The major nobles
The Duke of Gloucester was Henry VI's uncle and heir presumptive. He was the youngest brother of Henry V, but not the king's closest blood relative. Henry VI made his elder two half brothers the Earl of Richmond and the Earl of Pembroke.
Gloucester died in 1447 and Richard, Duke of York replaced him as heir presumptive. He was descended from Edward III, giving him a claim to the throne in his own right.
The other prominent noble family at the time were the Beauforts (illegitimate Lancastrian line). Like Henry VI, they were descended from John of Gaunt, son of Edward III. The Beauforts were major players in the Hundred Years War as they lacked land and wanted to gain estates in France. Cardinal Beaufort lent the Crown over £200,000 in the first half of the fifteenth century. The Cardinal's nephew, Edmund Beaufort was made Duke of Somerset in 1448.
Other powerful nobles included Buckhingham and Warwick. The noble who dominated government during the 1440s was William de la Pole, Earl and later Duke of Suffolk. He was made Lord Chamberlain in 1447. York hated Suffolk as he wanted his power. York believed he had the right to be chief advisor as he was the senior male relative of Henry VI after the duke of Gloucester.
The Duke of Gloucester
He was appalled at the Truce of Tours (1444) and was a constant critic of the peace policy with France.
Pushed for a major campaign in France but didn't gain support for it.
Henry VI was inclined to peace, as was Suffolk and the other nobles.
In 1447, Gloucester was arrested having been accused of treason. He was dead within days, apparently due to a stroke but there were rumours that Suffolk had had him killed.
Problems of law and order
Without the strong hand of a king to control the nobility, there were abuses of power - this was particularly seen in disputes over land ownership.
In 1445-50 disputes between nobles about land increased, and the King should have adjudicated. Henry, however, was not fulfilling this role. Because of this, lawyers were hired by nobles to investigate the problems, and some nobles even resorted to violence in order to obtain the land they felt they had claim to.
It was important to have the protection of the 'right' nobleman. The Paston family realised this as their manor in Gresham was taken over by Lord Moleyns on behalf of his wide. The manor got returned but Paston wanted to see Moleyns punished. Moleyns was a key member of the Suffolk faction and so Paston could do nothing about the incident.
The king was not fulfilling his role in the area of law and order and was letting others with powerful friends take advantage of the situation.
The role of the king
The king failed to be intelligent and effective on the throne, and didn't keep the nobility in line or adjudicate when there were disputes.
Henry actively contributed to some of the feuds with his ill-judged use of patronage and granting of royal favour.
The problems caused by the nobility are closely connected and interspersed with the problems caused by Henry's advisers because they were members of the nobility.