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Title: Humphrey Duke of Gloucester
       A Biography

Author: K.H. Vickers

Release Date: November 25, 2012 [EBook #41477]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


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Transcriber’s Note

The page headers on the odd pages of Chapters I to VIII of the original text provided a running account of the year and topic discussed. These are retained as highlighted notes such as “14XX] TOPIC” In Chapters IX and X, there are no dates in these topic notes.

Please see the Notes at the end of this text for more detailed discussion on any changes or corrections.

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester.

From an Arras Manuscript.


A Biography



Edinburgh: T and A. Constable, Printers to His Majesty



The following pages have been written amidst many interruptions and completed amidst great difficulties. The excuse for their existence is to be found in the total absence of any adequate biography of their subject, and the attraction (to the author at any rate) of a varied and interesting career. My indebtedness to those who have made a study of the fifteenth century is acknowledged in the bibliography, but my obligations extend much further. My thanks are due to many librarians who have given me every facility to inspect manuscripts in their care, but to Mr. Falconer Madan of the Bodleian Library at Oxford I am under no ordinary debt of obligation. His consistent kindness and interest has made many paths smooth that would otherwise have been rough. I am indebted to Lord Leicester for his kindness in allowing me to examine a manuscript life of the Duke which forms part of his Library, and to Mr. Yates Thompson for a similar permission with regard to the Duke’s Psalter. Still more do I desire to thank Dean Kitchin for his courtesy and kindness in sending me a transcript of a letter in a Durham manuscript, whilst Professor Oman has given me the great encouragement of his sympathy and advice. To Dr. Morris of Bedford I owe assistance on some points of difficulty, and Sir Alfred Scott-Gatty, Garter, was kind enough to answer several questions with regard to the Duke’s armorial bearings. To my mother, who has spent many weary hours in copying my manuscript; to my sister, who is largely responsible for the index; and to my friend, Mr. H. W. Ward of Frenchay, whose assistance, both clerical and critical, has been freely given, the mere record of my gratitude is not sufficient.

Mr. E. Alfred Jones has kindly allowed me to reproduce the photograph of a cup which once belonged to Duke Humphrey, and which forms part of the collection he has made for his book on The Old Plate of the Cambridge Colleges, whilst the possessor of the manuscript copy of Beccaria’s dedication to Duke Humphrey, prefaced to his translation of Boccaccio, was good enough, through the kind instrumentality of Mr. Strickland Gibson of the Bodleian Library, to allow me to photograph this unique document.

K. H. V.

Frenchay, August 1907.


Introduction xvii
Birth of Humphrey: his parents—The change of dynasty—The Order of the Bath—Plot to kill Henry IV. and his sons—Humphrey made a Knight of the Garter—Visit to Abbey of Bardney—Accession of Henry V.—Humphrey created Earl of Pembroke and Duke of Gloucester—Negotiations between England and France—Preparations for war—The Southampton Conspiracy: its warning—Gloucester’s retinue in the 1415 campaign—The siege of Harfleur—March from Harfleur to Agincourt—The battle of Agincourt—The King’s return to England, 1-32
Various phases of Gloucester’s career—The Emperor Sigismund’s visit to England: reception by Gloucester—The Treaty of Canterbury—Gloucester hostage at St. Omer for the safety of the Duke of Burgundy visiting Henry V. at Calais—Gloucester and Sigismund: a contrast in characters—Renewal of the war—The siege of Caen—Gloucester’s military qualities—The sieges of Alençon and Falaise—Gloucester despatched to subdue the Côtentin—The Côtentin expedition—The siege of Cherbourg—Gloucester joins Henry V. at the siege of Rouen—Gloucester’s negotiations for a wife—Further military undertakings: the capture of Ivry—Gloucester returns to England, 33-80
Gloucester Regent of England: terms of his commission—State of the country at this time; the rise of the Middle Classes and their support of Gloucester—The King of Scotland and Gloucester—The Treaty of Troyes proclaimed in England—Influence of this treaty on Gloucester’s policy—Restlessness of Parliament—The return of Henry V. to England—Coronation of Queen Catharine—The misfortunes of Jacqueline of Hainault: her arrival in England and meeting with Gloucester—Henry V.’s policy with regard to Jacqueline—Third French campaign—The siege of Dreux—Gloucester’s second Regency of England—Death of Henry V.: his wishes for the government of his kingdoms—Claimants for the Protectorate: Henry Beaufort, Bedford, and Gloucester: their qualifications—Opposition to Gloucester’s claims: his removal from the Regency—Appointment to the Protectorate: the limitations placed on Gloucester’s power and their effect—Alliance between Gloucester and Bedford and its significance—Dissensions in the Regency Council—Execution of Sir John Mortimer and death of the Earl of March, 81-124
Jacqueline’s treatment in England—Her marriage to Gloucester—Visit of Gloucester and Jacqueline to St. Albans—Burgundy objects to Gloucester’s pretensions to govern Hainault—Attempted arbitration between Gloucester and Burgundy—Gloucester’s claim—His departure with Jacqueline for Hainault—Renewed attempts at arbitration—March from Calais to Hainault—Reception in Hainault: attitude of Mons—The Estates of Hainault accept Gloucester as Regent—Complaints of the behaviour of the English soldiers—Papal procrastination in deciding Jacqueline’s divorce appeal—Burgundy prepares for armed interference—Siege of Braine-le-Comte—Gloucester’s inactivity—Correspondence of Gloucester and Burgundy who agree to a duel—Increased hostility to Gloucester in Hainault—Gloucester returns to England—The motive and wisdom of his Hainault policy, 125-161
Gloucester’s reception in England: attitude of the Council—Jacqueline loses ground in Hainault—The duel between Gloucester and Burgundy forbidden—Gloucester loses interest in Hainault affairs: failure of an expedition to relieve Jacqueline—The quarrel between Gloucester and Beaufort: Beaufort summons Bedford to England—Gloucester’s position before and after Bedford’s return—Council of St. Albans—Parliament of Leicester: Gloucester’s attack on Beaufort: the decision of the Lords—The Council asserts its rights: its communication to Gloucester—Results of Bedford’s intervention—Gloucester suppresses lawlessness—Jacqueline seeks assistance: money voted by the Council for her relief—Abandonment of the contemplated expedition—Public feeling hostile to Gloucester—The Pope refuses the divorce—Gloucester marries Eleanor Cobham—Disturbances in the Midlands—Beaufort attacked for accepting the Cardinalate—Coronation of Henry VI., 162-215
The end of the Protectorate—The Forty Shilling Franchise—Gloucester made Regent—Henry VI. goes to France—Parliament of 1431—The rising of ‘Jack Sharpe’: its significance—Gloucester seeks more power: intrigues against Beaufort—Increase of the Regent’s salary—Results of the Regency—Ministerial changes—Beaufort returns to the attack: brings forward grievances against the Government—Lord Cromwell and Gloucester—Gloucester goes to Calais to negotiate peace—Bedford comes to England—More ministerial changes—Bedford petitioned to remain in England: the conditions on which he agrees to do so—Gloucester propounds a scheme for carrying on the war—Quarrel of Gloucester and Bedford—Death of Bedford—Defection of Burgundy from the English alliance—Gloucester appointed Lieutenant of Calais: he relieves it when besieged by Burgundy—Gloucester’s raid into Flanders, 216-254
Gloucester’s waning interest in political life: his appearance as a patron of letters—Negotiations for peace with France: Gloucester’s opposition; his manifesto against Beaufort and Cardinal Kemp: his manifesto against the release of the Duke of Orleans, and the King’s reply—Gloucester’s declining importance—Trial and imprisonment of the Duchess of Gloucester for sorcery and treason—Consequent loss of influence to Gloucester—The marriage of Henry VI. to Margaret of Anjou—Gloucester’s war policy—Triumph of the Beaufort faction—The Parliament of Bury—Arrest and death of Gloucester, 255-294
The nature of Gloucester’s death: growing conviction that he was murdered—The trial of his servants for treason—The effect of his death on English politics—His policy in Hainault—The nature of his rule in England: charges of oppression: tribute of his servants—His war policy—His ecclesiastical policy: relations with the Papacy—His connection with St. Albans Abbey—His character, 295-339
Nature of the Renaissance, and its influence on Gloucester—State of English scholarship—Gloucester’s qualifications for the career of a patron of letters: his early education—his relations with the Italian Humanists—His friendship with Zano, Bishop of Bayeux—Connection with Leonardi Bruni: its abrupt ending—Correspondence with Pier Candido Decembrio: the translation of Plato’s Republic: books bought for Gloucester in Italy—Gloucester and Piero del Monte—Lapo da Castiglionchio works for him—Antonio Pasini—Friendship with Alfonso of Naples—Antonio di Beccaria his secretary in England—Titus Livius of Ferrara and his Vita Henrici Quinti—Gloucester’s physicians, 340-382
Gloucester and the English Scholars—Abbot Wheathampsted his literary friend—John Capgrave’s Commentary on Genesis—Nicholas Upton and Thomas Beckington—The English Poets—John Lydgate’s numerous poems and his tribute to Gloucester’s learning—John Russell, George Ashley, and Thomas de Norton—The English version of the De Re Rustica of Palladius—Gloucester’s patronage of the University of Oxford—Correspondence with the University—Gifts of books to Oxford—Arrangements for their safe keeping—Gloucester’s literary tastes: the books he collected—His literary position and understanding—Influence of Gloucester’s life on English scholarship, 383-425
A. Books once belonging to Gloucester still extant, 426-438
B. The Tomb of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, 439-441
C. Gloucester’s Will,, 442-443
D. Gloucester’s Residences 444-446
E. Portraits of Gloucester, 446-450
F. A Legend of Gloucester’s Death, 450-452
G. Gloucester’s Arms, Badges, and Seals, 452-455
I. Printed Books, 456-471
II. Manuscript Authorities, 471-475
INDEX, 477-491


Portrait of the Duke of Gloucester. From Bibliothèque de la Ville d’Arras MS., 266,
[See pp. 446-447.]
Cup bearing the Arms of the Duke of Gloucester and his wife Eleanor in enamel, now in the possession of Christ’s College, Cambridge.
From a photograph kindly lent by Mr. E. Alfred Jones,
The Duke of Gloucester and his wife Eleanor being received into the Fraternity of St. Albans. Cotton MS., Nero, D. vii.,
[See p. 447.]
The Siege of Calais (1436). From the History of the Life and Acts of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. Illustrated by Drawings by John Ross of Warwick. Cotton MS., Julius, E. iv., Art. 6, 250
A page from the Duke of Gloucester’s Psalter. Royal MS., 2, B. i.,
[See pp. 432-433, 447-448]
The Duke of Gloucester’s Autograph and a Label from one of his Books. Harleian MS., 1705, and Harleian MS., 33,
[See p. 430 and pp. 429-430.]
Capgrave presenting his Commentary on Genesis to Gloucester. Oriel College MS., xxxii.,
[See pp. 428, 447.]
Drawing of the Old Divinity Schools, Oxford, dating from 1566. MS. Bodley, 13, 408
A page from the Duke of Gloucester’s copy of ‘Le Songe du Vergier,’ once part of the Library of Charles V. of France.  Royal MS., 19, C. iv.,
[See p. 432.]

Several photographs for the above Illustrations have been kindly lent by
Mrs. Maude C. Knight, Richmond, Surrey.


P. 27, l. 10, for ‘Abbéville’ read ‘Abbeville.’
P. 45, note 191, for ‘Stowe’ read ‘Stow.’
P. 75, l. 5, for ‘Ponte’ read ‘Pont.’
P. 92, l. 23, for ‘Dowager-Duchess’ read ‘Dowager-Countess.’
P. 314, l. 13, for ‘Northampton’ read ‘Northumberland.’
P. 366, l. 2, for ‘Festus Pompeius’ read ‘Pomponius Festus.’
P. 378, l. 22, for ‘Villari’ read ‘Villani.’


It was Polydore Vergil who first drew attention to the fatality of the Gloucester title. It was borne by luckless King John, Thomas of Woodstock earned a violent death, Thomas le Despenser was beheaded, while in days later than those treated of in this volume, King Richard III. found that the hand of fate was against him. Humphrey Plantagenet of the House of Lancaster was no exception to this rule. His life was violent, his death suspicious, and even after this his misfortunes did not desert him; for though the tradition of the ‘Good Duke’ lingers in some quarters even to the present day, his importance is not recognised by the historian. His selfishness and his lack of statesmanship have made him a byword in fifteenth-century history, and his true title to fame has been forgotten amidst the struggles which prepared the way for the Wars of the Roses.

‘It is rather remarkable,’ wrote Bishop Creighton in 1895, ‘that more attention has not been paid to the progress of Humanism in England, and especially to the literary fame of the Duke of Gloucester.’ It is certainly strange that this Duke should have found as his literary executors only two men, both Germans, and they even have not devoted more than a passing attention to his fame. Whilst there is no little interest to be found in the story of his public career, the main importance of his life is centred in his position as a literary patron. He was unique in the history of his country and age, in taking an interest in the classical authors of Greece and Rome, who had lain buried beneath the accumulated dust of the Middle Ages, and to him we can trace the renaissance of Greek studies in England, and the revival of Litteræ Humaniores in the University of Oxford. The fifteenth century, with all its foibles and all its baseness, has been disregarded by many who prefer an age of heroism or an age of material progress. Yet the picturesque is not lacking in Duke Humphrey’s career, and his influence is felt even at the present day. In his life we can trace the spirit of his age, though many of the characters which flit across the stage are indefinite, and bear few striking qualities.

This is particularly true of Gloucester himself. Few personal touches are to be found in the historical writers of the period, and his character is often elusive, his actions often uncertain. The present volume aims at tracing the salient events of his career in relation to the history of his times, and at showing his relationship to fifteenth-century literary aspirations, both in Italy and in England. A hero no biographer can make him in spite of his many virtues, but at least he should be relieved of the universal blame cast upon him. In his life he was typical of his age, in his death the outward failure of his career was clearly evident; but as the first English patron of those scholars who were to revolutionise the mental attitude of the world, he deserves recognition and remembrance, if not reverence.



On the north-east border of the German-speaking races, there existed in the latter days of the fourteenth century one of those old religious military orders, which had been founded to carry on war against the infidel in the Holy Land. Here, where German met Slav, and Christian met Pagan, the Knights of St. Mary found a new sphere of usefulness, after the military orders had become discredited, and in their war against the heathen Lithuanians they attracted many of the adventurous spirits of Christendom. Thus King John of Bohemia, who fell at Crécy, had lost his eyesight fighting in these North German marches, and the adventurous Henry of Bolingbroke, son and heir of John of Gaunt, spent some of his energies in helping the Teutonic knights in their wars. It was on one of these expeditions that at Königsberg news was brought to the future King Henry IV. of England that his wife had borne him a son who had been named Humphrey.[1] It was on November 1, 1390, that the sailor who carried this news received his reward as the bringer of good tidings, so the birth was probably in the preceding August or September.[2]

Humphrey was the fourth son of the union of Henry of Bolingbroke and Mary Bohun, who was co-heiress to the princely inheritance of the Earls of Hereford and Essex. This marriage had been one of the romantic episodes of the time, and had brought John of Gaunt’s eldest son prominently forward during the reign of Richard II. The Bohun inheritance had cast its glamour over the man who had thus secured a part thereof, and he never neglected an opportunity of emphasising his pride in the Bohun connection. Thus he adopted the badge of the Swan, which was a Bohun cognisance, and in choosing the names of his sons he only once, in the case of Thomas, selected one which was decidedly not taken from his wife’s family. In the case of his fourth and youngest son this was especially marked, for Humphrey was a favourite Bohun name.[3] Of the last six Earls of Hereford, five had borne it, so its youngest recipient was made at his birth the inheritor of Bohun traditions—traditions which spoke of a life which would be active, if not turbulent, and which amidst some constitutional actions would have many elements of ambition and self-seeking. The Earls of Hereford had taken a prominent part in the past history of England, and this last inheritor of their name, if not of their title, was not to be unknown in the public life of his country. From his mother’s family it may be that with his name he inherited some part of that restless and unstable character which was to influence his actions all through his life.


Of the place of young Humphrey’s birth we have no record, but much of his childhood was spent at Eaton Tregoes, a place situated not far from Ross on the banks of the Wye, and part of the Hereford inheritance.[4] Here he was left in the care of Sir Hugh Waterton, along with his two sisters, Blanche and Philippa, when his father was banished by the capricious Richard II.[5] Here he mourned the death of his grandfather,[6] and hence, too, in all probability he went to welcome his father’s triumphant return, since he did not accompany his brother Henry to Ireland in the train of King Richard.[7]

The change of dynasty naturally had an influence on the life of Henry’s son. Hitherto Humphrey had been a child of little importance, the son of a leading nobleman, and indeed a member of the blood royal, but this last was a not uncommon distinction in the days when Edward III.’s numerous descendants peopled the country. Of late, too, owing to his father’s banishment, he had been kept in seclusion by his faithful guardian, waiting for happier days, which had now come. By the parliamentary sanction of Henry of Bolingbroke’s claim to the throne, Humphrey became a prince in the line of succession, and the consequent honours pertaining to a king’s son fell to his lot. Accordingly he was selected, together with his brothers Thomas and John, to gild the inauguration of a new order of knighthood. The new Lancastrian dynasty had not as yet secured a firm hold on the kingdom. John of Gaunt had never been taken very seriously as a statesman, and his son was but little known in his native land save for his short period of opposition to RichardII. Something must be done to give stability to the new royal house, and to borrow for it some of that outward respectability of appearance which usually only comes with age. One of the expedients to this end was the creation of a new order of knighthood, which should do for the Lancastrians what the Order of the Garter had done for their predecessors. Many have denied that the Order of the Bath owes its inception to Henry IV., and it must be allowed that the ceremonial of bathing on the eve of receiving knighthood dates back to Frankish times, and by now had become hallowed by the Church and enforced by the chivalric code which had come to soften the rough corners of Feudalism. Nevertheless, no earlier mention of a definite Order of the Bath can be found, and it was with the intention of giving dignity to this new corporation of knights that the King’s three youngest sons headed the first list of creations.[8] On the Eve of the Translation of St. Edward the knighthoods were conferred,[9] and when the Mayor and citizens of London came to escort the King to Westminster, preparatory to his coronation on the morrow, the new knights were assigned a place of honour in the procession, riding before the King in long green coats, with the sleeves cut straight and the hoods trimmed with ermine.[10] The Feast day itself witnessed the coronation of Humphrey’s father as King Henry IV.[11] Though only nine years old the young prince had received that inauguration into the ranks of men which the dignity of knighthood conferred, and to emphasise this fact certain landed possessions were given to him by the King. On December 2 were bestowed upon him the manors of Cookham and Bray, near Maidenhead in Berkshire, to which were added the manors of Middleton and Merden in Kent, all given to him for himself and the heirs of his body.[12] Within these manors and hundreds he received all royal as well as proprietory rights,[13] and some days later he was relieved of all fees and fines payable on the receipt of letters-patent and writs.[14] About the same time provision was made for him in the shape of ‘coursers, trotters, and palfreys’ provided for his use.[15]


Joy and sorrow, triumph and danger, were to succeed one another in striking contrast all through Humphrey’s life, and he was quickly to learn that it was no untainted privilege to be numbered among kings’ sons. He had just received his first initiation into the pomps and glories of royal state; he had taken part in one of those triumphal processions which were the delight of his later years; he had begun to realise, boy though he was, the pleasant side of high rank and popular homage; almost immediately he was to learn that there was another side to the picture, and to experience the first of those frequent attacks from which the Lancastrian dynasty was never entirely free. After the coronation festivities were over, he had been taken down to Windsor together with his brothers and sister, and there his father kept the Feast of Christmas, surrounded by his family. But all the time a plot was brewing, and plans were being made for taking the King unawares at a ‘momynge,’ and destroying both him and his four sons. Warned in time, Henry hastened to avert the blow. Humphrey and his brothers were taken in the dead of the night of January 4 to London, and there safely housed in the Tower, while their father sallied forth to subdue the rebels. When the conspirators arrived at Windsor they found their quarry had escaped. Their plans were not sufficiently organised to enable them to meet this contingency; an attempt to raise the country in the name of Richard II. failed; they scattered and fled, only to meet their death, some at the hands of the mob, and others on the scaffold.[16] Humphrey was too young to realise the import of this unsuccessful plot; indeed, its lack of success would render it insignificant were it not the precursor of many similar attempts. It speaks of the strong undercurrent of opposition to the Lancastrian dynasty, which never ceased to flow even during the seeming popularity of Henry V.; it shows tendencies which Humphrey himself would have to face in later life, and which the lack of statesmanship which was to characterise him and so many of his house was not calculated to stem. For the present the failure of the conspiracy only helped to increase his worldly possessions, and he must have delighted in the tapestry hangings and other spoils taken from the condemned traitor, the Earl of Huntingdon, which were his share of the goods forfeited by the conspirators.[17] His property steadily increased from other sources also, and from time to time we find him the recipient of some castle or manor at the King’s hands.[18]

We hear very little of the events in the life of the boy, but we get an occasional glimpse of him. Thus he was present at the marriage of his father to his second wife, Joan of Navarre, widow of the Duke of Brittany, at Winchester in the early part of 1403, and he welcomed his future step-mother with a tablet of gold as a wedding present.[19] The scene soon changed from marriage celebrations to war, and Humphrey now had his first experience of a battle. The rising of Sir Edmund Mortimer with the Welsh and Harry Hotspur of the House of Percy called the King to the north in July, and we are told that his youngest son took part in the famous battle of Shrewsbury.[20] As the boy was but twelve years old it is unlikely that he took any active share in the battle, though his elder brother was grievously wounded;[21] but he was introduced to the perils which beset the House of Lancaster, even amongst those whom they had counted as friends, and to the methods of warfare he was later to practise himself.


The battle of Shrewsbury was an indirect means of conferring yet another honour on Humphrey. It is probable that he had been elected a Knight of the Garter early in the reign, at the same time as his eldest brother, the Prince of Wales, but at that time there was no vacancy for him to fill.[22] There are no extant records of elections earlier than the reign of Henry V., in whose first year we find robes provided for Thomas, John, and Humphrey.[23] These princes, however, were undoubtedly Knights of the Garter at an earlier date than this, and it is recorded in the Windsor tables that John succeeded to the stall of the Duke of York, who died on August 1, 1402.[24] If the three younger sons of Henry were elected together, and waited to obtain their stalls in order of age, the first vacancy after John’s enrolment would come in 1403, when Humphrey probably succeeded to the stall of Edmund, Earl of Stafford, or to that of Hotspur himself, who both fell in the battle of Shrewsbury.[25] In any case, it is very doubtful that Humphrey had to wait till a later date than this to be finally received into the Order of the Garter.

Humphrey had now passed from the state of childhood; two years later we find him with an establishment of his own at Hadleigh Castle, in Essex;[26] and again in the following year his position in the line of succession was definitely arranged.[27] Nevertheless we only catch an occasional glimpse of him. In 1406 he accompanied his father as escort to his sister Philippa to Lynn on her way to join her future husband, the King of Denmark.[28] From Lynn father and son went on a visit to the Abbey of Bardney, in Lincolnshire, where they arrived on August 21. They were met at the gates by the Abbot and monks, before whom the King knelt, and then, rising, proceeded to the High Altar; there the Abbot delivered a speech of welcome, and Henry, having kissed the relics, proceeded through the choir and the cloisters to the Abbot’s room, where he was to spend the night. Early in the morning the King heard Mass, and, accompanied by his sons Thomas and Humphrey and the attendant lords and clergy, joined a solemn procession round the Abbey. The day ended with feasting, and on the morrow the King spent much time in the library amidst the valuable books which the monks had collected or written themselves. Here, if anywhere, he was accompanied by that youngest son who was later to be known as the great patron of learning.[29] The early training of Humphrey, we must remember, was more that of the scholar than of the soldier or politician.

Having lost both his mother and his father’s mother when he was not four years old, Humphrey had no near relation to whom to look for guidance; his father was far too deeply concerned in matters of state. He had been handed over from his earliest years to the tender mercies of one Katharine Puncherdon, who ministered to his bodily wants,[30] while a certain priest, by name Thomas Bothwell, was appointed his tutor.[31] Of his further education we know but little, though it is very probable that he studied both rhetoric and [res naturales at Balliol College, Oxford.[32]


During the reign of Henry IV. Humphrey took no definite part in public life; however, we find record of one official appearance when, with his brothers, he agreed to observe the treaty made in 1412 between the King of England and the Dukes of Berri, Orleans, and Bourbon.[33] At the time of his father’s death he was present at Westminster, and accompanied the body in its journey down the river to Gravesend, and thence overland to Canterbury. After the funeral he returned with his brother, now King Henry V., to London.[34] At the very beginning of the new reign he was made Chamberlain of England,[35] an office which entailed his presence at court ‘at the five principall festes of the yeare to take suche lyvery and servyse after the estate he is of,’[36] and added yet further to his already extensive possessions lands situated in South Wales,[37] together with an annuity of five hundred marks for himself and the heirs male of his body, till such time as an equivalent in land was given him.[38] Personal danger there was, too, even as there had been when Henry IV. ascended the throne; an abortive rising of the Lollards threatened for a moment the lives of the King and his brothers.[39]

The accession of Henry V. increased his youngest brother’s dignity, for besides bringing him a step nearer to the throne, it placed him more on an equality of age and standing with those in whose hands the government of the country rested. It may be, too, that the death of his father changed his future life materially, for his entire absence from all political functions, and his inactivity, whilst his brothers, little older than himself, had taken an active part in the management of public affairs, suggest the impression that he was not destined for a political career. Moreover, for the first year of his brother’s reign, Humphrey de Lancaster, as he had hitherto been styled,[40] does not appear at all prominently in public life, and it was not till he was twenty-three years old—for those times a somewhat advanced age—that he took his place definitely among the great men of the kingdom. On May 16, 1414, letters-patent were issued creating him Earl of Pembroke and Duke of Gloucester, at the same time that his brother John was made Earl of Kendal and Duke of Bedford. Though only raised to the peerage at this time, John had already taken his share in the duties of government, and before this had represented the King in several important offices of trust. The peerage thus conferred on Humphrey was for life only, and was accompanied by a modest allowance of £60 to be paid out of the proceeds of the county of Pembroke; of this £40 was for the maintenance of his dignity as Duke, and the remaining £20 in respect of his Earldom.[41] At once the new duke passed from insignificance to prominence. He had had no education in the duties and responsibilities of high rank and executive power, but by a stroke of the pen he became one of the chief men of the kingdom, and by reason of his royal blood took precedence in the peerage and in the kingdom of the holders of titles of longer standing.[42]


Humphrey was not slow to enter upon the duties of his new rank, and on the very day of his elevation to the peerage he took his seat in the Parliament then sitting at Leicester.[43] Here he witnessed the enactment of severe measures for the repression of the Lollards,[44] in pursuance of a policy which he himself was later to carry out: heresy, it must be remembered, was under the Lancastrians a political danger, for Henry IV. had usurped the throne as the champion of the Church. It may be, too, that the newly created duke took part in a debate which dealt with matters of more pressing interest. It has been said that the negotiations which were proceeding with France were discussed at this time, but the Rolls of Parliament bear no record of this; be this as it may, the question of English relations with France had appeared on the horizon to herald that second phase of the Hundred Years’ War, which, beginning in all its glory with the first appearance of Humphrey of Gloucester in public life, was to end with its full complement of disgrace and disaster almost simultaneously with his life.

To Henry at Leicester had come ambassadors from France—two rival embassies in the interest of the two rival factions in that country. With an insane king at the head of affairs, France was distraught by the struggle of Burgundian and Armagnac for the control of the government. The origin of this bitter strife dated some years back to the murder of the Duke of Orleans in the streets of Paris at the instigation of the Duke of Burgundy, in revenge, it is said, for the seduction of his wife by the murdered man.[45] This personal hatred had rapidly developed into a political struggle, and it had continued with varying successes till at the present time Burgundy had been driven from Paris and declared to be a rebel and an enemy to the kingdom. Thus the Armagnac faction, as the party of the Orleanists was now called, was for the time supreme, and it may naturally be supposed that Henry V., if he wished to take advantage of these internal dissensions in the French kingdom, would hope to secure more favourable terms from the exiled party, than from those who held the supremacy. Thus at Leicester the envoys from the Duke of Burgundy received a warmer welcome than their rivals, and agreed to sign a defensive and offensive treaty with the English King, whereby their master promised to help Henry in any attack he might make on Armagnac territory.[46] The terms of this treaty, however, were not revealed, and Burgundy denied the existence of any hostile alliance when he came to a temporary agreement with the Armagnac faction at the Treaty of Arras in February 1415.[47] The King of England, too, did not cease to intrigue with both parties, for he was not slow to realise the advantage which these dissensions gave him. He had meddled in French politics before he came to the throne, not always to his father’s satisfaction, and now in the spirit of the old crusaders he meant to take advantage of the sins of France, while at the same time he fulfilled a divine commission to punish the transgressors. In him France was to find her true redeemer, the healer of her internal wounds, and to this end he continued his intrigues with both parties, offering to marry both Catherine of France and Catherine of Burgundy as a means to establish his purely illusory claim to the French throne.[48]


Meanwhile, in England, men’s minds were turning to war. The martial glories of Edward III.’s reign were not entirely forgotten, and the trade interests of the kingdom were not inclined to oppose a policy which might tend to stop the depredations of French privateers. The Church, if not absolutely encouraging the war, as has been asserted by later writers, did nothing to oppose it; dissentients there were, of course, but for the King’s councillors the only question was, with the help of which party should Henry enter France. The King himself, with Bedford and the Beauforts, looked to Burgundy as the most likely ally, whilst Clarence, supported by Gloucester and the Duke of York, favoured an Armagnac alliance.[49] This divided opinion was a renewal of the disagreements which had arisen in the court of Henry IV. The younger Henry had always inclined to the Burgundian alliance which his father had opposed, and which now was no more favoured by his two brothers. In the career of Humphrey it is interesting to note that on the first occasion on which he definitely asserted his opinion he found himself in opposition to the policy of the Beauforts, who were to be his bitterest enemies through life, and in alliance with the House of York, the only family which supported him in the later years of humiliation. Above all, we must not ignore the fact that he here showed his distrust of Burgundian methods and Burgundian policy, and that he now opposed an alliance with a house whose strongest enmity he was to incur at a later date; that, on the other hand, he advised an Armagnac alliance which was to form an essential part of his policy in the days when this King Henry’s son was seeking to strengthen himself by a French marriage. Nothing could give a more accurate forecast of his future life and policy than the line which Humphrey took on this question, and it helps to give a strange consistency to his career; to borrow something akin to prophecy from the darkness of the unknown future.

It is probable that, in spite of his embassies and overtures, Henry never expected to come to terms with either party; at any rate his demands from the French King were too preposterous to be taken seriously as an overture of peace,[50] and at home he never ceased to prepare for war on a large scale. Ships were secured from Holland and Zealand; money and munitions of war were collected for the great undertaking; indentures were entered into with the chief men of the kingdom to serve abroad with the King, and amongst these we find the names of the Dukes of Clarence, Gloucester, and York.[51] With these preparations the time wore on, Humphrey taking his share of the work. In April he appears as a member of the King’s Privy Council for the first time,[52] and in the previous March he was employed to bring home to the city fathers the immense advantages of English aggrandisement on the Continent. Accompanied by the Dukes of Bedford and York, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Winchester, he went to the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London, and, showing great deference to these civic magnates, joined his associates in persuading them to support the war with a substantial gift of money.[53] Thus early in his career he was brought into close contact with the Londoners, who were to prove his best and most faithful friends.

Though preparations for war had gone so far, negotiations with France were still pending. The Dauphin, who had taken the place of his demented father, after exasperating the English with his present of tennis balls in the previous year,[54] had taken no steps to meet the danger which threatened his country, and it was only at the instance of the Duke of Berri, whom he had recently called to his councils, that an embassy was despatched to meet Henry at Winchester on June 30.[55] The King was holding his court in the bishop’s palace, and there, with his three brothers standing on his right and Chancellor Beaufort on his left, he received the ambassadors with all pomp and ceremony. Both this and the next day were occupied with formal receptions, wherein Gloucester was specially prominent, for he alone of all the temporal peers was allotted a special seat at the official banquet, being placed on the King’s right hand. When business began in earnest the Archbishop of Bourges and the Bishop of Lisieux—‘vir verbosus et arrogans,’ says Walsingham—were spokesmen for the French, whilst Beaufort spoke for the King of England. The negotiations lasted till July 6, and were marked by a somewhat more conciliatory attitude on the English side, but from the first they were doomed to failure, for neither party meant to give way,[56] and at length Henry broke up the meeting and dismissed the envoys with every courteous attention.[57]


War had now become a mere matter of days. After a brief visit to London, Henry went down to Southampton, whither probably Gloucester had gone direct from the negotiations at Winchester, and the last preparations for the expedition against France were being completed, when the young Earl of March waited on the King, and laid before him the details of a conspiracy against the House of Lancaster.[58] The Earl of Cambridge—a worthless brother of the Duke of York—Henry Lord Scrope, and Sir Thomas Grey of Heton were the authors of the plot, and their plan was to proclaim an impostor who pretended to be Richard II., and was then in Scotland, or in default of him the Earl of March himself.[59] At the time of the discovery the scheme had not been fully developed, as it was not intended that the matter should come to a head till Henry was safely employed in France; indeed the only reason that definite action had been taken, in so far as the Earl of March had been approached, was to prevent the latter from accompanying the army.[60] There were, however, traces that the conspiracy was spreading, and rumours were afloat that the Lollards were going to seize the opportunity of internal disturbances to strike a blow for their religion.[61] The King was not slow to act on the information given him. On July 21 he issued a commission to inquire into the matter, and on August 2 a jury was empanelled, which indicted the three conspirators for plotting against the King and his three brothers, the Dukes of Clarence, Bedford, and Gloucester.[62] Cambridge and Grey confessed their guilt, and threw themselves on the King’s mercy, but Scrope denied any traitorous intent. Grey as a commoner was executed at once, but the two lords were reserved for the trial of their peers. Clarence was commissioned to summon a jury of peers for this purpose, and among those who were called to take part in the trial were the Duke of York—the brother of one of the accused—and Gloucester—one of those against whom the conspiracy was aimed.[63] The accused were condemned to death, and executed the same day outside the North Gate of Southampton,[64] but the whole procedure was so irregular that it was considered necessary to legalise it in the next Parliament.[65]


The danger was past, but there was a lesson and a warning to be gathered from the plot, though it passed unheeded. Humphrey, now on the threshold of his public career, was brought face to face with an event which might have taught him much, but which he failed to understand. This first Yorkist conspiracy stood in the way, as did the prophets of old, and foretold destruction and disaster to dynasty and kingdom if this iniquitous and foolish French war were really undertaken. It showed that there was a party in England which was opposed to the Lancastrian House, and it pointed unmistakably to the time when civil war would drive out the reigning dynasty. That Henry could have foreseen all the results of his mistaken policy is impossible, but no ruler with the slightest claim to be considered a statesman would have set up the false idea of foreign conquest as an antidote to dissensions at home. This policy was no remedy; it postponed the struggle only to enhance its bitterness and to aggravate its disastrous results. Henry was blind to the signs which had appeared on the political horizon to herald the coming storm, but this very inability to gauge the significance of events has made him the idol of successive generations of his countrymen, who care not for his policy and its results, but appreciate only the dramatic setting of his life. It was just this dramatic quality of the French wars which appealed to Henry’s youngest brother. In an age when the artistic side of life was totally ignored by Englishmen, he was beginning to breathe the atmosphere of new ideas, which rendered him susceptible to the charm of large conceptions and dramatic episodes. He was at once attracted by the brilliant aspect of this French policy with its splendid dreams of territorial aggrandisement. But while Henry adopted the French war as a policy, Humphrey saw in it not so much a policy as an idea, an idea which he worshipped to the day of his death. Thus in estimating Gloucester’s later actions we must remember whence they took their origin, and we must not forget his training in the policy of his eldest brother. Both were blind to the folly of attacking France, but while the King was to die before the results of his actions appeared, Humphrey was to live on till the fields were ripe for harvest, and to die only on the eve of that day when the harvest was gathered in. Thus from the Southampton conspiracy he might have learnt the dangers which the French war would foster, he might have learnt the lesson that a united aim and common action were necessary for the prosperity of the House of Lancaster, but he was deaf to the teaching of the incident. To understand Gloucester’s life-history, therefore, we must carefully consider the early years of his active life, the training he received in the wars of Henry V., and the attractiveness to a man of his temperament of the false ideals taught him by his famous brother.


The discovery of the Southampton plot only delayed Henry so long as was necessary to punish the offenders, and on August 7 he left the castle of Porchester, where he had been staying, and embarked on board his ship The Trinity. His preparations were now complete, and by Sunday the 11th, all the vessels he had called together for the transhipment of the army had arrived, to the number of at least fifteen hundred sail.[66] Never before had so large or so strong a fleet ridden in Southampton Water,[67] and yet they were barely sufficient for the men they had to carry, for the army consisted of some two thousand men-at-arms and six thousand mounted and unmounted archers, though the accounts of the numbers vary considerably.[68] We can only approximately estimate the proportion which Gloucester’s retinue bore to the whole; his indenture has not survived, but we have evidence from other sources. When making his indentures, or contracts for service, with the leading noblemen of the kingdom, Henry had paid them in advance for the first quarter, and had deposited jewels with them for the second quarter.[69] To his youngest brother there were pledged two purses of gold ‘garnished with jewels’ valued at £2000 each,[70] and from this one authority calculates that he was intended to serve with a hundred and twenty-nine lances and six hundred archers.[71] However, in the unpublished collections for Rymer’s Fœderathe retinue is estimated at two hundred men-at-arms and six hundred horse archers,[72] which seems to be more proportionate to the money paid to Humphrey. If we take the wages of a man-at-arms to be one shilling a day and that of an archer sixpence, the sum-total with allowances for higher payments to bannerets and knights, and to the Duke himself, comes to something approaching £3000. The surplus of £1000 might be accounted for by the fact that in some cases wages might be on a higher scale; indeed by 1437 a horse archer was often in receipt of eightpence a day.[73] Moreover, it may be that in view of the fact that the army was not to be permitted to plunder the country through which it might pass, a wider margin than usual was allowed to those who contracted for men. Edward III. in his wars had liberally compensated for losses in the campaign, even to the length of paying for horses lost in action, and it may be that Henry V. made allowance for this in his contracts. There seems therefore to be ample evidence that the indenture of jewels speaks to a retinue which numbered approximately two hundred lances and six hundred archers, thus preserving the ratio between the two kinds of soldiers usual at the time, though later in the French wars the lances became a still smaller percentage of the sum-total of fighting men. Conflicting evidence to this is found in a muster of Humphrey’s men held at Mikilmarch near Romsey on July 16, where only six hundred and sixty-eight names appear on the register,[74] but as on that day several captains had only one or two men serving under them, and two had none at all, it is very probable that their numbers were not the same as when they sailed almost a month later. Still further reason for accepting the larger number as accurate is given by the record we have of Gloucester’s retinue at Agincourt. Here he was at the head of a hundred and forty-two lances and four hundred and six archers,[75] and this alone would refute the estimate of a hundred and twenty-nine lances and six hundred archers. Moreover, it is recorded that at Harfleur he lost two hundred and thirty-six men,[76] though some of these were valets and garçons who did not rank as combatants, but were the grooms of the men-at-arms and the attendants of the baggage horses. According to these figures his original retinue must have numbered about seven hundred and fifty men, and so we may reckon that he sailed from Southampton with close on eight hundred fighting men, that is roughly the two hundred lances and six hundred archers of the Rymer collections.

It was on Tuesday, August 13, that the ships bearing the English army entered the mouth of the Seine and cast anchor near the ‘Chef de Caux,’ about three miles from the town of Harfleur.[77] Caux was a little fortress strengthened by nature and the arts of war,[78] and besides this outpost Harfleur had a protection against the advancing English in a series of dikes and earthworks thrown diagonally across the line of approach.[79] Scouts, however, reported that these lines were totally unguarded, whether from lack of men or from the Constable d’Albret’s contempt of the enemy.[80] With the danger attending a landing of his troops thus removed, Henry disembarked on the vigil of the Assumption together with his two brothers, falling on his knees as he reached the dry land and praying to God to uphold his cause. His men were encamped on some rising ground, and edicts for the government of the army were issued, chief amongst which were strong prohibitions against the molestation of non-combatants and clergy, and against the spoliation of churches.[81]


Humphrey had now fairly embarked on his first campaign. Ignorant of war, and unused even to military methods and the life of the field, we shall not meet with him very frequently in the operations of this year. He was learning the lessons not only of war, but of all public life and deportment, for as the youngest son of Henry IV. he had been kept in greater seclusion than his brothers. Clarence, though only three years his senior, had had experience in the management of men and in the conduct of affairs as lieutenant of the King both in Ireland and in Aquitaine, but Humphrey was new to all this, and the campaign is useful to us, not so much as the scene of his activity, but as the school in which he learnt the soldier’s trade. It was a hard school too, for the English needed stout hearts; they were embarking on an expedition which might take them far from their base, and this, too, at a time of year when military operations would be made difficult by the wintry weather.

For four days Henry remained inactive, resting his troops and bringing up the heavy guns and siege apparatus from the ships. Then, having kept the feast of the Assumption in due form, he advanced towards Harfleur on August 17.[82] The Duke of Clarence commanded the van, while Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, led the rear;[83] Gloucester was presumably with the King and the main body of the army. Though a small town, Harfleur was well fortified, and had been recently provisioned. It stood a little back from the estuary of the Seine, with the river Lazarde running through its midst, and possessed good strong walls with three gates, one on the western side, where the English army first appeared, and two on the east.[84] The English were at first unable to blockade the town entirely, as they could not at once reach the eastern side, owing to the damming of the river, which had consequently spread into a large lake round the northern wall. The delay caused by this inundation enabled the Sire de Gaucourt to enter Harfleur with reinforcements, and so to prevent any further help from reaching the garrison Clarence was despatched on the night of August 18 with orders to march round the floods, and invest the eastern side of the town. On the way he met and defeated still further reinforcements and munitions of war on their way to Harfleur, and by the next day he had entirely shut in that part of the walls for which he was responsible.[85] On the sea side the English ships came to the mouth of the harbour, which was strongly protected by two towers on either side of the entrance, and by a chain drawn across from tower to tower. However, all attempts made by the garrison to drive off these ships were fruitless, while the floods to the north were patrolled by English boats,[86] so that by these means all communication with the city by water was cut off, and, with the King’s division enclosing the western walls, the blockade was complete.


It was with the King’s division that Gloucester had his station, and to him the care of the siege on this side was committed, with the Duke of York and the Earl Marshal near him.[87] His chief duty was the bombardment of the town, from which it would seem that he had already shown his readiness to espouse new ideas, and that his later fame as a patron of scholars was preceded by a study of the art of war and of the new engines which now made siege work so much more possible than formerly. At any rate, in the hand-to-hand fighting of the old style, which took place when the besieged sallied forth from the town, we find other captains in command, though we read that where the fighting was heaviest, there did the King station his youngest brother.[88] Humphrey’s chief work was to organise and direct the attack on his side of the town, and it may seem strange that one, who had had no experience of war in the past, should be given so important a post. The explanation of the trust thus placed in Gloucester may be twofold. He had had no opportunity hitherto of showing his capabilities, and the King may have wished to try his metal at this early stage of the campaign, to know how far he could trust him. It is also just possible that he had a more complete grasp of the theory of military operations, and in especial of the use of cannon, than the untrained nobles of the English army, and that it was therefore as a student more than as a soldier that he won his first laurels in the field.

We hear a good deal of the siege engines which Humphrey made use of at the siege of Harfleur. They were of heavier metal and threw larger missiles than any guns hitherto seen in an English army, and they bombarded the barbicans before the gate and the walls to such good effect, that it was only the valiant pertinacity of the besieged that prevented an almost immediate surrender.[89] Moreover, the gunners worked in relays, so that the cannonade was kept up incessantly throughout the day, and were protected by shelters so constructed that they could be lowered for the purpose of taking aim and then raised again,[90] new methods possibly due to the ingenuity of Gloucester. On the east, Clarence carried on operations by means of mines, and the King directed similar operations on his side, but these had to be begun in the open under the fire of the besieged, and were met by countermines from the town, which defeated their object.[91] Throughout his excellent account of the siege, the author of the Gesta Henrici Quinti tries the merits of the tactics employed on the English side by the maxims of one ‘Magister Ægidius.[92] This ‘Master Giles’ must have been Ægidius Romanus who wrote De Regimine Principum, a work very popular at the time, though it dated from a period before cannon were used. It was probably from this book that Gloucester obtained some of his knowledge of military matters, for when in later life he presented his books to the University of Oxford, a copy of this treatise was found amongst the volumes which comprised the gift,[93] and he at the same time retained a French copy of the work in his private library.[94]


For a month the siege was strenuously carried on, the defence being as determined as the attack. The breaches in the walls were filled up with faggots and tubs of earth, clay was spread in the streets to prevent the splintering of the missiles that fell there,[95] and on one occasion an English bastion was captured and fired.[96] But time began to tell on the brave little garrison, and they sent an urgent appeal for help to Paris. No relief came, and the English were gradually drawing nearer to the town, till on September 16 part of the outworks was captured.[97] On the next day Henry summoned Harfleur to surrender, even as he had done at the beginning of the siege, but though negotiations were opened they came to nothing, and the English prepared for a great assault on the morrow. Meanwhile, Gloucester’s cannon were kept busily at work, so that the besieged might have no rest. The assault, however, was never made, for during the night the French determined to acknowledge defeat, and in the morning De Gaucourt agreed to surrender the town if not relieved before the next Sunday, September 22. At the same time, with the permission of the English, another appeal for relief was sent to Paris,[98] but again it was disregarded, to the everlasting shame of the French Government says even an Armagnac chronicler.[99] There was therefore no sign of the approach of a relieving force, when, on the appointed Sunday, Henry entered his first conquest on French soil.[100]

Thus fell what Waurin calls ‘the chief port of Normandy and the best base the English could have for their military operations,’[101] but the pomp and grandeur with which Henry made his entry into the town, did not serve to conceal the way the siege had thinned the rank of besiegers as well as besieged. The warm days of August and September, together with the stagnant water which lay around the town, had done their worst, and, if we can believe a French chronicler, the food of the English had not been of the best, as the sea had tainted their provisions.[102] At all events fever and dysentery had raged in the camp, and among those who had died were Richard Courtenay, Bishop of Norwich, and the Earl of Suffolk.[103] Moreover, the Duke of Clarence was too ill for further campaigning, and he was accompanied by a large number of the soldiers when he went back to England, leaving the heavier siege guns at Calais on his way.[104] The army was still further thinned by the loss of the contingent assigned to the Earl of Dorset, who was made Captain of Harfleur.[105] The captive town was treated with justice, if not with leniency. Thirty of the principal citizens were held to ransom, whilst the minor citizens were given the option of taking the oath of allegiance or of departing with their goods.[106] The captain and his principal followers were allowed at large on condition of surrendering on November 11 at Calais.[107]

Henry spent a fortnight at Harfleur, making arrangements for the security of the town, and awaiting an answer to a bombastic and wholly superfluous challenge to personal combat which he had sent to the Dauphin.[108] On October 8 he set out to march from Harfleur to Calais,[109] with some 900 men-at-arms and 5000 archers.[110] Of this number Gloucester’s share must have been the 142 lancers and 406 archers, which we find in his retinue at Agincourt.[111] With this small army it was very rash to challenge the forces of France, and a council of war had asserted it in no measured terms, but Henry felt that in honour he could not recede, and, putting his trust in God and in his righteous cause—as we are told—he set forth to invite a pitched battle with the enemy.[112]


The story of this memorable march has been so often told that it is unnecessary to give a detailed account of it here, more especially as Gloucester took no part in the management of the army; not once does his name appear in the pages of any chronicler till the day of Agincourt. His post till then was with the main body under the King himself, while Sir John Cornwall led the van, and the Duke of York with the Earl of Oxford commanded the rear.[113] Passing Fécamp and Arques, the English army met with some slight resistance at Eu,[114] but without delaying there went on towards Abbeville, where Henry had intended to cross the Somme. News, however, came through a Gascon prisoner that the bridges over the river were broken down, and that the ford of Blanche-Taque was guarded by the French, so there was no alternative but to march inland and to seek for a passage higher up the Somme.[115] The French chroniclers declare that this report was untrue, and one complains bitterly of the mistake, which ultimately procured the defeat of France in a battle that, had it not been for the Gascon’s story, would never have been fought.[116] The English army, therefore, having turned to the right, left Amiens on the left, and passed by Boves and Corbie to the neighbourhood of Nesle, preparing all the time for French resistance, and the archers in particular providing themselves with those sharp stakes, which were to stand them in such good stead in the day of battle.[117] Meanwhile, the eight days’ food that the soldiers had brought with them from Harfleur was exhausted, and besides present shortage of provender they anticipated worse things when they reached a district harried by the French cavalry.[118] Near Nesle, however, a ford was found, and though a marsh flanked him on and the river on the other, Henry got his men along the two narrow causeways which led to the crossing and across the Somme itself without interference from the enemy, who probably thought that their opponents were as numerous as the French chroniclers afterwards declared them to have been.[119] The Somme was crossed on the 19th, and disregarding a challenge from the Armagnac chiefs, Henry continued steadily on his way to Calais by way of Peronne, where he fell in with the tracks of the French army, and learnt for the first time the large numbers he would have to fight.[120] Nothing daunted, he encouraged the flagging spirits of his men, and on Thursday, October 24, he lay at Maisoncelles with his army encamped around him.[121] The French lay within earshot, and both armies endured the full force of the rain and storm of a wild night, but while revel and rejoicing prevailed among the French soldiers, the English knew that on the morrow they would have to meet the alternative of victory or annihilation, and the King’s command to be silent and watchful was rigidly obeyed.[122]


The day of Crispin and Crispinian broke bright and clear to find the English army already preparing for the battle, which was now inevitable, since the French lay across the road which led to Calais. About a mile divided the two armies, which were both on slightly elevated ground. Both sides were at a disadvantage from one point of view, for while the French were numerous and confined within a narrow strip of open ground between two stretches of woodland, the English were few and had a large front to cover; consequently the former were drawn up in three lines and huddled together, while the latter, stretched across in one thin line, brought their full force into action at the same time.[123] The French were disorganised, and their leaders quarrelled not only as to the advantage of offering battle, but also as to their respective positions in the fight.[124] Ultimately those in favour of action prevailed, and the Constable d’Albret took command of the first division of dismounted cross-bowmen and archers, these last, however, being put behind the first line and thus rendered useless. Next came the Dukes of Bar and Alençon leading the second division, and behind them again were the Counts of Marle, Dammartin, and Fauquenberg. Cavalry were posted on either flank.[125] The Duke of Burgundy was unrepresented in the army, as he had forbidden his vassals to serve under any one but himself, and we are told that his son Philip never ceased to bewail this enforced absence from the battle.[126]

On the English side the archers were drawn up in wedges pointing towards the enemy, with the men-at-arms in line between them. On the right was the van under the command of the Duke of York, Lord Camoys with the rearguard held the left, while the King commanded the centre, where, among others, Gloucester led a squadron of his own.[127] All the English, noble as well as humble, fought on foot, and though the chief men were fully armed as was the King, the archers were almost entirely without protective armour.[128] Beyond a few soldiers with the baggage, all Henry’s men were concentrated in the one fighting line,[129] for there is not sufficient evidence to prove the existence of the ambushed archers on the wings described by some writers.[130] The English advanced to within half a mile of the enemy, and there halted, while heralds were sent forward to offer terms of peace, but the refusal of Henry to renounce his claim to the French throne proved an insuperable obstacle to any pacification.[131] It was thus ten o’clock before the King gave the final order to attack, and with a shout the archers advanced again, this time to within bowshot, and opened fire. The French cavalry failed in their attempt to ride them down, thanks to the stakes planted between them and their opponents, and they fled back to spread confusion in the first line.[132] This division, splitting into three parts, advanced before d’Albret gave the word, but after a brief moment’s success, only to be shattered by the concentrated fire of the English archers. Seizing the advantage thus given him, Henry ordered his men to charge, and they, discarding the protection of their palisade, rushed out, the men-at-arms with their lances, the archers with axes and other promiscuous weapons. With the cry of ‘Saint George and merry England,’ they pierced the first line of the enemy, and engaged the second in hand-to-hand combat.[133] The French could not withstand this rush, and hampered by their close array, broke and fled.

In the forefront of this charge was Humphrey at the head of his men, exposing himself to every danger and fighting like a lion.[134]

‘The Duke of Glowcestre also that tyde,
Manfully with his mayne,
Wonder he wroght ther wondere wyde.’[135]

But his courage, bordering on rashness,[136] took him too far in advance of his men, and when Alençon, having rallied some of the second division, together with those of the third division who had not fled without striking a blow, broke into the English ranks and caught him unawares, Gloucester fell severely wounded ‘in the hammes,’ and lay helpless on his back with his feet towards the enemy. His men would have left him for dead, had not the King rushed forward with reinforcements, and standing between his brother’s legs, kept the enemy at bay till the wounded duke had been removed to a place of safety.[137]

By the time that this was accomplished the day was won. The last effort of the French, which had almost proved fatal to Humphrey, had been checked, and Alençon himself lay dead upon the field. Beyond a scare caused by the belief that some of the flying enemy who sacked the English baggage in the rear were reinforcements sent from Paris—a mistake which caused the cold-blooded murder of many French prisoners of war—the day was thereafter devoid of incident.[138]

The English had fought valiantly, and though their King had set them a great example, it is Gloucester whom several chroniclers pick out for special praise. Henry’s chaplain, to whom we owe much of our knowledge of the campaign, thanks God fervently for his escape,[139] whilst others speak of his deeds of valour and Lydgate writes:

‘The Duke of Gloucestre that is so nay
That day full worthyly he wroughte,
On every syde he made good way,
The Frenshemen faste to grounde he brought,’[140]

and his somewhat fervid biographer of a later date quaintly assures us that though ‘he lost much blood and his spiritts spent with toils and labour, yett was not his manly courage at all abated, nor his strong stomach at all quelled.’[141] This was the only pitched battle in which Humphrey ever took part, and he acquitted himself valiantly therein. His impetuous temperament had come near to costing him his life, and it is well that we have this definite and indisputable evidence of his courage, for in one episode of his later life he came near to incurring the accusation of cowardice; indeed, were it not for this and other evidences of his personal valour in war, we should be entirely misled as to the true meaning of his failure when in command of his own army in his own quarrel.

