An Analysis of the causes of the Wars and the course which they took.
Michael D. Miller
|Chapter 22: First years of King Henry V1's reign 1422 - 1428
|Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester
When King Henry V departed for his last campaign in France, he appointed his youngest brother, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, as "Warden of England and King's Lieutenant", or effectively Regent during his absence. Whilst Henry lived, this appointment was acceptable to all, because Humphrey was firmly under the Royal Power of his eldest brother and could be called to order if the necessity arose. Humphrey, who combined a fierce loyalty towards his brother with a most healthy respect for his King, seems to have realised this. Whatever his other failings, Humphrey was an intelligent man, and in the last months of King Henry V's reign, he discharged his office dutifully and conscientiously and gave no substantial cause for any complaint.
Humphrey was one of the most prominent of the heroes of Agincourt and had been severely wounded in that epic battle. [For the nature of his wounds, see page ] This alone ensured his immense popularity with the common people, and particularly in the City of London. Added to this he was affable.approachable, fond of a good joke, and was a noted patron of letters and learning. He had a particular interest in science and possessed a large and extensive library. This he bequeathed to Oxford University after his death, and it is thought that he was a member of Balliol. He had a ready ear for the concerns of humbler folk and was always ready to help them if they took their troubles to him. He was known to favour the continuation of the war until the French had been well and truly subjugated, a view commonly held by the people who thought that they deserved nothing less. Humphrey's troubles arose out of his personal dealings with the great magnates whose responsibility it was to take a hand in the government of the country. They found him quarrelsome and difficult to do business with, and far too apt to give full rein to the impulsive, headstrong and impetuous side of his nature when he refused to listen to reason. In short, they disliked and distrusted him. Chief among those on the Council who thought that Humphrey was just too much of a good thing where the two remaining Beaufort brothers, Henry, Bishop of Winchester, and Thomas, Duke of Exeter, who was the infant King's guardian. It did not help matters that Humphrey felt that he should have been given the charge of the baby King who was his nephew. King Henry V had been well aware of this feeling of distrust, and also that it was shared by others on the Council, even to some extent by Humphrey's elder brother, John, Duke of Bedford, the Regent of France. They were soon to be provided with instances which showed that their fears were fully justified.
There was another matter on which his fellow nobles felt they had grave reason to distrust Humphrey, and that was the way he played shamelessly on his popularity with the people. They did not like his close relationships with the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen of the City, although they could not reasonably take real objection to that. What they could, and did, object to was his habit of going into the taverns and inns and carousing with the more rowdy Londoners. King Henry V did this when he was still Prince of Wales, [page ]but there was an essential difference; Henry did not stretch the folly of his youth to be the shame of age, whereas Humphrey indulged in this custom until the end of his days. He took part in many mammoth drinking sessions and other debaucheries of the most disreputable nature, and frequently the ladies of the town played a prominent part. If there was a point of difference which could be settled by blows, then Humphrey gaily joined in the brawl. The night-time peace of London was often disturbed by drunken, noisy, singing revellers, and Humphrey was frequently to be found among them. Not only was this most undignified, it had a more sinister aspect as well. Whenever there was a point of policy of which Humphrey disapproved, and in the years to come there were to be many, it was no uncommon sight to see Humphrey riding at the head of a noisy mob, which was shouting out various obscenities about the actions the Government was proposing to take. There was always a threat that Humphrey would rouse the mob and seek to stubborn the Council by a riot into abandoning a policy which it had decided to follow. One is tempted to think that Shakespeare modelled his Sir John Falstaff on Humphrey, [the writer has advanced this view.see page ] and not on that grim old soldier Sir John Fastolph who had fought so bravely throughout the French War, or even on Sir John Oldcastle. [page ]Even in the 15th-century, when such goings-on were looked on with a more indulgent eye, the contemporary nobles were shocked and even felt threatened, but Humphrey did not care. He was the people's darling, and to him that was all that mattered.
The dying King Henry V had stated his wish that Humphrey should be the Lord Protector of England during the young King's minority. This would mean that he should stand in the shoes of the King and govern by the Royal Prerogative as though he were the King until Henry came of age to rule himself. This was a dying man's wish, but there was no law which provided that it should be legally binding after his death, and precious little precedent to give any guidance. Humphrey would have been the last to understand that it depended on the Lords of the Council whether or not he ever assumed this office; to his arrogant mind, there was no argument on the matter, it was his by right. His thinking went even further than this, and assumed that the Council would put no difficulties in the way of his becoming Regent as well. The duties of Regent were not any different to those of Protector, the title simply carried extra prestige and status which again he felt was owing to him without any possible question or doubt. The Council however, led by Henry Beaufort, considered this was all going a lot too far in the light of Humphrey's known deficiencies of character, and in any case there was a objection to giving him the same title of Regent as his brother John to whom he was subordinate. It was a tremendous shock to Humphrey when the Council refused to appoint him as the Regent, and an even greater mortification when it put sweeping limitations on his powers as Protector. He could have the title, but in the event he would be no more than a Chairman, a primus inter pares, of a Board of Directors who would themselves rule the country and out-vote him whenever they saw fit to do so. [see pages when Richard, Duke of Gloucester faced the same problem in 1483]
Humphrey protested angrily, but he found not one supporter and the Council was quite adamant during the furious exchanges which took place. He blamed his uncle, Henry Beaufort, for the humiliations which were heaped on his head, and he never forgave him. The Council found ways of rubbing the lesson home. When the Chancellor formally surrendered his seals of office, a necessary formality on the death of a King, the ceremony was arranged in the young King's nursery. In the presence of the Monarch, even though that august person remained fast asleep in his cradle throughout, Humphrey could scarcely claim to be anyone other than the Duke of Gloucester.
A further clash came on 5th November 1422 when the Council met to deal with any outstanding matters relating to the burial of King Henry V in two days time, and to arrange for the forthcoming opening of Parliament. Somebody other than a babe-in-arms would have to open Parliament, and the Council was quite prepared to give Humphrey a commission to do so. It authorised Humphrey to open Parliament "with the assent of the Council." Humphrey objected strongly; the Regent did not require a commission, and if he did, these words were otiose. The whole of the rest of the Council, without exception, refused to delete them. After some heated argument, Humphrey gave way, but only because he realised that if he did not withdraw his objections, then Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury, would be given the task. He did so angrily and with an ill-grace, and remarked darkly that the last had not been heard of the matter. In the event, he deputed the task of opening Parliament to the Archbishop, but he made it clear that he did this of his own free will.
