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

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the parliament The act of 1450, which assigned £20,000 to
the king, was repealed '^, and a new provision was made for the
expenses of the household ; the subsidies appropriated to Calais
were vested in the eark of Salisbury, Shrewsbury, Wiltshire,
and "Worcester, and the Lord Stourton*. On the 28th of Feb-
ruary a graduated fine was imposed on the lords who absented

*■ Anne of Gloucester, daughter of duke Thomas of Woodstock, married
first Edmund earl of Stafford who died in 1403, and secondly William
Bourohier earl of Eu who died in 1420. By her first husband she had
Humfrey earl of Buckingham, Hereford, Stafibrd, Northampton, and
Perche, lord of Brecon and HolderneK«, who was in 1444 created duke of
Buckingham; hv her second husband she had Henry Bourchier, created
viscount in 1446, Thomas archbishop of Canterbury 1454-1486, and other
sons. The duke of Buckingham had married Anne Neville, sister of the
earl of Salisbury. He attempted, as we shall see, to mediate in the first years
of the struggle. His eldest son, the earl of Stafford, fell at the first battle
of S. Albans, and he himself at Northampton in 1459.

^ The earl of Salisbury was, it will be remembered, son of Ralph Neville
earl of Westmoreland, by Johanna Beaufort, Somerset's aunt.

« Rot. Pari. V. 254. * lb. v. 248.

* Rot. Pari. v. 247. The amount assigned to the household was
£5183 6«. Sd.

* Rot. Pari. V. 243. These lords were relieved from their office in the
next Parliament; ib. p. 283. The duke of York was made captain of
Cabiis July 17; Rymer, xi. 351. Councils were held for the purpose of
raising money for Calais in May and June; Ordinances, vi. 174-180, &o.



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xviu.] Quarrels among the lords. 169

themselves from parliament * ; on the r5th of March the infant Doings in
prince was created prince of Wales"; on the 9th of March the
Lord Cromwell demanded security of the peace against Henry
Holland, the duke of Exeter*. An act of resumption, which
was now becoming a part of the regular business of parliament,
was likewise passed ^. Several statutes were enrolled.

The parliament probably broke up a week before Easter, April Adminia-
21*; and the government devolved upon the protector and the the duke of
council, which he no doubt was able to form at his own discretion.
The first task which he undertook was the pacification of the
north, where the quarrel between the Nevilles and the Percies
was spreading * ; the duke of Exeter had joined the latter party
and had attempted, by the use of the king's name, to stir up
Yorkshire and Lancashire agfunst the duke of York. The
protector's presence in the north served to disperse the forces
of the two factions, but not to reconcile them; the duke of
Exeter came to London and took sanctuary at Westminster,
whence he was taken by force and confined at Pomfret. The
Percies remained at large. A second question was how to
dispose of the duke of Somerset. In a meeting of the great Somerset
council on the i8th of July, his friends attempted to obtain hisprSon.
release on bail, but on the appeal of the protector it was deter-
mined to ask the advice of liie judges and of the absent lords ;
and the 28th of October was fixed as the day on which the
charges of the duke of Norfolk were to be brought forward '.
What was then done is not known; Somerset, however, was
not released.



» Rot. Pari. V. 248; Ordmancea, vi. 181-183.

* Rot. ParL v. 249. ■ lb. v. 264. * lb. v. 267 gq.

* The last dated tranaaction is one of April 1 7 ; ib. p. 247.

* The duke of Exeter and lord Egremont rose against the Nevilles in
1453. The duke was sammoned before the council on June 25, 1454,
Ordinances, vi. 189 ; arrested and imprisoned at Pomfret July 24, ib. vi.
217; and at WallingforJ, ib. vi. 234; but released on the king's recovery.
Hie earl of Devon also, who had a private war with lord Bonneville, was
arrested daring York's regency ; Cbr. Giles, p. 46. Bonneville had had a
quarrel with the earl of Huntingdon, fiither of the duke of Exeter, in 1440 ;
Beckington. i. 193 ; Paston Letters, i. 264, 290, 296, 350 ; Ordinances, vi.
130, 140, 217. 234.

