The Tudor Travel Guide

Your Visitor's Companion to the Aristocratic Houses of the Sixteenth Century

Today, I am delighted to be posting an extract from Anne Neville: Richard III’s Tragic Queen by Amy Licence. This is day seven of Amy’s virtual book tour, which has been running throughout this week. As many of you already know, I have a particular interest in the places associated with key historical figures and so I am posting this, an extract from the chapter, Castle Life, 1456-1458, which touches upon Anne’s time, firstly at Warwick Castle, and then at Calais.


Of course, there is huge recent interest in Richard himself, but the story of his wife is perhaps as equally fascinating. In this book, Amy brings some flesh and blood to Anne’s story in her own wonderfully accessible style. For a chance to win a free copy of the book, just leave a comment and I will ask Amy to select a winner on Monday.





Warwick Castle



As the spring of 1457 approached, Anne was released from her swaddling bands and encouraged to take her first steps in the safety of her chambers. An illustration from a 1440 book of hours completed for Catherine of Cleves, showing the Holy family at work, places a toddling Jesus in an early walking frame. Made from twelve pieces of wood, in the form of an open box or cube, it is narrower at the top than the bottom where four large wheels help the child move, while giving some protection in an environment where carpentry and weaving is being done.


Anne may have learned to walk inside a similar frame or else been guided by her nurse. Her world would have encompassed little more than the great chamber, the solar and the family’s private living quarters, usually on the first floor above the Great Hall where servants and other castle employees were fed and slept.


The medieval manor house of Stokesay Castle in Shropshire has a well preserved solar of this type, reached by an interior wooden staircase. Warwick Castle had been extended during the late fourteenth century and the domestic buildings date from then, hung with tapestries and warmed by large fireplaces. A bed, recorded among the castle descriptions of 1400, was made of red damask embroidered with ostrich feathers, with a coverlet and dressings, three curtains of red tartarine, eighteen matching tapestries and six red damask cushions.


When improvements were made in the 1420s to these rooms, plaster of Paris was used to enhance the whiteness of newly built walls. As the daughters of an earl, who had access to the rich diversity of London’s international trade, the girls would have been surrounded by the best-quality furnishings and fashions of the day.


Anne wouldn’t have remembered her early months at Warwick. In any case, the family were about to relocate and the world she knew would be left behind. Before her first birthday, her father was appointed to the prestigious position of Captain of Calais, an important strategic territory which had been in English possession since shortly after Edward III’s victory against the French at the Battle of Crécy in 1346.


The eleven month siege, described by the chronicler Froissart, had resulted in the famous capitulation of the burghers of Calais and the town’s transference into English hands. Froissart records that one of the first ‘conquerors’ of the town was the then Earl of Warwick, so Anne’s father’s position had historical precedence, although he would not have been wise to emulate the previous earl’s record.


In 1347, the first English rulers of Calais were commanded to expel the town’s men: ‘Take here the kayes [keys] of the towne and castell of Calys … putte in prison all the knyhts that be there and all other soudyours [soldiers] that came there symply to wynne their lyveng, cause them to avoyde the towne and all other men, women and children, for I [Edward III] would re-people agayne the towne with pure Englysshemen.’


Such national cleansing was common in conquered territory but hardly made for an auspicious start, helping to exacerbate the conflicts which followed. Calais was still a much-desired territory, coveted by the French and Burgundians on either side, creating an uneasy tension for the English inhabitants, which Anne and her family now became. Packing up the household, they waited for weather conditions to be favourable before embarking on one of Warwick’s own ships across the Channel. Perhaps the six-year-old Isabel was old enough to be excited at her first glimpse of her new home, the walled medieval city with its imposing churches, towers and castle.