Parliament met on 9th November 1422 and quickly disposed of the usual business which had to be dealt with on the death of a King, such as ratifying the Council's actions and confirming the commissions of the judges and the sheriffs. The Common House then enquired of the Lords the names of the persons who were to be appointed to the Great Offices of State, the Chancellor, the Treasurer and the Lord Privy Seal. They expressed great satisfaction that the previous incumbents were to be re-appointed, respectively Thomas Langley, Bishop of Durham, William Kynwolmarsh and John Stafford. None of Parliament's business was more than mildly contentious until Humphrey, having decided to try his luck in Parliament, pressed his claim before the Lords to be recognised as Regent of England. He based his claim on his blood relationship to the dead King and the new King, and the dying King's expressed wish. The Lords, no doubt suitably prepared before-hand by the two Beaufort brothers and other members of the Council, flatly refused his request. Falling back on the time-honoured resort of those who wish to avoid doing something they do not wish to do, they told Humphrey that there was no precedent which entitled a blood relation to claim the Regency. This was an appointment to be made in the light of the circumstances of the time and it was not circumscribed by any prior rules. As to the wish of the dying King, he had no power to prescribe what should happen after his death, and a King such as King Henry V would have readily accepted this. They went even further, and refused to grant Humphrey the position of Lieutenant-Governor, or any:-
"......name that shuld emporte auctorite of governance".
The Lords seem to have realised that it would be unwise to send Humphrey away totally empty handed. Thus:-
"......neverthelesse to keep pees and tranquillite.....
to ese and appese (the Duke)......"
Humphrey should be styled Protector of the Realm and the King's Chief Councillor, sinking however to the role of Second Councillor whenever John, Duke of Bedford, should be physically present within England. Humphrey did of course keep his Dukedom, which alone gave him exalted rank, and his seat on the Council. This could not be denied to a Duke, and it would have been most unwise to try to exclude him. A "loose cannon" is always better where it can be seen.
[Humphrey was styled "Lord President" in the Parliament that was opened on 23rd October 1423. This may have been a reference to his function in the opening of proceedings, and not an additional dignity]
Humphrey's cup of humiliation was thus filled to the brim, and he did not relish the taste. He felt, probably correctly, that there would never have been this trouble if it had been his brother John rather than himself who had made this request to the House of Lords, which had spoken highly, and more than a little pointedly, in John's praise. As it was, he was to be kept in a place where the Council, and particularly the two Beaufort brothers had, as they thought, ready means of controlling him. Events were to show that this means of control was not so effective as they had hoped it would be to prevent Humphrey indulging in some frolics which brought great danger to the Realm and the all-important Burgundian Alliance. Humphrey was deeply mortified, and he never forgave the two Beauforts or the other Lords on the Council whose machinations, as he saw it, had inflicted a monstrous slight upon him, and had deprived him of an office which he was convinced was his by right.
All this was most unfortunate, because Humphrey, who had conceived a deep and bitter hatred of the two Beaufort brothers in particular, was from now on determined to frustrate and thwart them at every turn. It was doubly unfortunate that Humphrey should have had so much cause for chagrin when he was perceived to be the leader of the party favouring the continuation of the war. He was the people's favourite, and even some of the Lords, who favoured continuation of the war, would have accepted him in this guise whilst rejecting him in any other. With such divisions in the Council itself, it boded ill for the taking of any more positive step, such as the opening of negotiations for a peace treaty with France. The desirability of this is explored in Chapter .
William, Count of Holland and Hainault, areas which lay within Burgundy's sphere of influence, died in 1417, leaving one daughter, Jacqueline. Jacqueline had been married to the Dauphin who had died only a few weeks before her father. King Henry V made overtures for the ladies hand for his brother John, Duke of Bedford, but her mother, the sister of John-the-Fearless, at that time still Duke of Burgundy, saw to it that the young widow married John, Duke of Brabant, the successor to the Duke who was killed at Agincourt. This marriage may well have been void on the grounds of consanguinity, because John and Jacqueline were cousins, but its political justification lay in keeping Hainault within Burgundy's control. This had much appeal to John-the-Fearless, and, after his assassination in 1419, [page ] to the new Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good.
This might have worked out very well for Burgundy, but Jacqueline, a fun loving and high spirited girl, found her new husband to be a depraved and dull youth with some unpleasant habits and unbecoming tastes. In 1421, she fled to London, where she met the handsome, accomplished and dashing Humphrey. They fell head-over-heels in love, and announced their intention of getting married. The only way that Jacqueline could get a divorce was to persuade Pope Martin V in Rome to annul her existing marriage on the grounds of consanguinity, and an application was duly made to the Pope.
Philip the Good, by now Duke of Burgundy, remonstrated with King Henry V, who answered airily that they presently had more immediate concerns [page ]than to worry where silly girls allowed their hearts to wander and that, whilst Jacqueline remained married, there could be no question of a marriage to Humphrey. There was admittedly a danger that the annulment could, indeed possibly would, be granted on its merits, but pressure could be put on the Pope by intimating that such a grant would cause great offence to two of the most prominent princes in Christendom. Whether this intimation was actually conveyed to the Pope is difficult to say, although it seems very likely, because it was the most obvious step to take. If it was, whether it was accompanied by a bribe is not known, although it was known that Pope Martin V could be bought. What is clear is that the Pope did nothing with the application, but simply let it lie on one side. It is more than likely that King Henry V sternly forbade his brother from proceeding any further with the application. If there was anybody whom Humphrey would obey, it was his eldest brother, of whom he was more than a little afraid. There, until King Henry V's death in 1422, the matter rested.
With his eldest brother's death, and the removal of the only person who had any control over him, Humphrey and Jacqueline renewed their efforts. If Pope Martin V would not grant the annulment, there was still living Benedict XIII, who had been "displaced" as Pope when the Papacy, in the shape of only one Holy Father, had been returned to Rome. Happy to have a spiritual duty to perform, and delighted to spite Pope Martin, Benedict duly granted the annulment. Early in 1423, just before the Treaty of Amiens was signed, [page ]
Humphrey and Jacqueline celebrated their marriage.
The Courts of Europe were scandalised by what they had done. Philip the Good was incandescent with rage, and made it clear that he had suffered a grave affront which he felt most deeply. It was fortunate for the English that he was still too afraid of his Dauphinist enemies to abandon his Alliance with them, even though it took all of John, Duke of Bedford's formidable powers of tact and diplomacy to pacify him. Even so, the Alliance had been dealt a severe blow. Philip was soon to suffer even worse at Humphrey's hands.
The War in France 1422 - 1428
The fullest extent of the English Dominions in France was reached in 1428. Reference to the map (page ) will show that the parts of France under English rule at this time stretched from Abbeville and the Somme in the East to the Western coast of the Cotentin Peninsular in the West, and as far south as the River Loire. To these territories must be added the parts of France which were already ruled by the English Crown when King Henry V launched the French Wars in 1415, Bordeaux and its surrounding countryside and parts of Guienne and Gascony to the south of that city, and the City of Calais and its immediate neighbourhood.
