The death of Richard III’s consort….


Words by viscountessw

Today in 1485 Anne Neville died, leaving the king a childless widower. Well, without legitimate children, for Richard had at least two illegitimate children, born before his marriage. The only trueborn child, Edward of Middleham had died almost exactly a year before, on 9 April 1484.

Richard had to marry again after Anne—kings need heirs—but negotiations were still in hand when he was killed at Bosworth on 22 August 1485. So, in a short while England lost her king, his queen and his only son.

Conspiracy theories aren’t new, and were as rife back then as they are now. It was whispered that Richard had his wife poisoned so that he could marry his niece, Elizabeth of York. And yes, marriage negotiations regarding Elizabeth were in hand, but for her to marry the heir to the Portuguese throne, not her own uncle. Richard too intended to marry a member of the Portuguese royal family. It was a double negotiation, and certainly not for Richard to marry his eldest brother’s daughter.

Of course, accusing Richard of murder was soon a Tudor habit. He murdered Elizabeth’s brothers and invented whoppers about pre-contracts to prove they were illegitmate. He had Hastings executed without a trial, he bullied old widows, he personally killed half-witted Henry VI, he murdered Edward of Lancaster in order to marry Anne Neville (Lancaster’s wife at the time), he shoved his other brother George into a vat of Malmsey, he this, he that. Sensible research soon proves it’s all Tudor self-justification: calculated mischief that has come down through the centuries to this day to stain Richard’s honour.

BTW, I do wonder they don’t try to accuse him of murdering his own son as well…but not even they can think of a reason why he’d commit that abominable crime. How annoying for them.

They also say he didn’t grieve for Anne. His were crocodile tears. But he did grieve for her. I don’t believe theirs was a loveless marriage, so that 16 March 1485 was the day that finally broke his already splintered heart. Fantasy on my part? I don’t think so.

His detractors expect us to believe that overnight he changed from being a loyal, loving brother who’d been steadfast all his life in his support for his eldest brother, Edward IV, into a monster who’d been plotting for years to steal the crown, and who then murdered with abandon to keep his backside on the throne.

Utter hogwash.

So today we remember Anne Neville…and the sorrow of her widower.


  1. Looking back 14 years, I believe I can claim to have introduced the Portuguese marriage negotiations to general knowledge in my book ‘The Maligned King’ (2008). I found the main outline in an article in ‘The Ricardian’ dating from the early 1980s, then found a Portuguese historian to confirm it and get me the source documents: he also advised me on authentic portraiture for my illustrations (I well remember the astonishment of many readers when they saw my portrait of the Holy Princess with her flaming red hair!). Furthermore, I gave full credit to both these researchers, in a world where credit is becoming increasingly rare. Admittedly there hadn’t been a revisionist book about Richard for a generation, so a lot of what I wrote was bound to be new to people who hadn’t been reading old journals or Portuguese annals. More important, however, than the mere ‘fact’ of these marriage negotiations was how they threw light on what was reported in English sources, significantly the huge gap in knowledge of a hitherto widely respected source like Crowland. Amusingly, while showing Crowland to be suspect, the matter also showed (to me, at least) that the letter written by Elizabeth of York and reported by Sir George Buc(k) was NOT suspect, as Ricardians had generally viewed it, but was actually capable of a very specific and credible explanation … which had nothing to do with any alleged desire for an incestuous marriage.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I’ve just read that Richard started the Portuguese negotiations to marry Princess Joanna in the January, two months before Anne died….. is this true Annette?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To the best of my knowledge it isn’t known when the negotiations started (and it depends what’s meant by ‘negotiations’ too!). Unless the writer you’re quoting has discovered the answer to this? Two things are self-evident, as I make clear in ‘The Maligned King’. (1) When Elizabeth of York wrote her letter after the ‘better part of February’ had passed, she knew that the king and his advisers were broaching possible marriage plans with an Iberian princess. Queen Anne died on 16 March, so it must have been obvious for at least the previous month that she was unlikely to survive her illness. (2) Seeing that Richard had no legitimate heir, and with Anne apparently terminally ill, the king and his council would have devoted a lot of time to the unhappy but necessary subject of remarriage, and there were very few appropriate candidates of child-bearing age. There isn’t time or space for discussion of his options here, suffice it to say that the Portuguese Princess Joanna topped the list for several good reasons, perhaps the best being that she was the leading Lancastrian heir. So I suppose it’s a matter of calculating back to before late February when Elizabeth of York knew about it, and figuring out how many embassies were sent, and how long it took for their round trips.
      Is an initial exploratory embassy an actual ‘negotiation’? I wouldn’t be surprised if in January letters regretting the queen’s illness had been sent, especially if she took a bad turn at that time (Crowland observed that Richard was advised to discontinue sharing her bed, but he disguises saying exactly when). I expect ambassadors bearing such letters would have had underlying instructions to report on reactions to the possible implications of that news. Preparing the ground would have been important because Joanna had already been wooed by two crowned heads, and it would have been foolish to hesitate if the physicians predicted that Anne’s end was only a matter of time (as Elizabeth thought). But the term ‘negotiations’ suggests that the preliminaries were already over. To summarize, at a guess I would suggest that the matter may have been ‘delicately broached’ in January, while emphasizing that the queen might well recover, as everyone hoped she would. What I vehemently refute is Peter Hammond’s remark about ‘rather indecent haste on Richard’s part to remarry’, which reveals such plain ignorance that I will waste no more words on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Anne Neville died at 28. Before that, the king Richard had made her nephew his successor. I think this is a sign that their marriage was good.


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