Neville, Isabel, Duchess of Clarence

(1451–1476)
   When she married George PLANTAGENET, duke of Clarence, brother and heir presumptive of EDWARD IV, Isabel Neville, eldest daughter of Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, sealed an alliance between her father and her husband that reignited the civil wars and temporarily overthrew the house of YORK. Born at Warwick in September 1451, Isabel was suggested by her father as a possible bride for Clarence in the mid-1460s. Unwilling to allow Warwick to tie the Nevilles to the succession, the king forbade the match. In 1467, Warwick began negotiating secretly at Rome for a papal dispensation to allow the cousins to marry (Clarence’s mother, Cecily NEVILLE, was Isabel’s great-aunt). Persuaded that the Neville alliance could increase his influence, and aware that it at least promised him eventual possession of the extensive Neville estates, Clarence supported the scheme, and Isabel married the duke in CALAIS on 11 July 1469. Immediately after the ceremony, Warwick and Clarence issued a manifesto listing the failings of Edward IV’s government and declaring their intention to remedy those evils by force of arms. Although the 1469 rebellion ended in stalemate, a second unsuccessful uprising in April 1470 compelled a pregnant Isabel to take ship at Exeter with her fleeing husband and father. Forced to give birth aboard ship off Calais, Isabel survived, but the child died and was buried at sea. After spending the next nine months in FRANCE with her mother and younger sister, Anne NEVILLE, the duchess returned to England in late 1470 following Warwick’s successful restoration of HENRY VI. She was in the West Country in April 1471, when her father died at the Battle of BARNET and her husband reconciled with his brother. In the early 1470s, Isabel and her sister were at the center of the NEVILLE INHERITANCE DISPUTE, a bitter quarrel between her husband and his brother, Richard, duke of Gloucester (see Richard III, King of England), over possession of the properties the two sisters inherited from their late father. By marrying Anne (probably some time in 1472), Gloucester laid claim to half the Neville estates and to a share of the political influence traditionally exercised by the NEVILLE FAMILY in northern England. Isabel gave birth to a daughter, Margaret Plantagenet, future Countess of Salisbury, in 1473, and to a son, Edward PLANTAGENET, earl of Warwick, in 1475. Complications arising from the birth of a second son, Richard, in October 1476, led to Isabel’s death at age twenty-five on the following 22 December. Deeply affected by the death of his wife, and by the death of her newborn son shortly thereafter, Clarence began his downfall in April 1477 by engineering the seizure, trial, and summary execution of Ankarette Twynho, a servant of Isabel’s, whom the duke accused, on slender evidence, of poisoning his wife.
   Charged with perverting the judicial process, Clarence was arrested in June 1477 and executed in the following February.
   See also Clarence, Execution of; North of England and the Wars of the Roses; all other entries under Neville
   Further Reading: Hicks, Michael, False, Fleeting, Perjur’d Clarence: George, Duke of Clarence, 1449-78 (Bangor, UK: Headstart History, 1992); Hicks, Michael,Warwick the Kingmaker (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1998).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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