The year 1428 may have marked the high point of the English conquest, but the high point of the English effort was reached in the year 1422 just before the death of King Henry V. Henry's campaigns relied on knocking his foe off balance and making sure that he never had the chance to regain it. Henry never heard Napoleon, another master of the art of war, say that the art of winning a war is to march 36 leagues in search of your enemy, to overthrow him in a great battle, and then to march 36 leagues in pursuit. The enemy must think that he had been hit by a tornado, so strong and so unrelenting is its force, and it must continue to blow with its full fury until he gives in. In the meantime, there must be no rest for your own unfortunate soldiers, and they must continue to march and fight and then march again and possibly fight again until their victory is complete. Only then can they be allowed the luxury of rest and relaxation. Most of Henry's fighting consisted of sieges rather than battles [Henry fought in only two pitched battles during his life, Shrewsbury in 1403 and Agincourt in 1415] but, this apart, he certainly followed Napoleon's maxim to the letter.
With his death, the spark and zest went out of the effort of the English and their Burgundian allies. There were still important battles to be fought and won, there were still important sieges to be carried to a successful conclusion, there was still territory to the south and east of Paris to be brought under English dominion, and the English soldiers were still to prove how formidable they could be on the field of battle. But it was no longer the same. The French, although still disorganised in the military sense, remained full of fight, and were certainly not subdued. They made several far reaching raids into English held territory, and captured castles and towns which then had to be won back at great and painful cost. It was not that the Regent, John, Duke of Bedford, lacked capable commanders. He was himself a capable commander who had serving under him Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, William de La Pole, Earl of Suffolk, Thomas Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, John of Arundel, Earl of Arundel, John, Lord Talbot, later to become Earl of Shrewsbury, Sir John Fastolf, Sir Thomas Rempston, and many others.
For their part, the Burgundians could provide Marshal d'Lisle-Adam, the general who had captured Paris for the Alliance. The losses in commanders suffered at the battle of Bauge 1421 [page ]had been made good. The trouble was something which the Regent could do nothing to correct. There was a general weariness with the war in England. There may have been general agreement that the French must be soundly thrashed wherever they could be found, and if the opportunity for doing so did not present itself then it had to be created, but men were not coming forward to serve in the armies with quite the same readiness as before, and Parliament was not willing to grant the necessary taxes. Regarding the men, booty was not so easy to come by now, and Parliament made it clear that heavy taxation to pay for the war was no longer to be borne. If the benefits of English rule were to be brought to the benighted French, then the conquered territories must pay for the war. They could not expect to get something of great value at no cost to themselves.
There would be little point in reciting the numerous sieges, recoveries, raids, sallies, ambushes, plots, counter-plots, betrayals, and other military ventures that took place during this period except to say that the English and the Burgundians generally had the better of them. There were many French raids and recaptures of towns and castles within English-held France but all were recovered, and the English and their Burgundian allies were gradually pushing the French into the territory south of the Loire. The picture emerges that the French were capable of vigorous efforts, but because of the disputes and jealousies among themselves, they were unable to support or sustain them. They lacked leaders who could inspire and unite them, although such leaders were later to emerge. Their new King Charles VII, derisively termed the "King of Bourges" by the English, was, at this stage of his life, a wretch who only felt comfortable when surrounded by similarly wretched creatures as his advisers. The English picture is one of exhaustion and lack of resources and men to complete King Henry V's grand design without however being willing to face up to the prospect that it should be abandoned. [Chapter ]There were however three large scale military actions, two of which resulted in remarkable victories for the English and their Burgundian allies. The third was a severe defeat for the English which, if they had taken greater care, they could have avoided. These encounters deserve to be noted, because they demonstrate how determined each side was, in spite of their separate difficulties, to press the war to a successful conclusion.
In order to make more secure the project of the conquest of France, the Regent, John, Duke of Bedford, asked Philip-the-Good, the young Duke of Burgundy, and John, Duke of Brittany, to meet him in Amiens. There, on 17th April 1423, the Treaty of Amiens was signed. It provided for no offensive operations, but pledged support to each other if attacked. It was not a happy gathering. Philip was angered by the marriage of Humphrey and Jacqueline, but was still too frightened of his Dauphinist enemies to abandon the Alliance with the English. John, Duke of Brittany, was bound by treaty with France, and flagrantly broke its terms when he recognised in Amiens that King Henry VI was the true King of France. His own subjects would not have approved of his signature to the Treaty of Amiens, and he was probably influenced by his pro-English brother, and by the threat that English arms posed to his Dukedom. It made sense to be on good terms with the predominant military power which was within such easy reach of his own borders. To cement relations, the Regent proposed two marriages of Philip's sisters (there seems to have been a plentiful supply), with himself accepting the hand of the fifth sister Anne, whilst Arthur of Brittany should accept that of the recently widowed first sister, Margaret. [Arthur had been captured at Agincourt and was later to become Compte de Richemont and Constable of France. He was later to play a prominent and distinguished part as a commander in King Charles VII's armies] This was accepted. What appears to us to be a cynical arrangement, reached without consultation with the two ladies concerned and of course without any regard to their feelings and preferences, was a common enough arrangement at the time when political considerations demanded it. In the Regent and Anne's case it lead to a happy and devoted relationship which lasted until her death in 1431. What happened next gives a picture of the atmosphere at this gathering. The very next day the Dukes of Burgundy and Brittany signed a Treaty of friendship, which should endure even if one of them should become reconciled to King Charles VII. It is doubtful if the Regent knew of the Treaty, although he probably guessed at its existence.
The first of the large scale actions that took place was the Battle of Cravant. This small town stood on the River Yonne, and was perceived by King Charles VII to be an important staging-post on the road to Compeigne. Anxious to open up the route to this province, he ordered the town to be taken. In a brilliant operation, a small body of French soldiers rushed the town and expelled the Burgundian garrison in the early spring of 1423. The Burgundian gentry of the neighbourhood, in an operation of similar daring, retook it a few days later. Charles had assembled an army to march to the relief of Montaguillon, currently being besieged by Thomas Montacute, Earl of Salisbury. He ordered it instead to take Cravant, and it duly laid siege to the town.