27. View of Calais

View of Medieval Calais



This ‘brightest jewel in England’s crown’ covered an area of about 20 square miles, including the fortified town and surrounding marshland, with the defensive castles of Guines and Hammes. Although Calais lies only 20 miles from England as the crow flies, the Channel crossing could represent considerable difficulties for a fleet of wooden vessels in bad weather. This meant that, although it was technically English territory, the geographical distance represented a real political limbo and sanctuary for its inhabitants, which Warwick would exploit.


By 1400, as many as 12,000 people lived within the city walls, while one map of 1477 shows the ‘pale’ extending north to include Ghent and Bruges and south beyond Arras and encompassing those residents too. Placed between the warring King of France Louis XI and Phillip III, Duke of Burgundy, it allowed England to maintain a European gateway for the staple trades of wool, tin, lead and cloth as well as relationships with both countries, neither of whom wished to see the area fall into enemy hands.


Calais itself was an impressive city. The manuscript illustrations from Jean de Waurin’s Chroniques d’Angleterre make a feature of the town’s high, smooth defensive walls and pointed turrets which the Warwicks would have glimpsed as their ship approached. A later map, drawn in the reign of Henry VIII, shows the walled town in some detail with its castle, church and marketplace, while the Cowdray engravings of 1545 give a vivid flavour of the port, forts and buildings.


The crenelated town walls with their many towers are passable through an impressive gateway, giving out into the closely packed streets where a significant number of smooth and crowstepped gable roofs are visible. In the picture, the thirteenthcentury Calais Castle is also drawn, outside the walls, a solid, square structure clearly built for defence with a tower in each corner. Its windows are tiny and high, along with a number of the traditional arrow slits.


Although the castle no longer stands, replaced by the sixteenth-century citadel, the comparable Castle Olhain north of Arras may give an impression of its appearance, with squat, round towers and drawbridge. Fort Risban, standing at the entrance to the harbour, was a reminder of the Crécy siege that could scarcely have been forgotten; then the fort had been a wooden structure; by Anne’s day it was walled and mounted with cannon.


Much of medieval Calais was destroyed in the conflicts of the twentieth century, but a description of the visiting Paul Hentzner in 1598 lists the still extant St Mary’s church, or Église Notre-Dame, with its early fifteenth-century tower. The twelfth-century Watch Tower is another rare survivor, despite being split into two by an earth tremor in 1580!’



5327822Amy Licence



Thanks to Amy for dropping by today, and for Amberley Publishing for permission to reprint an extract of the book. You can purchase Anne Neville: Richard III’s Tragic Queen from Amazon here. If you want to catch up with more of Amy’s book tour, visit the Amberley Facebook page here.



Synopsis of the book from Amazon:

Shakespeare’s enduring image of Richard III’s queen is one of bitterness and sorrow. Anne curses the killer of her husband and father, before succumbing to his marriage proposal, bringing to herself a terrible legacy of grief and suffering an untimely death. Was Anne a passive victim?


Did she really jump into bed with the enemy? Myths aside, who was the real Anne? As the Kingmaker’s daughter, she played a key role in his schemes for the throne. Brought up in the expectation of a glorious marriage, she was not the passive manipulated pawn of romantic legend; in fact, she was a pragmatist and a survivor, whose courage and endurance were repeatedly pushed to the limit.


Her first marriage, to the young Lancastrian, Prince Edward, should have brought her riches and a throne, but when she returned to England to claim her right, she found herself fatherless and widowed. Her second marriage, to her childhood friend Richard of Gloucester, proved to be a successful and peaceful union. Then, in the spring of 1483, everything changed. Anne found herself catapulted into the public eye and sitting on the throne beside Richard. The circumstances of their reign put an unprecedented pressure on their marriage; amid rumours of affairs and divorce, Anne died mysteriously, during an eclipse of the sun, just weeks before Richard’s death on the battlefield.


This fascinating and elusive woman is shrouded in controversy and unanswered questions. Amy Licence reassesses the long-standing myths about Anne’s role, her health and her marriages, to present a new view of the Kingmaker’s daughter.


