Of Cecily Neville's last six children, only George and Richard survived infancy. These boys were with her during some of the most traumatic years of her life, as the Lancastrian kingship collapsed and her husband made his unsuccessful bid for the throne of England. She would have supervised their early education, perhaps taught them to read.
Bruges – home to Richard for a few monthsIn the winter of 1460/61 Yorkist fortunes were at their lowest, with the duke of York's death at Wakefield and the earl of Warwick's defeat at St Albans. For their safety Cecily sent the boys, aged just eleven and eight, to the court of the duke of Burgundy. Her decision to remain in London to defend the interests of her only other surviving son, the eighteen-year-old Edward, Earl of March, indicates her priorities and her ambition for her family. Immediately after their return to England the king's little brothers, like their mother, probably lived within the royal household for several years. Richard may well have been nearly thirteen before he left the regular company of his mother for the household of the earl of Warwick.
In 1461 one observer claimed that Cecily 'can rule the king as she pleases'. It appears from surviving correspondence that her relationship with Richard was similar. In 1474 a land dispute arose between servants of Cecily and Richard. When Richard was first informed of his servant's claim he was prepared to enforce it with men at arms, until he learnt that the dispute was with one of his mother's men. An exchange of letters followed in which Cecily laid down the terms and place of negotiation and ultimately the affair was settled entirely in her man's favour. Cecily's letters also indicate affection for Richard, expressing regret that he had not been able to visit her recently when Edward was with her at Berkhamstead (she had seen Richard only a few weeks previously at Syon).
Baynards Castle – Cecily's London homeThis is about as much as we know about the relationship between mother and son before 1483. How far then did she acquiesce in his actions that summer? His use of her London home, Baynard's Castle, initially made me assume that she was probably party to his decision to take the throne. Yet she does not appear to have attended his coronation. Surely if she had helped mastermind his accession she should have been there?
Certain contemporaries were under the impression that Richard had considered claiming the throne on the grounds of his brother's bastardy. However, the allegation of Cecily's adultery does not appear in any official records. Moreover, in the most contemporary description, Mancini's, there is no mention of Richard accusing his mother of adultery. The question of adultery does appear, however, in Mancini's account of Cecily's supposed horror on learning of Edward IV's marriage. Only five years before Richard's accession George, Duke of Clarence, had been attainted for that slander (among other offences) so it was still fresh in public memory and doubtless debated again. Presumably this is where Mancini picked it up and why later writers thought it had been part of Richard's claim as well as Clarence's.
My suspicion is that Cecily did not actively promote Richard's accession, but equally did not oppose it either. She was pragmatic enough to recognise the risks for the House of York and England that a child king would bring. Instead her youngest son was a proven politician and warrior, at last a third king Richard and his Neville queen. The only direct evidence of contact between mother and son during Richard's reign is a letter from Richard in June 1484. The wording seems to me to imply that there was no animosity between them but that they did not see each other on a very regular basis, 'Madam, I heartily beseech you that I may often hear from you to my comfort', Richard wrote. If Cecily really resented Richard as Vergil claimed there would be little point in his writing such words.
Berkhampstead Castle where Cecily diedThe final enigma lies in the title Cecily used in her will: 'wife unto the right noble prince Richard late Duke of Yorke, fader unto the most cristen prince my Lord and son King Edward the iiijth'. Why no mention of her son Richard? Her will was a public document which included requests to the king so most likely she was avoiding any offence to Henry Tudor. This may also explain why she left nothing to her daughter Margaret of Burgundy who had so offended King Henry. Such a coldly political approach at the very end of her life is disappointing to the modern reader, but Cecily's sense of a duty of good ladyship to the servants now dependent upon Henry's goodwill must be considered. Ultimately we can only guess at her emotions for the most controversial child in her turbulent brood.
First published in the Ricardian Bulletin Autumn 2005
George, Duke of Clarence, was the middle brother: his elder brother was King Edward IV and his younger brother was King Richard III. The careers of George and Richard were entwined at many points. They grew up together, clashed in the most major political crisis of the 1470s, and George's fate, in which Richard concurred, was an essential preliminary to the latter's accession. As Thomas More observed, Richard could not have acceded if his elder brother had been still living.
George is remembered in history as 'False, Fleeting, Perjur'd Clarence'—Shakespeare's description—and because he was drowned in malmsey wine. Certainly he perjured himself several times and aspired to wear a crown to which he was not entitled. Yet there was much more to George than simply an ambitious and courageous perjurer. He was just as talented as his brothers, claimed the Crowland Chronicler: just as effective an orator and as dangerous a demagogue, an idol of the multitude, as his father York or father-in-law the Kingmaker. What a pity that we have nothing concrete with which to substantiate these characteristics.
Bruges – home to Richard for a few monthsGeorge Plantagenet was fourth son of Richard, Duke of York (1411-60), and Cecily Neville. York was the greatest nobleman of his age. York was lieutenant – that is, governor and commander-in-chief – in turn of both Henry VI's kingdom of France and of Ireland, and three times lord protector of England. During the 1450s he led the cause of reform against King Henry's favourites and in 1460 laid claim to the crown of England, setting his Clarence/ Mortimer claim against that of Lancaster, persuading parliament successfully to recognise him as heir presumptive on Henry VI's death. That achievement transformed the prospects of all his surviving children: George and Richard, now of political significance, were despatched to the safety of the Low Countries. Until then neither boy was of much account.