Recalled by the Regent from Montaguillon, Salisbury and the Burgundian forces concentrated at Auxerre. Thence they marched down the bank of the River Yonne to find the French drawn up on the opposite bank covering the approach to Cravant. For some time, both armies faced each other without making a move. Realising that the French were effectively keeping the relief force at bay simply by standing their ground, Salisbury gave the order to advance and was the first man to jump into the river. Covered by a vicious hail of arrows from the English archers posted on their own bank, the English and Burgundian men-at-arms waded the Yonne, which was no more than waist deep, and charged the French on the far bank. A furious fight developed, and the Burgundian garrison in the town made a sortie to attack the French from the rear. The French, caught between two opposing forces, broke and fled. Lord Willoughby, who had recently arrived from England, particularly distinguished himself by driving the Scots mercenaries off the single small bridge at spear point. The Scots commander, Sir John Stewart of Darnley, lost an eye and was taken prisoner. This success in the east was however balanced by a decided reverse to English arms in the West, which happened at about the same time in April or May 1423. Sir John de la Pole, the Earl of Suffolk's brother, was returning from a raid into Anjou with a considerable quantity of booty, including 1, 000 head of cattle. The English seem to have been in a relaxed mood after a most successful raid, and were probably wondering how they were going to spend their ill-gotten gains. Their scouts cannot have been very efficient, because quite inexcusably, they had no inkling that Jean de Harcourt, Compte d' Aumale, was approaching with a strong French force from Tours. Aumale's surprise was complete and devastating, denying the English the chance to form battle line. On one wing, the English archers had driven the now customary stakes into the ground and repulsed Aumale's attack. On the other wing where they were not so protected, they were routed. The English force was broken, and all its commanders were made prisoner. Aumale followed up his success with a raid to Avranches and St-Lo. His force was not strong enough to do more than this and he prudently retired to Tours.
In early 1424, the Regent began receiving some disturbing reports that King Charles VII was reinforcing the French side by engaging Italian and Spanish mercenaries, and that he had been joined by some noted condottieri. His substantial Scots contingent, now commanded by the Earl of Douglas who had been promoted as Duke of Touraine, had also been reinforced. The Regent had himself received some reinforcements from England commanded by Lords Willoughby and Poynings, and some of these had taken part in the battle of Cravant. Rather than wait to be attacked, he resolved to draw the French out and defeat them. His chance arose from the siege of Ivry-la-Chausee. Originally taken by the English in 1419, it had been retaken by the French and was currently being besieged by the English. The French garrison had entered into an arrangement with their besiegers, in a form which was common at the time, that if they were not relieved by 15th August 1424, they would march out with the full honours of war and allow the English to take possession. In July 1424, the Regent concentrated the English forces at Vernon, and marched to Evreaux to join up with Marshal d'Lisle-Adam's Burgundian forces.
The Regent, at the head of the English-Burgundian army, reached Ivry-la-Chausee on 15th August 1424, and the garrison, who had not heard that the French army was marching to its relief, duly marched out. At this time, the Regent learnt that the French army had taken Verneuil and was closer than he had thought. Leaving the Earls of Suffolk and Salisbury to keep an eye on the French, he fell back towards Evreaux. The two Earls sent him word that the French army was drawn up in battle array in front of Verneuil and was obviously prepared to give battle. The Regent resolved on a battle on 17th August 1424.
It is notoriously difficult to judge the size of medieval armies. The chroniclers often gave accounts of the battles so that we know in a general sense what happened, but they exaggerated the numbers involved to praise and flatter the successful generals. It may be surmised that the English-Burgundian army numbered about 5, 000 men, whilst the French army amounted to 7, 000 men or a little more. The English-Burgundian army was weakened the night before the battle by the desertion of a Norman contingent, but it is hard to say what effect this had on their numbers. [The deserters were later severely punished by the Regent] The French had learnt some lessons from Agincourt, but clearly not enough. The older and more cautious French commanders counselled against a pitched battle with the English when they had so many archers in their force. Their commander, Jean Duc d'Alencon gave a more ready ear to the younger and more hot-headed of his nobles. [Having learnt his lesson, Alencon went on to become one of the most talented French commanders] These, as ever, were only anxious to do daring deeds for the love of their ladies, and had no conception of, and little patience for, the tactical and strategic considerations which should go into any decision whether or not to fight a battle. The Scots, as ever, were unable to see an English head without feeling a compulsive urge to break it, and lent their voices to the hot-heads. At least in the actual fighting of the battle of Vernueil when the opposing forces were engaged, there was a greater measure of discipline in the French army, which contrasted well with the chivalric feudal rabble which had attacked the English line at Agincourt.
The Regent's preparations for the battle were pains-taking and interesting. Both sides fought on foot except for a small body of French cavalry whose allotted task was to capture the English baggage. The English-Burgundian army was drawn up with the men-at-arms and dismounted knights in three divisions in line abreast to match a similar disposition of the French army. The archers were posted on the wings on each side. The horses were tethered behind this line in several groups, each animal being nose to tail with his fellow, and packed so tightly that they could scarcely move. Such groups posed substantial obstacles to charging enemy cavalry intent upon seizing the baggage, which was also guarded on each wing by archers behind stakes. The French made no move to attack the English-Burgundian army as it was forming up early in the morning of the 17th August 1424, and initially seemed prepared for a defensive battle. When the English-Burgundian dispositions were complete, the Regent gave the order to advance. The French did the same. The English-Burgundian advance was so orderly that they might have been on parade. Each man kept perfect dressing with his neighbour, and each division with that next to it. It is possible that the French line was distracted by the archers who poured hails of arrows into it. Later the Scots and the sector commanded by the Compte de Narbonne were blamed for breaking the French line by charging impetuously forward, but it is at least possible that they were so galled by the arrows that they rushed forward headlong without waiting for their comrades to keep pace. Their officers did nothing to restrain them. With mighty shouts of St Dennis and St George the two lines met. Then it was hack and hew, thrust and parry, with the victory going to him who could last the longest. In spite of their initial disorganisation, it seemed that the French superiority in numbers would prevail. What determined the day for the English-Burgundian army was the action of the archers guarding the baggage. They had been charged by the French cavalry, but had put it to flight with well directed flights of arrows. They then closed on the flanks of the French army and shot their arrows into the mass which had no effective counter to them. The French struggled on manfully, but their line was soon broken in several places, and they were driven from the field.
The losses on both sides were heavy, and the Regent could ill afford to lose a single man. The losses among the French nobility was second only to Agincourt; the Comptes de Aumale, Ventadour, Tonnerre and Narbonne were among the slain, whilst the Duke of Alencon and the Marshal La Fayette were taken prisoner. The Scots loss was also very heavy, and included the Earl of Douglas who died in his last battle against the English. This aggressive nobleman had been fighting the English all his life with varying fortunes. He was taken prisoner by Harry Hotspur in 1402 at the battle of Homildon Hill [page ]where he had lost an eye. Pressed into action by Hotspur with promises of freedom in return for good service, he had taken part in the Percy's rebellion against King Henry IV and had been made prisoner again at the battle of Shrewsbury 1403, where once again he had been severely wounded.[page ] It was said that he was felled by the Regent himself. The Regent was reputedly large of limb although somewhat stout of girth. He wielded an enormous pole-axe, [battle-axe] a source of pride and legend among his soldiers, with which he did fearful execution.
