French Grand Blanc and Henry VI

French Grand Blanc and Henry VI

Anglo-Gallic Grand Blanc
Silver 3.14 grams
Mint mark: separated by 3 verticals dots, LIS followed by le fleur de lis.
Obverse: Shield of France(left) and the English Royal Arms(right), hERICVS above with contraction mark over E, Latin legend and beaded borders surrounding, initial mark fleur de lis, FRANCEOVm: ET: ANGLIE: REX, triple hyphen stops.
Reverse: Latin cross, LIS to left, lion to the right, hERICVS below with abbreviation mark over ER. Latin legend and beaded borders surrounding, initial mark fleur de lis, SIT: nOMEN: Dnl: BENEDICTV

The Latin legends translate as “Henry, King of France and England.” On the obverse.
On the reverse: “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Taken from the Bible.

Reference: Les Monnaies Francaises Royales
-Jean Duplessy
REF# 445
Prov: CNG SALE 39
9/18/1996
Collector tag and provenance notation card included

Henry VI: A Complex Reign and Legacy 

Henry VI, born on December 6, 1421, at Windsor Castle, was the only child of King Henry V and Katharine of Valois. His remarkable journey to the English throne began when he was just nine months old, following his father's early death. During his infancy, a regency was established, mainly overseen by his uncle, John, Duke of Bedford, who was often away in France leading military campaigns. However, the real authority rested with another uncle, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, who effectively acted as the "parent".

What made Henry VI unique was that, just two months after becoming King of England, he was also declared King of France, thanks to the Treaty of Troyes. His coronation in France was a historic event, as he remains the only English monarch ever crowned in France with such a title.

Henry's early years were shaped by his uncles, especially Henry, Cardinal Beaufort, and Gloucester, who instilled in him a love for knowledge, which became a source of comfort during his challenging and turbulent reign.

His martial education under Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, from 1428 to 1436, didn't go smoothly, possibly due to mistreatment. Henry spent his summers with his mother at Wallingford Castle in Berkshire and was crowned in both Westminster in 1429 and Paris in 1430.

The arrival of Joan of Arc in 1429 marked a turning point as English control over French territories began to crumble. This shift caused internal conflicts among the Lancastrian princes in England. Henry often had to mediate disputes between his uncles, and the death of the Duke of Bedford in 1435 was a significant setback. The ongoing disagreements between Beaufort and Gloucester troubled the devout and introspective young king. At the age of eighteen, he redirected his efforts towards a lifelong passion; establishing educational institutions at Eton and Cambridge. His unwavering commitment destroyed any doubts about his intellectual abilities.

Henry's interests beyond education were primarily focused on achieving peace with France. Ironically, this pursuit earned him widespread criticism among his contemporaries. In 1445, he agreed to marry Margaret of Anjou as a step toward a peace treaty. However, Margaret faced strong opposition in England, and the peace achieved in 1453 only set the stage for a devastating civil conflict.

Gloucester pushed for continuing the war in France at any cost, and his suspicious death in 1447 led to allegations of murder implicating Beaufort, Suffolk, Margaret, and even Henry himself. The loss of Normandy in 1449 and the impeachment and subsequent murder of Suffolk exacerbated tensions. A popular uprising in 1450 and the emergence of Richard, Duke of York, in 1450 further destabilized Henry's reign.

York's formal claim to the throne in 1460, followed by his son's decisive actions in 1461, led to Henry's capture and imprisonment in the Tower of London. For three years, Henry lived as a fugitive in Scotland or sought refuge in northern England. His final capture in 1465 resulted in five years of imprisonment within the Tower.

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, temporarily restored Henry to the throne in 1470, but Edward IV's return to power in 1471 marked the beginning of Henry's ultimate decline. He was imprisoned once more in the Tower of London, where he met his tragic end on May 21, 1471, likely at the hands of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who would later become King Richard III.

After his death, Henry's remains were initially interred at Chertsey Abbey and later transferred to St. George's Chapel in Windsor. Despite discussions about canonizing him, the expensive process was ultimately abandoned by Henry VII.

Although Henry VI's reign may seem out of sync with his time, his enduring commitment to education left a lasting impact on English culture. His saintly reputation, combined with the strength of the Lancastrian monarchy, earned him the admiration of the people. If Henry VI appeared disconnected from his era, it may have been due to a divine insight gained through his saintly life, enabling him to foresee the future's atrocities and inspiring him to provide educational foundations for generations of Englishmen.

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