Anne Neville – The Bad Queen?

5 August 2013 - 04:48pm
Edited by Martin - Spotted an Error?

Deputy Editor

The White Queen

Like millions of others last night, I was an avid view of the BBC 1 adaptation of ‘The White Queen’, the reason I choose now to blog on the programme is because of the way Anne Neville was portrayed in last night’s episode. For some unknown reason I never believed Anne Neville to be so uncaring and quite frankly nasty. So I decided to take a look at the life and times of Anne Neville and to try and come to some sort of decision as to just what sort of a Queen she really was.

Birth and Childhood

Anne Neville was born at Warwick Castle on 11th June 1456 to the 16th Earl of Warwick, Richard Neville and Anne de Beauchamp. Her family were the most wealthiest and politically powerful family in the kingdom. Anne watched as her father turned Edward of York into King Edward IV, her father was known as the Kingmaker. As readers will know her father eventually switched his alliance to the House of Lancaster.

Princess of Wales

When Warwick switched his alliance in 1469 to the Lancastrian side and trying to promote the return of King Henry VI, he had to convince the head of the effort, Henry’s Queen, Margaret of Anjou, that he was loyal. He did this by marrying Anne to Henry VI’s son and heir Edward of Westminster (Prince of Wales). Eventually Edward and Margaret invaded England however at the Battle of Barnet, the Yorks were successful and Anne’s father was among those killed. The Yorkists were also triumphant at Tewkesbury where the killed Edward of Westminster and captured Margaret of Anjou and Anne Neville. From seeing this episode of The White Queen, I got the impression that Anne was petrified, not only of her husband but also of her mother in law Margaret, or was she? The impression I got from the recent episode, it seems Anne took over Margaret’s role and she became the bad Queen.



Duchess of Gloucester

Though Anne was imprisoned by the victorious Edward IV, she did marry his youngest brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester in July 1472. Like anything to do with royal history, there are rumours that Richard (wanting to add to his many crimes) kidnapped the young Anne and forced her to marry him, others simply believe that the two had loved each other since childhood but perhaps the truth is that she believed by marrying Richard he would protect her from the jealousy and greed from within court at the House of York. From the very beginning of her marriage she mistrusted Queen Elizabeth, she saw her sister Isobel withdraw from court because of Elizabeth and also Richards brother George sent to the tower, perhaps down to Elizabeth. Maybe this mistrust now gives the reader an idea as to why Anne Neville turned in to the Queen she was portrayed as last night.

The Two Princes/Queen Consort

Edward IV died in 1483 and his son Edward became King Edward V, though he was never crowned. Edward and his brother Richard were put into the care of their Uncle, Richard Duke of Gloucester being as he was Lord Protector. They were both taken to the Tower of London where as legend has it, they both disappeared from History, presumably killed by their Uncle Richard, though this was never proven. Once again rumours suggest that Anne had the motivation to order the deaths of the boys, after all she would become Queen if both boys were dead. I must stress that this is only rumour. Richard ascended the throne as King Richard III and he and Anne were crowned together at Westminster Abbey. Everyone who saw the episode last night would have seen the exchange of looks between Anne and Richard, in my opinion it was a look that said, we have done it, we are King and Queen, we have got what we always wanted, I could be wrong but that is just my opinion. Anne died on 16th March 1485 from tuberculosis and was buried at Westminster Abbey. Once again rumours circulated her death that Richard poisoned her in order to marry his niece Elizabeth of York, though again this was never proven to be true.

The White Queen

The Verdict

It does seem as though the marriage and reign of King Richard III and Anne Neville was and still is surrounded by rumour and intrigue. The BBC’s The White Queen gave me the impression last night that Anne Neville was a really bad Queen and was only out to get what she wanted for herself. As rumours suggest she could have been responsible for the deaths of the two princes but then these are just rumours, then again what did actually happen to the two boys? this is a question that may never be answered. As readers can probably guess my verdict on Anne Neville is still undecided, do we believe everything that is enacted on screen? then again do we believe everything that history tells us to believe? One thing is for sure, Richard and Anne’s reign will go down as one of the most intriguing and mysterious this kingdom has ever seen.

photo credits: BBC/Company Pictures & ALL3MEDIA/Ed Miller and Leo Reynolds.

What do you think? Was Anne Neville a bad Queen or is the portrayal of her just wrong?

