Uncovering Margaret of Anjou: A Queen More Sinn’d Against Than Sinning? ~ A guest post by Catherine Hokin

An interesting read and something that I intend to write about soon as I find Marguerite a fascinating and much mis-judged figure, trying to survive in a world where all the rules were set against her ever succeeding.

The Freelance History Writer


It is particularly apt to begin this exploration of the reputation associated with Margaret of Anjou (1430-1482) with a quote from Shakespeare. It is in his portrayals (in the Henry VI trilogy and in Richard III) where many people first encounter the woman who would become the wife of the Lancastrian King Henry VI of England and one of the key protagonists in the fifteenth century dynastic conflicts popularly known as the Wars of the Roses.

As summarised by Dorothea Kehler in “Shakespeare’s Widows”, Shakespeare’s Margaret is a “Foreigner, white devil, shrew, virago, vengeful fury”. Throughout the four plays in which she appears, Shakespeare consistently demonizes her as “a foul wrinkled witch’ and a ‘hateful with’red hag” and attributes a series of malevolent/immoral actions to her including adultery and cruelty. Margaret is seen in one scene wandering round Court clutching the severed head of her…

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One Response to “Uncovering Margaret of Anjou: A Queen More Sinn’d Against Than Sinning? ~ A guest post by Catherine Hokin”

  1. Lady of Winchester Says:

    I’m fascinated with Margaret too, but I’m also a bit of a supporter. There really isn’t any evidence that she ever commited adultery. Accusations of sexual immorality seem to have been pretty much the usual way of making a woman look bad in those days. Eleanor of Aquitaine, Joan of Kent, and many other English Queens and noblewoman were subject to rumours about sexual misconduct at some point.

    It seems to me though, that people are more willing to believe them about Margaret of Anjou, usually as a result of thier certain conviction that her husband was not capable of sleeping with her or fathering a child. Again, there is no evidence of that. I think Helen Maurer said, there is really nothing to suggest he had any problem with marital sex, and he knew his duty. Even the Medieval conception of Chastity did not forbid conjugal relations between husband and wife.

    Of course, there’s that silly story about Henry saying his son was concieved of the Holy Spirit, but to the best of my knowledge it is from a pro-Yorkist Chroncle, and it was written several years after his birth. So its biased, and its not contemporary, or an eyewitness account, and is therefore unreliable.
    I also think its unreliable on another account, that such a claim would have been quite shockingly blasphemous in the view of Medieval people, and it just does not seem credible as something a pious King like Henry would have said. We know that he did not say anything during his first bout of madness, so that cannot account for it.


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