Katherine of Valois
Katherine of Valois was the daughter of King Charles VI
of France and his wife Isabelle of Bavaria. She was born
on October 27, 1401. Early on there had been a discussion
of marrying her to the son of Henry IV, but the King died.
The new king, Henry V, also proposed the match, but
demanded a large dowry and acknowledgement of his right
to the throne of France.
Henry V went to war with France and even after the
English victory at Agincourt, plans for the marriage
continued. Katherine was said to be very attractive and
when Henry finally met her at Meulan he became
enamored. In May 1420, a peace treaty was made
between England and France and Charles acknowledged
Henry of England as his heir. Katherine and Henry were
married at the parish Church of St. John. Catherine was then
18, and Henry V was 32.
Katherine went to England with her new husband and
was crowned as Queen in Westminster Abbey in
February 1421. In June 1421, Henry returned to France
to continue his campaigns.Catherine became pregnant,
and the future King Henry VI was born in December
1421. The boy and his father would never see each other,as
he died on campaign in August 1422.
Henry VI was the only child of Henry V and Catherine of Valois,
born on December 6, 1421.
Katherine was not quite 21 and was left a widow and Dowager Queen of
Charles VI died a couple of months after Henry V, which
made the young Henry VI king of both England and France.
Katherine doted on her young son during his early
However, Katherine was still young and might wish to remarry. In the
Parliament of 1427-8, a bill was introduced setting
the rules for the remarriage of a Queen Dowager. The bill stated that
if the Queen and a new husband married without the King's consent,
the husband would lose his lands and possessions, although any
children from the marriage would still be members of the royal family.
Another rule was that the king's permission could only be granted
once he had reached his majority.At the time the bill was written, the
king was only six years old.
Despite all of this, Katherine did remarry in secret, sometime in 1431
or 1432. Her new husband was Owen ap Maredudd ap Tudur of
Wales. Somewhere at this time, the Queen stopped living in the
King's household and in May 1432 Parliament granted Owen the
rights of an Englishman. There are many tales, of how Katherine and
Owen met. We don't know for sure what position Owen held when he
met the Queen, but he was most likely keeper of the Queen's
household or wardrobe.
The couple had six children (Thomas Tudor and
Owen Tudor were monks, Edmund Tudor married Margaret Beaufort
fathered Henry Tudor, later King Henry VII, Jasper Tudor married
Catherine Woodville, sister of Elizabeth Woodville, who married King
Edward IV, and two other daughters became nuns).
Death and burial Catherine of Valois died in January 1437 at
the age of 35, shortly after giving birth to a
daughter who died as a baby. She was buried
in Westminster Abbey.
In a frankly revolting episode, Catherine of
Valois’ tomb was damaged in the early 16th
century, and her body exposed.
No-one got round to doing anything about it
for about 350 years, and her body remained
visible for the entire period.
It became a kind of bizarre tourist attraction,
to view the corpse of the long-dead Queen.
After the Queen's death, Owen and
Katherine's enemies decided to proceed
Owen for violating the the law of the remarriage
of the Dowager Queen. Owen appeared before
the Council, acquitting himself of all charges
and was released. On his way back to Wales,
he was arrested and his possessions seized.
He tried to escape from Newgate jail in early
1438 and eventually ended up at Windsor
Castle in July of that year.
EDMUND AND JASPER TUDOR AND MARGARET BEAUFORT
In 1452, Edmund and Jasper Tudor were formally brought into the royal family and were made earls:
Edmund the Earl of Richmond and Jasper the Earl of Pembroke. Their brother Owen was already a
monk at Westminster Abbey.
They had been formally recognized at the half brothers of the King whose uncles -- other possible
heirs -- were all dead by this time. But the Tudors had no blood connection to the English throne at this
time (although they did to the throne of France through their mother Katherine of Valois).
The new earls were given precedent over all the other nobles of the realm save the dukes and the
King and Queen. Along with the titles came estates and revenues, as well as the potential of noble
In March 1453, Edmund and Jasper were given joint custody of Margaret Beaufort, heiress of the Duke of
Margaret Beaufort was born May 31, 1443. Her father died in 1444, leaving his young daughter a
very desirable bride. A few years later, Margaret was married to John de la Pole but he was murdered
in 1450 and in early 1453, the marriage of John and Margaret was annulled.
The annulment may have come at the request of the King, who also may have been the one to
match Margaret and Edmund Tudor. The couple were married in 1455.
Edmund Tudor died in November 1456 and his brother Jasper took Margaret the child she was
carrying into his protection. The child was a son born in 1457, and was named Henry.
Jasper himself was still not married and wouldn't find a bride for almost 30 years.
