Anne Neville, Duchess of Gloucester, later Queen of England
Anne had a turbulent life, particularly during the early years of King Edward IV’s reign when her father Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick broke his loyalties to the King and rebelled against him.
She was born in 1456 at Warwick castle, and spent much of her formative years at Middleham castle.
Anne’s family were close kin to the Crown, as Anne’s father was Cecily Neville’s nephew, making Anne a cousin once removed to Edward IV and his brothers, and both Edwards brothers Richard George spent time in the Earl’s household in the 1460’s.
In 1468, Warwick fully rebelled against King Edward, and in 1469 conspired to place George, Duke of Clarence on the throne, and married him against the King’s wishes to his eldest daughter Isabel.
They spent time in exile in France where Warwick allied with his long held enemy Margaret of Anjou, the displaced Queen of England. This was when he married Anne to the son of Margaret of Anjou, Edward of Westminster.
Warwick had pledged to Margaret that he would return her husband Henry VI to the throne, and her son would become King after his death.
How did Anne feel about this? She was just 14 years of age in a foreign country married to a stranger. I believe she must have focused on the fact that it was her duty, she certainly wouldn’t have had any say in the matter. I wonder if she thought that she would be Queen one day.
It was to be, but not in the way she might of been expected. Four months after her marriage to Edward, she landed on the coat of England with Margaret of Anjou who was preparing to rendezvous with Warwick and return her husband to the throne. They landed at Weymouth on the same day that the Battle of Barnet was fought, and they soon found out that the Earl of Warwick had been killed.
On hearing this news, Anne’s mother claimed sanctuary at Beaulieu abbey.
Anne remained with Margaret of Anjou, and the Lancastrian army met the forces of Edward IV at Tewkesbury. The Lancastrians were defeated and Anne’s husband Edward of Westminster was killed in the fighting.
Anne was now a widow at the age of 15, and was placed in the keeping of her sister Isabel’s husband, George the Duke of Clarence.
Richard, Duke of Gloucester asked for permission to marry Anne, much to the vexation of Clarence as he had been hoping to retain all of the Warwick fortune by preventing Anne’s marriage – if she was to marry then the Warwick inheritance was to be shared between herself and her sister.
This was eventually resolved with support of Edward IV, with Anne and Richard marrying at St. Stephen’s Chapel Westminster in the spring of 1472.
Anne and Richard started their married life together at Middleham Castle in Wensleydale. (Richard had inherited the castle after the death of Anne’s father, the Earl or Warwick.)
For the next 10 years, Anne and Richard remained mostly at Middleham, and I like to think this was the happiest time in both their lives.
They had the best shot of having a loving marriage of anyone in those times, having known each other since childhood. It is also thought that Richard remained faithful to her during their marriage.
Between 1473 – 76 Anne gave birth to their only son, Edward who was raised at Middleham.
1483 saw the death of Edward IV and Richard was named Lord Protector as Edward’s heir, also called Edward was only 12 years old.
Young Edward never came to the throne as it was declared by parliament that he, and his younger brother Richard were illegitimate due to Edward IV being pre-contracted to another women before he married their mother Elizabeth Woodville.
This made the two boys unable to accede to the throne, and Richard was asked to take the throne. He and Anne were crowned at Westminster Abbey in July, 1483.
Sadly, Edward died in April 1484 whilst Anne and Richard were at Nottingham Castle.
A chronicle at the time states that they were driven nearly mad with grief, and soon traveled North to bury their son.
It was thought he was buried at Sheriff Hutton, but there is no proof of this and the chronicle says he was buried at Middleham.
Anne didn’t outlive her son by a year.
She died 11 months later of suspected tuberculosis at Westminster on the 16th of March, 1485, and was buried with all the pomp and ceremony due to a Queen at Westminster Abbey.
She was only 28, and because of her eventful life, it feels like she must have been older.
She is laid to rest on the South side of the altar, with a bronze plaque gifted by the Richard III Society:
ANNE NEVILL 1456-1485 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.
Richard, left to rule alone died 5 months later on the field of Bosworth.
I have a huge amount of sympathy for Anne Neville. She had such a difficult life with some of her life decisions made for her. She is often depicted as being weak and delicate, but I prefer to think of her as a survivor. I also like to hope that during the 10 years in Middleham, she and Richard were happy.
Did Anne own the Middleham Jewel?
I think there is a decent possibility that it belonged to Anne. As it was worth a large sum of money, it could have been a gift from her husband who had the ability to afford it, and maybe Richard gave it to her leading up to the birth of their son Edward. Perhaps she lost it on that terrible visit to Middleham in 1484.