Seven of York's children reached maturity, four of them sons: George was the third of these; Richard was the fourth and the last to survive infancy. George was born in Dublin in 1449, during York's residence in Ireland as lieutenant. Members of both the great Anglo-Irish houses of Butler and FitzGerald were his godparents. Nothing more is recorded of the upbringing of any of York's younger children until 1459. The two eldest surviving sons were residing separately at Ludlow in the mid-1450s and the two elder daughters, Anne in 1445 and Elizabeth in 1458, were married to ducal husbands. By implication Margaret (born 1446), George (b. 1449), and Richard (b. 1452) remained with their mother, the Duchess Cecily. With her they were placed in the custody of their aunt Anne, Duchess of Buckingham, in 1459 until their father, Richard, Duke of York, established his claim to the crown in 1460. What Duke Richard had in mind for them is uncertain. His eldest sons Edward and Edmund were to be noblemen. Since neither George nor Richard was earmarked for an ecclesiastical career, so each was to remain a layman and to pursue a secular, genteel and knightly career.
Tutbury Castle. Courtesy of Gerhard JoosteThe first stage of the Wars of the Roses ended in the triumph of the House of York. York himself was slain, but his eldest son became King Edward IV on 4 March 1461. Since Edmund had also perished, George as next surviving brother was now heir to the crown and Richard was third in line. Though still too young to be effective politically, they had symbolic significance, as assurances that the new dynasty had come to stay and as potential cements by marriage to diplomatic alliances. Of course George, as the older, was much the more important. Each was knighted, elevated to the Garter, and created duke. George took the title of Clarence that was a potent reminder of the hereditary title of the Yorkists to the crown. George was appointed to high office, as Lieutenant of Ireland and High Steward of England for the coronation, although too young actually to exercise them in person. Each boy was also granted great estates, theoretically. As neither was of age, their brother the king continued to draw the revenues and felt free to revise what had been allocated: the grants were earnests of the king's intention to endow them in due course sufficiently to support their estates as royal dukes. In 1464 George was granted the whole county palatine of Chester, the normal patrimony of the heir presumptive, but only very briefly. During these years, the boys had their own establishment, their own residence in a tower at Greenwich Palace, and their own staff: Master John Tapton was Clarence's chancellor and Sir Robert Wingfield was supervisor of his livelihood. There apparently they resided continually, except when required for ceremonial and state occasions, such as the Leicester parliament of 1463 and the queen's coronation in 1465. About that time, Duke Richard was removed to the household of the earl of Warwick, where he apparently remained until declared of age in 1468 - 1469. George was declared of age on 10 July 1466. Although still only sixteen years old, like other royalty George's majority was advanced, presumably to make him more politically useful.
Edward IV was obliged to endow his brothers to the tune of 2,000 marks a year (£1,366 13s. 4d.), the qualifying income of a duke, but clearly intended to be much more generous. In 1467 he committed himself to 5,600 marks a year (£3,368) for George, eventually (with reversions) £4,400. If not quite of the front rank, such munificence raised George above all contemporary nobles except Warwick, Buckingham, and Norfolk. George had estates in Northumberland, Yorkshire, Kent and the West Country when he did homage in July 1466, but it was to Tutbury in Staffordshire that he departed in November. Apparently he had already decided – or perhaps Edward had decided for him – that his estates in the North Midlands, by themselves together worth £1,350, were to be his principal residence and sphere of influence. Since Queen Margaret had based herself in the area late in the 1450s, Tutbury Castle may not have been altogether neglected, but we know that Clarence undertook great building works there, scarcely a recognisable vestige of which survives or is recorded (the Rous Roll). Presumably it was adapted to accommodate the enormous household of 399 anticipated in 1468 in his household ordinance. That proper regulation of his household was desirable is suggested by the Lichfield prostitute frequented by fourteen members of his household in 1466 (Goodman). Great lords sought order and accountability with conspicuous consumption and splendid display. If Clarence really applied his ordinance, which planned for annual expenditure on his household of £4,500 a year, then the court that he held at Tutbury was as impressive as any of which we know. Still in his teens, he rated himself most highly. At the very least he needed to marry a great heiress to raise his revenues up to his expenses. At this point, he parted company with his brother Edward IV.
Signature of the duke of Clarence redrawn by Piat Design.When Clarence returned to his allegiance, all was forgiven. His offences were wiped out and he was restored to his estates. His service at Barnet and then at Tewkesbury had been essential for Edward IV's victory. King Edward owed him. Under such circumstances, he could not be deprived of his wife's inheritance by the forfeiture of her father Warwick. He was allowed to take instant possession of everything except the northern estates in tail male, which were granted to Gloucester. Clarence also took custody of his sister-in-law Anne Neville, widow of Edward of Lancaster. Unfortunately the Warwick inheritance dispute sullied the relations of the three royal brothers.
Only six years passed between Clarence's reconciliation with his brother in 1471 and his fall in 1477. He was appointed great chamberlain of England, councillor of the new Prince of Wales who had supplanted him as heir, attended the council, parliament, and state ceremonies, and took one of the largest retinues on Edward's invasion of France in 1475. Whilst he had lands all over the country, his principal estates were in the North Midlands until 1473, in the West Midlands, and in the West Country: he is recorded occasionally commuting from Warwick via Tewkesbury to Tiverton in Devon. He is revealed by John Rous as lord of Warwick in the Beauchamp tradition. He fathered four children, two of whom outlived him. Following his duchess' death in 1476, he appears to have believed her poisoned by her attendant Ankarette Twynho, who – in a shocking display of arbitrary power – he abducted from her home in Dorset to Warwick, where he was most powerful. She was put on trial, all stages being completed in one day, and executed. This is the most convincing proof of Clarence's overwhelming power in his home country.
Treason and Death
Several factors contributed to Clarence's rupture with his king in 1477. Following his duchess' death, he was in the market for a second consort. The opportunity arose with the death of Charles, Duke of Burgundy, whose duchess – his sister Margaret of York—favoured Clarence as consort to her step-daughter Mary, Clarence's step-niece, 'the greatest heiress of her time'. Clarence would have become an important sovereign prince. Such a match might have been thought in England's national interest, but Edward IV thwarted it. Perhaps he feared what use Clarence would make of such promotion; perhaps he did not want his brother advanced; most probably he wanted to avoid foreign entanglements and expense, a breach with France or the loss of his French pension – a priority that restricted his diplomatic independence and ultimately failed. Clarence reportedly attended council less frequently and contributed little when there. In private he complained against Edward and Edward railed against Clarence, but their comments were relayed from each to other. Reportedly Clarence feared that the king sought his ruin as a candle consumes in burning. Sibling rivalries overcame the proper relations of the monarch and his greatest subject.
