Essay on Henry VI and the Wars of the Roses

2506 Words 11 Pages
From his fifteen year minority to the inept rule of the rest of his reign, Henry VI was a "child", at least as far as governing ability was concerned. The period of his minority and the time that he was the titular king laid the groundwork for the Wars of the Roses. Had Henry been an intelligent king, with at least some political acumen, and the ability to win the respect of his nobles, their may have never been any Wars of the Roses. But his weakness in allowing government by favorites and governing foolishly on his own, at the very least directed his country down the road to a bloody civil war.

Henry VI was born on December 6, 1421, and became king of England on September 1, 1422. Problems began almost immediately, though these
…show more content…
Since it was made up of nobles, they tried to protect each others' interests, something not always for the public good.

Even after he had come of age, Henry suffered from a lack of popular support, something that invariably helps the "other side" in a civil war. He was considered a fool by the general populace, which weakened his authority. During his reign, there were many charges of seditious libel to come before the courts (Storey, 34) and they usually dealt with someone slandering the king. Common people and yeomen were calling the king a "lunatic", a child, and a fool (Storey, 35). For instance, one Sussex yeoman called the king a "natural fool" and said that "the king was no person able to rule the land" (Storey, 35). Evidently, if even the common people were slandering the king, they must have had some basis for it. The king did nothing to prove the people wrong, rarely going on progresses to smooth out his image. He stayed in the Home Counties for much of his reign, and even that did not improve his image with the people.

Among the upper classes, he proved over and over again that he was not a good king. He rarely, if ever, participated in Parliament, and often did not attend sittings of the king's council. When the council sat at Westminster, Henry usually managed to be somewhere else (Storey, 35). These actions give a picture of a king who, though solicited for his opinions, did not want to get involved in the
Open Document