Social and Economic

Eton College founded by King Henry VI

King Henry VI founded Eton College as a Charity School for poor boys. IT’s foundation date was 12th September 1440. Henry intended that the boys would then progress to Kings College, Cambridge, also founded by the king.

Eton College founded by King Henry VI.

The King employed the headmaster from Winchester College to establish his new school and brought some boys from Winchester to Eton to establish classes. Eton was incredibly fortunate to have a dedicated founder. The King made substantial grants of land to the new school, ensuring that it had ample land and an income.

Land and Financing for Eton College

Some lands held by alien priories were forfeited to the crown, and Henry used these as the basis of Eton’s income. He appointed men of high status to act as feoffees of the endowment. This included Archbishop Chichele, the Duke of Suffolk and John Somerset the Chancellor of the Exchequer and other bishops and members of the King’s household.

Eton’s religious rights

Henry intended for the buildings to be grand, the nave of the chapel was initially intended to be the longest in Europe. The pope was petitioned, successfully, to grant the school special religious rights.

The school was allowed to provide indulgences to penitents, and it acquired holy relics, including a piece of the True Cross. Building Eton was a long process, and it had not been completed by Henry’s fall from power in 1461.

Eton, an unfinished project

Edward IV had less interest in the project and fewer funds. So much of the intended building plan was reigned in, resulting in the buildings as we see them today.

Eton College Image Credits

Eton College: The North and East Ranges of the Cloisters from the Court. ‘Parishes: Eton’, in A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 3, ed. William Page (London, 1925), pp. 261-275. British History Online [accessed 31 August 2022].

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