Hiya, Sunday Weekend Warriors! Those relocating to London will get even more out this city if you’re at least somewhat knowledgeable of British history. I, for one, have a horrible head for names and dates, facts and figures, so I find it’s the broader brushstrokes that I’ll best retain and apply to the historical sites I see in London. Hence, these bite-sized tidbits on the British monarchy each week.
Last week, we met Henry VI, subject of Shakespeare’s history play of same name. He’s having a tough time so far, not helped by the breakdown he’s just had thanks to hereditary mental illness. And now he has the War of the Roses to contend with as conflict breaks out between the houses of York and Lancaster. As a quick recap, the Duke of York, Richard (a contender for the crown), had taken care of Henry VI’s duties while the King was ill, but his quarrels with the King’s wife, Margaret of Anjou, and other Lancastrians culminates in an attack on the Queen’s forces in 1455 at St. Albans. In 1459, Henry VI is captured, and Richard assumes the role of Protector of England; the Duke meets his demise, however at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460, yet his son is victorious the next year in Towton and crowns himself Edward IV.
Henry VI is exiled to Scotland for a few years, but on returning to England in 1465 is imprisoned at the Tower of London for five years. Though he’s briefly restored to the throne at that time, Henry VI loses his only son and heir in 1471 when the Lancastrians are defeated at Tewkesbery, and Henry himself (the last of the Plantagenet family’s Lancastrian line to rule England) is murdered soon after.