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Answer 52. The Duke of York had tried to depose King Henry VI, the feeble-minded grandson of King Henry IV (see Question 46).


Wakefield2The Duke’s eldest son Edward moved quickly to avenge his father’s death. He succeeded where his father had failed, ousting King Henry in 1461 and proclaiming himself king in his place. He reigned as King Edward IV.

Henry was taken to the Tower of London, where he was held prisoner on and off for many years. His only son and heir was killed at the battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, after which there was no longer any reason to keep him alive. Henry was duly murdered as soon as the victorious Yorkists returned to London after the battle:

‘And the same night that King Edward came to London, King Harry, being in ward in prison in the Tower of London, was put to death the 21st of May on a Tuesday night between eleven and twelve of the clock… and on the morrow he was chested and brought to St Paul’s and his face was open that every man might see him.

‘And in his lying he bled on the pavement there; and afterwards at the Black Friars.’

HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 53. By tradition, King Henry VI was murdered while at prayer in the oratory in the upper part of the circular Wakefield Tower (photo above). How did he die?

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