Publishing Details:

  • Hardcover: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Amberley Publishing (23 April 2013)
  • Language: English


21 thoughts on “Anne Neville: Richard III’s Tragic Queen, by Amy Licence

  1. Sharon Connolly says:

    Wonderful extract, thank you.

  2. Michael says:

    I’ve enjoyed all of Amy’s extracts this past week.It really feel like I’ve been transported back to the 15th century..Win or Lose I will be reading these books during the next few month’s and look forward to doing so.

    1. Congratulations Michael! Amy has selected you as the winning entry. Please contact me on with your contact details / postal address and I will organize the book to be sent out to you from Amberley Publishing. Best wishes, Sarah

      1. Hi Ajayan,Just reporting my bit – if it helps, that’s great. BTW, has a new look. Do check it out – any feedback would be appreciated. And we are also inviting travellers to blog with us – check out . Look forward to seeing you on Kunzum more often.Cheers! Ajay

  3. Ingela Adler says:

    Oh, seems a great book and a very intresting subject I have long wanted to know more about.

  4. Edith van der Bol says:

    Facinating life. I love the book and will read it for sure.

  5. northburrow says:

    I have a fascination with the history of buildings so was very interested in this extract.

  6. elizabeth says:

    Anne is one of my favorite Shakespearean characters, and I’ve always wanted to know more about her! I’d love to read this book!! I’m not usually a big non-fiction reader except for biographies about interesting women like Eleanor of Aquitaine, Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn, Mary Stuart– Anne Neville is right up my alley! 🙂

  7. Bridgett T says:

    I always frown when these articles end. They leave me wanting to read more. 🙂 Thank you for sharing with us.

  8. Siobhan Murray says:

    Another great extract. I’ve always had mixed feelings about Anne Neville and her involvement in the events of 1483, hopefully this book may shed some light on her short life. I’ll look forward to reading it whether I win it or not 🙂

  9. Shirley Scopes says:

    I have always been fascinated by the lives of these women from history. A lot of the time history has painted them as harlots or she devils, giving them a very one dimensional character. Its good to read about them from a different view point, one which gives a more detailed aspect of their lives. Win or lose i will definitely read this books

  10. Eliza says:

    The Tudor period is full of fascinating women! Anne Neville was one of them and it’s great that there is a book about her!

    On another note, I would love to visit Calais! 🙂

  11. Donnie P says:

    Historical personalities can be addictive! With history it’s always a process of endless discovery and the interwoven lives and personalities of those who make it create amazing pictures and give so much food for thought and analysis. I am a great lover of non-fiction historical books, I’m always after new knowledge and I’m thrilled to discover about Amy Licence’s books. Many new plans concerning my library will be being made :3

  12. I never realized the deaths of Anne and her husband Richard occurred within weeks of one another. No wonder her death was shrouded in mystery if it happened during an eclipse. As much as we now know the cause of an eclipse of the sun, for some people they still hold mystical and foreboding properties. Thank you for the giveaway.

  13. Simone says:

    I love all things Plantagenet and Tudor!! Thank you for such wonderful pieces of literature.

  14. Katie Thomson says:

    How interesting! I would love to know more about Anne and hope I can add this to my Tudor book collection soon.

  15. I want this book. I would like to know the real Anne.

  16. Monique says:

    Fascinating time, interesting woman!!

  17. Raquel says:

    Love the extract. I admit that I was not familiar with this time period until watching The White Queen. Since then I have been on the lookout for any books on it. I especially loved Anne Neville so I am happy there is a book on her. Adding it to my TBR list.

  18. Patricia Bartch says:

    I am fascinated by Anne Neville. I really liked her. How I wish she had had more children. Rest in Peace Queen Anne.

    1. Patricia Bartch says:

      And Amy ….. thank you for your wonderful books. I will read this book (even if I don’t win a copy) by the end of June!

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