Henry VI in History


Historical Biographies

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King Henry VI

Henry VI portraitHenry VI was the king of England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine at the age of nine months. He was born at Windsor Castle on the feast of St. Nicholas, the 6th of December in 1421. He was the only child of Henry V (1386-1422) and Catherine of Valois (1401-1437). Henry’s godfathers were two senior members of the house of Lancaster; his great uncle, Henry Beaufort, bishop of Winchester, and Henry V’s brother John, duke of Bedford. Henry V died at Vincennes, near Paris in 1422, never meeting his son. In accordance with the treaty of Troyes (1420), baby Henry VI succeeded to the English throne as well as claims in France.


Craig, Leigh Ann. "Royalty, Virtue, and Adversity - the Cult of King Henry VI." Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies. 35:2 (Summer, 2003): 187-209.

Davies, John Silvester. An English chronicle of the reigns of Richard II., Henry IV., Henry V., and Henry VI. written before the year 1471 : with an appendix, containing the 18th and 19th years of Richard II. and the Parliament at Bury St. Edmund's, 25th Henry VI. and supplementary additions from the Cotton. ms. chronicle called "Eulogium." London: Camden Society, 1856.

Ellis, Henry (Ed.) Three books of Polydore Vergil's English history : comprising the reigns of Henry VI, Edward IV, and Richard III from an early translation, preserved among the mss. of the old royal library in the British Museum. London: Camden Society, 1844. 

Goodall, John A. A. " The Lancastrian Age: Henry IV..., Henry V and Henry VI." The English Castle, 1066-1650. New Haven: Yale UP, 2010. UW Library Arch.

Griffths, Ralph. The reign of King ​Henry VI : the exercise of royal authority, 1422-1461. London: E. Benn, 1981. Porter Library.

Oyelowo, David. Actors on Shakespeare - Henry VI Part OneLondon: Faber and Faber, 2003.

Stevenson, Joseph. Letters and papers illustrative of the wars of the English in France during the reign of Henry the Sixth, King of England. Wiesbaden: Kraus Reprint 1965. UW Library Annex.

Watts, John Lovett. Henry VI and the Politics of Kingship. New York: Cambridge UP, 1996. Porter Library.

Source: Griffiths, R.A. ‘Henry VI (1421–1471)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Sept 2010 [http://www.oxforddnb.com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/view/article/12953, accessed 28 April 2015]

Biography from the Official Website of the British Monarchy



Duke of Bedford praying.John of Lancaster, duke of Bedford (1389-1435), regent of France and prince, was born in 1389, the third son of Henry Bolingbroke, afterwards Henry IV. From Henry IV’s accession, John began to accumulate lands and offices in England that laid foundations for his later wealth. He was knighted in 1399 and his first military experience was in border warfare. When Henry invaded France in 1415 for the campaign that led to Agincourt, Bedford remained in England as lieutenant. Bedford was with Henry when the treaty of Troyes or ‘final peace’ was signed, in 1420. The treaty was the basis of the ‘dual monarchy’, the Lancastrian claim to rule France as well as England. Circumstances dictated that Bedford would spend the rest of his life defending the claims of his brother and his nephew to the French crown

Source: Stratford, Jenny. ‘John, duke of Bedford (1389–1435)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Sept 2011 [http://www.oxforddnb.com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/view/article/14844, accessed 28 April 2015] 


Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester

Portrait of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester.Sometimes known as Good Duke Humphrey, Gloucester was a prince, soldier, and literary patron. He was the youngest son of Henry IV, protector of England during Henry VI’s minority and first English patron of Italian humanism. Gloucester served with a large contingent to Harfleur in 1415 and later fought at Agincourt, where he was wounded; his life was saved by Henry V. He had a much decorated military career. Upon Henry’s death in 1422, Gloucester was made principal tutor and protector of Henry VI in a codicil of Henry V’s will. Gloucester interpreted the codicil as governance of the kingdom as well, and he faced opposition from both Bedford and council. He resented being denied regency and while he did not initially withdraw from the council, he did see his influence diminish and his natural leadership increasingly usurped.


Cordery, Richard. "Duke Humphrey in Parts 1 and 2 of Henry VI, and Buckingham in Richard III." Players of Shakespeare 6 [F]: 184-97.

