Biography of Anne Neville, Wife and Queen of Richard III of England

Anne Neville
Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Anne Neville (June 11, 1456—March 16, 1485) was first married to the young Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales and son of Henry VII, and later became the wife of Richard of Gloucester (Richard III) and thus Queen of England. She was a key figure, if more or less a pawn, in the Wars of the Roses.

Fast Facts: Anne Neville

  • Known For: Wife of Edward, Prince of Wales, son of Henry VI; wife of Richard of Gloucester; when Richard became King as Richard III, Anne became Queen of England
  • Born: June 11, 1456 at Warwick Castle in London, England
  • Parents: Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and his wife Anne Beauchamp
  • Died: March 16, 1485 in London, England
  • Spouse(s): Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, son of Henry VI (m. 1470–1471); Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III, brother of Edward IV (m. 1472—1485)
  • Children: Edward, Prince of Wales (c. 1473–1484)

Early Life

Anne Neville was born June 11, 1456, at Warwick Castle in London, England, and likely lived there and in other castles held by her family while she was a child. She did attend various formal celebrations, including the feast celebrating the marriage of Margaret of York in 1468. 

Anne's father Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, was called the Kingmaker for his shifting and influential roles in the Wars of the Roses. He was a nephew of the Duke of York's wife, Cecily Neville, mother of Edward IV and Richard III. He came into considerable property and wealth when he married Anne Beauchamp. They had no sons, only two daughters, of whom Anne Neville was the younger, and Isabel (1451–1476) the elder. These daughters would inherit a fortune, and thus their marriages were especially important in the royal marriage game.

Anne as Goods for Alliances

In 1460, Anne's father and his uncle, Edward, Duke of York and Earl of March, defeated Henry VI at Northampton. In 1461, Edward was proclaimed King of England as Edward IV. Edward married Elizabeth Woodville in 1464, surprising Warwick, who had plans for a more advantageous marriage for him.

By 1469, Warwick had turned against Edward IV and the Yorkists and joined the Lancastrian cause promoting the return of Henry VI. Henry's queen, Margaret of Anjou, was heading the Lancastrian effort from France.

Warwick married his older daughter, Isabel, to George, Duke of Clarence, a brother of Edward IV, while the parties were in Calais, France. Clarence switched from the York to the Lancaster party.

Edward, Prince of Wales

The next year, Warwick, apparently to convince Margaret of Anjou that he was trustworthy (because he had originally sided with Edward IV in unseating Henry VI), married his daughter Anne to Henry VI's son and heir apparent, Edward of Westminster. The marriage was held in Bayeux in mid-December of 1470. Warwick, Edward of Westminster accompanied Queen Margaret as she and her army invaded England, Edward IV fled to Burgundy.

Anne's marriage to Edward of Westminster convinced Clarence that Warwick had no intention to promote his kingship. Clarence switched sides and rejoined his Yorkist brothers.

York Victories, Lancastrian Losses

On April 14, 1471 at the Battle of Barnet, the Yorkist party was victorious, and Anne's father, Warwick, and a brother of Warwick, John Neville, were among those killed. Then on May 4, in the Battle of Tewkesbury, the Yorkists won another decisive victory over Margaret of Anjou's forces, and Anne's young husband, Edward of Westminster, was killed either during the battle or shortly after. With his heir dead, the Yorkists had Henry VI killed days later. Edward IV, now victorious and restored, imprisoned Anne, widow of Edward of Westminster and no longer Princess of Wales. Clarence took custody of Anne and her mother.

Richard of Gloucester

When siding with the Yorkists earlier, Warwick, in addition to marrying his older daughter, Isabel Neville, to George, Duke of Clarence, had been trying to marry his younger daughter Anne to Edward IV's youngest brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Anne and Richard were first cousins once removed, as were George and Isabel, all descended from Ralph de Neville and Joan Beaufort. (Joan was the legitimized daughter of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, and Katherine Swynford.) 

Clarence tried to prevent the marriage of his wife's sister to his brother. Edward IV also opposed the marriage of Anne and Richard. Because Warwick had no sons, his valuable lands and titles would go to his daughters' husbands at his death. Clarence's motivation likely was that he didn't want to divide his wife's inheritance with his brother. Clarence attempted to take Anne in as his ward in order to control her inheritance. But under circumstances that are not fully known to history, Anne escaped Clarence's control and she took sanctuary at a church in London, probably with Richard's organization.

It took two acts of parliament to set aside the rights of Anne Beauchamp, mother of Anne and Isabel, and a cousin, George Neville, and to divide the estate between Anne Neville and Isabel Neville.

