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Royalty and Daughters: The Lives of Isobel and Anne Neville (page 3)

by Wendy Zollo

Clarence and Isobel were tossed like sheaves of parchment to the wind, no longer of urgent necessity to Warwick's plans. Though he kept Clarence dangling by a spider's web of intrigue - should Anne and Edward bear no issue, the throne would be his.

Isobel, surely ailing from childbirth, agitated over the loss of her daughter, her future unclear, was forced to stand down and watch her younger sister displace her in her father's strategy. Was she relieved by this reversal or envious? Was George fuming over the change (most likely) and did he transfer this resentment to Isobel? And what of Anne, another rook in her father's hopeless machinations? She was fifteen years old, married into a family she was raised to abhor - her devotions divided by a daughter's loyalty to her father, a subject's duty to her king, (perhaps) a young woman's fondness for her cousin Richard, Duke of Gloucester (the future King Richard III). Her emotions must have twisted and spun like a tornado on a top.

Isobel and Anne were instruments, puppets to Warwick's fanaticism for prestige and importance, all for naught with the deaths of the Earl of Warwick at Barnet and Edward of Lancaster at Tewkesbury.

As you can see, it is enormously obvious that all information on the subject of the lives, the movements of Isobel and Anne are directly linked with and to the male figures in their lives.

Their father dead and tagged a traitor, his vast estates were confiscated by the King, Isobel at least had the shelter of her wayward husband's standing as the reconciled brother of the King. Anne became a 'card to be gambled', 'a roll of the dice' once more, this time into the hands of her brother-in-law Clarence's acquisitiveness. She was installed in his household upon his request to the King. How much interaction was had between Anne and Isobel while she was practically imprisoned under his 'protection' is unknown.

Anne Beauchamp, Warwick's widow, fearing retribution for her husband's dealings, secured sanctuary in Beaulieu Abbey, abandoning her daughters to an unknown providence.

In 1471, Richard declared his intentions to marry Anne, a match endorsed by Edward IV, and acrimoniously rejected by Clarence. Taking on the wily, crafty Clarence's resentment could be a strong indication that the Duke of Gloucester was marrying for affection rather than prosperity; he could have effortlessly chosen a course strewn with less obstacles and familial bitterness. George demanded the entire Warwick/Beauchamp/Despenser estates as his due. At this juncture we encounter the outlandish but well-documented account of Anne Neville's short-lived life as a servant.

As Anne's warden, George allegedly had her dressed as a servant and placed discreetly in a London cook shop. How did one go about this? Did Clarence hold a weapon to her throat? It unquestionably would have made dressing for the role a rather comical farce. I'd rather take what we do know and make the assumption that Anne thought of this ruse herself. Anne is described as small and slender, but there is no reason to believe she was frail. The only documentation of ill health on her part is the wasting sickness that led to her ultimate death. She very well may have left a trail of clues as to her whereabouts. She was, above all, the daughter of a nobleman and indubitably knew many people who could assist her, leading Richard to her place of hiding. Gloucester, upon discovering her, placed her in sanctuary in St. Martins le Grande. Why did Anne not seek sanctuary herself? Perhaps she needed proof of Richard's loyalty, or she felt that keeping her whereabouts hush-hush would provide her with more security and shelter from the volatile Clarence.


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