Source: Harriss, G.L. ‘Humphrey , duke of Gloucester (1390–1447)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2011 [http://www.oxforddnb.com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/view/article/14155, accessed 28 April 2015] 


Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester

Cardinal of Winchester, Henry Beaufort.The second of John of Gaunt’s four illegitimate children.  Having completed the arts course and commenced the study of theology he was ordained deacon on 7 April 1397. Winchester served as Lord Chancellor of England from 1403 – 1413, during which Henry IV faced the revolt of the northern lords, including Henry 'Hotspur' Percy as well as the continuing French threat to Calais. In the summer of 1415 his palace became the king’s headquarters preceding the Agincourt expedition. In December 1417, Beaufort was named cardinal. It is uncertain to what extent Wichester’s advancement in rank was due to his own aspirations or achievements and services to the crown. He forfeited Henry’s trust and favour, was excluded from politics, and in contrast to his power and influence wielded from 1413 to 1417, his position in closing years of reign represented a striking reversal of fortune. Following the death of Henry V, there were no written instructions about government and Beaufort was not prepared to render to Henry’s two brothers the subservience exacted from him by Henry. He had disputes with Duke Humphrey from 1424 to 1427. From 1430 to 1431 Beaufort devoted himself to planning and financing Henry VI's journey to Paris for coronation and planned in the defence of Lancastrian France. From 1432 to 1435 Beaufort faced enmity of both the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester. Beaufort possessed a keen intelligence and could speak with eloquence, but he showed little appreciation of the intellectual outlook of the humanists with whom he came into contact in Italy. He died in 1447 after retiring in 1443.


Wentersdorf, Karl P. "The Winchester Crux in the First Folio's 1 Henry VI." Shakespeare Quarterly 57:4 (Winter 2006). 443-49.

Source: Harriss, G.L. ‘Beaufort, Henry (1375?–1447)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/view/article/1859, accessed 28 April 2015]


Duke of Somerset

John Beaufort.John Beaufort was duke of Somerset from 1404-1444, second son of John Beaufort. He succeeded to the earldom of Somerset on the death of his elder brother, Henry. He was knighted by Henry V at Rouen in 1420. John was made prisoner at the battle of Bauge. Negotiations for Somerset’s release in exchange for the duke of Bourbon between 1428 and 1430 came to nothing. An agreement was not reached until 1438, leaving Somerset impoverished and only on his mother’s death in 1439 did he secure the Beaufort and Holland lands. In November 1439 Somerset returned to England where his claim to succeed Warwick as lieutenant-general was being pressed by his uncle, Henry, Cardinal Beaufort (d. 1447), against the claim of Humphrey, duke of Gloucester. Somerset's supreme military command in France was temporarily renewed and early in 1440 he led a substantial force of 2100 men to Normandy, financed by loans from the cardinal. He died at Corfe and Wimborne where he died in May of 1444 (Harriss, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography).

Source: Harriss, G.L. ‘Beaufort, John, duke of Somerset (1404–1444)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/view/article/1862, accessed 28 April 2015]


Richard Plantagenet, or Richard of York

Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York.Richard of York, third duke of York, magnate and claimant to the English throne, was the only son of Richard of Conisburgh, fourth earl of Cambridge and Anne Mortimer. He is descended from Edward III through both his parents, his father the son of that king’s fourth son, Edmund Langley, and his mother the great-granddaughter of Edward’s second son, Lionel of Antwerp. His distinguished ancestry provided the foundation for the explosive participation in the politics of the 1450s. In October 1460, he attempted to seize the throne on the grounds that his descent from Lionel of Antwerp made him rightful king in place of Henry VI. The attempt failed, and York died a few months later at the battle of Wakefield, but the claim, of course, lived on to provide the basis for Edward IV’s succession in March 1461. Historically, he would be 11 at the beginning of Shakespeare’s Henry VI, pt. 1.


Crawford, Anne.  The Yorkists: The History of a Dynasty. London: Continuum, 2007. Porter Library.

Johnson, P.A. Duke Richard of York 1411-1460. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1988. Porter Library.