Clarence's trusted retainer Thomas Burdet and two astrologers supposedly cast the king's horoscope, which, under contemporary law, was treasonable. All were convicted and executed, Burdet declaring his innocence. Clarence had his protestation read out at the royal council. Whilst surely right to stand up for his retainer, it was this act, which cast doubt on royal justice that prompted Edward to imprison him. Probably it was only later that the Twynho affair came into play. Clarence's arrest did not presume the death penalty, nor did it constitute treason, nor was the duke (so far as we know) implicated in any other treasons. Yet he was to be charged, tried and executed for treason in a parliament specially summoned for this purpose in January 1478. The act of attainder mentions a number of offences, none of them actually treasonable, such as the Twynho affair, railing against the king, and his claim to be the Lancastrian heir. No doubt Edward's decision was related to events in 1469-71, even though Clarence's offences then had been pardoned and wiped clean. Crowland did not consider the charges worthy of mention in his elaborate account. The surviving act bears the king's signature – may indeed have already borne it before presentation to parliament – and the king led the prosecution, to which Clarence was allowed no defence. Crowland, who appears to have been present, thought the trial and the verdict unjust. So too our other sources: 'were hee fautye were hee faultlesse'; whether 'the charge was fabricated or a real plot revealed'. Edward failed to convince contemporaries of his brother's guilt. Edward's destruction of his brother – fratricide – and a royal prince was deeply shocking.
All our principal sources look beyond the trial itself for the root causes – in the enmity of the queen, the plotting of Clarence's enemies, and in misunderstanding of an alleged prophecy that Edward would be succeeded by someone whose name began with G – not George, but Gloucester. If so, Edward was not the prime mover but the instrument of others. Yet the trial was carefully prepared and planning began early. The parliament of 1478 was packed – a higher proportion of the Commons were servants of the crown or of key courtiers. The session was interlaced with the marriage celebration of the king's second son, which enabled an appearance of royal unity to be presented. No divisions were permitted, as key kinsmen – his brothers-in-law Buckingham and Suffolk – were involved and rewarded. None however benefited more than Clarence's brother Richard Duke of Gloucester.
Just as Clarence's death was a precondition for Gloucester's accession in 1483, so too his conviction – and hence his trial – was inconceivable if opposed by the king's next brother. The narrative sources are ambiguous: both Mancini and More say that Richard concealed his real feelings, the first that he supported Clarence's destruction whilst pretending otherwise, the second that he opposed it openly, but not so strongly as one that was minded to his wealth. The first may emanate from Richard himself as king. The record evidence confirms More's account. Nobody benefited more from Clarence's death than his brother Richard. He received nine specific benefits at Clarence's expense. Whilst these are significant, it has been argued that grants after Clarence's death need not imply either co-operation in or foreknowledge of Clarence's destruction. Although the patents are dated to February, the warrants are dated somewhat earlier and several can be dated before the parliament even met. Gloucester's son Edward took Clarence's earldom of Salisbury as early as July 1477. Responsibility for Clarence's fate, justified or not, rests with King Edward, whether manipulated or not.
Clarence was executed in the Tower on February 1478. Absurd though it is, the story that he was drowned in malmsey wine is strictly contemporary and no alternative was offered. Any wider significance from such a curious end cannot be proven. The duke was buried beside his wife at Tewkesbury Abbey.
The Arrivall of Edward IV, ed. J. Bruce, Camden Society I (1838)
Collection of Ordinances and Regulations of the Royal Household, Society of Antiquaries (1790)
The Crowland Chronicle Continuations 1459-86, ed. N. Pronay and J. Cox (Gloucester, 1986)
A. Goodman, The Wars of the Roses. The Soldier's Experience (Gloucester, 2005)
M.A. Hicks, False, Fleeting, Perjur'd Clarence: George Duke of Clarence 1449-78 (Gloucester, 1980)
Michael Hicks, Richard III (Stroud, 2000)
Michael Hicks, Edward V: The Prince in the Tower (Stroud, 2003)
Michael Hicks, Edward IV (London, 2004)
Michael Hicks, Anne Neville: Queen to Richard III (Stroud, 2006)
D. Mancini, The Usurpation of Richard III, ed. C.A.J. Armstrong (Oxford, 1969)
T. More, History of King Richard III, ed. R. Sylvester (New Haven, Conn., 1963)
William Shakespeare, History of King Richard III, ed. A Hammond (1981)
The Rous Roll, ed. W.H. Courthope (1859)
Rolls of Parliament available on CD as The Parliament Rolls of Medieval England, ed., C. Given-Wilson et al (2005)
Anne Neville was Richard's wife and his queen. She was the younger of the two daughters of Richard Neville and Anne Beauchamp, earl and countess of Warwick, her elder sister being Isabel (b.1451), later duchess of Clarence. Anne was born at Warwick Castle overlooking the River Avon on 11 June 1456, and was christened in the collegiate church of St Mary in the town. Her parents would at this stage still have hoped for a son to continue the line, and would only gradually have come to accept that their two daughters were likely to be their only bodily heirs. By the time of Anne's birth her father Warwick was already an outstanding political figure, having achieved most of the credit for the Yorkist victory at the First Battle of St. Albans the previous year and been appointed Captain of Calais. When Anne was almost a year old her parents took up residence in Calais, and Anne probably – though not certainly - spent her next three years there with her parents and elder sister.
