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The constitutional history of England in its origin and development, Volume 3 online

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or personal influences prevailing at the time : the matter must
be considered in another chapter, and it may be sufficient to
say here that as the changes in the law scarcely at all affected
the composition of the House of Commons, the particular steps
of the change probably resulted from local instances of undue
influence and violence. It must not, however, be forgotten that
the historians under Richard II had complained of the exercise
of crown influence, and that the cry was repeated by the mal-
contents under Henry IV.

It is a wearisome task to trace the continuance of the fatal
quarrel between Beaufort and Gloucester, but it is the main
string of English political history for the time. Lollardy was
smouldering in secret; the heavy burdens of the nation were
wearily borne ; Bedford was wearing out life and hope in a
struggle that was now seen to be desperate. The Maid of

> Bot. Pari. iv. 338.

• lb. iv. 336, 337 ; Amund. L 44. The dergy in October 1439, granted
a tenth and a half; Wilk. Cone, ill 515 ; and in March 1430, another
tenth ; Wilk. Cone. iii. 517.

' Bot. ParL iy. 339, 341, 34a. CommissionB for raidng a loan on this
•ecority were issued May 19, 1430 ; Rymer, x. 461.

• Kot. Pari. iv. 34a ; Amund. i. 46, 48. » Rot. Pari. iv. 350.

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iia Constitutional Hiatory, [ciiap.

The Maid of Orleans was captured on the 26th of May, 1430, and burned as
Orleans. ^ > **

a witch on the 31st of May, 1431 ; Bedford might perhaps have

interfered to save her, but such an exercise of magnanimity
would have been unparalleled in such an age, and the peculiarly
stem religiousness of his character was no more likely to relax in
her favour than it had in Oldcastle's. On the 17 th of December,
1 43 1, Henry was crowned king of France at Paris by Beaufort.
Beaufort 336. Henry's absence in France gave Gloucester a chance in

l^oe. his turn. Long deliberations in council were needed before
the expedition could be arranged; on the i6th of April, 1430,
the cardinal agreed to accompany his grand nephew^; on the
Gloucester 2ist Gloucester was appointed lieutenant and custos of the
untenant kingdom*. On the 23rd Henry sailed with a large retinue,
dom.^ ^"^' aiid remained abroad for nearly two years. During this time
the duty of maintaining the authority of the council devolved
on archbishop Kemp, who, although he managed to act with
Gloucester in his new capacity as custos, had on more than
one occasion to oppose him, and, as soon as the court re-
Jack Sharp's turned, was made to pay the penalty of his temerity. The
year 1431 witnessed a bold attempt at rebellion made by
the political Lollards under a leader named Jack Sharp, who
was captured and put to death at Oxford in May'. The
parliament of 1431^ was chiefly occupied with the financial
difficulties. The country was becoming more convinced of its
own exhaustion, and debt was annually increasing'. New
methods of taxation were tried and failed. This year, besides
fifteenths and tenths, tunnage and poundage, and the continued

* Ord. iv. 35-38 ; Rymer, x. 456. * Ord. iv. 40 sq. ; Rymer, x. 458.

' Jack Sharp's petition for the oonfiscation and appropriation of the
temporalities of the church, being the same proposition as that put forth in
1410 (above, p. 64) is printed from the MS. Harl. 3775 in Amundeaham
(ed. Kiley), i. 453 ; cf. Hall, Chr. p. 166 ; Amund. i. 03 ; Gregory, p. 172 ;
Chron. liond. p. 119; Ellis, Orig. Lett, and Series, i. 103; Ordinances, iy.
89, 99, 107 ; Chron. Giles, p. 18.

* The parliament, called in pursuance of a resolution of the great council
held Oct. 6, 1430, opened Jan. 12, 1431 ; Rot. Pari. iv. 367 ; Amund. i. 57;
Ordinances, iv. 6 7. John Tyrell was again speaker. The grants were made
on the 20th of March.

