British Monarch. Born the only child of Henry V and Catherine of Valois, he became king when he was not yet ten months old. During the early years of his minority England was under the protectorate of Henry’s uncles, John of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford and Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. From the about age 14 Henry fell under the domination of Henry Beaufort and later William de la Pole, 4th Earl of Suffolk. The whole of Henry's early reign was involved with retaining his claim to the crown of France. Joan of Arc, however, rescued the French Dauphin Charles in 1429 and he was crowned Charles VII of France. With the conclusion of the Hundred Years' War in 1453, Henry lost his claim to all French soil except for Calais. The Earl of Suffolk arranged that Henry marry Margaret of Anjou in 1445 and they produced one son, Edward. Queen Margaret and Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset dominated the biddable king and were opposed by Richard, Duke of York. These opposing factions evolved into the Lancastrians and the Yorkists and were the beginning of the War of the Roses. Richard captured the king in 1460 and forced him to acknowledge Richard as heir to the crown after which Henry escaped. York was killed at Wakefield in 1460, but his son Edward made Henry prisoner, and was named protector and heir apparent to the throne to the exclusion of Henry’s son. Henry was rescued from Yorkist captivity at the second battle of St. Albans, 1461 but shortly thereafter, Yorkists defeated the Lancastrian forces at Mortimer’s Cross, and proclaimed Edward as king. Henry fled to Scotland where he remained until 1465 when he was captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick allied himself with Queen Margaret who was determined to win back the throne on behalf of her husband and son. Their forces invaded England in 1470, and Henry was briefly restored to the throne. The restoration was fleeting, however, as Henry was captured at the battle of Barnet and returned to the Tower. There he was murdered within a day after his return to prison. His son Edward had been killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury on May 4 leaving the throne in Yorkist hands with no strong Lancastrian contenders. Henry was said to have been a mild, honest, and pious man and is hailed as the founder of Eton and King’s College, Cambridge. He was also, however, considered mentally unstable, weak-willed, and politically naïve. It was unfortunate that he was cast in a role he was so completely unsuited for. Each year on the anniversary of his death, the Provosts of Eton and King's College, Cambridge, lay roses and lilies on the altar which now stands where he died.
Bio by: Iola