Annulment of the Marriage of Anne of York and Henry Holland

On 12 November 1472 , Anne of York secured an annulment of her marriage to Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter.

Anne of York

Anne of York was the eldest daughter of Richard 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville. Aged eight, she had married the seventeen-year-old Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter, in 1447.

Marriage union of Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter and Anne of York

The Duke of Exeter was an ideal marriage match for Anne. At the time, England had few Dukes of Royal Blood, so a union with Henry was as good a match as possible without marrying a noble from overseas. With Anne having parents from the two most powerful families in the land, it also potentially had enormous benefits for Henry Holland.


A problematic marriage

The marriage, however, did not work out very well. As England descended into war, the spouses found themselves supporting opposing sides in the conflict. Anne made it clear that she was supportive first of her father and Edward IV, her brother and later King.

The Duke of Exeter had gained a reputation as a violent hot-headed young noble. He had been rebuked on several occasions for his methods in the South West and became known for his cruelty as Constable of the Tower of London. Indeed, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London during his father-in-laws tenure as Protector.

The Duke of Exeter in the Wars of the Roses

He fought for the Lancastrians at Towton, fled to Wales, where he fought alongside Jasper Tudor, then went into exile in Ireland. He and Anne spent many years apart as a result and only produced one child.

In 1471 the Duke of Exeter was severely injured and left for dead on the battlefield at Barnet. [He survived, later dying by drowning in the English Channel in September 1475]. Once her brother had secured the crown once more, Anne petitioned her brother to have the marriage annulled.

Annullment of the marriage of Anne of York to Henry Holland

The formalities of the process were completed on 12 November 1472. Anne went on to marry Thomas St. Ledger of her brother’s household.

Marriage of Anne of York and Sir Thomas Ledger

Featured image

Heraldic glass in the Rutland Chapel, St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, erected in 1849 by Charles Manners, 6th Duke of Rutland. It shows far left the arms of Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter (1439–1476) impaled by the arms of her 1st husband Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter. To the right of the last are her arms impaled by the arms of her 2nd husband Sir Thomas St. Leger (c. 1440 – 1483), KG. The rightmost window shows top: the arms of Anne’s daughter Anne St Leger impaled by the arms of her husband George Manners, 11th Baron de Ros (c. 1470 – 1513). Below are the arms of his son Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland (c. 1492 – 1543) impaling the arms of his 2nd wife Eleanor Paston.

Links about Anne of York

Richard III Society – biography

Sparkypus – biography




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