The battle of Verneuil was a great victory for the English and the Burgundians, and an equal source of sorrow for the French. The losses among their nobility had been catastrophic, and their recent build-up by the engagement of mercenaries had been destroyed. It was to be some time before they could put into the field so large a force again.
On the other hand, it was a blessing, albeit one in a very effective disguise. For far too long the men of rank, impetuous to do daring deeds on the battlefield, had shouldered aside those of inferior social rank who nonetheless understood the virtues of discipline and possessed the military skills which made them the equals of their English opposite numbers. For far too long titled nonentities had held command, and had denied it to those who were their superiors in every way except that of social standing. Now that the titled nonentities had mostly gone, the way was being opened, slowly but surely, to those who did know how to make war successfully however humble their parentage.
The English and the Burgundians made rapid moves to exploit their victory to the full. William de La Pole, Earl of Suffolk was sent off to the west, whilst Philip-the-Good went south to Macon. Success attended both their operations. Now there fell an unexpected blow which did fearful damage to the English-Burgundian Alliance.
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, invades Hainault
In order to settle the vexed question of Humphrey and Jacqueline's marriage, the Regent and Philip-the-Good held two meetings in Amiens in March and June 1424, just before the Vernueil campaign. The Regent proposed, and Philip accepted, that the question of its validity should be submitted to the judgement of Pope Martin V in Rome.
Such a solution had little appeal to Humphrey. The Pope could scarcely be expected to be neutral and impartial after all he and Jacqueline had done with Benedict XIII, which Pope Martin V could only have seen as a considerable snub to himself. Believing, with good reason, that Jacqueline's inheritance of Hainault would never be surrendered to her peaceably, Humphrey saw seizure by force as the only alternative. He gathered together a force of troops, and even persuaded John Mowbray to join him. This latest scion of the House of Mowbray, who numbered among his relatives one who had quarrelled with Henry of Bolingbroke and had been banished [page ], and another who had been beheaded as a traitor [page ], was one of the disgraced young noblemen who had been welcomed back into the fold on King Henry V's coronation. Although he was as rowdy, unreliable, and as ripe for any mischief as any of his forebears had been, he had by 1424 been advanced to the dignity of Earl Marshal of England.
It was impossible to keep the necessary preparations secret. The Council was finding that it was not so easy as they had hoped to keep Humphrey in order, but warned him in no uncertain terms that any such a venture into Hainault would be seen as a hostile act against Burgundy herself. Humphrey ignored this advice, and accompanied by Jacqueline, landed his army in Calais in late October 1424, a bare 10 weeks after the battle of Verneuil. The news reached Philip-the-Good in Macon, where he had just concluded a most successful series of military operations. He hurried to Paris to persuade the Regent to stop Humphrey and send him home. The Regent proposed a form of arbitration to settle the differences between the Duke of Brabant and Humphrey. The Duke accepted the suggestion, but Humphrey refused to do so. Philip thereupon ordered a muster of troops in Flanders.
This was done by circular, which in the usual way explained the reasons.
Humphrey had meanwhile marched through Artois and into Hainault. John Mowbray had been dispatched to ravage the Dukedom of Brabant. This he did, even to the very walls of Brussels itself, to the fury of the inhabitants. At some stage, a copy of the circular had fallen into Humphrey's hands, and he proceeded to show an infantile side of his character which turned the situation, already ridiculous, into pure farce. Humphrey objected to some of the circulars statements, and wrote to Philip that they were "not true."
Philip replied with some heat demanding that this offensive expression should be withdrawn, and reproaching Humphrey for not accepting his own brother's suggestion for arbitration.
Humphrey refused to withdraw, and accepted Philip's offer of a duel to take place on 23rd April 1425. He would take advantage of Philip's offer of safe conduct and go home to prepare for it, taking his army with him. Jacqueline's mother, who was Philip's aunt, persuaded Humphrey to leave Jacqueline in Hainault, no doubt at Philip's instigation. She took a tearful farewell in Mons of the husband she was never to see again.
Whether Humphrey ever realised, or ever cared if he did, that he had been well and truly out-manoeuvred by Philip, is not known. Jacqueline had served her purpose, because his roving eye had lighted upon one of her ladies, Eleanor Cobham [The Cobhams will appear later in the history of the Wars of the Roses] This attractive lady had no objection to taking Jacqueline's place as his mistress, and he found her most agreeable. With Humphrey's troops out of the way, Philip could dictate his own terms. Jacqueline asked the City Fathers of Mons if they expected her to accept such humiliating conditions. Having no incentive to fight to the death in her cause, and suffering a Burgundian siege which was likely if they adopted her side, they answered that if she did not, they would hand her over to the Duke of Brabant, where as they saw it, she rightfully belonged. Jacqueline was soon a state prisoner in Ghent, where it was intended she should stay until the Pope had ruled on the application for annulment of her marriage. [Some years afterwards, she managed to escape and make her peace with Philip-the-Good]
The Council minutes do not record Humphrey's reception by the Council on his return to London in early 1425, but it is not unreasonable to suppose that the Council, and particularly the two Beaufort brothers, did not mince their words about this absurd adventure which had put the Burgundian Alliance in such jeopardy. Privately, the Council must have been well pleased with the way things had turned out. There had been no real fighting, and Humphrey had not even engaged the Burgundians when they entered Hainault, although he was only a short distance away and could easily have done so. Philip-the-Good had handled the situation very coolly, and had taught this bumptious upstart a good lesson. Now that Philip had Jacqueline exactly where he (and some Lords on the Council) most wanted her to be, namely under lock and key, he should be amenable to mending fences so that all would be forgotten and forgiven. With tact and discretion, the Alliance could emerge stronger rather than weaker from the whole regrettable episode.
It goes almost without saying that Humphrey did not feel any sense of remorse. On the contrary, he felt he had ample reason to be well pleased in his turn. These ridiculous old men with their grey beards and solemn self important manner had had their noses well and truly tweaked, and this was what had upset them. He had paid them back in their own coin for the humiliations they had heaped on his head over the Regency question, and the choler they now exhibited was most gratifying.
