Anne of Bohemia
|Anne of Bohemia|
|Tenure||20 January 1382 – 7 June 1394|
|Coronation||22 January 1382|
|Spouse||Richard II of England|
|House||House of Luxembourg (by birth)
House of Plantagenet (by marriage)
|Father||Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor|
|Mother||Elizabeth of Pomerania|
11 May 1366|
|Died||7 June 1394
Sheen Priory, London, England
|Burial||Westminster Abbey, London, England|
Anne of Bohemia (11 May 1366 – 7 June 1394) was Queen of England as the first wife of King Richard II. A member of the House of Luxembourg, she was the eldest daughter of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, and Elizabeth of Pomerania.1
She had four brothers, including Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor, and one younger sister, Margaret of Bohemia, Burgravine of Nuremberg. She also had five half-siblings from her father's previous marriages.
Richard II married Anne of Bohemia as a result of the Great Schism in the Papacy that had resulted in two rival popes. According to Eduard Perroy, Pope Urban VI actually sanctioned the marriage between Richard and Anne, in an attempt to create an alliance on his behalf, particularly so that he might be stronger against the French and their preferred pope, Clement. Anne's father was the most powerful monarch in Europe at the time, ruling over about half of Europe's population and territory.2
The marriage was against the wishes of many members of his nobility and members of parliament, and occurred primarily at the instigation of Richard's intimate, Michael de la Pole. Although Richard had been offered Caterina Visconti, one of the daughters of Bernabò Visconti of Milan, who would have brought a great deal of money with her as dowry, Anne was chosen – bringing no direct financial benefits to England. She brought with her no dowry, and in return for her hand in marriage, Richard gave 20,000 florins (around £4,000,000 in today's value) in payment to her brother Wenceslas. There were also only a few diplomatic benefits – although English merchants were now allowed to trade freely within both Bohemian lands, and lands of the Holy Roman Empire, this was not much when compared to the usual diplomatic benefits from marriages made as a result of the war with France. It is therefore no surprise that the marriage was unpopular.
On her arrival in December 1381, Anne was severely criticised by contemporary chroniclers, probably as a result of the financial arrangements of the marriage, although it was quite typical for queens to be viewed in critical terms. The Westminster Chronicler called her "a tiny scrap of humanity", and Thomas Walsingham related a disastrous omen upon her arrival, where her ships smashed to pieces as soon as she had disembarked. Nevertheless, Anne and King Richard II were married in Westminster Abbey on 22 January 1382. Tournaments were held for several days after the ceremony, in celebration. They then went on an itinerary of the realm, staying at many major abbeys along the way. In 1383 Anne of Bohemia visited the city of Norwich, where at the Great Hospital a ceiling comprising 252 black eagles was made in her honour.3
Richard married his second wife, Isabella of Valois, on 31 October 1396.
Although Anne was originally disliked by the chroniclers, there is some evidence that she became more popular in time. She was known to have been a very kind person and popular with the people of England; for example, she was well known for her tireless attempts to "intercede" on behalf of the people, procuring pardons for participants in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, and numerous other pardons for wrongdoers.
She also made several high-profile intercessions in front of the king. She interceded on behalf of Simon Burley, Richard II's former tutor during his minority, in the 1388 Merciless Parliament. She was also on her knees for the citizens of London in the ceremonial reconciliation of Richard and London in 1391.
On the other hand, she never fulfilled many traditional duties of queens. In particular, she did not bear children, despite twelve years of marriage, and this is perhaps emphasised in her epitaph, whereby she is mentioned as having been kind to "pregnant women". The Evesham chronicler said, "this queen, although she did not bear children, was still held to have contributed to the glory and wealth of the realm, as far as she was able". Nevertheless, her popular legacy as "Good Queen Anne" suggests that this lack of children was unimportant to many contemporaries.
Anne is buried at Westminster beside her husband. Their joint tomb, now damaged, once showed them clasping hands. The inscription on her tomb describes her as "beauteous in body and her face was gentle and pretty." When her tomb was opened in 1871, it was discovered that many of her bones had been stolen via a hole in the side of the casket.6
Anne of Bohemia is known to have made the sidesaddle more popular to ladies of the Middle Ages. She also influenced the design of carts in England when she arrived in a carriage, presumably from Kocs, Hungary, to meet her future husband Richard. She also made the horned, Bohemian-style headdress the fashion for Englishwomen in the late 14th-century.
|Ancestors of Anne of Bohemia|
- Strickland, Agnes, Lives of the Queens of England from the Norman Conquest, (Lea & Strickland, 1841), 303, 308.
- "HRH Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton to Wed at Abbey".
- Strickland, 323–324.
- Richard II and Anne of Bohemia at Westminster-Abbey.org. Accessed 11 March 2008.
- Boutell, Charles (1863), A Manual of Heraldry, Historical and Popular, London: Winsor & Newton, p. 276
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Anne of Bohemia.|
- Images of Anne of Bohemia at the National Portrait Gallery
- Bronze Effigy of Anne of Bohemia on Westminster Tomb
Title last held byPhilippa of Hainault
|Queen consort of England
Lady of Ireland
22 January 1383 – 7 June 1394
Title next held byIsabella of Valois