Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Margaret of Anjou, the daughter of Duke Rene` I of Anjou (king of Naples and Sicily), and Isabella of Lorraine, was born and educated in France. She was married to King Henry VI in April of 1445 when Margaret was only 15 and Henry was 23. Because Margaret was a native of France, and Henry of England, their marriage was arranged as part of a truce in The Hundred Years' War between these two countries.

Margaret was a beautiful, strong-minded, determined, and educated young woman, although often vengeful. Some also say that she was uppity, and cared little, if any at all, for the less fortunate. Her husband, King Henry VI, was weak and ineffectual throughout his reign, as he suffered bouts of insanity caused by a mental illness he might have inherited from his French grandfather. Margaret soon dominated her husband's political affairs, which some people thought were not her place to concern herself with.

When Margaret married Henry and took up his political burden, she became a key member in his party, the Lancastrian party. She bitterly opposed her husband's political enemy, Richard, Duke of York. King Henry suffered a bout of insanity in the summer of 1453, and Margaret and Richard struggled during the winter of 1453/54 to be declared regent during Henry's illness. Then, on April 3, 1454, Richard was declared regent. It was also about this time, in 1453, that Margaret gave birth to her son, Prince Edward. Perhaps it could be assumed or supposed that the siding of Parliament with Richard for the regency had something to do with Margaret's pregnancy; once again, reminding them of Margaret's true female, recessive social expectation, versus her actual domination of Henry's political affairs that many perceived as improper for a queen. Fortunately for Margaret, Henry recovered around Christmas of that year, and Richard was ousted from power. The Duke of York, along with his allies, left London in disgust.

Although most people were glad to see the king recover from his illness, they were disappointed to see the Duke of York leave; after all, the Duke of York was obviously more capable of ruling than King Henry VI. Margaret also hated Richard for their struggle for the regency; she despised him even more for winning. These tensions exploded in armed conflict at the Battle of St. Albans on May 1, 1455. King Henry suffered a wound to the neck and many of his servants were killed. Henry was captured by the Yorkists and taken back to London. 
In 1459, Margaret outlawed the Yorkist leaders, and in December 1460, she killed Richard, the Duke of York, and vengefully displayed his head, adorned with a paper crown, outside of York.

On February 3, 1461, Edward IV, son of the Duke of York, defeated the Lancastrian forces at Mortimer's Cross in Herefordshire. Margaret and her son, Prince Edward, recruited a large army, and then on February 17, 1461, they defeated the Yorkists at the second Battle of St. Albans. Margaret of Anjou freed her husband. However, Edward IV usurped the throne on March 4 and defeated Margaret's army at the Battle of Towton, Yorkshire, on March 29. It was then that Margaret's small family of three fled to Scotland.

Later, in France in 1570, Margaret became reunited with Warwick, who was her former Yorkist enemy. However, Margaret was in for a surprise. Warwick was actually planning to overthrow Edward IV and restore Lancastrian Henry VI to the throne. Margaret, undoubtedly suspicious, didn't want him for an ally, but her desire to restore Lancastrian authority was immense, so she reluctantly agreed to his help. Warwick's plan was successfully executed in October 1470. However, Margaret didn't return to England until April 14, 1471 -- the same day that Warwick was killed in battle against Edward IV. Margaret was defeated at Tewkesbury in May by Edward IV, and her son was killed. Shortly after, her husband was captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he was ultimately killed by order of Edward IV. Margaret remained in custody in England until she was ransomed by the French king Louis XI in 1475. She then returned to France, where she spent her last years in poverty. She died in 1482 and was buried in Angers Cathedral at Chateau Dampiere.

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