Parliament met on 30th April 1425, and very pointedly, Humphrey was not asked to open it. The young King, sitting on his mother's lap, presided. Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, who had once again become Chancellor in July 1424, delivered the usual address, and made much of the recent successes in France. Without differentiating between the actions of Parliament and the Council, the following business was dispatched. The dispute between Humphrey and Philip-the-Good was taken "into the Kyng's hand". Some writers think this was unnecessary, since Pope Martin V had already forbidden the duel. There would have been a problem if Humphrey had chosen to ignore the Pope, who would have had no sanction against him. He could not ignore the Royal Power which could send him to the Tower. Queen Katherine, the Queen Mother, and the Regent were asked to compose the quarrel. The Regent asked for, and was given, an advance of 20, 000 marks (£13, 666) although the Government was so short of money that it had to cover its expenses before Christmas by borrowing. Arrangements were put in hand to ransom John Holland, Earl of Huntingdon, who had languished in captivity ever since the battle of Bauge 1421. He was owed so much by the Crown that its non-payment had prevented him from raising the money to ransom himself. Lord Scrope had been executed as a traitor in 1415.[page ]The attainder against him was lifted to the extent that his descendants could once again possess the entailed Marsham estates. Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick and John Mowbray, the Earl Marshal, had quarrelled on a question of precedence. The dispute was resolved by creating Mowbray Duke of Norfolk, a title which had lain dormant since the death of Thomas Mowbray in 1399.[page ] This overlooked the discreditable part which Mowbray had played in Humphrey's recent adventures.
One other piece of business is worthy of note. Anne, the Dowager Duchess of March, petitioned for the dower to which she was entitled. Apparently Edmund, Earl of March, that pleasant, mild-mannered, brave soldier and loyal officer who had served King Henry V so well in the French wars, and who had a better title to the throne than the House of Lancaster, [page ] had just died in Ireland, loyally serving his usurpers to the end. His claim to the Throne now descended onto Richard, Duke of York, who had inherited this title when the previous Duke had been slain at Agincourt. In 1425, he was just 13 years old.
[Richard was the son of Richard, Earl of Cambridge who had been executed as a traitor at the same time as Lord Scrope in 1415 (page ). King Henry V had seen to it that the sins of the father were not visited upon the three year old son by attainder. Richard was thus free to inherit the Dukedom of York when his uncle was killed at Agincourt, and became head of the House of York during the early period of the Wars of the Roses.]
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, causes further mischief
When Parliament dissolved on 14th July 1425, Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor of the Realm, took his nephew Humphrey severely to task for what had been going on in London before, during, and after Humphrey's adventures in Hainault. He accused Humphrey of claiming the credit among his friends the City merchants for the recent lowering of Customs Duties in favour of English traders.
This was seen as excellent propaganda for Humphrey among an important section of society, and the Council was not pleased. More seriously, the Bishop accused him of inciting the artisans and workmen into discontent with the wages they were entitled to be paid under the Statutes of Labourers. These Statutes, an early form of incomes policy, sought to limit the maximum wages they could receive and were most unpopular. During Humphrey's absence in Hainault, some seditious pamphlets had been circulated which further incited them to rebel. Already there had been some unrest which the authorities had had some difficulty in suppressing.
The Bishop may have been wrong in laying all the blame for these events at Humphrey's door, but there was certainly some justification for his strictures. Humphrey, whilst pleased at the prospect of a further confrontation with the Bishop, denied the accusations hotly and with indignation. High words passed between them. The Bishop said that he could not accept Humphrey's denials, and that what he had done and was doing was little short of treason. Humphrey responded that a hero of Agincourt was not going to take that from someone born the wrong side of the blanket who had needed an Act of Parliament to make him legitimate. After such an exchange, there was not even the little hope which had previously existed that the two men would sink their differences and become friends.
The Council had foreseen that Humphrey might make an attempt to seize the Tower, and the seizure of this important fortress, which was regarded as the seat of the Royal Power, was not something they could contemplate with equanimity. The garrison had been strongly reinforced, and Sir Richard Wydeville, a tried and trusted and above all loyal soldier, had been placed in command. He had strict orders that he was to admit nobody with a strong following without first receiving the written authority of the Council. If Humphrey had chosen to appear with only a small retinue, he would no doubt have been admitted. In August or September 1425, he appeared before the gates of the Tower at the head of a large and disorderly mob which he had raised in the City and demanded admittance. True to his orders, Sir Richard closed the gates and refused to open them. An angry altercation ensued, but Sir Richard remained true to his orders, and Humphrey did not gain entry to the fortress.Humphrey then tried to seize the Bishop in his Palace just south of London Bridge. The Council had foreseen this as well, and Humphrey and his followers found themselves face-to-face with a strong body of Cheshire archers setting shaft to string and bending their bows.
[Some writers put the attempt to seize the Bishop at 29th October 1425, the day that the new Lord Mayor was holding his inaugural banquet. It is more likely that the Bishop would have been at the banquet and not in his Palace. The date of the Bishop's letter to the Regent (page ) would tend to indicate that Humphrey's attempt to seize the person of the Bishop followed hard upon the frustrated attempt to enter the Tower, or August or September 1425]
Humphrey, who understood the value of a public image, was not unduly disturbed by the failure of either attempt.
Success or failure, he had nothing to lose. The English, then as now, had a traditional dislike of those who ruled them, and this was visited in full measure upon the two Beaufort brothers and the other Lords of the Council. It was easy to appeal to their sense of fair play. See how these mere upstarts had treated a Prince of the Royal Blood! See how scurvily they had dealt with a wounded hero of Agincourt!! Who had ever heard of or suffered such a thing? It was typical of this arrogant bunch of nonentities!!!
By now Humphrey's antics had gone too far, and on 21st September 1425 the Bishop wrote to the Regent in the following terms:-
"As you desire the Welfare of the King our Sovereign Lord and the Realms of England and France, your own weal, with all yours, haste you hither; by my truth, if you tarry, we shall put this land in jeopardy; for such a brother as you have here, God make him a good man."
The letter gave a full account of Humphrey's misdeeds and went on to say that if he was not checked, the damage to the country would be as serious as the loss of a great battle.
This was not a welcome summons. It was true that the French had not yet recovered from the battle of Verneuil in 1424 and were giving little trouble. There were still the fruits of victory to be garnered, and these alone required the Regent's presence in France. Added to this, Philip-the-Good was still seething with anger over what had happened in Hainault. He did not blame the Regent for this, but much work remained to be done to calm him, and to get him to admit that it had all ended very well so far as Burgundy was concerned.
The Regent could not ignore the plea or the need to go to England and discipline his obstreperous younger brother, but he hardly needed this distraction. He made all haste, but it was December 1425 before he could cross the Channel.