^ Ordinance*), vi. 207, 218.



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170 \ Constitutional History, [chap.

The king 350. The king recovered his senses a few weeks later. He

early in was sane at Christmas, and recognised his little son for the first
'^"* time on the 30th of December ; on the 7th of January he ad-

mitted bishop Waynflete to an interview. The dismissal of the
protector and his ministers was imminent^. On the 5th of
February Somerset was released ; the duke of Buckingham,
the earl of Wiltshire, and the lords Rooe and Fitzwarin under-
taking that he should present himself for trial on the 3rd of the
Somerset following November*. On the 4th of March he appealed to
the king in council and was declared loyal ; he and the duke
of York were bound over to accept an arbitration'; on the 6th
Bourchier Somerset was restored to the captaincy of Calais*. On the 7th the
great seal was taken from the earl of Salisbury and given to arch-
bishop Bourchier *, no doubt to secure Buckingham's support ;
on the 15th James Butler earl of "Wiltshire was made treasurer*.
A great council was then called, to meet at Leicester, to provide
for the safety of the king ', and the partisans of York were no
York is not longer summoned to attend the ordinary councils. The duke
and miirchee could Scarcely allege that such measures were unconstitutional
or unprecedented, for they were in close analogy with his own
policy of the previous year. He saw that they must be met by
a resistance backed with armed force. With the Nevilles he col-
lected hit forces in the north ^ and marched towards London.
On the 20th of May, in conjunction with Salisbury and War-
wick, he addressed the archbishop in a letter dated at Boyston,
and followed it up with an appeal to the king on the 21st from
Ware • ; in both the lords declared their loyalty, and affirmed
that their forces were intended only to secure their own safety
against their enemies who surrounded the king, and to enable
His letter to them to prove their good will towards him. The letter to the
interoepted. king was, as they afterwards said, intercepted by Somerset, but

* Paston Letters, i. 515.

^ Rymer, xi. 361 ; see J. du Oleroq, iii. o. 10.

* Rymer, xi. 361, 362, * lb. xi. 363.

* Ordinances, vi. 365. * Dugdale, Origines Juridiciales.
^ Rot. Pari. V. 280. • Whetharastede, i. 164.

* R»t Pari. V. 281 ; Paston Letten, i 325. The letter to the king is
given in Latin by Whethamstede, i. 184.



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xviii.] First Battle of S. Allan's. iji

if it had been delivered it could have made little difference. First battle
Henry, with his half-brother the earl of Pembroke, the dukes May 22.1455'
of Somerset and Buckingham, the earls of Northumberland,
Devonshire, Stafford, and Wiltshire, and a force of two thousand
men, advanced to S. Alban's, and there on the 22 nd the two
parties met. Negotiation was tried in vain; the Yorkists de-
manded an interview with the king and the arrest of the coun-
sellors whom they hated. The royal party replied with threats
which they must have known that they were too weak to execute ;
and Henry was himself moved to declare that he would be satis-
fied only with the destruction of his enemies. A battle followed,
in which the duke of Somerset, the earl of Northumberland, the Somerset
eari of Stafford, son of Buckingham, and the lord Clifford, on.
the king's side, were slain, and he himself was wounded. Al-
though in itself little more than a skirmish which lasted half an
hour, and cost comparatively little bloodshed, the first battle of
S. Alb«n's sealed the fate of the kingdom ; the duke of York
was completely victorious ; the king remained a prisoner in
his luuids, and he recovered at once all the power that he had
lost.