Warwick CastleAfter the Yorkist victory Warwick returned to the mainland. As King Edward's principal diplomat and soldier, he would often have been absent from home and Isabel and Anne probably remained with their mother. Where the girls lived is not clear, but Middleham Castle in North Yorkshire may have been their main residence. Anne first features in public at the enthronement celebrations of her uncle George Neville as archbishop of York in September 1465 when she was nine years old. Also present was the King's youngest brother Richard Duke of Gloucester (b.1452), who had recently joined the earl's household alongside Francis Lord Lovell (born 1456) and other noble youths. The previous year a rift had opened up between Anne's father and the King when Edward had responded to Warwick's negotiations for a French bride by announcing his secret marriage to an English gentlewoman, Elizabeth Woodville. The new queen's possession of a number of unmarried sisters deprived Warwick of most of the suitable matches for his own daughters and it seems plausible that the King had offered Gloucester and Lovell as bridegrooms for Isabel and Anne.
Warwick had, however, by this time conceived an ambition to marry both of his daughters to both of the King's brothers, which meant that Gloucester, as the younger prince, would marry Anne rather than Isabel. It is not true that - as has recently been claimed - Isabel and Anne could not legally marry two brothers because the first marriage would set up an impediment of 'affinity' to the second (Hicks, Anne Neville, Tempus, 2006, and 'The Incestuous King? Richard III', BBC History Magazine, June 2006). The so-called 'in-law' impediment of affinity merely referred to the relationship between an individual and those with whom they had personally become 'one flesh' through sexual intercourse; it prevented the individual from marrying, without dispensation, the relative of a previous spouse (or, in theory at least, a previous lover) but it did not create any impediment whatsoever to marriages between that same individual's blood relatives and 'affines'.
The only obstacle to Warwick's double marriage scheme was the King; he would not agree to give Warwick his male heir, George of Clarence, whose marriage potential was an important tool in his foreign diplomacy. The Neville girls were a good catch, however, as they were coheiresses to their father's earldom of Salisbury and to all their mother's vast estates, consisting of the earldom of Warwick and the Despencer lands in the south-west (the northern Neville lands themselves were the subject of an entail which meant that they would pass not to Warwick's daughters but to his nearest male heir).
Despite the king's opposition, Warwick won Clarence's own consent and sent agents over to Rome to secure the necessary dispensations as his daughters were more closely related to the King's brothers than was allowed by canon law. At least, we know that a dispensation was obtained for Isabel's marriage to Clarence because we have documentary evidence that it existed; we can only presume that a dispensation would also have been obtained for Richard's marriage to Anne, although for this we have only circumstantial, rather than direct, evidence; neither dispensation has yet been located in the Vatican Archives. It was only towards the end of 1468, when relations between the king and the earl of Warwick had broken down completely, that Richard was also forced to make a choice of allegiance: he returned to the royal household. With his departure Anne's marriage prospects would have looked considerably bleaker – Lord Lovell had already been married off to her cousin Anne FitzHugh.
This was the context for Anne's first marriage, to Edward of Lancaster, the son and heir of the dethroned Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou. With the support and persuasion of King Louis XI of France, Queen Margaret now made alliance with Warwick in order to confront King Edward on equal military terms. The marriage could not take place until a dispensation had been obtained since Anne and Prince Edward were third cousins, but on 25 July 1470 the two young strangers were solemnly betrothed in Angers cathedral. Weeks later Warwick and Clarence invaded England leaving Anne in France with her mother. Edward IV fled abroad and Henry VI resumed his throne. Having received the dispensation, Anne and Edward were married at Amboise on 13 December; he was seventeen, she fourteen.
After Christmas the young Prince and Princess of Wales travelled with their mothers to the coast at Dieppe to take ship for England. The weather was so stormy, however, that it was March before they finally set sail for Weymouth, Anne in one ship with Queen Margaret and the Prince, and her mother in another. The weather conditions were still bad, and the ship carrying Anne's mother was blown off course many miles to the east. They made land on 14 April 1471, just in time to witness the downfall of the new régime. King Edward had returned and taken London, Clarence had reverted to his Yorkist allegiance, and that very day Warwick had perished in defeat at Barnet. Anne's mother took sanctuary at Beaulieu Abbey in the New Forest. Anne herself shared in the forced march to Tewkesbury, where King Edward destroyed the Lancastrian army and Prince Edward was amongst the slain. Anne was placed in the custody of her sister the Duchess Isabel and her brother-in-law Clarence.
Anne's father and husband had both died traitors; her mother, in Beaulieu Sanctuary, was also regarded with hostility by King Edward and was soon to find herself surrounded by an armed guard (BL MS Cotton Julius BXII, f. 317). The estates of both her parents were forfeit, and all that was to have been divided between Anne and her sister had been taken by Isabel's husband Clarence. The Neville lands in the North, which would have gone to her little cousin George Neville had his father Montagu not also died a traitor at Barnet, had been granted to the king's younger brother Gloucester. Anne's sister and brother-in-law seemingly had no intention of allowing Anne to marry or receive her share of the Warwick and Salisbury inheritance, and yet before nine months had passed Richard Duke of Gloucester had sought her hand. This was a prudent match for both parties, and it was also the marriage that Anne's father had originally favoured for her, but her guardian Clarence, fully realising that with his brother behind her Anne would be able to fight for her inheritance, refused the offer and sought to conceal her, supposedly as a kitchen maid, but Richard found her and took her to the neutral refuge of St Martin's Sanctuary in London.
The signatures of Anne Warwick and Richard GloucesterAnne consented to marry Richard and they sent to Rome for a final dispensation to cover the affinity that had arisen between them as the result of Anne's marriage to Edward of Lancaster, who had been Richard's second cousin once removed. In February 1472, under pressure from the King, Clarence also agreed to the marriage but only on the understanding that they would 'part no livelihood'. By 18 March, however, he had agreed to surrender certain estates to Richard (CPR 1467-77, p. 330). The dispensation, issued in Rome on 22 April, is likely to have reached England in June. Apparently in the teeth of renewed opposition from Clarence, the couple were married sometime between the arrival of the dispensation and January 1473, when Anne was sixteen and Richard nineteen or twenty; and in the early summer of 1473 Gloucester succeeded in gaining the King's permission for Anne's mother to be brought from Beaulieu Sanctuary to join their own household at Middleham.
