Margaret of Anjou

Margaret of Anjou was born on 23 March 1430 at Pont-a-Mousson in the Duchy of Lorraine, France. Her father was Rene, Duke of Anjou and titular king of Naples, Sicily and Jerusalem, and her mother Isabella, Duchess of Lorraine.

Margaret spent her childhood at the castle at Tarascon in Provence, and in the royal palace at Capua in Naples. She was educated by her mother and the scholar Antoine de la Salle.

On 23 April 1445, Margaret was married to King Henry VI of England at Titchfield Abbey in Hampshire, and then crowned Queen Consort of England on 30 May 1445 at Westminster Abbey. She was only fifteen years old.

Henry suffered from mental health and this only worsened following his marriage to Margaret and the birth of his son Edward, Prince of Wales on 13 October 1453. It wasn’t helped by the speculation over who had fathered Edward; many believed it was Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset and not the king.

As Henry’s health, worsened Richard, Duke of York, Margaret’s bitter enemy was named Regent in 1453, even though Margaret herself had tried to take control and become Regent.

Margaret knew that Richard was ambitious and she believed he would try and depose Henry, as he did himself have a credible claim to the English throne and there were also many powerful nobles prepared to support Richard.

Henry was not a strong man, however Margaret made up for this and she was determined to protect the throne for her son.

This fight for the throne of England became known as the Wars of the Roses, between the royal houses of York and Lancaster.

Henry recovered from his illness in 1455 and Richard’s regency came to an end. Margaret called for a Great Council, which the House of York was excluded from. The Council called for peers to protect the king from his enemies.

The House of York, to fight for the throne prepared for conflict.

The First Battle of St Albans was fought on 22 May 1455 with the Yorkists victorious and Henry taken prisoner.

Many battles took place and victory of these would to and fro, between the Lancastrian and Yorkist armies.

At the Battle of Wakefield on 30 December 1460, the Lancastrian forces won a decisive victory, at which Richard, Duke of York was killed.

The final decisive Battle of Towton, took place on 29 March 1461 which resulted in a Yorkist victory led by the new Duke of York, Richards son Edward. He was crowned King Edward IV of England.

Margaret fled with her son to Scotland and then made her way to France.

The Earl of Warwick had been a supporter of the Yorkist cause, but now discontented with Edward, he reconciled with Margaret in France and invaded England on her behalf in 1470. He reinstated Henry IV to the English throne on 3 October 1470, leaving Edward to flee to France.

This was a short-lived victory. Edward returned in 1471 and fought at the Battle of Barnet on 14 April at which the Earl of Warwick was killed.

Margaret having returned to England with her son; led her forces at the Battle of Tewkesbury on 4 May 1471, but her Lancastrian forces were decisively beaten, and her son killed.

Margaret was imprisoned on the orders of the king at Wallingford Castle, then transferred to the Tower of London. Her husband Henry VI was also imprisoned in the Tower and died there on 21 May 1471.

Margaret remained in the Tower until she was ransomed by King Louis XI in 1475.

Her final years were spent as a poor relation to the king of France at the Chateau of Dampierre-sur-Loire in Anjou France; where she died on 25 August 1482. She was buried in Angers Cathedral, France.

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