Anne of Bohemia

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Anne of Bohemia (11 May 1366 Prague – 7 June 1394 Sheen), also known as Good Queen Anne, was the eldest daughter of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Bohemia, King of Italy, King of Burgundy, and Elizabeth of Pomerania daughter of Imperial Duke Bogislav V of Pomerania-Stettin. She was a member of the House of Luxembourg and was the first Queen consort of Richard II of England.[1]

She had four brothers, including Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor and one younger sister, Margaret of Bohemia, Burgravine of Nuremberg. She also had five half-siblings from her father's previous marriages.

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Marriage to King Richard II of England

Richard II married Anne of Bohemia as a result of the Great Schism in the Papacy, which had resulted in two rival popes. According to Eduard Perroy, Pope Urban VI actually sanctioned the marriage between Richard and Anne, in an attempt to create an alliance on his behalf, in particular so that he might be stronger against the French, and their preferred pope, Clement. Anne's father was the most powerful King in Europe at the time ruling over about half of Europe's population and territory.[2]

The marriage was against the wishes of many members of his nobility and members of parliament, and occurred primarily at the instigation of Richard's intimate, Michael de la Pole. Although Richard had been offered Caterina Visconti, one of the daughters of Bernabò Visconti of Milan, who would have brought a great deal of money with her as dowry — Anne was chosen, bringing no direct financial benefits to England. She brought with her no dowry, and in return for her hand in marriage, Richard gave 20,000 florins (around £13,000) in payment to her brother Wenceslas. There were also only few diplomatic benefits — although English merchants were now allowed to trade freely within both Bohemian lands, and lands of the Holy Roman Empire, this was not much when compared to the usual diplomatic benefits from marriages made as a result of the war with France. It is therefore no surprise that the marriage was unpopular.

On her arrival in December 1381, Anne was severely criticised by contemporary chroniclers, probably as a result of the financial arrangements of the marriage, although it was quite typical for queens to be viewed in critical terms. The Westminster Chronicler called her "a tiny scrap of humanity", and Thomas Walsingham related a disastrous omen upon her arrival, where her ships smashed to pieces as soon as she had disembarked. Nevertheless, Anne and King Richard II were married in Westminster Abbey on 22 January 1382, when each of them was only fifteen years old. Tournaments were held for several days after the ceremony, in celebration. They then went on an itinerary of the realm, staying at many major abbeys along the way.

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