Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers
d.25 Jun 1483 Pontefract, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
m. bet 6 Feb 1435/6 and 23 Mar 1436/7
Facts and Events
Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers (c. 1440 – 25 June 1483) was an English nobleman, courtier, and writer.
He was the eldest son of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. Like his father, he was originally a Lancastrian, fighting on that side at the Battle of Towton, but later became a Yorkist. The Yorkists, fighting for Edward IV, were defeated at the Battle of Edgecote Moor, on 26 July 1469, and Richard Woodville and his second son John were taken prisoners at Chepstow. After a hasty and controversial trial, they were both beheaded at Kenilworth on 12 August 1469 and Anthony succeeded his father in the earldom.
Rivers became very influential at the royal court after his sister (Queen) Elizabeth Woodville married Edward IV and he was made a Knight of the Garter. He is known to have been a great tournament champion, who once fought a two-day "duel" with Antoine, bastard of Burgundy. He joined the king in his temporary exile in 1470, and returned with him the next year, where he was wounded at the Battle of Barnet.
He was married to Elizabeth de Scales, Baroness Scales in her own right, daughter of Thomas de Scales, 7th Baron Scales, and widow of Henry Bourchier, younger son of Henry Bourchier, 1st Earl of Essex. After his wife's death in 1473, Anthony was summoned to Parliament in her right as Baron Scales. He was subsequently married to Mary, daughter of Henry Fitz-Lewis, but both marriages produced no issue.
Also in 1473, King Edward IV appointed Rivers Governor of the Prince of Wales' household, and Rivers went with the prince to Ludlow Castle. He was also appointed High Sheriff of Caernarvonshire for life. His duties included the administration of justice throughout the principality. When the king died suddenly in 1483, Rivers was ordered by his sister to bring the Prince of Wales, now King Edward V, straight back to London under an armed guard. They were intercepted by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who arrested the Earl, along with his nephew Richard Grey, the young king's half-brother. Both men were imprisoned and then beheaded at Pontefract Castle on 25 June 1483 as part of the duke's path towards kingship (as Richard III).
Rivers was evidently quite learned, and no doubt had learned excellent French from his mother. He had met the earliest English printer William Caxton when in exile in Bruges, and there in 1475-6 Caxton published Cordyale, or Four last thinges, Rivers' English translation from the French of Jean Miélot of Les quattres choses derrenieres, itself a translation of the Cordiale quattuor novissimorum. After both of them had returned to England, one of the first, if not the first, books printed in England was Rivers' translation from French of the Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers, printed by Caxton at Westminster in 1477. Lambeth Palace Library has a manuscript illustration showing Rivers presenting a copy of this book to Edward IV.
Anthony was succeeded as earl by his brother, Richard.