Fact of the day: 21st May

On this day in 1471 Henry VI of England died.

Henry was imprisoned in the Tower of London, in whose Wakefield Tower he died during the night of 21/22 May 1471.

In all likelihood, Henry’s opponents had kept him alive up to this point rather than leave the Lancasters with a far more formidable leader in Henry’s son Edward.

According to the Historie of the arrivall of Edward IV, an official chronicle favourable to Edward, Henry died of melancholy on hearing news of the Battle of Tewkesbury and his son’s death.

 

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It is widely suspected, however, that Edward IV, who was re-crowned the morning following Henry’s death, had in fact ordered his murder.

Sir Thomas More’s History of Richard III explicitly states that Richard killed Henry, an opinion he might have derived from Commynes’ Memoir.
Another contemporary source, Wakefield’s Chronicle, gives the date of Henry’s death as 23 May, on which date Richard is known to have been away from London.

King Henry VI was originally buried in Chertsey Abbey; then, in 1485, his body was moved to St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, by Richard III.

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