Anne Neville was born into the wealthiest and most politically powerful family in the kingdom. Youngest daughter of the Earl of Warwick, Anne watched her father make a king out of Edward of the House of York, and then change his alliance to the House of Lancaster.
Her father made a treasonous alliance with the exiled queen of Lancaster, Margaret of Anjou, and ordered Anne to be married to Margaret’s son Prince Edward. When Warwick defeated the House of York and returned King Henry of Lancaster to the throne of England in 1470, Anne became Princess of Wales, and the next queen of England. But she would have to fight for her place. The race was on for Margaret of Anjou to get her troops, son and daughter-in-law Anne from France to England before Edward returned for his revenge.
Bad weather held the queen and the young princess in port as Edward’s fleet sailed. The York pretender defeated his former mentor, Anne’s father, and killed him at the Battle of Barnet. When the Lancastrians finally got to England they found that they had suffered a crushing defeat.
Anne’s mother dived into sanctuary at Beaulieu Abbey, but Anne, not yet fifteen, chose instead to stay with the army, and marched with them for more than a hundred miles, from Weymouth to Tewkesbury where Edward’s pursuing army caught them, killing Prince Edward and capturing Margaret of Anjou.
Anne was a widow of 15, far too wealthy and powerful to be left to chance. Her sister Isabel, now a loyal supporter of the House of York with her newly-turned husband George, scooped up the girl and took her into their keeping. It was probably a form of house arrest.
Some people like to think that Richard of Gloucester added to his many apocryphal crimes by kidnapping the young widow and forcing her to marry him. Some like to think that their childhood friendship blossomed into love. I think it most likely that Anne judged rightly, that nobody could protect her from the greed and jealousy of the House of York but a brother of the House of York, and wisely and bravely ran away from her sister’s house to marry Richard.
The girl who had been a Lancaster Princess of Wales was now a royal duchess in the House of York. But she too mistrusted Elizabeth the Queen. She saw her sister Isabel withdraw from court for fear of the queen’s malign powers, and then she heard of Isabel’s death. Anne would have seen Elizabeth advise her husband against George, and then George was taken into the Tower and executed.
She took his two orphan children into her keeping and raised them as far from court as she could possibly go: to the beautiful northern castle of Middleham where she and her husband Richard made their home.
There they received the shocking news that Edward the King was dead, and saw at once that Elizabeth the Queen would dominate her son, the new young king. As Richard rode out to capture the boy, Anne knew there was no need to hurry south for Prince Edward’s coronation.
When she went to London it was for her own crowning. For the first time in England the queen was crowned alongside the king, an honour which acknowledged that Anne was regarded by her husband as a true partner. She ruled for just two years. Heartbroken from the death of her only child, a boy, she herself died at the age of only 28, perhaps from TB.
From The White Queen
'That little thing Anne Neville?' I demand, immediately diverted. 'They would give her to that monster Edward, to make sure her father does not play false?' 'They will,' my mother agrees. 'She is only fourteen and they are marrying her to a boy that was allowed to choose how to execute his enemies when he was eleven years old. He was raised to be a devil. Anne Neville must be wondering if she is rising to be Queen or falling among the damned.'
One of the guard stumbled while mounting his horse and his horse shied, knocking the nearby horseman. Everyone is looking that way, and the king puts his arm around his wife. I snatch off my glove and, in one swift gesture, I throw it towards Richard. He catches it out of the air and tucks it in the breast of his jacket. Nobody has seen it. Nobody knows. The guardsman steadies his horse, mounts it, nods his apology to his captain, and the royal family turn and wave to us. Richard looks at me, buttoning the front of his jacket, and smiles at me warmly, assuredly. He has my glove, my favour. It is a pledge that I have given in the full knowledge of what I am doing. Because I don’t want to be anybody’s pawn again.
Anne Neville - Image: Taken from The Salisbury Roll