874: Anne Neville
The Last Plantagenet Queen of England
Born: 10 June 1456, Warwickshire, England (Present-day Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom)
Died: 16 March 1485, Westminster, England (Present-day Westminster, England, United Kingdom)
Even though Anne was a queen of England, very little information about her survives to this day. No portraits have been deemed “reliable” or verified to even be of her, little documentation survives, and no personal letters of Anne’s have made it to present-day either. This makes finding the truth about who Anne really was an elusive undertaking.
Anne’s father was Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, also known as the King Maker. This made her beloved in England’s north and not so popular in the south (politics, you know?). In any case, Anne’s hand in marriage was very important to her father, seeing as he had no sons. Originally, Warwick sided with Edward IV, and has been largely credited with helping Edward succeed to the throne. However, after Edward turned away and embarrassed Warwick, Anne’s father switched sides and decided to back the ousted queen Margaret of Anjou.
Anne was married twice in her life. Her first husband was Prince Edward, son of Henry VI and the aforementioned Margaret of Anjou. Anne’s father forced her to marry Edward when she was only fifteen years old (The wedding actually took place the day after she turned fifteen). Had things gone according to plan, Edward would have become king and Anne queen consort. But this was fifteenth century England, and chaos in the royal courts of Europe were all the rage.
So instead of becoming queen with Edward, Anne was instead widowed as a young teenager after he was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury. Anne’s sister, who was married to a man loyal to the House of York (the enemies of Anne’s former in-laws), took Anne in under what was most likely a form of house arrest. Next, Anne was married off to the Shakespearian villain Richard III (okay, not the actual Shakespeare character, but the actual real-life murderer—I mean King). Anne and Richard would have one son together, but he died when he was eight years old.
When Richard made himself king of England after murdering his nephews, he had Anne crowned alongside him. This was the first instance of an English king and queen being crowned together. Some have taken this as a sign Richard showed genuine fondness and love for his wife, and that he saw Anne as an equal.
The winter before Anne died, she fell ill with what was described as a “mortal illness”, possibly tuberculosis or influenza. She was also grappling with the fact that her husband wanted to marry his own niece—joy (Okay, we don’t know if Anne knew this for certain or not but come on, you’d think something that huge would make it to the queen’s ears). A rumor sprang up soon after Anne’s death at the young age of only twenty-eight that her husband Richard had poisoned her in order to marry his niece, but there’s little evidence he actually did kill Anne. She was laid to rest in an unmarked grave, something almost unfathomable considering she was queen. In 1960, a bronze plaque was erected near the site.
Find a Grave Marked
Located In My Personal Library:
Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses by Sarah Gristwood
Eleanor, the Secret Queen: The Woman who Put Richard III on the Throne by John Ashdown-Hill
The Wars of the Roses by Dan Jones
The Woodvilles: The Wars of the Roses and England's Most Notorious Family by Susan Higginbotham