* In a great council, Oct. 9, 1430, the bishops and abbots lent large sums,
and soon after a fifteenth was levied ; Amund. i. 55. On the 12th of July,
1430, orders were issued for constraint of knighthood ; Ord. iv. 54.

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xvin.] Gloucester and Beaufort. I13

subsidy, a grant was made of twenty sliillmgs on the knights' Gmnts of
fee or twenty pounds rental' ; and security authorised for a loan
of ^£50,000 ^. The payments for Beaufort's services were a large
item in the national account; Gloucester was still more rapa-
cious, and he did not, like his uncle, hold his stores at the disposal
of the state. On the 6th of November the duke again mooted in
council the removal of the cardinal^, this time directly. The king's Discussions
Serjeant and attorney laid before the lords in general council a Beaufort's
series of precedents by which it was shown that every English ^*^ ^^'
bishop who had accepted a cardinal's hat had vacated his see; the
duke of Gloucester asked the bishop of Worcester whether it was
not true that the cardinal had bought for himself an exemption
from the jurisdiction of his metropolitan ; and the bishop, when
pressed to speak, allowed that he had heard this stated by the
bishop of Lichfield who had acted as Beaufort's proctor. The
bishops and other lords present professed that their first object
was the good of the kingdom, and said that, considering the
cardinars great services and near relationship to the king, they
wished justice to be done on a fair trial, and ancient records to
be searched. The bishop of Carlble voted that nothing should
be done until the cardinal's return*. Notwithstanding this, on
the 28th of November the council ordered letters of praemunire
and attachment upon the statute to be drawn up, the execution
of them being deferred until the king's return. The same day and on tiie
there was a brisk debate on the question of the protector's salary,
salary, in which the chancellor and treasurer were outvoted
by Gloucester's friends' led by the lord Scrope. Before the Beaufort's
king's return additional offence was given by the seizure of seized,
the cardinal's plate and jewels when they were landed at
Dover*. Beaufort was still abroad, and Gloucester took the
opportunity which his absence offered, and which perhaps an

» Rot. Pari. iv. 368, 369 ; Amund. i. 58. * Rot. Pari. iv. 374.

* Ordinaooes, iv. 100. * lb. iv. 103 ; Rymer. x. 497.

^ Kemp and Hungerford were supported by the bishop of Carlisle, lords
Harrington. De la Warr, Lovell, and Botreaux ; Ordinances, iv. 103.

* Beaufort had returned to England Dec. 21, 1430, and attended the
pariiament of 1431, but went back to France after Easter ; Amund, i. 56,
58. 63 ; Rymer, x. 491.

VOL, m. I

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Constitutional History.


Ch*^o' increasing personal influence over the king helped him to seise,
on the king's to remove the ministers and make a crreat alteration in his

return. ^

nephew's surroundings. The king landed on the 9th of Feb-
ruary; on the 26th Hungerford had to resign the treasurership
to Scrope ; on the ist of March lord Cromwell the chamberlain
was dismissed, and lord Tiptoft was relieved from the stewardship
of the household^ ; on the 4th of March, the great seal, whidi the
archbishop of York had resigned on February 25, was confided
to John Stafford, bishop o Bath'; other minor changes followed,
pturliament As might be expected, the cardinal speedily returned home and
the next parliament was a stormy one.

