Marguerite d'Anjou

Marguerite d’Anjou

Marguerite d’Anjou, or Margaret of Anjou, lived from 1430—1482 CE. She was known for her participation in the Wars of the Roses. She was a Lancastrian queen and a military leader.

D’Anjou was the daughter of Isabella of Lorraine and René, the Count of Anjou and the King of Sicily, as well as the niece of the King of France. Her mother, Isabella, was also a military woman and a battle strategist, so d’Anjou learned about war from a very young age. She married Henry VI, the Lancastrian King of England in 1444.

In her husband’s court, she became very political. Her power was increased when she gave birth to a son and heir, Prince Edward. Her political rise halted suddenly when the Duke of York and head of the Yorkist faction was given the position of Protector and Defender of the Realm while the king was sick. During the subsequent years, the political factions known as the Lancastrians and the Yorkists, emerged. While the Duke of York was the leader of the Yorkist faction, d’Anjou, due to her husband’s illness, became the leader of the Lancastrians.

King Henry VI of England

King Henry VI of England

Henry IV recovered in 1454, which removed power from the Duke of York. This made him openly rebel. In 1455, York defeated the Lancastrian army and capture Henry IV. He named himself as Protector of the Realm. D’Anjou rallied her supporters and troops, and established a stronghold on her estates in the northwest and westerns Midlands of England and Wales. York fled to Ireland after being defeated at Ludford Bridge by the Lancastrians. Margaret’s hold over power was not very widespread, and the Yorkist faction was able to grow even larger. The Yorkists suddenly had quite a grand success in the June of 1460, when they captured Henry IV yet again at the Battle of Northampton. The Duke of York returned from his short exile and states his wn claim to the throne, as he was a descendant of Edward III of England. He was prevented from seizing the throne from a few temporal lords, but he was recognized as heir apparent, and came before Margaret’s son, Edward, the Prince of Wales. This did not sit well with her.

Margaret obtained support from James III of Scotland. Having done so, she invaded England for her son. She defeated the Yorkists and executed the Duke of York in the December of 1460. She led the army during this battle, and had huge power over strategy. The Duke of York had one son, Edward, earl of March, who defeated Margaret and the Lancastrians at the battle of Mortimer’s Cross in the February of the next year. Margaret marched ahead with a separate army and defeated the Yorkists and Lord Warwick at St Albans on the 17th of February. Margaret’s victories were voided when London refused to admit Margaret passed their gates. Edward, the late Duke of York’s eldest son, was able to enter the city. He proclaimed himself Edward IV of England. Margaret retreated, was defeated, and then was forced to flee to Scotland.

She spent ten years of exile in Scotland, where she continued to plot against the Yorkists. This was during the reign of the Yorkist king, Edward VI. Once King Edward alienated his closest ally, his cousin Lord Warwick, Margaret seized the opportunity. Lord Warwick joined the Lancastrian cause.

From top: Red Rose of Lancaster, White Rose of York, The Rose of Tudor (mix of both)

The Roses (Lancaster, York, Tudor)

A series of battles occurred after the fact, and at first the Lancastrians were successful in restoring Henry VI to the throne with the help of France. In 1471, however, King Edward returned to England and killed Lord Warwick. He took King Henry prisoner as well, just as Margaret and Edward, Prince of Wales were landing in Weymouth. Despite this loss, the queen continued onto Wales for the rest of the invasion. Margaret evaded King Edward’s pursuing army, but was caught and ambushed at Tewksbury on May 3rd. The Prince of Wales was killed in the attack, ending the direct Lancastrian bloodline. This loss also ended Margaret’s purpose and will. She was captured by the Yorkists and kept comfortable while a prisoner for four years, after which she was ransomed by Louis XI of France, her cousin. Upon returning to France she lived the rest of her life in Anjou. She died at age 52 in her home country.

Legacy: Margaret has often been defamed as arrogant and stubborn for her refusal to end her conflict with Edward VI. She has been portrayed as someone who is the reason that the War of the Roses continued for twenty years. On the other hand, she can be extolled for holding steadfast to a cause and her defense of both the right of her husband and son.


Pennington, Reina. Amazons to Fighter Pilots: A Biographical Dictionary of Military Women. Vol. 1. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 2003. Print.