Henry VI., son of the preceding and of Catharine of France, and last monarch of the Lancastrian dynasty, born in Windsor, Dec. 6, 1421, believed to have been killed in the tower in May, 1471. His reign is reckoned as having begun Sept. 1, 1422, the day after his father's death, when he was only nine months old. Parliament declared him king of France and England, and lord of Ireland, and created his father's eldest brother, the duke of Bedford, protector, defender, and chief counsellor of the kingdom and church, and provided that whenever the duke of Bedford was absent, his father's younger brother, the duke of Gloucester, should act in his place. The care of his person and education was confided to the earl of Warwick and to Bishop (afterward Cardinal)
Beaufort. Charles VI. of France having died soon afterward (October, 1422), Henry was also proclaimed king of France in all those parts of that country which were in the possession of the English, while Charles VII. was crowned by the French the same year at Poitiers. A long struggle ensued between the supporters of Henry and those of Charles, in which the English had the advantage until Joan of Arc turned the scale. Henry was crowned at London in 1429 and at Paris in 1431, the protectorate then ending. During his minority there had been much contention between Cardinal Beaufort and the duke of Gloucester, and the king's coronation was a triumph of the former, who then gave to the government a strong ecclesiastical tendency, which was offensive both to the people and to the aristocracy. It was found that Henry had inherited none of the martial qualities of his father. The Beaufort party arranged a match between him and Margaret of Anjou, daughter of Rene of Provence. The marriage, which took place April 22, 1445, was unpopular in England, both on account of Margaret's relationship to the French king, and because, in return for her hand, Maine and Anjou were surrendered to her father, who claimed them by right of inheritance.
A truce which had been negotiated with France was prolonged upon terms considered disadvantageous to England. In 1447 both Beaufort and Gloucester died, and the earl of Suffolk became the most powerful person in the kingdom; he was first created marquis, then duke, and received other high offices and preferments. But as through him both the marriage and the truce had been negotiated, he was greatly disliked. The ill will with which he was regarded was aggravated by disasters suffered in France when hostilities were renewed. Finally his enemies procured his banishment from England, pursued him after he had left it, and had him murdered (1450). His death did not allay the popular dissatisfaction, which rendered Jack Cade's insurrection temporarily successful. Meanwhile the English continued to lose ground in France. In 1451 they had lost all their French possessions except Calais. Popular attention began to bo directed toward Richard, duke of York, as the rightful heir to the throne. He was descended from Lionel, duke of Clarence, third son of Edward III., while Henry himself was descended from John, duke of Lancaster, Edward III.'s fourth son.
Henry's weakness, and the general unpopularity of the government, encouraged York, who was much loved because of his bravery, mildness, and good conduct both in public and private life, to put forward his claims. His immense possessions gave him vast influence. His wife was a Neville, and ho had the support of the ablest members of that family, the earls of Salisbury and Warwick, father and son. So long as no offspring followed from the marriage of Henry and Margaret, it was believed that York would peaceably succeed to the throne on the king's death. But in 1453 Margaret gave birth to a son whose legitimacy was doubted; and about the same time the king became imbecile. The Yorkists seized the government, overthrowing Somerset, who had succeeded to Suffolk; and the duke was made protector by parliament. On recovering his health, Henry restored Somerset to office, whereupon York levied an army, and demanded reform in the government. The war of the roses then began. The first battle of St. Albans was fought May 22,1455, and the Yorkists or party of the white rose were victorious.
The administration passed into York's hands, and he was king in fact, but Henry's authority was restored in 145G. A partisan quarrel in 1459 renewed the war; and in 14G0 the Lancastrians were defeated by Warwick, and the king was captured, at Northampton. York now demanded the throne, and parliament decided that ho should succeed to it on Henry's death, and the duke in the mean time administer the government. The queen raised an army in opposition to this arrangement, with which she won the victory of Wakefield, Dec. 30, 1400, in which York was slain. The second battle of St. Albans, Feb. 17, 1461, restored Henry to the hands of his friends; but the victory of Towton, won by Edward, duke of York, now Edward IV., March 29, 1401, compelled him to fly, with his wife and son, to Scotland. Margaret, through foreign assistance, renewed the war in 1403, but was defeated in 1404, and Henry was captured in 1400. He was imprisoned in the tower till 1470, when Warwick restored him to the throne after his quarrel with Edward IV. On the return of Edward, Henry again became a prisoner, and died about May 21, 1471.
Henry VI., surnamed the Cruel, emperor of Germany, son and successor of Frederick I. (Barbarossa), born in 1165, died in Sicily, Sept. 28, 1197. He had been crowned king by the Lombards in 1185, and was also during his father's lifetime named successor to the imperial throne. In 1186 he married the Norman heiress, Constance of Naples and Sicily. Oh the death of Frederick in Cilicia (1190), Henry, who had been invested with the government during his father's absence, succeeded without opposition. But the return from England of Henry the Lion of Saxony, who had been temporarily exiled by Frederick, provoked new wars, which were terminated by the marriage of the son of the duke with Agnes, princess palatine, cousin to Henry. In 1192 Richard Coeur de Lion was arrested while going through Germany in disguise, and with his ransom Henry fitted out an expedition to Italy. Naples surrendered, and he was crowned at Palermo in October, 1194; but his cruelty to the Italian nobles who had rebelled, and his extortion, rendered him so odious that his sudden death is generally attributed to poison. Constance has been accused of the murder.
At the time of his death he was preparing for an expedition against the Greek empire, preliminary to a new crusade.