Sunday, December 2, 2012

Margaret of Anjou

Mary Picture, Symbol of Women's History Site

(b. 1430 - d. 1482)

Margaret of Anjou was one of the major players in the Wars of the Roses. She often led the Lancastrian forces during the wars and dictated grand strategy. She battled her arch enemy Richard, duke of York over the royal succession and unsuccessful tried to place her son, Edward, on the throne.  Daughter of Rene of Anjou, King of Naples and Sicily, she became queen of England by marrying King Henry VI in 1445.  At the time, England 's possessions in France had been almost lost as the Hundred Years War had finally come to an end in 1452. This loss may have brought about the first sign of insanity in her husband in 1453. What this illness was is not clear, but it seems that it manifested itself into a form of paralysis.
When Henry was incapacitated, control of the country was taken by Richard, duke of York. Richard was Henry’s worst enemy. Margaret had tried to get control and become regent, but she was defeated by Richard. The next year Henry recovered and clashed with Richard over who would rule England thus starting the “Wars of the Roses.”  Basically, the Wars of the Roses were a series of battles between the House of Lancaster and the House of York.  The name “Wars of the Roses” came the red rose was worn by those of Lancaster and the white rose was worn by those of York . On the side of the House of Lancaster were Henry VI, Margaret, and those who supported Henry. The House of York consisted of Richard, duke of York , who spent the later part of his life attempting to acquire the throne for his family. He served for Henry VI as both Lieutenant of France and Lieutenant of Ireland. In 1450, he returned to England to oppose the duke of Somerset , one of Henry's closest advisors. Richard had 3 sons, 2 of which went on to become kings:  Edward IV, Richard III. Richard died in 1460 at the battle of Wakefield .
At the battle of Northampton in 1460, the Yorkist captured Henry.  By 1461, he lost the throne to Richard's son Edward IV. Henry VI was captured by Edward, Richard’s son, in 1460 and sent to the tower of London where he was murdered on May 21, 1471. At Tewkesbury in 1471, her son (Edward, Prince of Wales) was defeated and killed and she was imprisoned. She was eventually ransomed by Louis of France in exchange for her French lands.
Although Margaret’s side ultimately lost the Wars of the Roses leaving her to live her last years in poverty, she was an amazing woman. She was involved with the troops, though not extensively. She had powerful influence over her husband and she was extremely determined. Margaret was a very intelligent woman and used it to her advantage. She also knew how to play political games, as seen by her stacking of the Parliament. Even though Margaret is not particularly well-known, she made an impact on history with her relentless nature during the Medieval era.

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