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

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with Charles VII, and a week later renounced the English
alliance. Bedford must have felt that, after all he had done and
suffered, he had lived and laboured in vain. The boy king,
when he wept with indignation at duke Philip's unworthy treat-
ment, must have mingled tears of still more bitter grief for the
loss of his one true and faithful Mend.

339. "With Bedford England lost all that had given grea<^> |^^JJ5*'
noble, or statesmanlike elements to her attempt to hold France, death.
He alone had entertained the idea of restoring the old and
somewhat ideal unity of the English and Norman nationalities,
of bestowing something like constitutional government on
France^ and of introducing commercial and social reforms, for
which, long after his time, the nation sighed in vain. The
policy on which he acted was so good and sound, that, if any-
thing could, it might have redeemed the injustice which, in
spite of all justificative argument, really underlay the whole
scheme of conquest. For England, although less directly ap-
parent, the consequences of his death were not less significant.
It placed Gloucester in the position of heir presumptive to the
throne ; it placed the Beauforts one step nearer to the point at
which they with the whole fortunes of Lancaster must stand or
fall. It placed the duke of York also one degree nearer to the
succession in whatever way the line of succession might be
finally regulated. It let loose all the disruptive forces which
Bedford bad been able to keep in subjection. It left cardinal

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122 Constitutional Eutory. [chaj.

Beiwiibrt*8 Beaufort the only Englishman who had any pretension to be
Bedford's called a politician, and furnished him with a political pro-
gramme, the policy of peace, not indeed unworthy of a prince
of the church, a great negotiator, and a patriotic statesman, but
yet one which the mass of the English, bom and nurtured
under the influences of the long war, was not ready heartily
to accept.
Irritation For the moment perhaps both king and nation thought more
Bui^undy. of Burgundy's desertion than of Bedford's death, of revenge
more than of continued defence. Peace with France would be
welcome ; it would be intolerable not to go to- war with Bur-
Ptoliament gundy. The chancellor, in opening parliament on October lo,
I43S. (iiiated at length on the perjuries of duke Philip ; if he said
a word about Bedford, it was not thought worth recording : the
only thought of him seems to have been how to raise money on
the estates which he and the earl of Arundel, who also had laid
down his life for the English dominion, had left in the custody
Great effort of the crown. The commons, who had grown so parsimonious
oommons. of late, granted not only a tenth and fifteenth, a continuance
of the subsidy ou wool, tunnage and poundage, but a heavy
graduated income-tax, of novel character now', though it became
too familiar in later times. They empowered the council too
to give security for j£ 100,000, a larger loan than had ever been
contemplated before '. Gloucester was appointed for nine years
captain of Calais^, and at last he was to have the chance of
showing his mettle ; for the cardinal himself had nothing better
to propose. The session closed on the 23rd of December ; war
was to be resumed early in the next year ; the garrison of Calais

' Hot. Pari. iv. 481. Jolm Bowes was speaker. It was called in pur-
suance of a resolutian of coaccil held July 5 ; Ord. iv. 304 ; Lords* Beport,
iv. 888.

' Rot. Pari. iv. 486, 487. Incomes of ioo«. paid 2«. 6(2., and 6c{. in
the pound up to £100 ; over £100 they paid %d. in the pound up to £400;
over £400 19. in the pound. A similar grant was made in convocation
Dec. 23; Dep. Keeper's Rep. iii. App. 16; Wilk. Cone. iii. 525.

' Rot. Pari. iv. 482. Writs were issued for a loan, Feb. 14, 1436, the
treasurer to give security for repayment from the fifteenth granted in the
last parliament; Ordinances, iv. 316, 329. Of pp. 352 sq.

* Rot. Pari. iv. 483.

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xvin.] Gloucester's Campaign, 123

rayaged tlie Flemish provinces, and the Burgundians prepared Pians taken,
to besiege Calais. Yet, before anything was done by Gloucester, 1436.
Paris had been recovered by the French king. Calais was Calais
Buccoared by Edmund Beaufort ^ and enabled to repel its be- Mmund ^
si^fers before Gloucester would set sail for its relief, or the duke ®*"'^'^
of York, the new regent, who entered on his office in April,
could complete his equipment*. Gloucester's Flemish campaign Gloucester's
occupied eleven days *, and he returned, after this brief experience Campaign
of marauding warfare, to receive from his nephew the title of"* '^^^"
Count of Flanders, an honour scarcely less substantial than the
royal title which its bestower continued to bear. This was the
work of 1436. In 1437 the parliament, which sat from January parliament
to March, renewed the grants of 1435, except the income-tax,^ '^^''
and did little more^. This year negotiations were set on foot for
the release of John Beaufort, earl of Somerset, who had been a
captive in France since 1421 ; he was exchanged for the count
of £u and returned home to strengthen the party of the cardinal °.
Alter a year's experience the duke of York refused to serve any Wanrick
longer in France, and the earl of Warwick, Henry's tutor, was ^^o^
appointed to succeed him as regents Bedford's widow had

