Friday 3 August 2012

The Funeral of Anne of Bohemia

Although she died in early June 1394, the funeral of Anne of Bohemia, first wife of Richard II, was not held until 3 August 1394. This was largely so that Richard had time to sufficiently prepare for the grand occasion. The funeral of a king or queen was a big deal; it was an especially big deal to a king such as Richard II who dearly loved his deceased wife and reveled in the pageantry of kingship. Richard, in fact, was so devoted to Anne that he ordered part of the palace of Sheen, in which she had died, demolished. It was too painful for Richard to revisit the site of Anne’s death (which was probably from plague).

Anyway, the funeral didn’t go entirely as planned. An incident (shall we say) occurred; this incident rather aptly illustrates Richard as both a loving, grief-stricken husband and as a little bit of a crazy person.

Richard, earl of Arundel, a man with whom Richard II did NOT get along (for various, pretty good reasons), disrespected the deceased queen by arriving late to the funeral and requesting permission to leave early. Richard II was not going to take that shit lying down. Seizing the cane of one of his attendants, the king hauled off and smacked Arundel across the face.

Artist's Rendering

The earl was knocked down and blood flowed profusely. Since this bloodshed occurred in a church (Westminster Abbey, to be exact), the funeral was subsequently delayed for several hours while the earl was treated, the king reconciled to Arundel, and the altar cleaned and reconsecrated. Needless to say, no one left that funeral early – it lasted until nightfall.

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