A King and Queen. Dated c 1480s – could these paintings be based upon Anne And Richard? The Eaton Wall Paintings
Queen Anne Neville died on the 16th March 1485 less than a year after her small son Edward who had died some time in April 1484. The Croyland Chronicler tells us that she first fell ill shortly after Christmas 1483.
‘In the course of a few days after this, the queen fell extremely sick and her illness was supposed to have been increased still more and more because the King entirely shunned her bed, declaring it was by the advice of his physicians he did so, Why enlarge? About the middle of the following month upon the day of the great eclipse, which then took place, Anne, before named departed this life and was buried at Westminster with no less honours than befitted the internment of a queen’.
Thanks to the contemporaneous accounts given by Croyland (1) and the Acts of Court (2) we have a good insight into the events that followed almost immediately the death of Queen Anne i.e. rumours that Richard, in his eagerness to marry his niece, Elizabeth of York, hastened the death of his wife with the aid of poison. His denial was made publically, ‘in a loud and distinct voice‘ in the Great Hall of the Priory of the Knights Hospitaller of St John, Clerkenwell on Wednesday the 30th March (3)
‘…where as he in the grete Hall there in the presens of many of his lordes & muche other people shewde his grefe and displeasure aforsaid & said it neuer came into his thought or mynde to marry in suche maner wise nor willyng or glad of the dethe of his quene but as sorye & in hert as hevye as man myght be…’
Croyland, disapproving of Richard as per usual, and never missing an opportunity to hurl a fine piece of mud at Richard wrote that he was pushed into the denial by Sir Richard Ratcliffe and William Catesby adding, rather slyly, it was not what he really wished himself. It unclear how Croyland was privy to these most private thoughts of Richard ..but I digress. This is all well document elsewhere and I shall not go into it here except to comment on those abhorrent rumours.
The Gate House of the Priory of the Knights Hospitaller of St John at Clerkenwell.
I would have thought, hopefully , that nowadays, the idea that Richard could have poisoned Anne is now perceived as ridiculous, a complete and utter nonsense. However, not entirely so. Indeed Prof Hicks in his biography of Anne – Anne Neville Queen to Richard III (“The first time in ages that a publisher has sent me a book that I actually want to read” opines David Starkey – well he would say that wouldn’t he?) wrote, in a chapter headed ‘Past her Sell By Date’ that ‘she was unwell, languishing and died, unattended and indeed unregretted by her husband”(4). What? Anne the Queen, dying a lonely death, cruelly neglected by her uncaring husband – its a Scandal!. And where was Richard at that desperately sad time? One way to find out – check Rhoda Edwards wonderful little book – The Itinerary of King Richard lll 1483 – 1485.(5) And there we have it – the truth of the matter. From the onset of Anne’s fatal illness, soon after Christmas 1484 to her death on Wednesday 16 March 1485, Richard never left the Palace of Westminster, where she lay dying, except for a total of II days when he was at Windsor.
I would say that there could be no stronger indication than this, that, yes, Richard did love his wife and was loyal to her to the end. He could have gone elsewhere, made his excuses, got away from it all but he didn’t. He stayed with her until the day she died – finally leaving Westminster on Thursday 12 April – never to return. Five months later, he too was dead. And thus ended one of the most tragic stories of all from those turbulent times. A young family, child, mother and father all dead in a space of 18 months along with the hopes and dreams of promising new starts.
Clearly Richard gave to Anne the loyalty that he was to find so disastrously lacking in others to himself. A sweet, personal reminder of the closeness of the couple exists in Richard’s expenses when as Duke of Gloucesters were included the items
…the same, for certain cloth bought for the use of the most dear consort of the said duke, London 3 December 1476 £10.8.4
Thomas Cole of London, skinner, for certain furs delivered by command of the said duke to his most dearly beloved consort, London 4 December 1476 £19.7.11 (6).
John Knotte of London, mercer, for silk cloth and other things delivered to the aforesaid consort, London 6 December 1476 £20.12.11
Henry Ivy for the furring of various garments for the use of the said dear
But then again, this was a man whose motto was Loyaltie me Lie.
Queen Anne. Rous Roll
If you have enjoyed reading this you may be interested in my post https://sparkypus.com/2020/06/25/the-priory-of-the-knights-hospitaller-of-st-john-at-clerkenwell-and-a-visit-by-richard-iii/ covering Richard’s visit to the The Priory of St John at Clerkenwell and its history.
- Croyland p.499
- Richard lll The Road to Bosworth, P W Hammond & Anne F Sutton, Acts of Court pp 173-4.
- Croyland p.499
- Anne Neville Queen to Richard lll, Michael Hicks, Chaper 7, Past Her Sell by Date, p.212.
- Itinerary of King Richard lll 1483-1485, pp29, 30, 31, 32, 33. Rhoda Edwards.
- Some Expenses of Richard Duke of Gloucester The Ricardian Vol 6 pp 266-269 R Horrox and A F Sutton