Margaret of Anjou

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Margaret of Anjou (1430-1482) was daughter of René, count of Anjou and a niece by marriage to Charles VI of France. In 1445 she married Henry VI of England. A woman with a far stronger character than the king, she allied them both with the faction led by William de la Pole, earl of Suffolk and Thomas Beaufort, duke of Somerset, who were working towards peace with France by negotiation.

She played an important part in the first years of the Wars of the Roses, leading the Lancastrian forces during her husband’s captivity, and gaining his freedom in the second battle of St. Albans in 1461. She is notable for her lack of mercy after victory. During Henry’s incarceration in the Tower of London she was in France and, in 1470, was with Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, when he invaded England and restored Henry to the throne.

After Henry’s ultimate defeat the next year she was imprisoned by the Yorkists until being ransomed in 1475, renouncing her titles and all rights in England. She retired to Anjou where she led an impoverished existence until her death in 1482. She was buried in Angers Cathedral.

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