337. It met on the 12th of May at Westminster before the
king in person', and was opened by the new chancellor with
a speech on the text 'Fear God, honour the King;' the
three points of application being the defence of religion, the
maintenance of law, and the relief of the national poverty;,
the last a new feature in such addresses, but probably intro-
Glouoester . duced now in consequence of a real pressure. On the second
desire of day Gloucester spoke, in the idea, he said, of assuring the com-
mons that the lords were agreed among themselves^ : he was,
it was true, the king's nearest kinsman, and had been con-
stituted by act of parliament his chief counsellor, but it was not
his wish therefore to act without the advice and consent of the
other lords; he accordingly asked their assistance and pro-
mised to act on their advice; the lords signified their agree-
ment, and this pleasing fiction of concord was announced by
the chancellor to the commons. The duke had by this assertion
of his intentions thrown down the gauntlet. Beaufort took it up
and made a successful appeal to the estates. He declared that,
having with due licence from the king set out for Rome, he had,
when in Flanders, been recalled to England by the report that

1 Rymer, z. 502 ; Ordinanoes, iy. 109. Hardyng speaks highly of lord
Cromwell*8 wisdom, perhaps referring to his money-getting crs^ p. 395.

■ Rymer, x. 500. 501.

' Rot. Pari. iv. 388. John Runell waa speaker ; the grants were reported
July 17. The oonnoil had on the 7th addressed writs to the duke of Nor-
iblk, the earls of Suffolk, Huntingdon, Stafford, Northumberland, Mid lotd
Cromwell, forbidding them to bring up more than their ordinary retiniie ;
Ordinanoes, iv. iia. * Rot. Pari. iy. 389.

of the

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xvui.] CromwelVi Comjplaxnt. 115

be was accused of treason. He had returned to meet the
charge: let the accuser stand forth and he would answer it.
The demand was debated before the kinir and Gloucester, and The king ,
the answer was that no such charge had been made against him, loyaL
and that the king accounted him loyal. Beaufort asked that
this proceeding might be recorded, and it was done*. In the a 00m-
matter of the jewels he was easily satisfied : they were restored ^"^"^^^
to him, and he agreed to lend Henry ,£6000, to be repaid in
case the king within six years should be convinced that the
jewels had been illegally seized, and £6000 more as an ordinary
loan. At the same time he respited the payment of 13,000
marks which were already due to him*. The victory, for it
was a victory, was thus dearly purchased ; but Beaufort prob-
ably saw that the choice of alternatives was very limited, and
that it was better to lend than to lose. His sacrifice was
appreciated by the commons. On their petition a statute was
passed which secured him against all risks of praemunire*.
Encouraged by the cardinaFs success, lord Cromwell, on the Lord Crom-
i6th of June, laid his complaint before the lords; he had, be told the
contrary to the sworn articles by which the council was r^^u- SS^SmO. **
laied, been removed from his office of chamberlain: he re-
counted his services, producing Bedford's testimony to his
character, and demanded to be told whether he had been
removed for some fault or offence. Gloucester refused to bring
forward any charge against him. He was told that his removal He is
not owing to his fault, but was the pleasure of the duke"**^

and the council ; and this formal acquittal was enrolled at his
request among the records of parliament*. On the 15th of Grant of
July the supplies were granted ; half a tenth and fifteenth was
voted, with tunnage and poundage for two years j and the sub-
sidy on wool was continued until November 1435*. Of the

* Rot. Pari. iv. 390, 391 ; Rymer, x. 517.

' Bot. Pari. !▼. 391 ; Rymer, x. 518. In 1434 Henry promised that the
£6000 ahoold be repaid and then Beaufort lent £10,000 more ; Ordinances,

IT. 236-339.

» Rot. Pari. It. 392 ; Rymer, x. 516.
« Rot. ParL iv. 39'-

* lb. iv. 389. The Canterbury clergy granted a half tenth, the York
devgy a quarter of a tenth ; WUk. Ck>no. iii. 531.

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ii6 Conslilutional History. [chap.

