chapter  4
‘Woe betide the land whose king is a child’
England and France, 1422–29
Pages 22

The first years of Henry VI's reign presented two interrelated and unprecedented problems: first, how to maintain a semblance of royal authority and government for an infant king incapable of ruling himself, and second, how to enforce that authority over the newly established and fractious Lancastrian Dual Monarchy. In England the task of legitimising the Dual Monarchy, as opposed to simply gaining acceptance of Henry VI's right to rule as king of England, was altogether more complex. The government of England between 1423 and 1429 was dominated by the difficult relationship between the duke of Gloucester and Henry Beaufort, bishop of Winchester. The Lancastrian regime thus embraced the theory of the king's two bodies, making a practical distinction between the infant king himself and his public person, while maintaining the fiction of an active royal presence. The Lancastrian establishment rethinks its strategy and forced upon the young Henry VI a far more prominent role in the government of both realms.