Anne grew up at a time when England was at war with itself: “The Wars of the Roses.”
Anne Neville was born on the 11th June 1456 at Warwick Castle, to parents Richard Neville the Earl of Warwick and Anne Beauchamp.
Plantagenet King Henry VI considered weak, took the ambitious French Princess Margaret of Anjou as his wife and Queen. The Queen with her circle of nobles and devout followers became known as the Lancastrians, who bore the Red Rose. Those who opposed the Queen, were led by Richard the Duke of York. Henry’s cousin and descendant of King Edward III bore the White Rose and were known as Yorkists. In 1455 war broke out: The Wars of the Roses, each seeking to be King of England.
Her mother being Anne Beauchamp, daughter and heiress of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick and Isabel dispenser.
Her father being the Earl of Warwick, he who had power and influence, and an important supporter of the House of York.
On the 30th December 1460, Richard the Duke of York, was killed by Lancastrians at the “Battle of Wakefield,” and his younger sons; George the Duke of Clarence and Richard the Duke of Gloucester came under Warwick’s care and moved to Middleham Castle.
Anne and Richard were first cousins once removed, both descendants of Ralph Neville the Earl of Westmorland and Joan Beaufort, the daughter of John of Gaunt the Duke of Lancaster and son of Edward III.
Warwick arranged that York’s eldest son would take the post of King Edward IV of England, and for the first three years Warwick would rule on his behalf. The seeds of discord were sown, when Warwick attempted to arrange the marriage of Edward with France’s Bona of Savoy. Upon his return to England, Warwick learnt his young king had secretly married, taking Elizabeth Woodville, widow of Sir John Grey, a Lancastrian knight. It wasn’t long before Warwick detested his new Queen.
Edward’s brother the Duke of Clarence, took an utter dislike to Edward’s choice of wife and Queen. Warwick, he who had much influence over George, he who had been raised in Warwick’s house, attempted to arrange marriage with his daughter and co-heiress Isabel. The king refused to permit marriage, which led Clarence and Isabel to marry in Calais, France.
Bitter feelings erupted, leading to Warwick and Clarence’s revolt against Edward, and his defeat at the Battle of Edgecote Moor in 1469, where the King was taken prisoner.
Warwick attempted to rule England in Edward’s name, but a counter rebellion led to the King’s release.
In a stroke of clever diplomacy, Louis XI of France, reconciled the discontented Warwick with the Lancastrian Queen; Margaret of Anjou. It was no mean feat, they being bitter enemies, for Margaret had ordered Warwick’s fathers execution. It is reported that Warwick knelt before Margaret, before she would consent to an alliance.
Anne Neville (14) would marry Margaret’s son, Edward of Westminster (16), the Lancastrian Prince of Wales on the 13th December 1470 at Angers Cathedral.
In October of 1470, Warwick restored Henry VI to the English throne, and made Anne, Princess of Wales. In April of 1471 Warwick was slain by Edward on the battlefield at the “Battle of Barnet.” Margaret of Anjou, her son Edward and Anne heard of the disaster at Barnet, upon landing on English soil, and considered returning to France. Prince Edward persuaded her to stay in England and lead her army to the north, seeking to join up with Welsh Lancastrian forces, led by Jasper Tudor.
They were intercepted by Edward IV, forced into battle at Tewkesbury on the 4th May 1471. Margaret and Anne took refuge in a house of God, and Edward the Prince of Wales lost his life that day, and was buried at the Tower of London.
Anne was escorted to Coventry first, then moved to the home of her sister; Isabel and the Duke of Clarence’s home in London. Richard of Gloucester requested and was granted permission to marry Anne, co-heiress of her father’s estate. Clarence opposed the proposed marriage, seeking her inheritance.
It is believed she escaped from the Clarence household and sought refuge in a London cook shop disguised as a servant. Richard traced her, and she was taken to the Church of St.Martin le Grand, where she was granted sanctuary. On the 12th July 1472, Richard and Anne were married at Westminster Abbey.
It is believed Richard and Clarence then engaged in a lengthy dispute over who should inherit the majority of the Neville and Beauchamp estate, although Anne’s mother, Anne Beauchamp was still alive. The property was divided between her two sons-in-law. Richard and Anne made Middleham Castle their home and their marriage produced one child Edward Plantagenet born around 1473 at Middleham.
King Edward IV died on the 9th April 1483 and Richard of Gloucester was appointed Lord Protector for Edward’s twelve-year-old son; Edward V. On the 25th June 1483, Edward and his brother Richard, the Duke of York were declared illegitimate, leaving the path clear to ascend as King Richard III. Anne was crowned Queen of England on the 6th July 1483 at Westminster Abbey. Her son Edward became the Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester on the 24th August 1483 at the York Minster.
Anne had a good relationship with her mother-in-law and aunt; Cecily Neville, the Duchess of York with whom they often discussed religious matters.
Tragically on the 9th April 1484, Anne’s only son Edward of Middleham died of tuberculosis aged ten at Sheriff Hutton in Yorkshire and buried at Sheriff Hutton Church.
With the death of his son and heir, Richard planned to divorce Anne and take his niece Elizabeth of York as his new wife. Following the death of her son, Anne adopted Edward the Earl of Warwick, son of George of Clarence and her sister Isabel. Who died in 1476 and Clarence had been executed in 1478 for plotting against Edward IV. Edward became the nephew of Richard and Anne, and Richard made the boy his heir.
On the 16th March 1485 Queen Anne Neville died of tuberculosis at Westminster and was buried in Westminster Abbey near the high altar.
Historical accounts report Richard wept at her funeral, but rumours suggest Richard might have poisoned her. After her death Richard made John de la Pole the Earl of Lincoln heir presumptive, he being the son of his sister; Elizabeth of York. Edward the Earl of Warwick was imprisoned in the Tower of London by Henry VII and executed in 1499 on charges of treason.