The relationship between King Henry VI and Queen Margaret of Anjou seems to have been close and even tender. The King’s confessor, John Blacman, wrote in his memoir that ‘when he espoused the most noble lady, Lady Margaret, he kept his marriage vow wholly and sincerely, never dealing unchastely with any woman’.
There was chivalry and even real romance. When Margaret arrived in England, Henry kept up his family’s tradition of greeting his new wife incognito, dressed as a squire, and only later revealing his identity. After their marriage the couple spent much of their together in the royal palaces dotted near the banks of the Thames: Windsor, Sheen, Eltham and Greenwich. Henry bought his wife jewellery and numerous horses in which she particularly delighted.
He allowed her to found Queen’s College in Cambridge in 1448 to mirror his own foundation of King’s seven years earlier. In a warrant for a payment to one London jeweller, Henry describes Margaret as ‘our most dear and most entirely beloved wife the Queen’. A touching vignette is preserved describing the royal couple during the New Year festivities not long into their marriage, receiving gifts as they lay in bed together, staying there all morning and enjoying one another’s company.
Yet if they shared a happy bed, it was not a fruitful one. Eight years would pass between their marriage and the birth of their first child.
England hath long been mad, and scarr’d herself; The brother blindly shed the brother’s blood, The son, compell’d, been butcher to the sire: All this divided York and Lancaster, Divided in their dire division, O, now, let Richmond and Elizabeth, The true succeeders of each royal house, By God’s fair ordinance conjoin together! Now civil wounds are stopp’d, peace lives again: That she may long live here, God say amen!