' Now oount of Mortain and Harcourt, * wise and sage/ Hardyng, p. 388 ;
he was made earl of Dorset in 1441, marquess in 1442, and duke of
Somerset in 1448. Hardyng ascribes to him all the credit of relieving
Calais, p. 396 ; as for Gloucester, * he rode into Flanders a litle waye and
fitle did to count a manly man.' ' The earl of Mortayne went to Calys
•one aftyr Estyr' ; Gregory, p. 178. This chronicler gives the credit of the
refralse of the Burgundians to Beaufort and Camoys. Cf . Leland, Coll. ii.
49a ; Elngl. Chron. (ed. Da vies), p. 55 ; Chron. Giles, p. 15.

' According to Hall, p. 1 79 ; Stow, p. 375, the earl of Mortain was so
jealous of the duke of York that be prevented him from leaving England
nntQ Paris was lost. He had wished, it was said, to marry queen
Katharine, but was prevented byGloucester ; Chron. Giles, p. 17.

* Aug. 1-15 ; see Stevenson, Wars in France, ii. pp. xix, xx.

* The parliiunent of 1437 began Jan. ai ; Sir John Tyrell was speaker.
The grants were made on the last day of the session ; Rot. ParL iv. 495,
496, 501, 502. The security given was for j£ 100,000 ; p. 504. The clergy
granted a tenth ; Wilk. Cone. ill. 525.

» Bymer, x. 664, 680, 697.

* The duke*s indentures expired and he was not willing to continue in
office, April 7, 1437 ; Ordin. v. 6, 7. The earl of Warwick was nominated
lieateiiant July 16, 1437 ; Rymer, x. 674. He died in April, 1439. After
his death the lieutenancnr seems to have been in commission : but the earl
of Somerset is found calling himself, and acting as, lieutenant until after

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of 1439.

124 Constitutional History. [chap.

Death of already forgotten him and married one of bis officers ; queen
Katharine had long ago set the example, although the public reve-
lation of her imprudence was deferred during her life. She died
on the 3rd of January, 1437, leaving ^® young king more alone
than ever. Warwick died in April, 1439, after no great successes.
Such credit as was gained in France at all fell to the share of the

Truce with two Beauforts. The zeal of the nation died away quickly ; and
in October, 1439, a truce for three years with Burgundy was
concluded at Calais*; negotiations for a peace with Charles Vll
going slowly on in parallel with the slow and languishing war*.
The cardinal's schemes for a general pacification were ripening.
Gloucester showed neither energy nor originality, but contented
himself with being obstructive. The parliament, in a hopeless
sort of way, voted supplies and sanctioned the granting of
private petitions, trying from time to time new expedients in

lyii&ment taxation and slight amendments in the commercial laws. In
the session of 1439' the renewed grants of subsidies for three
years — a fifteenth and tenth and a half — were supplemented by
a tax upon aliens, sixteen pence on householders, sixpence a head
on others * ; and the unappropriated revenues of the duchy of
Lancaster were devoted to the charge of the household \

York's reappointment ; see Appendix D to the Foedera, pp. 443-447 ;
Stevenson, Wars in France, ii. 304. Cf. Ordinances, v. 16, 33 ; Chr. Giles,
p. 18. It could however only be for a few months, as he was in England
in December 1439; Ordinances, v. 11 3.

» Rymer, x. 733-736.

' The journal of the ambassadors sent to negotiate with Franoe on the
mediation of cardinal Beaufort and the duchoHs of Burgundy, who was
Beaufort's niece, is printed in the Ordinances, v. pp. 335-437.

* The parliament began Nov. 13 ; on Dec. 3i it was prorogued to meet
at Reading, Jan. 14 ; William Tresham was speaker; measures were taken
against dishonest purveyors. Convocation granted a tenth ; Wilk. Gone, iii
536; Rot. Pari. V. 3; Chron. Lond. pp. 136. 137. Hall commends the
commercial policy of this parliament, p. 187; see Rot Pari. v. 34;
Statutes, ii. 302. One act forbade alien merchants to sell to alienB, put
their sales under view of the Exchequer, and ordered them within eight
months to invest the proceeds in English goods. Cf. Stow, p. 377.

