Anne of Bohemia

Anne of Bohemia was born on 11 May 1366 in Prague, Bohemia. She was one of six children to Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and Elizabeth of Pomerania. Her brother was King Wenceslas of Bohemia.

Anne’s marriage to Richard II of England came about in part due to the Western Schism. This was a split of the Catholic church, with two rivals claiming to be the true pope.

King Wenceslas of Bohemia, the most powerful leader in Europe at the time, supported the claim of Urban VI in Rome, while France supported the claim of Clement in Avignon.

As England also supported the claim of Urban VI, a marriage was negotiated and agreed in an attempt to form an alliance against the French and their choice of pope.

The English nobility were not happy with Richard’s choice of bride. He had been offered Caterina Visconti, daughter of Bernabo Visconti of Milan in marriage, who would have brought a large dowry with her, whereas, Anne had no dowry or political advantage to bring to a marriage; in fact, Richard paid King Wenceslas to marry her. It is therefore understandable why the marriage was unpopular.

Anne arrived at Dover in December 1381 and they were married on 20 January 1382 at Westminster Abbey.

Many days of celebration tournaments took place following the marriage and the couple went on a tour of the realm, staying in many abbeys.

In 1383, Anne visited the city of Norwich where the Great Hospital had created a ceiling comprising of 252 black eagles in her honour.

Over time Anne became more popular with the people, and she was seen as a kind and caring queen. She was known to be well educated and spoke three languages, she also had a great love of reading. She became known as Good Queen Anne.

She intervened on many occasions with her husband to gain pardons for people involved in the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381 and other events. She also saved the life of John Northampton, former Mayor of London in 1384, pleading with her husband to save his life. Richard relented and gave him life imprisonment instead.

It is believed that Richard and Anne were devoted to each other, however although they were married for twelve years, their union did not produce any children.

Anne contracted the plague and died on 7 June 1394 at Sheen Manor, Richmond Palace, aged only twenty-eight. She is buried at Westminster Abbey.

Richard was devastated by Anne’s death and had Sheen Manor razed to the ground.

Anne is remembered for making the horned headdress, from her home country fashionable in the late 14th Century.

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