Minor minor transactions of the parliament some were important :

traasactions , * ^ '

inpariia- Sir John Cornwall, who had married the duchess of Exeter,

daughter of John of Gaunt, was created baron of Fanhope m
parliament ^ ; the duke of York was declared of age ; and the
statute of 1430 was amended by the enactment that the freehold
qualification of the county electors must lie within the shire'. The
complicated grant of land and income tax of 1431, which it was
found impossible to collect, was annulled '. Two petitions of the
commons, one praying that men might not be called before
parliament or council in cases touching freehold*, the other
affecting the privileges of members molested on their way to
parliament^, were negatived. The result of the proceedings
was on the whole advantageous to Gloucester ; he had failed to
crush the cardinal, but he retained his predominance in the
council. He was not to retain it long.
Prooeedinp 338. The hopes of the English in France were rapidly
in Prance, waning. The duke of Burgundy was growing tired of the
struggle, Bedford's health and strength were rapidly giving way.
The death of his wife in November 1432 broke the strongest
link that bound him to duke Philip, and a new marriage which
he concluded early in 1433 with the sister of the count of S. Pol,
instead of adding to the number of his allies, weakened his hold
on Burgundy. Negotiations were set on foot for a general pacifi-
cation. G-loucester spent a month on the continent, trjdng his
hand at diplomacy • ; and immediately on his return summoned
the parliament to meet in July. In the interval Bedford and
Burgundy met at S. Omer, and the coolness between them be-
came a quarrel, although they had still so great interests in
common that they could not afford to break up their alliance.

• Rot. Pari. iv. 400; * i*j^^ die Julii ultimo die praesentis parliameiiti«
in trium statuom ejusdem parliamenti praesentia de aviBamento . . . domi-
noruiD spiritualium et temporal ium in parliamento praedicto ezistentium,
praefatum Johannem in baronem indlgenam r^^ sui Angliae erexit
praefecit et creavit.* Cf. Ryraer, x. 524. The Ghronicle published by
Dr. Giles, p. 9, states that Cornwall was made baron of Faohope, and
the lords Cromwell, Tiptoft, and Hungerford were created at Leioesteir in
1426. * Bot. Pari. ly. 409 ; Statutes, ii. 273.

• Rot. Pari. iv. 409. * lb. iv. 403. » lb. iv. 404.

• April 22 to May 23 ; Rymer, x. 548, 549.

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xvni.] BedforcPs last Visit. 117

At the end of June Bedford visited England once more, and he Parliament
was present at the beginning of the session ^ Whether he had
seen or heard anything that led him to suspect his brother's
friendship, it is not easy to say ; but on the sixth day of the
parliament he announced that he had come home to defend
himself against false accusations. It had been asserted, as he Bedford
understood, that the losses which the king had sustained in self against
France were caused by his neglect ; he prayed that his accusers charges.
might be made to stand forth and prove the charges '. After
mature deliberation the chancellor answered him : no such
charges had reached the ears of the king, the duke of Gloucester,
or the council. The king retained full confidence in him as
his faithful liegeman and dearest uncle, and thanked him for
his great services and for coming home at last. A sudden
alarm of plague broke up the session in August, to be resumed
in October' ; but the eflfect of Bedford's visit on the administra-
tion was already apparent; lord Cromwell, before the proro- Change of
gation, was appointed treasurer of the kingdom^, and in the
interim prepared an elaborate statement of the national accounts.
Money was so scarce that the parliament authorised him to stay
all r^^ar payments until he had £2000 in hand for petty
expenses. Crom well's statement of the national finances ^ was Lord
brought up on the i8th of October, and was alarming if not financial
appalling. The ancient ordinary revenue of the crown, which
in the gross amounted to j£2 3,000, was reduced by fixed charges
to £8,990 ; the duchy of Lancaster furnished £2,408 clear, the
indirect taxes on wine, and other merchandise, brought in
an estimated sum of £26,966 more. The government of Ire-
land just paid its expenses ; the duchy of Guienne, the remnant
of the great inheritance of queen Eleanor, furnished only
£77 08, 8|d : the expenses of Calais, £9,064 15*. 6d,, exceeded
the whole of the ordinary revenue of the crown. The sum

> Parliament opened July 8 ; Boger Hunt was the speaker ; Rot. Pari. iv.
419, 430 ; Stow. p. 373 ; Fabyan, p. 607. Bedford reached London June
23; Chr. Lond. p. 120. * Rot. Pari. iv. 430.