Source: Watts, John. ‘Richard of York, third duke of York (1411–1460)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2011 [http://www.oxforddnb.com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/view/article/23503, accessed 28 April 2015]


Earl of Warwick, Richard Beauchamp

Effigy of Richard Beauchamp.Richard Beauchamp was born at Salwarp, Worcestershire, in January 1382. Beauchamp identified himself closely with the Lancastrian kings throughout his career. In May of 1410 he was named royal councillor. The accession of Warwick's master, Henry V, in 1413 immediately gave him a new pre-eminence. He was frequently employed on diplomatic missions throughout the reign. He was present at Henry's death at Vincennes on 31 August and named an executor of his will, and accompanied the body of the king back to England at the end of October 1422. In December 1422 he became a member of Henry VI's minority council. The records suggest that until about mid-1425 he was frequently in England and much about the young king, but, at the same time, he was captain of Rouen by early 1423 and of Calais not long after. He returned to England in March 1428 and in June he was made personal governor and tutor of Henry VI; in this role in November 1429 he famously bore the young king in his arms to his coronation. There ensued a period of almost continuous residence in England until 1436, broken only by service on the coronation expedition and subsequent campaign in 1430–32. He died in Rouen on April 30th, 1439

Source: Carpenter, Christine. ‘Beauchamp, Richard, thirteenth earl of Warwick (1382–1439)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Sept 2013 [http://www.oxforddnb.com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/view/article/1838, accessed 28 April 2015]


Earl of Salisbury

Stain glass of Thomas Montagu, Earl of Salisbury.Thomas Montagu (Thomas de Montacute), 4th Earl of Salisbury (1388-1428) was an English nobleman and one of the most important commanders during the Hundred Years’ War. He was the elder son of John Montagu. Despite his father’s supposed treason in 1401, Thomas was granted an annuity out of the comital lands for his maintenance and already styling himself earl and in 1414 he petitioned for full restoration, to which the king all but acquiesced in 1421. The reason for this return to royal favour was Salisbury's service in France in which he was engaged almost continuously under Henry V and Henry VI, thus playing little role in domestic high politics. He continued in service in France after the death of Henry V, assisting in the recovery of Meulan and Orsay, and holding the captaincy of Falaise from 25 December 1422 to his death. He continued to campaign successfully in Champagne over the next year. By the summer of 1425 the situation in Champagne was secure enough to allow him to take up command of the advance into Maine and Anjou. He married twice; his first marriage was in 1399, and neither the death of his first wife, nor the date of Salisbury’s marriage to his second wife is known. Salisbury died in 1428 at Meung

Source: Curry, Anne. ‘Montagu, Thomas , fourth earl of Salisbury (1388–1428)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/view/article/18999, accessed 28 April 2015]


William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk

Statue of William De La Pole, Earl of Suffolk.William de la Pole was the first duke of Suffolk, administrator and magnate, the second son of Michael de la Pole. He began his career as a soldier in France, born in Cotton, Suffolk in 1396. De la Pole’s father died at the siege of Harfleur, where he himself was wounded, and a few weeks later, his elder brother fell at the battle of Agincourt. In the years after Henry’s death, Suffolk was one of the leading lieutenants of the regent, John, duke of Bedford, frequently entrusted with area commands and diplomatic missions. The turning point in Suffolk's military career came in the summer of 1428, when, after a series of rather ineffectual actions along the southern edges of the pays de conquête, he joined in the siege of Orléans. As a result of Jeanne d'Arc's intervention in May 1429, the English forces were disastrously split up, and Suffolk's detachment, which fell back, was overwhelmed by the French. On 12 June 1429 Suffolk surrendered, allegedly pronouncing Jeanne the bravest woman on earth and requesting the honour of dubbing her knight. Together with his younger brother Thomas, he was taken into the custody of the Bastard of Orléans. He remained a prisoner of Charles VII of France for three years, and was ransomed in 1431. Suffolk was more clearly the leading figure in the planning and conduct of English diplomacy. With the deaths in 1447 of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester and Cardinal Beaufort, Suffolk became the principal power behind the throne of the weak and compliant Henry VI. The following three years saw the near-complete loss of the English possessions in northern France. Suffolk could not avoid taking the blame for these failures, partly because of the loss of Maine and Anjou through his marriage negotiations regarding Henry VI. In 1450 he was arrested, imprisoned in the Tower of London and impeached in parliament by the commons. The king intervened to protect his favourite, who was banished for five years, but on his journey to Calais his ship was intercepted by the "Nicholas of the Tower"; Suffolk was captured, subject to mock trial, and executed by beheading. He was later found on the sands near Dover, and the body was probably brought to a church in Suffolk.