The English losses were but few, though even hardened soldiers were appalled at the heaps of French dead lying on the field, including the Constable d’Albret, the Admiral Dampierre, and the Dukes of Alençon, Bar, and Brabant, the last being Burgundy’s brother who had only reached the battle when the day was lost.[142] On the English side the Duke of York and the Earl of Suffolk—son of the man who died before Harfleur—were the only notable victims.[143] Early next morning the army moved off, bearing Gloucester with them, and three days later the King entered Calais. On November 16 he sailed for England, but Gloucester was left behind to recover from his wound, so that he did not take part in Henry’s reception at Dover, or in his triumphal entry into London when the city turned out in force to welcome its conquering King.[144]


With the battle of Agincourt the days of Humphrey’s apprenticeship end, and we find him fairly embarked on his public career. That career assumes a threefold aspect, but at the same time there are certain definite threads of temperament and character which run through all the web of his life. We shall find him first busy in the French wars as the capable and trusted lieutenant of his royal brother; later for a brief space he will be found aping the ambitions of his grandfather, striving for recognition as prince of an European state; finally, the third and most lasting phase of his career will find him amidst the unlovely strife of party politics. Soldier, Pretender, Politician, in all these rôles Humphrey stands forth as a distinct personality. Not that he has the great gifts of concentration and consistency, not that he is one of those happy men who have a gospel to preach and know it; he was of all men lacking in determination, and if his policy does not waver, his carrying out thereof is fitful and uncertain. His interests were those of the moment, his policy was mapped out on no organised plan, but the same spirit inspires his every action. Ambition and instability were manifest throughout his life, and though he had always before him the same clear object—self-aggrandisement—there was no consistency in the methods he used to secure his end. Thus we shall find him at one moment a patriotic Englishman, at another nothing less than the subverter of the nation’s welfare, but before him there was always the same selfish object which was to destroy his power of usefulness, and make him a patriot only when his own interests and those of the nation were identical. In the first stage of his career this influence of his character is not so clearly apparent, but even here we can trace what eventually became so plain. Till the death of Henry v. he was dominated by the overpowering personality of his brother, and it was only when he strove to stand alone that the glaring weakness of his character became evident. It is then with care and diligence that we must examine Gloucester’s military career under the guidance of his brother, if we are to find the connecting-link between his earlier and later actions.

Humphrey’s wound was not so long in healing as might have been expected,[145] and he was soon back in England. Henceforward he was one of the King’s trusty warriors, and the war indeed was to monopolise most of his time for the next few years, though for the present there was a cessation. In the meantime he received the reward of his services. Part of the forfeited estates of the late Earl of Cambridge, executed at Southampton, the adjoining manors of Bristol and Barton, were given to him for himself and his heirs male, while he added the castle and lordship of Llanstephan to his already extensive possessions in South Wales.[146] Moreover, the death of the Earl of Arundel in October had rendered vacant the post of Constable of Dover and Warden of the Cinque Ports, an office which the King conferred on his youngest brother within four days of his return to London.[147] Evidently the appointment had been made before the letters-patent were signed, since we find reference to Gloucester as Constable and Warden in a petition of the Parliament before Henry’s return.[148] Towards the end of the year Humphrey was created Lord of the Isle of Wight and of Carisbrooke,[149] and in January he became Warden and Chief-Justice in Eyre of the Royal Forests, Parks, and Warrens south of the Trent.[150] Henry was evidently well pleased with his brother’s conduct in the recent campaign, and had therefore increased his importance and placed him in a position of greater trust. The Isle of Wight and the Cinque Ports were an important charge, in view of the French war now in progress.


A lull in the French war gave Gloucester a period of rest before continuing the martial career on which he had now entered. While Burgundy intrigued against Armagnac influence in France, the chief figure in the political horizon of the two warring nations was Sigismund of Luxemburg, King of the Romans and Emperor elect. Sigismund had become Margrave of Brandenburg at the death of his father, the Emperor Charles IV., and King of Hungary on the death of Lewis the Great by reason of his marriage with Mary, the daughter of that monarch. As his brother Wenzel’s weakness had induced the electors to choose another Emperor, Sigismund, who had been selected for this honour, though nominally only King of the Romans at this time, bore the burden of the imperial duties, and was generally recognised as Holy Roman Emperor. He had conceived a great and far-reaching policy, which included the unification of Christendom in one fraternal bond of love, and a crusade against the Turk, who was threatening the Eastern borders of Western Europe. To this end he had secured the deposition of Pope John XXIII. as a step towards removing the scandal of two claimants to papal honours, and he now had turned his attention to the reconciliation of France and England, as part of his larger policy of Christian unity. To this end he had left the Council of Constance to visit these two countries, and to try the effects of his personal mediation.[151] Graciously received at Paris, he had nevertheless soon found that the gospel of peace was there preached to deaf ears, and driven thence by the hostility of the mob which had risen against him, he set his face towards England, reaching Calais at the end of April, and Dover on the 30th of that month.[152]

As soon as the contemplated visit of the Emperor had become known in England, preparations had been made for his reception. Early in April Gloucester, as Warden of the Cinque Ports, had been commissioned to send ships to Calais to bring over the imperial visitor,[153] and careful arrangements were made for the journey between Dover and London, with a special prohibition against charging the visitors for anything they required,[154] a most welcome provision for the penurious Sigismund, who, far more than his contemporary Frederick of Austria, deserved the nickname ‘mit den leeren Taschen.’ Gloucester, accompanied by the Earl of Salisbury and Lords Harrington and Furnival—the latter more recognisable under his later title of John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury—went down to meet Sigismund at Dover, where the castle was made ready for his reception.[155] This was the Duke’s first official visit to the Cinque Ports, and the occasion was celebrated by a solemn reception at the Shepway, and a present of £100 from the towns under his command.[156]


On the arrival of the Emperor at Dover, so says a sixteenth-century chronicler, Humphrey was the chief actor in a picturesque ceremony. Riding into the water with drawn sword before Sigismund had disembarked, he demanded whether he came merely on a friendly visit, or in his imperial capacity to claim suzerainty over the country; and it was not till a denial of all imperial rights over King Henry had been given that the visitor was allowed to land.[157] Though no contemporary writer mentions this event, there is a strong presumption of truth in the story. There are traces of the legend earlier than Holinshed,[158] and it seems very likely that some precaution should be taken, in view of Sigismund’s well-known claims to the allegiance of all Europe. Only a short time before he had exasperated French national feeling by knighting a plaintiff before the Parlement de Paris to secure his right to plead, and it was universally suspected—with considerable justice too—that imperial aggrandisement, as much as his desire for peace, had prompted Sigismund’s European tour.[159] Finally, the fact that the Emperor spent a whole day on board his ship at Dover before disembarking helps to strengthen the probability that some kind of negotiation took place, and that Holinshed’s story is true, and based on some authority which we have now unfortunately lost.

The landing was accomplished on the evening of May 1, and next day Gloucester escorted his charge as far as Canterbury, where the Archbishop welcomed the visitor. The following day, being Sunday, was spent in the Cathedral city, and on Tuesday the cavalcade moved on, being met at Rochester by Bedford, and at Dartford by Clarence. The King himself, with an escort of 5000 gentlemen, and accompanied by the Mayor and Aldermen of London in ‘rede gownes,’ received Sigismund at Blackheath, and with great pomp and circumstance the four Lancastrian brothers brought their guest through the city to Westminster.[160]

Henry had adjourned Parliament till Sigismund’s arrival, hoping to have its help in the ratification of a peace with France, which the French Embassy that came over in the train of the Emperor seemed to promise.[161] It is probable, therefore, that Sigismund was present at the reopening of the session; but no business of importance was undertaken, and when Gloucester with other of the lords had given his guarantee for the repayment of a loan, the meeting was dissolved.[162] On Rogation Sunday, May 24, the feast of St. George, which had been postponed till the arrival of the Emperor, was celebrated, and Sigismund was admitted to the Order of the Garter, attending High Mass in St. George’s Chapel, and the subsequent banquet in honour of the occasion.[163] Gloucester was amongst those who received robes of the order on this occasion, and with him we find William, Count of Holland, the father of the lady he was afterwards to marry.[164] Count William had been summoned by the Emperor to assist in the peace negotiations by reason of his relations with the French court, the Dauphin being his son-in-law; but his stay in England was cut short by the refusal of Sigismund to grant the investiture of his inheritance to his only child, Jacqueline, a refusal which induced him to withdraw in a rage.[165]


In spite of the splendour of the feastings at Windsor,[166] the object of the imperial visit was not forgotten, but though Henry was ready to come to terms, the Armagnac faction at Paris opposed all efforts towards peace. A French attack on Harfleur and the Isle of Wight[167] threw Sigismund into the arms of the English, and on August 15 a treaty of alliance between King and Emperor was signed at Canterbury.[168] Meantime Bedford had been despatched to relieve Harfleur, in which he was entirely successful,[169] and he returned on September 4 to find that Henry, accompanied by Gloucester, had crossed to Calais, whither Sigismund had preceded them, carrying with him the maledictions of the London citizens for his failure to procure peace,[170] but himself leaving behind him a nattering record of the pleasant time he had had in England.[171] His mission had failed in its object, but writers of both nations agree that the fault lay not with the English but with the French.[172]

The journey of Henry and Gloucester to Calais was taken with the definite object of cementing an alliance with John the Fearless of Burgundy, and of drawing the vassal duke nearer to his imperial overlord. Ostensibly the matter of chief importance was a meeting with the envoys from the King of France, but as might be expected from their recent behaviour, the French asked ridiculously high terms, and the only result of the conference was a truce between the two countries till February 2, 1417.[173]


The way was thus cleared for negotiations with Burgundy, but the duke showed himself very doubtful of the good faith of the English, and demanded elaborate safeguards for his person if he came to Calais. This difficulty was removed, and on October 1 a safe conduct was given him for himself and 800 men, only half of whom were to come further than the gates of the city; Gloucester was to meet him at Gravelines, and remain with the Count of Charolais as hostage for his safety till his return.[174] Accordingly on October 3 the French ambassadors were dismissed by Henry, for one of the most prominent of them, the Archbishop of Rheims, was very obnoxious to Burgundy, and Humphrey prepared a ‘reasonable escort’ of some 800 men, who were to accompany him to the Burgundian court. At two o’clock on the morning of October 5 trumpets sounded in the English quarters, and the little band made ready to accompany the duke to Gravelines, all unarmed. About four o’clock they left the city, and followed by a crowd anxious to witness the meeting of the two dukes, they reached the banks of the river Aa between six and seven, just as the tide was at its lowest. Lord Camoys and Sir Robert Waterton were then sent over to secure a signed and sealed security for the safety of the English prince, and when this had been given the Burgundian troops came out and faced the English across the river. The retainers of both parties passed over first, and then the principals, with a touch of that mediæval ceremonial which characterised the men of the new age, rode into the water from the opposite sides, and shaking hands in mid-stream, passed on, Burgundy to be met by the Earl of Warwick and escorted to Calais, Gloucester to be received with every courtesy by the Count of Charolais, Burgundy’s eldest son and heir, with whom he went to St. Omer.[175]

For nine days these two men, whom fate was to bring into bitter hostility before many years had passed, lived together, and when the conference at Calais came to an end, it was with warm thanks for courteous entertainment that Gloucester took his leave.[176] Nevertheless a jarring note had been struck during this visit, for we read that on one occasion, when the Count came to visit his guest, Gloucester treated him with scant courtesy, ignoring his presence save for a formal salutation, and continuing his conversation with his friends.[177] This event is recorded by a man who knew the history of the Burgundian States from internal observation, and who recorded facts with a justice unusual amongst many of his contemporaries, and we need not be slow to credit the story, when we remember Humphrey’s naturally imperious disposition. That he disliked his commission is at least probable in the light of his past opposition to a Burgundian alliance, and we may well find here the seeds of that strong personal hostility which embittered the later disagreements of the two dukes. To believe this account does not necessitate the discrediting of the story that Gloucester gave formal thanks couched in extravagant terms for his treatment at St. Omer, as this would be only part of the ritual of courtesy which still dominated the relations of the great men of the time. On October 13 Burgundy and Gloucester once more appeared at Gravelines, and having observed the same procedure as on the first occasion, they returned to their respective quarters.[178]

No definite alliance had been made between Henry and Burgundy, but the first step had been taken towards that policy, which in the hands of that young Count, whom Gloucester had now met for the first time, was to bring such loss and disaster to France. The Emperor’s visit to England had borne no useful fruit. While the complications of his policy and his perpetual penury prevented any advantage to England from the Treaty of Canterbury, at Constance his position was only still more complicated than before by the support of his new English friends, and the honour of being enrolled a member of the Order of the Garter could not hide the failure of his policy. To Gloucester fell the duty of escorting Sigismund on the first stage of his homeward journey, and for this purpose he was provided with four large English ships. The Emperor and his men, however, hugged the coast in small boats, and left Humphrey to ride the high seas and protect them from harm, as they feared an attack from the French in revenge for the Treaty of Canterbury. Gloucester accompanied Sigismund as far as Dordrecht, and there the two princes parted with mutual compliments, and presents from the slightly replenished imperial treasury.[179] They were never to meet again.


Sigismund and Gloucester have much in common. Both loved pomp and display, and had equally enjoyed the high festival which had marked the reception of the Emperor in England; both scandalised a none too particular age by the laxness of their morals; both were possessed of that charm of personality which so often accompanies a lack of moral stamina; both basked in the smiles of the bourgeois class. In their future life, too, both were to find themselves opposed to a faction which prated of constitutionalism, and schemed but for its own aggrandisement. But deep down in the roots of their mental attitude we see a great dissimilarity. Sigismund lived in a world of ideas conceived in the spirit of mediævalism; he looked to the past to correct the future. On the other hand, Gloucester had drunk deep of the new ideas, which had begun to influence men’s minds; he had grasped that spirit of nationalism, which was to sweep away the traditional forces of mediævalism, and give birth to the nations of Europe; he had experience of a campaign, in which the tactics and the weapons of a new era had been used; he was beginning to perceive the true significance of the rising importance of the middle classes. With all his selfishness and with all his instability of character, he had got the right idea, and the failure of his life, and the impolicy of many of his actions, will be found due, not to any misconception of his age, not to any inability to follow the trend of human thought, but to grave defects of character. Like Sigismund, he had great abilities, but unlike Sigismund, he could not follow the course he had mapped out for himself. His policy has a consistency we might not expect to find, but he was not a man whose active life in any way represented his ideals.

On October 16 Henry returned to England. He realised that peace was not possible so long as he maintained the justice of his claims on France, and that for the end he had in view the war must be prosecuted with the utmost vigour. Peace was desirable, but the only means of procuring it was to continue the war with redoubled energy; and such was the burden of the Chancellor’s speech when Parliament opened on October 19.[180]

Seeing no means of evading the demand, Parliament resigned itself to granting two subsidies for the carrying on of the war; so that by the beginning of the new year preparations were in full swing. Privy seals were issued to the nobility and gentry in order to ascertain the probable numbers of those who were willing to take part in the campaign, and in February the necessary indentures were prepared.[181] Orders for the strengthening of the navy were also issued, and it was hoped that the expedition would sail by May 1.[182] Gloucester was busy probably with his own preparations. Doubtless he was anxious to guarantee himself against possible loss, for he, along with many others, had not obtained full payment for the last campaign. He had returned the jewels which had been pledged to him for his second quarter’s pay, but the officials of the Exchequer had refused to pay him for the forty-eight days of that period which he had spent in England after his return. They argued that this time was not spent in the service of the King, and ignored his plea that he had been ready to remain in France and had had to pay his men for the full period.[183] However, he prepared his retinue, which seems to have consisted of 90 lances and 266 archers under the command of Reginald Cobham and William Beauchamp,[184] and by July he had arrived with the other units of the army at Southampton, the earlier date in May having been found impracticable in view of all that had to be done. By July 23 the preparations were complete. Bedford was appointed Regent, the King went on board his ship at Southampton, and the sails embroidered with the arms of England and France were hoisted for the voyage.[185]


The dangers of the crossing had been removed by the utter defeat which the Earl of Huntingdon had inflicted on the Genoese fleet, completing the work of Bedford earlier in the year. So by August 1 Henry had landed at Touques in Normandy, accompanied by his two brothers, Clarence and Gloucester, seven Earls, and fourteen Barons.[186] The army at Henry’s disposal was probably the largest, certainly the best equipped, that any English king had ever mustered, and its numbers may be roughly estimated at some 10,000 men.[187] No resistance was offered to the disembarkation of the troops, for Henry had kept his own counsel as to his destination,[188] but there seems to be no doubt that a knowledge of his intended arrival would have brought no troops against him, for it is hard, says Basin, to describe the absolute terror which the very name of the English inspired.[189]

No time was lost after landing. Clarence was appointed Constable of the army,[190] and the castle of Touques, which lay on the estuary of the Seine exactly opposite Harfleur, was invested by Gloucester as ‘chieftaine of the King’s avant guard.’ A ‘marvueilously defensible’ fortress this, but reduced by Gloucester’s ‘gunns and other engines’ by August 9,[191] for the town was assaulted so continuously, that it was compelled to surrender to escape a worse fate. From this successful siege Gloucester went to join a council of war summoned by Henry, at which it was decided to begin the campaign with an attack on Caen.[192] So, after challenging the Dauphin to single combat, as he had done in his earlier campaign, and reissuing his ordinances for the good government of the army, Henry marched on that town.[193]

Winter weather was now approaching, and Henry looked to Caen, a residential town with large suburbs, to provide suitable quarters for the ensuing months. So leaving Honfleur behind him—too hard a nut to crack just then[194]—and accompanied by Humphrey, who probably still commanded the van, he took a devious route to his destination. He thereby avoided the passage of certain little rivers, which would have been troublesome for so large a force. Leaving Touques on August 13, the army marched by slow stages through Fontenes and Estouteville to Caen, which was reached on August 13.[195] On their arrival, Clarence, who had been sent on in advance, was found to be in possession, of the Abbey of St. Stephen, situated on a hill just outside the walls, well fortified, and commanding the southern defences of the town.[196] It was in order to secure this position, and to save the suburbs of the town from being burnt, that Clarence had followed a shorter route along the coast-line, for Henry wanted shelter for his men.


Caen stands on the left bank of the river Orne, which washes its south-east wall, while a tributary, the Odon, flowing through the town, joins the main stream just outside.[197] The castle and the strongest sides of the defences were approached from the south, where the Abbey of St. Stephen, which Clarence had occupied before Henry’s arrival, commanded the town, if not the castle itself. This Abbey had been founded by William the Conqueror, who was buried there; and it was to a sister foundation of Queen Matilda’s, the Abbey of Holy Trinity, to the north-east of the town, that Clarence was sent when Henry superseded him at St. Stephen’s.[198] Between these two points, on the south-west, the Earl Marshal was given his post, and further north again were Lord Talbot and Sir Gilbert Umfraville; Lords Neville and Willoughby continued the ring of the besiegers up to the Abbey of the Holy Trinity. On the opposite side of the town to the south-east were the Earls of Huntingdon and Warwick and Sir John Grey, the father of Gloucester’s future son-in-law.[199] The Norman Chronicle tells us that Gloucester was stationed at Vaucelles.[200] He seems to have had no regular post in the blockading of the town, but to have been given the command of the siege-engines,[201] which Henry landed from the fleet that had coasted from Touques.

In the course of the siege Gloucester and his guns did royal work. They kept up an incessant fire, and although the French returned it with interest, the large guns ‘beat down both walls and towers, and slew much people in their houses and eke in the streets,’[202] but no firing on the churches of the town was allowed.[203] Besides the bombardment, numerous mines were driven under the town, but they were counter-mined by the defenders, and many a fierce fight was fought underground. In the direction of the siege Henry was most energetic, bestowing his chief interest on the side where Gloucester was engaged with the heavy cannon.[204] By September 3 the besiegers were ready for the grand assault, and Henry summoned the town to surrender, but met with a refusal. A council of war was called, and orders issued to each captain to keep his counsel, but to be ready for the assault on the morrow; the men were to be drawn up in three divisions, each to act in support of the others. Next day the assault was begun on all sides. Clarence, who was opposed by the weakest side of the defence, and had previously undermined the wall, fought his way into the town and across the bridge that spanned the Odon, and took those who were resisting the King’s attack in the rear. In spite of a false alarm that a relieving force was approaching, the English pressed their advantage home, and after a sharp fight the town was finally captured, though the castle held out for some days longer.[205]

The soldiery were given a free hand with the proviso that churches, women, and unarmed priests were to be respected. Thus in the hour of victory Henry did not forget that he claimed to be a king subduing rebellious subjects, and at the same time the willing agent of the anger of God.


We do not know what part Gloucester took in the actual assault, but his important work had been done during the fortnight which had prepared the way for the storming of the town. He was no longer the raw soldier of two years ago. He had gained experience of siege operations at Harfleur, he had taken part in a pitched battle at Agincourt, and he had been intrusted with the short, sharp siege of the castle of Touques. No great experience in sum, but he seems to have used it well, for he had played no unimportant part in the fall of Caen. He seems indeed to have enjoyed a natural military gift, and we have now still more reason to believe that it was more as an artilleryman than in any other capacity that he was particularly prominent. The suggestion of this given at the siege of Harfleur is confirmed by the fact that he was immediately appointed to the command of the guns in this second campaign; his genius was not that of the mediæval soldiers. New forces had come to change the world and to help on the evolution of the race. In later life Humphrey was to shine forth as the patron of the new learning which was the most important of these forces; in his earlier life he showed that he was ready to accept new military methods and to use his great mental qualities in the practical as well as the theoretical sides of human activity. In later days men praised him for this wonderful combination of the pursuits of the student and the man of action, but it was not an extraordinary phenomenon that this should be so. The restless activity which was the motive-power of his life led him to throw himself enthusiastically into the projects of the moment, even if he had not the determination to persevere in his undertakings, and to win fame by the successful prosecution of his aims. Unsustained impetuosity was the chief characteristic of Humphrey’s life, and if in military matters his nature might sometimes betray him into taking too great risks, he combined with this quality that absolute carelessness of personal danger which we have seen him display at Agincourt, and for which he was conspicuous at a later stage of these French wars. It was this quality, so essential in warfare when a commander led his men into action, that endeared him to his men, and helped to create his military fame among his contemporaries. So successfully had he fought before Caen, that Henry immediately despatched him on an independent expedition, as a further test of his capacity.

With a detachment from the royal army Gloucester set out for Bayeux, where he found the town well fortified but demoralised, and his attack met with such success that by September 16 the garrison was ready to treat. Having no power to grant terms, he allowed four of the citizens to seek the King at Caen, where permission was given to eight others to attempt to procure forces for the relief of the town.[206] The chances of relief, however, were very small, since Burgundy was threatening Paris from the bridge of St. Cloud, but if such a force came it would serve Henry’s purpose very well, as it would have to fight a pitched battle with his army before it could reach Bayeux. However, the chances of the garrison were so minute that on September 19 Gloucester was authorised to treat for the surrender of the town, which yielded on the 23rd.[207] According to instructions the town was very generously treated. Gloucester promised them good and just government and every liberty that they had enjoyed under the rule of Charles VI., and for their defence he repaired the fortifications.[208] Probably some days were spent here in settling the affairs of the town, and in receiving the submission of the whole country-side, which hastened to acknowledge the supremacy of the English arms.

Leaving Bayeux Humphrey led his men eastwards, and passing by Caen reduced the country round Lisieux. This town and the castle of ‘Newby’ surrendered without resistance, and numerous other fortified places gave in their allegiance to the English King.[209] Having settled the country and left small garrisons in the towns, with Sir John Kirkby in command at Lisieux,[210] Gloucester rejoined his brother, who having left Caen on October 1, had sat down before Alençon on the 15th of that month.[211] All through this expedition Gloucester was never out of touch with the main body of the army, but was entirely under the control of the King. Except at the short siege of Bayeux, he had met with practically no resistance. So great indeed was the severity of Henry to those who withstood him, that when his brother reached Lisieux, he found but one old man and one old woman in possession of the town, and so many took advantage of the English King’s proclamation at Caen promising his protection to all who swore allegiance to him,[212] that this little excursion partook more of the nature of a pacific procession than of a warlike campaign.


Alençon, before which Gloucester now found himself, was a position of considerable strength, fortified by stout walls, numerous towers, and a castle which nature and the skill of man had made almost impregnable; added to this during the first few days of the siege the garrison entertained hopes of relief, and their resistance was proportionately determined. Gloucester was stationed at the hottest place of the attack, just opposite the castle, and had to take his share in repelling the frequent sorties of the garrison.[213] However, when the fallacy of their hopes of relief became evident, and the reports of the universal surrenders to the English on all sides reached them, the besieged began to tire; they agreed to surrender on honourable terms, and on October 24 Henry entered the city.[214] Immediately various captains were sent out, carrying their successes into the heart of Maine and Perche; Bellesme and Fresnoy surrendered, and the whole country up to and including La Marche acknowledged the English supremacy.[215]

Gloucester did not take part in these expeditions, but stayed with the King, who spent some time in Alençon. Negotiations were pending with the French court, which had returned a conciliatory answer to the challenge from Caen, whilst the Duke of Brittany, frightened by the success of the English troops, proceeded to Alençon and there on November 16 signed a truce, which was to last till the following Michaelmas, on behalf of himself and of the young titular King of Sicily, whose possessions in Maine and Anjou were threatened.[216] It was a niece of this Lewis who in later years was to marry Henry’s yet unborn son, and who was to prove the bitterest of Humphrey’s many enemies.

Towards the end of November Henry moved from Alençon; Gloucester accompanied him, leaving Sir Roland Lyntall in his place as lieutenant of the town, for of this last conquest the King had made him captain.[217]


On December 1 the English army appeared before Falaise, which had been left untouched on the way to Alençon, as Henry had thought it too well fortified to be attacked before the surrounding country was secured. Certainly Falaise was no easy nut to crack. Beside excellent fortifications a deep natural moat surrounded the town, into which flowed numerous streams from the mountains, thus forming a natural lake which prevented a near approach; high upon a rock, just outside but connected with the walls, stood the castle in a position which was considered quite impregnable[218]—that same castle which to-day with its added Talbot tower is one of the most interesting mediæval relics in northern France. The Earl of Salisbury had preceded the King to Falaise lest the garrison, warned by the French ambassadors returning from Alençon, should evacuate the town before the arrival of the English; so at least runs one theory,[219] though a more probable object was to prevent the garrison from laying in stores, which would enable them to prolong the siege.[220] The siege proper began on Henry’s arrival, and he took up his position opposite the gate on the Caen road on the north side of the town;[221] Clarence was placed opposite the castle; Gloucester held the west side of the town—an honourable position, says one chronicler.[222]

The garrison of Falaise was not of the unheroic type that the English had met so far in this campaign, due probably to the fact that the French were commanded by such a leader as they had not hitherto found. Led by the captain, the Sire Olivier de Manny, numerous attacks were made on the besiegers, and Henry came to realise the hardness of the task before him. With wise prudence for the safety and comfort of his men he built wooden huts for their shelter from the severities of the winter, now at its height, and this little town was protected by a strong rampart, a ditch and a palisade. In addition to all this, a regular market was established in the midst of the camp, so that the soldiers were never in want of food; wise precautions which did not pass unnoticed by Humphrey, who later adopted them all when besieging Cherbourg.

The bombardment of the town had never ceased since the siege began, and counter attacks on the part of the besieged were frequent and fierce, so that many lives were lost on either side, but at length the pertinacity of the English attack began to tell, and a strong party in the town clamoured for surrender. To this suggestion their captain offered a determined opposition, and when at length, on December 20, the town agreed to surrender if not relieved,[223] he with his men retired into the castle and defied the English, even after January 2, when the town had passed into their hands.[224]

The attention of the besiegers was now concentrated on the castle, and the command devolved on Clarence, since the King had left the army after the terms of surrender had been signed.[225] On the side where it was unapproachable guns were kept firing continually, whilst on the town side the moat was filled up, and sappers were employed to undermine the wall. From the castle burning straw was thrown into the moat, and boiling pitch was poured on the heads of the men who were working at the mines, but in spite of these tactics the English gained ground, and Olivier was compelled to sign terms of surrender on February 1. On the 16th the King, who had returned from Bayeux, took possession of the castle.[226] With a lack of appreciation of a brave foe, born of his theory that he was rightful King of France, Henry treated Olivier harshly, and kept him in prison till he had paid for the restoration of the castle he had defended so bravely.[227]

Henry had now established his power over a long strip of territory, extending from Bayeux and Touques on the north to Bellesme and Le Mans on the south, no inconsiderable achievement for seven months’ work. At the outset his avowed intention had been to conquer Normandy,[228] and to accomplish this he must now move eastwards and secure Rouen—the key to the whole duchy. But before bringing his full strength to bear at this point, a more secure hold upon those districts which lay behind him, and a more open approach to the city itself, were desirable. He determined therefore to divide his army, and to send different detachments to secure these ends before the final advance eastwards. Moreover, much had to be done for the good administration of those districts already conquered, and the approaching season of Lent suggested to him that both secular and religious advantages might be obtained, if he himself refrained from any active participation in the war for the present.[229] Arrangements therefore were made in accordance with these intentions before the King left Falaise. To Clarence was confided the task of opening up the approach to Rouen; Warwick was sent to capture Domfront, and to secure the south-eastern corner of the duchy; Gloucester was to reduce the Côtentin to obedience.[230]


All this had been planned by the King while the castle of Falaise was still untaken, for he signed Gloucester’s commission on February 16, the very day on which he entered into possession of that fortress. By virtue of this commission Humphrey was given power to take all towns and fortified places in the Duchy of Normandy, to receive into the King’s peace all those who should submit to him, and to restore their lands and possessions to them under his own seal.[231] At the same time he was empowered to issue ordinances for the good government of his detachment, and to punish any who should transgress them,[232] also the right to levy tribute in the Côtentin was confined to himself and his representatives.[233] Meanwhile preparations for the three expeditions were being hurried on, orders for the mustering of the men of the respective commanders were issued,[234] and Gloucester, acting on a writ issued for that purpose, appointed John Asheton to organise the muster of his division.[235] This muster has not survived, so that we have no definite information as to the number under his command, but they probably did not exceed 1500 men.[236] Amongst his followers were Lord Grey of Codnor, John Lord Clifford, and Sir Walter Hungerford, the steward of the King’s household.[237]

Humphrey was sent on this expedition with full powers. He was entitled by virtue of his various commissions to exercise almost royal authority in the districts under his command, even to the granting of pardons, and all commissions granted to others were to lapse when they came in contact with his sphere of power.[238] The trust thus reposed in him was deserved. Through this campaign we have caught but fleeting glimpses of him, but these incidental notices generally find him either in command of a detachment, as at Touques or Bayeux, or stationed at some particularly important part of a siege, as at Caen. Nevertheless there are indications that Henry felt less confident of his brother when he was compelled to rely entirely on his own resources, for when he determined to establish himself in such a position that he might bring help to the various detachments he had sent out, should this prove to be necessary, he chose the town of Bayeux for this purpose.[239] This town was far nearer to the scene of Gloucester’s activity than to the districts in which Clarence and Warwick were operating, and yet Cherbourg was the only place in the Côtentin that was likely to give serious opposition. However, by April Henry was satisfied of his brother’s reliability, and returned to Caen. His suspicions, nevertheless, were well founded, for Gloucester’s inability for sustained action made it probable that he could not for long rely on his own resources. But in a case such as this, where he could look to a higher authority not far away, full scope was given to his genuine military ability.

Gloucester lost no time in making his preparations, for he probably left Falaise on the same day as his commission was signed. Crossing the river Orne, he worked up the bank of a small tributary stream named the Noireau, and gained his first success in the capture of the little town of Condé-sur-Noireau.[240] Marching still further west he reached Vire, a place of considerable strength, situated on the river of that name. A short siege convinced the town that they could have no hope of relief, and it capitulated on February 21. Sir John Robsart and William Beauchamp acted as commissioners for Gloucester in arranging terms, and they agreed with the captain of Vire that the castle and town should be surrendered whenever the Duke should demand it, and that an English garrison should be put therein. The captain, soldiers, and inhabitants yielded themselves up to the mercy of the English King. During the interval between this agreement and the day of surrender the captain and garrison promised to keep their provisions, artillery, and other muniments of war intact, neither deporting nor destroying them, and all English prisoners and the supporters of Henry’s cause were to be delivered up forthwith. During this same interval no one was to enter or leave the city without Gloucester’s consent. With regard to the inhabitants, all who should take the oath of allegiance to Henry were to have safety of life and limb, with permission to reside in the town, and keep their furniture and other possessions contained therein; property outside the walls was also to be preserved to them unless it had been granted away before the date of the agreement. On the other hand, those of the inhabitants who should refuse to take the oath of allegiance to Henry were to be allowed to depart unharmed, so long as they had left by the time of Vespers on the day that the English occupied the town, but their personal possessions, furniture, and other belongings were to be collected into one house, their arms into another within the castle, and these, with their horses, were all to be forfeited to the conquerors. Provision was made to prevent those who remained in the town from sheltering the goods of those who went away, on the pretence that they were their own, under a penalty of forfeiture of all possessions. Eight knights and four squires were to be hostages in English hands for the performance of the treaty, and no hostilities were to take place before the surrender was accomplished.[241]

When he had taken possession of the town, Gloucester turned due north and marched along the right bank of the river Vire to St. Lo, passing by Thorigny, which surrendered without resistance, having no mind to stand a siege at the hands of the victorious English.[242] St. Lo was less timorous, but it did not hold out long after Gloucester had established his troops in its extensive suburbs, and on March 12 it followed the example of Vire and on the same conditions.[243] Meanwhile, a detachment acting to the left of the main body under Sir John Robsart, had secured Hambie two days earlier,[244] and after this division had rejoined him at St. Lo,[245] Gloucester continued his march down the river Vire, and across it to Carentan, which surrendered on the 10th on slightly better terms than the other towns. The garrison was allowed to depart with horses and arms except the artillery, and ‘de sa gentilesse’ Humphrey allowed the ladies of the town to take their personal property with them.[246] On the same day Le Hommet, to the south of Carentan, surrendered to Charles de Beaumont, Marshal of Navarre, who had led part of the English troops down the other side of the river Vire.[247]

Gloucester had now swept up both sides of the country, and had reached that narrow neck of land which ends in the Cap de la Hogue. Here he concentrated his forces, and marched along the river Douve as far as St. Sauveur le Vicomte, which surrendered on March 25.[248] Here, in accordance with instructions from Bayeux, he issued a proclamation pardoning all rebels—so Henry called them—who should swear fealty to the King before April next.[249] Meanwhile the Earl of Huntingdon had been sent to the south-east of Normandy, and on March 16 he had secured Gloucester’s rear by the capture of Coutances. His expedition was independent of the commander in the Côtentin, but the likelihood of their joining forces seems to be recognised by the terms of Huntingdon’s Commission.[250] However, no such union took place, as before long the latter was hurrying eastward to take part in the siege of Rouen.[251]

Still marching northward from St. Sauveur le Vicomte, Gloucester took Néhou,[252] Bricquebec, and Valognes, thus having reduced the whole district with the exception of the town of Cherbourg.[253] In all, it was estimated, he had taken thirty-two castles in six weeks, with very little trouble and hardly any loss of life.[254] One of the hardest sieges of the war, however, was still before him, A later chronicler tells us that at this stage he went to interview his brother at Bayeux,[255] but the dates do not allow of this, for St. Sauveur le Vicomte was captured on Good Friday, and a few days later Gloucester in person laid siege to Cherbourg.[256]


It was here that the French had determined to make a stand. Men and provisions had been collected from the country round, and the extensive suburbs burnt to remove any possible shelter they might offer to the besiegers.[257] Indeed, it had been no cheering report that Gloucester’s scouts had brought back after reconnoitring the town. They reported that the situation of the place was one of great strength. The sea flowed up to the walls on the north, and on the other side the river Divette wound round a large part of the town, thus making all access a matter of great difficulty; where nature had neglected to complete her work, a deep moat drained part of the water of the river round the otherwise unprotected wall; the fortifications were of great strength, for the walls had been recently improved, guns had been mounted on the numerous towers round the city, the castle with sixteen strong towers and a double wall was almost impregnable, and all round the town outside the walls there was a thick stone rampart crowned by castellated forts furnished with artillery. Indeed, the garrison felt quite able to resist any attack and to meet any mischance that should occur.[258] Though perhaps it was not the strongest place in all Normandy, as the French chroniclers tell us,[259] yet it was undoubtedly a formidable fortress, and had an abundance of provisions to withstand a prolonged siege.[260]

Nothing daunted by the reports of the scouts, Gloucester advanced towards Cherbourg with the full determination of becoming master of the town, and having driven back the French outposts he began preparations for the siege in the latter days of March.[261] He had come up to the town from the east, and at the outset found his difficulties increased by the destruction of the bridge over the river.[262] To increase his discomfiture still more the stream had overflowed its banks, which added to the natural obstacles which he had to face, and as he was unable to get his men across to the other side of the town, he sent a strong detachment into the country to prevent any reinforcements reaching the garrison. But his troubles were not to cease here. A large unbroken stretch of level ground surrounded the town, with not even a clump of trees to give shelter to an attacking force, nor any rising ground on which to plant the siege-engines.[263] It was indeed no easy task which lay before the English commander.

With fervid and characteristic energy Gloucester set himself to overcome the obstacles in the way. A bridge was quickly built across the river, and a detachment of his forces was drafted off to complete the blockade of the town on the other side, while a special guard was detailed to protect the bridge night and day, thus preventing all egress from or ingress into the town, and keeping a connecting-link between the necessarily divided forces of the besiegers, while it gave a certain quality of continuity to the attack. Not forgetting the openness of the sea-approach Gloucester procured from England a fleet which, using the islands of Jersey and Guernsey as a base, prevented any help from reaching the besieged by water.[264] The siege had now begun in earnest but by no means on equal terms, for while the French were safely ensconced behind particularly strong walls the English had no shelter, as they were prevented from pitching tents by the severity of the sandstorms which had followed on the subsidence of the floods. Besides this the besieged swept the exposed plain with their cannon, so that there could be no question of attacking the town with any success till some kind of cover was found for the men working the guns. Nay, more, Gloucester’s forces stood in imminent danger of extinction as they lay before the town, for the French guns were good and the French gunners better trained than in the previous sieges of the war.[265] Some distance behind the besiegers lay some wooded country, and Gloucester sent thither every third man of his forces with axes to cut down trees and brushwood, with a strong reminder to keep out of sight of the enemy. On a dark night logs and bundles of faggots were packed on carts, brought to the English lines, and with feverish haste thrown up as the groundwork of a bastion. The men worked with a will, and by daylight a rampart of some considerable strength had been built. The morning showed the French what had been the night work of their assailants, and though surprised at the rapidity with which the English had worked, they were nothing daunted, and immediately trained their guns on this obstruction. Then ensued a fierce contest. The besieged brought the whole weight of their artillery to bear on the unfinished bastion, while, now under partial cover, the besiegers worked with might and main to preserve their night’s work, and to strengthen it so that no future attack on it could be successful. Both sides put all their strength into an encounter which they realised was the crucial event of the siege, for if the English failed, all chance of continuing the attack was at an end. Finding their cannonade not sufficiently destructive, the French began to use an engine which threw red-hot balls and burning materials, and a large part of the bastion was soon in flames. With unremitting energy the English extinguished the flames with water, and, still under the heavy fire of the besieged, brought up more timber and reconstructed the demolished portions of their protecting rampart. In the end the victory lay with the besiegers, and the English soldiers could work securely behind the shelter that had cost them so dear.[266]

Gloucester had seen enough both of the strength of the town and the valour of the besieged to realise that there could be no question of a speedy surrender, so copying the tactics of his brother, he built strong huts for his men, and made his camp appear almost like a little town, fortified by a ditch and mound, so that no sortie of the enemy could take him by surprise. He also cared for the comfort of his soldiers by establishing a market within the camp, thus ensuring a constant supply of provisions.[267] At the same time he must have realised that, after the loss of life entailed by recent events, he had not sufficient men for carrying on so important a siege, and though we have no direct evidence that he sent for reinforcements, yet the presumption is strong that he did so, when we find that early in June the King sent the Earl of March, and probably with him the Earl of Suffolk, to bring some fresh levies that had just arrived from England to the assistance of his brother.[268] For this purpose March was made Lieutenant and Warden-General of the marches of the Duchy of Normandy, while Gloucester, to secure his seniority, was made Lieutenant and Captain-General of the same marches, and a strong injunction was issued to the Warden that he was not to interfere with his superior so long as they both remained in that district.[269]


Meanwhile the English commander before Cherbourg had not been idle. Owing to the heavy fire of the enemy a frontal attack on the town was impossible; he therefore devised a plan whereby he might get his troops nearer to the walls, and yet keep them under cover. While his men worked gradually nearer to the enemy under the protection of the usual wooden shelters, he carried out trenching operations on another side of the defences. Long ditches were cut leading from the camp to the walls of the town in an oblique direction, so that as the lines advanced the soldiers were continually sheltered by the sides of their excavation, and the earth which they threw up. By these means the fire of the besieged was rendered nugatory, and the besiegers crept nearer and nearer to the town.[270] The reinforcements had now arrived, and Gloucester probably found himself at the head of something over 2000 men.[271] With this force he considered himself strong enough to make a direct assault. He had tried to drain the water from around the walls, and to this end had cut channels to direct the river from its usual course. This plan, however, was spoilt by the breaking of the sluices which were to keep the stream back, and the difficulty of crossing the moat was as great as ever. With unabated determination Gloucester ordered an assault, while some of the soldiers were told off to bring up material to fill in the ditch, and to make it, if possible, level with the wall. The heavy ordnance of the besieged stood them in good stead, and the English were so disorganised by the storm of cannon balls, that they retired, and the half-finished sluices were threatened by complete destruction when the enemy sallied forth from the town. Sir Lewis Robsart, a young, untried knight, who had lately come up with the reinforcements, saved the situation, and though wounded managed to resist the attacks of the enemy, till a rally of the English brought up more men in a wedge formation, and secured the outworks which they had almost lost.[272]

After the failure of this vigorous attempt the besiegers fell back again on their former tactics of drawing their lines gradually nearer to the walls and strengthening their new rampart, which they brought right up to the edge of the moat. The cannon were now within very short range, and when the English dragged up some of their wooden huts to protect their engines, they were promptly destroyed by the fire from the town. Indeed, so near was the English rampart to the wall that with long hooks the French removed the hurdles which were meant to protect the siege-engines. At the same time Gloucester was making every effort to perfect his sluices, and the river-water was being gradually drawn out of the moat. But the resourcefulness of the besieged enabled them to pump in fresh water as fast as it was taken out, without in any way relaxing the severity of the bombardment.

As time wore on, the determination of the defenders began to slacken, and at the end of five months’ siege they offered to treat. But as Gloucester demanded an unconditional surrender, for which the townsmen were not prepared, operations were resumed. Disregarding a second attempt at negotiations, the Duke pressed the attack even more fiercely than before, and for the third time overtures were made.[273] This time the result was an agreement, signed on August 23, whereby the captain, Jean Piquet, agreed to surrender unconditionally on September 29, if not previously relieved.[274] The French chroniclers accuse Piquet of interested motives in this agreement, saying that he sold the town for a sum of money and a safe-conduct,[275] an accusation which seems hardly substantiated in the light of the past history of the siege.

Though hostilities had now ceased pending the surrender, the townsmen had by no means given up hope of escaping capture, and Gloucester anxiously expected to be obliged to fight a relieving force. With this prospect in view he sent off news of the situation to the King, and proceeded to strengthen his position. The market was brought up from its exposed position in the rear, and placed nearer the town, the rampart was continued round the whole camp with a ditch dug in front of it, and long sharpened stakes driven into its sides, all with a view to resisting possible French reinforcements. At the same time he did not forget the town, which, under these circumstances, would be behind him, and to provide against attack in this quarter he built several strong little forts, in which a small garrison would be able to resist a considerable attacking force.[276] In taking these precautions he worked on the system learned in the army of Henry v., though such expedients as the stakes in the rampart and the forts to hold the town in check were additions to the usual plan. The appointed day of surrender drew near, and still no relief came. Just before the expiration of the truce, however, the townsmen saw with joy that a force was approaching the city. Their joy, however, was premature, for they shortly found that it was a band of two thousand men sent over from the western cities of England in ready response to a message from Henry at Rouen. With this additional force all danger to the English passed away, and in due course the town and castle of Cherbourg were handed over to Gloucester on St. Michael’s Day.[277]

The town was treated leniently. Gloucester permitted the garrison to march out under arms, those of the townsmen who wished it being allowed to accompany them, but such as remained behind being entirely at the disposition of the English. All property was respected with the exception that the contents of the Governor’s house were distributed amongst the troops, together with a certain sum raised from the citizens. Gloucester’s biographer goes on to say quaintly, that the citizens found themselves better off than before, ‘quickly understanding in a short time the different constitutions of the English, and French governments.’[278] The men of Cherbourg must have had unusually keen perceptions. Still, care was taken for the good government of the city. Lord Grey of Codnor was made governor, and all the other towns were provided with captains.[279] Little as the English conquests have affected northern France, there still remains a memento of Gloucester at Cherbourg, where to this day ‘Humphrey Street’ recalls the long siege and ultimate capture of the town.

The siege of Cherbourg had proved to be one of the most interesting episodes in the military operations of Henry’s second campaign. On the one hand, the decidedly superior metal of the French guns foreshadowed the transference of the best arm from the English to the French side in this war; on the other, the whole siege served to illustrate the peculiar military genius of the Duke of Gloucester. His conduct of the operations betrayed a great knowledge of the theory of siege warfare, while it showed that he had not served under his brother in vain. Again and again we find traces of Henry’s tactics adapted with great skill to the needs of the present case by some slight elaboration. Without any of the endowments of character which made the elder brother a great general, the younger had, if possible, more of the qualities of a soldier. A greater grasp of the situation is shown in the operations of the siege of Cherbourg than in the case of any of Henry’s sieges, more adaptability to the needs of the moment. Gloucester took his risks and justified them by success. No mere book-learned warcraft would have dared the wedge formation on the day when the English were so hard pressed, but the success of the movement justified its use. Gloucester was an able man and a brave soldier, but he could never have become even a passable commander. Within circumscribed limits he had no equal; there was no captain in the English army who could have surpassed him before Cherbourg, but under no circumstances could he have taken the position which his great brother holds in military history. The natural bent of his mind was inclined to the interests of the moment, and he could never have planned out a campaign, or nursed his men up to a supreme effort, as did Henry on the march to Agincourt. Courage, military skill, and the power to appreciate any situation which confronted him he had in plenty, but in him determination was swallowed up in rashness, and ability fled before constitutional unsteadiness. As a leader of a forlorn hope, or in the performance of a definite piece of work, he was pre-eminent, but his natural characteristics removed any chance of his being in any sense a general. In his military life, even as later in his stormy political career, he displayed great ingenuity and cleverness, but here, as ever, he lacked that vivifying touch of determination which alone could have moulded the incidents of his life into one concentrated policy. At Cherbourg his defects had had but slight chance of display, and it was with increased fame, and with the reputation of a successful commander, that towards the end of October he arrived at Rouen.

While Gloucester had been besieging Cherbourg, and reducing the Côtentin, the King had not been idle. He had spent three months at Bayeux and Caen in creating the machinery for the administration of the duchy, which hitherto had been under military law. At the same time he sent to England for reinforcements, and on their arrival in May he marched eastwards, joining Clarence and Exeter, who had been opening the way to Rouen; the former having completed his work by the capture of the Abbey of Bec Hellouin, the latter having taken Evreux. Taking Louviers and Pont de l’Arche, Henry arrived at Rouen by easy stages on July 29.[280] Rouen had lately turned Burgundian,[281] but this did not entail any inclination to become unpatriotic. Indeed at this moment Burgundy himself was playing the patriotic game, for he had returned to power. The oppression of the Armagnacs, who governed Paris in the name of the Dauphin, together with their unreasonable refusal of terms of agreement with Burgundy, had so enraged the Parisians that a mob revolution in favour of Burgundy and Queen Isabella, who had come to terms with one another in 1417, was made easy. In June Bernard, Count of Armagnac, and many of his adherents were murdered by the populace. Tanneguy du Châtel and the Dauphin escaped from the city with difficulty, and Burgundy was acclaimed with shouts of welcome as he entered Paris.[282] In this position his answer to a pursuivant sent by Henry was a declaration of war.[283]


The siege of Rouen was more than three months old when Gloucester arrived in November, fresh from the capture of Cherbourg.[284] The abbey and fortress of St. Katharine just outside the town, which had been a great source of inconvenience to the besiegers, keeping open, as it did, communication between the town and the outside world, had capitulated on August 22, and on September 7 Caudebec, which guarded the river approach, surrendered to Warwick,[285] so that now Rouen was shut in on every side. The blockade was strictly kept. Gloucester found the King safely housed in the Carthusian Monastery of Notre-Dame-de-la-Rose, on the east side of the town, about a mile distant from the Porte St. Hilaire, the custody of which was committed to Sir William Porter. Further south, at the Porte Martinville, lay Warwick, with his troops reaching down to the Seine, and behind him the newly acquired fort of St. Katharine. Across the Seine, on the south, Salisbury and Huntingdon guarded ‘La Barbacane.’ On the west, Clarence lay at the ruined abbey of St. Gervais, guarding the Porte Cauchoise and the walls as far as the river. The Earl Marshal lay opposite the castle on the north-west, with Talbot and Sir John Cornwall joining up his men and those of Clarence. Exeter lay at the Porte Beauvassine on the north, while the Lords Willoughby, Ross, and Fitz Hugh completed the circle of the besiegers to the Porte St. Hilaire.[286] Gloucester himself, on his arrival, was given command of the forces which lay at the Porte St. Hilaire,[287] and he justified his selection for a post of danger and importance by that reckless bravery for which he was already well known. He lay nearer to the enemy than any of the besiegers by ‘40 rode and more in spas,’ and supervised his men with great ability, exposing himself to the fire from the town, and repelling the frequent sorties made on his side.[288] Indeed the fighting seems to have been heaviest at the Porte St. Hilaire, for Gloucester casualties were more numerous than in any other part of the army.[289]

Henry’s arrangements for the safety of his army could not have been more carefully or more wisely made. His men were securely entrenched against the daily attacks of the town, whilst he himself, caring neither for fog nor wintry weather, frequently visited the outposts at night. With great care a bridge had been built across the river, thus affording easy and safe communication with Salisbury and Huntingdon. The capture of Caudebec had opened the river, and provisions came pouring in from London;[290] also some of the ships were dragged overland for three miles so as to get above the town bridge, which blocked the way. By this means the French boats were driven to take refuge within the port of Rouen, and while the town lost all hope of a replenished supply of provisions, the English had food in abundance, communication being kept up with England by a fleet lent by Henry’s kinsman, King John of Portugal.[291] No assault was made on the town. Henry was far too wise to attempt to take so strong a fortress by any means but starvation, for Rouen had splendid walls, numerous towers, and plenty of guns, with a garrison, so say the French chroniclers, of four thousand soldiers and sixteen thousand armed citizens, and the most courageous and enterprising leader the English had yet met in the person of Guy le Bouteiller.[292]

The English therefore confined themselves to resisting the almost hourly sorties of the besieged, and to harassing the country with the light troops which had been brought from Ireland.[293] As November passed into December the besieged began to feel a shortage of provisions, and they turned out the non-combatants from the city. It could hardly be expected that Henry would let these pass, and they were driven back to the walls, though the English soldiers gave them food to save them from utter starvation.[294] At the same time, however, the garrison was cheered by the news that an old priest had managed to pass the English lines, and to return with a promise of help from Burgundy. This news also reached Henry, who fortified his camp behind as well as before, in case he had to meet a relieving force;[295] yet this was but a measure of precaution, for he well knew that Burgundy was not strong enough to leave Paris open to the Armagnacs whilst he campaigned in Normandy.