* Rot. Pari. v. 4-6 ; 3rd Report of Dep. Keeper, App. p. 1 7. * Alyens were
putte to hyr fynaunce to pay a certayne a yere to the kynge ' ; Gregory,
p. 183.

* The Lancaster Inheritance had been preserved as a separate property
of the crown, apart from the royal demesne, by Henry IV ; and Henry V
had added to it the estates inherited from his mother. Great part of it

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xviu.] Gloucester's Protest. 125

340. The next year the projects of peace began to take a more ^« duJte
definite form, and Gloncester's opposition assumed a more consis- npgent in
tent character. On the 2nd of July ^ the duke of York was again 1440.
made lieutentCnt-general in France, in the place of Somerset,
who had been in command since Warwick's death, and who, with
his brother Edmund, achieved this year the great success of re-
taking Harfleur ^ At the same time the duke of Orleans, who Release of
had been a prisoner in England since the battle of Agincourt, of Orleans,
obtained the order for his release, on the understanding that he
should do his best to bring about peace with France. This was
done notwithstancQng the direct opposition and formal protest
of Gloucester. In this document, which was addressed to violent
Henry', the duke embodied his charges against the cardinal oiou^tor
and archbishop Kemp, and vented all the spite which he had u^^^p?
been accumulating for so many years: the letter assumes the
dimensions of a pamphlet, and is sufficient by itself to establish
the writer's incapacity for government. Beaufort, according to
his nephew's representation, had obtained the cardinalate to
satisfy his personal pride and ambition, and to enable him to as-
sume a place to which he was not entitled in the synods of the
church and in the council of the king : he had illegally retained
or resumed the see of Winchester and deserved the penalties of
praemunire; he and the archbishop of York, his confederate,
had usurped undue influence over the king himself, and had
estranged from him not only the writer but the duke of York

had however by charters of enfeoffment been put in the bands of trustees
for the payment of his debts, charitable endowments, and trusts of hb wilL
Of these trustees cardinal Beaufort was the most influential* and he retained
the administration of the lands, according to the belief of parliament, much
longer than was necessary. See Bot. Pari. iii. 428; iv. 46, 72; 138, 139,
301, 488 ; V. 6.

* Rymer, x. 786. The appointment was for five years. He had not set
out on May 23, 1441 ; Ordinances, v. 146. Hardyng's statements about
the regency of France and Normandy are peculiar ; he says that the duke
of Burgundy governed for a year after Bedford's death ; the earl of Warwick
succeeded, p. 396 ; then the eari of Stafford for two years, the earl of Hunting-
don for two, and then the duke of York for seven.

• July to October, Appendix D to Foedera, pp. 453-459* Stow,

p. 37^.

» Bymer, x. 764-767 ; Stevenson, Wars in France, ii. 440 ; Hall. Chr.
pp. 197-202; Arnold, Chr. pp. 279-286.

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ia6 Constitutional History. [chap.

Glouoeiter's and the earl of Huntingdon, to say nothing of the archbishop of
^nst Canterbury ; he had moreover, in his money-lending transactions,
1440. * sacrificed the king's interest to his own ; he had provided ex-
travagantly for Elizabeth Beauchamp^ and his nephew Swin-
ford ; he had defrauded the king of the ransom of king James
of Scotland by marrying him to his niece ; he had mismanaged
affairs at the congress of Arras in 14 35 and at Calais in 1439 ;
in the former case he had allowed Burgundy and France to be
reconciled, in the latter he had connived at an alliance between
Burgundy and Orleans. The release of the duke of Orleans
simply meant the renunciation of the kingdom of France;
Beaufort and Kemp had even gone so £&r as directly to counsel
such a humiliating act. Public mismanagement^ private dis-
honesty, and treachery both private and public, are freely charged
against both the prelates.
Reply of the The duke's protest, which must have been very mischievous,
was answered by a letter of the council *, in which, not caring
to notice the personal charges, they defended the policy of the
act : it was an act of the king himself, done from the desire of
peace; a desire fully justified by the great cost of bloodshed,
the heavy charges, the eidiaustion of both countries : it was a
bad example to doom a prisoner of war to perpetual incarcera-
tion, or, by vindictively retaining him, to lose all the benefit of
his copperation in the obtaining of peace. The answer is full
of good sense and good feeling, but it could never have com-
manded the same success as the manifesto of duke Humfrey
obtained. That document helped to substitute in the mind of
the nation, for the wholesome desire of peace which had been
gradually growing, a vicious, sturdy, and unintelligent hatred
to the men who were seeking peace : a feeling which prejudiced
the people in general against Margaret of Anjou, and which,
after having helped to destroy Gloucester himself, caused the
outbreak of disturbances which led to civil war. It is curious

' Henry V had left this Udy ' 300 marks worth of lyvelode,' if she sbonld
marry within a year. She had waited two years and more ; notwithotand-
inff Beaufort, as his nephew's executor, had paid the money.

