Henry VI was King of England from 1422 to 1461, and again from 1470 to 1471, the last king of the Lancastrian dynasty. He has been described as weak-willed, easily led, timid and averse to warfare, character traits not popular in a king in the 15th century. He is chiefly remembered for his apparent failures – the loss of Normandy, his illness, reliance on others and ultimately the devastating civil war which followed. However, he was also gentle, devout and kindly, and left behind a legacy of educational foundations and cultural patronage. On his death, he was treated as a saint and martyr.
To celebrate the 600th anniversary of his birth at Windsor in December 1421, the exhibition sought to explore Henry’s life and his achievements, using items largely from the College Archives to focus on what has been described as one of the only good things to come out of his reign – the foundation of Eton College. An online version of the exhibition is available.