Williams, Gwyn. "Suffolk and Margaret: A Study of Some Sections of Shakespeare's Henry VI." Shakespeare Quarterly 25 (1974): 310-22.

Source: Watts, John. ‘Pole, William de la, first duke of Suffolk (1396–1450)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Sept 2012 [http://www.oxforddnb.com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/view/article/22461, accessed 28 April 2015]


Lord Talbot, Constable of France

Sketch of John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury.John Talbot was the first earl of Shrewsbury and first earl of Waterford (1387-1453), a soldier and second son of Richard Talbot, fourth Baron Talbot. His father died in 1397 when he was about ten years old. His mother remarried the Baron Furnival as part of a double contract which aligned Talbot and Furnival’s sole daughter Maud, bringing together two prominent families serving the house of Lancaster, inevitably linking Talbot with a man high in Henry IV’s favour. His father-in-law left him the title of Lord Furnival in 1409. Prior to his being made Lord Furnival, Talbot had already embarked on a military career that would occupy the rest of his life. Talbot had a well-established violent and quarrelsome reputation, leading to disturbances in Shropshire (1413), Herefordshire (1422-3), a parliamentary precedence dispute with Lord Grey in 1425-7. These disputes meant that the minority council of Henry VI directed Talbot’s attention away from his fellow subjects against the king’s enemies. He made a name for himself as an independent commander in France in the recovery of Maine in 1427-8, showing decisiveness and ruthlessness, qualities which earned him much fame over the next twenty-five years. He and his fellow commanders were unable to prevent Orléans relief by Jeanne d’Arc and withdrew. The English army divided and Talbot was surprised and overwhelmed in Patay in 1429. He was a prisoner for the next four years and only exchanged in 1433 after his father-in-law negotiated a deal with his captor. For the next seven years Talbot saw almost unbroken action, summer and winter, in defending the frontiers of Normandy. In March 1445 Talbot returned to England in the entourage of the new queen, Margaret of Anjou, and in the following June participated in the negotiations for peace at Westminster. He was defeated and killed in July 1453 at the Battle of Castillon near Bordeaux, which effectively ended English rule in the duchy of Aquitaine, a principal cause of the Hundred Years' War. 


Chernaik, Warren. "Henry VI: brave Talbot and his adversaries." The Cambridge introduction to Shakespeare's history plays. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2007. Porter Library.

Pearlman, E. "Shakespeare at Work: The Two Talbots." Philological Quarterly 75:1, Winter 1996

Riddell, James A. "Talbot and the Countess of Auvergne." Shakespeare Quarterly. 28:1 (Winter 1977): 51-57.

Rodgers, Joel. "Talbot, Incorporated." Renaissance Shakespeare/ Shakespeare Renaissances: Proceedings of the Ninth World Shakespeare Congress. Eds. Martin Procházka, Michael Dobson, Andreas Höfele, and Hanna Scolnicov. Plymouth: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014. 

Woodcock, Matthew. "John Talbot, Terror of the French: A Continuing Tradition." Notes and Queries 51 (2004): 249-51.

Significant Battles: The Battle of Castillon

Source: Pollard, A.J. ‘Talbot, John, first earl of Shrewsbury and first earl of Waterford (c.1387–1453)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/view/article/26932, accessed 28 April 2015]


John Talbot, Lord Talbot’s son

Painting of the Battle of Castillon.John Talbot, 1st Baron Lisle and 1st Viscount Lisle (1426-1453) was an English nobleman and medieval soldier, and son of John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, and his second wife Margaret Beauchamp. Little is known about John’s childhood. He married Joan Cheddar, daughter of Thomas Cheddar, Esquire, in 1443 and had three children: Elizabeth, Thomas, and Margaret. He was already a knight when Henry VI created him Lord and Baron Lisle of Kingston Lisle in Berkshire in 1444. He was then made VIscount Lisle in 1451. His mother was one of the three coheirs to her father, Richard Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick, and his estates and so through his mother, John Talbot, Viscount Lisle, possessed a claim on Berkeley Castle. In prosecution of the claim against Baron Berkeley, Warwick’s male-heir, Talbot stormed Berkeley Castle in 1452 and took the Baron and his sons prisoner. Both John Talbot Sr. and Jr. were killed the next summer in 1453 at the Battle of Castillon. Some chronicles claim when his father was wounded and unhorsed, John Sr. begged his son to leave the battle and save himself, but John Jr. refused, preferring death to dishonour. This assertion is used in Shakespeare’s Henry VI, pt. 1.

