly fled into sanctuary, displaying how much she distrusted Richard. Meanwhile, the young King lodged in the Tower of London. We don’t know exactly when Richard decided to seize the throne, and we don’t know what Anne’s response was. The claim was made that Edward IV had been pre-contracted to Eleanor Talbot, now conveniently dead, and subsequently his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was invalid and their children illegitimate. Did Anne play any part in the story? She certainly had no love for the Woodvilles.

Richard now became King and Anne his Queen. The young King Edward V and his brother Richard disappeared that summer. We don’t know if Richard or Anne played an active role in their demise, but it cannot be excluded either. On 4 July 1483, Anne and Richard travelled to the Tower of London to settle into the royal apartments. Were the boys already dead by then? On 6 July, Richard and Anne were crowned together at Westminster Abbey. Two weeks later, the couple went on progress and not much later marriage was proposed between their son and one of the daughters of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. Catherine of Aragon, the later wife of Arthur, Prince of Wales and King Henry VIII, had not been born yet. On 24 August, their son was invested as Prince of Wales. Around September, Anne and their son travelled back to Middleham while Richard continued on his progress.

Richard’s reign soon faced a rebellion. Perhaps some reaction was to be expected. King Edward IV’s five surviving daughters came out of sanctuary in the spring of 1484, and they went into Anne’s household. Her own son probably remained at Middleham while court was set up at Greenwich. On 20 April 1484, news reached the court that the Prince of Wales had died at Middleham. Anne and Richard left immediately and arrived at Middleham on 5 May to arrange his funeral. They were both “in a state almost bordering on madness, by reason of their sudden grief.” His final resting place is unknown. Richard now had no direct heir, and for Anne, the loss of her only child was a heavy burden. While the rebellion earlier had been laid to rest, it soon became clear that Henry Tudor, son of Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor, intended to invade.

Anne would not see the downfall of her husband and the new Tudor reign. During the winter of 1484/1485, Anne fell ill. Once more, the circumstances are mysterious. On 16 May 1485, Anne died at the Palace of Westminster. Her death may have been convenient, given the rumours that Richard intended to marry his niece, Elizabeth of York, but nothing has ever been proven. She was described as a woman of “gracious fame, upon whose soul… Jesus have mercy.” She was buried in Westminster Abbey, but she had no memorial until 1960 when a plaque was placed close to where she is thought to lie. It is inscribed, “Anne Nevill[e] 1456-85, Queen of England, younger daughter of Richard, Earl of Warwick, called the Kingmaker, wife to the last Plantagenet King, Richard III. In person, she was seemly, amiable and beauteous… And according to the interpretation of her name Anne full gracious. Requiescat in pace.”1

  1. Read more: Amy Licence – Anne Neville, Richard III’s Tragic Queen (US & UK)

About Moniek Bloks 2743 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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