The Will of Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers

Interesting piece and, as Matthew says, an illusive character. It is well nigh impossible at this distance to fathom the relationship between rivers and Gloucester and whether there was a plot to assassinate Gloucester en route to London. Anthony didn’t actually rush to the capital with the Prince of wales. It took several weeks to get everything ready to leave and they delayed in order to observe a saint’s day as well. Perhaps Anthony was not fully in step with his Woodville relations in London and perhaps he dreaded his meeting with Gloucester, we shall never know. It does feel sad to see such a cultured man end his days on the block. He had been loyal to the Yorkist cause through many trials and it seems a shoddy return to be imprisoned and executed in such circumstances and without the opportunity to clear his name of involvement in any plot. I wonder also about the hand of Buckingham and Hastings in this affair. Both were keen to play on Gloucester’s suspicions and fears during this period for their own ends and capable of inventing evidence if it lead to the downfall of their enemies. It is possible, of course, that Gloucester had secretly harboured hatred for Rivers and fabricated the whole plot just to be rid of him. It was important to seize control of the Prince and be seen to be the one leading him into London and he needed to counter the Woodville power block. Anthony would have had a huge hold over the young prince as the head of his household and there was evidence from letters written just before Edward IV’s death that his son was starting to flex his muscles a little and perhaps chafe at his guardian’s. I wonder why that would have been and whether Rivers had indeed risen a little too high as the contemporary pun went? A fascinating area to debate and pretty difficult to decide on from the available evidence.

Matt's History Blog

On 23rd June 1483, Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers, the brother to Queen Elizabeth, brother-in-law to King Edward IV and uncle to King Edward V sat down at Sheriff Hutton Castle in Yorkshire to perform the ultimate reminder of his own mortality. If he needed any such reminder.

Anthony had been taken prisoner when Richard, Duke of Gloucester had taken possession of the person of the young King Edward V at Stony Stratford. It is impossible at this distance and with the remaining evidence to establish whether Anthony was indeed plotting against the Protector as Richard alleged. His family in London opposed plans to grant Richard the full powers his brother seems to have intended, but Anthony’s own part in this is unclear. He had headed the Prince of Wales’ household in Ludlow and was escorting the twelve year old to London, but his part in any plot remains unproven.


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