Source: Wikipedia


Edmund Mortimer

Edmund Mortimer.Edmund (V) Mortimer was the fifth Earl of March, magnate and potential claimant to the English throne. He was a descendent from Edward III and threatened the usurping Lancastrian dynasty in 1399. Following Richard II’s deposition by Henry Bolingbroke in 1399, rebels periodically publicized Mortimer’s claim. Though plausible, this was weakened by descent through a female—his father's mother, Philippa, daughter of Lionel of Clarence, Edward III's second surviving son—and by Edmund's youth; nevertheless, Henry IV placed this potential rival under strict supervision.  As he grew older, Edmund's future merited special consideration. In February of 1408 his marriage was granted to Queen Joan, on condition that he could marry only with the king's assent and the council's advice. The death of Henry IV may have prompted renewed murmurings about Edmund Mortimer's claim. Nevertheless, Henry V released him from custody and knighted him on the eve of his coronation; in parliament in June he was declared of age and allowed to inherit his estates. After Henry V's funeral, Mortimer was appointed one of the new king's councillors in 1422. In 1424 Henry VI's uncle, Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, expressed unease at the size of Edmund Mortimer's retinue and this may explain why Mortimer was appointed the king's lieutenant in Ireland in March 1423, though a visit to his ravaged estates there was long overdue. Ships were commissioned for his journey in 1423–4, but not until the autumn of 1424 did he set sail. He died of plague in 1425 at his castle of Trim.

Source: Griffiths, R.A. ‘Mortimer, Edmund (V), fifth earl of March and seventh earl of Ulster (1391–1425)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/view/article/19344, accessed 28 April 2015] 


Sir John Fastolf

faSir John Fastolf was a soldier and landowner, born into a minor gentry family in Norfolk. He served under the duke of Clarence in Ireland and then in Acquitaine (1412-3) as deputy constable of Bordeaux and captain of Soubise and Veyres in 1413-14. He returned in 1415 and joined Henry V’s expedition in 1415 and fought at Agincourt. It was with Clarence and Exeter that he served from 1417-21. During Henry V's absence in England, the duke of Exeter, as governor of Paris, made Fastolf captain of the Bastille de St Antoine which he defended during the disturbances after the battle of Baugé in 1421. Following Henry V's death and Exeter's return to England he, with other professional captains, formed a group under the command of the regent, John, duke of Bedford, which carried forward the momentum of the conquest. Appointed lieutenant in Normandy for a year in 1422, Fastolf was employed in clearing the region to the south-west of Paris, and held captaincies at Fresnay-le-Vicomte and Alençon. He distinguished himself in Bedford's victory over the Dauphinist–Scottish force at Verneuil in August and was made a knight-banneret in 1424 and knight of the Garter in 1426. Fastolf returned to England in 1439 rich, honoured, well connected, and in full mental and physical vigour, but instead of the respect, recognition, and ease that he anticipated he experienced twenty years of hostility and persecution that almost brought his ruin. His fortunes were caught up in the contentions of domestic politics not because he was actively involved in them, but because his background linked him to the opponents of the government and his lack of an heir attracted the covetous and unscrupulous. He died in 1459 just as the civil war began.

Source: Harriss, G.L. Fastolf, Sir John (1380–1459)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/view/article/9199, accessed 29 April 2015]


Sir Thomas Gargrave

GargSir Thomas Gargrave (d. 1428) was a knight, Master of the Ordnance and Marshall of the English army of Henry VI in France and killed during the Siege of Orléans along with the Earl of Salisbury. Edward Hall in Hall’s Chronicle explains that on 26 October 1428 a cannon shot shattered the iron grate of the observation tower where Gargrave and Salisbury were standing. Gargrave died two days later and Salisbury died ten days later. Gargrave’s father was Sir John Gargrave, Knight and Master of the Ordnance under Henry V and Governor in France.

