Anne Neville Facts:
Occupation: wife of Edward, Prince of Wales, son of Henry VI; wife of Richard of Gloucester, and, when he became King Richard III, Anne became Queen of England
Dates: June 11, 1456 - March 16, 1485
Also known as: Princess of Wales
Anne Neville Biography
Anne's father, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, called the Kingmaker, was a nephew of the Duke of York's wife, Cecily Neville. He came into considerable property and wealth when he married Anne Beauchamp; they had no sons, only two daughters, of whom Anne Neville was the younger. These daughters would inherit a fortune, and thus their marriages were especially important in the royal marriage game.
In 1460, Anne's father and his uncle, Edward, Duke of York and Earl of March, defeated Henry VI at Northampton. In 1461, Edward was proclaimed King of England as Edward IV. Edward married Elizabeth Woodville in 1464, surprising Warwick who had plans for a more advantageous marriage for him.
Marriage to Edward, Prince of Wales
By 1469, Warwick had turned against Edward IV and the Yorkists, and joined the Lancastrian cause promoting the return of Henry VI. Henry's queen, Margaret of Anjou, was heading the Lancastrian effort, from France. Warwick married his older daughter, Isabel, to George, Duke of Clarence, a brother of Edward IV, and Clarence switched from the York to the Lancaster party. The next year, Warwick, apparently to convince Margaret of Anjou that he was trustworthy (because he had originally sided with Edward IV in unseating Henry VI), he married his daughter Anne to Henry VI's son and heir apparent Edward of Westminster, who had been Prince of Wales when his father ruled Warwick, Margaret and Edward of Westminster invaded England, Edward IV fled to Burgundy.
Clarence switched sides and rejoined his Yorkist brothers, Anne's marriage to Edward of Westminster convincing him that Warwick had not intention to promote his kingship. On April 14, at the Battle of Barnet, the Yorkist party was victorious, and Anne's father, Warwick, and a brother of Warwick, John Neville, were among those killed. Then on May 4, in the battle of Tewkesbury, the Yorkists won another decisive victory over Margaret of Anjou's forces, and Anne's young husband, Edward of Westminster, was killed either during the battle or shortly after. With his heir dead, the Yorkists had Henry VI killed days later. Anne was imprisoned by the victorious and restored king Edward IV.
Richard of Gloucester
When siding with the Yorkists earlier, Warwick had been trying to marry his younger daughter Anne to Edward IV's youngest brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Richard's other brother George, Duke of Clarence, was already married to Anne's sister, Isabel Neville. Anne and Richard were first cousins once removed, as were George and Isabel, all descended from Ralph de Neville and Joan Beaufort. (Joan was the daughter of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, and Katherine Swynford.) Because Warwick had no sons, his valuable lands and titles would go to his daughters' husbands at his death.
George (Clarence) tried to prevent the marriage of his wife's sister to his brother. His motivation likely was that he didn't want to divide his wife's inheritance with his brother. Edward IV also opposed the marriage. Clarence attempted to take Anne in as his ward, to control her inheritance. But in circumstances that are not really known, Anne escaped, and Anne, widowed in May of 1471, married Richard, Duke of Gloucester, in July of 1472.
When Anne's sister Isabel died in 1476, shortly after her birth of a short-lived fourth child, and then Clarence was executed for yet another rebellion against his brother Edward IV in 1478, Anne took in her sister's two remaining children.
George, Duke of Clarence, was executed in 1478 for plotting against Edward IV; Isabel had died in 1476. Anne Neville took charge of raising their children. (The daughter, Margaret Pole, was executed much later, in 1541, by Henry VIII.)
The Young Princes
When Edward IV died in 1483, his minor son, Edward, became Edward V. But the young prince was never crowned; he was put into the charge of his uncle, Anne's husband, Richard of Gloucester, as Protector. Prince Edward and, later, his younger brother were taken to the Tower of London, where they disappeared from history, presumed killed, though when is not known.
Stories have long circulated that Richard III was responsible for the deaths of his nephews, the "Princes in the Tower," to remove rival claimants for the crown. Henry VII, Richard's successor, also had motive and, if the princes survived Richard's reign, would have had opportunity to have them killed. A few have pointed at Anne Neville herself as having the motivation to order the deaths.
Heirs to the Throne
Richard had his brother's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville declared invalid and his brother's children declared illegitimate on June 25, 1483, thereby inheriting the crown himself as the legitimate male heir. Anne was crowned as Queen and their son, Edward, made Prince of Wales. But Edward died on April 9, 1484; Richard adopted his sister's son, Edward, Earl of Warwick, as his heir, probably at Anne's request.
Anne, reportedly never very healthy, fell ill in early 1485, and died on March 16, 1485. Buried in Westminster, her grave was unmarked until 1960. Richard quickly named a different heir to the throne, his sister Elizabeth's adult son, the Earl of Lincoln.
With Anne's death, Richard was rumored to be plotting to marry his niece, Elizabeth of York, to secure a stronger claim to the succession. Stories soon circulated that Richard had poisoned Anne to get her out of the way. If that was his plan, he was foiled; Richard III's reign ended with his defeat by Henry Tudor, who was crowned Henry VII and married Elizabeth of York, bringing to an end the Wars of the Roses.
Edward, Earl of Warwick, the son of Anne's sister and Richard's brother whom Richard adopted as heir, was imprisoned in the Tower of London by Richard's successor, Henry VII, and executed after he attempted to escape in 1499.
Fictional Representations of Anne Neville
Shakespeare: In Richard III, Anne appears early in the play with the body of her father-in-law, Henry VI; she blames Richard for his death and that of her husband, the Prince of Wales, son on Henry VI. Richard charms Anne, and, though she also loathes him, she marries him. Richard early reveals that he does not intend to keep her long, and Anne is suspicious that he intends to kill her. She conveniently disappears as Richard begins a plan to marry his niece, Elizabeth of York.
Shakespeare takes considerable license with history in his story of Anne. The time of the play is much compressed, and motives are likely also exaggerated or changed for literary effect. In the historical timeline, Henry VI and his son, Anne's first husband, were killed in 1471; Anne married Richard in 1472; Richard III took power in 1483 soon after his brother, Edward IV, died suddenly, and Richard ruled for two years, dying in 1485.
The White Queen: Anne Neville is a major character in the 2013 miniseries, The White Queen.
Recent fictional representation: Anne is the subject of The Rose of York: Love & War by Sandra Worth, 2003, historical fiction.
Family of Anne Neville
- Mother: Anne de Beauchamp (1426-1492?), a wealthy heiress in her own right whose lands and title (Warwick) made her husband one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in England
- Father: Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (1428-1471), known as the Kingmaker; a supporter of Richard, Duke of York, in his unsuccessful conflict for the crown against Henry VI, then a supporter of Edward IV's successful campaign and finally a supporter of restoring Henry VI, briefly successful but finally killed in battle at Barnet by Edward IV's forces
Sister: Isabel Neville (September 5, 1451 - December 22, 1476), married to George, Duke of Clarence, brother of king Edward IV and of Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III)
- 1470: betrothed to and in December married Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, son of Henry VI
- July 12, 1472: married Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III, brother of Edward IV
Children of Anne Neville and Richard III:
- Edward, Prince of Wales (1473 - April 9, 1484)