|King Richard's new grave in Leicester Cathedral|
Richard was born at Fotheringhay Castle, the twelfth of the thirteen children of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York (a strong claimant to the throne of King Henry VI), and Cecily Neville. Richard spent several years of his childhood at Middleham Castle in Wensleydale, Yorkshire, under the tutelage of his cousin Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (later known as the "Kingmaker" because of his role in the Wars of the Roses).
While Richard was at Warwick's estate, he developed a close friendship with Francis Lovell, which would remain strong for the rest of his life. Another child in the household was Warwick's daughter Anne Neville, whom Richard would later marry.
At the time of the death of his father and older brother Edmund, Earl of Rutland, at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460, Richard, who was eight years old, was sent by his mother, the Duchess of York, to the Low Countries, accompanied by his elder brother George (later Duke of Clarence).They returned to England following the defeat of the Lancastrians at the Battle of Towton and participated in the coronation of Richard's eldest brother as King Edward IV in 1461.
At this time Richard was named Duke of Gloucester as well as being made a Knight of the Garter and a Knight of the Bath. Richard was then sent to Warwick's estate at Middleham for his knightly training. With some interruptions, Richard stayed at Middleham until early 1465, when he was twelve.
During his adolescence, he developed idiopathic scoliosis*
Richard became involved in the rough politics of the Wars of the Roses at an early age. Edward appointed him the sole Commissioner of Array for the Western Counties in 1464, when he was eleven. By the age of seventeen, he had an independent command.
Richard, along with his brother Edward the King, fled to Burgundy in October 1470 after Warwick defected to the side of Margaret of Anjou. So, for a second time, Richard was forced to seek refuge in the Low Countries, which were then part of the realm of the Duchy of Burgundy; in 1468, Richard's sister Margaret had become the wife of Charles the Bold, the Duke of Burgundy, and the brothers could expect a welcome there
Although only 18 years old, Richard played crucial roles in the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury that resulted in Edward's restoration to the throne in spring 1471.
Following a decisive Yorkist victory over the Lancastrians at the Battle of Tewkesbury, Richard married Anne Neville, the younger daughter of the Earl of Warwick, on 12 July 1472. Anne had previously been married to Edward of Westminster, only son of Henry VI; Edward died at Tewkesbury.
Richard and Anne had first met when he was taken into her father's household at Middleham Castle on the death of his own father in 1460. Richard's marriage plans brought him into conflict with his brother George:
John Paston’s letter of 17 February 1472 makes it clear that George was not happy about the marriage but grudgingly accepted it on the basis that "he may well have my Lady his sister-in-law, but they shall part no livelihood". The reason was the inheritance Anne shared with her elder sister Isabel, whom George had married in 1469.
It was not only the earldom that was at stake; Richard Neville had inherited it as a result of his marriage to Anne de Beauchamp, who was still alive (and outlived both her daughters) and was technically the owner of the substantial Beauchamp estates, her own father having left no male heirs.
In June 1473, Richard persuaded his mother-in-law to leave sanctuary and come to live under his protection at Middleham. Later in the year, under the terms of the 1473 Act of Resumption,
George lost some of the property he held under royal grant, and made no secret of his displeasure. John Paston's letter of November 1473 says that the king planned to put both his younger brothers in their place by acting as "a stifler between them".
Early in 1474, Parliament assembled and King Edward attempted to reconcile his brothers by stating that both men, and their wives, would enjoy the Warwick inheritance just as if the Countess of Warwick "was naturally dead".
The doubts cast by Clarence on the validity of Richard and Anne's marriage were addressed by a clause protecting their rights in the event they were divorced (i.e. of their marriage being declared null and void by the Church) and then legally remarried to each other, and also protected Richard's rights while waiting for such a valid second marriage with Anne.
The following year, Richard was rewarded with all the Neville lands in the north of England, at the expense of Anne's cousin, George Neville. From this point, George seems to have fallen steadily out of King Edward's favour, his discontent coming to a head in 1477 when, following Isabel's death, he was denied the opportunity to marry Mary of Burgundy, the stepdaughter of his sister Margaret, even though Margaret approved the proposed match. There is no evidence of Richard's involvement in George's subsequent conviction and execution on a charge of treason.
When his brother Edward IV died in April 1483, Richard was named Lord Protector of the realm for Edward's son and successor, the 12-year-old King Edward V.
As the young king travelled to London from Ludlow, Richard met and escorted him to lodgings in the Tower of London where Edward V's brother Richard joined him shortly afterwards.
Arrangements were made for Edward's coronation on 22 June 1483, but before the young king could be crowned, his father's marriage to his mother Elizabeth Woodville was declared invalid, making their children illegitimate and ineligible for the throne.
On 25 June, an assembly of lords and commoners endorsed the claims. The following day, Richard III began his reign, and he was crowned on 6 July 1483. The young princes were not seen in public after August, and a number of accusations circulated that the boys had been murdered on Richard's orders, giving rise to the legend of the Princes in the Tower.
