Anne Beauchamp Countess of Warwick – Wife to the Kingmaker

Reblogged from A Medieval Potpourri


Anne  Beauchamp and her husband, Richard Neville, ‘The Kingmaker,’ Earl of Warwick.  From the Latin version of the Rous Roll.  Donated to the College of Arms by Melvyn Jeremiah. 

Anne Beauchamp, Countess of Warwick,  daughter of Richard Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick and his second wife Isobel Despenser,  was born at Caversham, Oxfordshire in 1426.   She was sister and heir to Henry,  Duke of Warwick and wife to Richard Neville,  16th Earl of Warwick known as ‘The Kingmaker’.  Anne  was one of that distinguished band of ladies who suffered in varying degrees during the tumultuous times known as the Wars of the Roses mostly due to the propensity of their menfolk spending much of  their time charging up and down the country trying to knock each others blocks off.

Anne and Richard would have two daughters who themselves made illustrious marriages, Isobel the eldest,  to George,  Duke of Clarence and Anne who became a Queen, wife to Richard III.  But let’s not gallop too far ahead in Anne’s story.  To start back at the beginning –  in 1434 Anne’s father Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick along with Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury,  would arrange the marriages of their daughters and sons when they were but young children.  The 8 year old Anne would marry the 6 year old Richard Neville, while Richard’s sister, Cecily would marry Henry Beauchamp, Anne’s brother which was the more important marriage of the two.    A double wedding was celebrated at Abergavenny, Wales on or about 4 May 1436.  Salisbury would pay a hefty dowry for Cecily of  4,700 marks which equated to about £3,233 13s 4d (1).   Prima facie this did not appear to be the most advantageous marriage for Richard, for it was his child bride’s brother Henry who  would inherit the vast Warwick and Despenser estates and of course the earldom (2).   However fate took a hand with the early deaths of Henry in 1446  and Anne his five year old daughter in 1449. This little girl would be buried before the high altar at Reading Abbey besides her great grandmother, Constance (3).   Anne, being Henry’s sole whole  sister and thus his heir,  inherited the Beauchamp estates as well as being a coheiress with another sister and also entitled to a half-share of their mother’s Despenser estates.  (According to Hicks Warwick acquired the other half by the simple expedient of securing the custody during the minority of the coheir, George Neville of Abergavenny, and refusing to relinquish it on his majority (4) ). 

 This caused quite a flap with Henry and Anne’s three half sisters  from their father’s first marriage to Elizabeth Berkeley but however to no avail.  The die was cast legally and the young couple were now Earl of Warwick jure uxoris/by right of his wife and Countess of Warwick, suo jure/in her own right.  Their great wealth  was further increased in 1462 when Richard upon his mother’s death inherited her Salisbury inheritance 

harry ann and anne

Henry, Earl of Warwick, his daughter Anne, and sister Anne who would after their deaths become Countess of Warwick. Rous Roll.  

John Rous, antiquarian  and chantry priest of Warwick, wrote glowingly of the Countess, as he did for all the Earls of Warwick (for Rous ‘there is  no such thing such a bad earl of Warwick..’) and their families (5).


Anne Beauchamp.  Latin version of the Rous Roll.  Unmuzzled bear at her feet. Photo the Heraldry Society.

‘Dam Anne Beauchamp a noble lady of the blode royal dowhter to Eorl Rychard and hole sustre and eyr to fir herre Beauchamp duke of Warrwik and aftre the deffese of his only begoten dowhtre Lady An. by trew enheritans countas of Warrewick which goode lady had in her dayes grete tribulacon for her lordis fake Syre Rychard Neeuel fon and Eyre to fir Rychard Eorl of Salifbury and by her tityll Eorl of Warrwik a famus knyghe and excellent gretly fpoke of thorow thr mofte part of all chrifendam.  This gode lady was born in the manor of Cawerfham by redyng in the counte of oxenforde and was euer a full deuout lady in Goddis feruys fre of her fpeche to euery perfon familier accordyng to her and thore degre. Glad to be at and with women that traueld of chyld.  full comfortable and plenteus then of all thyng that shuld be helpyng to hen. and in hyr tribulacons fhe was euer to the gret pleafure of God full pacient. to the grete meryte of her own fowl and enfample of all odre that were vexid with eny aduerfyte.  Sho was alfo gladly euer companable and liberal an in her own perfone femly and bewteus and to all that drew to her ladifhup as the dede fhewid ful gode and gracious. her refon was and euer fhall. 


Richard Beauchamp, 13 Earl of Warwick.  Bronze effigy in the Beauchamp Chapel, Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick.  Photo Aiden McRae Thomson.

So we have seen by 1449 Anne and Richard were now Countess and Earl of Warwick their main home being Warwick Castle but also spending time at Middleham and Sheriff Hutton as well as a great London house, The Erber,  where food would be given to the crowds of poor people who would gather at the gate every day.  Stow tells us that ‘were oftentimes six oxen eaten at a breakfast and every tavern was full of his meat; for he that had any acquaintance in that house might have there so much of sodden and roast meat as he could prick and carry upon a long dagger’ (7).

 All may have been well for a while but by 1450 there were warning signs that the feuds and disgruntlements involving Warwick’s uncle by marriage, Richard Duke of York and the Lancastrian royal party were beginning to take a turn for the worse.  York had returned from Ireland and demanded, with good reason,  a reform of the Government. 

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