Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Succession of infant King Henry VI

The son of Henry V and Katherine of Valois was born on December 6, 1421. When Henry V died untimely young, the nine-month old Henry VI succeeded him on August 31, 1422--with regents controlling the government, of course. He was crowned King of England on July 17, 1429 and King of France on December 16, 1431, coming of age in 1437.

He married Margaret of Anjou on April 23, 1445, lost his throne in 1461 during the Wars of the Roses because of bouts of madness and many governance problems at home and abroad, regained the throne in 1470 and died in the Tower of London on May 21, 1471.

Henry VI was certainly a devout Catholic and rumors of his sanctity continued after his death, with reported miracles. In fact, before the English Reformation, Henry might have been on his way to becoming declared a saint. Henry VII used his familial relationship to bolster his own Lancastrian claims, and therefore, encouraged this cult. (Henry VII's father Edmund Tudor was one of Henry VI's half-brothers, after Katherine of Valois and Owen Tudor got together!) But with the break from Rome under Henry VIII and the definite Calvinist Reformation during Edward VI's reign, that devotion was discouraged and his cult faded.
Henry VI therefore is remembered today for founding Eton College and King's College Chapel, which Henry VII and Henry VIII continued and completed.

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