Anne Neville Facts:
Dates: June 11, 1456 - March 16, 1485
Also known as: Princess of Wales
Anne Neville Biography:
In 1460, Anne's father, Warwick, called the Kingmaker, and Edward, Earl of March, defeated Henry VI at Northampton, and in 1461, Edward was proclaimed King of England, and married Elizabeth Woodville in 1464.
Marriage to Edward, Prince of Wales:
By 1469, Warwick and his nephew George had turned against Edward IV, and joined Henry VI's cause. The next year, Warwick, called the Kingmaker, married his daughter Anne to Edward, Prince of Wales, son (and heir apparent) of Henry VI. Just a year later, Anne's young husband Edward and his father, Henry VI, were killed when Margaret of Anjou's forces were defeated at the battle of Tewkesbury.
Richard of Gloucester:
As part of the continuing machinations of the Wars of the Roses, Warwick had been trying to marry Anne to Edward IV's 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.)
George 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. Anne, widowed since 1471, married Richard, Duke of Gloucester, in 1472.
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, her niece and nephew.
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 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.
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 also had motive and, if the princes survived Richard's reign, would have had opportunity to have them killed.
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. Anne was crowned as Queen and their son, Edward, made Prince of Wales. But Edward died on April 9, 1484; Richard adopted their nephew, 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.
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.
Recent fictional representation: 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 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)
- Edward, 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)