^ Stevenson, Wars in France, ii. 451.

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xvin.] Eleanor Cohham. 127

to note how GlonceBter tries to represent the duke of York and Mischier

^ done by

the earl of Huntingdon as sharers in his feelings of resentment. Giouoestor.

Either he was too much hlinded hy spite to see the real drift of

the cardinal's policy, or else those deeper grudges of the royal

house, which had cost and were still to cost so much bloodshed,

were at the time altogether forgotten in the personal dislike of

the Beauforts. Notwithstanding the protest, the duke of Orleans

obtained his freedom.

The next year witnessed a miserable incident that served to 5J»»o'
'' Cobham,

diow that Gloucester was either powerless or contemptibly Gloucester's

puillanimous ^. After his separation from the unfortunate for witch-
Jacqueline, which was followed by a papal bull declaring the
nullity of their marriage, he had consoled himself with the
society of one of her ladies, Eleanor Ck)bham, whom he had
subsequently married. Eleanor Cobham, early in 1441, was
suspected of treasonable sorcery, and took sanctuary afc West-
minster. After appearing before the two archbishops, car-
dinal Beaufort, and bishop Ascough of Salisbury, she was
imprisoned in Leeds castle; and subsequently, on the report
of a special commission, consisting of the earls of Huntingdon
and Suffolk and several judges, she was indicted for treason.
After several hearings, she declined to defend herself, sub-
mitted to the correction of the bishops, and did penance ; she
was then committed to the charge of Sir Thomas Stanley and
kq>t during the remainder of her life a prisoner. The object
of her necromantic studies was no doubt to secure a speedy
succession to the crown for her husband. He does not seem
to have ventured to act overtly on her behalf; whether from
cowardice or from a conviction of her guilt. It was not for-
gotten that queen Johanna had in the same way conspired
against the life of Henry Y; and when both accusers and
accused fully believed in the science by which such treasonable
designs were to be compassed, it is as difficult to condemn the
prosecutor as it is to acquit the accused. The people, we
are told, pitied the duchess. If the prosecution were dictated

* Cauron. Lond. pp. lap, 130; Engl. Chron. (ed. Dftvies) pp. 57-^ J
Stow, p. 381 ; Fabyan, p. 614; Bot. Pari v. 445.

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Constitutional History.


of 144a.

Trials of
by statute.

comes of

by hostility to her huBband, the story is disgraceful to both
factions alike.

During the years 1441 and 1442 the duke of York won some
credit in the north of France ; the power of Charles VII was
increasing in the south. The English parliament met on the
25th of January in the latter year^; granted the subsidies,
tunnage and poundage, for two years, a fifteenth and tenth,
and the alien tax. The vote of security for £100,000 had now
become an annual act. A petition, connected doubtless with
the duchess of Gloucester's trial, that ladies of great estate,
duchesses, countesses, or baronesses, should, under the pro-
visions of Magna Carta, be tried by the peers, was granted * ;
Sir John Cornwall, the baron of Fanhope, was created baron
of Milbroke. The statute of Edward III was ordered to be
enforced on the royal purveyors : there were few general com-
plaints, as what little legislation was attempted was connected
with the promotion of trade and commerce, which from the
beginning of the Lancastrian period had been so prominent
in the statute-book. A demand was made for the examination
of the accounts of the duchy of Lancaster, which was still in
the hands of the cardinal and his co-feoffees for the execution
of the will of Henry V. The young king was busy with his
foundations at Eton and Cambridge.

341. On the 6th of December, 1442, Henry reached the age
of legal majority, and must then have entered, if he had not
entered before, into a full comprehension of the burden that lay
upon him in the task of governing a noble but exhausted people,

^ Rot. Pari. V. 35; William Tresham was agun speaker; the grants
were made March 37 ; ib. pp. 37-40. 'At iwhich parliament it was or-
dained that the sea should be kept half a year at the kim^'s oost, and
therefore to pay a whole fifteenth, and London to lend him £3000'; Clhr.
Lond. p. 130. The force so ordered included eight great ships of a hun-
dred and fifty men each ; each ship attended by a barge of eighty men, and
a balynger of forty : also four * spynes * of twenty-five men ; it was to keep
the sea from Candlemas to Martinmas; Rot. Pari. v. 59. Convocatioii
granted a tenth, April 16; WUk. Gone. iii. 536. A general pardon was
granted at Easter 1443, from which remunerative returns were expected,
Ordinances, v. 185.

