King Henry VI

King Henry VI (1421-1471) of England. Inherited the throne at 9 months old, became King of France. The last king of the Lancastrian dynasty.

King Henry VI was born in Windsor Castle in Berkshire on 6th December 1421 to Henry V and Catherine of Valois. On 1st September 1422, the day after his fathers death, he became the youngest person to succeed to the throne. Henry the only son and heir to Henry V, was just nine months of age.

king henry vi (1421-1471)
King Henry VI (1421-1471)

21st October 1422, Henry VI became King of France on the death of his grandfather Charles VI. Henrys mother, the daughter of Charles VI, became prevented from playing a full role in his upbringing. This was due to the English nobles being suspicious of her.

28th September 1423, the English nobles swore loyalty to Henry VI. A regency council established in the Kings name at Parliament, they governed until Henry came of age.

1428, Richard de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick became Henry’s tutor, along with the physician John Somerset.

Henry’s mother Catherine of Valois became remarried to Owen Tudor, they had two sons. Henry now had gained two half-brothers, Edmund and Jasper. Later on, Edmond Tudor was the father to King Henry VII of England.

Crowned King Henry VI

6th November 1429, Henry became crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey, at the age of seven.

16th December 1431, he travelled to France and became crowned King of France at Notre de Paris. Henry had been the only English King to be crowned King in both England and France.

1st September 1437, Henry now 16 years old, he had come of age to have independent authority, he had full royal powers.

11th October 1440, Henry founded Eton College in Berkshire as a charity school, to provide free education to 70 poor boys.

12th February 1441, he founded Kings College in Cambridge. It was for a rector and 12 poor scholars. 2nd April 1441, Henry laid the first stone of the colleges old court building on passion Sunday,

Marriage to Margaret of Anjou

Both Earl of Suffolk and the Cardinal Beaufort, put forward a proposal to have peace with France. They suggested that marriage between Henry and Margaret of Anjou was the best chance for peace. Margaret was the niece of King Charles VII. After hearing the beauty of Margaret, Henry agreed, then sent the Earl of Suffolk to negotiate with Charles VII.

28th May 1444, Henry VI of England and Charles VII of France signed the Treaty of Tours at La Riche in France. It was an attempt at ending The Hundred Years War, apart of the terms were marriage and a two year truce.

john talbot, 1st earl of shrewsbury presenting the talbot shrewsbury book to queen margaret of anjou seated beside king henry vi
John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury presenting the Talbot Shrewsbury Book to Queen Margaret of Anjou seated beside King Henry VI

23rd April 1445, the marriage between King Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou took place at Titchfield Abbey in Hampshire. A month previous to the marriage, Margaret had reached the age of 15.

1446, the Treaty of Tours became public knowledge sparking off anger focused at the Earl of Suffolk. Henry and Margaret became determined to give him protection.

Insanity of King Henry VI

August 1453, Henry had a mental breakdown on the news of the final loss of Bordeaux in France. He became completely unresponsive, even to the birth of his son, Edward of Westminster. Henry became attended to, by the royal surgeons John Marchall, and Gilbert Kymer. He may have inherited the psychiatric condition from his maternal grandfather, Charles VI of France. Charles had suffered with periods of insanity, during the last 30 years of his life.

1454, Richard, Duke of York became named regent as protector of the realm. Edmund Beaufort was detained in the Tower of London, and Margret became completely excluded from Henry.

War of the Roses

1455, the War of the Roses began, it was a violent struggle between the two Houses of Lancaster and York.

10th July 1460, Henry had been found, then captured in his tent by the Earl of Warwick, after the Battle of Northampton. He was then escorted to Delapre Abbey in Northamptonshire, before being moved to London. Henry had been confined in the Bishop of London’s palace.

17th February 1461, Henry was still suffering with bouts of madness. He would burst out into laughter and singing under a tree, during the Second Battle of St. Albans.

29th March 1461, at the Battle of Towton Henry had been defeated by the Duke of York’s son, Edward who then became King Edward IV.

king henry vi of england at towton
King Henry VI of England at Towton, by William Dyce

Henry and Margaret managed to evade capture from Edward IV, and fed to Scotland.

15th May 1464, Lancastrian supporters gave refuge to Henry in the north of England after his defeat at Battle of Hexham.

13th July 1465, Henry was found hiding at Sir Richard Tempests home, at Waddington Hall in Lancashire, after being betrayed. John Tempest, son of Richard arrive with a group of Yorkist men to arrest Henry. He fled into the nearby woods, but soon captured. Henry became captive at the tower of London.

3rd October 1470, with help from Richard Neville, Duke of Warwick, Henry VI was back on the throne. Edward IV became forced into exile.

After years in hiding and captivity, it had taken its toll on Henry. Warwick and his brother George, Duke of Clarence ruled England in Henry’s name.

14th April 1471, Edward returned back to England from exile. He killed the Duke of Warwick at the Battle of Barnet.

4th May 1471, Henry’s son Edward, Prince of Wales and other Lancastrian nobles were killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury.

The murder of a king

21st May 1471, Edward IV feared that Henry may gain support. Henry had been killed in the night while he was kneeling down for prayer, from a blow to the back of his head. Edward became re-crowned on the following morning as King Edward IV of England.

Henry VI was buried at Chertsey Abbey in Surrey.

1484, Richard III had Henry’s body exhumed, and moved to St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, Berkshire.