The Countess was, however, not to be restored to her estates. Not only was it not in the financial interests of her daughters and sons-in-law, but King Edward would not have risked the possibility that she might, by remarriage, have put her vast wealth at the disposal of another would-be overmighty subject. What was sought was a settlement of the Countess's estates upon her two daughters and their husbands, but Clarence continued to obstruct. By the autumn of 1473 he was in arms against Gloucester, and it was soon reported at the French court (apparently by an English visitor sympathetic to Clarence) that Richard, who 'by force had taken to wife the daughter of the late Earl of Warwick, who had been married to the Prince of Wales, was constantly preparing for war with the Duke of Clarence. The latter, because his brother, King Edward, had promised him Warwick's country, did not want the former to have it by reason of his marriage with the earl's second daughter' (Calendar of Milanese State Papers, p. 177).
Clarence was finally brought to heel by the King simply confiscating his estates, and in May 1474 the dispute was settled by an Act of Parliament that shocked the Crowland Chronicler as it decreed that the Countess's lands were to be immediately enjoyed by her two daughters and their husbands 'as though she were naturally dead'; in practice, Clarence still retained most of the Countess's inheritance, Richard and Anne's share being made up from other family sources. The aspersions cast by Clarence on the validity of Richard and Anne's marriage were addressed by a clause protecting their rights in the event of their being divorced (i.e. of their marriage being declared null and void by the Church) and then legally remarried to each other, and also protected Richard's rights whilst he should attempt to effect such a valid second marriage with Anne (C. Given-Wilson [ed.], Parliament Rolls of Medieval England, Edward IV - October 1472 - 2nd roll). In the unlikely case that any church court was ever actually asked to pronounce on the legality of the marriage it must have found in Richard and Anne's favour as they continued as man and wife until her death.
Richard, Duke of Gloucester by Graham Turner. Reproduced by kind permissionof the artist. www.studio88.co.ukAnne's career as duchess is visible in glimpses. Examples from the years 1475 to 1477 will suffice to give a flavour. In 1475, almost certainly during Richard's absence on the French campaign, we find her corresponding with the Mayor and aldermen of York, one letter being sufficiently important for her to send it by the hands of Lord Greystoke and other members of her husband's council (York City Chamberlains' Account Rolls, Surtees Soc. Vol. 192, 1980, p. 152). Edward, their only child (or at least the only child to survive infancy and enter the public record), was born at Middleham during the spring or summer of 1476; during the same year Anne also became a sister of Durham Priory where several of her Neville forebears were buried, and in December she seems to have been in London with Richard when he charged to his East Anglian estates payments 'for certain furs delivered by command of the said duke to his most dearly beloved consort', and for 'silk cloth and other things delivered to the aforesaid consort'. In 1477 Richard and Anne joined the Corpus Christi Guild of York, and Anne used her influence with Durham Priory to seek preferment for one of her clerks. She was probably also influential in the couple's endowment of Queens' College, Cambridge, that same year.
After Edward IV's death, Richard rode south to take up his position as Protector to the young Edward V. Anne followed a month later, arriving in London on Thursday 5 June, shortly before the beginning of the political crisis that ended with Richard's acceptance of the throne; it was during this period that Clarence's and Isabel's orphaned son, Edward Earl of Warwick, who had been the ward of the Marquess Dorset, was delivered into Anne's care (Mancini).
Richard and Anne shared a joint coronation. For the procession from the Tower to Westminster on the eve of the ceremony, she wore a kirtle and mantle made from 27 yards of white cloth-of-gold furred with ermine and miniver, and trimmed with lace and tassels of white silk and gold (Laynesmith, p. 92). The coronation day began at 7 am with a procession on foot from Westminster Hall to the Abbey, where the couple were crowned and anointed, and mass was sung. The day ended with a magnificent banquet at which Richard was served on gold and Anne on gilt.
Anne reigned for such a short time that we have no record of her household as queen, which was probably still in the process of being established at her death. The evidence we have suggests that many of her ladies in waiting were drawn from members of the northern gentry who would have served her as Duchess of Gloucester. She often travelled with Richard. During his coronation progress she caught up with him at Warwick, bringing with her a visiting Spanish ambassador whom she had received at Windsor. After a week's sojourn at her birthplace, Anne and Richard travelled to York, where their seven-year-old son Edward was invested as Prince of Wales. When Richard turned south again, Anne and young Edward went with him to Pontefract, where they stayed a further two weeks.
Anne was at Westminster with Richard for the Christmas festivities. In March, she and Richard rode northwards for a two-day visit to Queens' College, Cambridge, where 'the most serene Queen Anne … augmented and endowed the college with great rents' (Laynesmith, p. 256). In thanks, the university authorities obtained a decree that a mass be celebrated annually on 2 May 'for the happy state of the same most renowned prince [King Richard] and his dearest consort Anne' (Hammond, p. 20). The couple then settled their court at Nottingham, where they received the disastrous and unexpected news of their son's death at Middleham. 'You might have seen the father and mother … almost out of their minds for a long time when faced with the sudden grief' (Crowland, p. 171).
Prince Edward's death was a dynastic blow as well as a personal tragedy for Richard and Anne, leaving Richard without an obvious heir to stabilize his rule and continue his dynasty. With Henry Tudor posing as a prospective consort for Edward IV's daughter Elizabeth, the need for Anne to produce another child was now urgent. She was still only twenty-seven and apparently healthy, so she is likely to have travelled with Richard thereafter whenever possible. It is often supposed at any rate that, when Richard was based at Scarborough that summer to direct naval operations against the Scots, Anne was also there, residing in the square tower named in 1538 by the traveller John Leland as 'The Queens Towre or Lodging' (The Itinerary of John Leland the Antiquary, ed. Thomas Hearne, Vol. 1, 1745, p. 62).