Henry VI of England
Henry was the only child and heir of King Henry V of England. He
was born on 6 December 1421 at Windsor, and succeeded to the
throne at the age of nine months as King of England on 31 August
1422 when his father died, thus making him the youngest person
ever to succeed to the English throne. Two months later, on 21
October 1422, he became King of France upon his grandfather
Charles VI's death in agreement with the Treaty of Troyes in 1420.
On 28 September 1423, the nobles swore loyalty to Henry VI.
They summoned Parliament in the King's name and established a
regency council until the King should come of age. One of Henry
V's surviving brothers, John, Duke of Bedford, was appointed
senior regent of the realm and was in charge of the ongoing war in
France. During Bedford's absence, the government of England
headed by Henry V's other surviving brother, Humphrey, Duke of
Gloucester, who was appointed Protector and Defender of the
Realm. His duties were limited to keeping the peace and
Henry was soon crowned King of England at Westminster
on 6 November 1429,followed by his own coronation as King of
France at Notre Dame de Paris on 16 December 1431, although
it was not until a month before his sixteenth birthday on 13
November 1437 that he obtained some measure of independent
authority.He finally assumed full royal powers when he
came of age.
Coronation as King of France
Henry, shy and pious, averse
to deceit and bloodshed,
immediately allowed his court
to be dominated by a few
noble favourites who clashed
on the matter of the French war.
After the death of Henry V,
England had lost momentum
in the Hundred Years' War,
while, beginning with Joan of
Arc's military victories, the
Valois gained ground. The
young king came to favour a
policy of peace in France.
Cardinal Beaufort and the Earl of Suffolk persuaded the king
that the best way of pursuing peace with France was through a
marriage with Margaret of Anjou. Henry agreed, especially
when he heard reports of Margaret's stunning beauty, and sent
Suffolk to negotiate with Charles, who agreed to the marriage
on condition that he would not have to provide the customary
dowry and instead would receive the lands of Maine and Anjou
from the English. These conditions were agreed to in the Treaty
of Tours.The marriage took place on 23 April 1445, one month
after Margaret's 15th birthday.
Henry, who was more interested in religion and learning than
military matters, was not a successful king. He had
reigned since he was only a few months old and his
actions had been controlled by regents. When he married
Margaret, his mental condition was already unstable and
by the time their only son, Edward of Westminster, was
born on 13 October 1453, he had suffered a complete
breakdown. Rumours were rife that he was incapable of
fathering a child and that the new Prince of Wales was the
result of an adulterous liaison.
Although Margaret was aggressively partisan and had a volatile
temperament,she shared her husband's love of learning
by dint of her cultured upbringing and gave her patronage
to the founding of Queens' College at Cambridge
Wars of the Roses
On Christmas Day 1454, King Henry regained his senses. Disaffected nobles who had grown in power during
Henry's reign took matters into their own hands by backing the claims of the rival House of York, first to
the Regency, and then to the throne itself.
After a violent struggle between the houses of Lancaster and York, Henry was deposed and imprisoned on 4
March 1461 by his cousin, Edward of York, who became king, as Edward IV. By this point, Henry was
suffering such a bout of madness that he was apparently laughing and singing while the Second Battle of St
Albans raged, which secured his release. But Edward was still able to take the throne, though he failed to
capture Henry and his queen, who fled to Scotland. During the first period of Edward IV's reign,
Lancastrian resistance continued mainly under the leadership of Queen Margaret and the few nobles still
loyal to her in the northern counties of England and Wales. Henry, who had been safely hidden by
Lancastrian allies in Scotland, Northumberland and Yorkshire was captured by King Edward in 1465 and
subsequently held captive in the Tower of London.
Queen Margaret, exiled in Scotland and later in France, was determined to win back the throne on behalf of her
husband and son. By herself, there was little she could do. However, eventually Edward IV had a falling-out
with two of his main supporters. At the urging of King Louis XI of France they formed a secret alliance
with Margaret. After marrying his daughter to Henry and Margaret's son, Edward of Westminster,
Warwick returned to England, defeated the Yorkists in battle, and restored Henry VI to the throne on 30
October 1470. However, by this time, years in hiding followed by years in captivity had taken their toll on
Henry's return to the throne lasted less than six months. Warwick soon overreached himself by declaring war
on Burgundy, whose ruler responded by giving Edward IV the assistance he needed to win back his throne
by force. He won a decisive victory at the Battle of Tewkesbury on 4 May 1471, where Henry's son Edward
Henry was imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he died during the night of 21/22 May 1471. In all
likelihood, Henry's opponents had kept him alive up to this point rather than leave the Lancasters with a far
more formidable leader in Henry's son Edward. According to the Historie of the arrivall of Edward IV, an
official chronicle favourable to Edward, Henry died of melancholy on hearing news of the Battle of
Tewkesbury and his son's death.It is widely suspected, however, that Edward IV, who was re-crowned the
morning following Henry's death, had in fact ordered his murder.
The marriage of King Henry VI
and Margaret of Anjou
Margaret of Anjou