Towards Christmas the garrison were in sore straits;

‘They etete doggys, they ete cattys,
They ete mysse, horse and rattys,’

we are told by our rhyming Chronicler,[296] and they could not bury their dead, so fast did men die. Another appeal to Burgundy resulted in a promise of relief immediately after Christmas,[297] and on Christmas Day Henry called a truce, and provided food for French as well as English.[298] But the long-promised relief never came, and at length on New Year’s Eve the town asked for a parley. This was granted, but even in their distress, with their wretched countrymen lying dead and dying in the ditch hard by, the defenders would not accept Henry’s terms. For three days they discussed the matter in tents set up in Gloucester’s trenches and guarded by his men,[299] and when they returned to the city despair seized the townsmen. Some tell us that in heroic desperation they determined to throw down the walls, burn the city, and fight their way out,[300] others say that a meeting of the citizens compelled the leaders to reopen negotiations.[301] At any rate, they went to the Porte St. Hilaire and asked to speak with Gloucester, but failing to make him hear, and meeting with the same fate on the side where Clarence lay, they at last succeeded in drawing the attention of the Earl of Warwick, who undertook to communicate their wish to reopen negotiations to the King.[302] This ended in terms of surrender being signed on January 13.[303] If not relieved, Rouen was to surrender in six days, pay an indemnity of 345,000 crowns of gold, and yield up three men who were named. The garrison was allowed to march out unarmed and on foot.[304] On the 19th of January Henry entered Rouen with great pomp, and the Duchy of Normandy was finally won by the capitulation of its capital.[305]


After the conquest of Rouen the English captains were sent with small detachments to clear the country. Salisbury to the north secured Montivilliers, Honfleur, Fécamp, Dieppe, and Eu; Clarence went up the Seine valley taking Vernon and Nantes, and many other smaller towns in the immediate neighbourhood submitted.[306] Gloucester stayed with his royal brother at Rouen, as he had been made captain of the city,[307] and there steps were taken to further organise the administration of Normandy, and to relieve distress in the town itself. At the same time negotiations were being carried on with both French factions. Throughout the recent siege ambassadors had been passing between the various parties, and at one time the Dauphin offered terms,[308] at another the French King, under the influence of Burgundy, sent a portrait of his daughter Catherine, whose name had appeared in most of the negotiations.[309] Conferences at Alençon with Armagnac, or at Pont de l’Arche with Burgundian emissaries, were alike fruitless. Still Henry persevered. Arrangements were made at Rouen for a personal meeting with the Dauphin at Evreux on March 8,[310] but when Henry reached the trysting-place he found that the Dauphin had not kept his word.[311] Nothing daunted, he despatched Warwick on March 28 to arrange an interview with the Burgundian faction for May 15, and Clarence, with Gloucester, took an oath to observe any conditions that might be arranged.[312] But Henry’s diplomacy stretched farther than this. Bedford was given permission to seek a wife among the daughters of Frederick of Nuremberg, or among the daughters of the Duke of Lorraine, or indeed among any of the kindred of the Emperor Sigismund.[313] Gloucester, on the other hand, had a more restricted field for marriage negotiations opened for him. He was given permission on April 1 to treat for the hand of Blanche of Sicily, daughter and heiress of Charles III. of Navarre. Acting on this commission, Gloucester appointed his chamberlains, William Beauchamp and John Stokes ‘Dr. of Laws,’ to care for his interests in that quarter, but his hopes of a wife at that time were to be short-lived.[314] On April 20 Charles de Beaumont, who represented Henry at the court of Navarre, and had recently served under Gloucester in the Côtentin, informed him that negotiations were pending for the marriage of Blanche to Don John of Arragon, asserting that Henry’s delays in stating definitely what lands in Guienne he would give Gloucester on his wedding had so annoyed Charles, that it was unlikely that the English marriage would ever come off.[315] In these suspicions Beaumont was fully justified. We hear no more of Gloucester as a prospective suitor for the hand of Blanche, and soon after she was married to his rival, Don John, who ultimately became John II. of Arragon.


Gloucester had more active work on hand than this somewhat nebulous marriage scheme. He left Evreux early in April, accompanied by the Earl Marshal, John de Mowbray, having been commissioned to take Ivry, which he invested in the customary manner.[316] The town held out with more determination than had been expected, and to save Gloucester’s troops from starvation the King had to despatch orders to the bailiff of Evreux to send all sellers of provisions in his bailiwick to Ivry, to hold a market there twice a week so long as Gloucester remained before the town.[317] The town was not of great strength, and was taken by assault in a few days, but the castle was not only well fortified, but situated so as to be hard to attack. With the usual English tactics Gloucester sat down before the impregnable, knowing that famine would do better work than his guns. Once more it was proved that it was not the cowardice of the French garrisons, but the lethargy and rivalries of the French Princes which gave Normandy to the English King. The first panic after Henry’s landing at Touques once over, the French had held their position stubbornly, but the English were unhampered in their preparations for sieges and unharassed in the country while they attacked the towns. Thus fortresses which might have replenished their provisions had the attention of the besiegers been divided, were compelled by lack of food and other stores to surrender. Harfleur had proved it, Rouen had proved it, and now in due course the castle of Ivry was compelled to come to terms on May 10, and three days later Gloucester entered the fortress and received the oath of fealty from all in the town.[318]

Having settled matters at Ivry, Gloucester marched towards Mantes, where he joined his brother, probably late in May.[319] Henry was preparing, with growing confidence in an amicable adjustment of his claims, to meet Charles VI. and Burgundy at a conference, wherein the French had consented to take the Treaty of Bretigny as a basis of their discussion.[320] The conference was to be held in a meadow near Meulan, where a little stream, called the Viviers, emptied itself into the Seine. Thus guarded on two sides, the rest was surrounded by a bank and a ditch, and had a pavilion in the centre for the shelter of the two parties. Thither on May 30 came Burgundy with Queen Isabel and her daughter Catherine.[321] Charles VI. was too unwell to be present. From Mantes came Henry, accompanied by his two brothers Clarence and Gloucester, Archbishop Chichele, the two Beauforts, Henry Beaufort of Winchester and the Duke of Exeter, and two thousand five hundred well-appointed soldiers. Nothing beyond ceremonial greetings took place on the first day of the conference, which seem to have been chiefly meant for the introduction of Henry to Catherine, for at later meetings the much-treated-of Princess did not appear.[322] At the next meeting on June 1 Clarence, Gloucester, Chichele, Beaufort, and Exeter were officially appointed to treat for peace with France, and for the King’s marriage.[323] Negotiations dragged on, Henry demanding the cession of full sovereignty of the English possessions in France which were assured by the Treaty of Bretigny, the French demanding a renunciation by the English King of his title to the French throne. At the end of a month they were no nearer a settlement than at the beginning, and distrust of each other was becoming evident. Eventually high words passed between Henry and Burgundy, and negotiations were broken off.[324] Even then, Henry does not seem to have lost all hope of an arrangement of these difficulties, for on July 5 we find Chichele and Warwick commissioned to undertake an embassy to the Burgundian party.[325]


Nevertheless, Henry knew that his best argument was force, and as soon as the truce expired on July 31, he sent forward a detachment from Mantes, which surprised and took Pontoise.[326] Henry, with Gloucester and the main body of the army, stayed some little time longer at Mantes,[327] and then followed to Pontoise, where Clarence rejoined him, after having reconnoitred right up to the gates of Paris.[328] Hence the whole army moved on August 18, and taking Vancouvilliers on the way, sat down before Gisors on the 31st, which, after a short but sharp siege, surrendered—the town on September 17, the castle six days later.[329] From Gisors Henry went to Mantes, whence he supervised the siege of Meulan, in which Gloucester took part. This town was so situated that the Seine guarded it on one side, and marshes on the other. However, by the use of rafts and floating castles, the English managed to clear the river of the stakes which the French had planted in its bed, and so to press the town, that it surrendered on October 31.[330] Henry had kept up daily communication with the besiegers, and now he came to Meulan, and on November 6 despatched Gloucester to secure the Seine valley further up towards Paris. Poissy was captured on the 13th, and three days later St. Germain succumbed after no serious resistance. On the same day the neighbouring castle of Montjoye voluntarily submitted.[331]

By the middle of the month Gloucester was back with the King at Mantes, and accompanied him to Rouen, for it had been decided to send him home to replace his brother Bedford as Regent of England.[332] It seems impossible to discover any real reason for this exchange of posts between Bedford and Gloucester, unless the King wanted the help of the brother who had had experience in statecraft in the organisation of his newly acquired Duchy, and thought that Gloucester could be more easily spared than Clarence to go to England. At any rate, on November 21, orders were issued at Rouen for the impressment of forty sailors to convey Gloucester to England, and it is probable that he crossed the Channel within a few days of this provision.[333]


After landing in England Gloucester had not long to wait before he took up his new duties. On December 30, 1419, his commission to be ‘guardian and lieutenant of England’ in the place of Bedford, who was about to go to France, was sealed at Westminster, and his powers in this office were defined. He was to preside at the meetings of Parliament and Council, and to summon the lords and the commonalty of the kingdom for consultation. The executive power was put into his hands, and he was empowered to do all things necessary for the welfare of the country, with the assent of Parliament and the Council; whilst he was also to exercise the royal prerogative in ecclesiastical matters, giving licences to elect to vacancies, and his assent or veto to these elections when made. The commission concluded with emphatic instructions that the Regent ‘shall carry out all matters of governance with the assent of and after deliberation by the Council, and not otherwise.’[334] Meanwhile, Bedford was in England, and he did not leave for France until the spring,[335] but the control of affairs was in the hands of his brother. This was the first time that Gloucester had been brought into official contact with English politics, though he had been a member of the Council and of Parliament since his elevation to the peerage in 1414. The country was in that state of peace which so often precedes a violent storm. Of internal strife there had been none since Sir John Oldcastle had been captured and executed in December 1417,[336] and the threatening of revolution which had preceded Henry’s first expedition to France had passed away. On the other hand, the war was beginning to outlive its popularity. The steady successes of Henry had none of the glamour of such a victory as Agincourt, which alone could kindle the enthusiasm of the people at home. There were signs that the soldiers themselves were tiring of the successive sieges,[337] while in England men did not grasp with what determination the military genius and the patient diplomacy of Henry were working up to the approaching culmination of the Treaty of Troyes. Moreover, the French prisoners in England, for whom Gloucester now became responsible, had been showing signs of restlessness, and Orleans for one had been discovered in intrigue with the Scotch.[338]


The most notable aspect of England, however, when Gloucester took up the reins of government in 1419, was the development of the power of the great middle class. The dangers which Henry IV. had had to meet amongst the rebellious nobility had driven him to rely on the class which would give him the support he needed, and this increased the importance of the trader and the townsman, whose influence was still further expanded by the absence of almost the whole nobility and a large proportion of the ecclesiastical hierarchy in France. The constitutional aspect of Parliament was becoming more than a name in the days of Gloucester’s first regency, and public opinion was beginning to mirror the interests of the money-making portion of the community. Ever since the days of the Black Death this change had been slowly moving to its completion, and the success of the archers in the French wars announced the fact that the old fixed state of society had come to an end. Now for the first time appeared the ambition of men of one class to raise themselves to the level of the next; now for the first time poverty and incompetence became a disgrace. These all were the outward signs of a great industrial revolution. Till the middle of the fourteenth century England had been a mere producer of raw material; now she was on the high-road to take a definite place as the manufacturer of finished goods in all the chief markets of Europe. A striking instance of this change is to be found in the way the export of wool dropped, whilst its production increased, for the manufacture of broadcloth was no longer confined to the foreign buyers of English wool. This increased production entailed a corresponding increase in the number of traders and carriers of English produce, and it is at this time that such companies as the Merchant Adventurers rose to great power. This change from the production of raw material to the manufacture of the finished article not only gave a new power to the middle classes, but it had its influence also in bringing the English town into greater prominence. ‘Mediæval economy, with its constant regard to the relations of persons, was giving place to the modern economy, which treats the exchange of things as fundamental,’ and this resulted in increased power to those corporate bodies which were favoured by this change. New and substantial town-halls were being built in all parts of England, and the towns themselves were becoming an important factor in English life. The days when a group of nobles enjoyed the whole political influence of the community were at an end, and a foreign observer could declare that the nation ‘consists of churchmen, nobles, and craftsmen, as well as common people.’[339] Moreover, it now came first to be realised that England could have a commercial interest in foreign politics, as well as a purely dynastic one.[340] English merchants now began to have a direct influence on the policy of the crown, and they could make it felt through the immense sums which the Government was compelled to borrow from them.[341]


This then was the state of society which Gloucester found when the government was committed to his care, and he was not slow to realise this change. Some years later a Carthusian monk, when consulted by the Duke of Buckingham on the probability of his succession, declared that his only hope of aggrandisement was ‘to obtain the love of the community of England’;[342] and this was a truth understood earlier by the Duke of Gloucester. We do not know by what means it was done, but Humphrey soon became the darling of the middle classes, and by the time that Henry V. died he had won the enthusiastic support of the London citizens. It will be seen, therefore, that it was to the growing powers in England that he appealed for sympathy and encouragement, to those who were gradually working out the progress of England towards freedom from aristocratic control, to those who were content to ignore the quarrel of prince with prince and noble with noble, whilst they quietly based the future strength of the kingdom on a wealth born of trade and private exertions. It was in the towns that Humphrey found his friends; in the towns where the middle classes were gaining the predominance, and not in the country where the nobility still reigned supreme, and where the science and prosperity of agriculture remained stationary throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The citizen class never failed him. They did not look to the upstart house which had forgotten its origin in the new title of Duke of Suffolk, but throughout his life they supported their ‘Good Duke,’ and genuinely mourned his death. What is called statesmanship in others is dismissed as ‘pandering to the populace in Humphrey by those who cannot allow any good to reside in an unsuccessful politician, but it seems a more just estimate of this side of Gloucester’s policy to acknowledge the foresight and wisdom of one who abandoned the effete nobles, and looked for support to those who were soon to prove themselves a power that must be taken into consideration. This citizen support cannot have been welcome to the other members of the governing class, and it is probably due to it that so much opposition was shown to Gloucester in the early days of the reign of Henry VI. In the outward events of the regency there are few signs of the policy which Humphrey pursued, but we shall see its fruits as the story of his life proceeds. It must have been at this time, however, that his line of action was initiated.

The days of Gloucester’s first regency were even more peaceful and uneventful than those of Bedford’s, and he found that his duties did not exceed the ordinary official business of the kingdom, and the representation of the King at ceremonial functions. Thus by right of his position of Regent we find him presiding at a Chapter of the Order of the Garter which was very sparsely attended owing to the large number of knights who were serving abroad. Even Bedford, who had not yet left England, was absent, being fully occupied with his preparations for departure.[343]

During his regency Humphrey was brought into contact with the young King of Scotland, then a prisoner in England. According to a French chronicler it was during the year 1420 that James, the son of David of Scotland, who during his father’s lifetime had been given a safe-conduct by Henry V. to go to Jerusalem, came to England, and was there most graciously received by Gloucester. In the meantime his father died, and the Regent took immediate steps to acquaint his royal brother with the fact of James’s presence in England. Henry promptly ordered him to be detained and sent under escort to the English army before Melun.[344] In the whole story there is only one grain of truth. James had been a captive in England ever since 1406, and his father, Robert (not David), had died on hearing the news of his detention. However, it is true that the unfortunate Scotch king was sent to the siege of Melun, leaving England in July, and for this doubtless Gloucester made the arrangements.[345] All that the story can tell us is that it points to a probable friendship between James and Humphrey who had been boys together at the court of Henry IV.[346]

Meanwhile English history was being made in France. The balance of parties had been changed. Before Gloucester had crossed the Channel the whole world had been shocked by the cold-blooded and treacherous murder of the Duke of Burgundy at the bridge of Montereau.[347] Nothing could have been more impolitic from the Armagnac point of view, for revenge was far sweeter than patriotism to the Frenchmen of the fifteenth century, and the King and Queen of France with that most marketable commodity, their daughter Catherine, were under the influence of Philip, the new Duke of Burgundy. What was more natural than that the negotiations of Meulan should be resumed and brought to a successful issue? Neither the Queen nor St. Pol, the governor of Paris, even waited for the prompting of Philip, but sent envoys to Henry without delay, and by December 25 a treaty was made between the Kings of England and of France.[348] This treaty formed the basis of the more famous one signed on May 21 by both contracting parties at Troyes. Henry was to marry Catherine and to succeed to the French throne, meanwhile acting as regent for the demented Charles VI. Each country was to preserve its own laws and customs, and Henry, Charles, and Burgundy all promised not to undertake any independent negotiations with the Dauphin.[349] The English chroniclers, oblivious of the fact that Gloucester was Regent of England, state that he was present at these negotiations,[350] but this is entirely disproved by a letter written to him by Henry on the day after the treaty was signed. Gloucester and the Council were herein informed of the culmination of Henry’s ambitions, and commanded to proclaim the peace and the King’s betrothal in England. He further instructed them to destroy his seals, and to strike new ones bearing the inscription ‘Henry by the grace of God Kyng of England, Heire and Regent of the Rowne of France, and Lord of Ireland.’[351] On June 14 Gloucester signed the warrant for the proclamation of the good news, and the same day a solemn procession was made in honour of the marriage of the King, during which the proclamation was read at St. Paul’s Cross.[352]


The Treaty of Troyes was the high-water mark of English success in France, and it seemed to crystallise the unhappy principles with which Gloucester had been impressed during the early years of his active life. The only statesmanship that his royal brother could teach him was the mistaken ideal of a self-righteous war. Unfortunately the mobile and impressionable character of Humphrey was only too prone to receive the imprint of this policy. Henceforth he stood by the clauses of the Treaty of Troyes with a constancy worthy of a better cause, and in this particular his line of action was definitely marked out. Though a man of intellect and perception in theoretical matters, he was not endowed with sufficient powers of statesmanship to see the disastrous consequences of a war policy; quick to grasp the details of a scheme, he failed to discern its wider significance, and so his policy was tainted by the false brilliancy of his brother’s successes. Had he been less impressionable and more cool-headed, he would have been able to grasp the essentials, and would not have been blinded by successes which could only be transitory. In all cases Humphrey’s policy was to be formed by his emotions, hard facts had no influence upon him, and at this very time he failed to understand the warning which came from the first Parliament over which he presided, and which he opened on December 2. Two days later all the formalities had been performed, and Roger Hunt had been chosen Speaker and accepted by the Regent.[353]


It was not long before it became amply evident that there was considerable discontent at the King’s prolonged absence. It was now more than three years since he had visited England, and the country was beginning to feel that foreign ambitions were absorbing too much of their ruler’s attention. The Parliaments of 1417 and 1419, which had been called by Bedford, had been marked by no act of constitutional importance. In one Oldcastle had been condemned to death;[354] in both, money was granted.[355] In 1420, however, the aspect of affairs was changed. In the first place no money was asked for, as it was well understood that it would not be granted, for men were beginning to grumble at its scarcity.[356] One of the first acts of this Parliament was to petition Gloucester to use all his influence to induce the King and his Queen to return home as soon as possible, to which request the Regent assented readily.[357] This petition must not be taken as betraying any mistrust of the conduct of the regency government. It simply reflects a growing fear that the kingdom of England would become a mere appanage to the throne of France, and stands as a protest against the conquest of France being the means of depreciating English prestige. The constitutional troubles in this Parliament show a mistrust of Henry’s intentions, but convey no censure on the administration. It was in this spirit therefore that it was enacted that though the Regent’s commission was to terminate on the return of the King, Parliament was not to be considered to be dissolved by that event; that the statute of Edward III. securing English liberties in case the English King required a new title was revived; and that provision was made that petitions should not be engrossed until they had been sent to the King for his assent.[358] Thus the session closed amidst constitutional fears, which for this time at least Gloucester had had no hand in creating.

England had not long to wait for the return of her King, who was anxious to introduce his newly wedded wife to her English subjects. The petition of Parliament was therefore quickly answered, and on Candlemas Day 1421 the royal couple landed at Dover, where the Barons of the Cinque Ports were ready to welcome them. Humphrey was presumably too busy to be present at this greeting, but he probably took part in the reception which London accorded the King on February 14,[359] and in the high festival and gorgeous processions with which a week later the Queen entered the capital. It was a more subdued welcome that Henry now received than that which marked his triumphal return from Agincourt, but every token of respect and affection was offered to the Queen.[360] On Sunday, February 23, Catherine was crowned at Westminster, and immediately afterwards she presided at a banquet held in the ‘greet halle.’ In spite of the Lenten season and the almost total absence of meat, a splendid feast was spread, and the menu with its various ‘soteltes’ has been preserved for us.[361] In the absence of the King, whom etiquette forbade to appear, the Queen presided, with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Winchester on her right, the King of Scotland, the Duchess of York, and the Countess of Huntingdon on her left. The Earl Marshal and the Earl of March knelt on either side of the Queen, each holding a sceptre, while the Countess of Kent and the Countess Marshal sat at the feet of the Queen ‘under the table.’ Bedford was present as Constable of England, Warwick officiated as Steward in the absence of Clarence, and the Earl of Worcester in the capacity of Earl Marshal—Mowbray being otherwise engaged—rode up and down the hall to keep order. Carver, cupbearer, and butler each performed his appointed duties, and bareheaded before the Queen stood Gloucester as ‘supervisour’[362] of the feast by right of his office of Great Chamberlain. It was in the organisation of pageants such as this that Gloucester was most efficient. All his tastes for ancient learning and his love of display, in which he proved himself a true child of the Renaissance, were given full scope. At any rate, his arrangements so impressed the chroniclers, that they all describe this pageant in unusually elaborate detail.[363]

Cup bearing the Arms of the Duke of Gloucester and his Wife Eleanor.

Soon after the coronation Henry and his bride went off on a royal progress through the country, the ostensible reason being a series of pilgrimages to various shrines, the real one a hope of restoring the confidence of the country in their King, and to encourage fresh sacrifices of men and money for a new campaign.[364] The necessity for renewed effort became still more apparent when, on leaving the shrine of St. John of Beverley, news reached them that Clarence had been defeated and slain at Beaugé in March.[365] Having celebrated the Feast of St. George somewhat later than the appointed day,[366] Henry opened a Parliament on May 2,[367] and immediately began to prepare for another expedition to France. Gloucester, of whom we have heard nothing since the coronation feast, also began to make his preparations for war, but before he left England an event happened which was to have considerable influence on the course of his life during the next few years, and to mould his policy in the near future.


It was fated that England should be interested in the affairs of Hainault and Holland for some time to come, and the whole history of this interest is bound up with the story of Gloucester’s infatuation for Jacqueline, Countess of Holland, Zealand, and Hainault. This lady was daughter and heiress of that Count William who visited England whilst the Emperor Sigismund was in the country.[368] She had lost her father and her first husband John, Dauphin of France, within a few weeks of each other during the spring of the year 1417. With no natural protector, she had been left to face the factions of Hooks and Cods in her patrimony, and between them there was bitter strife; the former being the supporters of her late father, and the latter his bitter opponents.[369] But in the politics of these states of the Low Countries there was a still more potent factor than the internal divisions of party feuds. John, Duke of Burgundy, devoted his life to consolidating his territorial power, as well as in advancing claims to political ascendency in France, and in furtherance of the former ambitions he desired to add the inheritance of Jacqueline to his already extensive possessions. Not only would this acquisition strengthen his hands by increasing his territory, but it would also increase his line of seacoast in Zealand and Holland, and serve to join up his southern and northern possessions. Thus he would be able to show a stronger front to the Emperor, who regarded the increased power of his nominal vassal on the confines of the empire as a threatening danger.

With the direct object of attaining this end, John the Fearless set himself to arrange a marriage between Jacqueline and her neighbour the Duke of Brabant, hoping thereby to bring about a childless match and the acquisition to himself of the coveted territory, which, in the absence of children, he would inherit. In this project he was supported by the Princess’s mother, Margaret, Dowager-Countess of Hainault, who was his sister.[370] John of Brabant was a despicable weakling, much older than his proposed bride, and possessing qualities which would make the life of a young and spirited woman wholly unbearable. However, considerations of policy induced her relatives to force Jacqueline into this undesirable alliance, with the result which might have been expected. John fell entirely into the hands of his Brabançon followers, who induced him to add insult to the neglect with which he treated his young wife, and the culminating-point was reached when in Jacqueline’s absence he arranged for the disposal of her territory for a term of years to John of Bavaria.[371]

Among her few faithful followers the unhappy Countess found one whom the chronicler names ‘Robessart lord of Escaillon,’ who, though a Hainaulter by origin, was English in sympathies.[372] Doubtless he was one of that family of Robsarts of which more than one served in the French wars.[373] It was the Lord of Escallion who befriended Jacqueline when she fled from the insults of her husband to Valenciennes, and it was to him that she confided her intention to turn to England for help. He received the news with joy, and encouraged the idea, painting this land, which was unknown to his liege lady, in the brightest colours, not forgetting to lay emphasis on those brothers of Henry V., who were yet unmarried. At the same time he undertook to arrange her escape thither, so that she might safely reach Calais before any one knew of her intentions, and together they matured their plans.[374]


In thus determining to throw herself on the mercy of Henry, Jacqueline was appealing to a relationship which dated back to Philippa, the wife of Edward III., and it is a sign that she had definitely determined to break with the husband whom she had never wanted to marry, and that she was in earnest in those preparations which she had already made for a divorce. If she had hopes of a third husband from amongst the brothers of Henry V., we must suppose that her past experiences had not taught her wisdom, and it is probably with a knowledge of subsequent events that one chronicler asserts an agreement of marriage with Humphrey before ever she left Valenciennes,[375] though the idea of an English alliance of this kind was quite natural, when we remember that Bedford had been a candidate for her hand in 1418.[376] Be this as it may, Jacqueline and her friend Escallion made their preparations for flight to Calais. Already on March 1, 1421, Henry had granted a passport to herself and her mother to visit her territories in Ponthieu, and this carried with it the right to enter Calais.[377] It was therefore probably in April that she told her mother at Valenciennes that she would leave her for a few days while she paid a visit to Bouchain. She had left the town but a short distance on this proposed journey when Escallion met her with a company of sixty men, and took her under his protection. Together they made for Calais, where they arrived at the end of the second day after leaving Valenciennes, and were courteously received as though their arrival had been expected. From Calais Jacqueline sent messengers to Henry to ask permission to land on the shores of England, and meanwhile spent the interval which must elapse before an answer could be received in quiet repose, mounting the bastions daily, and gazing across to the white cliffs of Dover, dreaming of the land and of the men of whom she had heard such glowing accounts, and welcoming every sail that appeared on the horizon as the bearer of the desired permission to put the truth of these stories to the test. At length a warm welcome was brought from King Henry, and with bright hopes the princess crossed the Channel, to be met at Dover by one of those unmarried brothers of the English King of whom she had been told.[378] For it fell to the lot of Humphrey, as Warden of the Cinque Ports, to meet this distinguished visitor, just as some five years before he had met the Emperor Sigismund. It was a meeting fraught with great consequences for both parties concerned. Little did the light-hearted Humphrey think, when he placed his charge on her palfrey, and escorted her to London, that he had met a woman who would deeply affect his destinies, and earn him the reputation of putting his private ambitions before the public weal.

Henry emphasised his hearty invitation to Jacqueline by the marked graciousness of his reception of her; and though he was on the eve of departure to France, he promised to help her, and made arrangements, completed on July 10, that £100 a month should be allotted to the Countess so long as she remained in England.[379] To Henry belongs the responsibility of bringing her over, and we cannot doubt that he saw the political significance of his action. He knew the state of affairs in the Low Countries, and he looked on the discontented Countess as a valuable asset in his schemes of French conquest; through her he might obtain some hold on his shifty ally Burgundy, who, like his father, looked to inherit the much-desired districts of Zealand, Holland, and Hainault. Whether he had hopes of a divorce for Jacqueline so that she might marry one of his brothers is doubtful—he was too near the end of his career for us to be able to fathom his intentions with regard to her; but that he was responsible for her presence in England, and consequently also partly responsible for the results of this visit, cannot be denied.[380] As for Humphrey, we have nothing to tell us of the growth of his plans, or of his first impressions of Jacqueline. It was probably towards the end of April that he first saw her, and it is unlikely that he had any time for love-making before his departure for France. It is therefore improbable that the project which later took shape in his expedition to Hainault had occurred to him when he left England, for he had probably never met the lady before, though he had known her father, and his attention was at this time concentrated on the French campaign.[381]


As Warden, Humphrey had to see that the Barons of the Cinque Ports provided ships to the number of fifty-seven for the transport of the army;[382] at the same time he was busy collecting his own contingent. He entered into indentures with the King for one hundred lances, with their complement of archers, which would bring the numbers up to about four hundred men according to the usual computation; but he had not a full contingent by the time he left England.[383] However, he received reinforcements from England all through the campaign,[384] and by July his men were in full force.[385] On May 26 his passport was signed,[386] and he probably then went down to Dover to supervise the preparations for embarkation, which were ordered to begin on May 27.[387] Exactly a fortnight later Henry sailed from Dover, and landed the same day at Calais,[388] accompanied by Gloucester and the Earls of March and Warwick, with rather over a thousand men.[389]

The defeat at Beaugé had not been without its effect both in encouraging the French and in distressing the English. It had not been easy to raise men in England, as Gloucester had found, and it was necessary in many cases to resort to impressment. Accordingly Henry took the precaution of sending his ships back to England, for fear that deserters from his army might by their help regain their native land.[390] In Normandy the Earl of Salisbury had done something to restore the prestige of the English arms; but round Paris the French were becoming very dangerous, for the Dauphin was threatening Chartres and an advance on the capital.[391] Under these conditions Henry abandoned the idea of spending some time in Picardy, and the whole army marched down the seacoast to Abbeville. Here the passage of the Somme would have been disputed had it not been for the good offices of the Duke of Burgundy, who had joined the army at Montreuil, and induced the citizens of Abbeville to allow the English to pass.[392] Without any pause Henry pushed on by way of Beauvais to Gisors, where he left the army under the command of Gloucester, and went on to Paris to consult with Exeter.[393] Gloucester took the army to Mantes, where the King rejoined him, and Burgundy, who had left the English at Abbeville, also came up with reinforcements. Henry had hoped to bring the Dauphin to fight a pitched battle, but on his way to Mantes he learned with great regret that the French had raised the siege of Chartres and had retired into Touraine.[394] With a clear field before him Henry determined to besiege Dreux, a strong castle near the Norman border, which had been harassing its neighbours for some time.


By this time the army had been considerably reinforced. The lords who had come over with Henry had contrived to make up their appointed numbers, Gloucester at all events having his full complement of four hundred men,[395] and several of the English captains, already in France, had brought their contingents to the main body.[396] Since the death of Clarence Gloucester had been practically second in command. Hitherto his elder brother had taken precedence of him, not only by reason of his age, but also on account of his greater experience, though it would seem that in siege operations Gloucester had always been regarded as the better soldier. At any rate the siege of Dreux was now committed to his care, though Henry himself was with the army.[397] With Gloucester the King of Scots was associated in command, but it would seem that this had a political rather than a military significance; James had never seen a siege in his life, save as an unwilling spectator of the fall of Melun, but as a captain in Henry’s army he was meant to exemplify the rapprochement between the English and Scotch, which had been initiated whilst Henry was at home. The young King’s long captivity was nearing a close; he was to have three months’ leave of absence in Scotland at the end of the campaign, which was to be a preliminary to his final enlargement. Moreover, on behalf of the Scotch the Earl of Douglas had agreed to enter the English service with four hundred men in the ensuing year.[398]

Though James was nominally joint commander, the burden of the siege naturally fell on Gloucester, and he invested the town on July 18. The fortifications were particularly strong, and situated as it was under the brow of a rocky eminence of considerable height, with an almost impregnable castle on the summit and a double moat around it, the task seemed no easy one. Gloucester, however, found a vineyard adjoining the castle which, though strengthened by a wall and tower, was the weak spot of the defences. While keeping a close watch around the rest of the town, he concentrated his attack on this point, and by means of diligent mining under cover of a heavy cannonade he was able to drive the defenders out of the vineyard, and so secured a better position from which to attack the town itself. On August 8 the garrison, being hard pressed, and despairing of help from the Dauphin, who showed no sign of leaving his position behind the Loire, agreed to surrender if not relieved within twelve days. On August 20 the English troops entered the town.[399]

Hitherto Henry’s military operations had not extended beyond Normandy, for the siege of Dreux had only been undertaken to safeguard the Duchy. Now he began to see that it was impossible to secure France by the same means that he had employed to secure Normandy. Already his forces were thinned by the necessity of garrisoning the towns that he had taken, and he could not attempt to garrison the whole of France in this way. On the other hand, the disastrous results of his grandfather’s famous march through France showed him the danger of any operation far removed from his base. His one hope was to goad the Dauphin to action. He had hoped that the siege of Dreux might draw the French to attempt its relief,[400] and that was one reason why he had confided the attack to the care of Gloucester, while he himself awaited a relieving force. These tactics having failed, he determined to seek out the Dauphin, and compel him to give battle. Only the prestige of a second Agincourt could make his title of ‘Regent of France’ anything but a name, or induce Frenchmen generally to accept him as their future King. It was with joy, therefore, that he learned towards the end of August that the French were collecting their forces on the Loire not far from Beaugency, and he hastened to move from Dreux to meet the enemy.

We have no evidence to prove that Gloucester took part in this expedition, for he is not once mentioned by the chroniclers after the siege of Dreux, though we know that he was still in France in March 1422,[401] and that the operations of the English were confined to the main body under Henry. In all probability, therefore, Gloucester took part in the march on Beaugency and shared the King’s disappointment on learning that the French troops had dispersed. For fifteen days the English waited for a French attack, whilst the Earl of Suffolk tried to get in touch with the enemy on the south side of the river. The Armagnac refused to offer battle, for they had not forgotten the method by which the armies of Edward III. had been driven from France, and Henry had to rest content with the capture of Beaugency. Further tarrying in this ‘unfruitful country’ had now become impossible; men and beasts were dying of starvation; so with a heavy heart Henry turned eastwards. The suburbs of Orleans were captured, but an attack on the town itself was deemed impossible, and the army passed on to Villeneuve-le-Roi, which surrendered on September 22. By October 6 the English had invested the town of Meaux.[402]


Throughout this siege, which lasted for five months, we find no mention of Gloucester, even in the pages of the chronicler Elmham. It is very improbable that this would have been the case if he had been present at the siege, for not only was he second in command of the army, but his prowess in siege operations was such that some important post must have been assigned to him had he been there. It seems possible that before the army advanced to Meaux, Gloucester was sent to protect Paris and its environs. Exeter, its former governor, was now with the army, and Gloucester may have been deputed to guard the capital, and at the same time keep up communication between the English army and its Norman base.[403] This, however, is nothing more than conjecture, for we lose sight of him entirely till about March, when he crossed over to England.[404]

Gloucester’s journey to England was undertaken to exchange posts once more with Bedford. When Henry had sailed from Dover in the previous year he had left the kingdom in his brother’s care, and Catherine, who was expecting her confinement, had been left behind also. On December 6 the future King Henry VI. had been born,[405] and the Queen had prepared to rejoin her husband as soon as her health should permit her to travel. Bedford was commissioned to accompany her, and so his younger brother was sent to replace him in England.[406] As early as February 7 Gloucester’s lieutenant at Dover had had instructions to prepare ships for the voyage,[407] but Bedford and the Queen did not actually sail till May,[408] and before this Gloucester had taken over the management of the kingdom. His commission as Regent has not survived, and the earliest document signed during this regency is dated May 25,[409] but before this, on St. George’s Day (April 23), he had presided at a Chapter of the Garter as the King’s representative, and had supervised the arrangements made for the fees now allotted to the Garter King-of-Arms, whose office had been created by Henry to commemorate the victory of Agincourt.[410]

This last campaign in France was but an isolated incident in the life of Duke Humphrey. His future policy was not affected thereby, but his return to England, and his position of independence in close proximity to the fascinating Countess of Hainault, was to make its influence felt. The regency was outwardly quite uneventful, but it left its mark on Gloucester’s life. Henry cannot have foreseen the danger of putting his brother in the way of temptation, probably he did not regard it as a temptation, and still more probable is it that he had not the faintest conception of the hidden elements in Humphrey’s character. He had known him only as an able soldier and a careful administrator under his direction. The forces which were moulding the Duke’s attitude had not yet all appeared, and so it was with no misgivings for the future that the King once more appointed his youngest brother his representative in England. It is, however, probable that during the short four months of this regency Humphrey began to dream of ambitions over seas in the midst of pleasant dallyings with Jacqueline. At least Duke and Countess had every opportunity to become better acquainted, till in August the former had to postpone his hopes of continental aggrandisement, since his position and rights at home became the question of the moment, when England learnt the death of her beloved King.


The last moments of Henry V., and his instructions to those who gathered round his bedside, are important for their bearing on the arrangements for the government of the country during the minority of his son. Considerable doubt has been cast on the details of the arrangements which Henry decreed from his death-bed, but with no great reason, for the chroniclers are almost unanimous in their assertions. The Dukes of Bedford and Exeter with other lords were gathered round the dying King, who reasserted his right to the crown of France, and urged them to fight to the end in defence of those righteous claims which were now to pass to his son, commanding them to keep the Duke of Orleans a prisoner in England till the future King should be of age. He then described his wishes for the government of the inheritance. Bedford was to be Regent of the kingdom of France and the Duchy of Normandy; Gloucester was to be Regent in England, and no qualification of the latter’s power was so much as suggested. There is less unanimity amongst the chroniclers as to the personal guardians appointed for the young King, but Exeter, Warwick, and the Bishop of Winchester were all probably mentioned. With the prophetic instinct of approaching death Henry besought his hearers to give no cause of offence to the Duke of Burgundy, and to repeat this warning to Gloucester.[411]

Having delivered his last injunctions to those who stood by, Henry’s strength rapidly failed, but after a period of quiet he rose up in agony, and with the words ‘Thou liest, thou liest, my portion is with Jesus Christ,’ the pride of England and the scourge of France passed away to a Tribunal where men’s actions are judged by their motives and not by the professions of their mouth. It seemed, so says the chronicler, as though in his last moments he fought with evil spirits;[412] certainly for many years to come England’s portion was to be with the evil spirits of faction and disaster, spirits which might have been powerless to do harm, had Henry V. adopted the course of true patriotism, and not ‘busied restless minds with foreign quarrels.’

A fresh page of history begins with the death of Henry V., and new personalities appear in the forefront of politics. The character of the young King Henry VI. is a negligible quantity, for he was only nine months old: ‘Vae cujus terræ rex puer est,’ quotes Walsingham,[413] and indeed it was mainly the youth of the King which gave such a character to his reign, as to fully justify Hall’s description thereof; it was in very truth to be ‘the troubleous season of Kyng Henry the Sixt.’[414] Three men stand out as the chief actors in the first period of the reign—the two next heirs to the throne, Bedford and Gloucester, and the Bishop of Winchester, head of the semi-legitimatised family of Beaufort.


Of this Henry Beaufort, who was henceforth to play an important part in the story of Humphrey’s life, we must take some notice, for he has not hitherto come across our path. As the legitimatised son of a royal prince, his birth had taught him to push himself forward. A man of great ability, he soon made himself a power that must be reckoned with, and as Chancellor he had influenced the policy of the kingdom as early as 1404. Till now he had had no commanding position such as the minority of Henry VI. promised him; the field of his ambitions was now enlarged, and if we cannot say that he was ‘one of the pillars of the house of Lancaster,’[415] his importance must not be minimised. As a man he was unscrupulous, imperious, and impatient of control; as an ecclesiastic, he was more ostentatious than clerical. Even as Baldassare Cossa had exchanged the life of an Italian condottiere for the papal chair, so was Beaufort ever ready for an excuse to exchange the mitre for the helmet. The future was to find him the belated exponent of a wise foreign policy, and money-lender in chief to the dynasty; but we cannot fail to see in him much of that factious spirit which produced the Wars of the Roses. Such a man, of royal blood yet outside the succession, was no reassuring element for those who weighed the chances of a successful reign for Henry VI. Of quite another stamp was John, Duke of Bedford. Far above all his contemporaries did he stand out in greatness of character and statesmanship. He had none of the charm and personal magnetism which gilded the career of his royal brother in the eyes of contemporaries, but he had all the more solid qualities which stand for greatness without glamour. A wise and careful, if not brilliant, general he was to show himself; a level-headed administrator he had already proved to be during the long absences of Henry V. His death was to remove the only obstacle to French victory, and the only element of strength which the House of Lancaster possessed. With a strong affinity to Henry V. in some qualities, he despised that politic self-deception which enabled the latter to pose as the apostle of reform, and it cannot be doubted that he alone of all men might possibly have saved England from the disasters which threatened her internal peace.

His brother Humphrey, on the contrary, was in no way cut out to guide the destinies of a nation in a ‘troubleous season.’ Versatile and brilliant, endowed with the more taking but superficial qualities of his brother Henry, he had shown himself an able soldier, an efficient regent, but he had had no real training in statesmanship, and possessed no natural aptitude in this direction. Above all, he had not sufficient strength of character to meet opposition with a determination which could not be gainsaid; unlike Bedford, he could not assume a judicial attitude, but by his assertions of power only irritated, where he should have soothed, the conflicting ambitions which took the place of statesmanship in the days of Henry VI. No personal force, no determination, he became a party man, when he should have dominated all parties, merely an item among discordant factions. As yet these failings of character which rendered such great abilities useless were not clearly apparent, indeed Henry V., above all things a judge of good instruments for his work, had chosen him to govern England. All through the late King had felt a growing confidence in his youngest brother; to say that he trusted Bedford thoroughly, but Gloucester only so far as it was necessary,[416] is an unfair summary of his reign. Again and again did Henry trust Humphrey with important work, not once do we find that the trust was misplaced, whether at the siege of Cherbourg, or during his two short regencies in England. No signs of that factious spirit which party politics produced in him were as yet apparent, and a comparison between his and Bedford’s past records at this period shows no balance one way or another. If Henry was indeed the statesman he is said to have been, he must have known that the government of England was a more important post both for ruled and ruler, than the already shaky government of France, and yet he confided the chief task to Humphrey. Evidence as to his distrust of Gloucester is found in his warning to him not to alienate Burgundy, but the warning was given to all who were present, and they were commissioned to hand it on to the only man not present who had a large stake in the kingdom. Henry did not distrust his youngest brother, and perhaps some indication of his increasing regard for him may be found in the fact that, whereas in his first will he left him a mere trifle,[417] by his second will he bequeathed to him the considerable legacy of all the royal castles in the south of England.[418]


The history of Humphrey’s future career has one central theme running through every aspect of his public life—the rivalry with Henry Beaufort, a man whom Henry had no reason to trust in the way he trusted his brother. On the eve of starting for France in 1417, after all arrangements had been made, we find the sudden resignation of the Chancellorship by the Bishop of Winchester[419] under circumstances which point to royal compulsion; on the very day of resignation a full pardon for all offences whatsoever was granted to him, a grant which suggests offences which it was unwise to make public in the interests of the dynasty.[420] When about to embark on the history of the famous quarrel of Gloucester and Beaufort, let us remember that the former had been trusted by Henry V., and that the latter had not.

Thus the personality that had dominated English history for the last nine years had passed away, and the field was thrown open to other leaders. To Gloucester the change was full of significance. On the one hand, the power which had controlled the Bishop of Winchester was removed, Beaufort ambitions might now have full play, and would naturally be directed against such a possible rival as Duke Humphrey. On the other hand, the man who had leant more than he knew on the strength of his oldest brother was left to face life without this support. Henceforth Humphrey must stand alone, and very rapidly the weaknesses of his character begin to show themselves. Hitherto we have seen little more than a machine carrying out its work under strict guidance, henceforth we can discover the real man, and the inward workings of his mind. His volatile nature, his incapacity at a period of crisis, his inability to prosecute any venture to its legitimate end now begin to appear. Hitherto we have had to explain his actions by reference to the future, henceforth his true characteristics are manifest. His character does not alter under changed circumstances, only its weakness, hitherto concealed, is now revealed. Under the compulsion of independent action we shall find him displayed in his true colours, a man guided by his passions and yet hindered by a growing lassitude, a man with good intentions but no stability, a man who lives for the moment and cannot see into the future. Under the most favourable circumstances he might possibly have escaped failure, but the Fates were against him. Already Jacqueline had come to mould his policy in one false direction, already he had imbibed false ideas as to the ethics of the war with France, now he was about to meet with that opposition which was to reduce him to the ranks of a factious politician. Yet in spite of his failures he was tenacious of fixed principles, he had a sense of justice and right, and had he been left to govern England unmolested it is probable that his love of law and order, which was part of his Lancastrian inheritance, would have enabled him to leave a far worthier record on the pages of English history than the historian can now give him. He had all the negative virtues of weakness, he was open-handed, simple-minded, and incapable of a deep-laid scheme, but his instability marred all his efforts. Ambition came to him suddenly at the death of Henry V., and he had no power to deck out this ambition with strength, and to make men feel that he had any right to his immense pretensions.


The death of Henry V. was not generally known in England till September 10. At that time, as we have seen, Gloucester was Regent, and it would have seemed natural that he should continue as such until Parliament could meet to arrange matters. This, however, was not to be the case. From the very outset of the reign the struggle for supremacy in the kingdom of the infant boy began. The Bishop of Winchester had behind him the experience gained under three successive kings, he had held official positions, and he enjoyed a large and powerful family connection. All this strength was at once used to prevent Gloucester’s influence in the kingdom being anything but a name. The note of the sad years that were to follow was thus struck when Beaufort’s influence was brought to bear on the Council, and the Regent was given to understand that the kingdom was no longer under his control.[421] This early interference shows the true nature of the struggle which was to circle round the infant King. There was no reason to distrust Humphrey at this time, so the action of the Bishop of Winchester was obviously a personal move, dictated by his private desires to control the policy of the kingdom. He had the magnates and the Council at his back; it is possible that Humphrey was already so much the friend of the people and the lower gentry as to arouse the opposition of the nobility; at any rate everything was done to show the late Regent that he had no importance, save as the uncle of the King. On September 28 Bishop Langley resigned the Chancellorship, and though in deference to his rank as premier peer then in England Gloucester was allowed to receive the Seal from the Bishop’s hands, he was obliged to do so at Windsor in the presence of the baby Henry, so that it might be emphasised that the act was his nephew’s, not his own.[422] Also, when the writs were issued for summoning Parliament, they were sealed ‘Teste Rege,’ not ‘Teste Custode,’ as had been the custom of Bedford and Gloucester when they had been regents for Henry V.; and the first writ was addressed to Gloucester as first lay lord, whereas under the regency the Regent had had no writ addressed to him.[423]

Thus, though Gloucester’s position as chief of the King’s subjects then in England was admitted, he was allowed no further power either by right of his past regency, or in view of the fact that at his death Henry V. had left to him the care of the realm. The Council undertook all the executive work, and though Gloucester was supported by the general public opinion of the lesser gentry and commonalty, he did not venture to oppose this abrogation of power. However, when the Council met on November 6, he registered a protest against the terms in which his commission for the summons of Parliament was drawn up. He was commissioned to open, carry on, and dissolve Parliament, ‘and to perform all royal functions therein by assent of the Council.’[424] To this clause he objected as prejudicial to his position; it was, he urged, a departure from precedent, for no such limitation had been laid on him in the commissions under which he had summoned Parliaments during the reign of Henry V. Under the present arrangement, he argued, the Lords of the Council could keep Parliament in session for a whole year against his will, should they wish to do so; and this was a direct denial of his rights. In turn, each Lord was asked for his judgment, and one by one they answered that, owing to the youth of the King, they could not take it upon them to omit the words to which Gloucester objected, as they regarded them as a safeguard both to Gloucester and themselves.[425] Against such a decided and unanimous answer Gloucester was powerless, and was obliged to admit defeat; his position was realised by his contemporaries, for when speaking of his presidency of Parliament Walsingham calls him ‘prius custos Angliae.’[426] On November 7, the day after this Council meeting, Henry V. was buried in Westminster Abbey. A large number of nobles had brought his body to Calais by way of Rouen; funeral services were said for him at St. Paul’s, at Canterbury Cathedral, and at Westminster, and with great pomp and ceremony he was carried to his last resting-place, a waxen effigy lying on the coffin dressed in the full glory of the regalia.[427]

Before Parliament assembled at Westminster on November 17,[428] it was quite evident that Gloucester desired to become Protector in accordance with the wishes of Henry V., and that he hoped for a position untrammelled by ‘assent of the council’ or other constitutional restrictions.[429] He had already received one rebuff, but he still had an easy confidence either in the rightfulness of his claim, or in his power to enforce his wishes. He does not seem to have realised the difficulties that lay in his way, nor to have had more than the faintest conception of the strength of the opposition to his pretensions: his incapacity to gauge the trend of events was for the first time made manifest. Bedford, too, had definitely put forward his claim to the position, and on October 26 had written a letter to the Mayor and Aldermen of London, saying that he was informed on reliable authority that ‘by the lawes and ancient usage and custume of the reaume,’ the government of England fell to him as eldest brother of the late King, and next in succession to Henry VI. He urged them not to prejudice his claims by an act of theirs, assuring them that he acted from no desire for ‘worldly worship,’ but only because he wished in every way to obey and fulfil the law of the land.[430] This claim to the Protectorate based on right of birth was quite inadmissible, as was proved later in Parliament, but it is probable that Bedford was sincere in his professions of disinterestedness, for he was never jealous of his brother, and really had at heart the good of the kingdom. Evidently the letter was aimed rather at the pretensions of Beaufort than at Gloucester’s ambitions, for it was a kindred claim to that of his brother, and did not preclude the possibility of Humphrey’s regency in his absence. Perhaps also Bedford knew himself to be ‘the one strong man in a blatant land,’ and wished to secure some hold on his volatile brother, a hold which was to prove useful at a later date; at all events he made his appeal to those who were accounted Gloucester’s surest supporters.


Such was the state of parties when Gloucester on November 9 opened Parliament as the King’s Commissioner. Beaufort, with the support of the baronial party, stood for Conciliar government, which meant his own preponderance in the kingdom; Gloucester, also playing for his own hand, demanded the Protectorate. Between the two stood Bedford with a policy which seemed to doubt the wisdom of either party, and a desire for the good of the kingdom, which others in their haste had totally ignored. Archbishop Chichele delivered the opening speech of the session, and outlined its business, which was to provide for the good governance of the King’s person and the safety of the realm, besides certain matters of form, such as the reappointment of the late King’s Chancellor, Treasurer, and Privy Seal, which were soon accomplished.[431] However, the important business of the session was not settled till December 5,[432] the interval being probably spent in intrigue and counter-intrigue, of which no record survives. The struggle was not one of constitutional questions, though it assumed that appearance. Humphrey stated his claim simply by appealing to his right as next-of-kin to the King, and to the dying wishes expressed by Henry V.[433] The period was one when theory had outgrown practice in the constitution, and so the Beaufort faction could assume a most moral and upright position when they urged an examination of precedents. The Lords therefore replied to Gloucester’s claims that they could find among the arrangements made during previous minorities no justification for his claim of priority of blood, nor any indication that the King could dispose of the government after his death, save with the consent of the Estates. With great ingenuity the Beaufort party had put the Lords on their mettle, and had induced them to regard Henry’s dying commands as an infringement of their rights. Their victory was complete, and their chance of meddling in the affairs of the kingdom was assured. The whole thing was a party move, and cannot be construed as a vote of no confidence in the Duke of Gloucester. The reply of the Lords was equally hostile to Bedford’s claim, and was inspired by a desire to curb the power of the man who held the office of Protector, irrespective of who that individual might be. The personal struggle between Gloucester and Beaufort had not yet begun, for there are not the slightest signs of any earlier rivalry. The struggle was one for position, and would have been initiated by Beaufort whoever had laid claim to the Protectorate. Later, indeed, the personal element comes to the front, but never once during the whole controversy did it dominate the political ambitions of either party.

Beaufort having won the day, Parliament decided that Bedford should be ‘Protector et Defensor’ of the kingdom and first Councillor of the King when he was at home; and that when he was not, Gloucester should take the same position, with the same condition about being in the kingdom. Both commissions were made out ‘during the King’s pleasure.’[434] To this Act Gloucester gave his consent, declaring that he did so without prejudice to his brother, who was in France.[435] Yet another Act which made elaborate provisions to prevent the misuse of the Protector’s power was passed. He was given the patronage of the smaller offices, such as those of foresters and park-keepers, of benefices rated at not more than thirty marks, and of prebendaries in the royal chapels ordinarily in the King’s gift; but the deaneries in such chapels were not to be in his presentation. Even in the cases just cited the Protector’s power was limited by the fact that all commissions to these offices had to be given under the great seal, which was kept by the Chancellor.[436] Beyond this the Protector had no independent power, in all else he was controlled by a Council of which all the best-known men of the period were members, for with Gloucester were associated the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishops of London, Winchester, Norwich, and Worcester; the Duke of Exeter, and the Earls of March, Warwick, and Westmoreland; the Earl Marshal, and the Lords Fitzhugh, Cromwell, Hungerford, Tiptoft, and Beauchamp.[437] To this Council was given the real control of the executive; indeed the Protector seems to have had no veto, nor even any right to be specially consulted, excepting on those matters concerning which it was customary to consult the King.[438] It was the Council who had the presentation to the major benefices and the nomination of sheriffs, justices of the peace, controllers, custom officers and the like, subject always to the consent of the Protector. The Council also had the management of wardships, marriages, and ferms.[439] To remove any possibility of the Protector being able to evade the wishes of the Council, it was enacted that a quorum of six, or at the least four, was necessary for the legal transaction of business, and for a matter of great importance a majority of the whole Council.[440] The Duke of Exeter was made Guardian to the King, but owing to the tender age of the child he was left for the time being under the control of his mother.[441]

These heavy restrictions must have been extremely galling to Gloucester, and it is doubtful whether they were wise. Without claiming for him any high degree of statesmanship, or any real gift for administration, we must admit that these provisions left him with a smaller share in the government than he might reasonably have expected. Not only was he reduced to the position of an ordinary councillor, with a certain priority which his rank, apart from his office as Protector, would have given him, but he was provided with a Council in which his influence was not predominant. The Beaufort influence was in the ascendant there, and the two chief members of that family, Henry of Winchester and the Duke of Exeter, both had seats at the Council Board. On paper, therefore, Beaufort’s efforts to restrain the Protector’s power were eminently successful, yet it was prejudicial to his own interests, and disastrous to the internal peace of the kingdom, to throw down the glove thus early. Had Gloucester’s power been less openly restrained, and had his opponents been less ready to bind him with Acts of Parliament, he would not have been compelled to act on the aggressive from the first. The result of the Beaufort policy was not to reduce the Protectorate to a mere name, but to convulse the kingdom by giving every encouragement to Gloucester’s factious tendencies. The challenge had been given, and we cannot blame Gloucester for accepting it. It might perhaps have been unwise to place full power in the hands of such a volatile man; but a partially restricted power, which, while giving play to his ambitions, should yet prevent any disastrous domination of English politics, would have delayed and modified those factious fights which are so dangerous during a minority, which were to prove of no advantage to the house of Beaufort, and which opened the way for a devastating civil war. It was, in a word, a grave political miscalculation that led Henry Beaufort to inspire this aggressive policy towards Gloucester, for the Protector was not friendless. He was supported by a strong feeling in the kingdom, and the Bishop was yet to learn the weight of hostile London opinion when he attacked their ‘Good Duke.’ On the other hand, nothing could be wiser than the provision that Bedford should be in a position of authority over his brother. Though it gave little promise of a stable and similar policy in France and England, yet it gave a certain strength to English politics, and, for the Beauforts at least, was to prove extremely useful before long.


