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Anne Neville

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Title: Anne Neville  
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Anne Neville

Anne Neville
Queen consort of England
Tenure 26 June 1483 – 16 March 1485
Coronation 6 July 1483
Spouse Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales
Richard III of England
Issue Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales
Father Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick
Mother Lady Anne de Beauchamp, 16th Countess of Warwick
Born (1456-06-11)11 June 1456
Warwick Castle, Warwickshire
Died 16 March 1485(1485-03-16) (aged 28)
Westminster, London
Burial Westminster Abbey, London

Lady 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.

As a member of the powerful House of Neville, she was caught up in the Wars of the Roses fought between the House of York and House of Lancaster for the English crown. Her father Warwick betrothed her as a girl to Edward, Prince of Wales, the son of Henry VI.[1] The marriage was to seal an alliance to the House of Lancaster and continue the civil war between the two houses of Lancaster and York.[1]

After the death of Edward, the Dowager Princess of Wales married Isabel. Anne Neville became queen when Richard III ascended the throne in June 1483, following the declaration that Edward IV's children by Elizabeth Woodville were illegitimate. Anne Neville predeceased her husband by five months, dying in March 1485. Her only child was Edward of Middleham, who predeceased her.

Early life

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 York.

Much of Anne Neville's childhood was spent at [2] It is possible that even at this early stage a match between the Earl's daughters and the young dukes was being considered.[3] The Duke of York was killed on December 30, 1460, but with Warwick's help, his eldest son became King Edward IV in March 1461. In July 1469, Lady Isabel married Clarence, while in July 1470, after the Earl of Warwick's flight to France and change of allegiance, Anne Neville was betrothed and, by the end of the same year, married to Edward of Westminster, the Lancastrian heir to the throne of England.[1]

Middleham Castle came in to the possession of the Neville family in 1270.

Princess of Wales

Warwick had been for some time at odds with Edward IV, resenting the rise in the king's favour of the new queen's family, the Woodvilles. In 1469 the Earl had tried to put his son-in-law George on the throne, but had met the Parliament's resistance. After a second rebellion against King Edward in early 1470 failed, 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 Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou's son, Edward of Westminster, at the Château d'Amboise in France. They were married in Angers Cathedral, probably on 13 December 1470 making Anne Neville the Princess of Wales.

Warwick had restored Henry VI to the throne in October 1470, however Edward IV returned to the country in March 1471 and quickly secured London and the person of Henry VI. The mentally troubled Henry VI was taken by Edward IV as a prisoner to the Battle of Barnet where Warwick was killed on 14 April 1471. Edward IV then incarcerated Henry VI in the Tower of London and following the decisive Yorkist victory at 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. As Constable of England he probably delivered King Edward's order to kill Henry to the Constable of the Tower.[2]

Margaret of Anjou had returned to England with Anne Neville and Prince Edward in April, bringing additional troops. At the Battle of Tewkesbury on 4 May 1471, 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 her brother-in-law the Duke of Clarence's house in London, while her mother Anne Beauchamp, Warwick's wife, had 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 and she wrote to Queen Elizabeth and several others to no avail.[4]

Anne, now widowed and orphaned, 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 whole inheritance, treated her as his ward and opposed her getting married, which would strengthen her position to claim a share.

There are various accounts of what happened subsequently, including the story that Clarence hid her in a London cookshop, disguised as a servant, so that his brother may not know where she was. Gloucester is said to have tracked her down and escorted her to sanctuary at the Church of St Martin le Grand.[5] In order to win his brother George’s final consent to the marriage, Richard of Gloucester renounced most of Warwick’s land and property including the earldoms of Warwick (which the Kingmaker had held in his wife’s right) and Salisbury and surrendered to Clarence the office of Great Chamberlain of England[2]

Duchess of Gloucester

The exact date of the wedding of Anne Neville and Richard, Duke of Gloucester is not known, although most sources agree for a ceremony in the spring of 1472 in Westminster Palace's chapel of St Stephen.[6][7] They made their marital home in the familiar surroundings of Middleham Castle, Gloucester having been appointed Governor of the North on the king's behalf. Upon her marriage, she was styled Duchess of Gloucester. They had only one child, Edward, born at Middleham allegedly sometime in 1473, more probably in 1476.[8] 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[9]

Queen of England

Contemporary illumination (Rous Roll) of Richard III, his queen Anne Neville, and their son Edward, the Prince of Wales.

