Cecily Neville, born on May 3, 1415, was an English noblewoman who was known as “the Rose of Raby” due to her birth at Raby Castle in Durham.
She was also famous for her pride and piety and was the wife of Richard, Duke of York, who was a leading contender for the English throne during the Wars of the Roses.
Cecily Neville was the mother of two kings of England, Edward IV, and Richard III. Let’s take a closer look at the life of this fascinating woman.
Early Life and Family
Cecily Neville was the youngest of the 22 children of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland, and Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland.
Her maternal grandparents were John of Gaunt, the 1st Duke of Lancaster, and his third wife, Katherine Swynford.
Her paternal grandparents were John Neville, 3rd Baron Neville de Raby, and Maud Percy, daughter of Henry de Percy, 2nd Baron Percy.
Marriage and Children
When Cecily Neville was eight years old, her father betrothed her to Richard Plantagenet, the 3rd Duke of York, who was thirteen at the time. They were married in October 1429, and their first child, Anne of York, was born in August 1439.
When Richard became the governor-general of France in 1441, Cecily Neville moved with him.
Their next son, Edward IV, was born in Rouen on April 28, 1442, and later became king.
During the Wars of the Roses, Cecily supported her husband’s claim to the throne. She remained at their home, Ludlow Castle when Richard fled to Ireland and Continental Europe, but she continued to work for the House of York.
When parliament began to debate the fate of Richard and his supporters in November 1459, Cecily Neville travelled to London to plead for her husband. Although her efforts failed, she managed to gain an annual grant of £600 to support herself and her children.
After the Yorkist victory at the Battle of Northampton in July 1460, Cecily moved to London with her children and lived with the lawyer John Paston.
She was honoured as the mother of the king when Edward IV defeated the Lancastrians and ascended the throne.
Later Life and Death
Cecily remained influential during the beginning of Edward’s reign. In 1461, she revised her coat of arms to include the royal arms of England, hinting that her husband had been a rightful king.
She also tried to reconcile her nephew Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, with Edward IV during a rebellion in 1469. When Edward IV was briefly overthrown by Warwick and Margaret of Anjou, she continued to try to make peace between her sons.
Cecily’s husband and four sons had all died by 1485, although two of her daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, still lived. On January 18, 1486, her granddaughter, Elizabeth of York, married Henry VII and became Queen of England.
Cecily devoted herself to religious duties during her later life and died on May 31, 1495, at the age of 80. She was buried with her husband and their son Edmund at the Church of St Mary and All Saints, Fotheringhay, Northamptonshire.
Cecily Neville was a remarkable woman who lived in turbulent times, but her intelligence, influence, and piety helped her to navigate the challenges of her era.
Her legacy continues through her descendants, who include some of England’s most famous and influential monarchs. As “the Rose of Raby,” she remains an important figure in English history and a symbol of strength, resilience, and perseverance.
*Feature Image: AnonymousUnknown author, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons