Anne of Bohemia
Anne of Bohemia was born on the 11th May 1366 in Prague, to parents; Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia, and Elizabeth of Pomerania, she being the daughter of Bogislaw V, Duke of Pomerania and Elisabeth of Poland.
Pope Urban VI approved the alliance, the marriange of Richard and Anne, noting that he might have a stronger hand to play in negotiations with the French.
Anne was the daughter, of Europe’s most powerful monarch at the time, ruler of half of Europe’s population and territory. A useful father-in-law for Richard II, one might say.
Anne’s marriage to Richard came about when Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, and his former tutor proposed the said joining of hands. It was at a time when Christendom had two rival popes.
Anne’s brother, King Wenceslas supported pope Urban VI in Rome, who also had England’s support, whilst the French preferred Pope Clement who lived in Avignon.
Anne had not been the first choice of bride chosen by English nobility or Parliamentary members, for she brought no dowry with her. Richard had to pay her brother Wenceslas 20,000 florins, for her hand in marriage.
On the plus side, English merchants were permitted to trade with Bohemian lands and the Holy Roman Empire.
In the December of 1381, Anne of Bohemia landed at Dover and travelled to Canterbury, to be received by Thomas, Duke of Gloucester and Richard’s uncle. She continued onto Blackheath, to be greeted by the Lord-mayor of London.
On the 20th January 1382, King Richard II of England married Anne of Bohemia at Westminster Abbey. On the 22nd January Anne was crowned Queen.
In 1383, Anne of Bohemia, visited the city of Norwich, visiting the Great Hospital where 252 black eagles were displayed on the ceiling, in her honour.
Anne became a popular Queen in England, as the years passed by, described as intelligent with an inquiring mind, renowned for her love of reading. Referred to as Good Queen Anne, she was liked by the poor for her acts of kindness and generosity.
Anne often interceded, begging on her knees to her husband, procuring pardons for those who had done wrong.
She became well known through the land, with her pleas of mercy, on behalf of the condemned. She persuaded Richard to pardon many of the participants who took part in the Peasants Revolt.
Anne’s intercession saved the life of John Northampton, former Mayor of London in 1384, committed the offender to life in prison rather than the gallows.
In 1388, Anne confronted the barons of the Merciless Parliament. Five of the King’s closest advisors were arrested, and Richard objected to a panel of judges. The judges came out on the side of the King. Parliament arrested the judges and sentenced them to death. Anne’s pleas for their lives saw them exiled to Ireland.
Simon Burley, Richard’s tutor, mentor and friend was accused of treason. He being a father figure to Richard and Anne. Parliament decreed he should be hung, drawn and quartered, a barbaric death sentence.
Anne fell to her knees and wept. Richard could not get the barons to commute the sentence to life in prison, but changed the means of death, to one of beheading.
Anne and Richard, from historical evidence, were truly in love. Anne was an ideal consort, not stepping over the line, but generally complying with Richard’s decisions, and endeavouring to make him happy.
Of all the palaces and castles, Sheen Palace on the Thames, some seven miles from Westminster, was their favourite venue.
On the 7th June 1394, tragedy struck Richard, when his wife of twelve years; Anne of Bohemia died of the plague at Sheen Palace. A twelve year love affair came to an end.
Richard was so distraught following Anne’s death, he had Sheen Palace torn down and destroyed.
Richard commissioned a double tomb for the woman who had supported him… So they could be together in death.
King Richard II abdicated his throne in the September of 1399, on the condition his life be spared. His cousin became Henry IV.
Richard lived out his remaining years at Pontefract Castle, until his death on the 14th February 1400. King Henry V had Richard’s remains moved from King’s Langley in Buckinghamshire, and placed beside Anne in 1413, in the elaborate tomb Richard had prepared for them at Westminster Abbey.