Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Henry VI of England


Painting of Henry VI of England

Henry VI was born on December 6, 1421 and became king of England when he was only nine months old. Henry was the only child of Henry V who had attempted to unite the kingdoms of England and France under one king through his military victories that resulted in the Treaty of Troyes in 1420 giving his heir a legal claim to rule both England and France. When Henry V died and Henry VI became the boy king he inherited a political situation in France that would only grow worse with the absence of his father. The Hundred Years War was waged over the very issue of who had a legal right to rule France. His father's military dominance and the Treaty of Troyes had greatly diminished the opposition to English rule however the death of Henry V had greatly exacerbated the situation. Since Henry VI was just a child when he became king his uncle the Duke of Bedford actually wielded power in his name. Attempting to finish his brother Henry V's work in France, Bedford aggressively waged war to win the Hundred Years War and establish his nephew Henry VI as the king of all of France.

When Joan of Arc arrived upon the scene in 1429 Henry VI was still a child of only seven and had little real influence upon events. He was paraded around by his uncle as the legitimate King of France for political purposes but he had no real part in fighting against Joan and her army. Henry was present at times at Joan's trial in 1431 in Rouen but there is no evidence that he ever actually met Joan. After Joan's execution Bedford tried to reverse the course of the war back in favor of the English but was unsuccessful and when he died in 1435 he left his teenaged nephew in little position to do better. Ultimately the intervention of Joan of Arc in the Hundred Years War dealt a death blow to the plans of the English to rule France under Henry VI and probably had an adverse effect upon Henry's rule of England as his reign was beset by civil strife between the ruling houses of Lancaster and York culminating in the War of the Roses.

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