Who’s Who – Henry VI

A guide to the key names in the Henry VI podcast episode:

The Royal Family

Henry VI – the King!

John, 1st Duke of Bedford – Henry VI’s uncle, a capable soldier and statesman who is appointed regent in France and Normandy for the minority.

Humphrey, 1st Duke of Gloucester – Henry VI’s second uncle and Protector of the Realm in England. Popular with the public but falls out with the Beaufort figures on the regency council in his opposition to peace with France.

Margaret of Anjou – Henry VI’s wife and ultimately the leader of Henry VI’s Lancastrian court in the Wars of the Roses. A controversial woman who takes the lead when her husband proves incapable.

Prince Edward – the son of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou. Perhaps a more capable figure than his father, but is forced to fight for the right to be heir.

The Dead (featured in previous episodes but relevant to this one too!)

Henry V – Henry VI’s father and one of England’s legendary kings. His great successes leave Henry VI as King of England and France, but it is a difficult legacy to maintain.

The Lancastrians (Henry VI’s supporters)

Duke of Suffolk (William de la Pole) – Henry’s favourite through the 1440s-50 and the major proponent of peace with France, in opposition to Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester.

Edmund Beaufort (2nd Duke of Somerset) – another favourite of Henry VI and in particular of Margaret of Anjou. Edmund was the major rival to Richard Duke of York and their personal conflict was one of the immediate causes of the Wars of the Roses.

The Yorkists (Henry VI’s opponents)

Richard, Duke of York – the most powerful noble in England and, for a time, the technical heir to the throne. Richard’s enemies at the Lancastrian court (Somerset and Margaret of Anjou) sought to sideline him during the 1440s but from 1450s he sought to have Somerset removed and restore himself as a major figure.

Edward of March (later Edward IV) – son of Richard Duke of York who fought with his father against the Lancastrians before coming to lead the Yorkist forces and become Edward IV.

Earl of Salisbury (Richard Neville) – powerful northern lord who led the Nevilles against the powerful Percy family in northern England, leading to an alliance with Richard Duke of York.

Earl of Warwick (‘the Kingmaker’) – son of Salisbury and a legendary figure in English medieval history. A powerful soldier and commander as well as an expert propagandist, he fought with Richard Duke of York and later his son, Edward of March, against the Lancastrians. Dubbed the Kingmaker due to his helping both Edward IV and Henry VI to take the throne at different times.

The French

Charles VII – the French dauphin and rival to the French throne who was able to win his kingdom back from Henry VI thanks to the help of a formidable peasant girl.

Joan of Arc – a legendary French peasant girl whose saintly visions inspired her to spearhead the French recovery in the Hundred Years War and oversee a remarkable English decline.

Louis XI – a cunning French king later in the reign who intervened in the Wars of the Roses to further his own cause against the Burgundians in France.

Family Fortunes – Wars of the Roses

The Lancastrians

Henry VI loses his throne and his only son, Prince Edward, is killed in the Battle of Tewkesbury, meaning that the royal Lancastrian line has ended.

The Beaufort’s (pseudo-Lancastrian)

During Henry VI’s reign there are four Dukes of Somerset who all hail from the Beaufort line, most famous among whom is Edmund Beaufort. However, all four of these Dukes are killed during the Wars of the Roses and ultimately leave no male heirs, meaning that the male line of the Beaufort’s has ended.

The Yorkists

Although Richard Duke of York is killed during the Wars of the Roses, his eldest son, Edward of March, is victorious and becomes Edward IV. What’s more, he has two brothers (George, Duke of Clarence and Richard, Duke of Gloucester) as well as numerous children. The Yorkists are now in control and looking strong,

The Neville’s

Both Salisbury and Warwick die without leaving significant male issue, significantly limiting the family’s powerful standing. Instead it is the women of the family who hold prominent positions at court: Cecilly is the mother of Edward IV, while Isabel and Anne are married to Edward’s brothers, George and Richard.

The Tudors

The final major rival to the Yorkists are the Tudors, who finally come to play a major role in English history. Firm supporters of Henry VI, Owen Tudor is executed after the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross but his sons Edmund and Jasper continue the fight. Edmund dies young, but not before marrying Lady Margaret Beaufort, whose son from the marriage, Henry Tudor, now has a claim to the throne through the Beaufort side of the family. Henry Tudor ends the period in exile with Jasper in Brittany, the last Lancastrian rival to the throne.