Margaret of Anjou

Royal 15 E VI  f. 2v  Presentation scene

Margaret of Anjou,

wife of King Henry VI



23 or 24 March 1430, daughter of Rene, Duke of Anjou, and Isabelle II of Lorraine, in Lorraine, France


22 April 1445, Henry VI, at Titchfield Abbey, Hampshire


30 May 1445, at Westminster Abbey, London


25 August 1482, at Dampierre, Anjou


Cathedral of St. Maurice, Angers, France

argaret was chosen as Henry VI’s bride for the sake of peace with France. She brought no dowry. She did bring a strength of mind that can perhaps be traced to her grandmother Yolande of Aragon, the powerful mother-in-law of Charles VII of France.

Margaret’s position at the English court was weakened by her prolonged childlessness. In 1453, finally about to bear her only son, Margaret saw her husband suffer a complete mental collapse. She was thereafter required by her husband’s fatal passivity to take decisive, militant action to protect their son. She suffered very harsh criticism and her historical reputation is still debated.

The battle for control of Henry VI and his crown was fought between Margaret and her Lancastrian allies, and the adherents of the Duke of York (also of royal blood). York aimed for the throne and with that Margaret could not compromise.

After a significant Lancastrian defeat in 1460, Henry VI formally disinherited his son Edward in favor of the Duke of York. Margaret fled with Edward, first to Scotland and then to France. Desperately and implacably she sought to recover the English throne for her son. Over the course of a decade, she sought allies and funds, and occasionally personally led armies.

Ultimately, she joined with the treacherous and self-serving Duke of Warwick in a two-pronged invasion of England. Warwick and his forces lost to Edward IV at the battle of Barnet 14 April 1471. Margaret and her forces were defeated three weeks later at Tewkesbury, where her son Edward, age 18, was killed. Margaret was captured shortly thereafter and imprisoned. Henry VI was quietly executed.

After several years in English custody, Margaret was returned to France where she lived her remaining years, poor and without purpose, in a small backwater castle.

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