' The parliament was prorogued Aug. 13, to meet again Oct. 13; Rot.
Piirl. iv. 420.

* Aug. II ; Ordinances, iv. 175. • Rot. Pari. iv. 432-439-

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ii8 Constitutional History. [chap.

Financial available for administration, £38,364, was altogether insufficient
to meet the expenditure, which was estimated at ^£56,87 8, and
there were debts to the amount of Xi64,8i4 ii«. i^d. It is
probable that the accounts of the kingdom had been in much
worse order under Edward III and Richard 11, but the general
state of things had never been less hopeful. All expenses were
increasing, all sources of supply were diminishing. But there
could not have been much maladministration ; a single annual
grant of a fifteenth would be sufficient to balance revenue and
expenditure and would leave something to pay off the debt
Bedfbrd'8 There was reason for careful economy ; Bedford determined to
economise, make an effort to secure so much at least, and the discussion of
public business was resumed on the 3rd of November ^. On that
day the commons, after praying that a proclamation might be
issued for the suppression of riotous assemblies, which were
taking place in several parts of England, requested that the
duke of Bedford would make, and the duke of Gloucester and
Dedaimtion the council would renew, the promise of concord and mutual
^ co-operation which had been offered in the last parliament.
This was done, and the two houses followed the example *. On
the 24th the speaker addressed the king in a long speech,
extolling the character and services of Bedford, and stating
The Com- the belief of the commons that his continued stay in England
SSufcidto would be the greatest conceivable security to the well-being
England. ^^ the king and his realms : he besought the king to request
the duke to abide still in the land. The lords, on being con-
sulted by the chancellor, seconded the prayer of the commons,
and the proposal was at once laid before the duke. Bedford,
in a touching speech, full of modesty and simplicity, declared
His self- himself at the king's disposal^ The next day, giving a laudable
oner.'°^ example of self-denial, he offered to accept a salary of Xiooo
as chief counsellor instead of the 5000 marks which Qloucester
had been receiving*, and on the 28th Gloucester in council

^ A very peremptory stunraons was issued on Nov. i for the immAflift^
attendnnce of several lay lords and abbots ; Lords* Report, iv. 887.

* Rot. Pari. iv. 421, 42a. • lb. iv. 423.

* The wages of the councillors are a constantly recurring topic in all th«
records of the time; see especially Rymer, x. 360; Ordinancea, iii. 156^

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xnii.] Beclford chief Counsellor. 119

agreed to accept the same sum ^. At the close of the session the EoonomiM
archbishops, the cardinal, and the bishops of Lincoln and Ely oouooU.
agreed to give their attendance without payment, if they were
not obliged to be present in vacation". This simple measure
effected a clear saving of more than jSiooo a year. The good-
will of the commons followed on the good example of the
council; a grant of one fifteenth and tenth, minus the sum ofOnntsin
£4000 which was to be applied to the relief of poor towns, was
voted, and tunnage and poundage continued^. The fifteenth would
bring in at least £33,000, and the clerical grant voted in
November* would give about £9,000 more. The council was em-
powered to give security for 100,000 marks of debt^ and it was
agreed, on the treasurer's proposal, that the accounts should
be audited in council ^ On the i8th of December Bedford Bedfbrd


produced the articles of condition on which he proposed to the office
undertake the office of counsellor; he wished to know who counsellor,
would be the members of the continual council ; he demanded
that without his advice and that of the council no members
should be added or removed, that the opinion of the council
should be taken as to the appointments to great offices of state,
that he should, wherever he was, be consulted about the sum-
moning of parliament and the appointment to bishoprics, and
that a record should be kept of the names of old servants
of the king, who should be rewarded as occasion might offer.
All these points were conceded, and the duke entered upon his
office ^

But he was destined to no peaceful or long tenure. It was
soon seen that even with Bedford at home duke Humfrey could

ao3, a a a, 265, 378 ; iv. 12; Bot. Pari. y. 404. Cardinal Beaufort when
ftttending the king in France had ^£4000 per annum; Rymer, z. 472.
Glouoester was to receive 4000 marks as lieutenant during the king's
absence ; aooo when he was in England ; Ord. iv. i a : to tins sum 2000
marin were added, ib. p. 103 ; and 5000 marks fixed as his ordinary salary,
lb. p. 105.