Source: Archer, Ian W. Gargrave, Sir Thomas (1494/5–1579)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2006 [http://www.oxforddnb.com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/view/article/10383, accessed 29 April 2015]


Richard Woodville (d. c.1441) pursued a distinguished military and administrative career that became the model for future generations of the family. Allegedly brought up with Henry V, he was in the garrison of Henry's brother Thomas at Guînes in 1411, was captain on Henry's campaigns of 1415 and 1417, and later served the regent, John, duke of Bedford. He was in English France almost continuously from 1417 to 1435 as captain and bailiff, as seneschal of Normandy (1420), chamberlain of the regent, and treasurer of finances (1423), lieutenant of Calais in 1427 and again in 1435, and councillor of France; he was employed in positions of trust in England in 1425 and 1436. Returning to England, where he already held the Mote estate at Maidstone and where his brother bequeathed him Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire, he was MP for Kent in 1433, constable of Rochester, and sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1437, before his death about 1441. He was never knighted and married his daughter no higher than the ranks of the Kentish gentry.

Woodville's spouse was Elizabeth Joan Bedelgate (1390–1448).

The couple had at least two children, Sir Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers (1408–1469), and Joan Woodville (1409–1462), wife of Sir William Haute.

Their grandchild, through Earl Rivers and his wife was Elizabeth Woodville, Queen Consort to King Edward IV of England, and ancestor of all English ruling monarchs from 1509 onwards and Scottish ruling monarchs from 1513 onwards.

Source:  Hicks, Michael. Woodville , Richard, first Earl Rivers (d. 1469)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Sept 2011 [http://www.oxforddnb.com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/view/article/29939, accessed 8 May 2015]


The Mayor of London

Unnamed in Shakespeare, but historically, Mayor of London at the time of the play would have been John Coventry, a mercer ("John Couentrie, Mercer" Stowe 2.187-88). 

A new mayor was elected from within the business community of the City of London every year, with responsibility to impose the rule of the law within the City's bounds - the City being a relatively small part of what is now central London, separate from and often politically opposed to both Westminster, the seat of government, and Southwark, Winchester's base and, later, the location of the theatres themselves.

Source: Burns, Edward. p111.


Fictional English Characters

Sir William Glansdale

Sir William Lucy



Omitted English Characters

Exeter (conflated with Warwick)



Charles VII, King of France.Charles VII, also known as Charles The Well-served, or The Victorious (1403-1461) was king of France from 1422-1461, who succeeded, partly with the aid of Joan of Arc, in driving the English from French soil and in solidifying the administration of the monarchy. Before ascending the throne he was known as the Dauphin, after the death of his brother in 1418. Charles put himself at the head of the Armagnac party (rivals to the Burgundians). During Charles’s early years, Henry V claimed the French crown, and in 1420 the Treaty of Troyes recognized Henry as heir apparent, excluding Charles. Charles had various supporters, including the Armagnacs and newly Burgudian forces with the Anglo-Burgundian alliance. In 1425, Charles’s mother-in-law influenced him to disassociate himself from the Armagnacs and there were attempts at peace, but none was reached. In October of 1428, the English laid siege to Orléans – Charles was 25 and considered retiring to Spain or conceding, but subsequently met Joan of Arc, the peasant girl becoming a symbol for the French struggle. She restored the French army’s confidence and they liberate Orléans. In 1435, after protracted negotiations, Philip of Burgundy concluded a separate peace with France at Arras: the King condemned the murder of Philip’s father, and the Duke recognized Charles as his sovereign. A new phase then opened up in Charles’s life. At the age of 32 he seemed to have achieved maturity. The King died at Mehun-sur-Yèvre at the age of 58; he had reigned for 38 years and eight months.
Source: "Charles VII". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 29 Apr. 2015

Reignier, Duke of Anjou

Portrait of Rene, duke of Anjou.René of Anjou was known as the duke of Bar (from 1434), duke of Anjou (from 1430), and count of Provence and of Piedmont, as well as titular king of Naples (from 1435-1442) and duke consort of Lorraine (from 1431-1453). He was far from sympathizing with the Burgundians, and, joining the French army at Reims in 1429, was present at the coronation of Charles VII. Antony of Vaudémont defeated Rene at Bulgnéville in 1431 over contestation of Antony and Rene’s claims to the duchy of Lorraine through René’s wife. Antony took Rene prisoner, handing him over to Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy. He was only released after giving his sons John and Louis as hostages, finally agreeing that his daughter, Yolande, should marry Antony’s son. But in 1434, when the Holy Roman emperor Sigismund had recognized René as duke of Lorraine (April) and when René had also inherited Anjou and Provence from Louis III (November), Philip took umbrage and, in December, summoned René back into captivity. René finally obtained his discharge in 1437, promising a heavy ransom and making territorial concessions. René died on 10 August 1480 in Aix-en-Provence.
Source: "Rene I". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 29 Apr. 2015