On 9 April 1483, Edward IV died. Gloucester was named Lord Protector for his 12-year-old nephew Edward V. However, on 25 June 1483, Edward V and his siblings were declared illegitimate, and Gloucester ascended the throne as King Richard III. Anne Neville was crowned alongside her husband on 6 July 1483 by Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, the first joint coronation after 175 years. The queen’s train was borne by Margaret, Countess of Richmond whose son would become Henry VII after defeating Richard at the battle of Bosworth. Almost the entire peerage of England was present at what was a magnificent spectacle.[10][11] 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.[12]

She was on good terms with her mother-in-law (who was also her grandaunt), Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, with whom she discussed religious works, such as the writings of Mechtilde of Hackeborn.[13]

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.[14] Anne was particularly heartbroken and she fell gravely ill only a few months later.

Stained glass depiction of Richard III and Anne Neville in Cardiff Castle

After the death of her son, Anne Neville effectively adopted Edward, Earl of Warwick, the mutual nephew of Richard III and Anne Neville. Richard III made the boy his heir presumptive, probably in deference to Anne Neville's wishes. Edward of Warwick was later described as "simple-minded" in Tudor records, and after Anne Neville died, Richard promptly named another nephew, John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, as his heir presumptive.


Anne Neville died on 16 March 1485, probably of tuberculosis, at Westminster. The day she died, there was an eclipse,[15] 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.[16] Richard III is said to have wept at her funeral. Nevertheless, rumours circulated that Richard III had poisoned her in order to marry his niece Elizabeth of York.[17]

Richard sent Elizabeth away from court to Sheriff Hutton and publicly refuted these rumours on March 30, 1485 during an assembly of Lords he summoned at the Hospital of St. John. Addressing them 'in a loud and distinct voice', he 'showed his grief and displeasure aforesaid and said it never came into his thought or mind to marry in such manner wise, nor willing nor glad of the death of his queen but as sorry and in heart as heavy as man might be …'.[18] There is no reason to doubt that Richard's grief over his wife's death was genuine [19] and documents later emerged from the Portuguese Royal archives show that after Anne's death, Richard's ambassadors were sent on a formal errand to negotiate a double marriage between Richard and the Portuguese King's sister Joanna, of Lancastrian descent, and Elizabeth of York and Joana's cousin Duke Manuel (the future Manuel I)[20]

There was no memorial to Queen Anne until 1960, when a bronze tablet was erected on a wall near her grave by the Richard III Society.

Arms of Anne Neville
As Queen, Anne Neville bore the arms of her husband, King Richard III, impaled with the Neville arms without difference. Anne Neville sometimes bore her father, Lord Warwick's, full achievement, however at other times she also bore the arms of Neville without difference by a label for Lancaster (larger coat of arms).
Quarterly, 1st and 4th, France moderne, 2nd and 3rd England; impaled with Gules, a saltire Argent.
The other version of Anne Neville's arms as queen bore that of her husband, King Richard, Quarterly, 1st and 4th, France moderne, 2nd and 3rd England, impaled with the full achievement of Anne Neville's father; of seven, 1st, Gules, a fess between six crosses crosslet Or (Beauchamp), 2nd, Chequy Or and Azure, a chevron ermine (Newburgh), 3rd, Argent, three lozenges conjoined in fess Gules (Montacute), 4th, Or, an eagle displayed Vert (Monthermer), 5th, Gules a saltire Argent, a label of three points gobony Argent and Azure (Neville), 6th, Or, three chevrons Gules (Clare), 7th, Quarterly, Argent and Gules, a fret Or, overall a bendlett Sable (Despencer).[21]
The coat of arms of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick used almost all typical forms of heraldry in England: the first quarter consisted of his father-in-law, Richard de Beauchamp, who bore with an escutcheon of De Clare quartering Despenser, which was shown in Neville's fourth quarter. The second quarter showed the arms of the Montacutes (Montagu). The third quarter showed the arms of Neville differenced by a label for Lancaster.[22]

Depictions in drama

Anne Neville appears in three scenes in William Shakespeare's Richard III. In Act I, Scene 2, Richard III persuades her to marry him. In Act IV, Scene 1, just before Richard III's coronation, Anne Neville meets Edward IV's widow and laments her own position. In Act V, Scene 3, Anne Neville is one of the ghosts that appear to Richard III.

