Like millions of others last night, I was an avid view of the BBC 1 adaptation of ‘The White Queen’, the reason I choose now to blog on the programme is because of the way Anne Neville was portrayed in last night’s episode. For some unknown reason I never believed Anne Neville to be so uncaring and quite frankly nasty. So I decided to take a look at the life and times of Anne Neville and to try and come to some sort of decision as to just what sort of a Queen she really was.
Birth and Childhood
Anne Neville was born at Warwick Castle on 11th June 1456 to the 16th Earl of Warwick, Richard Neville and Anne de Beauchamp. Her family were the most wealthiest and politically powerful family in the kingdom. Anne watched as her father turned Edward of York into King Edward IV, her father was known as the Kingmaker. As readers will know her father eventually switched his alliance to the House of Lancaster.
Princess of Wales
When Warwick switched his alliance in 1469 to the Lancastrian side and trying to promote the return of King Henry VI, he had to convince the head of the effort, Henry’s Queen, Margaret of Anjou, that he was loyal. He did this by marrying Anne to Henry VI’s son and heir Edward of Westminster (Prince of Wales). Eventually Edward and Margaret invaded England however at the Battle of Barnet, the Yorks were successful and Anne’s father was among those killed. The Yorkists were also triumphant at Tewkesbury where the killed Edward of Westminster and captured Margaret of Anjou and Anne Neville. From seeing this episode of The White Queen, I got the impression that Anne was petrified, not only of her husband but also of her mother in law Margaret, or was she? The impression I got from the recent episode, it seems Anne took over Margaret’s role and she became the bad Queen.
Duchess of Gloucester
Though Anne was imprisoned by the victorious Edward IV, she did marry his youngest brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester in July 1472. Like anything to do with royal history, there are rumours that Richard (wanting to add to his many crimes) kidnapped the young Anne and forced her to marry him, others simply believe that the two had loved each other since childhood but perhaps the truth is that she believed by marrying Richard he would protect her from the jealousy and greed from within court at the House of York. From the very beginning of her marriage she mistrusted Queen Elizabeth, she saw her sister Isobel withdraw from court because of Elizabeth and also Richards brother George sent to the tower, perhaps down to Elizabeth. Maybe this mistrust now gives the reader an idea as to why Anne Neville turned in to the Queen she was portrayed as last night.
The Two Princes/Queen Consort
Edward IV died in 1438 and his son Edward became King Edward V, though he was never crowned. Edward and his brother Richard were put into the care of their Uncle, Richard Duke of Gloucester being as he was Lord Protector. They were both taken to the Tower of London where as legend has it, they both disappeared from History, presumably killed by their Uncle Richard, though this was never proven. Once again rumours suggest that Anne had the motivation to order the deaths of the boys, after all she would become Queen if both boys were dead. I must stress that this is only rumour. Richard ascended the throne as King Richard III and he and Anne were crowned together at Westminster Abbey. Everyone who saw the episode last night would have seen the exchange of looks between Anne and Richard, in my opinion it was a look that said, we have done it, we are King and Queen, we have got what we always wanted, I could be wrong but that is just my opinion. Anne died on 16th March 1485 from tuberculosis and was buried at Westminster Abbey. Once again rumours circulated her death that Richard poisoned her in order to marry his niece Elizabeth of York, though again this was never proven to be true.
It does seem as though the marriage and reign of King Richard III and Anne Neville was and still is surrounded by rumour and intrigue. The BBC’s The White Queen gave me the impression last night that Anne Neville was a really bad Queen and was only out to get what she wanted for herself. As rumours suggest she could have been responsible for the deaths of the two princes but then these are just rumours, then again what did actually happen to the two boys? this is a question that may never be answered. As readers can probably guess my verdict on Anne Neville is still undecided, do we believe everything that is enacted on screen? then again do we believe everything that history tells us to believe? One thing is for sure, Richard and Anne’s reign will go down as one of the most intriguing and mysterious this kingdom has ever seen.
photo credits: BBC/Company Pictures & ALL3MEDIA/Ed Miller and Leo Reynolds.