In this new assessment of Henry VI, David Grummitt synthesizes a wealth of detailed research into Lancastrian England that has taken place throughout the last three decades to provide a fresh appraisal of the house’s last King. The biography places Henry in the context of Lancastrian political culture and considers how his reign was shaped by the times in which he lived.
Henry VI is one of the most controversial of England’s medieval kings. Coming to the throne in 1422 at the age of only nine months and inheriting the crowns of both England and France, he reigned for 39 years before losing his position to the Yorkist king, Edward IV, in the early stages of the Wars of the Roses. Almost a decade later, in 1470, he briefly regained the throne, only for his cause to be decisively defeated in battle the following year, after which Henry himself was almost certainly murdered. Henry continues to perplex and fascinate the modern reader, who struggles to understand how such an obviously ill-suited king could continue to reign for nearly forty years and command such loyalty, even after his cause was lost.
From his coronation at nine months old, to the legacy of his reign in the centuries after his death, this is a balanced, detailed and engaging biography of one of England’s most enigmatic kings and will be essential reading for all students of late medieval England, and the Wars of the Roses.
Table of Contents
- The Lancastrian Legacy I: England 1399-1422
- The Lancastrian Legacy II: France 1415-1422
- ‘Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child’: England and France 1422-1429
- Coronations and counsel: 1429-1437
- Majority Rule I: patronage and the king’s household 1437-1450
- Majority Rule II: peace and piety 1437-1450
- Henry VI, Jack Cade and the Duke of York: 1450-1455
- Civil War and the End of the House of Lancaster: 1455-1461
- Exile, Imprisonment and the Readeption: 1461-1471
- Epilogue: John Blacman and the Saintly King
David Grummitt is Head of the School of Humanities at Canterbury Christ Church University. His previous publications include The Calais Garrison: War and Military Service in England, 1436-1558 (Boydell & Brewer, 2008) and A Short History of the Wars of the Roses (I.B. Tauris, 2012).
"...Grummitt’s portrait provides a valuable context that explores the political and philosophical notions of power that drove policy and established reputation. Summing Up: Recommended."
L.C. Attreed, College of the Holy Cross, USA, CHOICE Review
"David Grummitt’s latest book is a succinct, accessible and confident account of the life and reign of Henry VI. It evaluates with maturity and good sense the divergent views that have been expressed about this enigmatic king, within a distinctive context of what Dr Grummitt identifies as ‘Lancastrian’ cultural values."
Ralph Griffiths, Swansea University, UK
'David Grummitt provides us with a new picture of the complicated and nuanced reign of the religious, proud, and ill King Henry VI; the political and cultural values of the Lancastrians infuse Grummitt's view of the sometimes contradictory and often elusive Henry, offering us a new vantage of the mid-fifteenth century.'
Wendy Turner, Georgia Regents University, USA