On July 6, 1483, Richard III was officially crowned King of England, with his wife, Queen Anne Neville, beside him. When many think of King Richard III, they think of the Princes in the Tower and the Battle of Bosworth Field, where he was killed on the battlefield by Henry Tudor. However, very little is mentioned about his life and marriage to Anne Neville until you start looking into history.
The Coronation of Richard III and Anne Neville
Richard III and his wife Anne were crowned on July 6,1483. Richard is known for his death at Battle of Bosworth but do you know much about his younger years?
The Birth of Richard Plantagenet
Richard was the eight child of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York and Cecily Neville. While he had a strong claim to the throne, he was never supposed to be King due to being the youngest of all eight children. It was his brother, Edward IV, who managed to take the throne after the Battle of Towton. Richard was sent away by his mother while the battle happened due to his young age and returned for the coronation of his older brother.
Once he was made Knight of the Garter and Duke of Gloucester, he was sent to his cousin’s home, Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, so he could train to be a knight. At just 11-years-old he was made Commissioner of Array, which he gained independent command of when he turned 17. From a young age, he was involved in the War of the Roses and it possibly affected him to the end.
He was forced to seek refuge in Burgundy with Edward in 1470 after Lord Warwick changed sides and the crown went back into the House of Lancaster’s hands. It didn’t last long and the young Richard fought at his brother’s side to win the crown back in 1471.
Richard III Marries Anne Neville
After the victory, Richard gained permission from Edward IV to marry Warwick’s younger daughter, Anne Neville. Anne had been left a widow after her first husband, Edward of Westminster, Henry VI’s son, died during the Battle of Tewkesbury. However, Anne and Richard had known each other since 1460 when Richard first went to Middleham Castle; her father’s household.
Edward and Richard’s brother, George, was not happy about the marriage. George, Duke of Clarence, married Warwick’s older daughter, Isabel, a few years previous. It led to a pre-nuptial signed by Richard so he would only inherit a set amount of the lands and his brother would inherit the rest.
However, Richard needed to gain a papal dispensation. The two were cousins so they had to get the permission from Rome, which wasn’t possible until April 22, 1472, despite the pre-nuptials being negotiated and signed in February.
The year after the marriage, Richard offered sanctuary for his wife’s mother if she came to liveat Middleham. She agreed and it soon led to George losing property, which he was not happy about. Edward had to get involved to act as mediator between his two brothers. Edward didn’t seem to act too well as mediator as over the years Richard gained favour and lands while George lost out in many ways. Rumours state that Richard was involved in George’s charge of treason and subsequent execution but there is nothing to support this.
Richard III Becomes Lord Protector
Edward IV died on April 9, 1483, leaving his 12-year-old son in charge. Edward V was placed under the protection of his uncle, Richard, and that is where Richard seemed to take matters into his own hands. He placed Edward and his younger brother, Richard, in the Tower of London, stating that it was for their own protection.
At the same time, Richard ensured his sister-in-law, Elizabeth Woodville’s family were separated from the young King so they couldn’t exercise their power. They had already proven powerful while Edward IV was alive. This led to Anthony Woodville, Elizabeth’s brother, being executed for treason without a trial under false claims that he was planning to assassinate Richard.
Richard believed that others were conspiring with the Woodvilles, including Baron Hastings, who he trusted previously. He then went onto declare the marriage between Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville invalid due to a union earlier with Eleanor Butler. This made Edward V illegitimate and, therefore, not worthy of the throne. Richard III made himself King of England, and his wife Queen Consort of England.
Read Philippa Gregory's The White Queen for More Richard III and Anne Neville
The Infamous Princes of the Tower
Nothing is known about the Princes of the Tower after this. It has been presummed that King Richard III had them murdered but there isn’t any evidence; they simply disappeared. Considering they were deemed illigitimate there was no reason for Richard to have them murdered but he may have done it out of fear. The English people loved King Edward IV and his Queen Consort, Elizabeth, and there may have been an uprising if they knew their son was still alive.
Upon the coronation of Anne Neville, there were half the knights that Elizabeth Woodville had. This is a sign that there was apprehension and reluctance for the way that she and her husband had taken the throne.
Considering Anne was the daughter of the ‘Kingmaker’, as Richard Neville was known as, it is possible that she found a way for her husband to gain the throne. She knew that only Edward V and Prince Richard stood in the way and she may have suggested the deaths to people she trusted. However, this is just my own speculation.
The Deaths of Richard III and Queen Anne
Richard and Anne only ruled for two years. Anne died in March 1485 of tuberculosis and Richard III was famously killed on the battlefield by Henry Tudor, who became King Henry VII of England.
Richard's death was partially due to Elizabeth Woodville. She worked with Henry Tudor's mother, Margaret Beaufort, to increase the chance of a Lancastrian victory. Elizabeth always blamed Richard for her sons' disappearances/deaths and wanted to make sure that one of her children would get the throne that was rightfully theirs. One of the first things that Henry VII did was to marry Elizabeth's daughter, Elizabeth of York, and legitimise her inheritance by her mother's marriage to Edward IV valid.
Richard III was seen as a villain once Henry VII took the throne. However, he was very fair and believed in legal fairness. Henry VII used the rumours of the Princes in the Tower to make Richard Plantagenet seem like the bad guy and legitimise his own claim to the throne.