Sunday, June 22, 2008

Margaret of Anjou

Queen of England

Queen of Henry VI of England. Margaret was born (23/3/1429) at Pont-a-Mousson, Lorraine. She was the daughter of Duke Rene of Anjou (King of Naples and Sicily) by his first wife Isabelle, Duchess of Lorraine. She was also the niece of Charles VII of France. Margaret was promised to Henry when she was still young - they were married by proxy (24 May 1444) . Aged 15yo, Margaret was married to 24yo Henry (22/4/1445) at Titchfield Abbey. Then she was crowned at Westminster Abbey (30/5/1445).

Margaret had been educated at the French court, and was an intelligent, pretty, and strongminded young woman. As a result, Margaret tended to dominate Henry and was very determined to keep him on throne (remembering that this was the period in English history known as the War of the Roses between the Lancastrians and Yorkists). As Queen of England, Margaret headed the Lancastrian forces. She also controlled the government of England and husband during his fits of insanity (1445 - 1453). After many years of childlessness, Margaret gave birth to a son, Edward of Lancaster (1453) - to whom she was devoted. Henry was deposed by Yorkists (1461): after the Lancastrians defeated Warwick at St. Albans, they hesitated and lost chance. The Yorkist won a victory at Towton, which put Edward IV on the throne of England.

Margaret, with her young son in tow, fled to Scotland and thence to France (1461). She was not long there when she returned to England and invaded Northumbria (1462). But this did not achieve anything so Margaret once again returned to France. Gathering her forces, Margaret again landed in England (1470); this time she was strong enough, her army prevailed and Henry was replaced on the throne of England. But her success was shortlived and the Lancastrian forces were defeated by Yorkists at Tewkesbury. It was in the battle that Margaret's son was killed.

When Edward IV regained the throne, Henry VI was soon put to death in Tower of London - said he was killed whilst at prayer (21/5/1471). Margaret herself was captured and imprisoned in Tower. Edward IV eventually ransomed her to King Louis XI and she was allowed to return to France. Margaret spent rest of her life in seclusion. She died (25/8/1482) at Chateaude Dampiere, near Saumur, and was buried in Angers Cathedral.

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