The battle of S. Alban's had one permanent result : it forced Political
the queen forward as the head of the royal party. Suffolk first battle,
and Somerset after him had borne the brunt of the struggle, que^^^
and enabled the duke to say that it was against the evil counsel- into the
lors, not against the king himself, that his efforts were directed. ^'^^^"^
The death of Somerset left her alone ; the duke of Buckingham,
although loyal, was not actuated by that feeling towards the
house of Lancaster which moved the Beaufurts, and which drew
down upon them in successive generations the hatred of the
opposition. The young duke of Somerset was too young to
have more than a colourable complicity with his father's policy,
although he was not too young to inherit the enmities which his
very name entailed upon him. Nor could the royal party under
Margaret's guidance be said to have any longer any policy but
that of resistance to the duke of York. She had been tnught to

' Whethaxnstede i. 167; Stow, pp. 390-400; ArchiteologiA, xx. 519;
Paston Lettera, i. 527-533; J. du Clercq, iii. c. 25.



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17a Conditutional Hidory, [chap.

believe, and no doubt believed, that he was accessory to CJade's
rebellion and to the murder of Suffolk ; he was directly answer-
Apparent able for the death of Somerset. York himself made scarcely any
nem of the pretence to the character of a reformer of the state ; it was to
designs. vindicate his own position, to dislodge the enemies who poisoned
the king's mind against him, that he rose in arms; and the
charges against them, by which he tried to justify his hostility,
were such as tended rather to involve the accused in popular
odium than to indicate a treacherous intent. Still it may be
questioned whether the design of claiming the crown had dis-
tinctly formed itself in his mind before this period. That he
regarded himself and was regarded by his party as the fittest
man to rule England, under a king so incapable as Henry YI,
could only be a justification of his proceedings in the eyes of
those who believed that such a sense of fitness gives by itself
Change in a paramount claim to office. Under these circumstances the
tutionai ' struggle henceforth loses all its constitutional features; the
period. ^ history of England becomes the history of a civil war between
two factions, both of which preserve certain constitutional
formalities without being at all guided by constitutional prin-
ciples. Such principles neither actuate the combatants nor
decide the struggle: yet in the end they prove their vitality
by surviving the exhausted energies of both the parties, and
maintaining the continuity of the national life in the forms
which its earlier history had moulded.
Changes 351. Immediately after the battle the unhappy king admitted

ministi7. his victorious eii^Bmies to reconciliation : on the 26th of May he
summoned the parliament to meet in July^; and on the 29th he
removed the treasurer, replacing him with the viscount Bourchier,
the archbishop's brother*: the government of Calais was given
to" Warwick, and the duke of York himself became high con-
stable. But the royal party was not yet intimidated ; the private
feuds which divided the lords were not merged in the public
quarrel ; lord Cromwell was at enmity with Warwick : the elec-

' Lords' Report, iv. 936 ; by another letter he directed certain lords to
bring up only their household servants and avoid setting a dangerous
example ; Ordumnces, vi. 244.

' Fasten Letters, i. 354.



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xviu.] Parliament of 1455. 173

tions even required careful attention on the part of tlie newprepan-
government, and tlie duke had some trouble in obtaining a par- pariiament,
liament which would be likely to warrant his proceedings ^ The
circumstances, however, of the session bore some analogy to
those of the last parliament. The estates met on the 9th ofitmeeto.
July; on the loth the chancellor declared the causes of the ^* *^^ '
summons : the sustenance of the royal household, the defence of
Calais, the war against the French and Scots, the employment
of the thirteen thousand archers voted in 1453, ^^^ preservation
of peace in the country, the procuring of ready money, the
protection of the sea, and the pacification of Wales ^. Five com-
mittees of the lords addressed themselves to the several points ' :
the next day Sir John Wenlock was chosen speaker ; the duke
of York presented a schedule giving his account of the recent y^k and
struggle, and the king declared him and the Nevilles to be J^J^j^^'^*^^
loyal ^. On the 24th ihe lords took an oath of allegiance toj^^-

