REIGNED: becoming king in his cradle, barely nine months old when his father died. Two months later he became king of France also when his grandfather, the mentally unstable Charles VI, died. He held the title until the English were defeated by Joan of Arc
He never showed any aptitude for government, and throughout his reign the English court was dominated by competing aristocratic factions. Like his father, he had claimed the crown of France, but France gradually freed itself from English control between 1430 and 1453.
After intermittent fighting during the War of the Roses, the conflict over the throne between the Lancasters and the Yorks, Henry was captured by the Yorkists at Northampton and was compelled to acknowledge the claimant Richard of York rather than his own infant son as successor. In 1460 Richard was killed by Henry's forces at Wakefield. Richard's son subsequently became leader of the Yorkists and proclaimed himself king as Edward IV.
Henry and his queen escaped to Scotland, where they remained until 1464. In that year he returned to take part in a rebellion against Edward but was captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London.
He had suffered attacks of insanity all his life and was now completely incapacitated. Nevertheless, he became nominal ruler again in 1470. Dethroned the following year and returned to the tower by Edward, he died there, probably murdered on Edward's order.
BIOGRAPHICAL: By means of a "sudden fright" the king entered into a trance-like state reacting to and recognising no-one -- catatonic schizophrenia or depressive stupor have been suggested. This was probably an inheritance from his grandfather, Charles VI of France, who himself suffered from bouts of schizophrenia. The protectorate was taken by his kinsman, Richard, Duke of York.
EVENT: During the 1450s a group of nobles sought to replace Henry with Richard, Duke of York, the next in line of succession to the throne. The resulting civil conflict and the battle for the throne ensued between the houses of Lancaster and York, known as the Wars of the Roses.