Notwithstanding the rebuff in the matter of the Protectorate, Gloucester set to work energetically, for though technically his powers were small, he had a fund of energy which, while it lasted, carried him over great obstacles; and his personal influence, due to his general popularity and his near relationship to the throne, stood him in good stead. He busied himself with putting the ‘inward affaires’ of the country in order, and also in making arrangements for the support of Bedford in France.[442] Matters were complicated there by the death of Charles VI. on October 22, 1422.[443] This meant the loss of an ally who, imbecile though he was, must command the allegiance of the majority of Frenchmen. The Dauphin from being the head of a faction had suddenly sprung into the position of rightful King of France, and Bedford found the difficulty hard to face. Indeed so hard pressed was Paris, that it sent a special embassy to England to demand help to resist the advances of the new King, Charles VII.[444] For the time Gloucester was working in perfect harmony with Bedford, for he needed his support to strengthen his hands in England, and it seems probable that it was about this time that what might be called terms of alliance between the two brothers were drawn up. There is no evidence that this document was ever signed, but at least it indicates an inclination of the two brothers to work together. The treaty begins with some general remarks about the advantages enjoyed by a state, if its chief men are bound together in bonds of friendship. The two contracting parties therefore agree that they will be loyal to the King, and promote his good to the best of their ability; and next to the King they will be loyal to one another, not assisting each other’s enemies, but rather warning each other against any danger that threatens them. They agree to turn a deaf ear to mischief-makers, who would sow distrust between them, and to treat each other with perfect frankness. Finally, each agrees to enter into no alliance without the consent of the other.[445]

This alliance between the two brothers has great significance. It goes far to prove that Bedford’s sympathies were on Gloucester’s side during the Protectorate quarrel, as indeed they well might be, as his interests were also at stake therein. Still more clearly does it point to the fact that it was personal ambition, and that alone, which led Beaufort to take his pseudo-constitutional course. Bedford realised that the grasping Bishop of Winchester wanted his power to increase in proportion to his purse, and he wished to prevent this by strengthening the hands of a man who was now in some ways his representative in England. Obviously Beaufort had been trying to create bad blood between the two brothers, as their refusal to listen to tales against one another proves; but he had failed, and it was not till Humphrey had prejudiced his case completely by his expedition to Hainault, that Bedford ceased to support his political ambitions. The struggle, therefore, in spite of petty restrictions on his power, which Gloucester would feel more than Bedford, was still not personal. It was a fight for supremacy between the legitimate and the illegitimate descendants of John of Gaunt.


In the new year Gloucester’s salary as Protector was definitely settled. On February 12 it was decreed by an ordinance of the Privy Council, that so long as he remained Protector he should receive eight thousand marks (£5333, 6s. 8d.) a year, dating from the death of the late King. Four thousand marks of this was to be drawn from the issues of the Duchy of Lancaster, and nine hundred marks from possessions in the King’s hands.[446] In the previous December Gloucester had been given a present of £300 and the revenues of foresters, park-keepers, and keepers of warrens which were vacant. These revenues were not given to the Duke in his private capacity, but were attached to the office of Protector, for Bedford was to receive them whenever he was in England.[447] On March 3 the first instalment of Gloucester’s salary was paid,[448] and, besides these financial advantages, he was made Constable of Gloucester Castle soon after the rebuff of his limited protectorship, and reappointed Chamberlain of England for life, together with other offices which he had held under Henry V.[449] Also on April 30, 1423, he was given the lordship of Guisnes for fourteen years, dating from the Feast of St. Michael (Michaelmas Day, September 29) next following, and for this privilege he was to pay nine hundred marks a year to the King, and to agree to keep a garrison of fifty men-at-arms and fifty archers in the castle.[450] In May the indentures for this were signed,[451] and at the same time he was given a tenth of the revenues of ‘Fruten, Calkwell, Galymot, Ostrewyk, Balynton,’ and other towns.[452] This accumulation of offices and revenues suggests that the victory of the Beaufort party had not proved so complete as at first they had thought. The Protector was able to secure a strong official position in the kingdom, and to increase his revenues considerably; possibly his recovering strength was due to the support he had received from Bedford. From another aspect it shows a new phase of Gloucester’s character. Under the determined attacks of Beaufort, fresh developments and characteristics appear. Rapidly the soldier gives place to the intriguing politician, and the necessity of being prepared for future attacks develops a grasping trait in the Duke’s character. Henceforth every opportunity for increasing his official importance or adding to his rent-roll is readily seized with a view to gaining an ever-growing preponderance in the affairs of the kingdom. Thus opposition brings to the fore all the worst sides of the ‘Good Duke’s’ character, and under its influence his policy is moulded.


On the eve of St. George’s Day (April 22) Gloucester, exercising the functions of the sovereign, held the first chapter of the Order of the Garter at Windsor, and according to the wardrobe account Jacqueline was the only lady who received robes this year for the celebration of the Feast of St. George.[453] On October 20 Parliament met at Westminster, and the session was opened by Gloucester, acting as before on the authority of a special commission, which empowered him to preside over its deliberations and dissolve it, subject, of course, to the sanction of the Council.[454] During a part of the proceedings on November 17 the young King was present, sitting on his mother’s lap, though at an earlier date he had resisted removal from Staines so energetically, that he had to be carried back into the house.[455] The session, though it lasted more than three months, was not eventful, but there were renewed efforts to curb the power of the Protector; and probably the introduction of the King was part of this policy, in that it served to remind Gloucester that he was there only as the representative, not as the governor, of his little master. A strong protest was lodged against the practice of individual members of the Council answering petitions on their own responsibility. It was therefore enacted that neither Gloucester, nor any other councillor, should grant either Bills of Right, of Office, or of Benefice in answer to a petition made to him, but must refer the matter to the rest of the Council.[456] In a new set of regulations for the Council evidence is also found that matters were not running smoothly in that body. There were evidently misunderstandings on the subject of foreign policy, and the various members were forbidden to go behind the action of the Council, and to express opinions contrary to the decisions arrived at.[457] All this helps to prove the strength of the opposition to Gloucester amongst the magnates of the realm, both in and out of the Council. It seems also to point to the fact that Beaufort’s challenge had had the effect which was to be expected. Hampered by the restrictions on his power, Gloucester was too impatient to work against them quietly, and had evidently defied the Council in any way he could. The not unnatural result was exasperation on both sides. The second cause of complaint, with its distinct mention of ‘into strange countrees oure soverain Lord shal write his letters by th’ advyse of his Counsail,’ may have reference to Gloucester’s Hainault policy, which was rapidly reaching the stage of war, and of which we shall speak later.

On the other hand, Gloucester’s efforts towards procuring a treaty with Scotland were the subject of sincere thanks in this Parliament, and the wording of the note seems to imply that he had taken a very active part in the negotiations.[458] It was now almost eighteen years since James of Scotland had been taken prisoner, and it is probable that Humphrey and he had been fast friends ever since their boyhood. It was natural, therefore, that the Protector should take a leading part in the negotiations which were leading up to his release. On September 10 a treaty was signed at York, in which the Scotch agreed to pay £40,000 for their King’s maintenance in England, and to withhold further support from the French; allusion was also made to a conditional marriage with some high-born English lady.[459] James had fallen deeply in love with Lady Joan Beaufort, daughter of John, late Earl of Somerset;[460] in the following February he married her, and the April of 1424 found him a free man confirming the treaty as King of his country.[461] Gloucester can hardly have welcomed this choice of a bride, for he could not know how little the unfortunate lady would strengthen the hands of her family.[462]


Before Parliament rose it was called upon to pass an Act of Attainder against Sir John Mortimer, cousin of the Earl of March, who had been arrested on suspicion of treason in 1421. He had tried to escape from the Tower, apparently being instigated thereto by emissaries of the Government. For this offence he was condemned to death by a special Act of Parliament, and executed.[463] From the deposition of William King, who was instructed by the Lieutenant of the Tower to win Mortimer’s confidence, it would seem that the latter’s escape was to be a prelude to a rising in Wales in conjunction with the Earl of March, and that the Protector’s life was threatened. March was to usurp the throne, and the Bishop of Winchester was also marked out for distinction, ‘for Mortymer wolde pley with his money.’[464] How far these statements were true, and how far part of an organised attempt to remove a dangerous prisoner cannot be said, but at least it is clear that the Earl of March had already caused anxiety to Gloucester owing to the suspiciously large retinue he had brought with him to the meeting of Parliament, and the ostentation with which he kept open house at the residence of the Bishop of Salisbury.[465] It may be that a conspiracy was indeed on foot, and that Humphrey once more received a warning of the dangers which beset the house of Lancaster. If so, the warning was forgotten by the removal of the conspirators. Mortimer we have seen was put to death, and March was ordered to his government in Ireland, where shortly afterwards he died of the plague. His lands went to swell the already extensive possessions of Richard, Duke of York,[466] who, however, was a minor, and the custody of those lands which March had held from the King in chief was given to Gloucester, to be held by him so long as they remained in the hands of the King, that is to say, until Richard came of age.[467]

Thus Humphrey was launched on his independent career. With no one in direct authority over him he was the master of his own policy, and that policy had been slowly developing during the last nine years. Three great influences had come to mould his character and dictate his line of action. The crusading zeal of his brother Henry had wedded him to the idea of French conquests, without giving him the intellectual force to organise or help such a project. The flight of Jacqueline to England had thrown in his way one who, appealing to the desire for foreign dominion and roving knight-errantry he inherited from his ancestors, was to draw him away from his ordered line of policy and show up all the weaknesses of his character. The opposition of Beaufort had compelled him to face a new set of circumstances, and had aroused those factious instincts that had hitherto lain dormant. These three facts dominated all his future life. His policy was formed by them, and henceforth he followed whithersoever they led. Little he cared that they did not agree, that to follow one enterprise he must sacrifice the other two endeavours on which he had set his heart. His ruling passion was ambition, but he did not know how to satisfy it. Thus his future life will be found to be consistent in so far as it is governed by one overwhelming desire, but totally inconsistent in detail. To conquer Hainault was to abandon his position at home; to carry on the French war successfully was to resign his claim on Hainault; to concentrate his energies on the government of England was to abandon Jacqueline to her fate. All these he did in turn, and thus, unless we dip down into the fundamental facts of his character, we shall be unable to divine what led him into these extraordinary inconsistencies. His policy of self-aggrandisement was fixed, but his unsettled mind could not decide how best to satisfy his ambitions.


No sooner were the discussions and heartburnings of the settlement of the Protectorate over, than the volatile nature of Humphrey drew him off on another venture which, though dictated by his main characteristic—ambition, was entirely inconsistent with his desire to be supreme in England. It may be that disgust and disappointment at his partial failure in his first struggle with Beaufort impelled him to abandon his English ambitions for a time, but it is quite obvious that if he wished to direct and control English policy, it was not to his interest to leave the country to the tender mercies of his enemies, while he prosecuted an impossible attempt to dominate and govern Jacqueline’s Netherland dominions. It is also possible that with high hopes of success in Hainault he hoped to establish himself there quite definitely, and to abandon for ever his attempts to assert his position in England. Whatever may have been his motive, it is plain that so far as his English ambitions were concerned it was folly to embark on any undertaking which would take him away from England. However, considerations of policy never deterred Duke Humphrey; ever confident that what he wished to do was wise, he had already taken the first step towards his new undertaking before the question of the Protectorate was finally settled, and we must therefore pick up the thread of this policy, and his relations with the fugitive Countess of Hainault, who was the pivot on which this part of his career turned.

The Duke of Burgundy had deeply resented the asylum given to Jacqueline by Henry V., and his indignation had been still further increased by the rumour that a new marriage with the King’s brother, Humphrey, was under consideration. To the Duke’s protest, however, Henry had practically turned a deaf ear, for he seems to have put no check upon his brother’s actions; else he would not have sent him back to England in 1422, and thus placed him in near proximity to such dangerous attractions. More than this, he had gone out of his way to honour the lady, and it must have been with his consent that she was chosen to hold his infant son at the font, and to stand sponsor for him at his baptism in 1421.[468] This policy of favour to Jacqueline was not abandoned after his death, for her allowance of £100 a month—a really princely sum—was continued.[469]


Meanwhile Humphrey had not delayed his wooing. We have no definite evidence as to the personal appearance of the object of his attentions, for though the chroniclers allude to her beauty and attractive qualities, her portraits, such as they are, give us a rather heavy-faced woman with but moderate features. That she was lively and full of spirits none can doubt, and there may have been in her some strong attraction for the rather susceptible Duke, yet as Polydore Vergil shrewdly suggests, the territories which she claimed were probably a more potent attraction to Humphrey than the charms of her person.[470] Whatever his motives Gloucester had soon come to an understanding with Jacqueline, and their marriage was probably arranged before Henry V.’s death. The Countess had ordered declarations that her former marriage was null and void to be posted on the church doors throughout Hainault and Holland, and there exists a legend that the two lovers applied to the Antipope Benedict XIII., who had been deposed by the Council of Constance, for a dissolution of her marriage with John of Brabant, a request with which the prisoner of Peniscola immediately complied.[471] In proof of this statement there is not sufficient documentary evidence, yet in the absence of any action by Martin V., some form of divorce seems to have been gone through, and a contemporary writer, by no means favourable to the Duke, declares that Jacqueline was properly divorced by law after a complete examination of the question by learned doctors, and this before her third marriage.[472]

When exactly this marriage took place is uncertain. Certainly no public ceremony was performed, since such an event must have attracted universal attention,[473] and there is considerable disagreement among the various writers as to even the approximate date of the occurrence. That the marriage did not take place before Henry V.’s death on 31st August 1422 we know from a definite statement to this effect by Jacqueline herself in 1427;[474] but it must have been shortly after this that the two became man and wife. Even by October 25 a rumour had reached Mons, that the Duke of Brabant had received news that his wife had ignored his rights, and had married Gloucester, that she was already with child, and wished to come to Quesnoy for her confinement.[475] That this is no more than a story, inspired by the known intentions of Jacqueline, is shown by the obvious untruth of the last statement; but on February 9 following a writ was received at Mons from the Countess convening a meeting of the Estates, at which her marriage was to be announced.[476] All this goes to prove that Cocqueau spoke the truth when he wrote, ‘Gloucester married Jacqueline in the month of January of this 22nd year (O.S.), as I have seen in a letter belonging to John Abbot of St. Vast, notifying that the said Gloucester had written to the Duke of Burgundy telling him that he had married the said lady, whereby her territories belonged to him.’[477]

In spite of the declaration of a sixteenth-century writer that this marriage was ‘not only wondered at of the comon people, but also detested of the nobilite, and abhorred of the clergie,’[478] it seems to have aroused no adverse comment at the time. Gloucester’s new title was recognised as early as the March following,[479] and later in the year his new wife was recognised as Duchess of Gloucester, when she was made a denizen of England by Act of Parliament with the full rights of an English-born subject, at the same time as Bedford’s newly married wife, Anne of Burgundy, had the same privileges conferred upon her.[480] It is apparent from this that no distinction was made between the wives of the two dukes, and that at a time when Humphrey was being opposed in his ambitions at home no opposition was raised to his daring and uncanonical marriage with a foreign princess. It is strange to notice that on the same day were completed the last formalities of confirmation in the matter of two royal marriages—that of Bedford, of which the whole and avowed object was the maintenance of the Burgundian alliance, and that of Gloucester, which was to bring that alliance so near to a definite rupture. We must gather from this that as yet the significance of Humphrey’s action had not been realised, and that Jacqueline was still regarded—even as Henry V. had regarded her—as a valuable political asset, rather than as a possible stumbling-block in the way of English aggrandisement in France.


No sooner were the formalities of Jacqueline’s naturalisation accomplished, than she was taken by her husband to visit that monastery where above all Gloucester was popular owing to his friendship with the famous Abbot of St. Albans, John Bostock, better known as Wheathampsted, a name borrowed from his birthplace. They were accompanied by three hundred attendants, some English, and some ‘Teutonici,’ a term which alludes probably to the Dutch, Flemish, and possibly German retainers, whom Gloucester had collected in preparation for his coming campaign in Holland. At St. Albans Jacqueline was acknowledged as Humphrey’s true and legitimate wife, and they were met at the entrance by the Prior, who, representing the Abbot, at that time absent at the Council of Pavia, led a procession to welcome the visitors as they approached the monastery on Christmas Eve. The festivities of the season were there celebrated, though they were somewhat marred by the disorderliness of some of Gloucester’s servants, who took to poaching in the neighbouring woods, and were found in possession of a goodly collection of roebucks and hinds which they had already flayed. One of the offenders was secured and put into the stocks by the authorities, but this did not satisfy the impetuous Duke, who seized a mattress-beater and broke his unruly servant’s head, ordering at the same time the slaughter of his greyhound. ‘Thus,’ says the admiring chronicler, ‘he set at rest this evil appetite on the part of his servants by one striking example.’[481]

Jacqueline and Gloucester stayed at St. Albans for a fortnight, and having kept the Feast of the Epiphany there, they were the following day received into the fraternity. This admission into the brotherhood imposed no monastic severities, nor did it confer any new civil rights, but it was regarded as a mark of honour, and those admitted were allowed to vote in the Chapter. On the monastery itself it had a more important bearing, for Wheathampsted had restored the custom, long in disuse, in order to procure funds for the house over which he ruled. This was the last event of Gloucester’s visit, and having presented the monastery with two pipes of ‘good red wine’ as an acknowledgment of their splendid entertainment during the Christmas festivities, husband and wife left St. Albans.[482]


However gratifying the acknowledgment in England of Jacqueline’s right to be called his wife might be to Gloucester, he was determined to assert his right to control her territories abroad, and nothing would induce him to lay aside this project. At the same time it was beginning to dawn on the minds of Englishmen that the objection of Burgundy to Humphrey’s pretended rights was insurmountable, and that the assertion of those rights would jeopardise the Anglo-Burgundian alliance concluded in the preceding April at Amiens, and cemented by the marriage of Bedford to Duke Philip’s sister Anne.[483] Indeed the Council had already received a letter from the University of Paris warning them of the impending danger, and emphasising the fact that the position held by England in France had its ‘root and origin’ in Burgundian support.[484] It was at this time, too, that Burgundy gave a clear indication of the course of action he intended to pursue. As far back as March 14, 1422, during the siege of Meaux, Henry V. had secured his election to the Order of the Garter at a chapter held for that purpose in France. Philip, however, had not formally accepted the nomination when Henry V. died, and he then put off the acceptance on the ground that the Order demanded a strict union of its members and forbade them to bear arms against one another. For two years his doubts continued, until, in answer to a peremptory requisition from the Chapter at Windsor, he excused himself from accepting the honour conferred upon him, lest he should be reduced thereby to the dishonourable alternative of either violating the revered statutes of the Order, or infringing the sacred rights of kinship.[485] In such a way did the Duke assert his intention of resisting Gloucester’s claims on Hainault.

Bedford was now fully alive to the danger attending his brother’s ambitions, and he initiated a series of attempts to settle the matters in dispute between the Dukes of Brabant and Gloucester, with himself and the Duke of Burgundy as arbitrators.[486] To this end it was necessary to secure the consent of the two parties concerned, and in October 1423 John of Brabant published a formal acceptance of such arbitrament,[487] but at the same time gave to the world an agreement which he had signed with Burgundy in the previous June.[488] In this document, while accepting Burgundy and Bedford as arbitrators, and agreeing not to ally with any of the former’s enemies before the decision had been given, he at the same time stipulated that if his rival refused to follow the same course in the matter of arbitration, he himself should be absolved from this agreement. On the other hand, Burgundy agreed to certain stipulations which seem to bind him in a way that makes him appear as a very partisan arbitrator. He promised on oath that in the discussion of the case ‘he would ordain, appoint, and determine nothing which should not be with the knowledge, consent, and wish of the Lord of Brabant,’ and that if Gloucester refused to place his case in the hands of the arbitrators, he would help his cousin of Brabant to resist the attacks of his opponent, so long as the said cousin would agree not to make peace with Gloucester without his ally’s consent.[489]

It is hardly surprising that Humphrey hesitated to put his case in the hands of judges, when one of them was already bound to his opponent, and moreover he regarded his case as quite beyond dispute, and resented any suggestion that his brother should consider that there could be any question of right or wrong in the matter of his marriage. However, after an unsuccessful meeting between Bedford and Burgundy in the latter days of 1423,[490] the former induced his brother to acknowledge the court of arbitration, and to issue a formal declaration to that effect on 15th February 1424, with the proviso that the matter must be settled before the end of March.[491] Another attempt was made to bring about a reconciliation at Amiens, but the matter was again postponed until Trinity Sunday.[492] Bedford to satisfy Burgundy ceded certain French territories to him, and at the same time induced both Gloucester and Jacqueline to agree to the arbitrament, if matters were settled before the end of June;[493] but in the meantime Burgundian disinterestedness was put still more in doubt by the recognition of Duke Philip as the heir of the weakling John of Brabant.[494] However much we may condemn the way in which Humphrey was sowing discord between England and her ally, and helping to rob his country of the fruits of the victory of Verneuil, we cannot but understand his hesitation in submitting his case for decision to two men, one of whom was bound to gain by his loss, whilst the other was led by the single desire of conciliating his fellow-arbitrator.

Of the justice of his cause Humphrey was quite convinced, he was equally determined to assert his supposed rights, and he did not see that any advantage would accrue from these discussions. Nevertheless he sent representatives to the Council to be held in France, stating his case plainly in the instructions that he sent with them, and emphasising the fact that this was the second time that he had been put to the trouble of sending ambassadors about these affairs, for when he was represented at Bruges, Brabant was not. The basis of his case lay on the unalterable contention that he and Jacqueline were true man and wife by the laws of the Church, and that this marriage entailed for him the government not only of his wife’s person, but also of her dominions. Brabant, having contracted an illegal marriage with the heiress of Hainault, was now in wrongful possession of her lands. There were three reasons why this marriage was illegal. In the first place, consanguinity in the second degree was a bar to the union, since the parties concerned were first cousins; further there was the obstacle of affinity in the third degree through the relationship of the Dauphin John, Jacqueline’s first husband, to the Duke of Brabant—a relationship, be it noted, that also existed between her and this same first husband; besides all this, the fact that Jacqueline’s mother was also godmother to John of Brabant created a spiritual relationship between the two, which, according to the laws of the Church constituted a third obstacle. To the argument that these objections were removed by papal dispensation it was answered, that the dispensation was procured by fraud, and by the suppression of the truth, and that within four days it was revoked, Brabant being notified of this fact. If it were argued still further that reconfirmatory letters were received at a still later date, it was obvious that they were useless, for the revocation of the dispensation was absolute, and could not be rescinded save by a new dispensation; moreover the marriage was consummated before these last letters arrived, so that the actual marriage must have been illegal, and was so still, as no new ceremony had been performed.[495] It cannot be denied that, as a point of strict law, there is much to be said for this presentment of the case. The dispensation had originally been signed and sealed on December 22, 1417,[496] and the revocation had followed, under pressure from the Bishop of Liége, better known as John of Bavaria, and the Emperor Sigismund, on the following 5th of January, whilst it was not till September 5, when the Pope had left Constance and Imperial influence behind him, that he signed the letters which re-enacted the dispensation. Thus the statement of Humphrey was true and formed an arguable case, and he put aside all counter-arguments based on the ground of consent by the assertion that Jacqueline had retired to her mother’s protection so soon as she had realised the enormity of her offence.

By these means was the legality of Jacqueline’s last marriage to be proved, and the case was strengthened by the assertion, that at the time when negotiations for breaking off the Brabant marriage were on foot Duke John had agreed that the contracting parties were to be free, if no papal Bull to the contrary was issued before a certain date, and, since no such Bull had arrived, Jacqueline had acted honestly, as well as lawfully in the matter. As to the territories which were the main cause of dispute, Brabant had promised not to alienate them, and since he had broken his promise, Gloucester demanded their surrender to him with the income derived therefrom during this unlawful possession.[497]

These instructions contain an uncompromising demand for all the rights that Humphrey claimed, a demand which is strengthened by Brabant’s rejoinder. He does not dispute the foregoing arguments, but merely stipulates that, if the estates are adjudged to Gloucester, he must recognise all existing appointments, both ecclesiastical and secular, besides all judgments, laws, contracts, and pardons, and that he himself shall not be responsible for a dower for the Countess, for debts incurred in Hainault, nor for any further expenses at the Court of Rome.[498] In the light of these stipulations, which are in themselves a confession of defeat, it is the more surprising that the commissioners could not come to a decision. They declared that the evidence on both sides was insufficient to justify a definite judgment, and they recommended an appeal to the Court of Rome both on the question of the marriage, and on the question of the territories. The most they could do was to promise to forward an earnest request to the Pope to settle the matter out of hand should both parties agree to this course, and to notify his decision to them before August 1.[499]

The reasons for this equivocal reply are not far to seek. On the evidence produced Humphrey had an overwhelming case, but the interests of Burgundy, who meant to inherit the disputed dominions from his submissive cousin of Brabant, forebade a decision in the Englishman’s favour. Bedford, on the other hand, probably refused to consent to a verdict against his brother when the case against him was practically unsupported. The Duke of Brabant cared not what happened, so long as his safety and his pocket were secured, and henceforth he passed out of the struggle, which now became a contest between the two Dukes of Burgundy and of Gloucester, the former for a reversion, the latter for immediate possession of Jacqueline’s inheritance. Politically the policy of Humphrey was now more reprehensible than before. It was evident that Duke Philip intended to make it a matter personal to himself, and yet personal ambition was allowed to swallow up the advantage of a nation, and the man who later called for a continuance of the French war was now about to do his utmost to hamper its prosecution. We have no evidence whether the suggestion made by the arbitrators was followed, but we have a letter which was written by Bedford to the Pope at this time urging him to carry through the divorce of Jacqueline and Brabant very quickly, and pointing out the deplorable loss of life and the horrors of war likely to result if he did not do so.[500] Bedford at least had gauged the situation. He saw that his brother had a strong case, on paper at any rate, and that he meant to profit by it to the utmost of his power, but at the same time he realised that the only means of coercing Burgundy was to approach him under the shadow of a papal Bull.


Meanwhile Gloucester had been preparing to assert his claims by force of arms. For some time past he had been in communication with the towns of Hainault,[501] and he had not been behindhand in collecting men in England. Unable to get any support from the Privy Council,[502] he had to fall back on his own resources, and he managed to raise a considerable body of troops, though in some cases his efforts to borrow money met with a curt refusal.[503] On the other hand, he used his position as Warden of the Cinque Ports to secure ships to transport his soldiers,[504] and when the arbitrators had acknowledged their inability to arbitrate, both he and his Duchess considered themselves absolved from their promise to await its decision, a promise, too, which had expired at the end of June.

All things were now ready, but before setting out on their expedition Gloucester and his wife went to take farewell of one, who in her sad confinement could sympathise with the luckless fate of the exiled Jacqueline. On September 14, the day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Duchess of Gloucester passed through St. Albans after vespers with an escort of twenty-four horse on her way to Langley to visit Queen Joan, and two days later her husband, accompanied by ‘John Robessart,’ followed in the same direction.[505] By September 29 both Duke and Duchess were at Dover, where an embassy from Mons found them,[506] and Gloucester proceeded to turn his back on England, where in his absence the Bishop of Winchester, as Chancellor, was left to carry on the work of the Protector.[507] It is characteristic of Gloucester that this new attraction had made him forget his political ambitions at home, and that for the time he was content to leave the kingdom in the hands of his rival. For some days hostile winds kept him in port, but before long they veered round, and at ten o’clock on the morning of October 16 he set sail from Dover with forty-two ships, reaching Calais between three and four o’clock of the same day, in spite of a severe storm encountered on the way.[508]

At Calais Duke and Duchess rested for some time, as they had only brought over the vanguard of their army. But they were not idle. Immediately on arrival they each despatched letters to Mons, the capital of Hainault, in which they announced their safe arrival at Calais and their intention to come and take possession of their dominions; meanwhile the town was to make every preparation for their honourable reception.[509] At the same time speculation was rife in the neighbourhood of Calais as to the route which Gloucester would take in his advance on Hainault. On the day after disembarkation, ambassadors appeared from Flanders, and at an audience granted them on the 18th, urged the Duke not to pass through their territory, as it would be inconvenient to them, and since the roads were narrow, the bridges dangerous, and the waterways frequent, to him also. They were told that no decision had yet been taken, but that in any case their country would be unhurt. Following these came other ambassadors from Artois, who in quite another strain begged Humphrey to make use of their country as a means of access to Hainault. Both embassies were courteously received.[510]


To Calais also came messengers from Bedford with the news that Brabant had sent envoys to Paris to appeal once more to the arbitrators, and with an invitation from the English Regent in France to his brother to meet him at some convenient place to discuss the matter.[511] Gloucester, however, had made up his mind to proceed with his undertaking, and he returned an evasive reply. Nevertheless a Council was called in Paris, mainly it would seem to pacify Burgundy, who was furious at this interference in what he considered his own happy hunting-ground, and after mature consideration terms of agreement were drawn up and sent to the contending parties, Ralph de Boutillier and the Abbot of Fécamp being commissioned to bear them to Humphrey.[512] Though Brabant accepted the terms, neither the Duke nor the Duchess of Gloucester would have anything to do with them, and this last attempt at a settlement failed.[513] We have no record of what these terms were, but it seems likely that they were highly favourable to Burgundy’s protégé, for on hearing of their rejection Duke Philip flew into a mighty passion, and declared roundly to Bedford that he would resist the English claimant with all his forces, a course he could easily take as he had just signed a truce with the Dauphin. With a sad heart Bedford bore with the angry Duke, and attempted to appease his wrath by a round of dancing and jousting. Paris was very gay in her attempt to bolster up the Anglo-Burgundian alliance.[514] For a time these measures were successful, and though he coquetted with the party of the Dauphin, Burgundy did not abandon his friendship with England.[515]

Meanwhile Gloucester had had some correspondence with the Pope, partly with reference to the slanders which he thought a certain Simon de Taramo had uttered against him, and partly on the subject of the delay in admitting Martin V.’s nephew, Prospero Colonna, to the Archdeaconry of Canterbury, a delay probably fostered by Gloucester, as a hold over the man who could make his marriage undeniably legal.[516] The correspondence on both sides was of a most friendly nature, and in one letter the Duke urged a speedy granting of the divorce, which he desired not only because of his great love for Jacqueline, but also because of the underhand behaviour of his opponents.[517] This complaint of underhand dealings would be hardly justified were we to accept as genuine another correspondence attributed to this time, and preserved in the Archives at Lille. According to these letters, a plot, to which Bedford was privy, was on foot between Gloucester, Suffolk, and Salisbury to murder the Duke of Burgundy, much in the same way as his father had met his end at the Bridge of Montereau. Much circumstantial evidence is to be found therein, showing that Gloucester’s motive was to prevent Burgundian interference with his Hainault plans.[518] It is, however, beyond dispute that these letters were the work of one William Benoist, who forged them at the instigation of the Constable de Richemont for the latter’s political purposes.[519] Neither Bedford nor Gloucester would have stooped to such an expedient, for though the younger of the two brothers might be unscrupulous and ambitious, yet murder was a crime of which no one could imagine him guilty. With all his faults he would never have thus tarnished his fair name.


The month of October was now passed, and the Earl Marshal had arrived in the early morning of November 2 with forty-two sail and the second detachment of Gloucester’s army, and on the evening of the same day four more ships arrived. A week later the troops marched out as far as the castle of Guisnes, there to await the last contingent which was now due. They had not long to wait, for on November 13 twenty-two more ships arrived at Calais, and immediately preparations were made for the start.[520] Early in the morning of November 18 Gloucester led out his men on the first stage of the march to Hainault.[521] The vanguard consisted of 1100 horse, or thereabouts, with 800 horse and 300 men-at-arms in the main battle, while the rearguard comprised 2000 men, in all, therefore, the force consisted of some 4200 troops.[522] Over this army the Earl Marshal had supreme command.[523] It is strange that with his military experience Gloucester did not undertake to lead his troops in person, but the explanation may be found in the report of his physician as to his state of health, which seems to have been anything but good at this time.[524] The route chosen for the march was through Artois, by way of Thérouaune and Béthune, and passing to the north of Lens, the army reached Hainault territory, making its first halt therein at Bouchain.[525] All through the county of Artois, which was Burgundian territory, the utmost care was taken to keep the soldiers in strict order; neither were the people annoyed nor was the country injured by the passage of the English forces.[526] All this was done to the end that no personal injury should induce Duke Philip to resist the invasion of those territories which were claimed by the Duke of Brabant.

In Hainault there was no rejoicing when the return of their long absent princess was announced. The traders and merchants of the towns had increased their prosperity during the Regency of John of Bavaria, the able and unscrupulous ex-Bishop of Liége, to whom Brabant had yielded the government of Jacqueline’s dominions for a term of years. Whatever might be the private convictions of the citizen class, they cared for nothing so much as for peace, and this new invasion, though undertaken in the name of hereditary right and good government, only promised a long civil war and the consequent disturbance of trade and commerce.[527] The nobles might champion Jacqueline, or range themselves under the banner of Brabant, but they were not the most important factor in the country. It was on the support of the towns that any governmental authority must be based, for these strong trading communities had been enabled to strengthen themselves against the rural nobility by superior organisation and co-operation, and by superior wealth. All that they needed was a strong hand to govern the country with impartiality and justice, to keep the turbulent nobility in check, and to give untrammelled opportunities for expanding commerce and acquiring wealth. This ideal had been practically realised under the government of John of Bavaria—though his energies had been devoted more to Holland and Zealand than to Hainault—a realisation which was not expected from the rule of Jacqueline and her unknown English husband. It was in this spirit, therefore, that the town of Valenciennes refused to admit her Countess within her walls,[528] and that the citizens of Mons sent an urgent embassy to the Dowager-Countess, asking her to use her influence to induce her daughter not to enter their city, nor to bring ‘Monsieur de Gloucester’ with her;[529] indeed, if we are to believe an English chronicler, the various states of Jacqueline’s heritage had united in offering Humphrey an annual tribute of £30,000 to be left in peace.[530]


Both the Dowager Margaret and the Count of St. Pol, Brabant’s younger brother, had done their utmost to avert the invasion of Hainault by Gloucester,[531] and the former had sent an urgent embassy to England for this purpose, to the expenses of which the various towns had contributed;[532] but when all chances of keeping the peace had passed away, she threw in her lot with her daughter, and seems to have entered into cordial relations with her new-found son-in-law.[533] The Mons embassy was therefore sent in vain, and in reply to their request the citizens learnt that the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and their mother intended to enter their capital in triumph on the following Sunday.[534] Resistance was out of the question when on Monday the 27th Humphrey, with a force of about 5000 men, and accompanied by Jacqueline and her mother, left Crespin and appeared before the gates of the city. Making the beat of a bad business, the citizens determined to welcome their princess and her new husband, but they steadfastly refused to admit the whole army within the walls. After some discussion it was arranged that the soldiers should find accommodation in the suburbs outside the fortifications, and that an escort of not more than 300 horse should be admitted within the city, among which there were hardly any English, their number being mainly made up of the Dowager’s Hainault troopers, whom she had brought with her to swell the invading army.[535]

Thus early was Gloucester brought face to face with the fact that his wife’s subjects did not regard him as the saviour of their country, but rather as a foreign intruder, and one whose intentions were suspected. Yet, however suspicious they might be of Humphrey’s intentions, the men of Mons had quickly made up their minds to accept the inevitable and to make the best of it. On the Tuesday they waited on their lady and her husband at the Naasterhof, where they were lodged, and paid their respects to them, presenting the former with two butts of wine, the one idea of an acceptable present in the Netherlands of the fifteenth century, it would seem. At the same time the Estates of Hainault were summoned to meet on December 1, and the interval was spent by Gloucester in exploring the city. On the Wednesday he accompanied his wife on a visit to the garden of the archery guild, where he gave six nobles towards the completion of the chapel; thence they went to see the view from the hill in the park, and finished their tour of inspection at the castle.[536]


On the day appointed the Estates assembled at the Naasterhof at ten o’clock in the morning, and the business of the meeting was begun by a speech from Jan Lorfevre,[537] ‘subprior of the church of the scholars,’ who was appointed to set forth the grounds upon which Jacqueline and Gloucester based their united claims to the estates of the late Count William of Holland. The arguments he used against the marriage of the princess and the Duke of Brabant were the same as had been laid before the court of arbitration, and he added that Jacqueline had always disliked the alliance, and bitterly repented her of the sin she had committed in ever consenting to it. For this sin she had done penance, both in monetary payments and in bodily sufferings, and had received absolutions; then after having consulted several famous Italian ecclesiastics and other wise men as to the legality of the proceeding, she had married the Duke of Gloucester. In the light of these facts, as here set forth, she now demanded that her husband should be recognised as Regent and Protector of Hainault by reason of this marriage.[538] The Hainaulters were now compelled to make a definite decision between the two parties, and it seemed obvious to many that their only means of safety, for the present at any rate, was to acknowledge Humphrey to be the true and only husband of Jacqueline, and to throw in their lot with the party which could command the five thousand or more soldiers encamped hard by. Nevertheless, there was a strong minority which objected strongly to the English prince, and showed its objection by abstention from the meeting of the Estates. It was therefore three days before a quorum could be secured to transact any business, but finally on December 4 the Estates determined to recognise their lady’s last marriage, and to send letters to the Duke of Brabant renouncing all allegiance to him.[539] Thus Hainault officially decided to support the claims of Gloucester, though Holland and Zealand, at a safe distance from the reach of his forces, refused to have any part in these proceedings, and threw in their lot with the Duke of Brabant.[540]

The Hainaulters, however, were by no means unanimous as to the step that had been taken. The hesitation of so many members of the Estates was a reflection of the attitude of the whole county, and there was still ample evidence that there was no abatement of the feud of Hook and Cod, which distinguished the supporters of Jacqueline from their hereditary enemies. Though the towns might follow the lead of the Estates, and yield a grudging acknowledgment of their lady’s claims, there was still a very powerful nobility to be counted with, of which body prominent members openly defied the new ruler. Whilst the nobles as a whole dissembled their opposition, there were certain notable exceptions to this rule, for the Count of Conversan, his kinsman Messire Engilbert d’Edingen, and the Lord of Jeumont refused to accept the new state of affairs, and declared themselves firm adherents of the Brabant cause.[541]

To all appearance, however, Humphrey’s power was supreme, and he decided to make a tour of inspection round the towns which had accepted his rule, even as Jacqueline herself had done when she first succeeded to her inheritance. He first took the oaths in the name of his wife as Countess, and for himself as governor of the county at Mons on December 5, receiving the usual present of wine after the ceremony,[542] and then, having appointed the Lord of Hainau to be bailiff of Hainault,[543] he left for Soignies, where he renewed his oaths next day. In turn he visited Manbeuge, Le Quesnoy, and Valenciennes, promising to guard the citizens and to respect the laws, and receiving in exchange the acknowledgment of his position as regent.[544] All the other towns seem to have followed the lead of these principal cities, and yielded obedience to Humphrey,[545] but it must be noticed that the authority acknowledged was merely that of regent for his wife. Nowhere do we find a suggestion that Gloucester had any power of his own right, or that his description as Count of Hainault was anything but a titular honour, and it may be that it was hoped by this means to avert the intervention of the Duke of Burgundy. Under the present arrangement there would be no obstacle to prevent the Duke from acquiring the Hainault inheritance on Jacqueline’s death, except in the now improbable event of the birth of a child, and it is likewise possible that in taking this precaution both Count and Countess thought that they had averted all chance of Burgundian interference, in spite of the threats of Duke Philip at Paris, which we must suppose had reached their ears.

The bare acknowledgment of his position as regent to his wife did not satisfy Gloucester, who had not undertaken the assertion of her rights with any single-minded or chivalrous intention of giving justice to the wronged, and on his return to Mons he summoned the Estates of Hainault, and demanded a grant of forty thousand French gold crowns to recoup him for his expense in bringing an army to Hainault. To this demand the representatives of the towns demurred, for they had never asked for this army, with which they would much rather have dispensed, and a stormy debate on the subject on December 28 failed to result in any decision. On the following day, however, the delegates were brought to realise that, left to themselves, they would be helpless now that they had defied Brabant, and they agreed to the grant on condition that it was reduced by only counting forty ‘sols’ to the crown.[546]

This half-hearted consent to Gloucester’s demands was wrung from very unwilling subjects. The English troops were not popular in Hainault. They had shown themselves but little under control, and had fully justified the fears felt with regard to them when they first appeared outside Mons.[547] At Soignies Gloucester had received urgent messages from the capital, begging him not to allow any of his English troops, except those of his household, to re-enter the town,[548] and again at Valenciennes he had been requested to put some restraint on the ravages of his men.[549] Discontent at the outrages perpetrated by their so-called protectors was increased by the unsettled state of affairs, and the lack of energy displayed by the regent; at St. Ghislain his officers had been refused admission, though only accompanied by four men.[550] Moreover, Gloucester’s authority was defied, at least in one instance, on the plea that a grant by Jacqueline overruled his commands.[551] Thus the oaths which Gloucester had sworn to keep law and order in the county were proved to be useless, and it was in vain that Mons insisted on their renewal in the most solemn manner,[552] when a divided authority and a reckless unrestrained soldiery combined to bring the horrors of war to the doors of the unfortunate Hainaulters.

It is not surprising, therefore, that projects for mediation between the two Dukes came to the front, and that the citizens of Mons appealed to their fellows of Valenciennes to join with them in invoking the towns of Ghent and Namur to intervene for the purpose of bringing about a reconciliation.[553] Such a reconciliation was the only hope for the wretched Hainaulters, who on the one hand would court disaster should they rise against the dominant power of Gloucester, whilst on the other they reaped a bitter harvest from their association with his cause. To strengthen this movement, further efforts at mediation came in the shape of another embassy from Burgundy and Bedford, which arrived at Mons in February under the leadership of the Archbishop of Arras.[554] Mediation, however, whether by towns or Dukes, proved equally abortive, as it was not likely that either side would consent to conditions so long as each hoped to secure a papal decision in its favour.


Martin V. was still hesitating as to whether or no he should grant the divorce. It mattered little to him that a distracted people eagerly looked for a judgment that might give them relief; and he thought that by delay he might secure some great concession from one side or the other, or at least he might wait till he could see which party was likely to gain the upper hand. Besides, it must be remembered that immense possibilities—far greater than the question of the rights of a petty Princess of Hainault—lay behind this decision. The course of the war between France and England might lie in the balance which hung between the contending Dukes, and a verdict on the divorce appeal, given at a critical moment, might help to end that long-protracted struggle. Be this as it may, rumours, born of this long waiting for a judgment, arose in the Low Countries, and it was reported that a Bull of divorce between the Duke of Brabant and Jacqueline had been granted by the Holy See, a report which reached as far as Zealand, where the citizens of Zierkzee wrote to the authorities at Mons, asking for a confirmation of the report if it were indeed true.[555] Before long these rumours reached Rome, and on February 13 Martin wrote to Brabant, declaring the Bulls of divorce now circulating in the dioceses of Utrecht, Liége, and Cambray to be absolute forgeries.[556] At the same time he sent letters to Gloucester in which he asserted that the opinion that Jacqueline’s English marriage was undoubtedly legal, currently attributed to him, had never been expressed, and that all he had said was, that he hoped that it might be proved so.[557] Rome was still shuffling, though the purport of the two letters was calculated to improve the position of Brabant rather than that of Gloucester, but for the present this did not affect the course of affairs, for the first letter at least did not reach its destination till Humphrey had turned his back for ever on Hainault.[558]

While Gloucester had been steadily alienating the sympathies of the men of Hainault, and attempting to justify his invasion of the country, his troops had not been idle. In December the Earl Marshal had invaded the territory of Brabant, and had ravaged the country with fire and sword, penetrating as far as Brussels and carrying off much booty and many prisoners.[559] No organised resistance was made to the inroad. The Duke of Brabant, weak and unenterprising as usual, took no interest in the defence even of his hereditary duchy[560]; so little did he bestir himself that a rumour was spread abroad that he was dead.[561] Though this was untrue, a further report that John of Bavaria had died was substantiated,[562] for the energetic ex-bishop had fallen down dead suddenly at the very beginning of 1425,[563] and thus, from the death of one John and the inertia of the other, there seemed to be every likelihood that Hainault at least would pass definitely under Gloucester’s rule.


There was one man, however, who had to be counted with, one who would brook no interference within his sphere of influence, and this was the Duke of Burgundy. The titular principals in this drama have retired to the back of the stage; Jacqueline and the Duke of Brabant give place to Humphrey of Gloucester and Philip of Burgundy. The plot, too, has widened, and has ceased to be confined to the mere states under dispute; it has become a personal question with an European significance. When Philip had left Paris vowing that he would resist the ambitions of Gloucester, he meant what he said. A truce concluded with the party of the Dauphin had enabled him to devote his whole attentions to this end, and on December 20 he had issued letters from Dijon to his vassals in Picardy, Artois, and the neighbouring territories summoning them to arm for the defence of Hainault under the leadership of John of Luxembourg.[564] By this means a considerable force was despatched to join the troops which the Count of St. Pol was collecting under the auspices of Burgundy in Brabant, and by the beginning of the new year a body of some forty thousand men, so the chroniclers tell us,[565] was ready to invade Hainault under the brother of Duke John, who himself was too much of a lay figure to command the troops in person.[566] As a preliminary to the attack on Hainault, the frontier towns in Brabant territory were garrisoned, and from these bases frequent predatory expeditions were made across the borders, thus inflicting on the unfortunate Hainaulters the twofold burden of an enemy’s devastation and a so-called friend’s foraging parties.[567] Gloucester had already garrisoned many of the towns under his command, and the two forces were constantly meeting in skirmish and counter-attack, till early in March St. Pol crossed the frontier, and invested the town of Braine-le-Comte.

St. Pol’s army was a heterogeneous collection of men from various sources. Round him were gathered nobles of Brabant, and the discontented from Hainault, Burgundian troops, Brabantine levies, and even Frenchmen from amongst those who espoused the cause of the Dauphin, all comprising a powerful but somewhat unwieldy and undisciplined force.[568] In Braine there was an English garrison of two hundred men, but the numbers of the defenders were swollen by the citizens, who took up arms to resist the invader. For eight days[569] a spirited defence was maintained, but superstitious fear quelled the ardour of the Englishmen when they seemed to see their patron saint St. George riding his white horse among the besiegers. On March 11 terms were offered and accepted; the English were to be allowed to march out with the honours of war, taking with them their private property, whilst the townsmen were to be immune from molestation in return for a certain monetary payment. This agreement, however, was not kept, for the wild, undisciplined levies of Brabant, enraged at the loss of so goodly a chance of spoil, broke into the town under cover of the truce, and pillaged, burnt, and slew, while their captains tried in vain to assert their authority. Thus the town was utterly destroyed, and citizen and soldier alike were butchered in the streets.[570]


While these events were happening at Braine, Gloucester had hurried forward with the main army, which had joined him again after its expedition into Brabant. He left Mons on March 5, and advanced as far as Soignies within four miles of the beleaguered town, but further than this he did not go, for he was advised not to attack the besiegers.[571] Such abstention is inexplicable in the impetuous Humphrey. True, St. Pol had the numerically stronger army, but the English troops were experienced soldiers, whilst their opponents were for the most part raw levies or unmanageable volunteers, and laboured under the disadvantage of having to protect their rear if they were compelled to turn and fight a relieving force. Whether it was that ill-health had sapped Humphrey’s initiative, or that the tactics of the Earl Marshal were over-cautious, the fact remains that nothing was done, and the Duke spent the time that he lay idle at Soignies in writing another letter to the Pope, in which he clamoured for a speedy decision of the divorce proceedings, urging the mischief caused by the delay and the blood which was being shed. He declared that he had entered Hainault, and had been well received, but that the troops of the Duke of Brabant had invaded his territory. The blood of the killed in this struggle was not on his head. He had sent three separate embassies to procure a pacification, but in each case without effect, and now as a devoted son of the Holy See he must urge that the time for delay was passed, and that the Pope must settle the matter by a prompt decision.[572]

While this none too courageous appeal for the help of the spiritual arm against the invaders was being despatched, Braine had fallen, and to cover his supine conduct, which might well suggest cowardice, Gloucester sent a herald to the victorious general challenging him to fight then and there,[573] a challenge which, had it been sent a few days earlier, might have saved both the town and the murdered garrison. St. Pol gladly accepted the defiance, and he waited several days in the neighbourhood expecting to be attacked. At length, as there were no signs of the enemy, and fearing to venture another siege in the inclement state of the weather, he began to draw off, and it was only then that a party of some eight or ten hundred English was sent to harass his retreat. St. Pol in anticipation of a general attack drew up his forces on a hill, as did also the English commander on some rising ground opposite, and a series of skirmishes took place in the intervening valley. This, however, did not develop into a general engagement, and in the evening the English drew off, quite unaware that the Brabant levies had thrown the opposing army into confusion by a precipitate flight. Relieved of his foes, St. Pol was enabled to march off the rest of his troops under cover of the darkness, and Humphrey had lost an excellent chance of securing a decisive victory.[574]

On the evening of the same day as this averted engagement, it was announced to both the English and Brabant commanders that a truce had been declared between Burgundy and Gloucester,[575] and to such an extent was it realised that the struggle lay between these two, and that the Duke of Brabant was merely a lay figure in the dispute, that a general cessation of hostilities ensued. For some little time past the two Dukes had been in communication. As soon as he had learnt of Burgundy’s summons to arms of December 20 Humphrey had written an expostulatory letter to him, in which he complained that his actions had been misrepresented, and that he could not accept the propositions of peace suggested at Paris, as they were prejudicial to his interests, adding further that it was untrue to say that Brabant had on his side accepted the terms. He declared Philip’s support of Brabant to be iniquitous, seeing that Jacqueline was a nearer relation of his than was the Duke, and that he was already bound to support the English cause on the Continent by treaty. Moreover, every step had been taken to respect Burgundian rights, and in passing through Artois the territory and its occupants had been respected. The letter concluded with an appeal to Philip to abstain from further hostilities.[576]


To this Burgundy after some delay had replied, that what he had said with regard to the acceptance of the conditions by Brabant was true, and that Gloucester had refused to abide by the decision of the Paris tribunal, or to await that of the Pope. With sudden heat he declared that Gloucester had called him a liar, and he therefore challenged him to single combat, offering to accept either the Emperor or Bedford as judge of the fight. This he affirmed would be a more Christian way of settling the dispute, in that it would avoid the killing of their respective adherents.[577] From Soignies Gloucester had written to accept the challenge for St. George’s Day with Bedford as judge, adding that his first letter was justified by Burgundy’s recent lie in saying that Brabant accepted the terms of the agreement.[578] To this Philip had retorted with another letter reaffirming his former statements. Gloucester had called him a liar, and he had therefore challenged him to personal combat, which had been accepted, and thereby their differences would be definitely settled.[579]

It was on account of the arrangements made in this correspondence that the truce between the two parties had been made, and it is rather strange that a chronicler asserts that Humphrey picked the quarrel to secure his retreat from Hainault.[580] The challenge came from Burgundy, and there is no evidence in Gloucester’s first letter that he wished to provoke the quarrel. On the contrary, he was evidently surprised and hurt by the attitude adopted by Philip, though it shows a surprising ignorance of the character and ambitions of the man whom he had first met at St. Omer in 1417. Till he heard of the summons of December 20 he had never doubted but that the struggle lay between himself and Brabant alone, and he had been at great pains to prevent any provocation of Burgundian susceptibilities when passing through Artois. This care was no subtle intention to put his future adversary in the wrong, but was born of an entire inability to grasp the state of the case. He was by nature a scholar, circumstances had transformed him into a politician, but no circumstances could make him a statesman. He could not see the significance of his own actions, and till brought face to face with the facts, could not understand whither his actions would lead him. He ought to have been aware that Burgundy would look on his Hainault policy with no friendly eye, and he had had clear warning that Philip would not stand by to see an alien power within his sphere of influence. Yet blind to these signs, and unconscious that any one could follow out a policy in a more determined way than he could, only now did he realise his true position, and perhaps it was only now that he began to grasp something of the complications which his hot-headed expedition was bringing upon English policy in France. Armagnac and Burgundian had fought side by side in the army before Brain-le-Comte, Burgundian and Englishman had fought against each other when they should have stood shoulder to shoulder in the plains of France. He could not hope for reinforcements, and the troops of Burgundy were arrayed against him when he had thought that the alliance with England would preclude such a possibility. He stood for his own projects, and his expedition was personal, not national, yet this, while leaving him helpless, did not fail to alienate the sympathies of Philip from the nation whose royal family had a member in arms against his treasured projects.


