Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers (c. 1440 – 25 June 1483), Knight of the Garter, was an English nobleman, courtier, bibliophile and writer. He was the brother of Queen Elizabeth Woodville who married King Edward IV. He was one of the leading members of the Woodville family, which came to prominence during the reign of King Edward IV. After Edward's death he was arrested and then executed by the future Richard III as part of a power-struggle between Richard and the Woodvilles. He wrote one of the first books printed in England.
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 became queen. Anthony was made a Knight of the Garter. He is known to have been a great tournament champion, and once fought a two-day "duel" with Antoine, bastard of Burgundy.
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 Woodville 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 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.
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 (later King Richard III), who arrested the Earl, along with his nephew Sir 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).
Anthony was succeeded by his brother Richard Woodville, 3rd Earl Rivers. The Scales lands inherited from his wife were bequeathed to his younger brother Edward Woodville, but King Richard III ignored Anthony's wishes as Edward had joined Henry Tudor.
He married twice, without legitimate progeny, as follows:
By his mistress Gwenlina Stradling, a daughter of William Stradling of St Donat's Castle in Glamorgan, Wales, he had one illegitimate daughter named Margaret, who married Sir Robert Poyntz (d.1520) lord of the manor of Iron Acton in Gloucestershire, who built the Poyntz Chapel within the Gaunt's Chapel in Bristol. The stone ceiling boss of the Poyntz Chapel displays in relief sculpture the arms of Poyntz (of 4 quarters) impaling the arms of Woodville (of 6 quarters, 3rd quarter Woodville), and the two wooden end-panels of his monumental coffin, decorated with the heraldry of Poyntz and Woodville, survive in the Gaunt's Chapel in which he was buried. The Heraldic Visitation of Gloucestershire records that:
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.
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|Peerage of England|
The Earl of Wiltshire
|Chief Butler of England
The Viscount Lovell