There were two major rebellions against Richard. The first, in October 1483, was led by staunch allies of Edward IV and also by Richard's former ally, Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham,his first cousin once removed. The revolt collapsed and Stafford was executed at Salisbury near the Bull's Head Inn. In August 1485, another rebellion against Richard was led by Henry Tudor and his uncle, Jasper Tudor.
Henry Tudor landed in southern Wales with a small contingent of French troops, and then marched through his birthplace, Pembrokeshire, recruiting more soldiers. Henry's force engaged Richard's army and defeated it at the Battle of Bosworth Field in Leicestershire.
Richard was struck down in this conflict, making him the last English king to die in battle as well as the only one to have been killed on home soil since Harold II was killed at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
Richard III's remains received burial without pomp. The original tomb is believed to have been destroyed during the Reformation, and the remains were lost for more than five centuries.
He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. His defeat at Bosworth Field, the last decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses, symbolises the end of the Middle Ages in England. He is the subject of the play Richard III by William Shakespeare.
Anne Neville was born at Warwick Castle, the younger daughter of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, and Anne de Beauchamp. Cecily Neville, was the wife of Richard, Duke of York, who claimed the crown for York.
Her father was one of the most powerful noblemen in England, and the most important supporter of the House of York. Her grandfather's sister,
Much of Anne Neville's childhood was spent at Middleham Castle, one of her father's properties, where she and her elder sister, Isabel, met the Duke's two younger sons, Richard duke of Gloucester the future Richard III and George, Duke of Clarence.
Richard especially attended his knighthood training at Middleham since mid 1461 until at least the spring of 1465.It is possible that even at this early stage a match between the Earl's daughters and the young dukes was being considered. The Duke of York was killed on December 30, 1460, but with Warwick's help, his eldest son became King Edward IV in March 1461.
In July 1469, Lady Isabel married Clarence, while in July 1470, after the Earl of Warwick's flight to France and change of allegiance, Anne Neville was betrothed and, by the end of the same year, married to Edward of Westminster, the Lancastrian heir to the throne of England.
They were married in Angers Cathedral, probably on 13 December 1470 making Anne Neville the Princess of Wales. At the Battle of Tewkesbury on 4 May 1471, Edward IV crushed this last Lancastrian army.
Prince Edward was killed in or shortly after the battle and Anne Neville was taken prisoner. She was taken first to Coventry and then to her brother-in-law the Duke of Clarence's house in London, while her mother Anne Beauchamp, Warwick's wife, had sought sanctuary in Beaulieu Abbey.
The exact date of the wedding of Anne Neville and Richard, Duke of Gloucester is not known, although most sources agree for a ceremony in the spring of 1472 in Westminster Palace's chapel of St Stephen.
They made their marital home in the familiar surroundings of Middleham Castle, Gloucester having been appointed Governor of the North on the king's behalf.
Upon her marriage, she was styled Duchess of Gloucester. They had only one child, Edward, born at Middleham in around 1473.
On 9 April 1483, Edward IV died. Gloucester was named Lord Protector for his 12-year-old nephew Edward V. However, on 25 June 1483, Edward V and his siblings were declared illegitimate, and Gloucester ascended the throne as King Richard III.
Anne Neville was crowned alongside her husband on 6 July 1483 by Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, the first joint coronation after 175 years. The queen’s train was borne by Margaret, Countess of Richmond whose son would become Henry VII after defeating Richard at the battle of Bosworth.
Almost the entire peerage of England was present at what was a magnificent spectacle.Richard and Anne's son Edward of Middleham was later created Prince of Wales in York Minster following their Royal Progress across England.
She was on good terms with her mother-in-law (who was also her grandaunt), Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, with whom she discussed religious works, such as the writings of Mechtilde of Hackeborn.
Edward of Middleham died suddenly in April 1484, at Sheriff Hutton, while his parents were in Nottingham on their way to visit him. Both Richard and Anne were overwhelmed with grief at this news.
Anne was particularly heartbroken and she fell gravely ill only a few months later.
After the death of her son, Anne Neville effectively adopted Edward, Earl of Warwick, the mutual nephew of Richard III and Anne Neville. Richard III made the boy his heir presumptive, probably in deference to Anne Neville's wishes.
|Stained glass depiction of Richard III and Anne Neville in Cardiff Castle|
Anne Neville died on 16 March 1485, probably of tuberculosis, at Westminster. The day she died, there was an eclipse, which some took to be an omen of her husband's fall from heavenly grace. She was buried in Westminster Abbey, in an unmarked grave to the right of the High Altar, next to the door to the Confessor's Chapel.
Richard III is said to have wept at her funeral. Nevertheless, rumours circulated that Richard III had poisoned her in order to marry his niece Elizabeth of York!
In 2012, an archaeological excavation was conducted on a city council car park using ground-penetrating radar on the site once occupied by Greyfriars, Leicester. The University of Leicester confirmed on 4 February 2013 that the evidence pointed to a skeleton found in the excavation being that of Richard III.
This conclusion was based on a combination of the results of radiocarbon dating, a comparison with contemporary reports of his appearance, and a comparison of his mitochondrial DNA with that of two matrilineal descendants of Richard III's eldest sister, Anne of York.