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Henry VI

Insanity and War

In 1453, shortly before the birth of his son, Edward, the king became insane. The duke of York was made protector (1454) in spite of the protests of Margaret, but when the king recovered, York was excluded from the council. In 1455, York met the Lancastrians at St. Albans in a conflict generally regarded as the first battle of the Wars of the Roses; Somerset was killed, and the Yorkists gained control of the council. York was again protector (1455–56), but thereafter Margaret was in control until 1460 when the Yorkist party won another victory at Northampton. Henry was made a prisoner, and York was named protector and heir apparent to the throne to the exclusion of Henry's own son.

York was killed at Wakefield in 1460, but his son Edward defeated the Lancastrian forces at Mortimer's Cross, entered London, and was proclaimed king as Edward IV in Feb., 1461. Henry, who had been rescued from Yorkist captivity at the second battle of St. Albans a few days earlier, now fled to Scotland. He remained there during most of the subsequent fighting until 1465, when he was captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London.

When Richard Neville, earl of Warwick, allied himself with Queen Margaret and invaded England in 1470, Henry was restored to the throne, but his second reign was short-lived. The unfortunate king was captured at the battle of Barnet and returned to the Tower. He was murdered there only days after Edward IV's final victory at Tewkesbury in May, 1471.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: British and Irish History: Biographies

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