Anne of Bohemia (1366–1394)
Anne of Bohemia (1366–1394)
Queen of England. Name variations: Anne Limburg. Born on May 11, 1366, in Prague, Bohemia; died on June 7, 1394, in Sheen Palace, Richmond, Surrey, England; daughter of Charles IV, Holy Roman emperor (r. 1347–1378), and Elizabeth of Pomerania (1347–1393); became first wife of Richard II (1367–1400), king of England (r. 1377–1400), on January 22, 1383; no children.
Born into the royal family of Germany, Anne of Bohemia was 13 years old when an alliance between England and the Holy Roman Empire resulted in a contract for her marriage to King Richard II of England. The English ambassadors reported to Richard that his future bride had a fair complexion, possessed a keen intelligence, was gentle, well educated (she knew Latin, German, Bohemian and also came to know English), and already quite tall. Due to civil unrest in England, and the fact that Anne's mother, the Empress Elizabeth of Pomerania , refused to allow Anne to leave until she turned 15, the royal wedding was postponed for two years.
Anne's journey to England proved a hazardous one. Charles V, king of France, had previously asked the Empress Elizabeth for a marriage alliance between Anne and his son; however, for political reasons Elizabeth had refused. As Anne and her large entourage arrived in Brussels in the fall of 1381, they learned that the French king had no intention of allowing England to enjoy the economic and political advantages of the Bohemian alliance that France had been denied. French ships patrolled the English Channel, waiting for a chance to kidnap the princess and take her to Paris. However, as the bridal party waited in Brussels in confusion, envoys sent to the French king found he had become suddenly ill with little hope of recovery. On his deathbed, King Charles agreed to recall his ships and let Anne pass safely to England.
Anne and Richard were married January 14, 1382, in Westminster Cathedral, and Anne was crowned queen a week later. Richard and Anne, both 15 years old, proved to be well suited for one another and quickly grew close, sharing a love that would last the length of their married lives. Anne also became popular with the English people during the 12 years of her reign and was remembered by her subjects as "Good Queen Anne." She became known as a generous patron of writers and poets, including Geoffrey Chaucer.
It is possible that Queen Anne indirectly influenced the emerging religious reformation in Europe, for historians speculate that when her Bohemian entourage returned to their native land, they took with them the writings of John Wycliffe, one of the earliest Reformation leaders. These works were translated into Bohemian and found a receptive audience, which included Jan Hus, who is now recognized as one of the most important voices in spreading the new Protestant ideas in Germany. Anne owned one of Wycliffe's Bibles among many other works, indicating at least an intellectual interest in the radical religious ideas sweeping across Europe.
Elizabeth of Pomerania (1347–1393)
Holy Roman Empress. Name variations: Elizabeth von Pommern; Elzbieta of Slupsk. Born in 1347 (some sources cite 1335 or 1345); died on February 14, 1393; daughter of Boleslav V, duke of Pomerania, and Elizabeth of Poland (d. 1361); became fourth wife of Charles IV (1316–1378), Holy Roman emperor (r. 1347–1378), in May 1363; children: Anne of Bohemia (1366–1394); Sigismund I (b. 1368), king of Hungary and Bohemia, Holy Roman emperor (r. 1387–1437).
On June 5, 1394, Anne suddenly took ill. Richard was at her bedside when she died only two days later, probably of plague, about age 28. Overcome with grief, Richard ordered that Shene Palace, which had been their favorite residence, be completely destroyed, as he could not bear to have it remind him of Anne. He also ordered the preparation of an extravagant funeral and commanded all the peers of the realm to attend with their wives. At the service, the king actually struck down the earl of Arundel, his longtime antagonist, when the earl asked permission to leave early, and thus failed to show proper respect for the deceased queen.
Costain, Thomas B. The Last Plantagenets. NY: Popular Library, 1962.
Lofts, Norah. Queens of England. NY: Doubleday, 1977.
Laura York , freelance writer in medieval and women's history, Anza, California