* Rot. Pari. It. 424; Ordinances, iv. 185.

* Rot. Pari. iv. 446. • lb. iv. 425, 426.

* Dep. Keeper's Bep. iii. App. p. 15. It was three quarters of a tenth ;
Wilk. Cone. iii. 523.

» Rot. Pari. iv. 426. « Ib. iv. 439. » Ib. iv. 423, 424.

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120 Constitutional History: [chap.

TJneMy not lonff be kept quiet. Si^rns of uneasiness and mistrust

relations , °, *,*, .,. iTi j

between between the two brothers at last appeared. It was proposed

and that Gloucester should go to France, where the earl of Arundel

was tasked beyond his strength in the defence of Normandy.
The country was not altogether indisposed to peace, and an
order had been passed in the parliament of 143 1 that Bedford,
Gloucester, Beaufort, and the council might open negotiations '.
On the 26th of April, 1434, a large council was held at "West-
minster ', a considerable number of lords and knights who were
not of the privy council being summoned by writs of privy seal.
Gloucester offered to go to France, and reviewed the conduct
of the war there in such terms that Bedford, conceiving himself
to be attacked, demanded that the words should be written
down, in order that he might defend himself before the king.
Gloucester's The council deliberated on Gloucester's proposition and found
proposition, that it would involve an expenditure of nearly £50,000, which
they saw no means of raising*. Gloucester, who as usual dealt
in generalities, was pressed to explain how the money was
to be secured. Bedford and the council severally appealed to
the king, who declared that the matter must go no further.
Heniy The poor lad, now only thirteen, consulted the council, and
between his probably under the advice of Beaufort, told the dukes that they
were both his dearest uncles, that no attack had been made
on the honour of either, and that he prayed there should be no
discord between them. The discord indeed ceased, but Bedford
immediately began to prepare for departure. On the pth of
June he addressed three propositions to the king ; the revenues
of the duchy of Lancaster should be applied to the war in
France; the garrisons in the march of Calais should be put
under his command ; and he should be allowed to devote for two
years the whole of his own Norman revenue to the war *. The
king and council gratefully agreed: on the 20th he took his
Bedford leave of them ^ and about the end of the month he sailed for
to France. France. His game there was nearly played out. After a

* Rot. Pari. iv. 371. ■ Ordmances, iv. 210-213.

» Ordinances, iv. 313 sq. * lb. iv. 222-226; Rot. Pari. v. 435-438.

' Ordinances, iv. 243-247.

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xvm.] Death of Bedford . I2i

conference with the duke of Burgundy at Paris at Easter 1435, ^^PJg!??
he was obliged, by the pressure of the pope and his conviction
of his own failing strength, to agree to join in a grand European
congress of ambassadors which was to be held at Arras in
August, for the purpose of arbitrating and if possible making
peace. The French offered considerable sacrifices, but the 9©fect»on of

, Burgundy.

English ambassadors demanded greater ; they saw that Bur-
gundy was going to desert them, and on the 6th of September
witiidrew from the congress. Burgundy's desertion was the
last thing required to break down the spirit and strength of
Bedford. He died on the 14th at Rouen. Duke Philip, relieved J®^.^'*'"
by his death from any obligation to temporise, made his terms

Online LibraryWilliam StubbsThe constitutional history of England in its origin and development, Volume 3 → online text (page 13 of 68)