The miracle of Henry VI: how the weak medieval king became a ‘saint’

In life, Henry VI lurched from one disaster to the next. Yet in death, his countrymen venerated the Plantagenet king – whose inability to provide good government resulted in the Wars of the Roses – as a saint-like figure. Here, Desmond Seward explains this miraculous turn of events...

Portrait of King Henry VI by an unknown artist. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

This article was first published in the April 2014 issue of BBC History Magazine

Everybody knows that Geoffrey Chaucer’s pilgrims – as related in his world-famous tales – were on their way to St Thomas Becket’s shrine at Canterbury. Fewer realise that a hundred years later far more pilgrims went to Windsor than Canterbury, to the shrine of Henry VI, whom they credited with working miracles.

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