  • royalmusings

    Anne did not leave a paper trail. a lot of speculation. I love Philippa Gregory’s books, but she does distort and rewrite history. Anne was the subject of her previous work of historical fiction, the Kingmaker’s Daughter. She and her sister, Isabel, were pawns, plain and simple for their father’s machinations. They were rich, very rich, and their father was going to make sure they married well, even if it meant changing sides. After the death of her first husband, her brother-in-law, the Duke of Clarence tried to control her (in order to retain control of the Warwick wealth.) One can only imagine that she largely did as she was told. She certainly lived through a tumultuous time in England, being married first to the Lancaster heir and then to the York … one can only imagine what it was like for this young girl to have Margaret of Anjou as your mother in law.

  • LadyAnneNevilleSupporter

    I’m a huge fan of Anne. And I do agree that the Episode of The White Queen (which by the way I am glued to!) did portray her in a darker light but I do believe that she had a hard time in France and in her first marriage. The trials she and Richard faught in thier lives where difficult not to mention the trials and rumours still here today. But I do believe they married for love and were true to eachother and ruled how they felt right at the time and as she got older she relised that she had to become more grown-up and stronger.

    • Carole Heath

      I am reading a book by Amy Licence called Richard 111’s tragic Queen. This book looks at Anne from her perspective not just Richard 111’s.

  • KC

    To some extent, all children of noblemen were ‘pawns’. Parents negotiated the best marriages for them they could – best for the children and the family as a whole. Warwick was married at 6, which would suggest that he was as much a ‘pawn’ as anyone else. Outside of historical fiction, there’s nothing that gives us even the smallest clue about the relationship between Anne Nevill and her first husband, or her mother-in-law. The marriage was certainly arranged very quickly, and under difficult circumstances, but we can’t know how Anne felt about it. She might have been utterly delighted, for all we know. The suggestion that Edward Prince of Wales was unkind to her – frequently portrayed in fiction as raping her – is pure imagination.

    • LadyAnneNevilleSupporter

      We may not know and never will know how Anne and Richard really felt for eachother but isn’t it nice to speculate. Especially with bad rep that poor Richard has. Isn’t it just nice to think, hope, that they really were in love? And again we don’t know how she was trested in her first marriage and being mistreated within a marriage was not uncommon. But like most things in history we will never know for sure, but as I’ve said it’s nice to speculate.

      • boswellbaxter

        Since there’s no evidence whatsoever that she was mistreated by her first husband or that he was in the habit of mistreating women, it would be far better in his case to give him the benefit of the doubt and not to speculate.

      • KC

        Well, speculation is sometimes all we have, but ‘psychopath Edward’ has become such a cliche of fiction that it’s hard to find an alternative speculation about him or his treatment of his wife.

      • LadyAnneNeville Supporter

        I do agree with both of you but it we did protray him in a good light in dramas esspecially when we are looking at a love story between Anne and Richard then it doesn’t make as good tele than when we do. But it is unfair the dark light we shine on him and for a matter of fact Richard to.

  • Michael Baker

    Don’t be too quick to take on board dramatic works of fiction as historical truth. I too have been following The White Queen, and up to the most recent episode (Ep.8 I believe) have quite enjoyed it, forgiving the historical inaccuracies – such as the three brothers smothering Henry VI! – as examples of dramatic licence. However, episode 8 parted company seriously with history. Anthony Rivers and Richard Grey were executed by Richard as Lord Protector, for their attempt to pre-empt Richard and take Prince Edward from Ludlow to London. Richard intercepted them and ordered their execution for treason. There was no mention of Sir William Hastings at all – a serious omission in my view. I can live with the fiction of the changeling child, even in so far as to suspend disbelief at the elder boy’s seeming acceptance of his younger ‘brother’. How Elizabeth Woodville was able to a) find a suitable lookalike and b) tutor him in princely/courtly ways so as to fool his captors, in so short a time, and from sanctuary – does stretch one’s credulity however. As to how individual characters are portrayed, that is up to the writer and producer. Anne Neville certainly seems to be exerting – along with Duchess Cecily – an almost Lady MacBeth-type influence over Richard, which I am not sure is born out in history. It is no wonder his reign is doomed with their machiavellian influences on the one hand and poisonous misinformation being fed to both Richard via Thomas Stanley and to Elizabeth Woodville via Margaret Beaufort! Like all historical fiction, The White Queen is not meant to be an accurate portrayal of what actually happened. It is a story loosely woven around history. As such, it is hugely entertaining and enjoyable, in much the same way as the film ‘Braveheart’.


