Famous Dead Person of the Week
Life: December 6, 1421-May 21, 1471
Occupation: King (Various Dominions)
Why he’s famous: Again, he’s a king
Fun Fact: Became the King of England at nine months old.
I don’t remember a ton about my history classes, which probably doesn’t please most of my teachers. In fairness, most of my history teachers – especially in college – were so old they saw the events first-hand. I’m almost positive Dr. Dixon led the way up Chickamauga back in 1863, but I digress.
Anyway, I remember Henry VI for a variety of reasons. For starters, it’s a good thing we have a mandatory age-limit on our Presidents because some marketing company could easily convince 61 percent of the voting public that electing a toddler to the nation’s highest office would be just so darn cute. Henry VI became King of England around that age; I’m betting he never experienced the pangs of adolescence or even what one might consider a normal childhood, English royalty though he was.
He’s also memorable for his bad days. While a normal person might lose sleep or appetite over a particularly poor day at work, Hank the Sixth took things a bit harder than you or me. Upon hearing the news his army had suffered a devastating defeat in 1453, Henry VI went into a maddening mental breakdown that lasted until the following Christmas.
Talk about a guy that takes stuff hard, it sounds like he could’ve used a margarita or two. They say it’s bad to drown your troubles in booze, but I feel like that would’ve been a much more responsible reaction than behaving like a madman for a calendar year.
Somewhat predictably, after his extended bout with insanity came to an end his cousins who had ascended to power had him imprisoned. Thankfully, he responded by going beavershit crazy in prison and getting released – apparently copping the ol’ insanity plea worked as well in medieval England as it does now.
More imprisonments and another return to the throne followed, although extended prison time seems to have robbed him of his faculties; his wife did a lot of reining for him at the end. Predictably for a crazy person, he appears to have been murdered during his final jail stint in the Tower of London as he knelt to pray.
As befits an insane person, Henry VI inspired a cult after his death. Miracles (!) were attributed to his divine influence, which makes as much sense as the modern-day yahoos that think they can lay hands on a blind person and cure them. By the time Henry VIII moved England away from the Catholic Church in the 16th century, a movement was afoot to have Henry VI canonized.
Point of this exercise: Maybe our politicians aren’t necessarily the best human beings that ever lived, but thank God we didn’t have this guy. We’re way too emasculated as a culture to push him out, so he would’ve run amok. Imagine the damage he could’ve done with a smart phone and a nuclear weapons silo.