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Anne Neville

Anne Neville (1456 - 1485) was queen consort of King Richard III of England 1483-1485.

Anne was born on June 11, 1456, at Warwick Castle, the younger daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick. Throughout her short life, she would be used as a political pawn. Much of her childhood was spent at Middleham Castle, one of her father's properties, where she and her elder sister, Isabel, came into contact with the younger sons of Richard, Duke of York. These boys would play a major role in the destiny of both sisters.

At fourteen, Anne was betrothed by her father to Edward, Prince of Wales, heir to the deposed King Henry VI of England. Anne's father, dissatisfied with the favours he had received in return for helping King Edward IV of England to the throne, had changed sides and allied himself with Margaret of Anjou, Henry's wife. Margaret harboured suspicions about Warwick's motives, particularly since Anne's sister, Isabel, had by now married the reigning king's brother, George, Duke of Clarence. It is not certain that a formal marriage ceremony ever took place between Anne and Edward -- and, if so, whether their marriage was ever consummated -- but they were either married or formally betrothed (the legal equivalent of marriage) at the Chateau d'Amboise in France, probably on December 13, 1470.

The Earl of Warwick, who had been dispatched by Margaret to England to restore King Henry to the throne, succeeded in this task but was defeated and killed in battle a few months later. Anne arrived back in England with her new husband and mother-in-law to find herself fatherless and, after Edward's death at the Battle of Tewkesbury, a widow and the subject of some dispute between members of the king's family. There is a story that she was discovered by King Edward's younger brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, working as a servant in London. Whatever the truth, it is likely that Richard's desire to marry her arose out of a childhood affection, and that Clarence's desire to prevent such a marriage was motivated by his determination to be the sole heir to the Neville sisters' titles and properties (a large portion of which came to them from their mother, Anne Beauchamp).

The marriage of Anne Neville and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, took place on July 12, 1472, at Westminster Abbey, and they made their marital home in the familiar surroundings of Middleham Castle, Richard having been appointed Governor of the North on the king's behalf. They had only one child, Edward, born at Middleham in around 1473. Anne's health was never good, and she probably suffered from tuberculosis.

In 1483, Edward IV died, and his son, Edward V of England, was declared illegitimate and replaced by Richard. Anne was crowned queen and her son was created Prince of Wales; however, he died suddenly in 1484 at Sheriff Hutton[?], while his parents were absent. Following their bereavement, Anne effectively adopted her nephew, Edward, Earl of Warwick, and Richard made the boy his heir, probably in deference to her wishes.

Rumours that Richard planned to divorce Anne and marry his niece, Elizabeth of York, arose after the death of their son and heir, but there is little evidence for this and none at all for the later rumour that he had poisoned her. Anne died, probably of tuberculosis, on March 16, 1485, at Westminster, where she was buried. There was no memorial to her until the late 20th century, when one was erected by the Richard III Society.

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