Oath of

Henry, and ordered it to be taken by the absent members *. On aiiepMioe
the 31st the parliament was prorogued, and before the day of
meeting, November 12, the king was again insane. The formali-
ties observed in 1454 were again adopted: on the 13th the second m-
commons asked for the nomination of a protector : on the iSth^^'a^id
they repeated the request, and the chancellor undertook to con- tectoimteof
rait the lords; the lords agreed and nominated the duke of^^^^^^
York : on the 17th, in answer to the speaker's inquiry as to the
result of the proposal, it was announced that the royal assent
was given to the nomination made by the lords'. The duke
under protest accepted the office ; and the king by letters patent
on the 19th made the formal appointment, to continue until

* The dncbess of Norfolk wrote to John Paston praying him to vote for
her ciuididateB ; Letters, i. 337 : the Norfolk nominees were returned ; ib.
339, 340. On the 5th of July the king wrote to the sheriff of Kent about
the 'busy labour' which had been spent in that county in order to in-
fluence the elections, and ordered him to proclaim that the election was free
according to the Uws ; Ordinances, vi. 246 ; Rot. Pari. v. 451.

« Rot. Pari V. 278; Stow, p. 400.

» Rot. Pari. V. 279. * Ib. v. 280.

* Ib. ▼. 282. It was taken by the two archbishopn, the dukes of York
and Buckingham, eleven bishops, six earls, two viscounts, eighteen abbots,
two priors, and seventeen barons.

« Roi. Pari. v. 284-289, 453; R^mer, xL 369, 370.



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174 Constitutional History. [chap*

the duke should be relieved of his charge by the Bovereign him-

The govern- Self in parliament, or the prince should come of age. On the

in the 22 nd the king vested the 'politique rule and governance' in the

^^ hands of the council, of which the duke was chief*. On the

13th of December the parliament was again prorogued to

Henry's January 14, 1456; on which day it met". On the 25th of

February, February the king had recovered ' and at once relieved the duke

'^ * from his office as protector*. What little else was attempted

Petition! in the session may be learned from the petitions; Warwick's

m^ ' appointment as captain of Calais was completed'; duke Humfrey

was declared to have been loyal • ; the questions arising on the

imprisonment of Thomas Yonge were referred to the council ',

and provision was made for the household * ; no taxation seems

to have been asked for ; a new act of resumption was passed •.

The few statutes enrolled are important only as being the last

attempts at legislation made during the reign. Probably the

king's sudden recovery brought to a precipitate end both the

session of the parliament and the supremacy of the protector.

The duke of Before he was formally relieved from his office he and Warwick

mended had Come up with a large guard to parliament ; he had not

strengthened his political position during his short term of

office ; and he went out leaving affairs in worse confusion than

that in which he had found them.

352. Two years of comparative quiet followed the king's
restoration to health. Henry made a sustained effort to keep

* Rot. Pari. v. 289, 390. He ordains * that hii council shall provide, oom>
myne, ordain, speed and conclude all such matters as touch and concern the
gwxl and politique rule and governance of this his land ' ; he is himself to bo
informed of all matters that concern his person. The council accept, pro-
testing that the sovereigiitv muwt always remain in the royal person.

* lS)t. Pari. V. 321 ; Ordinances, vi. 274.

* Feb. 9, John Hocking wrote to Sir John Fastolf, that the king wae
inclined to continue the duke as chief counsellor, but the queen was opposed
to it ; Paston Letters, i. 378.

* Rot. Pari. V. 321, 322 ; Rymer, 3d. 373.

* Rot. Pari. v. 341.

* Rot. Pari. V. 335. This was proclaimed on the 31st of July, 1455,
having been for seven years opposed by the king and council ; Whetham-
stede, i. 181 ; Stow, p. 400.

^ Rot. Pari. V. 337.

* A sum of £3934 191. 4|d. was assigned ; Rot. Pari. v. 320.

