545 years ago tonight, the ousted KIng Henry VI died in the Wakefield Tower at the Tower of London.
If you are a Shakespeare fan, you probably attribute his death to Richard III, though as he was still only 19 years old, I tend to think it was more likely to be his elder brothers George and King Edward had a little more to do with his death.
Henry had been King of England for most of his life, though because of his apparent mental illness, he was probably not aware of that fact some of the time.
His wife, Margaret, is by all accounts a very domineering woman. Though faced with a mentally ill husband, you have to ask yourself if she was forced into that position, especially once she had a son and had to fight for his interests.
I feel that Henry’s life was quite a sad one. He was used as a pawn between uncles when he was a child King, then slowly appeaered to lose his mind as he grew older. It may be that he would have been glad to meet his maker on this evening.
I am not condoning his murder, though in the times he lived, it was possibly the only way that Edward was ever going to consolidate his own kingship. He had been kind to the former King previously and let him live quietly in the Tower, but a force had gathered with him as the figurehead, although he probably knew nothing about it, and had briefly overthrown the Yorkist King.
It would always be a threat that someone would attempt it again, if he lived.
It was said at the time that he had died from melancholy, and in all truth, who are we centuries later to say that he did not die because of his mental illness. The balance of probability is more likely that he was killed, if not by the York brothers then on King Edward’s orders.
Mental illness was not understood at all in those times, in modern days he could maybe have been medicated and lived a perfectly normal life. Many people do, and it is a known fact that you coud pass people with schizophrenia, bi-polar etc in the street and not know any different, because today’s medication can be so effective for some people. But you only ever hear of the ones that it does not work for in the news.
So today, in memory of an early sufferer, I want to give a shout out to all of those who suffer in secret from mental illnesses of all descriptions. People do not always know what you have to deal with on a daily basis, but do not let that hold you back. You are stronger than you think you are, hold your head high and walk tall. You are as vital a part of our communities as anyone else. Never let anyone tell you any different.