Henry VI, king of England: Early Years

Early Years

The only son of Henry V and Catherine of Valois, he became king of England when he was not yet nine months old. When his grandfather, Charles VI of France, died, Henry was proclaimed king of France by the English, in accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Troyes (1420). The French, however, recognized the son of Charles VI as Charles VII.

During Henry's early years, England was under the protectorate of his uncles, John of Lancaster, duke of Bedford, who was regent in France, and Humphrey, duke of Gloucester. Gloucester did not wield full authority, however, for much of the actual power resided in a council dominated by Henry Beaufort. After the English defeat by Joan of Arc at Orléans in 1429 and Charles VII's coronation at Reims shortly thereafter, the council attempted to protect English interests in France by crowning Henry king of France at Paris in 1431. After the death of Bedford in 1435 and the defection of Burgundy from the Anglo-Burgundian alliance, however, the English cause in France became hopeless.

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