* Whethamstede, i. 250; Paston Lettere, L 377 ; Rot. Pari. ▼. 300 sq.



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xvni.] HUtory of 1456 and 1457. 175

peace between tbe parties which were gathered round the queen Paoiflo
and the duke of York. They watched one another uneasily, Hemr.
but neither would strike the first blow*. The death of Somerset
bad deprived the dake of his main grieTance, and the queen of
her ablest adviser : the chief object of each seems to have been
to prevent the other from gaining supreme influence with the
king. Henry was willing to listen to the duke, but could
Bcaroely be expected to trust him. He showed no vindictive
feeling towards the Nevilles ; in March 1456 he assented to the
promotion of Qeorge Neville to the see of Exeter. He retained
for several months the ministers whom the duke had appointed, Influence of
and probably gave his confidence chiefly to the duke of Buck- Bucking-



ingham, who was constantly called in to take the part of
a mediator. But a state divided against itself is not secured
by the most skilful diplomacy against attacks from without ;
and Margaret of Anjou had little scruple about employing the
senrices of foreign foes to overthrow her foes at home. The
king of Scots, whose mother was a Beaufort, made the death of intrinie«
Somerset an opportunity of declaring that he would not beumdand
bound by the truce which had been concluded in 1453'; the ""***
duke of York, acting in the king's name, accepted the challenge;
the king found himself obliged to repudiate the action of the
duke ; the nation was taught that the court was in league with
the Scots, and as a matter of fact Scotland became the refuge
of the defeated Lancastrians. The French in the same way
were courted by the queen, who, intent upon the victory of the
moment, would not see that a national dyna&ty cannot be main-
tained by the forces of foreign enemies. The duke of York, on
the other hand, was intriguing with the duke of Alen9on, who
was conspiring against Charles YII'. In October 1456 the
king called a council at Coventry, in hopes of turning this cjoundi »t
political armistice into such a peace as might make concordant ootf"4s^'.
action possible. The lords attended in arms, and the duke of
Buckingham had to make peace between Warwick and the

* See PsKton Letters, i. 386, 387, 39a.

' See Beckington, Lettera, ii. 139-144; of. Rymer, xi. 383.

' Cont. Monstr. liv. iii 0. 77.

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176 Constitutional History. £chap.

Change of young Somerset^. The council had no other result than a
Oct. 1456. change of ministers ; the Bourchiers, whose leaning towards
the duke of York was becoming more decided, were removed ;
bishop Waynflete became chancellor ^ and the earl of Shrews-
bury treasurer*. The removal of the Bourchiers perhaps
indicates t^at the mediating policy of the duke of Buckingham
was exchanged for a more determined one, and that the duke of
York was henceforth to be excluded from the royal councils.
Alannof In 1 457 the alarm of war on the side of France became more
threatening; Calais was known to be in the utmost danger^;
Sandwich and Fowey were taken by the French fleets, and no
power of resistance seems to have been forthcoming ^ Henry
travelled through the country making ineffectual attempts
at reconciliation, and received again at Coventry the oath of

PAcifioations the duke of York^: the queen negotiated with the national

and in- r m. ^

trigues. enemies and weakened more and more the hold which the king

had on the people. The duke and the Nevilles either plotted

in secret or waited until she had ruined her husband's cause.

Norfolk received licence to go on pilgrimage. The clergy,

under the guidance of Bourchier, were employed in the trial

Bishop of bishop Fecock of Chichester^, a learned and temperate

divine, who was trying to convert the heretics by argument

^ Paston Letters, i. 40S.

• Oct. 1 1 ; Ordinances, vi. 360 ; Rymer, xi. 383.

• Oct. 5 ; Paston Letters, i. 403, 407.