It is not surprising that there is no record of the meeting of the two brothers who now saw each other for the first time since the funeral of King Henry V. The meeting would have been in private and no minute would have been kept. John, Duke of Bedford, the Regent of France, the next in line to the Throne, the most senior man in either Realm after the King himself, must have upbraided his errant brother in the very strongest terms. He had been fighting in France to fulfil their dead brother's behest and coping with endless difficulties, not least of which had been his younger brother's antics. He had understood that Humphrey supported the Conquest of France; if so, he had chosen a very odd way to go about it. The marriage to Jacqueline, the snubbing of Pope Martin V, the antagonising of Philip-the-Good upon whom so much depended, the absurd venture to Hainault, the attempt to seize the Tower and the equally obnoxious attempt to seize the Chancellor, the frustration of the Council's business, and last but by no means least, his scandalous private life, none of these could be calculated to forward the cause to which Humphrey said he was committed. These pranks must cease, and must cease at once. If they did not, Humphrey would gain the entry to the Tower on which he set so much store, but this time as a State prisoner. There ought to be a lot to talk about with the French prisoners taken at Agincourt who were confined there, and there would be ample leisure to do so. The Regent himself would readily sign the order for his arrest. No doubt Humphrey stumbled out some excuses: things had not gone quite as the Regent had been told, he had not committed such a transgression, he was not as black as he was painted. None of it was very convincing and it certainly did not assuage the wrath of his brother John. Humphrey had been afraid of their eldest brother whilst he was alive, and much of the fear and respect he had for King Henry V had transferred to John, in whom he saw the physical embodiment of the dead King.
Even so, this more than justified scolding, if indeed it took place, made no impression on Humphrey's obduracy. The home-government had to be put onto a sound and efficient footing before the Regent could return to France to attend to his pressing duties there. This must have been obvious to Humphrey, and should have dictated some measure of reform in his conduct. It did not do so. He resolutely refused to meet his uncle the Bishop, and instead continued to plot his downfall. Such a dreadful creature should be removed from the Chancellorship, an office he should never have occupied in the first place. He was warned by Archbishop Chichele and by others that the dismissal of such a senior officer could only be brought about by a form of impeachment, where the accused was entitled to defend himself, and above all, it depended on reliable and convincing proof of misbehaviour. Undeterred, Humphrey set about gathering such proof. His bother John then played his master card. At the Parliament summoned to take place in Leicester on 18th February 1426, the differences between Humphrey and the Bishop were to be submitted to the arbitration of 9 Lords.
[This was named as "The Parliament of Bats". Everybody was forbidden to come armed, so high had tensions become. The prohibition had omitted the mention of clubs, and many people had arrived carrying such weapons]
Humphrey now had the chance to discredit his uncle, and we need not be surprised that he made a complete mess of it. In a long rigmarole which was a mish-mash of unsupported allegations, which to Humphrey's twisted mind gained the status of proved and damning facts simply by being stated, he accused his uncle of being implicated in the attempt to murder King Henry V while he was still Prince of Wales [page ], and of being untrue to the three Kings he had served. Furthermore, he had wrongfully excluded Humphrey from the Tower, and shortly afterwards had frustrated an attempt to visit the infant King in Greenwich by military force, for such was the interpretation that Humphrey invited the Lords to place upon the fracas to the south of London Bridge. Humphrey did not think it necessary to explain the large and rowdy mob which accompanied him, although its presence was hardly required if a social call by an uncle on his nephew was all that was intended. The Bishop answered all these allegations with almost contemptuous ease.
On 12th March 1426, the Arbitrators gave their award. The Bishop should declare on oath that he had always been 'a trewe man' to the Kings he had served, and this should be accepted. He should also disclaim all designs against Humphrey's 'personne, honour or estat', and this too should be accepted. Finally the two men should shake hands. All of this was duly done. What is remarkable about this award is that the Bishop undoubtedly had his enemies. After so long a period in government, this was only to be expected. Yet nobody was prepared to take Humphrey seriously enough to bring about the downfall and disgrace of a man that some of them hated. Certainly the Bishop's defence of his doings had been masterly and compelling, but this alone would not have saved him from harm at the hands of his political foes. Humphrey had made a complete fool of himself as his brother John probably intended he should. Characteristically,
Humphrey would have been the one person who failed to see this.
By one account, the Bishop, having routed his enemy, resigned the seals of his office the very next day. The records of Parliament show that John Kempe, Bishop of London and shortly to become Archbishop of York, was appointed Chancellor on 8th March 1426, a full 4 days before the award.
It probably makes little difference, because Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, seems to have grown weary of public life by 1426. His brother Thomas, Duke of Exeter and the infant King's guardian, had died in 1424 to his great distress. The exact date of the Bishop's birth is not certain, but he would probably have been borne in the early 1370s. If this was so, then he would have been 50 years old, perhaps a little more, by 1426. This was an advanced age at the time and was well in excess of the average life expectancy in the early 15th-century. He had served three Kings faithfully and with great distinction, he was immensely rich (he would have richer still if the Crown had paid its debts), and he probably wanted to do some other things with the years that remained to him. In 1417, Pope Martin V had offered him a cardinal's hat. At the time King Henry V was advised by Archbishop Chichele that it was not appropriate that an English churchman should also be a cardinal. This may have been jealousy, but it is more likely that the Archbishop thought that, with a cardinal among their number, it would have been more difficult to continue to refuse the Papacy's demands to levy taxes in England, a proceeding currently forbidden by the Statutes of Provisors. Henry had refused permission him to accept it, probably thinking it was a bribe. Now, in 1426, Pope Martin renewed his offer, and the Bishop wished to accept it to become Cardinal St Eusebius. He also wished to go crusading, because the infidel heathen, as ever, needed chastisement. There were few opportunities currently in the Holy Land, but nearer home in Bohemia, there were the Hussites who would surely benefit from the use of the holy rod.
The Regent knew that the Bishop did not like the continued war with France, and it was very difficult for a high government officer to support a policy of which he disapproved. It was doubly difficult when the leader of the opposing faction was his brother Humphrey, whose antics would have taken years off anyone's life. Humphrey may have been beside himself with delight, but the Regent recognised that the loss of the Bishop, a man of outstanding intellect and of great ability and experience, was a most serious blow to the home-government. He could not keep him against his will, and he accepted his resignation with a heavy heart.
The new cardinal was to play a further part in the preliminaries of the Wars of the Roses (he lived until 1447), but the loss of the War in France, one of the main causes of the Wars of the Roses, was partly due to his removal from office at this critical time in 1426. The War in France was probably doomed to fail in any event, [Chapter ] but Humphrey's misdeeds undoubtedly had a lot to do with the Bishop's resignation at a crucial time.
The Regent found that he could not return to France until March 1427. Things had gone wrong in his absence. John, Duke of Brittany had required a sharp lesson in the shape of an invasion force under Sir Thomas Rempston to demonstrate just how wise he had been to sign the Treaty of Amiens in 1423. A French force marching to his support was soundly defeated at St James. It was commanded by Arthur of Brittany, by now Count de Richemont and Constable of France.
[He is said to have been appointed Constable on the advice of Philip-the-Good; it seems Philip was careful to keep channels of communication open with King Charles VII] The situation had been tense, but was now stable. Due to the Regent's absence, many of the fruits of victory which should have been won following the battle of Verneuil in 1424 had not been gathered in. This should have been done at once and without delay. They were now squandered and lost for good.
