author C.C.Cole's blog

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Guest Post: Richard and Anne's own Courtly Love Story by Andy McMillin

Richard and Anne's own Courtly Love Story
I'm happy to again share my blog space with ace medieval scholar, historian, and fan of "The White Queen" series Andy McMillin.  Her blog, listed above, is excellent, and I suggest you take a click to see her work.  Below is her second guest post here about the controversial King Richard III: 

In BBC’s “The White Queen,” Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later King Richard III) portrayed by Aneurin Barnard finds Anne Neville, the Kingmaker’s daughter (Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick) portrayed by Faye Marsay, and rescues her after the battle Tewkesbury, where her husband is killed, and the Lancastrian cause is defeated.  He tells Margaret of Anjou to get back in her litter and go home while safely whisking Anne away to safety.  It is something out of a fairy tale. Handsome knight rescues princess in harms way. Did events shown, portray an accurate portrayal of how did these events actually did historically unfold? Did he really rescue her from crazed solders or was there another story, more fact that is more true to what really happened? How chivalrous was Richard to go chasing after Anne Neville?

Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and Princess Anne "The White Queen"

The story of Richard and Anne, was highly popular because it exhibits and proves that chivalry was alive and well during the 15th century. Hence making the match one of admiration and desire in many people’s eyes. The same can be said about Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV’s relationship.
What do we know about Richard? We know he was an avid reader and had copies of many books while he lived in York in his younger years. One was found to have tales of chivalry, classical history, and two Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.  Proving he was quiet educated, which was expected of nobles. Also noted, he had a copy of Tristan, the Gottfried von Strassburg (d. 1210) version which was adapted from the 12th century legend of Tristan and Iseult . The story itself, is modeled after most popular courtly romances of the time and with rhyming couplets. A rhyming couplets is the style and structure of the poem meaning “two lines of poetry that rhyme and have the same meter.”
Also as an accomplished military man, Richard would have also known what the chivalric code was, a reason for it being in his books.  For he had to have studied it at one point in time, as loyal as he was to his brother, as well as upbringing. Some of the principles he would have been familiar with would have been: 

Richard, Duke of Gloucester
Duties to countrymen
Duties to God
Duties to women
The third is where we see how he handled what really happened with Anne; “the idea that the knight is to serve a lady, and after her all other ladies. Most especially in this category is a general gentleness and graciousness to all women.”  This popular notion might have been some of his motivation to find her, and desire to keep her safe and want to marry her, adding to his beliefs a strong moral and loyal disposition.
Now how did the cat catch the mouse? In reality, Anne was not at the battle with her former husband, Edward of Westminster, that May 4, at Tewkesbury. Where she actually was, is a little unclear.  What we do know is she was imprisoned after the battle by Edward VI and taken prisoner.
George, Duke of Clarence, in trying to make any marriage between Richard and Anne difficult, took Anne with him first to Coventry, then to his London house, where he kept her as his ward and opposed her getting remarried. She even wrote Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth of York, and Edward IV of her ordeal and to plea her case, yet all requests failed.  The assumption was that George was wanting access to both of the girls inheritance, wanted to keep Anne as his ward in order to do this so he could claim her share of the money. Interestingly literature of the time such as The Crowland Chronicle reported that;
"so much disputation arose between the brothers and so many keen arguments were put forward on either side with the greatest acuteness in the presence of the king … even those learned in the law, marvelled at the profusion of the arguments which the princes produced for their own cases'. Whilst the acquisition of land, wealth and power was a factor in Richard's determination to marry Anne Neville it is reasonable to assume that their marriage was successful for there is no hint of scandal or mistresses.”
Concluding, the rift between the York brothers, and Neville’s youngest daughter’s inheritance and initial intent, was a bit scandalous at first, but laid to rest once things played out.

Exactly how Richard found Anne, remains disputed. One account states she escaped and sought refuge at a cooking shop in London, disguised as a servant, and second, Richard actually went looking for her, tracked her down, then took her to sanctuary at Church of St. Martin le Grand, where they were later married. 

Richard and Anne's marriage "The White Queen"

Adding the whole courtly love theme into the dynamics of the actions of Richard and Anne being discovered, is also why some of the details of their childhood also have an importance to this theme.  They were acquaintances of each other. An interesting part about their relationship is that they actually knew each other before marriage, which was very uncommon. Marriages in the Middle Ages especially among the nobility were for political and diplomatic reasons. Getting married for love or the notion of was practically unheard of.  Both Richard and Anne had grown up in the same household for a while at Middleham Castle, in Yorkshire. But there is no documentation of how each other felt for one another. So the concept of a long drawn out love affair of admiration; is hard to prove.
When looking at the elements of this relationship and the popularity of courtly literature of the time and the idea of their sought after relationship; makes their story very popular.  It is one that was perceived to many as one of romantic notion and of what many authors before and contemporary wrote about. It was a story with its own elements yet similar to Tristan and Iseult. Thus, their story became quite popular, and is still of popularity today. For it was a 15th century romance within itself.




  1. I thought he ordered the deaths of the princes in the tower, Anne's brothers, the sons of Elizabeth Woodville, and the true heirs to the throne. In one of Philippa Carr's books (The White Queen?) Anne was fooling around with Richard when she was very very young. I read them too fast and get mixed up, but her mother was appalled.

  2. Hi, thanks for commenting. Ms Gregory, along with Ms McMillin above and others challenge the accusation that Richard III ordered the deaths of the Princes. He did have them declared illegitimate so he could become King. Anne married Richard when he was still the Duke of Gloucester after her first husband was killed. In "The White Queen" Richard as King fooled around with Elizabeth of York, the eldest daughter of Elizabeth Woodville, but that is hotly contested as the relationship would've been incestuous since she was his niece, as well as young and unmarried

  3. I loved the book and must watch the series. Looks well cast. An intriguing story however told.