Margaret of Anjou


Margaret of Anjou was the Queen of Henry VI and was the main champion of the rights of the Lancastrians during the War of the Roses. Henry VI was a kindly, but weak-willed king, and allowed most of the business of the state to be conducted by his counselors and regents. Margaret was not at first influential in his government, but after the birth of Prince Edward, she became the most important champion of her son's claim to the throne. Henry VI was sickly, and prior to the birth of Edward, a plan was in place that provided for the Duke of York, to succeed to the throne at the death of Henry VI. The birth of a heir on the Lancaster side threw a monkey-wrench into the Yorkish plans, and ultimately precipitated the fratricidal war that brought the 330 year Plantagenet Dynasty to an end.

A few minor battles were fought when Prince Edward was only a few years old, but the war did not break out in earnest until 1459. At that point most of the English nobles declared for either the Yorks or Lancastrians, and several brutal battles were fought, including Towton, the bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil. The fighting went well for the Lancastrians at first but after Towton, their cause suffered a severe setback. Margaret and Henry VI both went into hiding, and eventually Margaret was exiled to France, and the son of her nemesis, Richard of York, was crowned Edward IV.

For almost ten years Margaret remained in exile until she was coaxed back into the conflict by her old rival, the Earl of Warwick, who had broken his alliance to the Yorkish king. Warwick offered to raise an army to restore the Lancastrians to power, if Margaret gave her son Edward in marriage to Warwick's daughter. A few days before Margaret arrived in England with the prince however, Warwick was killed at the Battle of Barnet, and the cause was lost. Prince Edward was only eighteen, but he took up the cause himself, and was killed shortly thereafter. With the loss of her son, Margaret returned to France and lived the rest of her life in exile.

Key events during the life of Margaret of Anjou:

Birth of Margaret of Anjou in France.
Marriage to Henry VI.
Birth of Son, Prince Henry.
First Battle of St. Alban's: opening battle of War of the Roses.
Hostilities resume in earnest after the Battle of Bloore Heath.
Battle of Towton. Margaret exiled after a disastrous loss.
Edward IV is temporarily deposed. Warwick turns against him.
Battle of Barnet ends the hope of a Lancaster restoration.
Prince Edward killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury
Death of Margaret of Anjou, in exile in France.

Book Links
Margaret of Anjou  by  Jacob Abbott

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Downfall of York  in  Richard III  by  Jacob Abbott
Queen Margaret and the Robber  in  Cambridge Historical Reader—Primary  by  Cambridge Press
Two Roses  in  Stories From English History, Part Second  by  Alfred J. Church
Wars of the Roses (1455-1485)  in  The Story of England  by  Samuel B. Harding
Henry VI of Windsor—The Red Rose and the White in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall
Margaret of Anjou  in  Great Englishwomen  by  M. B. Synge

Image Links

Henry VI. and Margaret
 in Stories From English History, Part Second

Margaret of Anjou and the Robber
 in  The Story of the English

Margret intrusts her son to the robber
 in Famous Men of the Middle Ages

Short Biography
Henry VI Lancastrian king of England whose weak rule, and loss of much of France, inspired the Yorks to oppose him in the War of the Roses.
Earl of Warwick Primary figure in war of the Roses. Changed sides from York to Lancaster. Killed at Barnet.
Edward IV Son of the Duke of York. Became king of England when other aspirants were dead or deposed.
Duke of York Aspirant to the throne in the early years of War of the Roses. Killed in action with eldest son.
Richard III On death of his brother Edward IV, he killed his nephews and usurped the throne.
Duke of Suffolk Regent for Henry VI who arranged for his marriage to Margaret of Anjou.