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Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers

Anthony Woodville
2nd Earl Rivers
Quartered arms of Sir Anthony Woodville,
2nd Earl Rivers, KG
Earl Rivers
Tenure 1469–1483
Predecessor Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers
Successor Richard Woodville, 3rd Earl Rivers
Spouse Elizabeth de Scales, Baroness Scales
Mary Fitz-Lewis
Father Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers
Mother Jacquetta of Luxembourg
Born c. 1440
Died 25 June 1483
Pontefract Castle
Arms of Woodville: Argent, a fesse and a canton conjoined gules

Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers KG (c. 1440 – 25 June 1483) was an English nobleman, courtier, and writer. He was one of the leading members of the Woodville family, which came to prominence during the reign of Edward IV of England. After Edward's death he was arrested and then executed by Richard, Duke of Gloucester as part of a power-struggle between Richard and the Woodvilles.


  • Early life 1
  • As Earl Rivers 2
  • Literary interests 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5

Early life

He was the eldest son to survive childhood of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. He was born in 1442. Like his father, he was originally a Lancastrian, fighting on that side at the Battle of Towton, but later became a Yorkist.

The Woodvilles became very influential at the royal court after his sister 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.[2][3]

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.

He married 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. Before succeeding to the earldom, Anthony was summoned to Parliament in her right as Baron Scales. After Elizabeth's death in 1473, he married Mary FitzLewis, daughter of Henry FitzLewis. He had only one child, an illegitimate daughter named Margaret, the wife of Sir Robert Poyntz (d.1520) of Iron Acton, Gloucestershire.

As Earl Rivers

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, as a result of which Edward regained the throne.

In 1472, the king sent Rivers and his younger brother Edward Woodville to Brittany at the head of 1000 archers to help the Bretons fend off a threatened French invasion of the duchy. The French withdrew when faced with determined resistance.[4]

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 Sir Richard Grey, the young king's half-brother.[5] 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).

Anthony was succeeded as earl by his brother, Richard. The Scales lands inherited from his wife were bequeathed to his younger brother Edward, but Richard III ignored Anthony's wishes as Edward had joined Henry Tudor.

Literary interests

Anthony Woodville (kneeling in livery, second from left) and William Caxton (in black) presenting the first printed book in English to Edward IV

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.[6] Lambeth Palace Library has a manuscript illustration showing Rivers presenting a copy of this book to Edward IV.


  1. ^ [2]
  2. ^ White, Geoffrey H., ed. (1949). The Complete Peerage, Volume XI. St Catherine's Press. p. 22. 
  3. ^ "TimeRef – Medieval". Archived from the original on 8 November 2010. 
  4. ^ Ross, Charles, Edward IV, University of California Press, 1974, p.206
  5. ^ Chalmers' Biography, vol. 32, p 351
  6. ^ Caxton exhibition


  • Hicks, Michael. "Woodville, Anthony". (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)  
  • Ives, E. W. "Andrew Dymmock and the Papers of Anthony Earl Rivers," Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research 41 (1968): 216-229.
  • Lowe, D. E. "Patronage and Politics: Edward IV, the Wydevills, and the Council of the Prince of Wales, 1471-83," The Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies 29 (1981): 545-573.
  • Pidgeon, Lynda. "Antony Wydevile, Lord Scales and Earl Rivers: Family, Friends and Affinity. Part 1," The Ricardian 15 (2005): 1-19. Richard III Society.
  • Pidgeon, Lynda. "Antony Wydevile, Lord Scales and Earl Rivers: Family, Friends and Affinity. Part 2," The Ricardian 15 (2006): 1-14. Richard III Society.
  • Scofield, Cora L. "The Capture of Lord Rivers and Sir Anthony Woodville, 19 January 1460," The English Historical Review 37:146 (April 1922): 253-255.
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Richard Woodville
Earl Rivers
Succeeded by
Richard Woodville
Political offices
Preceded by
Earl of Wiltshire
Chief Butler of England
Succeeded by
Viscount Lovell
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