Anne was with her husband again that Christmas, her attendants now including King Edward IV's daughter Elizabeth and perhaps her younger sisters, who had been allowed out of sanctuary by their mother the previous March. The Crowland Chronicler is at pains to tell us that during this Christmas feast 'far too much attention was given to dancing and gaiety' and to frequent changes of matching clothes by Queen Anne and the Lady Elizabeth. As the court was celebrating Twelfth Night, news arrived that Henry Tudor had determined to attempt an invasion that coming summer.
Immediately, Richard found himself deluged by hostile rumours 'by evil disposed persons contrived and sown' (Lander, p. 255). After the favour shown to the Lady Elizabeth at Christmas, Crowland continues, a tale spread that the king was determined to marry her, either after Anne's death 'or by means of a divorce for which he believed he had sufficient grounds.' But the chronicler offers no suggestion as to what these grounds may have been, and this was probably no more than a popular revival of Clarence's complaint. Actually, Anne took sick just 'a few days later' with a mortal illness, so it would be surprising if Richard had felt the need to consider divorce, and rather predictably those rumours were now superseded by whispers of poison. The only clues we have as to the actual nature of Anne's illness are its duration – two months – and the fact that her doctors advised Richard to avoid her bed.
As for the marriage to his niece, we now know that a marriage deal involving Elizabeth was being considered for Richard's widowhood, but it was a double marriage between Richard and a Portuguese princess, and Elizabeth and a Portuguese prince.
Anne died on 16 March 1485, on the same day that England experienced a great eclipse of the sun. She was just three months short of her twenty-ninth birthday. She was buried in Westminster Abbey 'with honours no less than befitted the burial of a queen' (Crowland, p. 175.). She had been in life, according to the Beauchamp family hagiographer John Rows, 'seemly, amiable and beauteous, and in conditions full commendable and right virtuous and, according to the interpretation of her name, Anne, full gracious.'
The final postscript to Anne's story occurred on 30 March, when Richard called the Mayor and citizens of London and the available lords to the great hall of the Hospital of St. John to address the rumour that he had had Anne poisoned in order to marry Elizabeth. Addressing them 'in a loud and distinct voice', he 'showed his grief and displeasure aforesaid and said it never came into his thought or mind to marry in such manner wise, nor willing nor glad of the death of his queen but as sorry and in heart as heavy as man might be …' (Lander, pp. 255-6).
Main Sources/ Further Reading
Richard III by David Baldwin, Stroud, 2012
'Diriment Impediments, Dispensations and Divorce: Richard III and Matrimony' by Marie Barnfield, The Ricardian, Vol. XVII, 2007, pp. 84-98
Richard III: The Maligned King by Annette Carson, Stroud, 2008
'English royal marriages and the Papal Penitentiary in the fifteenth century' by P.D.Clarke,English Historical Review, 120, 2005
The Rows Roll edited by W.H. Courthope, London, 1859
The Itinerary of Richard III 1483-1485 by Rhoda Edwards, Gloucester, 1983
Parliament rolls of Medieval England, edited by Christopher Given-Wilson
Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales by P. W. Hammond, Kent, 1973
The Coronation of Richard III: The Extant Documents edited by P. W. Hammond & A. F. Sutton, Gloucester, 1983
Marriage Litigation in Medieval England by R. H. Helmholz, Cambridge, 1974, (paperback edition 2007)
Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales by P W Hammond, 2nd edtion 1973
Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales by A J Pollard, New DNB
Richard and Anne's Dispensation, Marie Barnfield, Ricardian Bulletin, Spring 2006, pp.30-32
His Illegitimate Children
by Peter Hammond
The image of Richard III presented by some historians is that of moral earnestness and a puritanical outlook, and that of his brother Edward of moral laxity. It is true to say though that while Richard publicly acknowledged two bastards in his lifetime (John of Gloucester and Katherine Plantagenet), his brother acknowledged none. The difference may be that Richard's illegitimate children were born before his marriage, while some of Edward's were born afterwards; the children of a bachelor were not considered as reprehensible as were the bastards of a married man. There is some evidence that Richard had a third illegitimate child, Richard of Eastwell, not publicly acknowledged in his lifetime. Very little is known about any of these children, particularly the third, and this article attempts to summarise this scanty information.
First a few general remarks. It is necessary to say that, historical novelists notwithstanding, nothing is known for certain of the date of birth of any of the children, nor about their mothers. Probably they all had different mothers, but it is possible that they may have had the same mother, or at least that John of Gloucester and Katherine Plantagenet, the two openly acknowledged ones, did, but this is pure surmise. Nothing at all is known about the early lives of John and Katherine, although it is possible that they were two of 'the children' referred to in the Regulations for the King's Household in the North in July 1484.
John of Gloucester
The Medieval City of CalaisThe first reference to John is in September 1483, when, according to Buck, '[the king] made Richard of Gloucester, his base son [Captain of] Calais'. He was possibly in fact knighted on this occasion. The reference to Richard must be a mistake for John of Gloucester because of a later grant to 'our dear bastard son, John of Gloucester' of the offices of Captain of Calais, and of the fortresses of Rysbank, Guisnes, Hammes, and Lieutenant of the Marches of Picardy for his life. This patent is dated 11 March 1485, and gives John all necessary powers, with the exception of that of appointing the officers. This was reserved until John became twenty-one, from which it may be gathered that he had not yet reached that age, although how much younger he was we do not know. It may be surmised that he was not too near it or the reservation would not have been worth making. The patent describes John as having 'liveliness of mind, activity of body, and inclination to all good customs (which) promise us, by the grace of God, great hope of his good service for the future'. These remarks may be pure convention (or reflect parental pride) rather than objective fact, for in the charter creating Edward of Middleham Prince of Wales very similar expressions are used. The initial notice of the appointment to the Captaincy of Calais provides a possible clue to the birthplace of John, since he is there referred to as John of Pomfret.