The heyday of Gloucester’s ascendency in Hainault was rapidly passing into murky twilight, and the men of Hainault were not slow to apprise the situation. With Burgundy in the field against them, they were surrounded by enemies, and their provisions were cut off both by road and river. They regretted Jacqueline’s visit to England, and still more did they regret that she had brought back with her an English husband. They were disgusted at the part they had played in rejecting the Duke of Brabant, and with the exception of the faithful few who clung to their Countess, they all sought how they might propitiate the party that now seemed likely to get the upper hand.[581] The very men who had petitioned the Pope to divorce Jacqueline from the Duke of Brabant,[582] now sought to win favour from him whom they had opposed. Such was the state of public opinion when Gloucester rejoined his wife at Mons after his fiasco at Soignies.[583]

In the capital the citizens had never whole-heartedly welcomed the rule of the foreigner, and had always disliked the regent’s English followers. They now decreed that Gloucester was to be received only with a reasonable following, and on condition that he gave a pledge, whereby the labourers might return to work in the fields without being molested by his men.[584] Requests had been supplanted by demands, and the citizens now made terms with the man they had acknowledged as governor, while their hostility to him was still further increased by a peremptory letter from the Duke of Burgundy threatening to send troops to besiege the city unless it returned to the allegiance of the Duke of Brabant.[585] Not only was the loyalty of Mons shaken, but also many of the towns, headed by Valenciennes, had already renounced their allegiance to Jacqueline’s governor,[586] and a fresh inroad from Brabant territory[587] convinced Gloucester that his career in Hainault was at an end. Moreover, it is more than probable that the volatile Duke had tired of Jacqueline, so soon as he despaired of ever possessing her territory, and there is strong presumptive evidence that his affections had already strayed to a certain Mme. de Warigny, the wife of one of the Duchess’s equerries.[588] As early as February 15, it had been rumoured that the Duke was about to return to England,[589] and now he definitely decided on this course. His hold on Hainault was weakened, if not gone; he had never succeeded in securing even the nominal adherence of Holland and Zealand; quick to undertake a new project, he was as quick to despair of its success, and, perhaps most potent reason of all, he wished to return to England, lest in his absence his uncle should undermine his position there.


A safe-conduct through Burgundian territory made this retreat easy, and within four days of his arrival at Mons Humphrey was ready to start.[590] Jacqueline seems to have wished to accompany her husband, but the authorities of Mons, seconded by the Dowager-Countess, interfered, and insisted that their lady should not again leave the country, and Gloucester consented on condition that the citizens of her capital guaranteed her safety.[591] A few soldiers and some cannon were left behind,[592] but almost all the English troops accompanied their master, who early in April rode out to St. Ghislain. Here amidst many tears and protestations Jacqueline bid adieu to her husband, and sorrowfully watched him ride away down the road to Valenciennes and pass out of her life for ever, though at the time she knew it not.[593] By way of Bouchin and Lens he reached Calais, whence he sailed for England on April 12.[594]

Hainault breathed more freely when she saw the English depart, for they had brought nothing but trouble and sorrow in their train. Not content with provoking the wrath of the Duke of Burgundy to fall on the country they had pretended to defend, they had pillaged, slain, and wasted wherever they went. More than once we have had occasion to notice strong protests at their behaviour, and it was a very unsavoury reputation they left behind them. Neither church nor town was safe from their depredations, and the native chronicler cries bitterly ‘no soldiers ever did so much harm to the Low Countries as did the English.’[595] Gloucester’s inability to keep his men in order is not easily explained. In the French wars he had maintained the strictest discipline; while marching through Artois these very same soldiers had been compelled to restrain their plundering tendencies, and later, too, the Duke was able to lead a short skirmish into the territory of Flanders without ever once letting his men get out of hand. It may be that his health was not sufficiently good to allow him to undertake that personal supervision so necessary for maintaining order, but more probably his soldiers were left unrestrained because their leader did not try to restrain them. Humphrey must have been disgusted at the cold reception he had met with in Hainault, and annoyed at the fact that he was only recognised as his wife’s regent, not as joint ruler with her. He had set out with the idea of becoming a continental prince, and he found that he was only grudgingly acknowledged as Jacqueline’s representative. What more natural, therefore, than that his imperious and emotional temperament should choose a poor, mean way of revenging himself on those Hainaulters who had disappointed his hopes, and at the same time the cheapest and most effective method of rewarding his troops for their services? Natural it was to Humphrey. He had none of the greatness of spirit which alone could have brought his undertaking to a successful end, and he had but little to be proud of, as he turned from the scene of his least glorious achievements.


Nothing in Gloucester’s whole career has left such a blot on his character as his expedition to Hainault. Not only did he embark on an impolitic course, which came near to wreck the national policy and the schemes of his brother—a policy which he espoused himself in later life, when it had become but an empty dream—but he could not even bring himself to stand by her whom he had undertaken to champion, in the day of her distress. He had alienated the men whom he had attempted to govern, he had shown himself unable or unwilling to control his soldiers, and when thrown on his own resources, he had betrayed his weakness as a general. A soldier of ability and experience, his instability of character had rendered him helpless when he had no controlling power to look up to; an ardent lover, he had soon proved unfaithful, and had betrayed more worldly ambition than unselfishness in his love; a man who claimed to guide the destinies of England, he had shown himself blind to that which must have been clear to any one possessing the merest germs of statesmanship. All his weaknesses came to the front, and none of the virtues to which he could lay claim were apparent; it is by this episode in his life that he is best remembered, as the foolish knight-errant who adopted a mediæval pose, whilst possessing none of the mediæval chivalry which alone could make that pose bearable.


With Humphrey’s return from Hainault the second phase of his life ends and the third begins. His early life had been that of a soldier; he had celebrated the death of his brother by making a bid for the position of an independent prince; now he was to devote the rest of his days to political intrigue, and it is perhaps in this last phase that his career assumes its greatest interest. Undoubtedly his actions during the minority of his nephew have more importance in the history of his country than those of his earlier years, and from them we are enabled to realise more clearly the various threads of his policy and the governing influences in his life. Henceforth Humphrey’s whole energies are devoted to English politics. His discarded Duchess may flit across the stage, for a brief moment he may revert to his early participation in the French war, but these are merely unimportant incidents in a busy political career. The rest of his life, too, is entirely moulded by the opposition he experiences. The spirit which had inspired the limitation of the Protector’s power was to meet him at every turn, and throughout the next twenty years all English history was to find its central theme in the great struggle between the Duke of Gloucester and the Beaufort faction. Barely six months after his departure from England, Humphrey had returned to find preparations being made for the holding of Parliament, and it is probable that he had timed his departure from Hainault so as to be present at this meeting, fearing lest some hostile move should be made against him in his absence. On April 27 the young King was brought up from Windsor, and, being met at the west door of St. Paul’s by Gloucester and Exeter—the protectors of his kingdom and his person respectively—was lifted out of his chair by them and escorted to the choir, where he was ‘borne up and offred.’[596] Three days later he was present at the opening of Parliament, that his uncle might remember that he was the servant, not the master of the realm.[597]


After so inglorious and impolitic a proceeding as his recent campaign Humphrey might well have expected criticism of no light kind from the strong faction opposed to him, and if we are to believe the French chroniclers, such criticism he did receive at the hands of the Council,[598] but no traces of this are to be found in the official records. Nay more, there is ample evidence that the Protector’s influence both in Parliament and Council was considerable. Not only in the face of a revenue deficit of £20,000 did Parliament grant him a loan of 40,000 marks to be paid within four years, but the Lords of the Council agreed to act as sureties for its repayment;[599] in a dispute between the Earl Marshal and the Earl of Warwick for precedence Parliament decided in favour of the former, who was not only a supporter of Gloucester, but had also commanded his troops in Hainault;[600] finally the wardship of the estates which devolved on the young Duke of York by the death of the Earl of March was given to the Protector.[601] It seems hardly credible that Gloucester would have been given so much, or have championed his friend so successfully had his influence not been predominant. That he had met with some opposition cannot be doubted, for the six months’ power enjoyed by the Bishop of Winchester during his nephew’s absence was not likely to make him content with a secondary position, and therefore bitter, and undoubtedly justified, criticism was probably levelled at Humphrey by his rival. It may be that high words passed between them; at any rate it was not to be long before their mutual recriminations became a danger to the state. It is about this time, therefore, that the struggle between the two chief men in the kingdom passed from the stage of political rivalry to that of personal competition. Gradually Gloucester and Beaufort become bitter personal enemies, and the state of distrust inaugurated at the beginning of the reign, now becomes a contest which the full bitterness of individual dislike tends to increase every day. Henceforth no stone is left unturned by either of the men to damage the position and reputation of his rival.


Nevertheless there is no evidence that Gloucester’s Hainault policy had reaped that universal condemnation in England which it so richly deserved. Bedford, it is true, saw the danger of alienating Burgundy, and he had done his best, first to avert the provocation of his anger, and secondly to minimise the effects of that provocation, but even he seems to have felt considerable sympathy for his brother,[602] and perhaps he remembered that the late King might be held largely responsible for the turn of events. Englishmen generally seem to have looked with kindly eyes on this mad expedition, for there was about it some of the glamour of mediæval romance in appearance if not in reality, whilst Jacqueline herself had won golden opinions in England, where her unhappy lot had obtained universal sympathy.[603] For Gloucester, however, the romance of his marriage with Jacqueline, such as it had been, was quite worn off, and he had already transferred his affections to the lady who was to bring him far greater disaster than did his foreign bride. Amongst Jacqueline’s ladies-in-waiting there had been a certain Eleanor Cobham, daughter of Reginald Cobham of Sterborough in Kent,[604] and she had accompanied her mistress to Hainault. When Humphrey had returned to England he had brought her with him, and it seems that it was about this time that she became his paramour.[605] At any rate Hainault ambitions play henceforth but a very small part in Humphrey’s life, for though we shall find that later he took some steps to send aid to his unfortunate wife, yet he never showed the slightest inclination to return to her side, a fact which caused no small scandal at a later date.

Meanwhile at Mons things had been going ill for Jacqueline. Her husband had no sooner turned his back, than the Brabanters rose again, and the citizens of Mons, unmindful of their recent promise, refused to support her.[606] On June 6 she wrote a most pathetic letter to Gloucester, telling him how the citizens had come to her on the third of that month,[607] and had shown her a treaty signed by the Dukes of Brabant and Burgundy, uniting her dominions under the rule of the former, and confiding the care of her person to the latter. In spite of her entreaties all help had been refused her, and she pointed out how her sufferings were due to the love she bore her English husband, begging him therefore to come to her help, though he seemed to have forgotten her existence.[608] In a second letter of the same date she alluded to a suggestion made by Gloucester that she should once more flee to England, a course which she declared it was now too late to adopt. Indeed, this was soon proved to be the case, for these letters were intercepted by Burgundian emissaries,[609] and within five days she was being conducted a prisoner to Ghent.[610]


Though Jacqueline’s letters never reached their destination, the news of her imprisonment soon came to England, and Parliament promptly showed its sympathy with her by petitioning that ambassadors should be sent to treat with Burgundy for the release of ‘my Ladies’ persone of Gloucester,’[611] and at the same time the Chancellor was empowered to draw up letters-patent under the great seal appointing the queens-dowager of England and France, and the Duke of Bedford as mediators between Burgundy and Gloucester, with a view to the abandonment of the duel that had been arranged.[612] To neither of these provisions would Humphrey make any objection, for though he had not been the challenger in the matter of the duel, yet he had doubtless welcomed it as a way of securing his retreat, and had never intended to take it seriously; at any rate he made no preparations for the fray, whilst his opponent had gone into strict training, and was having special armour made for the occasion.[613] This attitude on the part of Duke Philip points to a strong personal dislike of Gloucester, a dislike which dated probably from the days when he had been slighted at St. Omer; nevertheless, it is strange that he had ever thought that such a duel would be allowed to take place. Bedford, ever ready to appease the strife which had arisen over this Hainault affair, gladly undertook the duty assigned to him by Parliament, and when in September he summoned a council of arbitration to meet at Paris, his brother willingly nominated the Bishop of London as his representative thereat, whilst Burgundy grudgingly appointed the Bishop of Tournay to guard his interests.[614] Bedford tried to avert the duel as eagerly as he had endeavoured to reconcile the conflicting claims of Brabant and Gloucester earlier in the story of the Hainault struggle,[615] and his efforts were assisted by a papal Bull, which forbade the personal combat in no measured terms.[616] Armed with this authority, the council at Paris decided on September 22 that a perusal of the letters written by the two parties in the dispute convinced them that neither side had any right to demand satisfaction from the other,[617] a decision which disgusted the Burgundian envoy, but which afforded entire satisfaction to Gloucester’s representative.[618]

From this time forward Gloucester seems to have abandoned all idea of securing his hold on the government of his wife’s inheritance. He did not resign all claim to Holland and Hainault, nor did he refrain from occasional assistance to Jacqueline, or from attempts to secure the recognition by Rome of the legality of his marriage; but he had come to realise that personal intervention on the Continent would mean political extinction at home, where he needed all the prestige of his popularity amongst the commonalty and the power conferred by his position and lineage to withstand the manœuvres of his great rival, Henry Beaufort. For Beaufort was entrenched in a strong position. A man of determined will and restless energy, with powerful family connections, of royal blood, if not in the line of succession, and well versed by long experience in the affairs of the kingdom, he stood in marked contrast to his nephew, who was lacking in resolute purpose, and had spent most of his active life in the French wars, with few opportunities of gaining political experience. Above all, whilst Beaufort was constantly lending money for purposes of state, Gloucester was equally constant in his demands for royal loans or an increased salary, a fact which gave the former an immense financial hold on the kingdom. Such a power as that wielded by the Bishop of Winchester was not to be despised, nor was it to be left unopposed by one who aspired to be the chief governing power in the state; but there was yet another reason which impelled Humphrey to confine his main efforts towards maintaining and improving his position in England, the roots of which lay in his own character. When he had set out light-heartedly to assert his right to control the dominions of Jacqueline, he had thought it to be an easy task. He now knew that it was only by a prolonged effort that he could succeed in Holland and Hainault. Such an effort he was totally incapable of making, for he had none of that determination which characterised his father and at least two of his brothers. Brilliant and versatile as he was, these qualities preordained him to prefer a life of political intrigue to that of hard fighting against a firm and steadfast foe. His fickle nature delighted in the kaleidoscopic changes of party warfare, and to that warfare he devoted the best part of the rest of his life, forgetting his dreams of foreign dominion in that strife where the interests of the moment predominated. He was a child of circumstance, and lived only for the passing moment, and as such he found his true milieu in the faction fights which preceded the Wars of the Roses.


Yet while he devoted himself mainly to matters of English politics, Humphrey did not abstain from all interference in Hainault affairs. There was no question with him of abandoning an enterprise fraught with danger to his country. So long as Jacqueline could keep up the struggle, he would encourage her, in the hope that some day he might reap the advantage, and it was in this spirit that he wrote to Martin V., complaining that the divorce decree against Brabant had not yet been granted, and urging him in the interests of Europe generally to hasten the matter to a conclusion favourable to the Countess.[619] At the same time the situation in Hainault looked more promising. The exertions of English ambassadors to secure Jacqueline’s release had been rendered unnecessary by her escape from her captors,[620] and she had signalised her regained freedom by a victory over her assailants at the little village of Alfen. The Duke of Brabant was rendered still more anxious by rumours which reached him to the effect that a force of some 20,000 strong, under the personal leadership of Gloucester, was about to reinforce his enemies, that the Scotch King, in remembrance of his recent marriage alliance with the House of Lancaster, was coming with 8000 more, and that contingents from Ireland and the English army in Normandy were destined to join the victorious troops of his militant Countess.[621] The exaggeration of this report was obvious, but, nevertheless, a force was being collected in England, and towards the end of the year it sailed under the leadership of Lord Fitzwalter, in all some thousand men. In the early days of 1426 these troops landed on the coast of Zealand, only to be almost annihilated with the majority of Jacqueline’s native troops in the neighbourhood of Zierikzee by the Burgundian forces. The remainder straggled back to England, having ‘prevayled nothing.’[622]


Before this expedition had sailed, however, Gloucester was entirely absorbed in affairs nearer home. The rivalry between himself and Beaufort, which had been simmering ever since the Protector’s return, now boiled over, and for a moment threatened civil war. The Chancellor had made great efforts during his short period of government to strengthen his own hands, welcoming Gloucester’s absence abroad as an opportunity for weakening his power. Some disorderly riots and seditious manifestations in London had afforded a pretext for inducing the Council to place one Richard Wydeville in command of the Tower,[623] and he had used this appointment to strengthen his position in the capital, where he was notoriously unpopular. He gave Wydeville strict injunctions that he was to admit no one ‘stronger thanne he’ within the Tower, and later mentioned the Protector as one of those who must be excluded, pointing to his popularity in the city as evidence of his seditious intentions.[624] It was not likely that such proceedings would pass without a protest from Gloucester, and there is every reason to believe—from an undated entry in the minutes of the Council, which records a meeting held towards the end of the third year of the reign—that the quarrel between the two rivals had become acute by the July or August after his return. We learn from this that an ordinance was being prepared for the consideration of the next Parliament, which required that every peer should take an oath not to disturb the King’s peace by revenging by force any ill done to him, but to have recourse to ‘pesible and restful weyes of redress.’ At the same time an oath of secrecy and a promise to give honest advice without obstructing any matter under discussion was exacted from all who sat at the Council board.[625] All this tends to prove that the struggle between the two claimants for power was already raging fiercely.

Nevertheless, we find no actual disturbances recorded till the Bishop roused Gloucester’s suspicions by filling Southwark, where his house was situated, with Lancashire and Cheshire archers.[626] Then, fearing lest he should be attacked by this force and taken unprepared, the Protector sent a message post-haste to the Mayor and Aldermen, asking them to be on their guard for fear lest an attack on the city should be made from the other side of the river. The message found the civic magnates at the banquet with which they were wont to celebrate the election of the new Mayor, but they promptly acceded to Gloucester’s request, and the city was carefully guarded all through that night, as though a siege was imminent.[627] This was on October 29, the day after the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude,[628] and on the morrow events justified the Protector’s precautions, for a large body of Beaufort’s men appeared outside the gate on the south side of London Bridge about eight or nine o’clock in the morning, and were surprised to find all entrance forbidden them. Nothing daunted, they waited till more of their fellows had come up, and then proceeded to attack the gate ‘with shot and other means of warre,’ attempting by these means to force an entrance into the city.

The news that the Chancellor was in arms against their beloved Duke Humphrey spread like lightning amongst the citizens, and within an hour all shops were shut, and the streets leading to the bridge were thronged by men willing and anxious to keep the bishop out, and to resist the ‘King’s enemies.’ So determined was this opposition that the attempted assault was abandoned, and it was with the greatest difficulty that the Mayor restrained the angry citizens, who wanted to sally out and exact vengeance for the presumptuous attack, whilst the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Duke of Coimbra—one of Gloucester’s Portuguese uncles—offered their services as mediators. This self-imposed task proved no sinecure, and eight times did they ride backwards and forwards between the two parties ere peace was secured, and Beaufort had to be content with his side of the river, whilst the Protector remained in possession of the city.[629] ‘All London a rose with the Duke a yenst the forsaide Bysshope,’ writes a contemporary chronicler,[630] and indeed Gloucester had reason to be grateful for the support of the citizens at a critical time. It was not the rabble—as Beaufort later declared—which rose to champion him, but the sober burgher class, headed by Sir John Coventry, their Mayor, that had produced the discomfiture of the Chancellor, and that ever henceforward formed the most important section of Gloucester’s supporters. The tone of the London chroniclers also suggests, that the action of Beaufort was considered by them at least as a direct blow dealt both at the city and at the peace and security of the kingdom at large, and that in supporting Gloucester the citizens were taking a line which was patriotic both as regards their city and as regards the nation.


The truce between Humphrey and his uncle could not be a final settlement of the bad blood that had been aroused, and on All-hallows Even[631] the latter wrote to Bedford in hurried, but emphatic, terms, urging him to come to England without delay, ‘for by my troth,’ he wrote, ‘if you tarry, we shall put this land in adventure with a field,[632] such a brother you have here; God make him a good man.’[633] He forgot to mention that it was he that had taken the first step to ‘put this land in adventure with a field,’ for even as he had been the first, in the days when the Protector’s privileges were being arranged, to provoke that duel for power which, in its later manifestation, was to develop into the Wars of the Roses, so was he now the first to appeal to armed force as a means of emphasising the righteousness of his cause. The statement that Gloucester made the first move to arms cannot be substantiated.[634] It was against the force which Beaufort had already mustered in the suburbs of Southwark that he appealed to the Mayor of London, and in so doing he acted as any wise Protector of the kingdom would have done, when he saw the capital threatened by the armed retainers of a too powerful subject. Moreover, while Beaufort’s force was specially organised, Gloucester was prepared with no retainers to protect himself or his ambitions, but in the time of need he was forced to appeal on the spur of the moment to the loyalty of the citizens. In point of fact, too, the first hostile move was made by the Bishop, for the action of the Mayor in guarding the gates of the city was merely a defensive precaution, unknown to the Beaufort retainers, who did not expect to meet with any resistance when they tried to cross the bridge. Thus both the hostile intent and the hostile action originated with the Chancellor, while the support given to the Protector, apart from the guarding of the gates overnight, was entirely spontaneous on the part of the great mass of the citizens.

The fact that Beaufort so promptly appealed to the arbitrament of Bedford has also been counted unto him for righteousness,[635] whereas it merely displays the cleverness of his play in the game of politics. From Bedford he might hope for support, since the folly of the Hainault campaign would tend to make the Regent in France suspicious of his brother’s actions, and ready to believe that the fault of the recent disturbances lay with him. Moreover, no one knew better than Bedford the usefulness of the Bishop’s purse, and the impolicy of alienating one who could always produce ready money, while Humphrey had no such claim to a statesman’s consideration. Beaufort also had nothing to lose, and a possibility of much to gain, by this appeal. Public opinion in London had spoken against him; it is more than probable that this feeling extended outside the city, and for the time at least he had to acknowledge defeat. On the other hand, if it is true that the Protector refused to formulate complaints against his opponent when asked to do so by envoys from his brother,[636] it was only natural that he should adopt such an attitude. He looked on himself, both by right of birth and by right of the will of Henry V., as the lawful Protector of England, and though he was compelled to accept the restrictions imposed on him by Parliament, he was not likely to acknowledge the supremacy of his brother more than he could help. To indict Beaufort before Bedford would not only be a confession of weakness, but also, in his eyes, an insult to his position. By law as well as by right he was Protector in England so long as Bedford remained in France, and under the circumstances he could recognise no superior tribunal; he had no wish to bring Bedford to England to settle the matter, and thus be compelled to take the second place. Though this attitude was undoubtedly selfish, and based on too high an opinion of his own importance, it does not therefore prove that in the quarrel with Beaufort he was in the wrong.


For the time being Gloucester’s power was undisputed. On the same day that the letter of summons to England was despatched to Bedford the Council met at the Protector’s own house,[637] a fact which has its significance. It was probably with the consent of the Council that the Protector, with the Duke of Coimbra, journeyed down to Eltham on November 5, and brought the young King back to London to strengthen the hands of the executive there.[638] The same day yielded another illustration of Gloucester’s influence, when the Council, in consideration of his ‘great necessity,’ agreed to lend him five thousand marks on promise of repayment, when the King should reach his fifteenth year,[639] a sum probably used for the expedition to Hainault already described. Beaufort, it is to be presumed, took no part in these transactions, but was compelled to view his rival’s success in silence, eagerly awaiting the return of Bedford, who on December 20 landed on English soil. By virtue of his return Bedford became Protector of the kingdom, receiving the salary of eight thousand marks a year, which in his absence had been enjoyed by his brother,[640] who now was reduced to the rank of first councillor to the King, with an income of three thousand marks only.[641] The Bishop of Winchester hastened to meet Bedford, and together they entered London on January 10, proceeding at once to Westminster, where the new Protector was lodged in the King’s palace, while the Chancellor lay near by at the Abbey, desiring to keep watch over his nephew, lest any influence hostile to himself should be brought to bear on him.[642] So successfully did he put his case and justify the policy of his appeal to the Regent in France, that Bedford showed marked hostility to his brother, and when the citizens of London came to greet him on the morrow of his arrival, and presented him with a pair of ‘silver gilt basins, they received but a cold reception, in view of the hostility they had recently shown to the Chancellor and his proceedings.[643]


Already steps had been taken to summon Parliament, which was to meet on February 15 at Leicester,[644] the choice of this town being probably due to the Chancellor’s fears that in London public opinion would be too strongly against him, and in the meantime vigorous attempts were made to effect a reconciliation before the meeting took place. On January 29 a Council was held under the presidency of Bedford at St. Albans, whence a deputation, consisting of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Earl of Stafford, Lords Talbot and Cromwell, and Sir John Cornwall, was sent to Gloucester, who had refused to attend the meeting, though he might have counted on the support of public opinion in the neighbourhood of his chosen abbey. This deputation was commissioned to inform the Duke that another Council was to be held at Northampton on the 13th of the next month, and to offer him a pressing invitation to attend there, as the matters in dispute between him and the Chancellor were to be discussed with a view to a reconciliation, assuring him that ‘justice and reason shal duely and indifferently be mynystered unto him in all things that he hath said or shal say as for occasion or matter of the displesaunce or hevynesse abovesaid.’ To the demand which Humphrey had made, that as a condition of his coming the absence of his opponent must be assured, the Council gave a decided refusal, pointing out that there was no danger of a riot between the retainers of the respective parties, as the Bishop had agreed to restrain his men, and the King would ‘settle such rewle’ that peace would be maintained throughout the town. It is, however, probable that Gloucester feared more the hostile bias in Bedford’s mind produced by the machinations of his uncle, than personal violence to himself, and preferred a direct appeal to the Lords in Parliament, with whom his influence was much stronger than it had been earlier in the reign, to a judgment by the Council, now under the domination of his opponents.

This changed attitude of the Council, which before Bedford’s landing had been controlled by Gloucester, is seen in a secret instruction to the deputation. Should the Duke steadily refuse to go to Northampton under the assurances mentioned above, the commissioners were empowered to add, that at the request of Bedford and the Council Beaufort had promised to dismiss some of his men, and only bring such as were fitting for his position, on condition that Gloucester should do likewise. It is very strange that this condition should be kept in the background, and only produced under compulsion, for it seems a natural concession, and one which could only be refused by a man who was not acting in perfect honesty. If the Council had suspected the large retinue of the Earl of March in 1423, why should not the Chancellor’s evidently large body of retainers incur the same suspicion? It would be, of course, absurd to suggest that, had Gloucester gone to Northampton, the drama of 1447 at Bury St. Edmunds would have been anticipated; the mere presence of Bedford would refute such a suggestion; but this ‘card up the sleeve’ policy does not speak well for the honesty of those who adopted it.

If after their last magnanimous offer Gloucester still persisted in his refusal to attend if Beaufort were present, the messengers of the Council were to point out that it would be unreasonable in Gloucester, even if he were the King—surely a malicious insinuation—to refuse any man a hearing, and also that if he wished ‘to be esed as towards his griefs,’ as the Council assured him was their honest intention, it must be done either by an act of justice, or by a reconciliation, either of which required the presence of both parties. Moreover, to Gloucester’s demand that the Chancellor should resign the custody of the seals, it was answered that this was an attempt to coerce the King—for no official was ever dismissed except by the King’s wish, by his own request, or owing to some fault proved against him.[645] In their refusal of this request the Council were undoubtedly justified, and there is much that is wise and statesmanlike throughout the instructions, due undoubtedly to the influence of Bedford. But there is also ample evidence of Beaufort influence, and we cannot blame Gloucester if he regarded this communication more as a manifesto from his opponents than as a genuine offer of arbitration, and refused to go to Northampton, preferring to wait till the Parliament should be summoned at Leicester. One thing should not pass unnoticed in this offer of the Council. Though the Bishop had summoned Bedford from France, Gloucester had now assumed the rôle of accuser. It was as such that he was to appear at Leicester, having herein outmanœuvred his opponent, who, thinking to act on the aggressive, had been compelled to fall back on a defensive attitude.


The Parliament which met at Leicester on February 18,[646] has been handed down to posterity as the ‘Parliament of Battes,’ because, as all weapons had to be discarded by the members and their retainers, they came armed with staves and ‘battes,’ which did not come under the category of weapons.[647] No allusion was made to the quarrel in the Chancellor’s opening speech, although it was the most important matter before the assembly, and indeed it seemed at first as though there would be little progress made in the work of the session. For ten days nothing was done; the Speaker was not even chosen; and during that time Leicester must have been the scene of much diplomacy and intrigue, of which we have no record. At length on the 28th the Commons took the initiative by sending up a petition to the Lords, asking them to take steps to heal the divisions which had occurred in their body,[648] a request which was answered by a promise, made by the peers on March 4, to deal honestly between Gloucester and the Bishop.[649] The consent of the two parties to this mediation had now to be secured, and at the urgent request of Bedford the Duke consented, three days later, to submit all his grievances to a Commission, composed of Archbishop Chichele, the Dukes of Exeter and Norfolk; the Bishops of Durham, Worcester, and Bath; Humphrey, Earl of Stafford; Ralph, Lord Cromwell, and William Alnwick, Keeper of the Privy Seal and Bishop-elect of Norwich, though it was provided that any matter touching the King was to be referred to the Council.[650] Beaufort gave a similar consent.[651] This Commission could not have been more fairly chosen. The Archbishop, if slightly inclined to resent the ambitions of his brother of Winchester, was eminently impartial and well versed in the art of pacification; the two Dukes each represented one of the rivals, for whilst Exeter was the brother of the Bishop, Norfolk was the friend of Gloucester;[652] Lord Cromwell was inclined to the Beaufort faction,[653] but the bishops were mostly impartial, though probably the Bishop of Bath was another of Beaufort’s followers.[654]

It was with his usual easy confidence that Gloucester proceeded to draw up his indictment of the Chancellor. He complained that Beaufort had instructed Wydeville to refuse him entrance to the Tower, though he was Protector of the realm, and had afterwards shielded this man from the consequences of this action. Nay, more, Beaufort had plotted to undermine the Protector’s power by attempting to remove the King from Eltham, thinking to secure thereby a hold over the government of the kingdom. At the same time he had hindered Gloucester from going to frustrate these plans by barricading the Southwark end of London Bridge, and posting armed men in the houses of the district, thus trying to kill the Protector and disturb the King’s peace. Further, Gloucester accused his adversary of maligning him to Bedford in his letter of October 31 by saying that he was harassing the Kings subjects. Not content with the recent misdemeanours of the Chancellor, his accuser made an excursion into past history, and brought up an old story that an attempt had been made on the life of Henry V., when Prince of Wales, by a man who confessed himself Beaufort’s agent, and together with this was joined the incompatible, but more likely story, that Beaufort had advised the same Henry to assume the crown whilst his father was lying dangerously ill.[655]


The tenor of these accusations at once establishes the motive of the quarrel. From them it is evident that Gloucester looked on the whole matter as a personal question, and did not realise that there was a possible constitutional aspect of the case. There was nothing which betrayed the statesman in this indictment, which merely complained of insults to his dignity, attacks on his position, and concluded with impertinent statements as to the past career of his rival. Throughout it showed considerable ingenuity, but at the same time it betrayed an inability to understand the constitutional pose which the better politician of the two had assumed. In Beaufort’s answer the refutation of the very first accusation shows the different methods of the two men. Though his policy was one of mere self-seeking, the Bishop of Winchester knew how to use the language of the new constitutional theories which had developed under the two preceding Lancastrian kings. He asserted that in the Tower incident he was fully justified in the advice he had given Wydeville not to admit the Protector within its walls. He declared that before the Hainault expedition it had been decided in Council, in the presence of Gloucester, to garrison and provision the Tower, but that this had never been done; that during the absence of the Protector certain seditious risings, levelled, it would seem, mainly against foreigners, had disturbed the peace of the capital, and that Wydeville had been placed in command of the Tower to strengthen the hands of the Executive. Such being the case, Gloucester on his return had ingratiated himself with the citizens by sympathising with them for having a castle fortified against them in this manner, and had done his utmost to stultify the action of the Council in this matter. Moreover, a question of privilege had been raised by the refusal of Humphrey to deliver up a certain Friar Randolph who had been committed to the Tower on a charge of treason, and whom the Protector had removed from the Lieutenant’s custody, declaring that his command was a sufficient warrant of discharge for the custodian of the prisoner, ‘in the which thing above seyd yt was thought to my lorde of Winchestre that my seyde lorde off gloucestre toke upon himsylff fferrer thanne his auctorite stretched unto, and causid him fforto doute and drede, leest the Toure hadde be stronge he wolde have proceded fferther.’[656]

The arguments thus used by the Bishop in reply to this charge are specious to a degree, and appealed to principles of ministerial control, an attitude which has stood him in good stead with the historians of a democratic age. Nevertheless, this favourable appearance was but skin-deep. The Chancellor had had practically complete control of the kingdom whilst Gloucester had been abroad, and now he was disgusted to find that his precedence was no longer recognised. If the title of Protector was anything beyond a name, its holder was entitled to enter a royal castle at his will, and no plea of expediency could be pleaded by a Chancellor who took upon himself to deny such a right. The truth which lies beneath the fair exterior of the reply to this first charge is on careful examination quite evident. Beaufort feared that, in spite of the strict limitations put upon his power, Gloucester would prove to be stronger than had been expected, and his instructions to Wydeville were dictated by no fears for the safety of the kingdom, but fears for the permanency of his own ascendency in the councils of the nation. The stories about the Londoners and the traitor friar were in all probability true, but those who would sympathise with Beaufort as leader of the constitutional party against the encroachments of the Protector can here find no arguments to support their theory, for he had worked in opposition to his own chief, and had persuaded an officer to disobey his superior. Only so far as all who oppose governments are called constitutionalists can this term be applied to the Bishop of Winchester and his party. On the other hand, it seems hard to understand why Gloucester should deliberately give a handle to his opponent by removing Friar Randolph from custody. This action, if not exactly illegal at this time, was undoubtedly unwise, though it may be that some unexplained reason—possibly the Protector’s known affection for the unhappy Queen Joan, whose confessor and alleged accomplice Randolph was[657]—impelled him to take it.


The answer to the second and third counts, which accused Beaufort of attempting to secure the King’s person for his own ends, and of preventing Gloucester from going to visit his nephew at Eltham, give us a further insight into the events of the famous Tuesday on which the retainers of the Chancellor came to blows with the Londoners. If we are to accept Beaufort’s version of the matter—and it is to some extent corroborated by the terms of Humphrey’s accusation—the trouble between the two princes had been brewing for some time. The Chancellor declared that as early as the time when the last Parliament was sitting he had been warned that Gloucester was contemplating a personal attack on him, and that certain of the London citizens of the baser sort had announced their intention of throwing him ‘in Temyse, to have tauht him to swymme with wengis.’ Furthermore, on the Sunday which preceded the call to arms, a deputation from the Council had waited upon the Protector to know whether it was true that he bore the Chancellor ill-will, and if so, the reason of his so doing; and Gloucester had acknowledged the truth of the report. With an assumed air of innocence Beaufort recounted how the city had stood to arms all through the Monday night, and had assumed a threatening attitude towards him, although, as we know, both he and his men were ignorant of this till they attempted to cross the bridge on the following morning. On the Tuesday, it appears, the Protector had also wished to cross the river with a company of three hundred horse provided by the civic authorities, to go to Eltham to see the King, and the Chancellor had prevented this by force of arms, defending this action by saying that his rival wished to remove the King from his present abode without securing the consent of the Council—an act which he declared to be illegal and high-handed to the last degree.[658]

Thus both parties accused the other of the same intent with regard to the King, but as Beaufort on his side pointed out, and it was equally true from the point of view of his rival, no useful end was to be attained by securing the King’s person.[659] There was no obvious felonious intent in the Protector wishing to visit the child for whom he was acting, and no objection was taken by the Council to his removal to London on November 5. Beaufort’s assumed constitutional fears as to the danger attending his removal from Eltham are discounted by his declaration that the possession of the young King’s person was for him a useless burden. The truth seems to be that Gloucester, established in London, and with the citizens espousing his cause, was in so strong a position that Beaufort felt he must do something to counteract it. He therefore collected troops, and failing to effect an entrance into the city, was determined that at least Humphrey should not cross to his side of the river. The fundamental reason for the quarrel was the rivalry of two ambitious men, each desirous of governing the kingdom, but of the two Beaufort was undoubtedly the aggressor. It was he that had appealed to force to aid his cause, and though he declared that he considered the kingdom in great danger from Duke Humphrey, it never occurred to him to summon Bedford from France to restore order till he himself had been worsted in his attempt at armed interference. Humphrey cannot be accused of provoking the appeal to arms. His modest escort of three hundred men was no large force in view of the existence of an enemy on his road, also it was quite uncharacteristic of him to appeal to such means. In spite of his stormy political career, in no case do we find him making any appeal to force of arms. He was by nature a political schemer, but he had seen too much of war on a grand scale, and the disasters which militant parties bring on themselves as well as on their country, to make use of such methods. Beaufort, on the contrary, was turbulent where his opponent was factious; he dabbled in the pomp and the language of war, and was far more ready to bring the country to the venture of a ‘field’ than the party opposed to him. It was Beaufort, not Gloucester, who was responsible for the first blood spilt in that great struggle for the control of the incapable Henry vi.’s policy, the last stages of which neither were to live to see.

Beaufort’s answer to the accusation of plotting against Henry IV. and Henry V. was a denial, and an offer to stand his trial on this count;[660] but the rights of the case are of no importance here, for this was only a diplomatic move on the part of the Protector to blacken the other’s character. The Bishop’s justification of his remarks in his letter to Bedford, however, have considerable interest. He stated that in it was to be found proof of his desire for a good government of the kingdom, and of his anxiety to escape provoking a civil war, arguments which came ill from one who had tried force and had failed; but his chief point was that Gloucester had encouraged rather than, restrained the seditious action of some of the London artisans, who had resisted some wage regulations made by the mayor and aldermen with the consent of the Council.[661]

This last reply was a skilful move intended to discredit Gloucester’s case by proving the disreputable character of his supporters, but we can hardly believe that the civic authorities would so loyally have supported any one who had encouraged a disregard of their decrees. Nothing speaks more strongly for the fact that the Protector, rather than the Chancellor, stood for the cause of good government than the undivided support which the long-headed, peace-loving burgesses of London gave to the former. In point of fact, both Gloucester and Beaufort were ambitious men, and neither was over-burdened with principles. Yet we must not forget that the Protectorate was in the hands of Gloucester, and that the Bishop, as Chancellor, was attacking a power which was legal, though to him obnoxious. He had inspired the limitations of the Protector’s power at the beginning of the reign; he had secured that the absent brother should be supreme; and he resented the discovery that, after all, Gloucester was not a mere subject for his Chancellor’s diplomacy, and that he was supported by a strong party in the nation. Beaufort’s action here was a bid for power, not a protest against bad government; and, while in no way praising the Protector for an enlightened policy, it would be unfair to brand his government of the nation as corrupt and merely turned to his own advantage, because an ambitious man strove to occupy the position which he held. Throughout the struggle there was no question of principle, whether moral or constitutional; it was merely a fight as to who should govern England.


The arbitrators adopted a policy of conciliation. In accordance with their award of March 12, the Bishop of Winchester solemnly declared in Parliament that he had always borne true allegiance to Henry IV., Henry V., and Henry VI.; and, in answer, Bedford, in the name of the King and Council, declared him to be a true and loyal subject. Next, the Bishop swore that he had no designs on the ‘persone, honour, and estate’ of Gloucester, who replied, ‘Beal Uncle, sithen ye so declare you such a man as ye say, I am ryght glad yat hit is so, and for suche I take yowe.’ After these formalities the two opponents shook hands.[662]

Though this award allayed the difficulties of the moment, the reconciliation thus brought about rang hollow, and there still remained much ‘prive wrath’ between the two men.[663] It was considered impossible for both to remain in office, and the day after the award (March 13) Beaufort resigned the Seal, and the Bishop of Bath followed on the 18th with his resignation of the Treasurership.[664] Thus Gloucester had secured a decided victory, and, for the time at least, he was free from Beaufort factions. A really strong man would never have permitted matters to reach the pitch they had attained, but we must not allow any of his later actions to colour our opinion of his behaviour at this time. He cannot be said to have invited the contest, and it is a revelation to those who remember only the discredited politician of later years, that there was a time when he could command the support of a strong section of the community and resist a deliberate and well-planned attack. Doubtless much of his success was due to the prestige of the position which he held, and to the fact that there was an instinctive dread—well justified in the light of subsequent events—of any change of government. To remove Gloucester from the Protectorate, though he only held it during the King’s pleasure, would be to cause a disastrous struggle, if not civil war.

Gloucester was victorious, and his position was naturally strengthened thereby. After the great ‘Debaat’ between him and Beaufort had been brought to a peaceful conclusion, little more was done in Parliament before the Easter adjournment beyond filling the vacant offices. John Kemp, Bishop of London, was made Chancellor, and Lord Hungerford succeeded the Bishop of Bath as Treasurer,[665] appointments to which, it must be presumed, Gloucester made no objection. However, the time was to come when Humphrey would class Kemp only second to Beaufort among his most prominent opponents. On the 20th of March Parliament was prorogued till the 29th of the following month, and Gloucester left Leicester forthwith, intending, it would seem, to spend Easter at London or Greenwich. On the 22nd he passed through St. Albans, whence the monks, to show their pleasure at the discomfiture of the Bishop of Winchester and the success of their patron, escorted him as far as Barnet, where he spent the night; on his return journey to Leicester for the reopening of Parliament he spent three nights at the abbey.[666] Nothing of administrative importance occurred during this second session, but on Whit-Sunday a great ceremony was made of the knighting of the young King by his uncle Bedford. Immediately afterwards Henry himself knighted thirty-six other young men, including Richard, Duke of York. Amongst these new knights we find the six-years-old Earl of Tankerville, Gloucester’s future son-in-law, and Reginald Cobham, his future brother-in-law.[667] A week later steps were taken to ensure the seven years’ truce with Scotland which had been made two years earlier. It seems that the borderland between the two countries had been the scene of considerable disturbances, and to check these a strong commission was appointed to preserve the truce and punish infractions of it. At the head of this commission stood the Duke of Gloucester.[668] On June 1 Parliament was dissolved.


Bedford was in no hurry to leave England, for he remained fifteen months in the country, and during this time the government was in his hands. Gloucester took no active share in the administration, and he seems to have lived in retirement, only emerging to attend the obsequies of the Duke of Exeter at St. Paul’s early in January 1427.[669] Almost immediately after attending this ceremony he fell ill, and was still confined to his ‘inne’ when a Council was held on January 18 in view of the approaching departure of Bedford, who was especially asked to attend this meeting. It was opened by a speech from Chancellor Kemp, now Archbishop of York, in which, after some complimentary remarks, he broached the reason for this invitation. He enlarged on the responsibility for the good governance of the kingdom which lay on the lords spiritual and temporal assembled in Parliament, or, when Parliament was not sitting, on the Council, showing how, though the King was titular sovereign, his youth compelled the full weight of government to fall on the Council, except in so far as Parliament had given definite and special powers to the Protector. He reminded Bedford that the Council might be called in question for the government and for the use of its authority, and under the circumstances they could not do their duty unless they were ‘free to governe by the said auctorite and aquite hem in al thing that hem thought expedient for the King’s behove and the good publique of the said roialmes.’ Thus, though they had no desire to curtail the Protector’s privileges of birth or position, the Council, realising that their rights were being infringed, demanded of him a declaration of his policy, and a promise to abide by the arrangement under which he held office.[670] Bedford, with a suspicious readiness, thanked the Council for their plain speaking, and declared himself ready to be ‘advised, demened and reuled’ by them in all things, asking them to point out any defects in his conduct, and then proceeding unasked to take an oath on the Testament to abide by their decisions.[671]

Gloucester, ‘being deseased with syknesse,’ was not present at this meeting, so on the following day the Lords of the Council visited him at his ‘inne,’ and repeated to him what they had said to his brother. They feared that a favourable answer was not so likely in this quarter, for they remembered his answer to certain ‘overtures and articles’ they had recently laid before him, and how ‘sayng and answeryng as he had doon at divers tymes afore,’ he had declared that if he had done anything disloyal he would answer to none but the King himself when he came of age. They reminded him of this answer, and further remarked how they had heard that he had said, ‘Let my brother governe as hym lust whiles he is in this land, for after his going overe into Fraunce I will governe as me semeth good.’ They then recounted the proceedings of the day before, and laid great stress on Bedford’s gracious answer to their request. Thus confidently expecting a like answer from him—so they assured him—they asked to know his intentions.[672]


Gloucester found himself in an awkward position. He had evidently been so elated by his victory over Beaufort that he had been more incautious than usual, and while in no way interfering with the government of his brother, had unwisely asserted his intention to profit by his success. Bedford was too wise not to be alarmed at this avowed policy, not merely because he could not trust the judgment of Gloucester, but also and mainly because he saw that it would raise such opposition, that the dissensions he had just appeased would again recur. It is more than probable that he had instigated the action of the Council, and had taken advantage of Gloucester’s indisposition. His prompt acceptance of the proposals proves that they were not unexpected, and the fact that he had taken an oath to be governed by the Council would make it practically impossible for one who was merely his substitute to refuse his consent. Thus everything was safely arranged and carried out before Gloucester knew anything about it. There was no jealousy of his brother in this action of Bedford’s; he knew the temper of the kingdom and the dangers with which it was threatened, better probably than any man living; he saw that Beaufort and Gloucester with their selfish policies were almost equally dangerous, and while he was moving one from the scene of his activities,[673] he desired to warn the other, who could not be removed, of the folly of his course. Beaufort’s influence, though his reputation in the country at large had doubtless suffered by his defeat at Leicester, was still no negligible quantity, and there is every reason to suppose that he still retained the partial confidence of Bedford. It may be that it was absolutely on his own initiative that Bedford took this action, but it was prompted by the distrust of his brother which Beaufort had instilled into his mind—a distrust, be it owned, which Humphrey had done little or nothing to remove.

Gloucester was compelled to make the best of his diplomatic defeat. His absence from the Council meeting had put all protest out of the question, and he thanked his visitors for having come to ‘advertize hym’ as they had done, and begged them always to treat him so in the future. If in any way he should break the law of the land, he would submit to be ‘corrected and governed by them,... and not by his owne wit ne ymaginacion.’ He even digressed into instances of the advantage of this course, and the disasters which might ensue from a contrary attitude. In conclusion he solemnly promised to be governed by the Council in everything which touched the King, even as Bedford had promised.[674] That this was only a temporary attitude of conciliation was to be proved before very long.

Having done his best to secure the safety of England, Bedford turned his attention to France, where the defection of Brittany had not improved the outlook. On March 19 he set sail, taking with him the Bishop of Winchester, whom he thought it best not to leave in England. As far back as the previous May Beaufort had obtained leave from the Council to go on a pilgrimage,[675] and he now availed himself of this permission, probably at the instance of Bedford, who had prepared a sop for his dignity. On the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25) the Duke and Duchess of Bedford were present in the Church of Our Lady at Calais, when the Bishop of Winchester was created a Cardinal by the authority of a Bull of Martin V., and the Duke with his own hands placed the long-coveted hat on the new Cardinal’s head.[676] This honour had been long desired by Beaufort, and indeed the original Bull of creation dated from the days of the Council of Constance, but Henry V. supported Archbishop Chichele in his objection to the presence of a Cardinal Legate in England.[677] Now at last the necessary permission had been given, and while Bedford applied himself to the French wars, Beaufort went off as Papal Legate to wage war on the revolted Hussites in Bohemia.


Whether this additional dignity conferred on the Bishop of Winchester was calculated to advance the peace of England may well be doubted. Bedford had worked hard to restore peace between the various parties in England; he had produced a compromise which tended to favour Humphrey; he had as a counter-blast secured a definite acknowledgment by the Protector of the authority of the Council; finally he had greatly strengthened the hands of the Protector’s enemy by giving him the prestige and power which attached to the cardinalate. His action in England had all the vicious characteristics of a compromise. Even as in war a victory won by either side inevitably leads to a third battle, so in politics the successes won alternately by Gloucester and Beaufort must open the way to another conflict. It could not be expected that the new Cardinal would spend the rest of his life out of England, his political proclivities were too strong for this, and on his return he would almost inevitably reopen the old struggle which had nearly resulted in civil war. Bedford accurately diagnosed the disease from which England was suffering, but he failed to prescribe the right remedy. The only hope of peace lay in the crushing of one of the rivals, and though this might have been impossible, it was not even attempted. Each was in turn humbled, but only to such an extent as to make him still more ambitious, and the sole definite bit of policy to be found in Bedford’s action in England was the emphasising of the power of the Council and the developing of those constitutional theories of government, which by reason of their precocity were bound to bring disaster both to the kingdom and the dynasty. Bedford’s interference in English politics had no healing effect; it only postponed the coming struggle by the temporary diversion of Beaufort’s ambitious energies to the Hussite war. On the latter’s return the substitution of the cardinalate for the chancellorship was not calculated to weaken his position, whilst the strengthening of that of the Council would tend to induce Gloucester to use all the means in his power to undermine its authority.


Meanwhile in England Gloucester had been seriously ill, and it was not till April that he was sufficiently recovered to journey to St. Albans; there on St. Mark’s Day, escorted by the usual procession headed by the Abbot, he gave thanks for his recovery, and presented his gift of gratitude on the High Altar.[678] Having visited the cell of Sopwell, he returned to Langley.[679] Here he busied himself in the affairs of the kingdom, being made Justiciar of Chester and of North Wales on May 10, an office which he was allowed to delegate to a substitute for whose actions as well as his own he must answer to the King.[680] Indeed, Gloucester seems to have been very energetic in executing his duties as Protector, and to have turned to the administration of the government that restless energy, which circumstances and his own ambitious nature had drawn lately to less worthy occupations. In June we find him at Norwich to strengthen by his presence the hands of the justices who had to try a case of lawlessness which had gone unpunished during the disturbed state of affairs in official circles. On the last night of 1423 certain felons to the number of eighty or more had attacked the house of John Grys of Wighton in the county of Norfolk, and he being ‘somewhat heated with wassail,’ had been dragged out to a gallows a mile away, where with his son Gregory and a servant he had been butchered for lack of a rope to hang them. It would seem that the two principals in this outrage had been Walter Aslak and Richard Kyllynworth, who tried after this to establish a reign of terror in Norfolk, and so threatened William Paston by manifestoes openly posted in public places, that ‘the seyd William, hese clerkes and servauntz by longe time after were in gret and intollerable drede and fere.’ Paston had indicted these men before Gloucester as Protector, and on April 5, 1425, the matter had been referred to arbitration. The award of the arbitrators had been ignored by Aslak, and under the protection of Sir Thomas Erpingham he had further annoyed Paston at the Parliament of Leicester. Gloucester now presided in person at the trial of the offenders, and six men were condemned for this outrage and put to death.[681]

Before the end of the month the Protector was back in London, holding a council, at which matters of some moment were up for discussion. The truce with Scotland for which Gloucester was one of the guarantors had not been very well observed, and the question of heresy had also come to the fore.[682] Shortly before Gloucester’s visit to St. Albans a certain William Wawe—latro mirabilis the chronicler quaintly calls him—had attacked the neighbouring nunnery of Sopwell and plundered its contents. Rightly or wrongly this was considered to be part of a Lollard scheme of opposition to the Church, and it was as a heretic as well as a ‘wonderful robber’ that Wawe, after a period of confinement at St. Albans, was arraigned before Gloucester in London. We cannot in any way judge of the rights of the case, as we have only a very one-sided account of the event, but it is quite possible that it was more the heated imaginations of the ecclesiastics, who had not forgotten the incidents connected with Oldcastle, than any real heretical inclinations on the part of the prisoner, which produced the charge. Wawe was condemned and hanged.[683]

In these two cases of summary judgment we find displayed a side of the Protector’s character which has been given but scant justice by historians. Though crafty and self-seeking, Gloucester was in no sense turbulent. His justice thus meted out cannot be dismissed as a standard of ethics to which he himself did not conform. We have no instance in which he appealed to brute force except when he was compelled to do so, for in the case of the quarrel with Beaufort he was not the aggressor, nor can we believe the stories of armed conspiracy which surround his mysterious death. His energy was devoted at this time at least towards keeping the peace. We have seen his recent journeys into the country districts to settle matters which might cause disturbance, and in September he was at Chester,[684] whither he had probably gone in his capacity as Justiciar of that district, not being content to leave his duties there to a delegated representative, as the terms of his appointment had allowed. As Protector he meted out justice impartially, and though he may have helped to shatter the foreign policy of his country, his home government shows a strange contrast to the other more prominent but by no means more essential incidents of his life. It is, however, by the terms of his Hainault policy that he has been judged, a policy which, with all its far-reaching consequences, occupied but a small part of his life, and to the last stages of which we must now refer.

