Pastor's Blog

Queen Anne of Bohemia: A Queen of Mercy and Grace

Posted under: Reformation — by Leroy Demarest

As John Wycliffe was working earnestly in England, a very young and noble lady was earnestly seeking the truth of the Gospel. Born in 1366, Anne of Bohemia was the oldest daughter of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Charles IV. She was also the sister of Good King Wenceslas, of Christmas carol fame. Even as a young girl she showed noted interest in the Gospel and acumen for learning. Prior to her marriage to King Richard II, Anne had reportedly read the Gospels in Latin, Czech and German. It is probable that she would have also read it in French (via the works of those like the Waldensians) and English (due to the work of Wycliffe and the Lollards). In fact, Wycliffe is said to have offered Anne a s a defense of his translation, saying that she had translated the Gospels to English herself. As we have discussed in previous posts, this would have been wholly scandalous. Certainly, her nobility allowed for some grace with this.

Anne came to England during a time of turmoil both in the country and in the church itself. Just a few years prior to the marriage there had been a peasant revolt. It is estimated that 100,000 peasants revolted against the monarchy. Many that had been arrested for the revolt were waiting to be judged and sentenced at the time of Anne’s arrival. Instead of remaining quiet in the affairs of a country she was new to, Anne spoke for the peasants, even giving a biblical defense for them. Richard, who had quelled the rioters with minimal force at the age of 10, heard Anne’s pleas and offered a pardon for them.

Meanwhile, during Anne’s time in England the winds of the reformation were at foot. The Archbishop of Canterbury was vehemently opposed to Wycliffe and was trying to find any way of getting rid of him. However,  Wycliffe’s work had already gotten to Bohemia in part and many who attended to Anne were interested in his work. As Anne arrived, she was already a supporter. Many of her court would study at Oxford with Wycliffe. So as the Archbishop brought charges against Wycliffe, Anne and her mother-in-law stood up for him. This support, and the chaos that ensued with the electing of two popes at the same time, helped protect Wycliffe from arrest and perhaps worse.

Anne was also known for her mercy, much of which was not publicly known until she came under scrutiny herself. Anne had her detractors as well, especially when Richard fell somewhat out of favor. There were two reasons for which her detractors spoke on. One, she was unable to produce an heir. (Although, who’s to know if it was her or Richard). The production of an heir for the throne was of vast importance and the major role of the queen. Her work in mercy was also attacked. Complaints arose over the cost of the castle and upon further inspection; it was found that Anne was feeding as many as 6000 poor at her tables daily. While her, and her husband’s, political enemies tried to seize on this, it only endeared her to the people of England even more so.

Sadly, before she had an opportunity to conceive a baby or to do more for the people of England she became sick with the Plague. This would take her life at the young age of 28. While her impact in the flesh would end with her, her beliefs and values would continue. At her death her court, largely, returned to Bohemia. As they returned they brought with them more work of Wycliffe’s. Amongst those who received his work was one young professor by Jan Hus. He and his eventual followers, the Hussites, would be another group of pre-reformers as we march to 1517.


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