Anne of York – A Princess away from court

Anne (left) as portrayed in the White Princess (2017)(Screenshot/Fair Use)

Anne of York was born on 2 November 1475 at the Palace of Westminster as the fifth daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. She was baptised in Westminster Abbey and given into the care of Agnes Butler. Before her fourth birthday, she was promised in marriage to Philip the Handsome, future Duke of Burgundy and later also King of Castile by right of his wife. She was to marry him when she turned 12.

Her father died in 1483 when Anne was only seven. The following situation – in which her uncle Richard seized power and succeeded his brother over Anne’s brother Edward – left Catherine in a precarious situation.  Anne’s mother was no fool and took sanctuary at Westminster Abbey with her five daughters (Elizabeth, Catherine, Cecily, Anne and Bridget) and her youngest son Richard. Elizabeth was eventually forced to surrender her younger son to his uncle, leaving her with just her daughters in sanctuary. When the marriage of Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV was declared void upon the basis that Edward had been contracted to another woman – the girls suddenly found themselves illegitimate.

On 1 March 1484, Elizabeth and her daughters came out of sanctuary after Richard publicly swore an oath that her daughters would not be harmed. The girls were “very honourably entertained and with all princely kindness.” They were probably sent to live in Queen Anne‘s household, at least for a while, before returning to their mother. Their exact whereabouts around this time are unknown.

Anne’s betrothal to Philip the Handsome was broken off after her father’s death and her uncle Richard arranged for her betrothal to Lord Thomas Howard, the eldest grandson of John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, in 1484.

Anne’s mother soon allied herself with Margaret Beaufort and her son Henry Tudor and Anne’s elder sister Elizabeth was promised to him. Henry invaded in 1485 and overthrew Richard – becoming King Henry VII. Anne’s sister Elizabeth became Queen of England when they were married on 18 January 1486. Henry arranged for his mother to be given the “keeping and guiding of the ladies daughter of King Edward IV” and the sisters probably joined the household in London. Elizabeth Woodville and her daughters were restored to their rightful status, “estate, dignity, preeminence and name.” Elizabeth supported her unmarried sisters with an annuity of £50, and when they married, she gave their husbands annuities of £120. When Elizabeth was close to giving birth to her first son, her mother, sisters and Margaret Beaufort joined her.

Cecily and the 11-year-old Anne were involved in the christening of the newborn Prince Arthur, and Anne attended on her elder sister. The sisters all waited on their elder sister Queen Elizabeth. Cecily was her chief attendant until she married in 1487 and she was replaced by Anne. Anne was in constant attendance. Anne also played a role in the christening of her niece Margaret, the future Queen of Scots. When Elizabeth Woodville died in 1492, Anne was present for the Requiem Mass. She also acted as a chief mourner, deputising for her sister Queen Elizabeth, who had been unable to attend.

In 1495, Henry arranged the marriages of Anne and Catherine. On 4 February 1495 at Greenwich, Anne was married to Lord Thomas Howard, to whom she had been previously betrothed, with Henry giving the bride away himself. Besides the annuity, Anne’s sister provided her with allowances for the upkeep of the estate, food, drink, the wages of two female attendants, a maid, a gentleman, a yeoman and three grooms. In addition, “the said Queen’s Grace, at her costs and charges, shall find unto the Lady Anne all her sufficient and convenient apparel for her body, at all times.” It appears that Anne did not attend court often after her marriage.

She and Thomas went on to have four children; Muriel, Katherine, Henry and Thomas, but tragically all would die in childhood. They are buried at St. Mary’s Church at Lambeth.

Anne was not present when Elizabeth died at the Tower of London in 1503, but she would attend her funeral, where her younger sister Catherine acted as chief mourner. Anne was present for The Mass of Trinity, and she was part of the presentation of the 37 palls – one for each year of Elizabeth’s life. She and Catherine each presented five palls.

Anne herself died sometime between November 1511 and 1513. She was first buried in Thetford Priory in Norfolk, though she was later moved to Framlingham Church. In 1513, her husband remarried to Lady Elizabeth Stafford by whom he had a further three or four children.1

  1. Read more: Elizabeth of York by Alison Weir

About Moniek Bloks 2764 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.

1 Comment

  1. Anne of York was a wonderful woman and was spared wedding the awful Philip of Flanders. That and that alone was a major accomplishment. Anne of York did not know how lucky she was. She got pretty well with young Thomas Howard who eventually became the third Duke of Norfolk. Unfortunately she did not live long enough to become Duchess of Norfolk but she was an absolutely lovely lady.

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