Whilst Gloucester had been devoting his time to the assertion of his personality in English politics, Jacqueline had been carrying on her uphill struggle against the superior forces and the boundless resources of the Duke of Burgundy. Her English husband, though his attention was devoted to other matters, was still prosecuting his cause at the Court of Rome, and even during the stormy days of the Parliament at Leicester we find a reference to his attempt to secure a recognition of the legality of his marriage.[685] But all hope of papal favour was now very remote, for at this very time we find an edict, issued on February 27, 1426, by the papal commissioner who was examining the case, declaring the desertion of Brabant by Jacqueline to be quite illegal, and committing her to the care of her kinsman Amadeus of Savoy until the ultimate decision was given by the Pope.[686] Though this edict had not the authority of a papal Bull, yet it showed which party the decision of the Pope would favour, and the chroniclers agree in taking this date as the final decision of the matter.[687] Nevertheless pressure was still brought to bear on the Pope, and in October of the same year the English Council agreed to desist from prosecuting the Bishop of Lincoln under the act of Præmunire, on condition that he should do his utmost to expedite the cause of the Duke of Gloucester at Rome.[688]


Jacqueline had no intention of returning to her former husband, or of resigning herself to the keeping of her kinsman of Savoy, and in view of the greater difficulties which now attended her owing to the defection of some of her none too numerous supporters, she turned her thoughts again to the country which had befriended her in the past, where dwelt the man whom she claimed as her husband, though he seemed to have forgotten her existence. From Gouda, where she was making a last desperate resistance against her enemies, she sent Lewis de Montfort and Arnold of Ghent to the Council in England with a letter which was written on April 8, 1427. She recalled therein the friendship of Henry V., and assured them that he would never have left her to her fate; she begged for help, comme pour femme desolée, and begged them to lay her sad plight before her husband, and induce him to come to her help, or at least to send her some assistance.[689] She had evidently given up hope of any spontaneous support from Humphrey. She no longer wrote to him personally, as she had done earlier, and she realised that her only hope of relief was to lay stress on the moral obligation laid on the nation by the action of Henry V. In answer to her letter ambassadors were sent from England, bearing an answer written in the name of the King, and to this Jacqueline replied agreeing to the desire for peace expressed by Henry VI., but pointing to Burgundy’s unreasonableness as an impossible bar to any pacific arrangement. Again she asked for help in the name of Henry V.’s friendship for her.[690]


Before this last letter had been despatched a change had come over the state of affairs. The Duke of Brabant had brought his poor mean life to an end in a halo of sanctity,[691] and the Duke of Burgundy could no longer wage war in his name. This was no obstacle to the unscrupulous Philip, who declared that, as formerly, he had been the regent of John of Brabant in his wife’s dominions, so now he was by inference regent for that wife herself. The dummy which had stood as an excuse for interference in Hainault was now removed, and we can see the state of affairs clearly, untrammelled by diplomatic fictions. All along, in point of fact, the struggle had been between Jacqueline and her powerful cousin, now it was so in theory also. Under these altered conditions the Countess made yet another appeal to the English Council on June 6, alluding to the recent events, and imploring assistance.[692] At the same time she sent ambassadors with written instructions both to the Council and to Gloucester.[693] Letter and messages were delivered towards the end of June,[694] and at length these constant appeals began to make an impression. Gloucester began to bestir himself, seeing that he would probably have public opinion on his side, and that he was free from the interference of Bedford. He appealed to Parliament for the sum of 20,000 marks to enable him to equip an army to assist Jacqueline,[695] and this body replied willingly to the request by petitioning the Council to take steps to alleviate her position, whether by treaty or some other means, laying stress on the perilous position in which she found herself, as recorded in letters both to her husband and to the estates of the realm; they also backed up Gloucester’s request for 20,000 marks. The matter was seriously considered by the Council, and it was ultimately decided that 9000 marks should be granted to Gloucester, 4000 marks of which was to consist of the immediate payment of half his yearly salary as Protector, the other 5000 marks being a grant for the maintenance of his Duchess.[696]

This money was given for a definite purpose, and for that purpose alone; it was to furnish an expedition to Holland, which should relieve and garrison the towns which still remained obedient to Jacqueline. Part of the forces were to be told off to escort the Countess to England, whilst the remainder were to stay behind in Hainault and protect such places as they had relieved. Under no conditions were they to act on the offensive, or attack any place in Holland, Hainault, or Zealand held by any one but Jacqueline. As though they feared that the money would not be directed to its destined use, the Council arranged that it should be paid to two persons appointed by Gloucester to receive it, with the proviso that if no soldiers could be induced to go, the receivers were to hold the money for the King’s use, while all soldiers that were enlisted were to be paid directly by them.[697]

Thus, though a grant was made, it was hedged in with conditions which betray no desire on the part of the Council to assist Gloucester to a continental dominion. Jacqueline had an undoubted claim on the sympathy of Englishmen, and a desire for her safety was expressed on all sides, yet under the circumstances it was not desirable, from the point of view of English politics, that she should be enabled to prolong her resistance to Burgundy. The visit of Bedford to England had not been in vain, for it had taught Englishmen the danger of Burgundian complications, and the necessity for refraining from undue intervention in the politics of Hainault. This money for armed assistance to Jacqueline was not intended to prolong the struggle, but to procure a peace between the opposing parties in Hainault; the terms on which the grant was made plainly indicate that it was her safety only that was to be procured; she was to be removed and brought back to an asylum in England. No thought of helping Humphrey lay therein. As the husband of the lady he was to carry out the commission, but it was made impossible for him to extract any territorial or monetary advantage therefrom.

However galling this position might be to Gloucester, he began to prepare an army to fulfil the commands of the Council, and he received ready support from the Earl of Salisbury. This famous general had been distinguishing himself in the wars in France; he had served with distinction under Henry V.; at Verneuil he had been conspicuous for his bravery,[698] and since then he had established a great military reputation. He was now ready to put his abilities at the service of the Duke of Gloucester, for he had sworn to avenge himself on Burgundy who had seduced his wife, and he was joined under Humphrey’s banner by many of the chief men of the kingdom.[699] From this readiness to undertake hostilities against Burgundy we may gather that the ill-will between Philip and his English allies was not entirely due to the reckless action of Gloucester, and that there were many who were ready to help on the discomfiture of a man who had done little to make his alliance effective, and who more than once had intrigued with both parties in France in the hope of securing some personal advantage.


This expedition to Hainault was not, however, to take place. Ten days after they had agreed to grant Humphrey the 9000 marks, the Council wrote to Bedford and explained what they had done. They described how strong was public opinion in favour of Jacqueline, and how they had determined to give her support, but they besought the Regent of France to do his utmost to bring about peace by inducing Burgundy to abstain from his wrongful oppression of the Duchess of Gloucester and her husband.[700] Bedford was naturally dismayed at this news. Knowing Philip as he did, he realised that even purely defensive interference by English troops in Hainault would be regarded as an unforgivable act of hostility. At the best of times Burgundian fidelity to the English alliance hung by a mere thread, and with this excuse nothing would prevent Philip from coming to an agreement with the Dauphin, in favour of whom public opinion in France was slowly turning. To prevent such a result he promptly answered the Council’s letter, stating that Philip was ready to treat with Gloucester, and pointing out the dangers which would attend English intervention in the matter; the King was young, and the alienation of Burgundy under these conditions was very undesirable, and might bring terrible disasters on the English cause in France. Moreover, it was not fair to condemn Philip unheard, and, in any case, the rights of the matter must be decided in Rome and not in London.[701] He also wrote to Humphrey, declaring his affection for him in the most brotherly terms, and begging him in the name of England’s safety not to carry out his mad intention, but to listen to the advice of those who wished him well. At the same time he offered to use all his influence to bring about a peace, which would not reflect in any way on his brother’s honour.[702] Not content with letters, he sent over ambassadors to impress on the Council the impolicy of allowing Gloucester to go to Hainault, and to procure, if possible, the abandonment of the idea.[703] Meanwhile he turned his attention to Duke Philip himself, who was already busy preparing forces to resist the expected invasion.[704] A meeting between the two Dukes at Lille proved abortive, but since the expedition had been delayed in spite of a protest from Jacqueline received in September,[705] and no signs of its approach were apparent, a truce with the promise of a future settlement was at length concluded between Burgundy and Gloucester at Paris.[706]


Thus Humphrey allowed the year to close without having done anything to help the lady who could hardly be called his wife, and on January 9 in the new year the Pope finally issued a Bull, whereby the marriage of Jacqueline with Brabant was definitely recognised as valid, and any marriage contracted by the former in the lifetime of the latter was declared to be illegal.[707] Gloucester was weary of the whole affair. He had not protested against Bedford’s opposition to the last projected expedition to Hainault, for he had given up all hope of a continental dominion from the day when he first turned his back on Hainault. He was too deeply occupied in asserting himself in English politics to trouble his mind over a matter which had passed so entirely out of his thoughts, and his preparations in answer to the grant of 9000 marks had been spiritless and unconvincing. Now, though Jacqueline lodged a protest against the final decision of the Court of Rome, he took no action, and on March 17 procured the cancelling of the bonds of the 9000 marks loan of the previous year.[708] This callous behaviour with regard to his former wife seems to have shocked his contemporaries. On March 8 the Mayor and Aldermen of London appeared before Parliament, and said that they had received letters from Jacqueline, whom in defiance of the papal Bull they called Duchess of Gloucester as well as Countess of Holland and Zealand, in which she appealed to them for help. They declared that the nation ought to rescue her, and said that they were ready to help within reason.[709]

More definite than this implied censure on Gloucester was another scene enacted within the precincts of Parliament about this time.[710] A woman from the Stocks Market,[711] which occupied the present site of the Mansion House, and was so called from the stocks which stood there, came openly into Parliament, bringing with her some other London women, and handed letters to Gloucester, the two Archbishops and other lords there, censuring the Duke for not taking steps to relieve his wife from her danger, and for leaving her unloved and forgotten in captivity, whilst he was living in adultery with another woman, ‘to the ruin of himself, the kingdom, and the marital bond.’[712] The women of London at this time were apt to assert their right to a voice in public matters. In the very next year we find the wives and daughters of the citizens of Aldgate taking the law into their own hands, and killing a Breton murderer by pelting him with stones and canal mud in spite of the intervention of the constables who were escorting the prisoner to the coast.[713] In this case the victim of the murderer was an old widowed lady who had shown him much charity, and it would seem that it was only in matters which affected their own sex that the London women took an interest. The story of the women’s petition to Parliament is handed down to us in the pages of a chronicler of the friendly house of St. Albans, though the entry has been cancelled by another hand; it therefore helps us to understand the intense sympathy felt in England for Jacqueline, when the men and women of London both came to censure their ‘Good Duke.’

It is possible that news of the ultimate declaration of the Court of Rome had not yet reached England, for we find Jacqueline termed Duchess of Gloucester in an official document of March 18 in this year,[714] but this did not detract from the blame which the Duke had incurred by his neglect of the woman whom he had claimed as his wife for the last six years. We cannot but find the censure of the market-women well deserved. In the hope of increasing his possessions and his power Humphrey had made a questionable marriage with Jacqueline, but this could be forgiven him if, when he had done so, he had been loyal to his wife, who at one time at all events had loved him for himself. It was not the perception of the political complications which would result from further action that restrained him, but the realisation that the prize was not worth the energy needed to win it, coupled with the fact that he had become a slave to what was perhaps the one real passion of his life.


We have seen how Gloucester was accompanied home from Hainault by one of Jacqueline’s English ladies-in-waiting, and how he had fallen a victim to her charms. Eleanor Cobham was of great beauty, so the gossiping Æneas Sylvius tells us, whilst Waurin bears testimony to her wonderful charm and courage,[715] but her honour had been besmirched before Gloucester made her acquaintance.[716] Notwithstanding this, she had gained a complete ascendency over her royal lover, to whom she had probably borne two children by this time, and the superstition of the age did not hesitate to say that it was through potions provided by the Witch of Eye that this ascendency had been secured.[717] Throughout these last years it had been the attractions of this woman that had caused Gloucester to forget Jacqueline, and he now carried his infatuation so far as to marry her. Freed from all obligations to his former wife by papal decree, he hastened to legalise his relations with Eleanor, whence ‘arose shame and more disgrace and inconvenience to the whole kingdom than can be expressed,’ says a contemporary chronicler,[718] whilst a later writer says, ‘and if he wer unquieted with his other pretensed wife, truly he was tenne tymes more vexed by occasion of this woman—so that he began his marriage with evill, and ended it with worse.’[719] Monstrelet also looks askance at the marriage,[720] and even the poet Lydgate raised his voice against the ‘Cyronees,’ who tempted

‘The prynci’s hert against al goddes lawe
Frome heos promesse truwe alle to withdrawe
To straunge him, and make him foule forsworne
Unto that godely faythfull truwe pryncesse.’[721]

Eleanor was an ambitious woman, who had undoubtedly had this end in view, but that she had been used by Bedford and Beaufort as a counter attraction to Jacqueline is a statement supported by no evidence, and merely suggested by the dramatic instinct of a poet. There was nothing unusual in this action of Gloucester’s, and if he married his mistress, it was no more than his grandfather had done before him. Even if he did not encourage the marriage, Beaufort could not object to it, for what claims he had to legitimacy were based upon such a union.

Henceforth the history of Jacqueline ceases to be bound up with that of Gloucester, and a few months later she was compelled to agree to a treaty with Burgundy, whereby she acknowledged the illegality of her former marriage. Bereft of her English husband, her life assumed a calmer aspect, and for the remaining years that she had to live she could not regret the loss of one for whom she had suffered so much, and from whom she had received so little.

The Duke of Gloucester and his wife Eleanor being received into the fraternity of St. Alban’s Abbey.


While Jacqueline was making her last stand against her enemies, and sending her last appeals for help across to England, Humphrey was occupied with ambitions far nearer home and totally unconnected with his now forgotten Hainault policy. The Parliament of 1427, which had been opened by the little King in person on October 13, had been prorogued on December 8 by the Protector on the authority of letters-patent from the King,[722] and on both occasions the subordination of the Protector to the rules laid down for him were thus fully emphasised. Gloucester began openly to resent these limitations of his power, and even before the adjournment he had made some protest against the merely nominal privileges which he enjoyed.[723] No notice had been taken of this protest, and he was therefore left to reflect on the matter during the recess. Christmas he spent at his favourite monastery, and the St. Albans chronicler tells us of the splendid style in which he celebrated the Feast. When Epiphany was past, he moved on to Ashbridge near Berkhampsted for a stay of three days, and thence he returned to London for the reopening of Parliament.[724] His mind was made up. In spite of the previous ignoring of his protest, he now, on March 3, requested that the Lords should define his powers, and did so in such a way as to imply a demand for more extended rights and privileges than he at present possessed. He declared his intention of abstaining from attendance in Parliament till this matter was settled, and arrogantly declared that during his absence other questions might be discussed but not settled.[725]

The motive underlying the request is evident. Bedford was safely employed in the French wars and in Burgundian negotiations; Beaufort was also absent, and it seemed to Gloucester to be an ideal time to strengthen his hands against the Cardinal. Possibly he had been betrayed into the belief that he held the ascendency in Parliament by the alacrity with which that body had sanctioned the recent loan to him. Short-sighted as before, he could not distinguish between sympathy for Jacqueline’s sad plight and sympathy with his personal ambitions, and he did not realise that other men’s memories were longer than his. In point of fact he could not have chosen a worse time for this attempt to secure increased power in the kingdom, for the Lords would have less compunction in refusing anything to the ‘Good Duke’ at a time when his conduct was being openly censured even by his London supporters, than when his popularity was not under a shadow. As it was, the demand produced the inevitable result. The Lords took their stand on the arrangements made in the first Parliament of the reign, recalling how at that time Humphrey had claimed the government of the kingdom, both by right of birth and by the right of the will of Henry V., how records had been searched and precedents consulted, with the result that the claim was found to be unsupported by any legal authority, whilst the right of Henry V. to give away the government of the country after his death was also found to have no legal basis. Yet for the sake of peace and to ‘appese’ Gloucester, he had been made chief councillor of the King as long as Bedford remained abroad, and to distinguish him from the other councillors the name of ‘Protector and Defender’ was ‘devised’ for him, which should not ‘emporte auctorite of governaunce of ye land,’ but merely carry with it a personal duty to provide for the defence of the kingdom both from external and internal dangers, giving him therewith certain powers which were enumerated at the time. That was the intention of Parliament five years ago, and beyond this the Lords would not now go; indeed at the time Gloucester had agreed to the arrangement. In Parliament Humphrey had no rights beyond those of any other duke, and it was merely as Duke of Gloucester that he was summoned there. The Lords declared themselves surprised at his recent demands, and they told him pretty bluntly that he must be content with such power as he had got, even as was Bedford. In conclusion they expressed a hope that he would take his seat in Parliament, and make no more ado about his position there.[726]

Nothing could show us more plainly than this the suspicion in which were held any attempts by Gloucester to monopolise the governmental power, and the surprisingly advanced state of constitutional theory. Yet we must not be tempted to dismiss this incident merely as an indication of Humphrey’s ambition, and of the patriotic endeavour of Parliament to maintain constitutional government in the face of expiring despotism. Humphrey’s ambitious nature is, of course, beyond dispute, but among his motives there may have been some hope of giving the kingdom a strength it lacked under the present government. It is a platitude to say that under the Lancastrian kings England had advanced in constitutional theory much further than in administrative efficiency. The elements of constitutional monarchy had been attained, and they are nowhere better expressed than in the answer to Gloucester’s demands, but parliamentary government at this time was not what we understand by that term now. The Parliament of Henry VI. was not representative of the kingdom in the modern sense of the word; it was largely a reflection of the desires of the English nobility, or rather of a certain dominant clique therein. The government of this clique had not proved a blessing to England, and we have already seen something of the lawlessness and disorder of the kingdom generally. In September of the following year the Chancellor in opening Parliament was very despondent about the moral state of the country, declaring that acts of lawlessness and oppression were everyday occurrences, and arose from the absence of any real administration of justice.[727]

To Humphrey was given all the hard work of keeping the peace, with none of the rewards for those labours, or the prestige which would make his influence efficient. As it was, the divisions in the government had disastrous effects; the country was not ready for a divided sovereignty. The only remedy for this state of affairs was that the central power should be in the hands of one man, who should make his personality felt at a time when personality had far more influence on men’s minds than any theory of government. We cannot suggest that Humphrey was the ideal man to exert this personal power, yet we must not forget his past attempts to administer the law for the benefit of the injured, or his later efforts to prevent sedition and internal strife. He could not belong to the House of Lancaster without inheriting some of the administrative qualities of his family; to this was added his popularity with the people, and his position as a member of the royal family. Owing to this position his influence must be great, and it would have been to the advantage of the country that this influence should be exerted on the side of law and order, rather than at the head of a discontented opposition. On paper the theories contained in the Lords’ reply were excellent, but in practice they needed a more advanced state of society than that which obtained in fifteenth-century England. The country, though it knew it not, was on the eve of a civil war of the worst kind, and a man untrammelled by the limitations of a none too wise oligarchy might have saved it many years of bloodshed. Humphrey was not a strong character, yet with his advantages of birth to support him, he was no weaker than any other individual of the time in England, and far stronger than the divided rule of a Regency Council.

As a mitigation of the rebuff of this refusal to increase his powers, Gloucester was granted the payment for forty-eight days’ service in 1415, which had hitherto been refused by the officials of the Exchequer;[728] and when Parliament had ceased to sit he went off to Merton, where he kept the Feast of Easter.[729] The King meanwhile was taken to keep the Feast at Hertford, where he was visited by Warwick, who had been brought back from France to fill a post wherein he might act as another check on the power of the Protector.[730] The death of the Duke of Exeter in January 1427 had left the post of tutor to the King vacant, and hitherto this vacancy had not been filled. Now, however, fearing that in the absence of an authorised tutor Gloucester might influence his royal nephew, the Council determined to give to Warwick the place of Exeter, thus fulfilling the wishes of the late King in this respect, though they had lately refused to do so in the matter of the Protectorate. On June 1 the writ empowering Warwick to exercise the office of tutor to Henry VI. was signed by Gloucester and eleven other Lords of the Council.[731]


In the same month we find Humphrey hearing petitions in the Star Chamber at Westminster with other members of the Council,[732] but he was called away shortly afterwards to settle a dispute which threatened the peace of the Midlands. From some paltry retainer’s quarrel a feud had sprung up between John Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, and John Holland, Earl of Huntingdon, and matters had gone so far that each had collected a considerable force, and a pitched battle seemed imminent. Hearing of this the Protector hastened to leave London, and on August 19 reached St. Albans, where the monks greeted him with the usual joyful processions. He did not, however, delay here, but the next morning, having paid his respects to the Holy Martyr, he set off in the direction of Bedfordshire, so that he might get in touch with the two opponents, and probe the reasons for their quarrel. Though an actual fight was averted, no settlement could be arranged, as the Duke of Norfolk refused to appear before the Protector.[733] Here again we find an instance of the undesirable effects of government by the Privy Council. Both Norfolk and Huntingdon were councillors, and naturally resented the interference of a man whose power in the government was subordinate to theirs, but their feelings of patriotism and responsibility were not enough to induce them to keep the peace which they were supposed to enforce on others. No better example could be found of the emptiness of constitutional theory in those days of turbulence and violence.

Finding himself powerless to restore peace in Bedfordshire, Gloucester turned south, and by way of St. Albans reached London, where he prepared to welcome his old rival Beaufort on his return from the Continent.[734] This was the Bishop of Winchester’s first appearance in England as a cardinal, and he was met on September 1 outside London by the Mayor and citizens ‘reverently arrayed in red hoods and green vestments. The Abbot of St. Albans and many of the regular clergy were there also to meet him, but of the bishops his Lordship of Salisbury was the only representative.[735] Gloucester cannot have received the Cardinal with unalloyed pleasure, for he thoroughly disapproved of the policy which had allowed the acceptance of the cardinal’s hat. However, he joined in the official reception, when the Cardinal rode into the city with that pomp and magnificence which he loved so well.


The year passed to its close without further incident, though on November 19, the Eve of St. Edmund, King and Martyr, we find the Cardinal again seizing the opportunity of displaying his newly acquired dignity. A solemn procession round the city was headed by Beaufort, accompanied by the two Archbishops, the Mayor, and the Protector himself, who, for the time, seems to have been on good terms with his uncle.[736] As Christmas drew near, Gloucester went down to Greenwich, there to celebrate the festival in the house which he had acquired after the death of the Duke of Exeter, and which he was later to transform into a famous palace.[737] But with Beaufort in England once more, he was on the lookout to curb the power of his old antagonist, and the opportunity was offered him by the cardinalate which the latter had accepted.

It has been said that Beaufort made ‘the great mistake of his life’ when he accepted this dignity;[738] at all events it gave the Protector an excuse for attacking him. He had come back from the Continent with a papal commission to raise men and money for the crusade against the Hussites, and he was permitted to make an expedition to Scotland for this purpose.[739] During his absence Gloucester raised the question as to whether he had not vacated his bishopric by accepting the cardinal’s hat, since it exempted him from the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury,[740] and on his return the Cardinal, in order that the matter might be settled forthwith, petitioned the King to be allowed to exercise his functions as prelate of the Garter, by right of his bishopric of Winchester, at the approaching Feast of St. George, the patron saint of the Order and of the kingdom. The matter was discussed before the King at Westminster on April 17, and the peers, prelates, and abbots present agreed to ask the new cardinal to refrain from attending the festival on this occasion at any rate.[741]

By thus playing on the fears of the majority of Englishmen, who looked with great dislike on any one who even seemed to suggest papal interference in the country, Gloucester had made a skilful, if somewhat revengeful, move, but we must not forget that Beaufort had taken the first step that led to the state of mutual mistrust which prompted this action. For the time Gloucester held the ascendence over his rival, and in the hope of getting him out of the country again, raised no objection to the permission granted to the Cardinal to raise forces for the campaign against the Hussites,[742] and this in spite of the fact that Bedford was asking for reinforcements. However, the defeat of the English at Patay on the same day that the permission to Beaufort was given could not be overlooked, and the Cardinal was induced to lead his forces to the help of Bedford, and to postpone his crusading zeal.[743] In June he crossed the Channel and landed in France.[744]


Bedford, however, wanted more than reinforcements. In the face of the French successes under the influence of the enthusiasm engendered by the Maid of Orleans, and the favour with which Frenchmen generally were beginning to look on the hitherto despised cause of the ‘King of Bourges,’ it was necessary to do something to rehabilitate the Lancastrian cause in France. It was with this object that the Regent earnestly asked the English Council to send the little King to be crowned at Paris.[745] When Parliament met on September 22 it agreed to comply with this request, and preparations were rapidly made so that Henry’s coronation in England might first take place. Gloucester naturally took a large share in these preparations; it was always with zest that he arranged a great function. On October 10 he was appointed to act as Steward of England for the occasion,[746] whilst he was allowed to appoint a deputy to perform his duties as Great Chamberlain.[747]

It was on St. Leonard’s Day, Sunday, November 6, that the coronation took place, shorn of some of its glories by reason of the haste with which preparations for it had been made. Archbishop Chichele, assisted by the Cardinal Bishop of Winchester, who had returned from France for the occasion, performed the ceremony, which ended with a banquet in Westminster Hall, such as Gloucester had supervised nearly ten years before on the occasion of Queen Catherine’s coronation.[748]


The coronation of Henry VI. had its significance at home as well as abroad; for Gloucester it meant the abandonment of the title which he had held since the death of Henry V. The festivities were barely over when Parliament declared that, since the King was now crowned, he had taken the responsibility of the government on himself, and that therefore the Protectorate was at an end: on November 15 Humphrey resigned his office, stipulating that by this action he did not prejudice the right of his brother Bedford.[749] In this premature ending of the Protectorate we cannot fail to see the hand of Beaufort and the jealousy of the Regency Council. To say that a child, who had not attained the age of eight, had become capable of governing the country simply because a ceremony, which might have been performed with equal justice seven years earlier, had taken place, was on the face of it absurd. It may be that Beaufort had suggested the coronation to Bedford when he was in France with this end in view; certainly this summary ending of the Protectorate shows that the Council were determined to limit the power of the man who was nominally at the head of affairs, thereby hoping to increase their own importance. The lords had just told Gloucester that the title of Protector was nothing but a title, and now they proceeded to take away even that, and to reduce him to the rank of First Councillor. There was neither logic nor policy in this action. Whilst it could not serve to help on the good government of the kingdom, it only added another reason for the discontent and factiousness of the man it was meant to curb.

We find Gloucester’s protest against his compulsory resignation of the Protectorate in this very same Parliament, when it was questioned whether a cardinal had a right to be a member of the Council. Beaufort secured another victory when the Lords decided that not only was it allowable but very desirable that he should attend the meetings of the Council on all occasions, except when matters connected with the Papal See were under discussion.[750]


The Bishop of Winchester had now considerably more power than his rival, and we may see traces of the antipathy to Gloucester prevalent amongst the Lords of Parliament in a famous measure passed in the second session of this same Parliament. The representatives of the counties in Parliament were chosen in the County Court, and Henry IV. had taken steps to make this representation adequately reflect the wishes of all who had access to that court. A reaction against this wide qualification for the franchise now set in, and it was ordained that none but those who possessed a freehold of the value of forty shillings a year, and resided within the county, could vote for the knights of the shire who sat in Parliament.[751] It is to be noticed that, whilst driving the theory of constitutional government to an extreme, Parliament was now limiting the possibilities of its claim to represent the nation: the reason is obvious. The more limited the franchise, the more powerful would be the lords who desired to rule the country, and the less powerful would be Gloucester, who numbered his supporters amongst the rank and file of the commonalty now excluded from the franchise. The Bill spoke of the riot and disturbance caused ‘by great attendance of people of small substance and no value whereof every of them pretended a voice equivalent, as to such elections, with the most worthy knights and squires resident,’[752] and the true meaning of this complaint does not lie far below the surface. Humphrey may be indicted on many counts, but he cannot be said to have championed the lords against the people. What strength he had was based on his personal popularity with the ‘people of small substance,’ and his opponents were the men who, working under the pretence of desiring a stronger Parliament, were attempting to secure absolute domination over the country. Having secured a preponderance in the kingdom, they proceeded to quarrel among themselves, since the inevitable result of conciliar government was at this time civil war. Gloucester, with all his faults, stood for the rights of the people, not perhaps from disinterested motives, but because the people were ready to support him. Neither lords nor commons had an exclusive right to govern the kingdom during a minority, nor had they the political capacity to do so, but this limitation of the franchise was a measure aimed by the nobility at Gloucester and the commons at once. Supported by Beaufort, who thought himself able to control them, the lords shut the door on those who alone could check their turbulence, and weakened the position of a man, who with a less limited power might have given strength to the kingdom and dynasty, even although he was almost entirely selfish in his aims. Beaufort was not able to control them, and the ultimate result of their quarrels was civil war.


While these measures to prevent the ascendency of Gloucester in the councils of the nation were being taken, preparations were being made for the journey of the young King to France; they were pervaded by a spirit of precaution. The articles for the regulation of the Council, which had been made in the first Parliament of the reign, were re-enacted and expanded so that there should be no possibility of the conciliar government being weakened by the machinations of the First Councillor.[753] At the same time careful arrangements were made for the government of the kingdom in the King’s absence; all were agreed that it was impossible to leave the kingdom in the hands of any one but Gloucester, yet his powers as Regent must be limited. Cardinal Beaufort was induced to escort Henry VI. to France, and the Council was divided into two parts, one to accompany the King, the other to remain in England. These two divisions were to be independent of one another except in matters of the greatest importance, but the Regent of England was prevented from turning the English Council into a body composed of his own supporters by the provision that no councillor could be dismissed save with the consent of both Councils.[754] At the same time the weakness of the Council as a governing body was made manifest by the steps taken to prevent the Duke of Norfolk and the Earls of Huntingdon and Warwick from attacking one another whilst accompanying the King. Humphrey took his own precautions to prevent armed dissensions in this Council, and exacted an oath from these three lords that they would not in person resent any injury done them, but bring any dispute among themselves before the Council.[755]

In spite of the proceedings of his opponents, it is evident that the abolition of the Protectorate had not shorn Gloucester of all his power. In this quarrel of the lords he had successfully asserted his right to impose order and to keep the peace, and on December 23 of the previous year he had secured a handsome allowance for his exertions as First Councillor. For his attendance at the Council whilst the King was still in England, he was paid at the rate of two thousand marks a year, and as Regent in the King’s absence he was to receive double that sum. A proviso was also added that if he should be put to extra expense or trouble in some matter in which he had the consent of the Council, he was to have an extra grant, and if, by reason of the urgency of the matter, he should be compelled to act without the consent of that body, he was to be paid therefor at their next meeting.[756]

Whilst the last preparations for the journey were being made, Gloucester had accompanied his nephew as far as Canterbury on his way to the coast. There Easter had been kept, and it was there also that Gloucester took the steps already recorded towards securing peace amongst the lords who were to accompany their young sovereign to France.[757] There, too, in his capacity of Warden of the Cinque Ports, he had prepared for the transhipment of the expedition by ordering ships to be in readiness to carry the King across the Channel.[758] On April 23 his commission as Regent during the King’s absence was signed. By it he was authorised to hold Parliaments and Councils, and with their assent to ordain such things as were necessary for the welfare of the King and the realm. He might also exercise the royal authority in all matters pertaining to ecclesiastical elections, but he was to do everything by the advice of the Council and not otherwise.[759] Next day the little King set sail on his way to secure the empty honour of the crown of France, whilst his uncle turned back to undertake the cares of that other kingdom, which was in the end to prove an almost equally illusory possession.[760]

The first year of Gloucester’s regency passed without any incident of interest. The government was quietly conducted, and the discussions which continually arose when Beaufort was in the country were for the time forgotten. Negotiations were carried on with Scotland, in which Lord Scrope, a supporter of Gloucester, seems to have acted with energy and ability.[761] But despite several journeys to the north, and a seeming readiness on both sides to come to an understanding,[762] no definite settlement was made, and he was again sent to Scotland in November.[763] Thus the year passed quickly away, and there was found to be no need for the summoning of Parliament till early in 1431.[764]


The session which then began was even more uneventful than that of the preceding year, though Beaufort came over to attend it,[765] and the lack of political quarrels speaks for the good government of the Regent and the powerlessness of the Cardinal when his turbulent supporters were absent in France. Only one event in Parliament is worthy of record, and this points to the financial distress of the country and to the waning affection for the war. In response to the Pope’s efforts in the direction of peace, the Lords and Commons joined with hearty goodwill in an attempt to further his wishes by appointing the King’s three uncles, Bedford, Gloucester, and Beaufort, to treat of peace with the envoys of France and of Rome, and by instructing them to agree to any terms they might think reasonable, saving the liberties of the King’s subjects.[766] According to a later chronicler the powers thus conferred were the occasion of an amicable meeting between the Regent and the Cardinal on matters of foreign policy.[767] At any rate, Beaufort returned to France without any fresh cause of dispute having arisen between him and his nephew.


When Parliament had been dissolved Gloucester went down to Greenwich to spend Easter, and on St. George’s Day he presided at a Chapter of the Order of the Garter at Windsor.[768] He was suddenly called away by disturbances in the Midland Counties. A certain William Perkyns, otherwise known as William Maundyvyll, who for the purposes of his agitation called himself ‘Jack Sharpe of Wygmoreland,’ had lately been distributing pamphlets in London, Coventry, and Oxford, which took the form of a petition to the King and Lords of Parliament, showing the waste which ensued from the possession of temporalities by the bishops, abbots, and priors of the Church, and praying for their resumption by the Crown. It was suggested that the proceeds of this confiscation should be devoted to the endowment of a hundred almshouses and the financing of a certain number of earls, knights, and squires, but that the confiscations themselves should only affect the high dignitaries of the Church.[769] The mention of ‘Wygmoreland’ savoured too much of the House of Mortimer for the Regent to ignore the movement, while the prelates were in a frenzy at this attack on their coveted possessions. The idea thus propounded was no new one, for in the Parliament of 1410 this resumption of ecclesiastical temporalities had been suggested, and the future Henry V. had opposed it,[770] while at a later date Oldcastle had circulated pamphlets recommending such a course.[771] In remembrance of this incident the cry of heresy and Lollardy was raised, and it was declared that Jack Sharpe with his ‘fals feleshipp’ wished to destroy the Church.[772] Thus political security and religious orthodoxy both summoned Gloucester from his ease, and he hastened to Abingdon, in which neighbourhood the malcontents were said to be assembled. By the help of one William Warberton, Jack Sharpe with many of his associates was found in hiding at Oxford, where the Chancellor and bailiffs arrested him on the Thursday before Whitsunday.[773] Brought before the Regent, he was condemned to death and executed at Abingdon, and his head was placed on London Bridge.[774]

In the part he took in the suppression of ‘Jack Sharpe’ Gloucester was actuated as much by a desire to enforce the arm of the law on all disturbers of the peace, and on all who might be thought to threaten the House of Lancaster, as by the claims of the higher clergy to be protected. About this time, however, he further countenanced the extinction of heresy by being present at the burning at Smithfield of an old priest who denied the validity of the sacraments of the Church.[775] In this he was merely carrying out the general policy of the Government, for instances of the execution of Lollards and other heretics were of comparatively frequent occurrence.

The danger to Church and State was over, and the movement of the man of ‘Wygmoreland’ had been suppressed by the Regent’s quick and decided action, yet the very assumption of this name showed that the House of Lancaster was not free from the danger which had threatened in the Southampton conspiracy of 1415, and in the later pretensions of the Earl of March. The inevitable dynastic struggle was only postponed till a time when a weak and vacillating king in the hands of unintelligent advisers should find himself unable to cope with a movement which this time had been nipped in the bud.

After the execution of ‘Jack Sharpe’ Gloucester visited several other places in the kingdom, making inquisitions concerning certain heretics, traitors, and rebels, and punishing them according to their demerits.[776] Indeed during the Regency executions for illegal acts and Lollardy were frequent; now it was a courtier punished for the misuse of a patent seal, now a Lollard who by his faith threatened the House of Lancaster. All through Humphrey’s justice seems to have been firm and true, and during the time of his government of the kingdom one chronicler at least appears to hint at a more drastic and organised government by the number of executions that he records.[777] At the same time there is no record of any serious disturbance in the kingdom, and the rising of Jack Sharpe is peculiar, not because of its existence, but because of the summary justice meted out to it. By November Humphrey was back again to London and in attendance at the Council. The days of the Regency were now drawing to a close. The King was now, after many delays, on the eve of his coronation in Paris,[778] and his return to England at the beginning of the New Year was certain. With him would come Beaufort and his supporters in the Council, and Gloucester feared that fresh attacks would be made on his position. He therefore prepared to meet them by a counter-movement, to be made whilst he was still governing the country and had a complete ascendency over the Council, and it was to this end that the question of Beaufort’s cardinalate was again raised.


At a meeting of the Council on November 6 the King’s Serjeant and Attorney presented a petition which requested that Beaufort should be deprived of his see of Winchester on the ground of his having accepted a cardinal’s hat. In support of this petition it was argued that Archbishops Langham and Kilwardby had been deprived for this reason, and that the good of the kingdom demanded compliance with these precedents. The Regent, who evidently inspired this action on the part of the legal officials of the Crown, asked the Bishop of Worcester whether it was true that the Cardinal had procured from Rome an exemption for himself, his city, and his see from the jurisdiction of the Primate. After much hesitation the Bishop was compelled to acknowledge that the Bishop of Lichfield had told him that he had acted for Beaufort in the purchase of such an exemption from the Pope. After debate the matter was referred to the judges, who were instructed to search the records and give their decision on the legal point. Meanwhile nothing further was to be done till the Cardinal returned to justify his action.[779]

Though to us this attack may seem trivial, and its occurrence, at a time when its object was not in the country to defend himself, unfair, we must not forget that the Cardinal had laid himself open to the gravest suspicion by invoking the interference of Rome in a matter of purely English importance. It is also to be noticed that Beaufort had realised the probability of losing his English benefices when created cardinal, as at the time of his appointment he had procured a papal Bull which enacted that ‘he schuld have an reioyse all the benefyces spirituell and temporell that he hadde had in Englond.’[780] Thus he had laid himself open to the pains and penalties of the statute of Provisors, which forbade the acceptance of letters from the Pope appointing people to benefices in England, and showed that Gloucester’s suspicion that he was using the papal alliance for furtherance of his ambitions at home was fully justified. Jealousy of papal power had ever been one of the chief tenets of the Englishman’s creed, and had a less powerfully connected ecclesiastic than Beaufort ventured on such a step, his punishment would have been swift and sure. Indeed the only voice raised in protest against the action of the Council in this matter was that of the Bishop of Carlisle,[781] a man well known to be a minion of the Beaufort party, and one to whose appointment to his present see both Gloucester and Lord Scrope had objected strongly only a few years before.[782] The decision of the judges seems to have been hostile to the Cardinal, for on November 20 the Council ordered writs of Præmunire and attachment upon the Statute to be sealed against him, though they were not to be executed till the King came back.[783]

Thus Gloucester thought that he had successfully clipped the wings of his rival, and his ascendency in the Council was still further emphasised by a movement to increase his salary as Regent. According to the existing arrangement he received two thousand marks per annum as First Councillor, and four thousand marks whilst he was Regent in the King’s absence. It was the Treasurer, Lord Hungerford, who now proposed in the Great Council, on the same day as the writ of Præmunire was issued, that in consideration of the great expenses that Gloucester had incurred in the past, both in preserving the kingdom from the malice of rebels and traitors, and ‘especially of late concerning the taking and execution of the most horrible heretic and impious traitor to God and the said Lord King, who called himself John Sharp, and of many other heretical malefactors his accomplices,’ he should receive an increase of two thousand marks per annum for his services as Regent, returning to his usual salary when the King came back.[784]


That this was an evasion of a demand for increased pay by Gloucester seems to be evident, as the Regency was drawing to a close, and therefore no material benefit would accrue to the Regent by this motion. Moreover, the excuse of the expense of putting down the rising of John Sharp was merely a formal plea, as a payment of five hundred marks had already been made in this respect on July 17.[785] It was not to be expected that Hungerford should propose any measure of great advantage to the Regent, for he had sided throughout with the Chancellor in opposing Gloucester, even as he had been intended to do when appointed to office by the influence of the Beaufort faction. Now he evidently wished to conciliate Humphrey at small expense. Lord Scrope, however, who was a steady supporter of the Regent, proposed an amendment to the effect that Gloucester should have five thousand marks a year in his capacity of First Councillor after the King’s return, as well as the six thousand marks of his proposed salary as Regent. After considerable discussion this last suggestion was agreed to, though it was strongly opposed by Chancellor Kemp, the Bishop of Carlisle, and Lords Harrington, De la Warr, Lovell, and Botreaux. The Treasurer accepted the amendment, probably in the hope of conciliating one who proved to have such strong supporters. One qualification, however, was secured by Gloucester’s opponents, when it was arranged that the salary now voted should cover all expenses he might incur in the King’s service.[786]

The result of all this was a decided victory for the Regent, and he was made secure of an exceedingly handsome allowance, which he felt to be necessary owing to his expensive and luxurious habits, and the charges which he incurred as a patron of letters. The sum was not excessive, for in the past both Bedford and himself had received annual salaries of four to eight thousand marks as First Councillors.[787] Nevertheless this was not a time to wring money from an already depleted exchequer. The Lancastrians had always been poor, and now especially the constant sinking of money into the bottomless morass of the French wars had reduced the dynasty and kingdom to a very low financial state. Once more Gloucester showed that personal gratification was more to him than patriotic considerations. Throughout his regency he had shown the same traits of character we have found in other parts of his career. Administrative power, good government, a determination to punish sedition and violence speedily and efficiently, all may be seen in this brief tenure of office. Criminals were brought to justice; in the face of seething discontent and the growing violence of the barons, peace reigned. Yet, despite all this, the government was subordinate in Humphrey’s eyes to his own personal aggrandisement. He had used his spell of power to strengthen his position in the kingdom irrespective of his executive duties, which were treated more as isolated incidents than as part of a constructive policy. He had taken advantage of the Cardinal’s absence to direct an attack on his position in the kingdom; he had struck at the very foundation of Beaufort’s power when he had tried to deprive him of some of his possessions; he had levelled against him a charge which, if successful, would entail his banishment from the kingdom. At the same time he had taken steps to strengthen his own position by increasing his income, and these monetary considerations remind us of the new era that was dawning, the approach of that time when no longer birth or hereditary position were to define a man’s power, but the length of his purse and his capacity to command the services of others by purchase. Humphrey’s Regency, therefore, is important partly for the added indications of his power of administration, but more so for the stage it marks in his attempt to undermine the power of his great enemy.


The increase of his income was the last important event for Gloucester before the return of the King, who landed at Dover on February 9,[788] and on Thursday 21 entered London in triumph. The Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, and Aldermen, clad in their fur-lined scarlet cloaks, were there to receive him, and amid song and pageant, in which champions with drawn swords and ‘maidens very celestialle’ took part, Gloucester escorted his nephew to St. Paul’s and thence to Westminster.[789] A bright interlude this in the struggles for ascendency which surrounded the boy-king’s throne, struggles which, dating from Henry V.’s untimely death, were to continue with varied success, now to this side, now to that, for so long a period. The rivalry of Gloucester and Beaufort had been the central thread of the tangled web of the King’s minority, and now that Henry was a crowned King and claimed personal obedience in two countries, this rivalry did not lose its importance. The internal history of England is still the history of the faction fight which had marred the peace of the first nine years of the reign.

The struggle between, the two uncles enters at this period on a new phase. Hitherto it had been chiefly confined to the sphere of Parliament and the Council Chamber, now the interest centres more in the King’s person. Henry VI., though only ten years old, was beginning to assert his position, for he was ‘growen in yeares, in stature ... and also in conceyte of his hiegh and royale auctoritee,’ as his tutor, Warwick, complained to the Council,[790] and under these circumstances it became every year more necessary for each party to gain the King’s ear. Beaufort had not come back with the royal escort, so Gloucester had an opportunity to use the King’s return for his own ends. He was not at all satisfied with the officers of state whom his opponents had placed in office. Chancellor Kemp had opposed the increase of his salary, and Hungerford, the Treasurer, had only assented to the measure at the last moment; the first step, therefore, was to secure their dismissal, which he had been unable to procure before under the terms of his regency patent. No time was lost; on February 28, only four days after Henry’s arrival in London, Archbishop Kemp resigned the Seals to Gloucester, who for the moment became Lord Keeper. On March 1 they were delivered to the King, who handed them forthwith to the Bishop of Bath and Wells.[791] Lord Scrope, the ardent supporter of Gloucester, succeeded Lord Hungerford as Treasurer, while care was taken to displace men of Beaufort sympathies from positions which entailed personal attendance on the King. Accordingly Lord Cromwell was dismissed from the post of Chamberlain in favour of Sir William Philip, and Lord Tiptoft, the Steward of the Household, made way for Sir Robert Babthorp, who had instructions to make all haste to take up his office at once.[792] Thus with the greatest expedition possible the personnel around the King was changed, and the new officers were chosen, as far as possible, from amongst those who would support Gloucester’s claim to a preponderance in the politics of the kingdom.

These changes in the crown officials were safely effected before Parliament met on May 12, by which date Beaufort had arrived in England. The turbulence of the great nobles is illustrated by the fact that writs were issued to the Duke of Norfolk, the Earls of Suffolk, Huntingdon, Stafford, Northumberland, and Salisbury, together with Lord Cromwell, enjoining them not to come to Parliament with more than their usual number of retainers.[793] To say that this ‘intimation under the circumstances must have sounded very like a declaration of war’ on the part of Gloucester[794] is a total misreading of the matter. Precautions of much the same nature had been taken by Bedford at the Parliament of Leicester without provoking comment, and it was well known that at least two of those to whom the writs were addressed were at enmity with one another, and that Lord Cromwell was enraged at his loss of office. Added to all this, Huntingdon was certainly not of the Beaufort faction, as he subsequently appears as the supporter of Duke Humphrey.[795] It was merely a precautionary measure, and serves to prove the unreliability of those by whom the government of the kingdom was supposed to be dominated, for these lords, with the exception of Salisbury, were all Councillors.


When Parliament did meet, Beaufort was there to look after his own interests. On the second day Gloucester addressed the Lords, saying that it was desirable that the Commons should know that the Lords spiritual and temporal were in agreement, and that, therefore, a declaration to this effect should be made. So far as he himself was concerned, though by right of birth and by Act of Parliament he was First Councillor to the King whilst Bedford was absent yet he would never do any state business except with the consent of the Lords, or of a majority of them. He therefore called upon his hearers to give their best advice, and he would abide by it. To this suggested declaration the Lords assented, promising their advice, and praying Gloucester ‘for the reverence of God and the good of the King and the realm to observe his part of the agreement to the best of his ability.’ The Commons were accordingly solemnly informed of the state of absolute concord existing amongst those whom they knew to be turbulent and divided.[796] The object that Humphrey had in view was to secure an acknowledgment of his position, and an acceptance of the state of things as they then stood. His position was one of greater importance than he had enjoyed for some years, and he wished it to be clearly understood that he would not abandon that position without a determined struggle. At the same time, if his power was not assailed, he would not ignore the opinions of others. He could point to his recent successful regency as evidence of the good results of his rule, yet he definitely promised not to go outside his powers so long as his preponderance in the councils of the nation was accepted. He had warned the turbulent nobles in the writ addressed to them with respect to their retinues, and he now wished to impress upon them collectively, that he stood for good government against the divided rule of the Council. Whether this declaration was entirely disinterested may well be doubted, and that his government would be good in our sense of the word was hardly probable, but he was choosing the least turbulent way of asserting himself, and his administration could not well be worse than that of the faction that opposed him.


This warning Beaufort took as a challenge, and retorted in Parliament by an assumption of injured innocence. He rose in his place and explained that whilst on his way to Rome, a journey undertaken by the permission of the King, he had been told that he had been accused of treachery to his royal nephew. He now demanded that he should be confronted with his accuser, and declared himself ready to meet him, however exalted his rank might be—a broad hint at his rival, for no one but Gloucester in England at that time was of superior rank to the Cardinal. The matter was discussed in the King’s presence, and finally Gloucester, as representing the Councillors there present, declared the King’s entire belief in Beaufort’s loyalty, and emphatically announced that no one had accused him of anything, nor to the best of their knowledge did any one desire to do so.[797] Whether there was any truth in the Cardinal’s statement, or whether he was referring to the writ of Præmunire issued against him, must remain uncertain. At all events his attempt to make a scene failed, and with it his first attack on Gloucester’s new position.

But the Cardinal had another cause of complaint, and he proceeded to ventilate this second grievance. Certain of the King’s jewels pledged to him for a loan had been seized by the royal officials when he landed at Sandwich, and he now demanded their restoration.[798] On what plea these jewels were confiscated we cannot discover, but that the Regent had some just cause for his action may be argued from the fact that Parliament only agreed to this restoration on condition that £6000 more were deposited for them, and a promise made by the Cardinal to lend the King thirteen thousand marks in addition.[799] Beaufort had undoubtedly not suffered any loss from the sums he had lent to the King in the past, and it is possible that he had overreached himself in his desire for increased profit; moreover, Gloucester himself seems to have had some personal claim on the jewels,[800] which had probably been pledged to him at some former time, but not fully redeemed, as had been the case when four years earlier he had received a belated payment for the campaign of 1415. If there was any insinuation that the Regent had been robbing under the shadow of the law, it failed to reach the mark, and the jewels were only secured by a heavy payment, though ultimately the Cardinal managed to creep out of the engagements he had made.[801] Taking all this into consideration, it is hard to deduce from these proceedings in Parliament that Beaufort gained a victory over his rival,[802] though he did secure an exemption from all liabilities incurred by him under the Acts of Provisors and Præmunire.[803]

Yet another attack on Gloucester was made in this Parliament by his opponents, when on June 10 Lord Cromwell complained before the Lords that he had been dismissed from his office of Chamberlain contrary to the Ordinances of 1429. He declared that it was a slight on his honour, as no reason had been assigned for this action,[804] and he demanded to be told for what fault he had been dismissed. It was not likely that, where the Cardinal had failed, his follower would succeed, and Cromwell was politely told by Gloucester that he had done no wrong, but was removed merely because he himself and the Council wished it.[805] Thus Gloucester had been successful all along the line. The various, scarcely veiled, attacks made upon him in this Parliament had been repulsed, and his power had been in no way lessened by the return of the King. His position was recognised, and in October of the same year we even find him described as ‘Custode Angliæ’ in an official document,[806] a title of considerably greater importance than that of ‘First Councillor.’


Gloucester had so far asserted his strength that no open attempt to challenge his authority was made for some time, and in this interval of security he spent what time he could spare from public affairs in rebuilding his house at Greenwich in magnificent style, and making a park around it of some two hundred acres.[807] From this pursuit he was called away at the beginning of 1433 by the negotiations for peace which were going on between England and France under the care of the Pope’s representative, the Cardinal of St. Croix. The French had requested that the prisoners in England might be sent over to confer with their fellow-countrymen on the question of peace, and the Council at length agreed to send them as far as Dover, where every facility of communication with their friends across the Channel would be given them.[808] At the same time it was arranged that several important councillors should proceed to Calais, there to discuss the matter with accredited representatives of Charles of France. At their head went Gloucester accompanied by the Chancellor, who deposited the Great Seal with the Clerk of the Rolls on April 15th preparatory to his departure.[809] Humphrey had been making his preparations to cross the Channel ever since February,[810] and on the 22nd of April he started out for Calais.[811] There he was met by Beaufort and Bedford, the latter having brought with him his newly married wife. Anne of Burgundy had died in November,[812] and her husband had delayed but these few months before marrying Jacquetta of Luxemburg, sister of the Count of St. Pol and niece of John of Luxemburg, the Duke of Burgundy’s chief captain. The Duke was much displeased at the action of the Regent of France, not merely for the slight that it cast on his sister’s memory, but also because the marriage with his vassal’s daughter had been contracted without his leave.[813] Among the many influences that tended to alienate Burgundy from England it must be remembered that the marriage of John of Bedford played its part, though it was inferior in importance to the earlier marriage of his brother Humphrey.

At Calais Gloucester remained for a month, though no envoys came from the French King, and consequently the business he had gone there to perform could not be undertaken. Together with his brother he induced Beaufort to lend another five thousand marks to the King,[814] and at this time he seems to have been at peace with his uncle, a curious interlude in the bitter rivalry. So far did this good feeling extend at this time, that Humphrey issued a manifesto declaring his readiness to submit his still outstanding differences with the Duke of Burgundy to the arbitrament of Beaufort and Bedford.[815] This declaration is of interest in itself, since it is possible that it was meant as an act of conciliation towards Burgundy, who was obviously wavering in his English alliance. If this interpretation be correct, it shows a strange turning of the tables. Humphrey was now to try to undo the mischief caused by John of Bedford’s rash marriage. On May 23 Gloucester returned to England,[816] to be followed in June by the Duke and Duchess of Bedford, who crossed on Midsummer’s Eve.[817]


The meeting of Parliament had been postponed owing to the absence of Gloucester and the Chancellor in France, but on their return it was summoned to meet in July. The session opened on the 8th of that month, and on the same day Gloucester, who had surrendered his existing life-peerage to the King, received it back entailed to the heirs male of his body.[818] Bedford and the Cardinal both took their places in Parliament, and on the 13th the former addressed the House, saying that he had learnt that he had been falsely accused of treachery, and that the English reverses in France were attributed to his neglect. As Beaufort had done before him, he asked that he might be confronted with his accusers.[819] On what authority Bedford made this statement we cannot tell, whether he really had reason to suspect treachery on the part of his brother, or whether it was merely the machinations of the Cardinal, who had poured into his nephew’s ear some invention of his own, that induced him to make this protest, it is impossible to say. The striking similarity of the method to that which Beaufort had adopted would support the second supposition. It was not the first time that the Bishop of Winchester had implanted distrust of Humphrey in Bedford’s mind to serve his own purposes.

Whatever prompted the protest, it had no further effect than to satisfy Bedford’s honour, for he was assured by the Chancellor that no report such as he spoke of had reached the ears of the Duke of Gloucester, the Council, or even the King himself, who regarded his uncle as his faithful and true liege.[820] Bedford was not satisfied, and, prompted by Beaufort, he brought his influence to bear on the officials of the Crown. Lord Scrope was compelled to yield his place to Lord Cromwell, whilst the Earl of Suffolk supplanted Sir Robert Babthorp as Steward of the Household;[821] changes which implied the substitution of men of the Beaufort faction, who had been warned against turbulence only a year ago, for men who were known supporters of Gloucester and his policy. Under Bedford’s guidance, however, Cromwell threw himself with energy into the work of his new office, and proceeded to collect statistics concerning the finances of the kingdom, which were in a very bad condition. Meanwhile Parliament was prorogued through fear of an attack of the plague till October 13.[822]

Once again Bedford had come over to England to check his brother’s power, and it is more than probable that he had been instigated to take this course by Beaufort, who however was this time too cunning to commit to paper his appeal for help to the Regent of France. There was no obvious excuse for this interference. The country was not suffering from the rule of Gloucester, and therefore it is the more likely that it was only the Bishop of Winchester’s diminished power that caused this intervention. Beaufort had been much abroad of late, and had had ample opportunity to poison Bedford’s mind against his brother, and the latter’s complaint in Parliament, coupled with the removal of all Gloucester’s friends from office, seems to show that some underhand influence was at work. Strong man though he was, Bedford was unable to grasp all the varied aspects of English politics. He knew his brother to be ambitious and unsteady, but he did not realise that to curb his power was to make him far more dangerous than when in a position of trust. Beaufort was his banker and the source of the money with which he conducted the French war; Beaufort had the gilded tongue of the wily ecclesiastic, and so his suggestion that Gloucester in power spelt anarchy at home and disaster abroad found a ready listener. Defeated in his aims, the Bishop of Winchester reverted to his old policy of sowing discord between the two Lancastrian brothers so as to advance himself, and he continued this policy as long as Bedford was in England.

