Margaret of Anjou
(b. 1430 - d. 1482)

Margaret of Anjou was one of the major players in the Wars of the Roses. She often led the Lancastrian forces during the wars and dictated grand strategy. She battled her arch enemy Richard, duke of York over the royal succession and unsuccessful tried to place her son, Edward, on the throne.  Daughter of Rene of Anjou, King of Naples and Sicily, she became queen of England by marrying King Henry VI in 1445.  At the time, England 's possessions in France had been almost lost as the Hundred Years War had finally come to an end in 1452. This loss may have brought about the first sign of insanity in her husband in 1453. What this illness was is not clear, but it seems that it manifested itself into a form of paralysis.   

When Henry was incapacitated, control of the country was taken by Richard, duke of York. Richard was Henry’s worst enemy. Margaret had tried to get control and become regent, but she was defeated by Richard. The next year Henry recovered and clashed with Richard over who would rule England thus starting the “Wars of the Roses.”  Basically, the Wars of the Roses were a series of battles between the House of Lancaster and the House of York.  The name “Wars of the Roses” came the red rose was worn by those of Lancaster and the white rose was worn by those of York . On the side of the House of Lancaster were Henry VI, Margaret, and those who supported Henry. The House of York consisted of Richard, duke of York , who spent the later part of his life attempting to acquire the throne for his family. He served for Henry VI as both Lieutenant of France and Lieutenant of Ireland. In 1450, he returned to England to oppose the duke of Somerset , one of Henry's closest advisors. Richard had 3 sons, 2 of which went on to become kings:  Edward IV, Richard III. Richard died in 1460 at the battle of Wakefield . 

At the battle of Northampton in 1460, the Yorkist captured Henry.  By 1461, he lost the throne to Richard's son Edward IV. Henry VI was captured by Edward, Richard’s son, in 1460 and sent to the tower of London where he was murdered on May 21, 1471. At Tewkesbury in 1471, her son (Edward, Prince of Wales) was defeated and killed and she was imprisoned. She was eventually ransomed by Louis of France in exchange for her French lands.  

Although Margaret’s side ultimately lost the Wars of the Roses leaving her to live her last years in poverty, she was an amazing woman. She was involved with the troops, though not extensively. She had powerful influence over her husband and she was extremely determined. Margaret was a very intelligent woman and used it to her advantage. She also knew how to play political games, as seen by her stacking of the Parliament. Even though Margaret is not particularly well-known, she made an impact on history with her relentless nature during the Medieval era. 

Annotated Bibliography

Abbott, Jacob. History of Margaret of Anjou , Queen of Henry VI of England. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishing, 1871. 
The thesis of this source is that Margaret of Anjou was a heroine; not a heroine of romance and fiction, but of stern and terrible reality. The author wanted to prove that her life was a series of military exploits, attended with danger and suffering. It includes references to the Houses of York and Lancaster; Manners and Customs of the Time; King Henry VI; Margaret's Father and Mother; Royal Courtship; The Wedding, and the Reception in England , along with countless other topics other topics. This book is an excellent source and the most extensive (at 306 pages) that I found in my research on Margaret. 

Gormley, Larry. “Wars of the Roses.” (2005) <> (22 December 2005). This page is a very well-written timeline of the Wars of the Roses. It provides links to show who was involved in the wars, as well as a map showing the battles. It also has links to definitions, such as civil war. It also has a link to a page called “Origins of the Wars of the Roses,” which is also very helpful in research.

Griffiths, Ralph A. The Reign of King Henry VI.  Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing Limited, 1998. 
This extensive volume about King Henry VI covers many aspects of Henry’s life, including his marriage to Margaret of Anjou . The marriage took place in 1445 and Margaret’s character seems to have complemented because she was prepared to make decisions and show leadership, whereas he was content to be led by her. In this way, Margaret proved a more competent ruler than Henry ever was, even though she was only sixteen at that time. This source shows how the policies of Henry and Margaret affected the world around them. Although it is very lengthy, it is worth looking at if one is seriously interested in the affairs of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou. 

Jansen, Sharon L. The Monstrous Regiment of Women: Female Rulers in Early Modern Europe. New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. 
This book focuses on female rulers. Jansen mentions Margaret of Anjou and describes how Shakespeare called her the she-wolf of France . She goes through and describes the actions that Margaret took while she was queen. She is critical of Margaret although she does not appear bias because of her concentration on factual information. This source would be a good reference for scholarly work because of its citations and factual information. She also discusses the War of the Roses, which is an important event in Margaret’s life.Magnusson, Magnus. Scotland : The Story of a Nation. New York : Grove Press, 2000. 
This source focuses more on the kings of the time than Margaret of Anjou. However, it does make specific references to Margaret, especially her political connections to Scotland . In one instance, Magnusson talks about her travels to France and her military actions. He also states that she resided in Scotland several times during her life. The book is a newer source, so it is easier to access. It has lots of factual information but it is limited about Henry VI and Margaret. 

Mauer, Helen." Margaret of Anjou ” Richard III Society, American Branch (2001) <> (22 December 2005). 
This article is helpful because it gives an alternate perspective on the War of Roses and denounces accusations about Margaret, such as her adultery and her role in the battle of Wakefield . The article argues that these accusations led to a view of Margaret as a political actor that is not so far removed. The article focuses on specific events in Margaret’s life and is useful to provide background information.
Perot, Ruth S. The Red Queen: Margaret of Anjou and the Wars of the Roses. Bloomington , IN : Authorhouse, 2000. 
This source portrays Margaret's career in England . It is a somewhat lengthy source; however, a lot of the details of Margaret’s life are left to the imagination. It portrays Margaret as a virtuous woman who was tempted by many men. This calls to question her adultery. This source says that she was not adulterous; rather, she was the one who resisted having an affair. This source is more of a narrative than a scholarly source, but it could be used as background information for research. 

“Queen Margaret of Anjou .” Tripod Website. <> (22 December 2005).
This source is mostly factual and biographical information about Margaret of Anjou. Since it gives no author or citation, it should not be used for scholarly research. It does give insight into Margaret’s life and focuses on her affairs with her husband, King Henry VI.


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Original written by Asheley Grove
Last Revision: 22 December 2005

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