Margaret of Anjou, Queen of England

Portrait of Margaret of Anjou, Queen of England.Margaret (1430-1482) was queen of England, consort of Henry VI from 1445-1461 and then again 1470-71. She was born in Lorraine, the fourth surviving child and second daughter of René, duke of Anjou, daughter and heir of Charles II, duke of Lorraine. Margaret was a pawn in European diplomacy from her infancy due to her parental links to grandfather Louis II, duke of Anjou and king of Naples, and grandmother Yolande, daughter of Juan, king of Aragon. Her aunt Marie was also married to Charles VII of France. Due to her father’s fluctuating political fortunes, Margaret spent much of her early life with her mother and grandmother. These two strong-minded women played an important part in shaping Margaret's personality during her formative years in a society where, within ruling families, women were able to hold more independent power as regents than in England. She was also exposed to the illustrious court culture of Anjou, both her grandmother and her father being leading patrons of literature and art. The most enduring, and ultimately successful, marriage negotiations with representatives of Henry VI were conducted sporadically from 1439, in the hope of bringing the lengthy and expensive war between England and France to an end. In spring 1444 William de la Pole, earl of Suffolk, led an embassy to Charles VII to negotiate a truce, resulting in a marriage treaty between René of Anjou and the English. On 28 May a twenty-month truce between England and France was sealed, though the English claim to full sovereignty over Normandy and Gascony, and refusal to renounce the title to the French throne, remained obstacles to permanent peace. While it represented a prestigious match for René of Anjou, it also brought an important source of influence at the English court to Charles VII, who was to use it to good effect. Though Margaret came with a meagre dowry, consisting only of her mother's empty claims to the kingdom of Majorca and 20,000 francs, and renouncing claims to her father's possessions, she brought links with other strategically important areas of France, such as the duchies of Lorraine and Bar. It is suggested that the English acceptance of so poor a dowry was motivated by nothing more than a desire for friendship with France. Of all medieval queens consort, Margaret has received some of the harshest criticism from both contemporary commentators and later historians. Concern about her inability to bear a child was expressed as early as 1447, and from the late 1450s she faced slanders against her good character.


Dockray, Keith. Henry VI, Margaret of Anjou and the Wars of the Roses : a sourcebook. Stroud: Sutton P, 2000. Porter Library.

Hookham, Mary Ann. The life and times of Margaret of Anjou, queen of England and France; and of her father René "the Good", king of Sicily, Naples, and Jerusalem. With memoirs of the houses of Anjou. London: Tinsley Brothers, 1872.

Munro, Cecil (Ed.). Letters of Queen Margaret of Anjou and Bishop Beckington and others : written in the reigns of Henry V and Henry VI. From a ms. found at Emral in Flintshire. London: Camden Society, 1863.

Source: Dunn, Diana E.S. ‘Margaret (1430–1482)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/view/article/18049, accessed 28 April 2015]


Bastard of Orléans

Portrait of Jean de Dunois, Bastard of Orleans.Jean d’ Orléans, comte de Dunois (1403-1468), known as Jean de Dunois or the Bastard of Orléans was a French military commander and diplomat, important in France’s final victory over England in the Hundred Years’ War. Jean entered the service of his cousin, the dauphin and future Charles VII, in 1420 and became his trusted adviser, later appointed grand chamberlain. His first notable success was the defeat of the English at Montargis (1427), and during 1427–28 he defended Orléans until Joan of Arc arrived. He then took part in the Battle of Patay and accompanied Charles to Reims for his coronation. He captured Chartres and Lagny in 1432 and engaged in a series of campaigns culminating in a triumphal entry into Paris in 1436. Charles VII later entrusted him with the arrest of the duc d’Alençon (Jean II) in 1456 and with measures against the intrigues of the dauphin, the future Louis XI.