• Rot. Pari. V. 56.

• Rot. Pari. V. 56-59. The appropriation of the duchy revenue to the
household, ordered in I439> was contmued for three years ; ib. p. 6a.

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xvni.] Character of Eenry VL 139

and of setting to right the wrongs of a handred years ^. He had Bwiy train-

in^ of too

been very early initiated in the forms of sovereignty. Before kins;
he was four years old he had been brought into the painted
chamber to preside at the opening of parliament, and from that
time had generally officiated in person on such occasions. Before
he was eight he was crowned king of England, and as soon as
he was ten king of France. At the age of eleven he had had to
make peace between his uncles of Bedford and Gloucester, and
at thirteen had shed bitter tears over the defection of Burgundy.
Whilst he was still under the discipline of a tutor, liable to per-
sonal chastisement at the will of the council, he had been made
familiar with the great problems of state work. Under the
teaching of Warwick he had learned knightly accomplishments ;
Gloucester had pressed him with book learning ; Beaufort had

instructed him in government and diplomacy. He was a some- He was over-
ly i. • T_ 1 X 1 X 1.x/ • !-• , tasked in his
what precocious scholar, too early taught to recognise his work youth.

as successor of Henry Y. It is touching to read the letters

written under his eye, in which he petitions for the canonisation

of S. Osmund and king Alfred, or describes the interest he takes

in the council of Basel, and presses on the potentates of east

and west the great opportunity for ecclesiastical union which is

afforded by the councils of Florence and Ferrara ^ Thus at the

age of fifteen he was hard at the work which had overtasked

the greatest kings that had reigned before him, and which is

undone still. In the work of the universities, like duke Hum- His interest
.# m education.

frey himself, he was as early interested ; his foundations at Eton

and Cambridge were begun when he was eighteen, and watched

with the greatest care as long as he lived. The education of his

half-brothers Edmund and Jasper Tudor^ was a matter of serious

' A panegyric on Henry YI, written by John Blakman, S. T. B., after-
wards a jmmk of the Charterhouse, furnishes some of the most distinct traits
of his character; it is edited by Heame, at the end of his Otterboome,
i. 287 sq.

* Becldngton's Letters, ed. TVillianis, i. 134, &o. 'Nonnullis etiam
•olebat clerids deetinare epistolas exhortatorias, caelestibus plenas sacra-
mentis et salnberrimis admonitionibus* ; Bhikman, p. 290.

' ' Quibns pro tunc arctissunam et seoorissimam providebat custodiam';
Blakman, p. 293. The same writer records his habit of saying to the Eton

VOL. ni. K ^ .

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130 Constitutional History. [chap*

His weak thought to him whilst he was a child himself. Weak in health, —
for had he been a boy of average strength he would have been
allowed to appear in military a£G&irs as early as his father and
grandfather had appeared, — and precocious rather than strong in
mind, he was overworked from his childhood, and the overwork
telling upon a frame in which the germs of hereditary insanity
already existed, broke down both mind and body at the most

J^J^J^ critical period of his reign. Henry was perhaps the most un-
fortunate king who ever reigned ; he outlived power and wealth
and friends ; he saw all who had loved him perish for his sake,
and, to crown all, the son, the last and dearest of the great
house from which he sprang, the centre of all his hopes, the
depositary of the great Lancastrian traditions of English polity,
set aside and slain. And he was without doubt most innocent
of all the evils that befel England because of him. Pious, pure,
generous, patient, simple ^ true and just, humble, merciful,
fastidiously conscientious, modest and temperate, he might have
seemed made to rule a quiet people in quiet times. His days were

boys 'sitis boni pueri, mites et docibiles et servi Domini'; ib. p. 296.
His answer to the petition for the restoration of grammar schools is in
Rot. Pari. V. 137. Beckington's Letters are full of Ulustrations of his zeal
for the universities. Yet Hardyng describes him as little better than an
idiot when a child :

'The Erie Richard in mykell worthyhead
Enfourmed hym, but of his symplehead
He could litle within his brest conoeyre ;
The good from evill he could uneth perceive*; p. 394.
He was so tired ' of the symplesse and great innocence of King Henry' that
he resigned his charge and went to France ; p. 396. Henry's tendency to
insanity may have come from either Charles VI or Henry IV.

' 'Yir simplex sine omni plica dolositatis aut falsitatis, ut omnibus
constat'; Blakman, p. 288. *Yeridica semper ezercuerat eloquia'; p. 288.

Online LibraryWilliam StubbsThe constitutional history of England in its origin and development, Volume 3 → online text (page 14 of 68)