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, stirs up yet further trouble
Humphrey was nothing if not ebullient, and he soon recovered from the humiliation of the arbitration award, if indeed he ever saw it as such. There was, strangely enough, much sympathy for Jacqueline, still languishing in a Burgundian prison, and in mid-1427, there was some talk of an expedition to rescue her. Humphrey's heart was not in this proposal. He was happier with Eleanor Cobham and preferred that things should stay as they were. He was however content to go along with the idea and did not seem to mind compromising others, particularly Thomas Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, in the eyes of the Regent. The Earl lent his support, having a bone of his own to pick with Philip-the-Good. Philip had been more than politely attentive to his Countess, who was the grand-daughter of none other than the poet Geoffrey Chaucer, and this had greatly annoyed the Earl. News of the expedition reached the ears of the Regent, as Humphrey knew it would, and he sternly forbade it, as again Humphrey knew he would. Humphrey meanwhile was content to gain the kudos of being prepared to ride to the rescue of a damsel in distress, leaving the unfortunate Salisbury to face the ire of the Regent.
It was by this time well settled that Humphrey was not needed in any capacity to open Parliament. The young King Henry VI was old enough to sit still for long enough in the gorgeous Throne whilst others made the opening speeches. A solemn little boy who was only anxious to please did all that was asked of him. The Parliament that met on 13th October 1427 at Westminster was prorogued until the New Year with Humphrey's request before it for a description of the power and authority that belonged to him. On the face of it this was a polite request for a 'job description'. Knowing Humphrey, and suspecting an ulterior motive which was not immediately apparent, Parliament felt it had to be careful. The delays in giving him an answer indicates that the Regent was consulted.
Impulsive people are also impatient people, and Humphrey was not prepared to wait. He had expected support from the Common House, the representatives of the people who held him in such high regard. In this, he was disappointed, because they could not stomach his deplorable private life. In March 1428 he rudely told the Lords that they may consult as they pleased in his absence, but they were not to reach any decisions unless he was present and approved them. Moreover, he would not attend Parliament until his previous request had been answered. The Lords, emboldened by the arbitration award and possibly fortified by the Regent, then gave their answer in writing. In the first Parliament of the Reign, Humphrey had been appointed Lord Protector, and with this he would have to be content. In the House of Lords, he was just another Peer, no greater and no less than his fellows. This answer was signed by a number of Peers, including John Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk. Not even from his fellow miscreant in the Hainault adventure did Humphrey find any sympathy.
Thus, for a while, the successive humiliations which Humphrey, with a persistence worthy of a better cause, drew upon his own head, came to an end. The mischief he had created had had a devastating effect upon the main plank of the Government's policy, the prosecution of the Conquest of France.
The care and education of King Henry VI
Thomas, Duke of Exeter, had died in 1424, and a new guardian and governor had to be appointed. Even Humprey, Duke of Gloucester, can have been under no illusions that this coveted position would be given to him. Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick was given this task by a commission which included:-
".....to lerne [teach] the Kyng to love, worship and drede God, and generally noryssche hym, and drawe to vertues and to eschewyng of vices.....To teche the Kyng....nurture
lettrure langage and other manere of cunnyng."
The Earl was to be responsible for the infant's safety, and was to remove him from danger, including that of "pestilence." He had the power to remove undesirable persons from the King's presence, and to chastise "after his good avis and discrecion". This last power was added as a consequence of a previous petition to the Council by one Lady Alice Boteller, who was the senior among the women who looked after the infant's daily wants. Her petition to the Council was not as facile as it may sound, because laying hands on the person of the King could amount to treason with some most unpleasant consequences. Lady Alice had wanted to know where she stood. The Council, with much amusement, answered that she was:-
"reasonably to chastise him from time to time as the case might require without her being molested or injured for so doing."
Warwick is often found in France with the army, which suggests that he saw his role as a supervisory one in which he laid down the form of instruction the young King was to receive, leaving it to tutors to impart it. He would then check them to see they were doing their jobs properly. In accordance with the practise of the time, young Henry would have been very intensively educated so that he was thoroughly
proficient in Latin and French, besides other accomplishments such as music. The tutors seem to have done their work well, since Henry grew up to have a love for learning of all kinds. Like his father, he was also very pious, although it does appear unlikely that he excelled where skill-at-arms and jousting were concerned. His was a gentler nature.
James, the captive King of Scotland
James, the heir to the Scottish Throne, had been captured in 1406 by English cruisers in the North Sea whilst on his way to France [page ]. He had been educated in England and had come to man's estate there. He had rendered signal service to King Henry V in the French wars, and had even been the chief mourner at Henry's funeral. By now, he was 30 years of age. The Earl of Albany, the Regent of Scotland, had died, and the time had now come to set this pleasant and popular young man free from the easy captivity of the English Court where he had made many friends. James had fallen in love with Margaret Beaufort, and she with him, and great things were hoped from an alliance between the King of the Scots and the daughter of John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, who had died in 1410. In April 1424, accompanied by his bride, he set foot on his native soil once again. His ransom was agreed at £40, 000, to be paid in six annual instalments. A truce for 7 years was also agreed, and James was to recall the Scottish mercenaries already serving King Charles VII in France so far as he was able to do so, and to allow no more to go.
In those days of arranged marriages, this was a real love-match which gave everyone much pleasure. James was crowned at Scone in May 1424 as James 1 with his English Queen amidst general rejoicing on both sides of the border.
Being King of Scotland was no sinecure, and James very rapidly learnt that the Scots did not take kindly to the English methods of government which he had learnt in London.
The Scots nobility, if it can be imagined, was even more turbulent, blood-thirsty, rowdy and given to casual homicide than that south of the border. Scotland had little effective government, and the tax-yield, gathered only with the very greatest difficulty, was derisory. It was quite insufficient to pay the annual instalments of the ransom, and every difficulty was put in James's way when he attempted to increase it. It is only surprising that he lasted as long as he did. In February 1437, he was murdered by his nobles. They had at least the grace to spare the life of his Queen, even though she was wounded in the fracas.
The birth of Warwick the Kingmaker
The year 1428 saw the birth of a son to Richard Neville and Alice Montacute. They named their son Richard after his father. The little boy's parentage was among the most illustrious in the land. His father was the son of Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmorland, and his mother was the daughter and heiress of Thomas Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, the soldier who had made such a name for himself in France. When Thomas was killed at the siege of Orleans a few months after the boy's birth, his father became Earl of Salisbury in his place. Little did the parents know that their son was to marry in 1449 Anne Beauchamp, the heiress to the vast Warwick estates, and so become the Earl in his turn. Thus the boy was destined to become 'Warwick the Kingmaker', and to play an important and central role in the Wars of the Roses.
|Copyright © Michael D. Miller 2003|