The role has been played in film by

Anne Neville is also a character in Tower of London (1939) (played by Rose Hobart), and Tower of London (1962) (played by Joan Camden).

Depictions in fiction

Anne Neville is a major character in several historical novels. She is the title character in:

Anne Neville is a main character in:

  • Sharon Kay Penman, The Sunne in Splendour (1982)
  • Margaret Davidson, My Lords Richard
  • Rhoda Edwards, Fortune's Wheel and The Broken Sword (alternately Some Touch of Pity)
  • Jan Westcott, Set Her On A Throne (1972) - for Young Adults
  • Olive Eckerson, The Golden Yoke (Coward-McCann, 1961)
  • Sandra Worth's The Rose of York trilogy - Love and War, Crown of Destiny, and Fall From Grace



  1. ^ a b c John A. Wagner. Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses, ABC-CLIO, Jan 1, 2001. pg 171.
  2. ^ a b c Paul Murray Kendall, Richard III, 1955
  3. ^ Amy Licence, Anne Neville, 2013, pag. 63: Young aristocrats were often sent away to be raised in households of their intended future partners
  4. ^  
  5. ^ Croyland Chronicle (pp. 469-70) Clarence "caused the damsel (Anne) to be concealed in order that it might not be known by his Brother where she was; as he was afraid of a division of the Earl's property, which he wished to come to himself alone in right of his wife, and not be obliged to share it with any other person." Richard however, "discovered the Young lady in the city of London disguised in the habit of a cookmaid; upon which he had her removed to the sanctuary of St. Martin's", as reported in Paul Murray Kendall, Richard III, 1955
  6. ^ The Kings and Queens of BritainJohn Cannon, Anne Hargreaves: , p. 246.
  7. ^ Complete Genealogy of the House of Plantagenet (retrieved 16 June 2014).
  8. ^ Tewkesbury Abbey Chronicle
  9. ^ Kendall P.M., Richard III, 1955
  10. ^
  11. ^ The Coronation of Richard III: The Extant Documents by Anne F. Sutton, Rodney W. Hammond
  12. ^ York City Records
  13. ^ Hilton, Lisa (2008). p. 456.
  14. ^ Croyland Chronicle "On hearing the news of this, at Nottingham, where they were then residing, you might have seen his father and mother in a state almost bordering on madness, by reason of their sudden grief"
  15. ^ "NASA Catalog of Solar Eclipses". Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  16. ^ Westminster Abbey Histories,-wife-of-richard-iii
  17. ^ Michael Hicks, Anne Neville: Queen to Richard III, Tempus, 2006, p.196.
  18. ^ Court minutes of the Mercer's company March 31st 1485
  19. ^ Anne Nevile Queen to Richard III by Michael Hicks
  20. ^ The last days of Richard III by John Ashdown-Hill
  21. ^ Pinches, John Harvey; Pinches, Rosemary (1974), The Royal Heraldry of England, Heraldry Today, Slough, Buckinghamshire: Hollen Street Press, ISBN 0-900455-25-X
  22. ^ Turnbull (1985), The Book of the Medieval Knight.
  23. ^

Further reading

  • Paul Murray Kendall, Richard III - chapter "Anne", 1955, Norton paperback reissued 2002
  • Michael Hicks, Anne Neville: Queen to Richard III, Tempus 2006.
  • Amy Licence, Anne Neville, Richard III's Tragic Queen, Amberley 2013
English royalty
Title last held by
Elizabeth Woodville
Queen consort of England
Lady of Ireland

26 June 1483 – 16 March 1485
Title next held by
Elizabeth of York
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