When Parliament met again, the Commons insisted that the Lords should sign a declaration against the maintenance of criminals. Bedford and Gloucester both appended their signatures to this declaration,[823] but there was a prevalent opinion that there was a still better method of ensuring peace and quietness in the kingdom. The presence of Bedford in England was felt as a quieting influence, and the turbulence of the nobles was kept in check by the one strong man of his age.[824] He alone of the great men of the time stood aloof from the party strife which surrounded the throne of Henry VI. In all her troubles England looked to the one man who would not play for his own hand, and who put the safety, honour, and welfare of the country before any personal advantage.


It was because they realised this fact that the Commons declared in a petition presented to the King on November 24, that the Duke of Bedford was too precious to the kingdom to be allowed to return to France. The country had been so well governed and so quiet since his return, that in the hope of continued peace they desired above all things that he should remain at the head of affairs. To this petition the King replied by ordering the Chancellor to summon Gloucester, Beaufort, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and certain other Lords to discuss the matter, and their report induced the King to request Bedford to remain in England.[825] This request and the action of the Commons must have been gratifying to Bedford, and he was too great a statesman not to realise the significance of the position thus offered to him. He saw that England was divided into two camps, that on one side stood the Beaufort interest, and on the other those who supported Gloucester; he saw that it was impossible for either of these two parties to govern the kingdom quietly and well, for the most honest intentions would be thwarted by the factious opposition of the party not in power, and hampered by the necessity of guarding against attack. Looking back over the eleven years of the reign, short periods of comparative peace might certainly be found, but they were times when the preponderance of Gloucester in the affairs of the kingdom was undisputed, and when the Cardinal was posing as a soldier-priest in the Hussite crusade, or devoting his energies to one of his many other interests. No prolonged quiet was possible whilst all political England was divided into two distinct and militant parties, and it was evident to a man of Bedford’s clear understanding, that some one uninfluenced by these storms must guide the ship of state through the troubled waters in which she found herself. So to the petition of the Commons and the request of the King Bedford gave answer, that he was the King’s servant in all things, and entirely at his disposal.[826]

On the following day Bedford, in view of the low state of the finances of the kingdom, agreed to accept an income of £l000 a year as Chief Councillor, with a provision of £500 for every journey to and from France,[827] and Gloucester hastened to follow suit, accepting £1000 in lieu of the five thousand marks (£3333, 6s. 8d.) which he was then receiving.[828] The lead thus given was followed by others who voluntarily resigned their incomes, for the detailed report that Lord Cromwell had presented to Parliament had shown a heavy deficit.[829] These financial straits cannot be ascribed to maladministration, but rather to the parsimony of Parliament, which by an annual grant of a fifteenth could have placed the finances of the kingdom on a sure footing.[830] Some attempt at organisation was made by appointing a commission of revenue, whereby Bedford, Gloucester, and certain other lords, including Beaufort and others named, were to examine the books of the King’s revenue, and to arrange how the yearly charges were to be borne and the debts paid, and to whom preference in payment was to be given.[831]


Having arranged his salary as Chief Councillor, Bedford proceeded to lay down the conditions under which he would consent to carry on the government of the kingdom. They were agreed to by Parliament, and it is interesting to note the degree of power which he thought necessary for himself, if he were to be able to govern the kingdom successfully. He desired to know the names of those who would be chosen to serve on the standing council, and stipulated that without his consent and that of the Council none of them should be removed, thereby demonstrating that he would not be content to be merely one of the Councillors with prior rank, a position which when taken up by Humphrey was regarded with suspicion by his contemporaries, and decried as self-seeking by later historians. By insisting that he should be consulted, wherever he might chance to be, on such matters as the calling of Parliament and the appointment of bishoprics,[832] he showed that he desired a hold on the government, which in Humphrey’s case would have been dismissed as an attempt to influence the elections, and to pack the episcopal Bench with his supporters. Bedford saw that conciliar government was not what the country needed, and while respecting the feelings of Councillors, he insisted on a preponderance for himself in the councils of the nation. We have no evidence beyond the well-known ambition of his character that Gloucester desired more than this, though owing to the opposition he encountered he had to invoke more questionable means of gaining his ends than a mere demand laid before Parliament.

When Parliament was dissolved, the King went to spend Christmas at the Abbey of St. Edmund at Bury, and probably Gloucester accompanied him. At all events, when Henry returned thither for the Feast of the Purification, and spent the whole of the Lenten season at the Abbey, we find that Humphrey was there during the Easter celebrations, and that when the time came to return to London, he and other nobles asked to be admitted into the Fraternity. The request was gladly granted, and before he left the monastery the King was induced by his uncle to repay the Abbot for the expenses incurred in entertaining him and his suite.[833]


Through all this time Gloucester had had no outlet for his energies, for with his brother in possession of the government he had neither the cares of office nor the excitement of opposition, so he turned his attention to matters outside England, and began to evolve theories on the conduct of the war in France. In a great Council held in the Parliament Chamber at Westminster on a Saturday in April[834] he made some observations on this subject, and Bedford, taking offence at what his brother had said, demanded that it should be put into writing. This accordingly was done, and on the following Monday it was read in full Council, and provoked Bedford to demand a copy for himself, as he considered that certain statements therein affected his honour; he added that at a fit time he would declare his sentiments before the King and the whole Council.[835] Gloucester’s remarks seem to have contained an offer, which he had also committed to writing, to serve the King in France under certain unrecorded conditions, and the Council considered the proposition. On May 5, however, they decided on the impracticability of the suggestion, adding, however, that had it been possible, it would have been most desirable. After great discussion the lords, knights, and squires of the great Council had decided that the forty-eight or fifty thousand pounds necessary for the undertaking could not be raised in so short a time, especially as the commissioners lately appointed to raise a loan in the shires had reported that no one was ready to lend, and as the Treasurer, who of course would favour no scheme of Humphrey’s, declared the finances to be in a very bad state. They went on to say that a rumour was abroad that Bedford and Gloucester had offered to carry out the proposed expedition in such a way that neither ‘taille nor talliage’ would have to be raised for many years, and that the great Council had ignored this offer. If such a procedure were possible, they would be only too pleased to consider it, if Gloucester would lay it before them, and they concluded with a request that the King should order the Chancellor to consult with Gloucester as to whether the people of the land should be called ‘in form accustomed to discuss the matter.’[836]

It would seem from this that Humphrey, with his large ideas and his imperfect grasp of the details that alone make a scheme possible, had propounded a plan which it was impossible to carry out, though we must not therefore suppose that he had not an honest intention of serving the King in France whilst his brother governed at home. The impracticability of the idea does not, in Humphrey’s case, prove a lack of genuine intention, for he was a man who lived with great ideas, the essentials of which he was incapable of understanding or of carrying out. Quite unwittingly, in all probability, he had offended his brother by his suggestion, and it is not unlikely that in view of the disastrous course of the war Bedford was rather sore on the question of its conduct, and looked on every suggestion of the new procedure as a slight on himself. It is, of course, also possible that Humphrey was deliberately trying to annoy his brother, and to discredit his policy. There is, however, nothing to support this theory, save the Duke’s known factiousness. It is quite likely that he desired some new outlet for his energies, now that the government was in the hands of a man whose prior claims he had never denied, and there is nothing in the past relations of the two to suggest that bad blood had ever before risen between them.

The quarrel which originated in the scheme was not laid to rest by the latter’s rejection by the Council, and Humphrey probably considered the refusal to accept it as instigated by his brother. On May 7, therefore, he appeared in Council at a meeting held in the palace of the Bishop of Durham, and desired that the observations that he had committed to writing might be returned to him, a request which was granted, and the next day Bedford sent in a written reply to Gloucester’s remarks. These were read in full Council by the Chancellor, and provoked a reply from Gloucester, who in his turn asked for a copy of Bedford’s answer, and for a day to be appointed for his retort. On the advice of the Council, however, the King declared that the matter must not proceed further, and taking the statements of both parties in his hands, he declared them null and void, saying, that in neither was there anything prejudicial to the honour of either Duke, and that he considered them both to be his affectionate uncles. The incident was thus closed, both Bedford and Gloucester agreeing to sign the decision.[837]


This unfortunate misunderstanding came almost at the end of Bedford’s stay in England. He had already made up his mind to return to the scenes of his former labours, for he could not stand by and see the kingdom that Henry V. had won pass out of English hands, without doing his utmost to prevent it. On June 20 he took leave of the Council,[838] and shortly after left England for the last time.[839] His life’s work was done. Burgundy, who had been an unsatisfactory ally for many years past, was drawing closer and closer to the French King, and the Pope, having brought his influence to bear on the contending parties, induced them to hold a European Congress at Arras in August 1435.[840] In spite of the conciliatory offers of the French, Beaufort and the other English delegates based their demands on the Treaty of Troyes—at this stage of the war an absurdly impossible attitude—and, perceiving that a Burgundian alliance with France was inevitable, they left the Congress on September 5.[841] This alliance was completed by the end of the month,[842] but not before Bedford’s death on September 14.[843]

With the death of Bedford and the defection of Burgundy, even the most shadowy hope of retaining his hold on France passed from the King of England, and the claims, first raised by Edward III., and resuscitated by Henry V., were to end in the disaster which had been inevitable from the first. Of all the men to whom Henry of Monmouth had confided the care of his son and of his kingdom, Bedford alone was worthy of his implicit trust. He had fought an uphill and impossible fight in France, and on two occasions he had turned his attention to the internal affairs of England. He had played a difficult rôle with as much success as was to be expected, and we can only guess at what might have been the destiny of England had it secured his undivided attention. Had he been settled in England as Protector, his power would doubtless have been less than on the occasions when he came to readjust the balance of parties in 1426 and 1433, for he would not then have received the support of the Beaufort faction, which only looked on him as a useful tool to use when Gloucester’s ascendency became too secure. At his death the one steadying and exterior influence in English politics was gone, and the party strife, which had been the curse of England for the last thirteen years, pursued its course unhindered.

From the time of the death of Bedford and the Treaty of Arras onwards a change comes over the internal politics of England. Hitherto the war in France had been carried on by the French Regent almost without reference to the authorities at home, and questions of foreign policy had not made their way into the bickerings of Beaufort and Gloucester. But now that the strong hand in France was removed, and the defection of the Duke of Burgundy had at last become definite, it was impossible for the Council, in the face of both occurrences, to ignore any longer the fact that the country was at war. This was emphasised by the appearance of Burgundian envoys in London, who came to announce the peace made between the Duke of Burgundy and Charles of France, and to seek to procure peace with England also.[844] The country in general was too angry with the Duke to realise the advantages of his neutrality. His envoys therefore were denied the privileges of their position, their peace propositions were scouted by the Council, and they were not even vouchsafed a definite answer.[845] Both Beaufort and Gloucester emphasised their objections to peace with Burgundy, and the Treasurer pointed out what he considered to be the insulting omission of the title ‘souverain seigneur’ in addressing the King.[846] In Parliament, which met on October 10, the Chancellor, John Stafford, delivered a virulent attack on Burgundian policy, and the assembly was induced to agree readily enough to the continued prosecution of the war, and to the inclusion of the Duke of Burgundy among the King’s enemies.[847] Council and Parliament therefore, led by both Beaufort and Gloucester as well as by the rest of the royal officers, threw down the gauntlet to Burgundy, and it is well to remember this when in the light of subsequent events we find Gloucester attacked for leading the nation to war at this time.[848]


The death of Bedford naturally increased Humphrey’s strength in the kingdom. He now stood next in succession to the throne as heir-presumptive to his young nephew, and he was freed from the domination of a superior authority, to which in time of need his enemies could appeal. His influence may be traced in the appointment of the Duke of York to the command in France. Hitherto this Duke had not been seen in English politics, being at this time only twenty-four years old, but he had been brought into close contact with Humphrey, who had been granted the administration of his land during his minority, and whose good name he championed later in life. At this time men looked to the Duke of Gloucester as the chief man in England, and it was to him that the Bishop of Bayeux addressed himself when begging for help for the distressed Duchy of Normandy.[849]

Such being Gloucester’s position, it was natural that he should receive some of the offices and responsibilities vacated by his brother. His former idea of taking the command in France was not resuscitated, as he doubtless wished to guard his interests at home, but on November 1 he succeeded Bedford as Lieutenant of the King in the town, marches, and castle of Calais, to which were added the regions of Picardy, Flanders, and Artois. The appointment bore civil as well as military obligations, and was a challenge to the Duke of Burgundy in that certain of his territories were included in the grant.[850] Calais itself was an important command quite apart from strategic reasons. It was the town where the wool staple was established, though this was a fact of declining importance; more than this, it was regarded as the safeguard of English trade, for so long as England kept the command of the narrow seas between Dover and Calais, she might rule the world’s commerce, as all trade from north to south had to pass that way.[851] Besides the government of Calais, Gloucester received another of Bedford’s possessions when on November 23 the Council presented him with the islands of Jersey and Guernsey, in exchange for which Humphrey resigned the annuity of five hundred marks, given to him by Henry V. for himself and his heirs until lands of an equal value should be given him.[852]


For a time the political quarrels of the two factions were silenced by their common anger at the desertion of Burgundy and by the pre-eminence of Gloucester in the kingdom. Two instances of his preponderance appeared in the following year, when his wife Eleanor received her first public recognition as Duchess of Gloucester by being provided with robes of the Order of the Garter wherewith to keep the Feast of St. George at Windsor,[853] and when in the May following the Duke of Orleans was transferred from the custody of the Earl of Suffolk, who had been ordered to France, to that of Sir Reginald de Cobham, Gloucester’s father-in-law.[854] Matters other than those of home politics, however, were to occupy Gloucester in the near future. Early in June it was known in London that Burgundy had begun hostilities, and was advancing against Calais, and preparations were hurriedly made to save the city which Englishmen cherished above all their other possessions in France. Orders were given for the preparation of supplies and munitions of war for the garrison, and provisions for an army which was being mustered to serve under Gloucester.[855] The Earl of Huntingdon was commissioned to raise men to accompany the expedition,[856] the Cardinal was induced to lend nine thousand marks to defray the costs, armourers and victuallers were forbidden to raise their prices in view of the demand on their wares, and all men who wished to serve under Gloucester were ordered to be at Sandwich by the 22nd of July.[857] Delays, however, were inevitable, and it was not till the 27th that Gloucester received his special commission as Lieutenant-General of the army going to the defence of Calais, followed three days later by a writ conferring on him the County of Flanders.[858] By the 2nd of August all things were ready, and on that day he transported his army in five hundred ships from Winchester to Calais.[859]

Humphrey had been retained to serve the King, with one Duke besides himself, two Earls, eleven Barons, twenty-three Knights, four hundred and fifteen men-at-arms, and four thousand and forty-five archers,[860] but the full number of his army when joined by the retinue of the Duke of Norfolk and the Earls of Huntingdon, Devon, Stafford, and Warwick[861] who accompanied him, is uncertain. The chroniclers estimate the strength of the army variously between ten thousand and sixty thousand men,[862] of which the lowest figure is probably nearer the truth, since it was given by one who himself saw the army,[863] and at such short notice it would have been impossible to raise a force in any way approaching the larger estimate.

When Gloucester reached Calais he found the siege already raised. Burgundy with thirty thousand men[864] had invested the place on July 9,[865] but from the first the valiant defenders, under their captain, Sir John Radcliffe,[866] had had the best of the encounter. An attempt to obstruct the harbour failed, and a blockade was out of the question,[867] so the besieged were able to supply themselves with every necessity from the sea,[868] a state of affairs which encouraged them to make several sorties, and to capture a bastion raised against them and held by the men of Ghent.[869] The majority of Burgundy’s army consisted of raw Flemish levies, who were constantly in a state of insubordination,[870] and their discontent increased when the Earl of Huntingdon and Lord Camoys relieved the garrison with troops levied for the French war.[871] Moreover, the further reinforcements with Gloucester were expected, for the Duke had sent a challenge to his old enemy, calling on him to do battle before Calais, though excusing himself from fixing a date as wind and weather could not be reckoned on.[872] However, when news came that their approach was imminent, the Flemings incontinently broke up their camp and fled leaving stores and guns as prizes for the enemy.[873]

‘For they had very knowyng
Off the duk off Gloceters cumyng,
Caleys to rescue.’[874]

And another rhymer tells how

‘Ffor fere they turned backe and hyede feste;
Mi lorde of Gloucestre made hem so agaste
Wyth his commynge.’[875]

It was a bitter pill for Duke Philip to be compelled to follow his disorderly troops, fleeing as he did before the man whom above all others he had learned to hate, and whom he had boldly promised to meet in arms before the city.[876]

The Siege of Calais in 1436.

From a Drawing.


Gloucester had declared through his herald that, if Burgundy were not before Calais to meet him, he would pursue him,[877] and on hearing that the Duke had retired to Lille, and had fortified the border fortresses,[878] he prepared to fulfil his word. Leaving Calais on August 3,[879] he advanced to Merck in the neighbourhood of Oge, and there spent the night in the fields, passing on the next day to the neighbourhood of Gravelines.[880] On August 6 he crossed over into Flanders, even as he had done nearly twenty years before to meet John the Fearless in midstream, and led his army to Mardyke, which was pillaged and burned. The reason for thus making for the coast may have been to open communications with the fleet, which had been ordered to cruise off the coast of Flanders and to co-operate with the invading army, but the sailors, unsupported by men-at-arms on board, feared to encounter a hostile fleet, and put back into the harbour of Calais.[881] Unable, therefore, to draw supplies from the fleet, Gloucester turned due south, and marched inland, meeting with no resistance,[882] but followed by a detachment from Gravelines, which sought to pick off stragglers and to take the invaders unawares. The excellent order kept by the invaders thwarted their plans, and the detachment returned to Gravelines.

Meanwhile Gloucester pursued his way to Bailleul, burning everything as he went,[883] and throwing out a part of his troops under the Earl of Huntingdon to take and sack Poperinghes on his left.[884] Arrived at Bailleul, he lodged outside the walls, at the Abbey of St. Anthony, which was spared, though the town where his men lay and the surrounding country were utterly devastated. Retracing his steps from this point, he picked up the detachment under Huntingdon at Poperinghes, where much booty had been secured, and passing by Neu-Châtel, he burnt Rimesture and Valon-Chapelle, then entering Artois he met with some slight resistance. Skirmishes were fought round Arques and Blandesques, till the army reached St. Omer, burning and harrying all that came in its way, so that Duke Philip from his refuge at Lille could see the light of the fires on the horizon, though he was quite powerless to help those who cried to him for aid, as the soldiers he had summoned had not yet arrived.[885]

The English did not penetrate into the town of St. Omer, as it was securely held, but Gloucester lodged at the Abbey of Blandesques outside the walls, whilst his men were encamped along the banks of the river Aa, where Waurin himself saw them, when he stole out from Gravelines on the night of August 15.[886] Some attempt was made to harass the invaders as they lay here, and the captains both of St. Omer and Arques tried to pick off the stragglers, but with little success, for Gloucester was so careful that he could not be taken by surprise. On the morning of August 15 the English moved on with care for fear of ambushes,[887] and having met with somewhat more determined resistance than they had hitherto experienced from the captains of Tournehem, Espreleques, and Bredenaide, they found their way to Guisnes somewhat distressed by a sickness caused by a lack of bread.[888] Everywhere the supporters of Burgundy had been pillaged, and large herds of cattle and other booty had fallen into the hands of the soldiers, but so distressed were the latter for the lack of bread, that to some women, who presented them with a little, they gave large herds of cattle, which, by reason of the bands of the enemy that followed behind them, were more an encumbrance than an advantage.[889] At Calais Gloucester was received with joy, and, having rested his men a while, about August 24 he recrossed the Channel with much booty, leaving his prisoners behind in safe keeping.

On landing the troops were dismissed, and Humphrey proceeded to London, where he was given a great reception,[890] for he had struck a heavy blow at the prosperity of the Burgundian territories, and the anger felt by the English against their recent ally was appeased when they thought of Gloucester’s expedition, and how

‘In Flanders he soght hem fer and ner,
That ever they may yt rew.’[891]

Though, we cannot look on this devastating campaign of Gloucester’s as a great military achievement, yet it is not necessary to dismiss it with the contempt it has received on the authority of the rhyming chronicler:

‘The protectour with his flete at Calys then
Did lande, and rode in Flaunders a little waye,
And little did to counte a manly man.’[892]

We have the evidence of an eye-witness to prove the skill with which he protected his men from falling victims to the enemy’s bands, and the strict discipline which he kept in his ranks. Even if it was but for a short time that he defied the Duke of Burgundy, we must not forget that his men were only enlisted for a month’s service,[893] and that they were probably raw recruits, since the experienced soldiers had all gone to make up the contingents of York and Mortain. Nay more, as it is unfair to blame Gloucester for the nature of this campaign, so it is equally unfair to blame him for allowing the Earl of Mortain to relieve Calais before him.[894] His preparations had only been begun after the news of the investment of Calais had reached England. His commission was signed on July 27, and he was in Calais on August 3. On the other hand, the Earl had been preparing his troops as far back as the previous October, and was naturally quite ready to take the offensive after so long a period of preparation. Humphrey was not a great general, but, within the restricted limits of such a commission as this, there was no other captain in England who could have excelled him.


The expedition to Calais and Flanders was the last military enterprise undertaken by the Duke of Gloucester, indeed the active part of his life abruptly ends with his return to England. Hitherto there had been no question of public policy which had not attracted his attention, his boundless restlessness had made his biography the mirror of the English history of his time. Henceforth, however, the habits of his life undergo a change, the last stage of his career has been reached. With all the limitations put upon him, and with all the opposition he had encountered, he had always maintained a position of importance in the kingdom, and the national policy had at all times been largely under his influence. In spite of his inconsistency of method he had never relaxed his attempts to dominate all who came in his way, but now his energies in this direction seem to slacken. His character does not alter, but his struggles, like those of a dying man, became more intermittent, and in spite of occasional bursts of energy, his interests were not chiefly confined to matters political. That this sudden change was entirely due to a loss of physical power is hardly likely; it is possible that with his usual impetuosity he had devoted himself to other pursuits, and that politics no longer occupied the prominent place in his thoughts that they had hitherto enjoyed.

On his return to England Gloucester rested from his labours, and together with his Duchess went down to his house at Greenwich. They both received New-Year’s gifts from the King. To Gloucester was given ‘a tabulet of gold with an image of oure Ladye hanging by three cheynes,’ whereon were six imitation diamonds, six sapphires, and one hundred and sixty-four pearls, whilst his wife’s present consisted of a ‘brouche maad in maner of a man garnished with a fayre great ball,’ set with five large pearls, one large diamond, and three ‘hangers’ adorned with rubies and pearls—by far the finest and costliest gifts among the numerous New-Year’s presents given on that occasion by the King.[895] The return of Gloucester did not herald more dissensions in the Council. He was for the time predominant in the country, and the death of the Queen-Mother on January 2, 1437, removed one who might have counteracted his influence with the King.[896] Indeed at one time Catherine had evinced a desire to marry Edmund Beaufort, Earl of Mortain, but Gloucester, fearing increased importance would accrue to the Beaufort party thereby, induced the Council to forbid it. At her death, however, it transpired that she had not been content to remain single, but had married a simple gentleman named Owen Tudor, and by him had had three sons and daughters. Owen was arrested by Gloucester on the strength of the Act which forbade such a marriage without permission under the penalty of forfeiture of life and possessions, but he succeeded in making his escape.[897]


Throughout the year 1437 Gloucester’s name occasionally appears in official records as though his influence in the kingdom was considerable, and a special room was set apart at the end of Westminster Hall for himself and his council.[898] In Parliament, which met in January, the Speaker, in declaring the grant of a fifteenth and a tenth, added some words of strong commendation of his recent action with regard to Calais, and of his campaign in Flanders,[899] and the Commons took up the question of the payment of the soldiers at Calais, when the Duke complained that they were not being paid in accordance with the indentures under which he held the command of that town.[900]

The session passed without any signs of party strife, and we see little of Gloucester during the rest of the year. In August both he and his Duchess attended the funeral of yet another Queen of England, Joan, the unfortunate second wife of Henry IV.,[901] to whom in the past Humphrey had shown some courtesy in spite of her virtual imprisonment and disgrace at Langley. In November he seems to have been at Calais arranging some matter concerning his command there,[902] and he was probably not in England when on the thirteenth of the month the King assumed the government of the kingdom, and appointed his own Council to advise him. At the head of these Councillors stood Gloucester and Beaufort, and the former was to draw a salary of two thousand marks a year for life, other members of the Council receiving payment on a much lower scale.[903]

The next two years passed by without any signs of internal dissension among the King’s chief Councillors, and the name of the Duke of Gloucester is not met with frequently during this interval. In March he was appointed chief guardian of the Truce for nine years with Scotland,[904] but undoubtedly most of his time was spent in the collection and study of those rare manuscripts which about this time he began to give to the University of Oxford.[905] Never consistently pursuing any particular course of action for long, he had abandoned the stormy scenes of party politics, never more to enter the lists again save in a sudden outbreak of energy and anger, yet the one real passion of his life, interrupted though it had been by his political ambitions, still remained, and in his retirement he used the lull in the political tempest to ‘study in Bookys of antiquyte,’[906] and to encourage the advancement of the new learning as it found its way feebly and slowly to England.

In this retirement, however, Gloucester did not forget that a patron of letters needs a long purse, and he secured several additions to his already large possessions. His ferm of the lands of the young Duke of Norfolk, which he had held since 1432, expired about this time,[907] but he acquired the Hundred of Wootton and the Manors of Woodstock, Handborough, Stonesfield, and Wootton, all in the neighbourhood of Oxford; while in Norfolk he was given the Manor of Stanhoe, situated near Burnham; near Tunbridge he received the Manors of ‘Jevele,’ ‘Havendencourte,’ and Penshurst,[908] at the last of which he spent some portion of his time amongst his precious books.[909] From this period of peace Gloucester roused himself in 1440 to protest against a policy which he considered most injurious to the welfare of the kingdom, and to stir up the turmoil of party warfare once more by an attack on his old rival, Cardinal Beaufort.


The opinions of the King’s advisers had changed since the days when, in blind fury after the defection of the Duke of Burgundy at Arras in 1435, they had determined on war to the death, and it was realised that peace with France was the only solution of the monetary difficulties of the King and the universal distress throughout the kingdom. As early as March 1438 plenipotentiaries to discuss the basis of a peace had been appointed,[910] and during June, July, and August of the following year an embassy under Cardinal Beaufort had treated with French envoys under the mediating supervision of the Duchess of Burgundy. The terms demanded by the English were ridiculously pretentious, and in spite of considerable modifications therein, negotiations were broken off; Henry VI. and his Council could not realise how desperate was the cause of England in France, and that terms, which would have been humiliating in the days of Henry V., were now almost generous.[911]

The failure of these negotiations has been unhesitatingly attributed to Gloucester, but his share in their rejection is by no means proved, and is chiefly suggested by the facts of his later conduct. Be this as it may, Beaufort had entirely changed his front, and though he clamoured with the rest for war in 1435, he now, four years later, was the most prominent advocate for peace. Gloucester, on the other hand, was the leader of the party which desired the war to continue, but it is unjust to jump to the conclusion that it was merely to oppose his old rival that he adopted this attitude. He, almost alone of those who stood at the head of the nation, could remember the fleeting glories of the reign of Henry V., and he naturally could not bring himself to agree to the surrender of that which he had helped to acquire. To the day of his death, Bedford had never favoured the withdrawal of the Lancastrian claim to the throne of France, and his brother, born and bred in the same school, shared his opinion. The Cardinal, though an older man, had had no share in the military exploits of his nephew’s reign, and had contented himself with posing as a soldier of Christ in the army which in the name of religion had fought for the restoration of Sigismund to his Bohemian throne. He was a politician and, when he liked a statesman, and his keen insight taught him to apprehend the situation free from all the prejudices of the men of his own generation. In his desire for peace he was undoubtedly justified, but this does not condemn the morality of those who opposed him.

Though he had failed in his first attempt to negotiate, Beaufort was not the man to despair, and his next step was to urge the release of the Duke of Orleans, who had been a captive in England ever since the battle of Agincourt, in the hopes that his mediation might help to bring about the much-desired peace. There was yet a deeper intention than lay on the face of this suggestion, for the Duke of Burgundy favoured the scheme, hoping that Orleans might join the league of Princes which he was trying to form with the object of limiting Charles VII.’s growing power and that of his bourgeois officials.[912]


To a man who had seen half France conquered owing to the dissensions of the French Court this method of crippling England’s enemy must have seemed a chance not to be missed. Whatever the unacknowledged motive of the project, the question of the moment was the release of Charles of Orleans, and it was this which brought Humphrey from the seclusion of his books, once more to mix in the party politics which he had for the time abandoned. However honest Gloucester’s objection to the peace policy might be, his dislike of his uncle, and the traditions of fifteen years’ faction fight, could not be forgotten; he strongly resented the position of authority which the recent negotiations had given Beaufort in the councils of the nation, and his first step towards asserting himself once more in party politics was to draw up a heavy indictment of the Cardinal, his policy, and his adherents.[913] He drew up a lengthy document, in which—probably as a taunt to the Duke of Burgundy—he styled himself Duke of Gloucester, Holland, Zealand, and Brabant, Earl of Pembroke, Hainault, and Flanders, and addressed the King with a warning that some were imposing on his youth, ‘in derogation of your noble estate.’ He began his attack by a renewal of the old complaint that Beaufort had accepted the Cardinal’s hat which Henry V., well knowing his pride and ambition when merely a Bishop, had denied him. He took his stand on the rights of the see of Canterbury, declaring that Henry V. would not have objected to one who was not a Bishop becoming a Cardinal. Though the King might summon a Cardinal to his Council Board, yet in Parliament he ought to be present merely as a Bishop and in no other capacity; moreover, the Statute of Provisors had been infringed by the licence to retain his bishopric obtained by Beaufort from the Pope. The Cardinal had manœuvred to get the crown-jewels into his possession by encouraging the war, and he had secured rights in Southampton in such a way as to constitute a standing danger and disgrace to the kingdom. He had procured the release of James of Scotland without the consent of Parliament, and had turned this to his advantage by marrying his niece to the Scotch King; he had wrongfully recovered his jewels when forfeited to the Crown; he had evaded paying the dues of his cathedral church at Winchester, and by securing grants of land he was rapidly stripping the King of his possessions. From whence came all this wealth, which could not be drawn from his see, nor from an inherited patrimony which he did not possess? He had become wealthy from the sale of offices in France and in England, and, grown arrogant by these ill-gotten gains, he had assumed the pomp and magnificence of royalty, though he neither had nor could have any interest in the Crown.

Together with Beaufort in this indictment was included the Archbishop of York, who also had recently received a Cardinal’s hat. It was generally accepted in the country, so Humphrey maintained, that together they were practically governing the kingdom, and had estranged the King from himself, the Duke of York, the Earl of Huntingdon, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the last of whom by his position ought to be counted amongst the King’s chief advisers. The policy of these two men was injurious to the kingdom, for had they not procured the sending of ambassadors to Arras, where the only results had been an enormous expense to the nation and the reconciliation of the Duke of Burgundy with Charles of France? More recently other envoys had been sent to Calais, without his knowledge or sanction, where Burgundy and Orleans had been allowed to make up their differences. Had not also the Archbishop with the connivance of Beaufort encouraged the King to renounce all his claims on France, when the French ambassadors were lately at Windsor, and what but evil results could come from the forthcoming negotiations in March, for it was rumoured that these two prelates intended to release the Duke of Orleans, whom Henry V. had ordered in his will to be kept in confinement till the conquest of France was complete? The whole foreign policy of the King’s advisers was unwise and corrupt, for, though he himself had frequently offered his services for the defence of France, Beaufort had always secured the refusal of the offer, sending in his stead favourites of his own with unfortunate results. This long ‘complaynte’ concluded with an urgent appeal for the dismissal of the two Cardinals from the Council.[914]

No stronger evidence than is afforded in this indictment could be found to prove Beaufort’s complete ascendency over the policy of the nation, and though we may hesitate to acquit the Cardinal of many of the charges off-hand, the whole document betrays the hopeless incapacity of its composer to take a broad and statesmanlike view of affairs, and shows him to be the mere politician which he had already proved himself. The inquiry as to whence came the Cardinal’s wealth is pertinent, and has never been adequately answered; in his contention that the Bishop had been despoiling the King of his possessions, Humphrey was supported by that eminent observer, Sir John Fortescue,[915] but the question of the cardinalate had been discussed and settled, and no useful end could be reached by its resuscitation, and the attempt—if attempt it was—on the part of the Cardinal to increase the power of his house by the marriage of Joan Beaufort to the unhappy King of Scotland had ended in such dismal failure that it might well be left out of the reckoning. It was, however, in the matter of foreign policy that Gloucester so patently showed his lack of insight. Without touching on the question of the release of Orleans, to which reference will be made later, it cannot be denied that the Cardinal’s peace policy was wise, and if so far it had not met with success, it was owing to misfortune rather than to any inherent defect, whilst Gloucester’s opposition to it was based on a blind misreading of the lessons taught by past events. Nevertheless the inference to be drawn from the language of the indictment is that hitherto the Duke had had but little part in the rejection of the French terms, though he acknowledged that he had refused his consent to the suggestion that Henry should surrender his title of King of France. The complaint as to the waste of money at the Congress of Arras was amply justified, for the fabulous sum of £22,000 was spent on the Conference.[916] Still it must be confessed that the document as a whole is violent beyond the limits of judiciousness, and it seems to be the appeal of an angry man to a larger audience than that to which it was addressed.[917] In view of Gloucester’s recent retirement from active life it is inexplicable, unless that retirement was the result of compulsion and not of choice, and together with his protest against the release of Orleans, which quickly followed, it stands as the last cry of a disappointed and helpless man.


No answer was vouchsafed to this ebullition of wrath, but more attention was paid to the protest which followed it. The release of the Duke of Orleans was already decided upon, and in June Humphrey demanded that his objections to such an act should be registered under the Great Seal, for he declared that, were it not officially made quite clear, no one would believe that a step of such importance would be taken without his consent. ‘I protest’—so runs this document—‘for myn Excuse and my Discharge, that I never was, am, nor never shall be Consentyng, Conseiling, nor Agreyng to his Deliverance or Enlargissement, nor be noon other manere of Meen, which shuld take effect, otherwise than is expressed in my seid Lord my Brother’s Last Will (whom God assoille), or els suerte of so grete good whereby my Lorde’s both Realmes and Subyetts shuld be encresed and easid.’ Clearly and succinctly he detailed the reasons which compelled him to oppose the policy of the King’s advisers at a time when Charles of France wanted men of ‘discretion and judgment to order his affairs.’ The advent of Orleans to his councils would give the necessary stability to the government, and help to reconcile those factions at the French Court which so greatly aided the English cause. Moreover, when once released, Orleans would be confronted with the alternative of breaking either his oaths to Henry, or his oaths to the man whom he considered to be his own sovereign, and if the articles of agreement between the two Kings were not observed, what remedy had Henry got? The English were defenceless, for it was more than probable that the men of Normandy, who had been put to great expense in carrying on the war, would revolt when the news of Orleans’ release reached them, whilst the recall of Huntingdon left Guienne, ‘his Majesties ancient heritage,’ defenceless. Besides this, the King had no alliance with any Christian prince save the youthful King of Portugal, a fact which emphasised the folly of releasing one who was likely to prove a ‘capital enemy’ to the crown of England. The project was not only contrary to the expressed wish of the late King, but was inimical to all the best interests of the kingdom, and if release was necessary, at least there might be an exchange of English prisoners for this prince of the blood royal of France. In any case such a step should not be taken without some kind of consultation with the French and Norman subjects of the King.[918]

Such were the arguments Gloucester brought against the release of Orleans from his confinement in England. It is easy to feel pity for the prisoner of war, who through no fault of his own had been kept in bonds in a strange country for the last twenty-five years, but it was no humanitarian spirit which suggested to the King’s advisers the project of his release. The war had become both a failure and a burden, and most men were agreed that some means of ending the long struggle must be found. The people had long since ceased to pine for those military glories which the sanctimonious ambition of the late King had taught Englishmen to regard as their birthright, and Humphrey could not be expected to be heard by willing ears if he preached a policy of mere aggression. In this second manifesto, therefore, there are no signs of that cry against all movement towards peace, which had characterised the indictment against Beaufort. On the contrary, the need for peace is treated almost as though it were a necessity, and objection is taken only to the method employed to reach that end; the success of the French forces is so far recognised that Charles is alluded to as the King of France. Humphrey has changed his ground; the Jingo policy of war to the bitter end has been abandoned, and the attack is levelled at the methods, not at the aims of his opponents. Viewed in this light it would be hard to deny that Gloucester was right; though the most disastrous result which he predicted would follow the release did not come to pass, none of the advantages urged by the other party resulted. The Duke of Orleans patched up his old quarrel with the House of Burgundy, and cemented it with a marriage; he received as a result the cold shoulder at the Court of his royal master, and he then retired to the quiet of a country retreat, and became famous as the centre of one of the most literary and polite societies of his age. His release did no good to England, whilst his retention might have been a strong card in the hands of English negotiators, and though we may rejoice that a simple soul found freedom, we must not, with modern sentimentality, condemn the man who did his best to spoil the idyll of the Court of Charles of Orleans.

Though Gloucester’s indictment of Beaufort and his opposition to the policy of peace had left the country cold, his arguments against the release of the Duke of Orleans had produced an effect, which the men who controlled the King hastened to counteract.[919] The King drew up a manifesto, impelled thereto, so he said, by the report that his people were complaining that so important a prisoner had been set at liberty. He desired it to be understood quite clearly that what had been done had been done at his own initiative, and that no one else was responsible for it, an assertion so emphatic and so contrary to his character, as to raise our doubts as to its veracity. His one object, he asserted, was to bring to an end this war, ‘that longe hath contyned and endured, that is to saye, an hundreth yeeres and more,’ and his arguments in favour of peace were obvious and convincing. Edward III. had failed, his father had been checked before he died, and his own efforts had met with but poor success. The best way to secure peace was to release Orleans, who would use his influence in the French councils to this end, and would remove the desire for a continuance of war amongst those in power in France, who only looked on the prolongation of the struggle as a means of keeping Orleans safely out of the way as a prisoner abroad. He argued that Orleans knew nothing of English plans, and therefore could not betray them even if he so desired, and he concluded with a pious declaration about the immorality of keeping a prisoner of war in perpetual confinement, probably the only sentiment uninspired by others in the whole manifesto.[920]

The fact that this refutation was considered necessary points to a strong public opinion in support of Gloucester, but the advocates of release had their way, and on All-Saints’ Day a solemn service was held, whereat Orleans swore on the Sacrament never to bear arms against England, in the presence of the King and the assembled Lords. Gloucester was there too, but to mark his disapproval of the whole proceedings, ‘qwan the Masse began he toke his barge,’ and left the scene of what he considered to be an act which could only assist the undoing of his country.[921] On November 3 the indentures were signed, and the Duke of Orleans was ready to return to his native land.[922]


Though defeated in the matter of foreign policy, Gloucester was still a power to be considered, for he was an active member of the King’s Council,[923] and possessed no inconsiderable following in the country. To pacify his anger at his reverse he had been made Chief-Justice of South Wales in February,[924] a post which was no sinecure owing to the disturbed state of that district, and which necessitated a visit thither in August and September, when assizes were held in Cardigan and Carmarthen. Even when most in disfavour at Court, use was made of Humphrey’s well-known ability in the suppressing of disturbances, and a special grant of two hundred marks for his exertions in this direction was given him.[925] At this time, too, his influence was instrumental in procuring the renewal of the charter to St. Albans Abbey,[926] and there was even some idea of employing him in the French wars. At any rate, the Council of Rouen was informed that he was shortly to be sent over to France, and his non-appearance created great discontent in the Duchy of Normandy.[927] That the Council ever seriously contemplated such a step must remain very doubtful, especially when we find that in the beginning of the next year he was superseded in his Calais command by his namesake Humphrey, Earl of Stafford.[928] Nevertheless his influence was sufficient to secure the appointment of his friend the Duke of York to be Lieutenant-General of France and Normandy for five years, though no steps were taken to enable him to take up his command immediately.[929] Humphrey therefore, in spite of his decreased importance, had some share in the management of the kingdom, but his lack of perseverance and his impetuous nature had caused him to throw away the natural advantages of his position. His power had appreciably diminished in the four years which had passed since his invasion of Flanders. The fire had gone out of his life, and he was now to receive the most severe check he had ever experienced. His wife Eleanor had never been a help to him in his political ambitions, now she was to expose him to the barbed shafts of his enemies.

The old order was passing away in fifteenth-century England, yet there was very little of the modern spirit in the mental attitude of the majority of Englishmen. It came, therefore, as no surprise when it was rumoured abroad that proceedings were to be taken against certain practisers of the Black Art, who had been conspiring to kill the young King by means of incantations and witchcraft. The age was superstitious, and only a year earlier than this crowds had surrounded the scene of a Lollard burning, and the people had offered money and waxen images before the ashes of the victim, Richard Wyche, whom they considered to be a saint.[930] The monkish chronicler Walsingham, writing a few years later, gravely describes the appearance of the Devil in a church in Essex, and the thunderbolt which struck the building while the evil spirit was there,[931] whilst still more circumstantial is a story told by the St. Albans chronicler. A Lollard tiler was burnt at Waldon in 1430, and afterwards a neighbour picked up one of his bones, which had not been consumed by the flames. With this bone he accidentally pricked his finger; his hand and arm immediately swelled up, and his life was only saved by the prompt removal of the limb—a sign of remarkable vindictiveness on the part of that Lollard, says our chronicler.[932] Public opinion was therefore quite prepared to turn the full force of its indignation on those who had invoked the powers of darkness to procure the death of the young King, who had won his way to the hearts of his subjects, though he was never able to command their respect.

The accused were two clerks, Roger Bolingbroke, an Oxford priest, and Thomas Southwell, canon of St. Stephen’s, Westminster. The accusation of using the ‘crafte of egremauncey’ against the life of the King was prepared against Roger as the principal, and Thomas as the assister and abettor. Both men were cast into the Tower, and on Sunday, July 16,[933] the former was brought out, and placed in the midst of his instruments of magic on a platform erected in St. Paul’s Churchyard, where, after the sermon, he abjured the Black Art. Such a public penance drew men’s attention to the matter, but the real interest in the case was not revealed till three days later the news got abroad that Roger, under examination before the King’s Council, had confessed that he had been instigated to the course of action in which he had been discovered by no less a person than the Duchess of Gloucester, who that same day had fled to sanctuary at Westminster.[934] At once the matter assumed a political importance it would never have reached had the accusation been confined to two insignificant priests. Roger was known to have some connection with the household of Gloucester, and his statement that the Duchess had instructed him to find by divination ‘to what estate in life she should come,’ together with the consequent implication that she had sought to procure the death of the King by witchcraft, and thus procure for her husband the crown which she desired to share with him, gained ready credence.


Steps were immediately taken to bring Eleanor to justice, for sanctuary was no protection for the crimes of heresy and witchcraft of which she was now accused. On July 22 she was cited to appear before the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishops of Winchester and Salisbury, and though she essayed to find safety in flight down the river, she was captured while making the attempt, and brought before her judges on the 25th in the Chapel of St. Stephen at Westminster. Many charges of heresy and witchcraft were laid against her, and Roger, brought from the Tower for the purpose, gave evidence. The charges were considered so serious that a remand was ordered till October 21, when she was to appear again before the Archbishop of Canterbury. In the meanwhile she was committed to the Castle of Leeds in Kent under the care of Sir John Stiward and Sir John Stanley, whither she was removed on August 11.[935]

While active proceedings were thus postponed, a special commission, on which the Earls of Stafford, Suffolk, and Huntingdon, together with Lords Cromwell, Fanhope, and Hungerford, and certain judges of both benches served, was appointed to inquire into all matters of sorcery; and before them Bolingbroke and Southwell were arraigned together with Eleanor as an accomplice. Herein we may trace an effort on the part of Gloucester’s enemies to bring his wife into the clutches of a secular court.

At this trial yet another accomplice was produced in the person of the ‘Witch of Eye,’ whose sorceries Eleanor had long used, and from whom, it was said, she had procured love-potions wherewith to ensnare the affections of Humphrey. Before this court had come to any decision, interest shifted to the Ecclesiastical Court, before which Eleanor was brought to stand an independent trial on October 21. Her judges here were the Bishops of London, Lincoln, and Norwich, commissioned thereto by Archbishop Chichele, who excused himself from further participation in the trial; the prosecution was in the hands of Adam Moleyns, the clerk of the King’s Council. Moleyns read out an exhaustive list of accusations, to the gravest of which the Duchess returned an uncompromising denial, without, however, denying her guilt on all the counts, that is, she acknowledged recourse to the Black Art, but denied the treasonable encompassing of the King’s death. The trial was prorogued to the 23rd, when witnesses were heard and the verdict of guilty returned, since she refused to contradict the evidence brought against her, and ‘submitted only to the correction of the Bishops.’ Four days later she abjured her heresies and witchcraft before the Bishops, who ordered her to appear before them on November 9, when sentence would be passed.[936]

The punishment that was ordered was no light one, and consisted of public penances through London on three different days. On Monday, November 13, she came down the river on her barge to Temple Stairs, and thence, by way of Temple Bar, she walked on foot to St. Paul’s, ‘openly barehede with a Keverchef on her hede beryng,’ and ‘with a meke and a demure countenance’—so the Bishops ordained—bearing in her hand a taper of two pounds in weight, which she offered at the High Altar. On two subsequent days similar pilgrimages were made to different churches. On the following Wednesday she landed at Swan Stairs in Upper Thames Street, and by way of Bridge Street, Gracechurch Street, and Leadenhall she came to Christchurch, Aldgate, whilst on the Friday she landed at Queenhithe, ‘and so forth she went unto Chepe, and so to Seynt Mighell in Cornhull.’ On each occasion the Mayor of London with the Sheriffs and craftes of the City met her at the place of landing, and escorted her along the road of penance.[937] Of her companions in misfortune, ‘Margery Jourdemain,’ known as the ‘Witch of Eye,’ was burnt at Smithfield; Bolingbroke underwent the full sentence of hanging, beheading, and quartering; whilst Southwell found a mercifully early death in prison.[938] On the completion of her penance, Eleanor was committed to prison for life under the care of Sir Thomas Stanley[939] and Sir John Stiward. At first she was confined in her original place of detention, Leeds Castle in Kent,[940] but early in the New Year she was removed to Chester,[941] whence she was taken in October or December 1443 to Kenilworth.[942] In July 1446 Sir Thomas Stanley was directed to take her to the Isle of Man,[943] and in the following year we find her a prisoner somewhere in Wales,[944] probably in Flint Castle, where she died after eighteen long years’ imprisonment.[945] Her confinement was probably no more than honourable detention, for she was provided with a large number of personal servants, and with a private allowance of one hundred marks a year.[946] Her relations with her jailers seem to have been quite cordial, and to at least one of them she made a present of one of her trinkets,[947] but as a personality she had passed from history, and as an individual her rank was not recognised, for she is described in all official documents as ‘Eleanor, lately called Duchess of Gloucester.’[948]

The disgrace of Gloucester’s wife is a strange story, and in spite of the ample evidence to be found in contemporary chroniclers, it must be accepted with some reserve. It was the cause célèbre, of the period, and even chroniclers who pass over the years with the scantiest summary of events pause awhile to tell of the fall of a great lady. Yet not once is Humphrey mentioned, and it is only a sixteenth-century historian who tells us that ‘the Duke of Gloucester toke all these thyngs paciently and said little.’[949] Nevertheless there is a strong presumption that Humphrey did make some efforts to save his second wife, in spite of his base desertion of Jacqueline, a presumption which is fortified by an edict forbidding interference with the proceedings against Eleanor,[950] and by the abstention of Chichele—Gloucester’s friend and ally—from taking part in the later proceedings. Moreover, the greatest care was taken to guard the prisoner on her way to the scene of her confinement, as though some effort at rescue was feared.[951]

Any defence of the Duchess was hampered by her own confession to the truth of some of the charges, and by the strong evidence against her. That she was guilty of dabbling in the Black Art can hardly be doubted, and it is more than probable that she had used the sciences to foretell the future, an act which, though not in itself treasonable, might nevertheless be regarded with strong suspicion in one who was only divided by one frail life from the position of Queen. There still exists one of her books, a semi-medical, semi-astrological work translated from the original Arabic,[952] and it is undoubtedly established that Humphrey himself was interested in those sciences which bordered on the heretical. Roger Bolingbroke had a great reputation for knowledge of the Black Art, and his connection with Eleanor was known long before any suspicion of treason arose.[953] One of the accusations, too, seems probable in the light of Humphrey’s knowledge of the ancient classics, for it was said that the time-worn system of roasting a waxen image of the doomed King before a fire had been one of the treasonable witchcrafts employed,[954] a system which is to be found described in all its details in the classical authors which Duke Humphrey studied.

Behind Dame Eleanor stood her husband, and his character and reputation could not but have their influence on public opinion. It is to be remembered that both husband and wife had been friends with Queen Joan, who had been accused on a similar charge, and those who could cast their memories back to the early years of Henry VI.’s reign might remember another incident which might suggest that Humphrey took an interest in witchcraft and sorcery. When in 1425 he had almost come to blows with the Bishop of Winchester, one of the causes of quarrel was that he had removed from custody a certain ‘Ffrere Randolff,’ who had been in prison for treason. Friar Randolph was the man who had played the part of Bolingbroke in the Queen Joan scandal, the practiser of the Black Art, who was accused of casting spells to encompass the late King’s death.[955] Is it surprising, then, that men were ready to believe that the Duke of Gloucester was indeed guilty of practising witchcraft, when he had in the past championed one of its votaries in so autocratic a manner? It is more than probable that Humphrey devoted himself to a study of the art from a purely scientific point of view. All branches of learning—if, indeed, we may so call it—appealed to his inquiring mind, but he most likely approached it from the same standpoint as many at the present day approach spiritualism. His wife, being of a lower mental calibre, interested herself in the study of her husband, but treated it in a practical and not in a theoretical spirit. With this dangerous weapon in her hands it would be in no way surprising if she used it for concrete ends, and little by little came to try its efficacy in restoring some of the lost power of her husband. There is no evidence or suggestion that Humphrey himself knew of these treasonable practices, or that, had he known, he would have taken them seriously.

Evidence and probability therefore both speak for the guilt of the Duchess, who increased the appearances against her by her flight to sanctuary instead of bravely facing the charges; and though the people sympathised with her in her trouble,[956] they do not seem to have doubted for a moment that she was guilty. Her pride and ambition were well known, and were dwelt on in the poem entitled ‘The Lament of the Duchess of Gloucester,’[957] whilst another contemporary rhymer writes:

‘Thy ladye was so proud and highe of harte
that she hur selffe thought pereless of estate
and yet higher faynd she wold have starte
butt sodenlye she ffell as was hur fate.’[958]

Whatever we may think of Eleanor’s guilt, it is obvious that the whole case was exploited by Gloucester’s enemies to injure the man who had so lately opposed their plans. The Duchess was known to have considerable influence over the King,[959] who at the time of her trial showed a great desire to save her life,[960] and we have seen how the object of both parties was to secure the royal ear. To strike Eleanor was to strike her husband, for in spite of the inauspicious beginning of her connection with Gloucester, she had succeeded in establishing her position as the first lady of the kingdom. Of late grants to Humphrey had been made to himself and his wife;[961] she had been permitted to wear the robes of the Garter; she was petitioned as one who held a position of importance, and had interfered in matters of state administration;[962] the Pope had acknowledged her position and had issued a Bull in her favour;[963] the Monastery of St. Albans had admitted her into its fraternity;[964] she had been singled out for particular favours by the King when distributing his New-Year’s gifts. She was indeed no weakling whose insecure position might be safely attacked, but a woman who had claimed, and had justified her claim, to be accounted of in the kingdom.

To convict Eleanor of treason, then, was to injure her husband in no small degree, and the whole history of the case points to the fact that it was engineered by his enemies. Unusual publicity was given to the charges against Bolingbroke; he was publicly paraded before the citizens of London; and then, when the ground had been carefully prepared, the charge was extended to the first lady in the land. Special commissioners were organised, and every effort made to bring her under the secular arm, and if she escaped with her life, it was not through any fault of her accusers. To strengthen this contention it is well to take the striking parallel of Queen Joan. The charge of sorcery was often used in the fifteenth century as a means to remove political opponents; the trumped-up charge against the Maid of Orleans is an obvious instance;[965] but the fate of Henry IV.’s unhappy Queen bears too striking a likeness to the disgrace of Eleanor Cobham to be lightly passed over. She, too, was accused on the confession of her chaplain, Father Randolph, of having ‘compassed and imagined the King’s death in the most horrible manner that could be devised,’[966] and to this end she was said by the chroniclers to have used sorcery, which Randolph practised at her suggestion.[967] She, too, was imprisoned for life, but the more ignominious part of Eleanor’s punishment was spared her, and she was later released from confinement.