    my paternal grandmother never had a bad bone on her body what ever they say about Ann Neville Queen of York and yes my grandfather did have the two princes murdered by two lords the reason why Richard 111 was not buried beside my grandmother was of his deeds that he committed that’s why Ann Neville is buried in Westminster Abby

    • lizzie

      Just curious how these are your GRANDPARENTS since its been 500 years. Not trying to be bitchy. Just curious. And how do you know she wasnt. I believe like most ppl of that time, you had to do what you had to do. I dont think bad of any of the royals even though some really did do bad things. It was just a different time and our society just cany understand what it meant to survive back then. Ive alwys felt Richard killed those boys also. But what makes you sure?

    • Beanie

      My question is how can she be your grandmother when the only child she had died at 10? Unless you are some how related to one of Richards two illegitimate children. Or your thinking of Isabel Neville who’s line did go on. Not trying to be mean, just wanted to ask.

  • Flutemama

    It’s all based on Philippa Gregory’s novels, as I understand it. Of course there is going to be historical license based on 1) the centuries-long mystery of what happened to the princes in the Tower, and 2) the fact that there aren’t accurate, if any, historical records from that time as others. However, Ms. Gregory is very up front in the ‘author’s note’ section of her books as to the topics with which she did take license, and why. Being on the other side of the Pond, I’m anxious to see this series, but may have to wait a while since I do not subscribe to the pay channel carrying the series. I’ve read all the Tudor books, the Red and White Queen books, and am nearly finished with “The Kingmaker’s Daughter.” I don’t find Anne Neville to be particularly nice.

  • Matt

    First, Richard was killed at Bosworth, and as Glencoe should know Henry Tudor had him buried in a priory close to the battlefield. The victor, Tudor, of course was not going to allow him to be buried at Westminster!

    I wish that before making any judgements on this people would research more. After Richard’s father was killed in 1460, Richard was sent to Warwick’s house to be taught all the noble skills one had to learn. Anne was one if Richard’s daughters. It was there that Richard and Anne fell in love. She was a wise woman and if anything, Richard took a risk by marrying her after her father (Warwick’s) rebellion against Edward IV failed.

    The portrayal of her is just wrong, neither he, nor Anne, wanted power. They were quite happy in the north living in Middleham castle when Edward IV died. Research Bess Woodville and he Woodville family before determining why Richard felt the need to take the thrown. Look into the changes to the English legal system he had Parliament enact during his reign. These actions do not fit a murderer of nephews.

  • lizzie

    Ive always liked gregorys books. But I research the real stories of these people and know that these books and show are historical FICTION. maybe a lot of ppl dont do that.

    • Terri

      I agree with lizzie. These stories are based on fact, but not absolute fact!! If you’re going to study the real people, do so in real books.

  • Stacey Miller

    Perhaps someone can correct me but I thought the princes were found buried on the grounds of the Tower of London? The series just started airing here in the states. We are on episode 5. I was hoping they would not take it so far as the princes murders

    • Julia Murray

      The remains of two children were found buried under a staircase in the Tower during the reign of Charles II. It was assumed for a long time that these were the bodies of Edward IV’s sons, but examination in the early 20th century pretty much threw that out the window. The bones were of prepubescent children , at which age it is impossible to determine the sex from the skeleton, so there’s no way of even knowing if they were boys rather than girls. Added to that, the bones were the wrong size for children who would have been the ages of the two princes when they disappeared from public view.

  • Flo

    She had always wanted to be queen, Like her father she would go to ant means even kill two young boys to get to that throne, The funny thing about it. She was only queen for two years.
    Richard love her so much be buried in a unmark tomb. Karma.

  • a043830

    I absolutely love The White Queen series. I have learned a lot about English royalty that I did not know before, as the series has inspired me to read credible, historical accounts of the circumstances and characters of the time. Fascinating! As to Anne Neville being a bad Queen, who knows? If her father was truly as malicious and self-serving as he has been portrayed in the series, it is certainly possible that Anne was self-serving as well…..the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  • ksbonneau

    The princes in the tower were murdered. RIchard III wanted to be King and made the boys suddenly “disappear”. Who knows if Richard III ever had good intentions when he was made Lord Protector? I’m not saying he was a bad King but the things he may have done to get where he wanted to be makes him look heartless. Henry VII & VIII took it to a whole new level when they were kings. Those to were egomaniacs, no wonder both reigns were short lived, thats what they get for stealing the crown from one another.

