Margaret of Anjou
She-Wolf of France, Twice Queen of England
- Joanna Arman
15th April 2023
In 1445 a fifteen-year-old French girl left her homeland to marry the son of the great warrior King Henry V. Sixteen years later, her husband had lost his throne, and she had fled into exile. For a decade, she struggled to reclaim the throne of England before her final and shattering defeat at the Battle of Tewkesbury. It marked the final destruction of the House of Lancaster by Yorkist King Edward IV and his brothers. Margaret lost more than her family: she was also vilified. Shakespeare cast her as a sadistic killer who stabbed the noble Richard, Duke of York to death. History cast her as a manipulative seductress, whose destructive ambition was a major cause of the Wars of the Roses.
Margaret of Anjou is, even to this day, one of the most notorious consorts in medieval history: the Queen we love to hate. But is her reputation deserved, or was she a victim of circumstances, caught between the machinations and rivalries of powerful men? By examining Margaret’s life and actions in detail, this biography reveals a new side to the last foreign-born Queen of Medieval England. Margaret came from a family of strong women. Her grandmother had been an early supporter of Joan of Arc, and had ruled her son’s lands whilst he was a prisoner of war. Margaret had the blood of Eleanor of Aquitaine flowing in her veins. When she faced with such difficult circumstances in the first years of her marriage, Margaret’s choices arose from a conviction that it was natural for a woman to take control in the absence of male leadership.
A wealth of records have been left behind, allowing historians to investigate her career as a beloved wife and, later, as the leader of a political faction struggling to secure the crown for her family. If the course of history had run differently, she would instead be considered a heroic Warrior Queen today: even an English version of Joan of Arc.