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MonkeyNotes-King Henry VI, Part 3 by William Shakespeare
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HISTORICAL INFORMATION

The Shakespeare tetralogy that begins with Henry VI, Part I, and
ends with Richard III covers a span of English history that was the
most bloody and uncivil in its history. The cause of the civil strife
had its genesis in two families, the house of Lancaster and the
house of York, and their attempts to vie for the throne after Henry
V died. The questionable circumstances of Richard II's abdication
of the throne and the rise of Henry IV to the crown caused much of
the dispute between the two families.

The tetralogy begins with Henry VI's ascension to the throne as a
nine-month old infant in 1422 and ends with the fall of Richard III
in 1485. While Henry was a minor, England was ruled through a
council with his uncle, the Duke of Gloucester acting as his
protector. Henry's marriage to Margaret of Anjou involved the
surrender of French towns conquered by his father Henry V, which
earned him much displeasure. After the coronation of Margaret in
1445, conspiracies were formed to take power from Gloucester, the
Protector of Henry. These had begun when Henry's cousin Richard
III, Duke of York laid claim to the throne. The claim was based on
the grounds that York was the maternal great-great-grandson of
Lionel Duke of Clarence, third son of Edward III whereas Henry
was the great-grandson of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster the
fourth son. York chose as his badge a white rose while the
Lancastrians, led by York's enemy Somerset, wore red. This period
in time became known as the War of the Roses and involved much
civil unrest and a war-like atmosphere between the feuding
families. Henry VI's claim was further weakened by the fact that
his grandfather Henry IV had usurped the throne and murdered the
childless Richard II. Rebellion broke out in Ireland and York who
was assigned to put it down took the opportunity to make his army
serve his own ambition by winning the first battle of St. Albans on
22 May 1455. With this victory, Henry VI, Part 3 starts.

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MonkeyNotes-King Henry VI, Part 3 by William Shakespeare
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