Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Top Five Historical Couples: Day 4

2. Anne Neville and Richard III

Richard III and Anne were childhood friends due to her father. Richard Neville (yeah, there were like three names total used for about 600 years, so get used to it) was the most powerful supporter of the house of York and known as the "Kingmaker". Richard III, as the third son of the York line, was important enough to be Richard Neville's squire, but not near enough the throne to be out of reach as a marriage match. The two children spent a lot of time together at Anne's home, Middleham Castle, and in 1470 they were betrothed.

But then Richard Neville switched sides. He allied himself with the Lancastrians and Anne was married  to Edward of Westminister, the son of the Lancaster house. However, the marriage was never consumated and Edward was quickly killed on the battlefield.

We know that George Clarence - Richard III's brother - was married to her sister Isabel, and took Anne on as his ward. But George wasn't exactly known for his good life choices. He was greedy and foolish, and on no authority whatsoever denied Richard III the right to Anne's hand in order to keep his hold over the whole of the Neville fortune and lands.

Anne wrote to every royal that she could think of, but nobody would help her - George was the third son of the king and Richard III was the very last son, after all.

so hawt
What happened next is an odd bit of history and subject to much debate. We know that Anne disappeared from George's clutches somehow and found her way to Richard again. But how that happened exactly is unknown. My favorite version of the story is the one where George, fearing that Anne (and her fortune) would be taken from him, sent her to work as a servant in a London cookshop, where nobody would believe her story of being a noble lady. Richard III sent his men into the city looking for any word of Anne, tracked her down, and saved her.

No matter how it happened, on 12th July 1472, Anne and Richard III were finally married at Westminster Abbey. Richard ceded a number of Anne's lands to George simply to make things smoother, but he kept one land that was important to Anne: Middleham. The two of them moved back to their childhood home and settled there. And sometime in 1473, their only son Edward (ANOTHER ONE) was born.

In April 1483, Richard III's brother Edward IV died, leaving Richard III as Lord Protectorate to his two sons and heirs. But in June of that year the two boys were declared illegitimate as a result of the country's hatred for Elizabeth Woodville, the late Edward IV's widow, making Richard III... king.

These were turbulent times where kings died as easily as they came to power, and given their move out to the country estate of Middleham, it seems likely that Richard III had no desire to be king. He'd certainly always been more than loyal to his family before and shown no signs of any hunger for power. But now they had no choice - Richard III was king, and had to do his duty.

A contemporary image of the couple. Why he's standing on a pig
I do not know and cannot tell you.
Queenship held little joy for Anne. She was crowned in 1483, and their son died suddenly in 1484. Afterward, Anne adopted Edward, Earl of Warrick, her sister's orphan (YET ANOTHER ONE). The boy was described as "simple-minded" but Richard III made him heir presumptive, apparently solely for Anne's sake, because as soon as Anne died he named a different heir.

Anne died in March 1485 in Westminster, most likely from tuberculosis. There were vicious rumors that Richard III had her poisoned in order to marry Elizabeth of York, but that appears not to have been the case since he, you know, didn't.

Richard III was said to have wept at Anne's funeral, but he wasn't parted from his love for long - only four months after her death, Richard III became the last English king to die on the battlefield.

1 comment:

  1. Love the history mixed with crazy card images. All I knew about Richard was from Shakespeare.