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Henry VI
Henry VI

Henry VI (1421-1471) was the last English king belonging to the House of Lancaster. He held the thrones of both England and France when he was less than a year old. Henry VI was heir to both his father, Henry V, and to Charles VI of France, who died within two months of each other.

Henry VI was pious and gentle, but he was a weak ruler, and had occasional attacks of insanity. The English nobles took advantage of his weakness to misgovern the kingdom in their own selfish interests. In France, the great conquests of Henry V were gradually lost. By 1453, the French had retaken all their land except the port of Calais. In 1450, a popular uprising, known as Jack Cade's rebellion, shook England, and the supporters of the House of York challenged King Henry and the House of Lancaster.

In 1461, the Yorkists drove Henry from the throne, and made Edward IV king. Henry ruled again briefly in 1470 and 1471, but Edward defeated his forces at the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury. Henry was imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he died.