Source: "Jean d'Orleans, comte de Dunois". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 29 Apr. 2015


Duke of Burgundy

Portrait of Philip III, the Duke of Burgundy.Philip III, known as Philip the Good (1396-1467) was one of the most important Valois dukes of Burgundy (1419-67) and the founder of the Burgundian state that rivaled France in the 15th century. Son of John the Fearless and Margaret of Bavaria he became duke at age 23 and worked to untangle himself with his father’s diplomacy which lead to his assassination, for which Philip blamed on the dauphin, Charles (Charles VII). Philip signed the Treaty of Troyes in 1420, a treaty in which the queen of France, Isabella of Bavaria, conferred succession to the French crown on Henry and partitioned France among England, Burgundy, and her disinherited son, the dauphin Charles. Philip paid little attention to potential conquests in France and preferred to remain uncommitted there. He maintained his alliance with England—apart from a break in 1435–39, when he tried but failed to conquer Calais—but seldom gave England serious help against France. On the other hand, especially after 1435, when he acknowledged Charles as king of France and accepted his disavowal of the murder of John the Fearless, he did his best to be on reasonably good terms with the king of France. His real interests lay not in France but in the development of his own territories. He died of pneumonia in Bruges in 1467.

Source: "Philip III". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 29 Apr. 2015


Joan la Pucelle

Portrait of Joan of Arc.UPDATE: A new autobiography of Joan of Arc has just been released: check out an article on the book here!

Joan of Arc (1412-1431), also known as the Maid of Orleans or La Pucelle d’Orleans, was a national heroine of France, a peasant girl who believed she was acting under divine guidance and led the French army in a momentous victory at Orleans that repulsed an English attempt to conquer France during the Hundred Years’ War. She joined the French force at the age of seventeen, and won over the leadership with her bravery and ability in battle.  Joan featured in a number of significant excursions for the French, until 1430, when she was captured by a Burgundian force loyal to the occupying English force.  After several attempts to escape, Joan was moved to Rouen, where she was tried and convicted of heresy and witchcraft.  Joan was burned at the stake  on 30 May 1431 at the age of 19.  She was canonised in 1920, and is today one of France's patron saints.


Castor, Helen. Joan of Arc: A History. London: Faber and Faber, 2014.

Fraioli, Deborah. "The Literary Image of Joan of Arc." Speculum 56:4 (1981): 811-38. 

King, Annie Papreck. "Shaw's Saint Joan and Shakespeare's Joan la Pucelle." Text and Presentation Supplement 4 (2007): 109-21.

Paxson, James J. "Shakespeare's Medieval Devils and Joan la Pucelle." in Henry VI: Critical Essays, ed. Thomas A. Pendleton. New York:Routledge, 2001. 127-55.

Rossini, Manuela S. "The Sexual/Textual Impossibility of Female Heroism in the First Tetralogy." Shakespeare Yearbook 14 (2004): 45-78.

Schwarz, Kathryn. "Fearful Simile: Stealing the Breech in Shakespeare's Chronicle Plays." Shakespeare Quarterly 49:2 (Summer 1998). 140-67.

Sheppard, Philippa. "The Puzzle of Pucelle or Pussel: Shakespeare's Joan of Arc Compared with Two Antecedents." Renaissance Medievalisms [F]: 191-209.

Spiller, Ben. "'She and the Dolphin have been iugling': The Ambiguous Gender of Joan la Pucelle in Henry VI Part 1." Renaissance Journal 1, no. 5 (2002): 17-19.

Stanton, Kay. "A Presentist Analysis of Joan, la Pucelle: 'What's past and what's to come she can descry.'" Presentism, Gender, and Sexuality in Shakespeare [F]: 103-21.

Waltonen, Karma. 'Saint Joan: From Renaissance Witch to New Woman.' Shaw: The Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies. 24 (2004): 186-203.

Significant Battles: The Siege of Orleans

Significant Battles: The Death of Joan of Arc

Source: "Saint Joan of Arc". Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 29 Apr. 2015


Fictional French Characters

The Gunner of Orleans

The Gunner's Boy

The Countess of Auvergne

​French Shepherd

Omitted French Characters

The Duke of Alençon (conflated with the Bastard and Reignier)


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