Henry VI

Strengths and weaknesses of Henry VI's reign.

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Henry VI - Weaknesses and Public Support

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Period of Insanity 1453-55 - During this time he suffered a period of insanity which left him helpless and eventually schizophrenic. At this point he had to rely on other people to keep his Kingdom secure such as his mother. Richard Duke of York was appointed protector - as well as already being 'heir presumptive' - which gave him a taste for power, and an idea of what it would be like when he was King However he lost this when Henry VI regained his senses and had a son who was now the new heir. This meant he was seen as a much easier target for enemies at home or abroad, and for possible over-mighty subjects.

Living in his fathers shadow - Henry V had generally been seen as a brilliant warrior King and was respected amongst the public and his nobility. Henry VI in contrast was seen as weak and cowardly - specifically after Cades Rebellion 1450. This lowered his public support and made it easier for any over-mighty subjects to try and usurp him.

Cade's Rebellion 1450 - 5000 men marched to London in protest of Henry VI's heavy taxation and desired the King to live off his own finances. Henry VI fled to Warwickshire leaving his Kingdom dangerous and unstable. This pushed more people toward the Yorkist cause.

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Henry VI - Losses in France and relationship with Burgundy.

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This was a major concern! - Henry was only 9 months old when he gained the throne and this cannot all therefore be blamed on him. However, he was trying desperately to hold on to the occupied land in France.

1436 - Paris was recaptured. 1442 - Pontoise was recaptured.

1444 - Suffolk negotiates a two year truce with France which included arrangements for Henry VI's marriage to Margaret of Anjou without a dowry and having to surrender Maine. Henry VI did not live up to his side of the deal and Maine was only surrendered when threatened with French troops. Between 1445-49 there was an uneasy truce.

During this time the relationship with Burgundy was steadily worsening, as they were looking for a truce with France. In 1434 the alliance was broken and this lead to riots across London. This also meant that two strong Kingdoms were now in alliance against England adding a further threat to safety.

1435 Treaty of Arras - reconciled the long standing feud between Charles VII and Duke of Burgundy. 

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Henry VI - Nobility - Gloucester, York and Suffolk

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The problems in France led to rivalries between some of England's most powerful families. In 1447 Suffolk had Gloucester and 30 of his men arrested on treason charges. He was accused of trying to usurp the throne and ruining the Queens reputation. Five days later he was executed.

This left Richard Duke of York as heir to the throne. He owned land in North and South England, Wales and Ireland. He was also linked to the powerful Neville family through his marriage to Cecily

After Cade's rebellion 1450 Richard Duke of York returned to England to great public support and soon rallied up an army. He marched to London and declared loyalty to the King, later presenting him with a list of personal demands one of which was to be heir presumptive. The King admitted him into the council and his supporters dominated Parliament, however Somerset dominated the council. In 1452 York raised an army to defeat Somerset however submitted in the face of a stronger royal force, but had Somerset arrested. He was later imprisoned and made to vow never to rebel against the King again

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Henry VI - Yorkist threat and military losses.

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Battle of Wakefield 1460 and 2nd Battle of St Albans 1461 - Lancastrian victories but paled in comparison to the battles they lost. Once again showed Henry VI to be a weak King.

1459 Battle of Blore Heath - Lancastrian leader, Lord Audley, is killed.

1460 Battle of Northampton - Henry VI is captured! Duke of Buckingham is killed. Shows how weak the Lancastrian cause was becoming as well as the King being essentially useless.

1461 Battle of Towton - Was the bloodiest battle of the Wars of the Roses. Edward was able to usurp the King and was crowned. 

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Henry VI - Nobility

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Henry VI was easily manipulated and dominated by favourites.

Somerset and Suffolk - Rewarded them far greater than he did any of his other Nobles. Gave them power and titles, leaving the rest feeling unappreciated and unrepresented.

Richard Duke of York was Governor of France and Normandy from1440-45 and essentially saved Henry V's French Kingdom, however Henry VI then gave this position to Somerset, causing more tension as well as further losses as he then went on to lose Normandy.

Parliament of Devils 1459 - This increased support for Richard and the Yorkist cause. They were hunted down and had to flee in fear of their lives. This seemed overly harsh to the Nobles and the general public and pushed more people to their side.

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