It seems probable that John was acting as Captain of Calais before the date of his patent of appointment, since in the Canterbury City Archives there occur references to payments in November 1484 for an allowance of wine and leavened bread 'for the Lord Bastard riding to Calais', and for a pike and wine for 'Master Brakynbury Constable of the Tower of London' returned from Calais at that time 'from the Lord Bastard'. The linking of 'Lord Bastard' with Calais leaves little doubt that John of Gloucester is meant, but has interesting implications. A warrant to deliver clothing to 'the Lord Bastard' dated 9 March 1485, two days before the grant of the Captaincy of Calais, has been put forward as referring to Edward V, who at that date would be officially referred to as such. In view of the Canterbury payment though it seems more likely to be a reference to John of Gloucester, and to cast further doubt on part of the evidence used to prove the survival into 1485 of the eldest son of Edward IV.
It has been suggested that we have a later reference than this to John of Gloucester in a Patent Roll entry of 1505. The reference is to one 'John Gloucestre', as merchant of the Staple of Calais, to whom Henry VII was granting a pardon. It is unlikely that this refers to Richard's son, for the name was not uncommon. For example, a man of this name, a citizen and grocer, was appointed Bailiff of Southwark by the City of London in 1460, and he or someone else of this name served on a number of royal commissions, one as late as 1477. A person of this name is described as dead in May 1484. It therefore seems more likely that a son or relative of the 1460 Bailiff of Southwark is the man referred to in 1505, and not Richard's son.
Katherine, the only daughter, albeit illegitimate, of Richard III, first comes to notice in 1484, when William Herbert, Earl of Huntingdon (formerly Earl of Pembroke) covenanted 'to take to wife Dame Katherine Plantagenet, daughter to the King, before Michaelmas of that year'. Nothing is known of Dame Katherine before this, no mention is made anywhere of her mother, nor when she was born. That she married in 1484 is no guide to her age: child marriages were not uncommon in the fifteenth century, (Anne Mowbray was five when she was married to Richard, Duke of York), but she could hardly have been older than about eighteen since Richard himself was only born in 1452, and it is perhaps unlikely that she would have been born after Richard's marriage in about 1474. She was thus probably between ten and eighteen years of age.
The marriage covenant mentioned was dated 29 February. In it, in addition to agreeing to marry Katherine before 29 September 1484 (Michaelmas), the Earl agreed to make her a jointure in lands of £200 per annum. The King, who agreed to bear the whole cost of the marriage, undertook to settle lands and lordships to a value of 1000 marks per annum on them and the heirs male of their two bodies. The settlement of the King was subject to certain interesting qualifications. The couple were to have manors, lordships, lands and tenements in the possession of the King on the day of the marriage, to the value of 600 marks, and the same to the value of 400 marks in reversion after the death of Lord Stanley. Meanwhile, during the life of Lord Stanley, they were to have an annuity of 400 marks payable from the revenues of the lordships of Newport, Brecknock and Hay. The manors etc. in the possession of Lord Stanley were obviously those of his wife, granted to him for his life because of her support of Buckingham's uprising. The revenues of the annuity had lately belonged to the duke of Buckingham himself. Three days after the marriage agreement had been entered into, on 3 March, the King fulfilled the second part of his engagement, granting the annuity he had promised. They were married between then and May 1484, since a grant of the proceeds of various manors in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset was then made to 'William Erle of Huntingdon and Kateryn his wif'. On 8 March 1485 a further grant was made to the Earl and Katherine his wife of an annuity of £152 10.10 from the issues of the King's possessions in the counties of Carmarthen and Cardigan, and from those of the King's lordship of Haverfordwest.
Nothing further is known about Katherine. She may have had children, but if so they did not survive, since the Earl's heir was Elizabeth, his daughter by his first wife, Mary Woodville. Nor is it known when she died, but it seems very likely that she did not survive the Earl (although he certainly did not marry again), and she may have been dead by 25 November 1487, the date of the coronation of Elizabeth of York. Among the lists of nobility present at that ceremony is a list of earls (including the Earl of Huntingdon) all described as 'widowers'. If this is correct (and one of the other earls in the list was probably not a widower) then Katherine was probably dead by this date, under the age of twenty. Another clue to the date of her death may be given by the fact that on 17 May 1488 Henry VII confirmed Herbert's charter as earl of Huntingdon. This may have reflected a desire to confirm his position after the death of his wife, or of course merely a desire to consolidate his position in the Tudor world.
Page from Desiderata Curiosa, a source for the story of Richard of EastwellRichard Plantagenet—or Richard of Eastwell—is a mysterious figure who may, or more probably may not, have been a son of Richard III. The facts in this case are even more scanty than for John and Katherine and consist of an entry in the parish register of Eastwell, a hamlet three miles north of Ashford in Kent. The entry reads 'Rychard Plantagenet was buryed the xxij daye of Desember, Anno ut supra', and appears under the year 1550. This entry is the foundation of all the stories about Richard Plantagenet. It appears to be genuine. The register is in fact a copy made in 1598 by the then vicar, Josias Nicholls, in accordance with an order made in that year that all existing paper registers be copied into vellum books. The original paper register no longer exists. However, comparing the existing vellum copy with the bishop's transcripts of the period 1562 (when they begin) to 1598 shows good agreement. The entry for 1550 in the register as we have it is therefore almost certainly an accurate copy of that made at the time. For the Richard Plantagenet entry to be disregarded the incumbent in 1550 (Richard Styles), or Josias Nicholls must have deliberately forged it. We have no reason to suppose that either was capable of such an apparently pointless act. It has been suggested that the entry is a pedantic translation of the common name 'Broom', but the extant register is not in Latin, nor are the existing bishop's transcripts, and we have no reason to suppose the original 1550 register was either. Of course no one knows if the deceased believed himself to be a Plantagenet, or whether Sir Thomas Moyle, the owner of Eastwell, so believed, or both. Sir Thomas must almost certainly have known of the entry in the register when it was made.
