Part Six: Richard III’s Marriage & the Neville Inheritance

Anne Neville

If you missed Part Five, you can catch up here.

Shortly after Edward IV’s restoration in 1471, Richard, Duke of Gloucester expressed his desire to marry Lady Anne Neville, daughter of the deceased Earl of Warwick and sister-in-law to his brother, George, Duke of Clarence. Anne, recently widowed by the death of the Lancastrian Prince Edward, was barely 15 and, following her pardon by Edward IV, living with George and her sister, Isabel.

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Part Four: Richard III, Warwick’s Rebellion & the Battle of Tewkesbury

Tewkesbury

Picking up where we left off: George, Duke of Clarence and the Earl of Warwick’s rebellion in the summer of 1469 enhanced Richard’s position at Edward IV’s court. Around the same time that he joined Edward for his triumphant return to London, Isabella of Castile wrote a letter to her brother, King Henry IV, listing out four possible suitors, including, “the brother of the King of England.”

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Part Three: Richard III & the Nevilles

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You can catch up on the first two posts on Richard III here and here. Today, we’re going to pick up where we left off in 1461, with Richard and his brother, George, newly returned to England from the Burgundian court in time to see their brother, now Edward IV, crowned king.

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Part Two: Richard III’s Introduction to War & Burgundy

Richard

Ok, we’re picking up where we left off yesterday with Richard III. You can catch up on how I’m approaching him here. As I mentioned yesterday, we know very little about Richard’s early years save that they were predominantly spent at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire, and that his most constant companions were his sister, Margaret, and his brother, George. Our next glimpse of him comes in October 1459 when Richard was seven, by which time the first half of the Wars of the Roses was well underway.

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The Divorce of Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter

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It says something about the House of York that one of its highest-ranking women could go through a divorce in the 15th century and end up forgotten by history. After all, between Elizabeth Woodville, Richard III and two disappearing princes, there are enough colorful figures much closer to the throne that the ups and downs of Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter are easy enough to forget. Nevertheless, two of Anne’s brothers were kings of England, while her first marriage put her in the unique position of having a husband on one side of a civil war and blood family on the other. Her first marriage is tinged with hints violence, while her subsequent divorce and remarriage show a woman with as much fortitude and willfulness as her more famous brothers.

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The Matriarch: Cecily Neville, Duchess of York

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One of my favorite figures from the Wars of the Roses is Cecily Neville, Duchess of York who came very close to becoming England’s queen through her husband and ended up mother to two, Edward IV and Richard III. She was grandmother to the Princes in the Tower, mother-in-law to Elizabeth Woodville and Anne Neville, mother to a Duchess of Burgundy and rival to Marguerite of Anjou. In short, she was something to almost everyone and while we know where she was and what she did more often than most women of her time, we know remarkably little about who she actually was.

If you’re familiar with her, it’s actually a bit astonishing given the wealth of information we have to parse through and the level of fame that her family achieved. We have flashes of activity over the course of several decades, but only two real moments of humanity shine through, both of which relate to her children. We know that she was beautiful, though it’s unclear to what extent that was exaggerated given her rank. We believe that she was religious based on her increasingly public piety and retirement to a convent. We assume she mourned the loss of her husband and children.

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