^ Mathieu de Coussy ascribes the attack on the English coast by Pierre
de Brez^ in 1457 to an agreement between Margaret and Charles VII;
and gives an account of an alliance with Scotland to be cemented by the
marriage of two sons of Somerset with two daughters of James II
(Buchon, xxxvL 295, 296). Du Clercq, who recounts the invasion, does not
mention the agreement with Margaret ; liv. iii. c. 28. Both parties had the
idea of strengthening themHelves by French alliances ; Cont. Monstr. liv. iii.
oc. 77, 89. But of course York*s intrigues with Alen^on would be r^^aided
as justified by the fact that Charles Yil was the national enemy.

^ Eng. Chron. ed. Davies, p. 74.

• Such seems to have been the object of a g^reat council called to meet at
Coventry Feb. 14, 1457 ; in which the duke swore that he would seek
redress only by legal means, and was warned that he was pardoned for the
last time ; Bot. Pari. v. 347 ; Gregory, p. 203 ; Ordinances, vi. 433. Mr.
Gairdner (Paston Letters, i. cxxviii sq.) traces the king's movements by
the dates of privy seals. Cf. Fabyan, p. 631.

^ Wilkins, Cone. iii. 576; Eng. C3ir. p. 75; Whethamstede, i. 279 sq.;
Fabyan, p. 632.



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xviiT.] Cessation of Hostilities. 177

rather than by force, and who in the strength of his own faith

had made admissions which recommended him to neither the

orthodox nor the heterodox. At the close of the year Henry Meeting »t

•^ , •' Jjondon in

called a great council with his usual intention of making peace : January

on the 37th of January, 1458, all the lords met in London

and the neighbourhood, the Yorkist party within the city, the

Lancastrian lords outside. As might be expected, both hard

words and hard blows were heartily interchanged; but the

king, with the aid of archbishop Bourchier, succeeded at last. A ^t^J*^^"

grand pacification took place in March, and on Lady Day at Sj^J*/'

S. Paul's ^, after an imposing procession in which the duke led

the queen by the hand, the high conflicting parties swore

eternal friendship. The ministers who had contrived this happy

result remained in office. The command of the fleet and the

captaincy of Calais were allotted to Warwick * ; and the duke of

York and other lords who had conquered at S. Alban's, by

paying for masses for the souls of the slain, appeased the

hostility of their sons. The victories won by Warwick as

soon as he had assumed his command were sufficient to vindicate

the wisdom of employing him as admiral, but they increased

his popularity and made the queen more than ever apprehensive

of his predominance.

363. The eternal friendship sworn in March 1458 served for During the
about a year and a half to delay the crisis, whilst it gave both p^^g
parties time to organise their forces for it. But long before they Knewthe
came to blows all pretence of cordiality had vanished. In"*™**®*
October the king held a full council and recalled the earl of
Wiltshire to the treasury '. In November * a riot occurred at Warwick
Westminster in which the earl of Warwick was implicated, and SSis.
which caused him to leave England and establish himself at ^sh?"*^^



> Ordinancet, vi. 290 sq.; Fahyan, p. 633; Political Songs, ii. 254;
HaU, p. 238. Of. Paston Lettera, i. 424-427; Stow, Chr. pp. 403, 404;
Wbethamstede, i. 295-308.

* Ordinances, vi. 294, 295.

' The oonncil waa summoned for Oct. 1 1 ; Ordinances, vi. 297 : the
treasurer was appointed Oct. 30.

• Nor. 9 ; Eiigl. Chron. (ed. Davies) p. 78 ; Stow, Chr. pp. 404, 405.
Fabyan, p. 633, places it on Feb. 2.

VOL. in. K

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178 Constitutional History. [chap.

Divinons Calais, which henceforth became the head quarters of disaffection.

mmouTB. The country returned to the condition in which it had been the
year before: it was divided as it were between two hostile
camps ; all regular government was paralysed ; the queen de^



Online LibraryWilliam StubbsThe constitutional history of England in its origin and development, Volume 3 → online text (page 19 of 68)