Woodville, Anthony (Earl Rivers)

 Born  circa 1442   Born At  
 Died  25 Jun 1483   Buried At  
 Father  Woodville, Richard (1st Earl Rivers)   Mother  Jacquetta (of Luxembourg)
Details supplied by Dorothy Davies

nthony Woodville was the oldest son of Richard Woodville and Jacquetta of Luxemburg. He was destined for high office due to his noble birth and he fulfilled all expectations. He was highly educated, extremely intelligent, pious and a fine swordsmen. He married Elizabeth Scales, a baroness in her own right, which elevated his status even further. He was known as Lord Scales, due to this fortunate marriage.

He fought on the Lancastrian side at the battle of Towton but, together with his father, later transferred his allegiance to the Yorks. He became well known and influential at court when his sister Elizabeth married Edward IV and the Woodvilles became a force to be reckoned with. After his sister's marriage to the King, Anthony became a Knight of the Garter and was given the honour of Lordship of the Isle of Wight. He was promoted to be Lieutenant of Calais and captain of the king's armada, among many other honorary positions.

It is said he fought a two day 'duel' with the Bastard of Burgundy, which is an indication of his fighting prowess. They started out on horseback and ended up fighting with daggers, until the King intervened to prevent death, which would not have been welcomed by anyone. Later Anthony was part of the group which went to Bruges, there to negotiate the marriage of Edward IV's sister Margaret to Charles the Bold.

Anthony's father and brother were both beheaded after the battle of Edgecote and he succeeded to the title of Earl Rivers. He accompanied Edward of March into exile in 1470 and fought with him at Barnet, where he was wounded. Edward thought highly of him and appointed him councillor to the young Prince of Wales, essentially putting his son into Anthony's care and keeping. This was pivotal in Anthony's future, although at the time it was a highly lucrative and important position to hold. Later he was actually made a guardian of the young prince.

It was probably during this time that he became a writer, and also began his pilgrimages to holy sites. His pilgrimage to Rome resulted in Pope Sextus IV investing him with the title of defender and director of papal causes in England.

  • He was a serious patron of the arts, working with Caxton in translating and producing books. He was responsible for the first ever book printed in England, The Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers. Overall Anthony Woodville was known as a courtier and writer, as well as a devout and devoted man.
  • In 1483 Edward appointed his brother Richard of Gloucester as protector for his young son Edward. When the king died in April 1483, Richard intercepted the group heading for London with the boy, now officially Edward V, ordered the arrest of Earl Rivers and those with him and had them imprisoned at Sherriff Hutton Castle, near York. Later they were all executed at Pontefract Castle. He died on the 25th June 1483, a victim of his position, of the paranoia of the time and of the circumstances and problems left behind by Edward IV.

Family Tree Details
Father: Woodville, Richard (1st Earl Rivers) (b.1410 - d.1469)
Mother: Jacquetta (of Luxembourg) (b.1415 - d.1472)
Woodville, Anthony (Earl Rivers) (b.1442 - d.1483)

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YearMonthAgeEvent
1460 Jan 15  18yrsYorkists capture Lancastrian fleet
 The Lancastrians were building a large fleet of ships at Sandwich on the south coast and with it they planned to attack Calais. The Earl of Warwick became aware of this and arranged a raid led by John Dinham to steal the ships. Early in the morning of the fifteenth of January the Yorkists supporters attacked the dockyard and stole those ships that were seaworthy. Richard Woodville (Earl Rivers), his wife Jacquetta and their son Anthony were captured.[1]

Episode: Wars of the Roses  
1477   35yrsCaxton prints the first book in England
 William Caxton set up a printing press near Westminster and printed the first book in England. It was called 'The Dictes and Sayenges of the Phylosophers' and was a translation by Earl Rivers, the Queens brother. 
1483 Apr 29  41yrsWoodvilles escort Edward V
 The 4th of May had been set as the coronation date for Edward V, the new king. The Woodvilles wanted Edward crowned as soon as possible and they wanted Richard's role as Protector changed so that he didn't command so much power. The Woodvilles were concerned that with the death of Edward IV who had been their protector, old rivalries would resurface and their grip on power may fail. The King was at Ludlow and the Woodvilles escorted him to London via Northampton where it was agreed that they should meet Richard, the Duke of Gloucester. When Richard reached Northampton, he discovered that the Woodvilles had already left and were at Stony Stratford. 
 Apr 30  Richard captures the King
 Richard, assisted by the Duke of Buckingham rode to Stony Stratford where they met with the King under the pretence of offering their condolences for the death of his father. Instead, they captured King Edward and took him directly to London and safe keeping in the Tower. Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers was arrested and imprisoned at Sherriff Hutton Castle, near York.[2]

Episode: Wars of the Roses  
 Jun 25  Earl Rivers is executed
 Anthony Woodville was executed at Pontefract Castle. 

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