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How Weak Was Henry Vi's Kingship?

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How weak was Henry VI’s kingship?
Henry VI was crowned King of England in 1429 but was only an infant, therefore throughout his minority a regency council ruled in his place until 1437 when Henry reached his majority at 15 and he started his reign. His regency council consisted of his two uncles, the Duke of Bedford and the Duke of Gloucester, Bedford was senior regent therefore he went to France to protect the territories that his brother, and Henry’s father: Henry V had won. Meanwhile, Gloucester stayed in England and ruled there, this situation worked very well until Bedford died in 1435, shortly after, Henry VI began his rule. Henry was known as quite a vulnerable character, he suffered from mental illness and was manipulated by his nobles into making bad decisions and showed a disinterest in governing and politics, it is for these reasons that his kingship today is known as weak or was he just simply misunderstood?
Firstly, Henry’s use of favouritism amongst the nobility caused a lot of unrest and feuds between these noblemen, this presented his bad kingship as it meant the nobles were too busy disputing with one another that they didn’t have time to focus on running the country, also, as a King, Henry should be able to be diplomatic and play the part of a mediator when such disputes occur, not be the cause of it. The feud was split into two factions, the Duke of Somerset, Duke of Suffolk and Cardinal Beaufort on one side and Gloucester and the Richard, Duke of York on the other. It started over Henry’s decision to send Somerset to France to protect territories won by Henry V instead of York, this was a fatal decision as Somerset lost most of the territories and it was obvious that York was better cut out for the job due to his impressive military success. Also, it is important to note that York had a much stronger claim to the throne than Henry but despite this, York was still very loyal to him as he served him as a Lieutenant in France, Normandy and Ireland, this was until Henry’s fatal decision to send Somerset. This infuriated York and demanded Somerset to be removed from his post, but, Henry refused, this favouritism shown by Henry represents his incredibly weak kingship, it resulted in loss of previous won territory in France which made him unpopular with the people and caused a split in the nobility.
Additionally, Henry’s marriage to Margaret of Anjou, arranged by Suffolk in 1445 also proved to be extremely unpopular and again presented Henry’s bad political tactics and shows how he was almost completely controlled by his bad advisors, such as Suffolk. As terms of this marriage, the Treaty of Tours was signed in 1444; this stated that in return for Margaret’s hand in marriage, England would return French territory to Maine. This angered the English people as the land that Henry V had successfully won and their men had fought hard for, had just been given away for a French bride, who also didn’t give a dowry. It also meant that noblemen lost out on a lot of income that was earned from these French lands which further angered the population. Also, England had to fight hard to protect the remaining territory in Calais but it wasn’t proving successful as the French had now more power, this meant debt were mounting up rapidly resulting in heavy taxation for the people, Henry also continued to lavishly spend the Crowns income, dangerously reducing the amount in it, this further increased taxes for commoners. Support for Henry was quickly diminishing and the people of England were getting sick and tired of paying for a war they were not going to win especially after Henry had just given away most of the land, uprisings were beginning on the streets and rebellions were forming such as the Jack Cade Rebellion in 1450, civil unrest was occurring on the streets and it was obvious that people were discontent with the way Henry was running things, this therefore reinforces Henry’s poor kingship.
Moving on, Henry’s health was deteriorating badly and he was diagnosed with some form of mental illness, therefore York took over as protector and ruled the country, he put Somerset in prison due to the loss of land in France and reformed the government as he saw fit, it is probable that the reforms York made improved the country and benefitted England, however when Henry returned, York was dismissed and Henry released Somerset and reversed all of the reforms York had made. It is this stubbornness and again this favouritism of Somerset and Suffolk which results in Henry being a weak King. It was this ignorant behaviour towards York that you could argue was the downfall to his reign as it caused York to make a bid for the crown himself, although he agreed to not do this whilst Henry was in power after he died, York’s son, Edward, carried on his Father’s wish and succeeded.
Overall, Henry VI failed to achieve even the basic tasks a King should achieve, he allowed himself to be manipulated and controlled by selfish advisors which resulted in him making numerous disastrous decisions concerning territory in France, his dangerous overspending of the Crown’s income and his failure to recognise which nobles (York) were there to help him make the right decisions. Also, his general behaviour and persona in which he emitted to the people of England was somewhat of a shy and vulnerable nature, for example, he would walk the streets dressed as a homeless man; this is something in which a King shouldn’t do and it doesn’t portray someone of power, wealth and confidence which is what a King should be like. Therefore, it is no wonder that the people of England did not support Henry VI and so many rebellions and uprisings occurred, however, you could argue, that due to his mental illness, Henry was not at fault and it is not fair to assume he should have been better as he didn’t choose to be King and it must have been very hard for him to cope especially with his illness. Nonetheless, Henry VI’s kingship was exceptionally weak.…...

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