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