    • Janet Reedman

      How do we know they were murdered? The ‘bones’ found were in the 1600’s, long before archaeology existed, no carbon dating, no accurate sexing, and they were under masonry at a depth that would suggest Roman era!

  • Julia Murray

    At this point in time there is no way to know what Anne Neville was like as a person, or what her relationship with her husband was like. It is interesting to note, however, that Edward IV continued to have extramarital affairs and illegitimate children after his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, while there were never any rumors of Richard having any affairs after his marriage to Anne, and the two illegitimate children he had were both born before his marriage (and one was raised by Anne and Richard alongside their son Edward).
    I personally would take Ms. Gregory’s take on the situation with enough grains of salt to order the house a round of margaritas. If nothing else, The White Queen fails to take into account that Anne and Elizabeth would most likely rarely ever even seen each other. Anne lived most of her life in the North, with the exception of her time in France with the Lancastrian contingent and her brief reign as queen. She was the daughter of a man whom Elizabeth hated,and she was nearly young enough to be Elizabeth’s daughter (given the age when noblewomen married in the 1400s). Sisters-in-law they may have been, but I sincerely doubt that these two gals ran into each other at family dinners very often.

  • m johnson

    It is a novel and it white washes the description of and acts of Richard III, which may or may not have been true, however since his skeleton is believed to have recently been found and matches the descriptions of him, it makes one lean toward the traditional Richard III. This show makes Richard III the nicest one in the entire group.

    The show does not even get lady’s needlework correctly. When Richard III comes to Anne in a panic over the boys disappearance she has 2 ladies with her, who are quickly sent away. One of the ladies puts down her embroidery in its hoop. Ladies did not do embroidery until the time of Henry VIII. It was a men’s guilded profession and was not something taught to or practiced by women and was done, by the Guild, for the Church and those of high standing. (Another guild did the drawing of the designs.) It is only after the Henry VIII attacks the churches and distributes the items of the churches that needlework becomes domestic work. In addition embroidery was done in a frame until the advent of tambour work, which takes its name from the tight hoop, the tambour hoop (from the name of a French drum), which was needed to do the needlework properly. This started in the early 18th century. The tambour hoop then spread to be used for other embroidery (and did not have an opening and screw in the outer hoop).

    • Kez

      Yes they did do embroidery long before the Tudors, in fact it was done as early as William the 1st although I doubt that there was such a thing as an embroidery hoop in these times. But certainly embroidery was done by noble ladies going back many centuries. I do not think that Richard had anything to gain by having the two princes disappear, why would he as he was already King, nothing was going to change that,but the one person who had everything to gain and lose was Margaret Beaufort and Henry Tudor (V11).

    • Kez

      I should also add that the way Ann treated her mother leaves a lot to be desired, her treatment of her mother was shameful

      • Vanessa

        What?!! You’re joking right? This is truly the show of the mothers in law from hell. Starting with Duchess Cecily and working our way progressively from Margaret of Anjou to Lady Warwick! The only good one was Lady Rivers. Anne Beauchamp should’ve been thankful Richard didn’t kill her or shut her up in an abbey against her will. What does she do instead? Tries to ruin her daughter’s marriage! I’m ONLY talking about the (fictional) characters in the show, BTW…I don’t know how I’d treat my mother if she’d left me in a battle field as a POW to be raped and killed.

  • Mcd53

    My main problem with all of these books and made for TV historical stories is that even though they are fun to watch and read they do take to many liberties with the known truth. Which wouldn’t be a problem if people knew they were watching fiction. People don’t know their history anymore and they take what they see on the screen as fact. I had to prove to my daughter that the child of EdwardII and Isabella of France could not have been the child of William Wallace, which she believed after watching Braveheart. The best we can hope for I suppose is that maybe these stories will encourage them do a little research and read some real history. Which is far more fascinating than anything a writer could ever come up with.

  • Mcd53

    And yes embroidery was done very often by Eleanor of Aquitaine…..not in a hoop, She spent long years locked in one castle or another. Whether she got to keep her books and embroidery depended on how angry she would make Henry

Subscribe via Email

To receive the latest Royal Central posts straight to your email inbox, enter your email address below and press subscribe.