Anne, who had been widowed in May of 1471, married Richard, Duke of Gloucester, brother of Edward IV, perhaps in March or July of 1472. He then claimed Anne's inheritance. The date of their marriage is not certain, and there is no evidence of a papal dispensation for such close relatives to marry. A son, Edward, was born in 1473 or 1476, and a second son, who did not live long, may have been born as well.

Anne's sister Isabel died in 1476, shortly after her birth of a short-lived fourth child. George, Duke of Clarence, was executed in 1478 for plotting against Edward IV; Isabel had died in 1476. Anne Neville took charge of raising the children of Isabel and Clarence. Their daughter, Margaret Pole, was executed much later, in 1541, by Henry VIII.

The Young Princes

Edward IV died in 1483. On his death, his minor son Edward became Edward V. But the young prince was never crowned. He was put into the charge of his uncle, Anne's husband, Richard of Gloucester, as Protector. Prince Edward and, later, his younger brother were taken to the Tower of London, where they disappeared from history. It's presumed that they were killed, although it's not clear when.

Stories have long circulated that Richard III was responsible for the deaths of his nephews, the "Princes in the Tower," to remove rival claimants for the crown. Henry VII, Richard's successor, also had motive and, if the princes survived Richard's reign, would have had the opportunity to have them killed. A few have pointed at Anne Neville herself as having the motivation to order the deaths.

Heirs to the Throne

While the princes were still being held under Richard's control. Richard had his brother's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville declared invalid and his brother's children declared illegitimate on June 25, 1483, thereby inheriting the crown himself as the legitimate male heir.

Anne was crowned as Queen and their son Edward was made Prince of Wales. But Edward died on April 9, 1484; Richard adopted Edward, Earl of Warwick, son of his sister, as his heir, probably at Anne's request. Anne may have been unable to bear another child due to her ill health.

Anne's Death

Anne, who reportedly was never very healthy, fell ill in early 1485 and died on March 16. Buried in Westminster Abbey, her grave was unmarked until 1960. Richard quickly named a different heir to the throne, his sister Elizabeth's adult son, the Earl of Lincoln.

With Anne's death, Richard was rumored to be plotting to marry his niece, Elizabeth of York, to secure a stronger claim to the succession. Stories soon circulated that Richard had poisoned Anne to get her out of the way. If that was his plan, he was foiled. Richard III's reign ended on August 22, 1485, when he was defeated by Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth. Henry was crowned Henry VII and married Elizabeth of York, bringing to an end the Wars of the Roses.

Edward, Earl of Warwick, the son of Anne's sister and Richard's brother whom Richard adopted as heir, was imprisoned in the Tower of London by Richard's successor, Henry VII, and executed after he attempted to escape in 1499.

Anne's possessions included a book of the Visions of St. Matilda which she had signed as "Anne Warrewyk."

Fictional Representations

Shakespeare: In Richard III, Anne appears early in the play with the body of her father-in-law, Henry VI; she blames Richard for his death and that of her husband, the Prince of Wales, son on Henry VI. Richard charms Anne, and, though she also loathes him, she marries him. Richard early reveals that he does not intend to keep her long, and Anne is suspicious that he intends to kill her. She conveniently disappears as Richard begins a plan to marry his niece, Elizabeth of York.

Shakespeare takes considerable creative license with history in his story of Anne. The time of the play is much compressed, and motives are likely also exaggerated or changed for literary effect. In the historical timeline, Henry VI and his son, Anne's first husband, were killed in 1471; Anne married Richard in 1472; Richard III took power in 1483 soon after his brother, Edward IV, died suddenly, and Richard ruled for two years, dying in 1485.

The White Queen: Anne Neville was a major character in the 2013 miniseries "The White Queen," which was based on the novel of the same name (2009) by Philippa Gregory.

Recent fictional representation: Anne was the subject of "The Rose of York: Love & War" by Sandra Worth, a 2003 work of historical fiction.

Another Anne Neville

A much later Anne Neville (1606–1689) was a daughter of Sir Henry Neville and Lady Mary Sackville. Her mother, a Catholic, influenced her to join the Benedictines. She was abbess at Pointoise.


  • Gregory, Phillippa. "The White Queen: A Novel." New York: Touchstone, 2009. 
  • Hicks, Michael. "Anne Neville: Queen to Richard III." Gloucestershire: The History Press, 2011. 
  • Licence, Amy. "Anne Neville: Richard III's Tragic Queen." Gloucestershire: Amberley Publishing, 2013. 
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Biography of Anne Neville, Wife and Queen of Richard III of England." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2023, April 5). Biography of Anne Neville, Wife and Queen of Richard III of England. Retrieved from Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Biography of Anne Neville, Wife and Queen of Richard III of England." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 6, 2023).