King Henry VI
The story of King Henry VI ( AKA : Henry of Windsor )
The English thought her a witch, but the French common men were always brave with her to lead them. Joan of Arc saved Orleans, and brought the king to be crowned at Rheims. Joan of Arc was captured by the English who sentenced her to be burnt to death in the market place at Rouen as a witch, and her own king never tried to save her. The French went on winning back more and more; and there were so many quarrels among the English that they had little chance of keeping anything.
King Henry V married Margaret of Anjou, the daughter of a French prince, who had a right to a great part of the lands the English held. All these were given back to her father, infuriating the Duke of Gloucester. The English hated the young queen. She was as bold and high-spirited as the king was gentle and meek. He loved nothing so well as praying, praising God, and reading; and he did one great thing for the country--which did more for it than all the fighting kings had done, he founded Eton College, close to Windsor Castle; and there many of our best clergymen, and soldiers, and statesmen, have had their education.
The queen, Margaret of Anjou, was eagerly taking part in plots and quarrels, and the nation hated her the more for interfering. Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester, was, at the meeting of Parliament, accused of high treason and sent to prison, where, in a few days, he was found dead in his bed. These were very bad times. There was a rising under a man named Jack Cade, who held London for two or three days before he was put down; and, almost at the same time, the queen's first English friend, Suffolk, was exiled by her enemies, and taken at sea and murdered by some sailors.
The last of the brave old friends of Henry V. was killed in France, while trying to save the remains of the old duchy of Aquitaine, which had belonged to the English kings ever since Henry II. married Queen Eleanor. That was the end of the hundred years' war, for peace was made at last, and England kept nothing in France but the one city of Calais.
Still things were growing worse. Duke Humfrey left no children, and as time went on and the king had none, the question was who should reign. If the Beauforts were to be counted as princes, they came next; but everyone hated them, so that people recollected that Henry IV. had thrust aside the young Edmund Mortimer, grandson to Lionel, who had been next eldest to the Black Prince. Edmund was dead, but his sister Anne had married a son of the Duke of York, youngest son of Edward III.; and her son Richard, Duke of York, could not help feeling that he had a much better right to be king than any Beaufort.
There was a great English noble named Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, who liked to manage everything - just the sort of baron that was always mischievous at home, if not fighting in France--and he took up York's cause hotly. York's friends used to wear white roses, Beaufort's friends red roses, and the two parties kept on getting more bitter; but as no one wished any ill to gentle King Henry, who, to make matters worse, sometimes had fits of madness, like his poor grandfather in France, they would hardly have fought it in his lifetime, if he had not at last had a little son, who was born while he was so mad that he did not know of it.
Then, when York found it was of no use to wait, he began to make war, backed up by Warwick, and, after much fighting, they made the king prisoner, and forced him to make an agreement that he should reign as long as he lived, but that after that Richard of York should be king, and his son Edward be only Duke of Lancaster.
This made the queen, Margaret of Anjou, furiously angry. She would not give up her son's rights, and she gathered a great army, with which she came suddenly on the Duke of York near Wakefield, and destroyed nearly his whole army. He was killed in the battle; and his second son, Edmund, was met on Wakefield bridge and stabbed by Lord Clifford; and Margaret had their heads set up over the gates of York, while she went on to London to free her husband.
Edward, York's eldest son, was a better captain than he, and far fiercer and more cruel. He made the war much more savage than it had been before; and after beating the queen's friends at Mortimer's Cross, he hurried on to London, where the people, who had always been very fond of his father, and hated Queen Margaret, greeted him gladly. He was handsome and stately looking; and though he was really cruel when offended, had easy, good-natured manners, and everyone in London was delighted to receive him and own him as king. He became King Edward IV of England.
But Henry and Margaret were in the north with many friends, and he followed them to Towton Moor, where, in a snow storm, began the most cruel and savage battle of all the war. Edward gained the victory, and nobody was spared, or made prisoner - all were killed who could not flee. Poor Henry was hidden among his friends, and Margaret went to seek help in Scotland and abroad, taking her son with her. Once she brought another army and fought at Hexham, but she was beaten again; and before long King Henry was discovered by his enemies, carried to London, and shut up a prisoner in the Tower. His reign is reckoned to have ended in 1461.
Henry VI was briefly restored to power in 1470. King Henry VI was again imprisoned in the Tower of London where he died. The cause of his death is unknown. His son, Edward, was taken prisoner by Richard, Duke of Gloucester and brought before King Edward IV. When the young Edward insulted the Yorkist king, Edward IV ordered his immediate murder. He is buried at Tewkesbury Abbey.
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