Sunday, September 2, 2012

History's Forgotten Countesses: Isabel Neville

You've probably heard of Anne Neville, and Warwick the Kingmaker (Richard Neville) but do you remember Anne Neville's elder sister, Isabel? Isabel was almost queen herself (well kinda) as well the Duchess of Clarence (and mother to the futrue Margaret Pole.) So Isabel is a pretty important character in her own right, why have we forgotten about her?

Isabel was born in 1453 (ish) and I'm sure was a slight disappointment. (I'm sure Warwick and Anne Beauchump were hoping for a Kingmaker Jr. :) ) For the first couple years of her life, she was an only child, and given Warwick's wealth, I'm sure had the best nurses and tutors. Then, about 4 years later, her sister Anne was born. (again, Warwick and Mrs. Warwick were hoping for a boy.)

Anne and Isabel then grew up together in their parent's household. It was there that Anne met her future husband, Richard III. Isabel, however, had never met Clarence. Her marriage became a great deal to her parents once Warwick was in power and Edward IV was king. But, by the time Isabel was old enough her father wanted to dethrone Edward and put Clarence on instead. Isabel was then married to George, Duke of Clarence to seal the alliance.

Margaret Pole, Isabel's daughter

Isabel next became pregnant by George, and their first child was born during Isabel's trip to Calais. The baby was a boy and died. Isabel didn't let that phase her though. I don't think there was much of a love story between the two but, Clarence needed and heir and Isabel liked children. Warwick, however had by this time given up on Clarence and decided to align with Margaret of Anjou instead and his second daughter, Anne was given in marriage to Margaret's son Edward.

Isabel and Clarence then lived in England and Isabel became pregnant again, this time a girl, named Margaret.  A couple years later, Clarence got his heir, Isabel gave birth to a baby boy named Edward. Not to long after that, Isabel got sick and died. Not before she could see her sister one last time. After Edward of Lancaster was killed at Wakefield, Isabel's sister Anne came to stay with them, for safety. From there Ricahard III came and whisked her away to get married (see my post "Anne Neville: The Kingmaker's Daughter")

As far as personality goes, i believe Isabel was the indoorsy type, and very kind to everyone she met. She cared not for politics like her father did and just wanted to raise her children. She adored her family and stayed true to the Yorkist cause. Isabel's story is one of "What if..." because if things had gone according to plan, there could've been King Edward VI, son of the Duke of Clarence!


  1. Again no likeness of Isabel.. I'm sensing a theme here... :)

  2. So sad these women were used as pawns in the game. These 2 sisters, although not as famous to all like the Bolelyn sisters were also used by those closet to them to gain power. Then discarded.

  3. Yes I know... :( Wouldn't it be nice if we had some sources that told us what the Neville sisters really thought?

  4. The problem is the Yorkist family wrote the whole history of the period from 1450-1485. We still have no idea what happened at Tewkesbury, how King Henry died, what happened to the princes, what were the motives of clarence and gloucester with regards to the warwicks inheritance and how strong the relationships were between Anne/Richard and Clarence/Isabel.

    I don't believe Richard loved Anne. I think its modern fantasy. Marriage was about land, power and position back in the medieval times. Anne could generate huge amounts of support for Richard from the north with the neville name, it was a very profitable marriage for Richard. Richard could not have married anyone with more power/land than Anne Neville. I've always thought with regards to Clarence, look at how the parents and how they treated him and Edmund compared to Edward. Edwards action to marry Elizabeth is in a way another piece of evidence that he was a bastard. If he was a true York Prince he would have married someone with status and power. It's ridiculous in that time for someone to marry someone so low. Clarence and Richard always married for strategy.

    The worse thing about this period, is that people died at the wrong time. It would have been fascinating to see how the duke of York, salisbury and edmund would have reigned had they won at wakefield in 1460. On the otherside, how the relationship between Margaret of Anjou and Warwick would have developed had they succeeded in 1471. I could easily see a scenario where Margaret and Warwick blossom as they take on the remaining york brothers with the prince edward and anne neville the future king/queen. It was in both there interest to see this plan succeed. Further on, it would have been fascinating to see how Richard would have ruled without an heir or a marriage and his reputation in tatters across the houses of Europe if he had won in Bosworth. Would the earl of warwick have been made the rightful king? What would happen to Elizabeth of York?

  5. I couldn't agree more! :) As a Lancastrian supporter myself I want to see some more books told from the Lancasterian perspective!

    I also think Edward was NOT the son of the Duke of York. When Edmund was born, the family had a big celebration and christening. But when Edward was born, it was a small christening, nothing majour. And of course not to leave out the fact that Edward looked nothing like the Duke. And from what I've read the Duke of York spent more time with Edmund. (After all it was Edmund fighting with him at Wakefield wasn't it?)

    It also would be interesting to see what would've happened had Prince Edward of Lancaster not died at Tewkesbury! Would he have then succeeded in taking the throne from Edward IV? Or, if Edward IV hadn't married Elizabeth Wydeville? It's fascinating to think about :)