It has been said that the register entry has a mark against it which only appears against the names of those of noble blood. This story was started in 1767 by Philip Parsons, the then Vicar of Eastwell. It is true that there is a mark of sorts against the name Richard Plantagenet, and that there are other (different) marks against other names (not all noble), but the explanation of these seems to be that they were made by a member of the Finch family, later owners of Eastwell, to mark off entries interesting to himself, which he then copied out.
One other piece of evidence is sometimes cited for the existence of Richard Plantagenet, namely his 'tomb'. This is still in Eastwell Church, which is now a ruin, being damaged in the war. All of the other tombs were removed to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1968 for protection. In form it is an altar tomb, with indents for brasses, and was formerly on the north side of the chancel. It is almost certainly the tomb of Sir Walter Moyle, who died in 1480; the form of the brass indents shows that it originally housed pt least two bodies, one male and one female, the latter apparently wearing a head-dress of circa 1480-1490. There are also indents for two groups, one for two sons and one for three daughters, below the two main figures. The tomb could certainly not have belonged to Richard Plantagenet.
The other details of the story as often told apparently stem from a letter by a Dr Brett published in 1735. This states, with much circumstantial detail, that Richard was acknowledged by his father Richard III on the eve of Bosworth, but only privately, and that he lived in obscurity after the battle as a stonemason at Eastwell. Sir Thomas Moyle, the owner of Eastwell Place, is said to have discovered his identity and given him a cottage to live in, where he remained until his death at about the age of eighty-one. It seems very likely that Dr Brett believed the story he related in his letter to be true, and that this story reflects a genuine tradition in the Finch family, owners of Eastwell Place in 1733. However there is apparently no reference in print to Richard Plantagenet between the date of the burial entry (1550) and 1773, which may be regarded as suspicious, although Dr Samuel Pegge confirmed that the tradition existed in the Eastwell area in the middle of the eighteenth century while he was vicar of neighbouring Godmersham. It is true to say though, that if there is no evidence that the full legend is true, there is also none that it is untrue.
Notes and References
This is an amended form of the article in The Ricardian, Vol. V, No.66, (September 1979), pp. 92-6 which takes account of the short note in Vol. V, No.72, (March 1981), p. 319. The amended article was then published in Richard III: Crown and People, edited by James Petre.
See for example Kendall, pp. 320, 322, 323.
There is a very slight possibility that we have a clue to the name of Richard's mistress (or one of them), in a grant by Richard in 1477 to Katherine Haute of 100 shillings per annum for life (DL29/637/10360A). Katherine was the wife of James Haute (son of William Haute and Joan Woodville, and so cousin to Elizabeth Woodville). Little is known about her; there is no apparent reason for Richard to give her an annuity, and her Christian name is of course that of Richard's illegitimate daughter, an uncommon one in the Yorkist Neville families. All of this may of course be far from the truth, although it is suggestive. Thanks are due to Dr Rosemary Horrox for this reference, and for her comments.
There is a very slight possibility that we have a clue to the name of Richard's mistress (or one of BL Hari MS 433, Vol. 3, p. 114.
Sir George Buck, The History of King Richard the Third, (1619), edited A.N. Kincaid, (Gloucester 1979), pp. 51, 255. Fabyan is the source of the (erroneous) information that Richard made this son Captain of Calais at this time. The reference to a bastard of Richard being knighted in 1483 appears in the 1646 edition of Buck's work (p. 28), presumably added by the editor, Buck's nephew, George Buck, contrary to his normal practice of not adding any factual material, (Kincaid, Buck, p. lxvii). We have no clue as to the source of his information.
Thomas Rymer, Foedera, (London 1704-13), Vol. 12, pp. 265-6.
BL Hart MS 433, Vol. 1, pp. 81-2.
BL Hart MS 433, Vol. 1, p. 269.
Chamberlains' Accounts of the City of Canterbury, Michaelmas 1484 to Michaelmas 1485, f. 26. I am indebted to Dr Anne Sutton for a transcript of the Latin entry from the Canterbury Archives.
BL Hart MS 433, Vol. 2, p. 211. See also Caroline Halsted, Richard Ill as Duke of Gloucester and King of England, (London 1844), Vol. 2, p. 487 and C.R. Markham, Richard Ill, (London 1906), p. 237.
W. Campbell (ed.), Materials for the History of the Reign of Henry VII, Rolls Series, Vol. 1, i (London 1873), p. 328.
George Buck, op. cit., pp. 170, 298.
By A.N. Kincaid, George Buck, op. cit., p. 298. See CPR 1494-1509, p. 448.
D.J. Johnson, Southwark and the City of London, (London 1969), pp. 45, 104 note 3; CPR 1476-85, p. 24; CPR 1476-1485, no.1246, p. 366.
D.H. Thomas, The Herberts of Raglan, unpublished M.A. thesis, University of Wales, (1967), pp. 283,284 and also pp. 215-16 quoting the Herbertorum Prosapia, a seventeenth-century history of the Herbert family. A version of the Covenant was printed by Halsted, op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 569.
CPR 1476-85, p. 431; BL Harl MS 433, Vol. 2, p. 137. The marriage is usually stated to have taken place between March and September 1484, see CP, Vol. 10, p. 402.
CPR 1476-85, p. 538.
John Leland, De Rebus Britannicis Collectanea, Vol. 4, (London 1770), pp. 216-23. I am indebted to Rhoda Edwards for drawing my attention to this fact.
CPR 1485-94, p. 237. For a discussion of the position of William Herbert after 1485, see Helen Maurer, 'The Later Careers of William Herbert, Earl of Huntingdon, and his Brother, Sir Walter Herbert', Richard Ill: Crown and People, edited by James Petre, 1985, pp.95-7. Richard's children