It was the public penance, perhaps, more than anything else, which betrayed the political animus which lay behind the condemnation of Gloucester’s wife, and which justifies the assertion of Fabyan, that the attack on the Duchess was part of an organised plan to overthrow the Duke.[968] Eleanor had doubtless made many personal enemies. Born of a family of no great standing, she had not by her early conduct improved her position. Since her marriage to a Prince of the blood royal, her pride, fanned by the success of her ambitions, had increased, and had given offence to many who regarded her as an upstart. But this was not enough to account for the degrading details of her fall. It was her husband at whom the blow was aimed, and it was he that suffered as well as his wife.

‘Now thou dost penance. Look! how they gaze.
See! how the giddy multitude do point,
And nod their heads, and throw their eyes on thee.’[969]

The loss of prestige to Humphrey was very great,[970] and it came at a time when his power in the kingdom was beginning to wane. Never again does he appear as a man of influence in the councils of the King; all the old fire of the days of the Protectorate is gone, and it is probable that he leaned far more on his wife than has ever been suspected. Till her disgrace young Henry seems to have had a strong affection for his uncle, but thereafter the simple-minded King, separated from the woman who had influenced him, turned from his uncle to other advisers, who had fewer claims to his regard, and no wiser heads than the discredited Humphrey. Indeed this incident is a definite milestone on the road to complete disgrace which the Duke was now treading. Ever since the time when he began to drop out of public life his influence in the kingdom had been slowly passing away. He had tried to reinstate himself in the popular favour, and thus strengthen his hands against his enemies, by his attack on Beaufort and on the policy of releasing Orleans, but the attempt missed its mark, and had only provoked this act of retaliation from his opponents. Hitherto the cry against him had been merely one of mismanagement and factiousness, but here we find the first signs of the charge of treason, with which he was ultimately assailed. It would seem that the Beaufort faction had now decided not only on his humiliation, but on his ultimate removal, for if he were to succeed to the throne, their power would be gone. Humphrey had not the determination nor the strength to meet this new attack, and he gradually gave way before the organised assault he had now to face. He had come to the critical time of his life, and his weak character, still further weakened by his moral failings, was unable to cope with the situation. His face was set towards the shadows, he knew it, and yet he had no strength to fight his way back to light and power. Though his physical capacities were unimpaired, all signs of moral force had disappeared from his character.


Gloucester continued to attend the Council, but we see very little recorded beyond his mere presence; occasionally he would act as a guarantor for a loan from that prince of money-lenders, Cardinal Beaufort,[971] or throw in sarcastic comment when the same cardinal used his position to exact special conditions under which the loans were made.[972] Most of his time was probably spent at his manor of ‘Plaisance’ at Greenwich, in the house on which he had spent so much money, and surrounded by the park which he had himself enclosed. It was here, at any rate, that in September 1442 he dated his decision in the matter of a dispute which had arisen at the Monastery of St. Albans.[973] For the rest, he seems to have devoted his attention to the care of his soul. He was already assured that masses would be said for him in perpetuity at Oxford, and in 1442 we find him in the rather strange company of the Archbishop of York and others, securing by the gift of certain manors a perpetual chaplain to pray for the souls of the donors themselves and of their children at the Church of St. Katharine at Gosfield.[974] The bitterness of strife was over, the political game was passing into other and younger hands, and these two old rivals made up their differences in a united hope for eternal salvation.[975] A year later Humphrey determined to devote the alien Priory of Pembroke, which had been given him by Henry V., to the same purpose of masses for his soul, but there seems to have been some doubt as to where he should place the gift. Adam Moleyne, Dean of Salisbury—he who had acted for the Council in accusing Eleanor—had the intention of securing the Priory of Pembroke for the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury, and went so far as to request and obtain from the Council a licence for this transfer.[976] Humphrey, however, refused to be driven to alienate his property in any way of which he did not approve, and three months later we find a charter assigning the alien Priory of Pembroke to the Abbey of St. Albans in accordance with a Royal Licence obtained as far back as 1441.[977] In spite of his inactivity, Gloucester did not entirely retire from public life, but his influence was gone, and the petition of the Parliament of 1442 that ladies of rank should have the same privilege as their husbands, and be tried by the peers for indictable offences,[978] shows his weakness, for this petition, which became a statute, is by way of a censure on the judicial system that had allowed the Duchess of Gloucester to escape with her life.


But if Gloucester was passing into the background, so were also the chief actors who had flourished with him on the political stage, though no cloud hung over them as over the late Protector. Archbishop Kemp, as we have seen, was beginning to think more of the next world than of this; Lord Cromwell’s day was passing, and the great Cardinal himself was now content to direct others in scenes where he had been formerly the chief actor. The Beaufort party was now represented in the forefront of the battle by the Duke of Somerset and the Marquis of Dorset, both nephews of the Bishop of Winchester, and in close alliance with them was William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk. This last had served in the French wars ever since the death of his brother at Agincourt, but of late he had been turning his attention to home politics. He had steadily increased the importance of his position, and by his connection with the House of Beaufort he now found himself one of the chief of those who so jealously surrounded the King. He it was, therefore, who was chosen to be head of an embassy to France,[979] which was to carry through a piece of Beaufort manœuvring. The King had reached a marriageable age, and it was considered advisable that he should look to France for a bride. The question remained, to whom should overtures be made? The embassy to France was to pave the way for the carrying out of a scheme proposed by the Duke of Orleans, that Henry should marry Margaret of Anjou, daughter of René, Duke of Lorraine and titular King of Sicily and Jerusalem. Though a man of no personal possessions, René was in the innermost circle of the French Court, owing to the fact that his sister was Queen of France, and his brother, Charles of Anjou, one of the King’s chief advisers. Such a marriage, therefore, presupposed some kind of agreement between the nations at war, and Suffolk was chosen to procure such an agreement.

The idea of the marriage was unpopular in England, as Suffolk himself acknowledged,[980] and it is probable that this unpopularity was based on the resistance to the match made by Gloucester. This time it was no factiousness in Gloucester that led him to oppose the plans of his opponents, for he was adhering to a policy which he had favoured from the first, when he warmly supported the project of a marriage with one of the daughters of the Count of Armagnac. This match, as well as the Anjou alliance, had been proposed by Orleans at a time when he was in alliance with the discontented Princes of the Praguerie, and was intended to draw Armagnac into an alliance with the English, part of a large scheme for uniting the discordant elements of the French kingdom with the English invaders. This idea was the product of the Beaufort policy which had released the Duke of Orleans, a reversion, in fact, to the methods of Henry V., who had won France with the help of Burgundy. Steps had been taken to open negotiations, and in 1442 an embassy, of which Thomas Beckington, formerly Gloucester’s Chancellor and now the King’s Private Secretary, and Sir Robert Roos, one of the Duke’s literary friends, were the heads, was despatched to Bordeaux for this purpose.[981] The French forces had invaded Gascony, and John of Armagnac, with the enemies of England encamped on his borders, had to tread warily in the matter of an English alliance. Delay was inevitable, and in spite of the best intentions on the Armagnac side, the negotiations were for the time abandoned.[982]

Gloucester had heartily supported the whole idea, since it was conceived in the same spirit as that alliance with Burgundy which had helped to bring half France under the dominion of Henry V. Though we may well doubt the wisdom of this plan, we must acknowledge that it was consistent with Gloucester’s past policy, and that in this instance he did not sacrifice what he thought to be right to his desire to oppose his rivals. It may be that he had learnt wisdom; it may be that recent events had taught him his increasing weakness, and had led him to a less narrow view of party politics. He certainly espoused this plan put forward by the party he had opposed so long, and took a personal interest in details of the embassy, for he was kept informed of the progress of affairs by Beckington, who, as soon as he returned, went down to Greenwich to tell him what had been done and what had been left undone.[983]

Humphrey, therefore, had chosen the better part, and had concurred in a policy of which he was not the originator, but the Beaufort party showed no signs of following this good example. They knew that Henry’s marriage would have an immense bearing on home politics, and that his wife would probably be able to influence him as she liked. They must therefore provide him with a bride entirely of their own choosing, and one who would not be acceptable to Gloucester, whose influence was to be counteracted by their nominee to the position of Queen of England. It was for this reason that they had changed their policy, and now were advising the marriage with Margaret of Anjou. Notwithstanding the popular opposition, Suffolk carried out his instructions; the marriage was arranged, and a truce was signed with France,[984] but it was no good augury for the usefulness of this marriage alliance that it could not be brought to form the basis of a final peace. To the last Humphrey urged that it was dishonourable to abandon the negotiations begun with the Count of Armagnac,[985] but when matters were finally settled, he determined to accept the situation, and was the most prominent of those lords and gentlemen who escorted Margaret to London after her marriage at Titchfield Abbey.[986] On this occasion he had with him a guard of honour consisting of five hundred men, dressed in his livery.[987] Later, too, when Suffolk was thanked in Parliament for his recent labours in negotiating this marriage, Humphrey delivered a speech in favour of the man who had brought to England one who was to prove a firebrand in the country, and to be numbered amongst his own chief opponents.[988]

This sweet reasonableness is not a trait hitherto found in any of Duke Humphrey’s actions, and it suggests that more and more he was coming to realise that he was playing a losing game. He thought it best to bow before the storm, for we cannot believe that, had he thought it to his own personal advantage, he would have abandoned a plan merely for the sake of the internal peace of the kingdom. We have here yet another indication that he was unable to summon to his aid even one of those fitful bursts of energy which earlier he had commanded, but if we are to believe the report of an historian who wrote in the early part of the sixteenth century, his natural impetuosity led him to give the lie to his weak behaviour, and to show that he still held by the principles with regard to English policy on the Continent that he had always voiced. We are told that he delivered a speech in Parliament, urging that it was necessary to defy all conventions and break the truce agreed to, which was, he declared, a mere subterfuge on the part of France to gain a breathing space, an interval during which to recoup her strength.[989]


There is, however, no absolute inconsistency between his recent actions and this speech. He had accepted the state of affairs when he welcomed Margaret to her new English home, but that did not necessarily imply a cessation of the war; marriage, which the historian generally accepts as the final confirmation of the treaty of peace, was in this case regarded as a mere preliminary to a possible, but rather improbable pacification. The truce was short, and the end of the war was not to be yet. The marriage of Margaret to Henry was an isolated incident, not part of a policy, in its effect at least, though it might be in its intention.


Humphrey had all along argued for the continuance of the war; he believed in its righteousness and in its advantages at home as well as abroad. Even as it was rumoured that Henry V. had embarked on foreign conquest as an antidote to internal dissension, so Humphrey, feeling the spirit of strife which was abroad—a spirit, be it confessed, that he had fostered—looked to the war to distract the nobles from conflict at home, and a French chronicler of the time was the first to realise this aspect of the Duke’s policy.[990] It was not a new idea. It had been Henry V.’s, as we have seen; more important still, it was mentioned as a maxim of government in one of those books which it was Gloucester’s joy to study. Ægidius, in his De Regimine Principium, writes: ‘Guerra enim exterior tollit seditiones, et reddit cives magis unanimes et concordes. Exemplum hujus habemus in Romanis quibus postquam defecerunt exteriora bella intra se ipsos bellare coeperunt,[991] and a copy of this book was among Humphrey’s gifts to the University of Oxford. It is a wrong principle; to us it is even absurd; but the absurdity was not then obvious. It contains the too common fallacy of confounding cause and effect, for though the war for a time might distract the turbulent noble’s attention, it made him all the more turbulent when his new employment, the cause of his distraction, was removed. But contemporaries did not see this. Basin, the historian, who divined the motives of Gloucester’s war policy, has nothing but praise for the underlying principle.[992] Suffolk was no enthusiastic advocate for peace, and the Beaufort faction had espoused a peace policy in the past merely because it suited their private plans—plans, too, which were not to increase the internal peace of the kingdom—and because their nominees were totally incapable of carrying on the war, as had been lately proved by the failure of the incompetent Somerset.[993] If Gloucester followed the wrong policy in advocating war, we could not expect it to be otherwise when we remember his early training. It is a truism—like so many truisms, too often forgotten in practice—to say that a man must not be judged by the standards of an age that is not his own, and it is absurd to condemn Humphrey’s war policy when we look at the attitude of his contemporaries to the same subject. Advantage there was none for him to be reaped from the continuance of the war; factiousness is no longer a possible explanation of his motive; his attitude therefore may be attributed to a desire for the good of the kingdom, for the good of the House of which he himself and his poor, weak nephew were the last representatives.

Whether Gloucester had really delivered himself of these opinions on the war with France or no, he had succeeded in making his enemies desperate. Queen Margaret was not long in grasping the situation of parties in England, and she naturally leaned on Suffolk, the man who had brought her to the position she held, the man who from the first had declared himself her friend and servant. Together they scanned the political horizon, and only one obstacle could they see to the success of their plans, and that obstacle was Duke Humphrey. Though discredited at Court, and bereft of the influence he had once held in the councils of the nation, he had still a definite position in the kingdom as heir to the throne, and did not lack supporters among certain classes. Moreover, the Duke of York, a firm opponent of Beaufort influence, gained what little power he had from the support of Gloucester. Together these two had to be considered as the leaders of a party of some importance. It was the old story of Gloucester and Beaufort still, for the new party headed by the Queen and Suffolk was but a new version of that formerly led by the Cardinal Bishop of Winchester, and had the support of the Beaufort interest, that is, of the Earl of Somerset, Lord Say de Sele and Adam Moleyns.[994] Margaret, the centre of the confederacy, was an ambitious woman, with more ingenuity than common-sense. Young and inexperienced, she had alighted suddenly on a hotbed of intrigue and party strife. At once her mind was made up: she would be the predominant influence in English politics, and this by means of her ascendency over the weak mind of her husband, an ascendency so easy to procure. Suffolk was bound by every call of self-interest to play the game of the Queen; his claim to regard must be based on the Queen’s success; and with the impetuosity and cunning inherited from his mercantile ancestors, he drew the whole Beaufort faction with him. In opposition to this strong combination, whose various private interests impelled them to act together, stood Gloucester, almost alone, but with one very strong card in his hand. Suffolk whilst in France had been inveigled into agreeing to the cession of Maine to that country,[995] but that this was generally known at the time is very doubtful. At any rate, when it should become known, as known it must be sooner or later, there would be a very stiff storm to be weathered by Margaret and her friends, and if Gloucester were still to the fore, this storm might well cause shipwreck to her party.[996] Possibly the knowledge of this fact had produced Gloucester’s speech against the truce, but it is more likely that as yet it was a danger which lay concealed in the womb of the future. If this were so, Gloucester must be humiliated, perhaps removed, before the truth became known. Every effort was made, therefore, to alienate the King from his uncle;[997] suspicions as to his intentions were hazarded, and by degrees suggestions developed into direct accusations. The mind of Henry, already bordering on the brink of madness—a state in which suspicion is quick to arise—yielded readily to the treatment to which it was submitted. Gloucester, he came to believe, was plotting against his life from fear that an heir to the throne would be born; his preparations were being made. Everything, so Henry was told, pointed to this, for the deeds of Eleanor Cobham could not be disassociated from her husband. The one menace to the peace of the kingdom was Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester.[998]


The drama of Gloucester’s life is drawing to a close, and the tragedy of its end is in sight. Any lingering regard for his uncle in the mind of the King had passed, and his attitude during the visit of the French embassy which came to England in 1445 illustrates the success of the tactics employed by Margaret. It was on July 15 that the ambassadors came before the King, whom they found supported by Suffolk, Dorset, the Cardinal of York, the Chancellor, Adam Moleyns, Gloucester, Chester, and Warwick. Henry greeted them most warmly, and assured them of his great desire for peace, shooting glances of defiance all the time at Gloucester, and when he had finished his greeting he turned to Suffolk, and exchanged a smile of understanding with him. It was also reported that he had pressed the Chancellor’s hand, and had said that he was very glad that some present had heard his words, and that they seemed so little at their ease.[999] Margaret had been successful indeed. The King was entirely alienated from his uncle, and he delighted to show his contempt for his former adviser’s counsel, even as all small minds delight to show a contempt they have no right to indulge. Suffolk was even more outspoken than his royal master. He openly and loudly declared that he cared not what the Duke of Gloucester thought, or whether he opposed him or not, for his power was gone, and the King no longer regarded him.[1000]


Humphrey’s career was over. The King denied him access to the Court, and he was removed from the Privy Council.[1001] Indeed in the later chroniclers we read of an attempt to bring him to justice, and of an indictment before the Council. He was accused, it is said, of malpractices during his Protectorate, especially of having caused men adjudged to die to be put to other execution than the law of the land allowed. A brilliant speech, if we are to believe the report, refuted the charges so successfully, that they were allowed to drop.[1002] This partial success, however, availed the Duke nothing, as his enemies had decided to remove him from their path, and for this purpose it was proposed to call a Parliament to which he was summoned, ‘the which parliament was maad only for to sle the noble Duke of Gloucester.’[1003] Suffolk, it seems, had laid certain accusations against him,[1004] and he had induced the King to summon this assembly, to crush the only man that stood in his way. At first Parliament was summoned to meet at Cambridge, but it was ultimately transferred to Bury St. Edmunds, a place where Suffolk was strong,[1005] and Gloucester weak, apart from a certain support from the Abbey there.[1006] Gloucester’s fate was sealed. With cunning ingenuity Suffolk spread a report that a rising led by Duke Humphrey might be expected any day, and he made elaborate preparations for guarding the King at each stopping-place on the way to Bury. Besides this, the almost incredible number of forty or sixty thousand men was collected and stationed round the town.[1007] Gloucester was ordered to attend the Parliament, and all waited to see whether he would come.[1008] Totally ignorant of the elaborate preparations for his reception, yet knowing the dangers which beset his path, Humphrey set out for Bury.[1009] Far from making any show of resistance,[1010] or coming to Parliament in a spirit of bravado, and followed by an overwhelming retinue, he came all unsuspicious that a trap had been laid for him, like an innocent lamb—so the chronicler quaintly puts it[1011]—hoping that he might be able to procure pardon for his imprisoned wife.[1012] The same chronicler, who was not one of those who sang the praises of Duke Humphrey, says that he was conscious of no evil in himself, and suspected nothing as he rode out on his last ride,[1013] accompanied by some eighty horsemen,[1014] no extraordinary retinue for a prince of the blood royal on a long, and possibly dangerous journey.


Parliament had been opened on February 10 with a speech from the Chancellor, Archbishop Stafford, who declared with suspicious unction, that ‘blessed was the man who walked not in the counsel of the ungodly,’[1015] but it was not until the 18th that the Duke of Gloucester arrived. When within half a mile of the gates of the town, he was met by two officers of the King’s household, who told him that the King wished him to go straight to his lodgings, and not visit the Court, since the weather was so cold for travelling; at least so was the message reported subsequently by some of the Duke’s retinue. It was eleven o’clock in the morning when Gloucester rode into the city by the south gate, and passing through the ‘horsemarket,’ turned to his left into the Northgate Ward. Here he passed through a mean street, and as he rode along, he asked a passer-by, by what name the alley was known. ‘Forsoothe, my Lord, hit is called the Dede Lane, came the answer. Then the inborn superstition of ‘the Good Duke’ asserted itself; so with an old prophecy he had read ringing in his ears, and a word of pious resignation on his lips, he rode on to the ‘North Spytyll’ outside the Northgate, otherwise called ‘Seynt Salvatoures,’[1016] where he was to lodge. Having eaten his dinner, a deputation came to wait upon him, consisting of the Duke of Buckingham, the Marquis of Dorset, the Earl of Salisbury, Lord Sudley, and Viscount Beaumont. This last in his capacity of High Constable placed the Duke under arrest by the King’s command. Two yeomen of the guard and a sergeant were appointed to take charge of the prisoner, who was removed from the care of his own immediate servants, some of whom, including Sir Roger Chamberlain, were arrested the same evening between eight and nine o’clock. The arrest passed off quietly, but three days later about twenty-eight more of Gloucester’s retainers, including his natural son ‘Arteys,’ were arrested and sent to divers places of confinement. This was on Shrove Tuesday, but it was unknown to their master, who was lying in a state of coma, so that for three days he neither moved nor had any feeling. Towards the end of this time, however, he recovered sufficiently to confess his sins, and to receive the last rites of the Church, and then sinking again he died, so it is related, about three o’clock in the afternoon of Tuesday, February 23, 1447.[1017]

Next day the news of his death was proclaimed, and his body was exposed, so that all might see that no mark of violence was upon him.[1018] His corpse was visited by many during the day, and towards evening he was disembowelled, placed in a ‘seryd cloth, and layd in a lead chest,’ encased in a coffin of poplar-wood. On the Saturday, just a week after his arrival in the town, Humphrey’s body was carried to the Grey Friars’ Monastery at Babwell,[1019] escorted thither by twenty torches borne by members of his own entourage; indeed, apart from the three crown officials who had been his gaolers, none but his personal retainers accompanied the cortège. On the Sunday the Abbot of St. Albans ‘dede his dirge,’ and the next day, after a mass had been said for the repose of his soul, his earthly remains were carried out on their last journey. By slow stages the coffin was carried to St. Albans, resting by night at Newmarket, Berkway, and Ware, and arriving at its destination on Friday the 21st. Here again was a dirge said for him, followed by Mass, and on the Saturday the body was placed in the ‘Feyre vout,’ prepared for him in his lifetime, amidst the lamentations of many of his faithful servants, and in the presence of the crown officials, who were the only outward evidences that a king’s son was being laid to rest.[1020] The whole ceremony of interment was that of a private individual, not that of a prince;[1021] the outward glamour of the pomp and circumstance which had accompanied his three brothers to the grave was absent. Humphrey died a prisoner, a disgraced politician, but he was followed to the grave by a band of genuine mourners. All the artificial adjuncts of his life, all the pride of power and position which had conspired to make him a great prince, had vanished, and he was laid in his last resting-place by loving hands, who took a mournful pleasure in thus honouring their dead master without any of that formal and unlovely ceremonial which disguises death as a pageant.


In spite of the circumstantial story which records the events of the last few days of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, there hangs over the manner of his death a cloud which no existing evidence can entirely remove. Was he murdered, or was his death the result of natural causes? Such is the question to which the circumstances surrounding his last days give rise. Of contemporary chroniclers who give their opinion the Englishmen mostly agree in a quiet acceptance of the idea that arrest and disgrace so worked on an already weakened frame, that some kind of seizure was followed by collapse and death. Richard Fox, who gives the most detailed account of the tragedy of Bury, never for a moment suggests foul play, whilst Wheathampsted, the friend and follower of the dead man, clearly states that he died of sickness brought on by grief at his arrest.[1022] Hardyng carries this theory still further by describing the disease of which the Duke died as a sort of ‘parlesey,’ stating that he had been similarly attacked before,[1023] but an anonymous chronicler of Henry VI.’s reign, while describing the illness much in the same way as Fox and Hardyng—a paralysis of both mind and body—does not hesitate to hint fairly broadly that the disease did not take its origin from the natural state of the Duke’s health.[1024] The author of the English Chronicle reserves judgment. The truth about Gloucester’s death, he declares, is not yet known, but he quotes the Gospel to prove that there is nothing hid which shall not be made manifest;[1025] the London chronicler declares darkly that he was treacherously treated.[1026] Foreign contemporary writers go still further, and with one voice proclaim that Gloucester was murdered. Waurin states this as a bare fact, but his statements are not beyond dispute, for he adopts the same version as the continuator of the Historia Croylandensis, who says that the Duke was found dead in bed on the morning after his arrest.[1027] Mathieu de Coussy and Basin, both of whom were alive at the time, aver that it was a case of murder, and so it was generally believed on the Continent.[1028]


As time passed on, the growing unpopularity of Suffolk unloosed men’s tongues, and the idea that Gloucester had been murdered gradually arose, and became a firm belief. It was obvious to all that the Duke’s death had been desired by Suffolk to increase his power, and within three years of the Parliament at Bury another Parliament was clamouring for the disgrace of this upstart, who with the help of the Queen had monopolised the government of the kingdom, and it was but a very thinly veiled accusation of murder which lay behind the articles of impeachment that he ‘wase the cause and laborer of the arrest, emprisonyng and fynall destruction of the most noble valliant true Prince, your right obeisant uncle the Duke of Gloucester.’[1029] That this was no more than an accusation of complicity in Humphrey’s disgrace which indirectly produced his last illness is an interpretation which the words cannot bear when we consider the facts of the case, for at the same time Gregory records that among the charges brought against Suffolk that of murdering ‘that nobylle prynce the Duke of Gloucester’ was one.[1030] Whatever the words of the impeachment may imply to us, it is plain that they bore but one meaning to the men of the time, and in view of the coming disgrace of the Queen’s favourite, public opinion was beginning to assert itself, for it is to be noticed that, when recording the death of Humphrey, Gregory ignored any question of murder.[1031]

We may well suspect that the murder of Suffolk by the sailors of the Kentish coast had for its prompting some thought of revenge for the death of the man who had held the command of Dover and the Cinque Ports. The people were beginning to find their voices, and when the Kentish men followed Jack Cade in his march on London, they invoked the wrongs of Duke Humphrey, as one of the reasons of their rebellion. They demanded the punishment of the false traitors ‘which counterfetyd and imagyned’ Gloucester’s death, and they declared the charges which had been brought against him at Bury to be false.[1032] Moreover, in one of the popular songs connected with this rising there is distinct mention of ‘two traitors ... Pulford and Hanley that drownyd ye Duke of Glocester,’[1033] a possible allusion to the two yeomen of the guard who were Humphrey’s custodians after his arrest, and who may have been more than suspected of being the instruments of his enemies’ treachery. It was at this time also that Lord Saye de Sele met his violent end at the hands of the mob, who accused him of many acts of treason ‘of whyche he knowlachyd of the dethe’ of Gloucester.[1034] As hostility to the existing regime increased, the belief in the murder grew proportionately, and became complete assurance on the triumph of the Yorkist party. Thus one of the political poems which paved the way for this turn of events declared roundly that ‘This Fox (Suffolk) at Bury slowe our grete gandere’ (Gloucester),[1035] and the manifesto which the Duke of York issued from Calais referred to ‘the pytyous shamefulle and sorrowfulle murther to all Englonde, of that noble werthy and Crystyn prince Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, the Kynges trew uncle, at Bury.’[1036]

A few years later a political song stated that

‘The good duc of Gloucestre, in the season
Of the Parlement at Bury beyng,
Was put to dethe,’[1037]

and the general acceptance of the fact of murder was so universal that under the year 1446 (O.S.) a compiler of historical notes, writing in the latter days of the fifteenth century, put down without comment or hesitation ‘interfectio ducis Gloucestriae.[1038] Fabyan, another writer of this period,[1039] mentions the theory that Humphrey had been put to death as an accepted fact, adding that ‘dyverse reportes ar made, which I passe over.’[1040] Subsequent writers and historians have all followed this opinion,[1041] till within recent years some doubts have been cast on this universally accepted reading of the events.

We cannot accept the verdict of murder as conclusive without an examination into the facts of the case. Obviously it may have been more a political move than a firm conviction of the murder that induced the Yorkist party to throw out these accusations with regard to Gloucester’s end, but in this respect it cannot have been very fruitful, and it is stated in a manner which implies that the facts of the case were common property. To support the theory there is the strong hint of the Latin chronicler of Henry VI.’s reign, and the suspiciously judicial attitude of the author of the English Chronicle. The testimony of Wheathampsted as the friend of Gloucester deserves attention, yet we must remember that the late Abbot of St. Albans had passed entirely into private life in 1447, and did not emerge therefrom till four years later when he resumed the Abbacy. Moreover, his information was probably gained from Richard Fox of the House of St. Albans, a man who brought no critical power to bear on his narrative, and who merely recorded the official account of the Duke’s last illness; all personal access to the prisoner had been forbidden save to the royal officials, who had him in charge, and at the best Fox must have recorded what he was told at the time by those who had the care of his master. Evidence of a more definite and less refutable kind is the statement of John Hardyng. By him the illness is given a definite name, and allusion is made to earlier attacks. This is supported by a report on the Duke’s health made some twenty-three years earlier by his physician, which describes him in a weak state of health, though the details of the report do no more than point to certain excesses in his manner of living, and a temporary lack of health, and do not in any way suggest a hopelessly decayed constitution, which some would deduce therefrom.[1042] Only once do we hear of the Duke suffering from illness, and the activity of his life, in which he combined the avocations of a soldier, a politician, and a man of letters, in itself refutes the suggestion. Humphrey showed no signs of bodily decay; he was perfectly well, and able to make a long journey on the eve of his imprisonment, and if his health was so undermined at the age of thirty-four, how was it that he survived to more than complete his fifty-seventh year, no mean age at that time? He survived all his brothers; one died in battle, Henry at the age of thirty-six succumbed to an attack of camp fever, Bedford only attained his forty-sixth year, while his grandfather, John of Gaunt, who was looked on as an old man for his time, lived but one year longer than himself, and his father only reached the age of forty-seven. Indeed of all his relations Cardinal Beaufort alone lived to be really old, though his exact age is uncertain. The statement of Hardyng must not, therefore, be considered as entirely corroborated by the physician’s report, and by itself it stands as a statement of no more value than those which roundly assert that Gloucester was murdered, for the chronicle was written about the year 1463 by a man who had served the House of Lancaster from the battle of Shrewsbury onward. Perhaps the strangest of all evidences on this point is that given by Chastellain, the Burgundian chronicler, who wrote Le Temple de Bocace for Margaret of Anjou when in 1463 she retired into exile in the county of Bar. In this collection of stories dealing with the sad fate of many famous people, a sort of continuation of Boccaccio’s Latin work which was introduced to English readers by John Lydgate’s The Falls of Princes, a terrible picture of Humphrey’s violent end is drawn, and the methods used to give the appearance of a natural death are described. When we remember that Margaret was a prominent member of the faction at whose bidding such a deed must have been performed, the version of the story here given is the more startling.[1043]

Apart from all statements of chroniclers, whether contemporary or otherwise, there lies the probability of the case. Gloucester was in the way of the plans of Suffolk and Margaret; he had already been accused of treason, an accusation which might be hard to prove; armed preparations had been made against him; he was under arrest at the time of his death. More important than this is the way he was isolated from his followers; his chief retainers were arrested, and his personal servants were removed from attendance on him,[1044] and thus the officers appointed by his enemies could arrange what they liked. The way his body was exposed after death to prove that no violence had cut short his days was itself an invitation to suspicion, and this negative method of proof was not unknown in the cases of other royal victims of political murder. The whole story of the case supports the supposition that some kind of slow poison was used, a method of assassination quite possible under the circumstances, and for which it would almost seem that provision had been made. Murder, therefore, is the most probable explanation of the Duke’s sudden demise, his relapse into a comatose state might very well be the result of a poison taken with his food, and when an unscrupulous party so desired his death, the conclusion is obvious.

‘Who finds the partridge in the puttock’s nest,
But may imagine now the bird was dead,
Although the kite soar with unbloodied beak?
Even so suspicious is this tragedy.’[1045]

Whatever opinion is held with regard to the immediate cause of Humphrey’s death, it is beyond doubt that his destruction was planned, if not carried out. On Suffolk and Lord Saye de Sele falls the chief suspicion, and in the latter’s case the count is strengthened by the fact that he received on the very next day after the death of the Duke some of the offices which the victim had held.[1046] ‘Pole’ that ‘fals traytur’ was openly accused of part responsibility,[1047] and Fabyan says, ‘The grudge and murmour of ye people ceased not agayne the Marquis of Suffolke, for the deth of the good duke of Gloucester, of whos murdre he was specially susspected.‘[1048] Foreign chroniclers all attribute the murder to the ‘faction of Suffolk,’[1049] and in this indictment the Queen cannot be excepted. She, together with Suffolk and Lord Saye de Sele, shared in the lands and emoluments which reverted to the King on his uncle’s demise,[1050] and girl though she was, she had a predominating influence among those who had allied themselves against Gloucester. One more fact both points to the existence of a determination to make away with their rival on the part of the dominant party of the Court, and strengthens the suggestion of murder; so complete were the preparations in view of the death, that on the very day that Gloucester died, a grant was made of his property to Henry’s foundation of King’s College, Cambridge,[1051] and further grants of the same kind were made on the following day.[1052]

Final proof of the care with which Gloucester’s death was organised is to be found in the treatment meted out to his followers, of whom in all forty-two were arrested and imprisoned in thirteen different castles.[1053] On July 8[1054] five of these men, including the Duke’s natural son Arthur, were arraigned before Suffolk at Deptford and condemned to be drawn to Tyburn, hanged, disembowelled, beheaded, and quartered for plotting treason against the King. The charge against them was that they had held a seditious meeting at Greenwich on February 7 last, where they had agreed to kill King Henry VI., and place Gloucester and his imprisoned wife upon the throne. Four days later, having collected a large body of men, they had marched out towards Bury, hoping that the country would join them.[1055] Besides this definite charge, rumours were spread abroad that Humphrey had been organising a rebellion in his own favour in Wales,[1056] a legend based on nothing more substantial than the fact that many of the imprisoned retainers bore Welsh names,[1057] but sufficiently elaborated to induce the Parliament at Bury to re-enact ‘all statutes made against Welshmen.’[1058]

The absurdity of the whole story is obvious. A great army this escort of eighty men to start a rebellion of all England, and to bring about the removal of the King! There is not one shred of evidence to prove even the likelihood of such a plot. We are definitely told that Humphrey came to Bury with a clear conscience,[1059] and had his intentions been treasonable he would not have entered the town after the warning he received from the King’s message. He made not the slightest show of resistance, save, if we can except the statement of a foreign chronicler, that he used strong language to his jailers about those who dominated the King.[1060] If the plot had been hatched on February 7, why was it that Suffolk had collected an army of 60,000 men at Bury some time before the opening of Parliament on February 10, and had gone through the form of taking elaborate precautions for the safety of the King on his way thither? The details of the trial of these retainers also give cause for suspicion, for no office that Suffolk held entitled him to sit as judge at Deptford, and he was probably acting under a special writ, issued to ensure the condemnation of the prisoners. The whole proceeding was meant to throw dust in the eyes of those who might question the manner of Gloucester’s death, and to remove the possibility of any one championing the fallen Duke, who was thus proved to have died with the guilt of treason on his conscience. Having established his case, Suffolk tried to win favour with the people by appearing at the execution and producing a reprieve from the King. Though already strung up at Tyburn, when the reprieve was read they were promptly cut down, and their lives were saved.[1061] They and the rest of the prisoners were set at large, and their goods were returned to them.[1062] Had there been any truth in the charge for which they were condemned, the men would certainly not have been reprieved, and this bid for popularity proved fruitless, for in spite of it ‘the grudge and murmur of ye people ceased not agayne the Marquys of Suffolke.’[1063] Violence was not one of Humphrey’s crimes; he had appealed to force of arms once only, and then it was merely to act on the defensive. This imagined plot was totally at variance with all his former conduct. Plot there was, but it was formed by Suffolk and his partisans to destroy their rival, whose death becomes still more suspicious in the light of their vain attempt at justification.


With Gloucester dead, and his memory tainted by an accusation of treason, Margaret and Suffolk thought they had secured safety for their plans and security for the House of Lancaster. But this was far from being the case. Besides casting an indelible slur on the dynasty which had connived at the disgrace and removal of one of its own representatives, they had inaugurated a period of strife and disaster that ended only with the triumph of the rival claimants to the throne of England. A foreign observer of English politics dated all the disturbances which followed from the time of Gloucester’s death,[1064] and an English chronicler wrote: ‘Thus began the trouble of Engelonge for the deth of this noble duke. All the comyns of this reame began for to murmure, and were not content.’[1065] A political ballad writer, too, saw how things had gone when he wrote, that since the tragedy of Bury

‘Hath been in Engeland, gret mornyng with many a scharp schoure
Falshode, myschef, secret synne upholdyng,
Whiche hathe caused in Engeland endeley langoure.’[1066]

The government of Henry VI., or rather that of those who had his ear, was already unpopular, and we have seen how still more hostile to it the nation became after 1447, and how Humphrey’s reputation increased as that of his opponent’s diminished. Jack Cade invoked the name of Gloucester as one of the justifications of his hostility to the Government, and it is a significant fact that the three men who were suspected of complicity in the murder, namely Suffolk, Adam Moleyns, and Lord Saye de Sele, all met violent deaths at the hands of the people.

But mere unpopularity was not the worst danger which the Government had to fear, as a result of Gloucester’s death, and to understand this aspect of the matter we must recall the history of the two parties in the State since the death of Henry V. The reign of Henry VI. had opened with a declaration of party war. From the first there had been two distinct parties in the kingdom, each fighting to secure the supreme control, the one headed by Gloucester, the other by Cardinal Beaufort, both of whom were members of the House of Lancaster, though the latter’s family was excluded from succession to the throne. Gloucester’s position as ‘lymyted protector,’ as a contemporary ballad writer calls it,[1067] had been at once a source of some strength to him and a point of attack for his enemies. Throughout the period of the King’s minority the struggle had been for the control of the Council of Regency, Gloucester asserting his privileges as Protector, Beaufort denying them and trying to secure further limitations of his power. So the struggle had worn on with varying success, till with Henry’s coronation in 1429 the Protectorate had come to an end. Thenceforward the contest had been between the same parties on a somewhat different field. Henry, as he gradually increased in understanding and knowledge, had been besieged by Gloucester and Beaufort, each trying to influence him in his own favour, and so it had continued till the great triumph of the Beaufort policy in the release of the Duke of Orleans and the marriage of the King to Margaret of Anjou. Hereafter the scene had changed. The Bishop of Winchester had passed out of public life,[1068] leaving the control of his party to his two nephews, John and Edmund, successively Dukes of Somerset. The Earl of Suffolk, apart from the fact that he was the ablest member of the Beaufort faction, is a negligible quantity in this history of party division. On the other hand, the Duke of York had come to the front as the opponent of the Beauforts and as a follower of Duke Humphrey, though he never came anywhere near to supplanting the latter as leader of the opposition to the existing state of government.

Throughout this long struggle, hostile as it was to the peace of the kingdom and to the good government of either party, there had never been on either side any suggestion of hostility to the House of Lancaster as such. Were not both leaders members of that House, and were not their best interests bound up with the preservation of the throne to Henry VI.? The fall of the King would have meant annihilation for both of them, and not for a moment had the possibility of such a thing occurred to the rivals. They had forgotten the shakiness of the Lancastrian House; they had forgotten the claims of York; they had forgotten that the present Duke of York was the son of a condemned plotter against the throne. Their rivalry had been merely one of ambitious men who strove for the mastery, the one with the claim of seniority, the other with the claim of a personal stake in the welfare of the kingdom. The story of that long-protracted struggle is not creditable to either Beaufort or Gloucester, though we must remember that the challenge had come from the former, who was excluded from the succession and had no such claim to have a preponderating influence in the kingdom as had the brother of Henry V. The Cardinal Bishop of Winchester has appealed to the sympathy of posterity by reason of his supposed constitutional attitude, but his pose cannot be taken seriously. Keen to see his own advantage, he had supported the rights of the Council merely as a means to curtail the power of the Protector, and thereby increase his own, but whether we take his constitutional attitude seriously or not, we must condemn his policy. On the other hand, Gloucester inadvertently had stumbled on a policy, which was the only possible one that could save England from internal disorder. In claiming the fullest powers as Protector he had probably no idea beyond asserting what he considered to be his just and legal rights, and obtaining a position which would satisfy his ambitious nature; but his policy was sound. The one hope for England was a government concentrated in the hands of one man, who would not be hampered by opposition at the very fountainhead of justice, who would be able to deal out summary retribution to the wrong-doer. Under these conditions the government of Henry VI.’s favourites would not have become a byword in the country, and have given a handle to the rival House of York.

Thus the rivalry of Beaufort and Gloucester was more personal than political, in no sense was it dynastic, and though it weakened the hold of the House of Lancaster on the country, yet in itself it did not threaten the throne of Henry VI. Still less was this the case when the Beaufort faction had won their final victory, and had definitely placed Gloucester in permanent opposition, where he acted as safety-valve to the reigning dynasty. Just as so many years later the House of Hanover was strengthened by the opposition of successive Princes of Wales, so did Gloucester’s opposition secure the House of Lancaster. He, it must be remembered, was heir to the throne, for the marriage of Henry VI. had not yet produced a son who would supplant him. Round him the discontented elements in the nation circled, the Duke of York and his following owned him as their leader. In the country at large he was still popular, and no faction could rise to drive Henry from his throne with any prospect of success if it had not the support of ‘the good Duke Humphrey.’ On the other hand, the Duke of York and his claim had to be kept in the background so long as Gloucester stood as heir to the throne and leader of the opposition to the maladministration of the governing clique. Moreover, the adhesion of York to Gloucester’s party was a guarantee against civil war, for those two men who worked together had totally antagonistic claims to the throne of England.

We have here the chief reason why the death of Humphrey was at the same time the death-blow to the House of Lancaster. The Duke of York was not dangerous so long as Humphrey lived, for though their interests in the kingdom were divergent, they had acted together through the last years of Beaufort’s domination. Both alike had been excluded from the Council of the King, and both alike had made common cause in the name of order and a different policy. We have seen the various shifts which had been used to minimise Gloucester’s influence with the King, York had been intrigued against by the Beauforts whilst in command in France, and finally he had been sent off to Ireland, so that he could not make his voice felt in the councils of the nation.[1069] His connection with the King’s uncle was of long standing. Gloucester had held the guardianship of the lands that he inherited from the Earl of March, he had supported him in 1437, when it was proposed to put the Earl of Warwick in his place as Commander-in-Chief of the army in France,[1070] and he had complained bitterly in his indictment of Cardinal Beaufort that the Duke of York had been alienated from the King.[1071] In return for this the Yorkist party had supported Gloucester in opposition; after his death they helped to bring home the guilt of his murder to those who had contrived it, and as soon as they obtained the ascendency they vindicated his memory by a public act. In the Parliament which met after the first battle of St. Albans, under the auspices of the Duke of York, the question of Humphrey’s good fame, which had often been unsuccessfully mooted before, was again raised; a petition was framed by the Commons asking the King, in remembrance of his uncle’s services to the Crown, and of the fact that he had been accused of treason by certain wicked persons, to declare the aspersions cast on his good name to be unfounded. This petition, quite spontaneous on the part of the Commons, was taken up by the Duke of York, and by his help and favour it was granted.[1072] This attitude on the part of York has its significance. It was a declaration that the policy which he espoused, the policy of good government and justice, was the policy of Humphrey; it was a party cry too, an appeal to the favour of the people, who believed that the good Duke had done his utmost for the good government of the kingdom.


When we come to examine the facts of the case, and the right which Gloucester had to the reputation for good government, we must confess that, though the adulation of the seventeenth-century chroniclers may seem excessive, it is no more exaggerated than the obloquy which has been heaped on his memory by more recent historians. His campaign in Hainault and his whole policy in that matter, quite apart from his behaviour to Jacqueline, is worthy of the heaviest censure. Blind to the effects of his actions, he did nothing to minimise them when he had tardily realised the possible alienation of Burgundy from the English Alliance. He had allowed his personal interests and ambition to take precedence of the advantage of his native country. Yet even here we must reflect before we ascribe all the failures of the English in France to his action. Signs are not wanting after the death of Henry that the Duke of Burgundy was not the warm supporter of his English allies that he had been in the past; the English also were not devoted to the Burgundian alliance, the Earl Marshal made no objection to leading the Hainault expedition, and the Earl of Salisbury, enraged by an outrage offered to his wife, came over to offer his services to Gloucester.[1073] Nor did the Council treat the matter very seriously. Humphrey on his return received no reprimand, despite the statement to this effect by certain foreign chroniclers. If Gloucester erred, he did so along with much of the public opinion of his time, and had he proved more faithful to the course he had undertaken, one might be inclined to judge his line of action in Hainault less hardly. Nevertheless, apart from all matters of foreign policy, he must be condemned for leaving his infant nephew at home unguarded save by a man whom he most profoundly distrusted. This, far more than the more obvious count of alienating Burgundy, must condemn him in our eyes, if we look at the matter from his point of view.

Apart from this lapse from honour and wisdom in his government of the country as Protector, what shall we say of Gloucester’s action in home policy? To deny the evil effects of the struggle for power between himself and the Cardinal Bishop of Winchester would be to blind ourselves to a clear historical truth, but we must remember—and in the light of the modern judgment on Humphrey it cannot too often be reiterated—that the struggle did not originate with him. He claimed the Protectorate as his right, even as Bedford did, and it cannot be said to have been a more ambitious move on the part of the one brother than on that of the other. It was the late King’s wish that he should be Protector, and it was a wise arrangement. He distrusted Humphrey’s capacity as a general with an independent command, but he had reason to believe that the man who had governed England quietly and well for him, was the proper person to whom to confide the kingdom during his son’s minority. Apart from that disastrous struggle for supremacy over his uncle the Cardinal and his party, how did Humphrey comport himself as Protector, and later as chief Councillor?


The details of Gloucester’s home government are hard to extract from the central theme of party strife, but more than once we find him the fearless supporter of the arm of the law. The kingdom was in a state of potential upheaval all through the period of his power. Henry IV. might say to his son, when speaking of the crown of England:

‘To thee it shall descend with better quiet,
Better opinion, better confirmation;
For all the soil of the achievement goes
With me into the earth.’[1074]

But this was not true of Henry IV.’s grandson. ‘De male acquisitis non gaudebit tertius heres,’ quotes an old chronicler,[1075] and leaving the ethics of the case aside, this was undoubtedly true of poor misguided Henry VI. Ever since the feudal barriers which restrained the great lords had begun to disappear, the too powerful subject had been a problem to be faced. Henry IV. had found this when confronted with the insurrection of the men who had helped to place him on the throne. The wars of Henry V. had aggravated the danger by increasing the wealth of the nobles, who made fortunes by means of the armed men they provided for the King. With a minor on the throne this development became still more dangerous, and Humphrey had to meet it. He did his best. The pretensions of the Earl of March were nipped in the bud by his dismissal to Ireland: later the quarrel which almost grew into a private war between Norfolk and Huntingdon was interrupted by his action, and his appearance in the neighbourhood doubtless restrained these lords. He issued warnings against the use of retinues of unnecessary strength, and took a personal interest in the precautions which were to ensure peace between the lords who accompanied the King to France. His reputation as an enforcer of the King’s peace must have been great, for at the time when power was slipping from his hands, his enemies agreed to his appointment as Chief-Justice in South Wales, a difficult and unsettled district, and he held the same office at Chester[1076] on the border-land, where the work of the Justice can have been no sinecure. In minor breaches of the peace, such as those of 1427, he showed himself eager to put down all kinds of lawlessness, and by his prompt action he nipped the movement of Jack Sharp in the bud, a movement which, in spite of its insignificant appearance in the pages of history, might well have developed into a rebellion against the House of Lancaster. In all these instances it was by no deputed power that Humphrey enforced the majesty of the law, but by personal exertions and visits to the centres of disturbance.

Nothing bears greater testimony to the success of Gloucester’s rule than the change which came over the state of the country as soon as he was driven from power. Under his government there had been disturbances, but nearly always for some definite reason. When Beaufort became supreme, however, the country degenerated steadily into anarchy, not on account of personal claims or dynastic troubles, but simply because the central government had lost all control over the people. In the west a private war of some magnitude raged between the Earl of Devon and Sir William Bonville, Wales was in revolt, York and Norwich were the scenes of considerable disturbances, Northampton was at war with Lord Grey of Ruthyn, riots occurred in London, Salisbury, and Derbyshire. Beaufort’s firm ally, Archbishop Kemp, was attacked by the men of his diocese and the Earl of Northumberland, whilst to still further complicate affairs, the finances were in an even worse state than when Gloucester was in power.[1077] If Gloucester was not an ideal ruler, Beaufort and his faction fell still further short of that ideal, and if we judge by results, we must conclude that England was happier and better governed under the ex-Protector, than under the party which supplanted him.


Stern represser of revolt, and enforcer of the law, was Gloucester himself a defaulter in these respects? Accusations to this effect there are, but few and of doubtful importance. In Parliament, together with other lords, he was complained of as illegally exacting the royal right of purveyance,[1078] but his position as heir to the throne may form some excuse for his action, and the complaint was made at a time when his enemies were closing their toils around him. More detailed and circumstantial is an account of how one John Withorne had his lands seized by Gloucester, who claimed him as nativus suus, and was taken off to spend the remaining seven years of his pretended master’s life in prison in Wales. At the end of that time, blind, decrepit, a wreck of humanity, he was released by the order of the King.[1079] The story may be true, but it dates from immediately after the death of Gloucester, and looks suspiciously like an attempt by his enemies to justify their opposition to him, a theory supported by the mention of Wales, that wild land whence he was to lead his mythical hordes to dethrone the King, and establish himself in his nephew’s place. Further there are the charges of undue severity imposed on prisoners recorded as part of his indictment by some later chroniclers,[1080] but the strongest argument against this and all other charges is to be found in the fact that there are not the slightest signs of a genuine detailed indictment of the Duke by his enemies, who had to rest content with poisoning the King’s mind with regard to his uncle. Nevertheless some truth may be found in the story of the imprisoned villein, for rapacity was a vice which Humphrey shared with his uncle of Winchester, and an anonymous chronicler tells us how his wife Eleanor wrongfully deprived the Hospital of St. John of Pontefract of certain lands belonging to them.[1081] This fact is attested by a grant dated February 27, 1447, whereby certain lands in Norfolk, including the Manor of Sculthorpe, lately belonging to Gloucester, were given to the Hospital of St. John,[1082] and when we remember that Sir Robert Knollys, the founder of this institution, lived and died at the manor-house of Sculthorpe, the probability of the charge becomes a certainty.

Only one other complaint do we find of Gloucester’s behaviour, and that is by the unknown continuator of the Croyland chronicle, who complains that, when interviewing the Protector on several occasions with regard to a lawsuit with the men of Spalding, the Abbot of that monastery was harshly and unjustly treated by him.[1083] That this means anything more than that the Abbot failed to substantiate his case we may well doubt; at all events, even were all these charges true, they are but a mild indictment of a man who lived in the first half of the fifteenth century amidst so many temptations to excess, a man, too, against whom any accusations would have been welcomed by the faction in power during the last few years of his life.

Before concluding this estimate of his public character as Protector and heir to the throne, let us remember that, when issuing an edict forbidding certain lords to come to Parliament with too extensive retinues, he named Huntingdon among the number, a man who supported him, and consequently found himself neglected and estranged from the King in the days when Humphrey made his famous protest against the administration of the Bishop of Winchester. Personal motives, therefore, did not always overrule his sense of justice; it cannot be for nothing that Gloucester earned the title of the ‘Good Duke,’[1084] and it is impossible to believe that he would have been so popular with the people, if he had been guilty of frequent acts of oppression. Taken with the facts of his career, it is more likely that this popularity sprang not from a mere charm of manner, but from the fact that he alone of the great men of his time tried to curb the licence of the nobles and the depredations of the lawless. He was not the inspirer of disturbances, nor the author of the Wars of the Roses. By his very existence he was what Sandford calls ‘a grand prop of the Red Rose tree,’[1085] and this—strange paradox—by reason of his alliance with the leader of the White Rose cause. Gloucester was not the first Yorkist—his instincts and his interests alike prevented this; he was not the subverter of the Lancastrian dynasty. On the contrary, it was his death that created the Yorkist party, and paved the way for the downfall of his nephew.


Humphrey was no traitor to his King, nor enemy of his father’s House, quite the reverse. He had done services to his country, which are forgotten amid the factious surroundings of his career. Biassed though they may be, there is much to be said for the truth of the statements made in the lament put into the mouths of his followers, when they had buried their master. ‘Now,’ they cried, ‘the right hand of the King has gone, the right arm of his strength has withered, he has lost him, who in the day of his necessity was both wall and rampart to him. Who but his uncle put down internal risings against the throne when they occurred, or went forth to fight, when enemies from without threatened him? He at last has laid aside his arms, and has retired to that region where there is peace and rest, and sorrow is no more. Who but the Duke of Gloucester, during the King’s infancy, drove the Duke of Burgundy from Picardy? Who but that Duke, during the same King’s boyhood, brought the enemies of the Cross of Christ to destruction? Who but he, in the King’s full age, gave peace to the people in every quarter? Who but he, in a word, throughout the King’s nonage, was his faithful foster-father and foster-mother alike? And now he is said to be a traitor, he who in the past had so many opportunities to do that which he is accused of doing in the present. Nay, that accusation is a lie most false, devised by those greedy devourers, who kill virtue when it is exalted, and who seek occasion to suffocate the innocent, that they may increase their plunder! Wherefore shall we his servants, who moved in the same surroundings as he, who were cognisant of all his secrets, who knew all his actions, shall we then allow a prince so illustrious, a duke so tireless in doing his duty, a soldier so trusty and prudent, one too guiltless of any crime, to be thus torn by dogs, thus stung by scorpions? Be this thought far from us and from those who favour justice and piety, for the great Duke himself both loved, nurtured, and enforced justice, and it is a pious work to champion one who can no longer defend himself.’[1086]

Such is the one estimate of Gloucester’s services to the body politic, but we must not look merely on one side of the picture. Humphrey claimed to guide the ship of state, and in many cases his policy was right, and his actions were just, but he lacked that touch of greatness which might have lifted him above the wrangles of party politics. His statesmanship was at fault. He had no power of gauging a man’s worth, or weighing a policy in the balance. He rushed blindly into a compromising war at Hainault, a position from which there was no retreat, and he cut but a sorry figure when he abandoned the whole enterprise. He could not sustain a definite line of action, and drive steadily to the end he had in view. He complicated his policy with too many endeavours, and brought none of them to good effect. He could not keep an unswerving course, as Protector, or disassociate himself from the tricks of party warfare; in opposition he could not maintain a steady attack, but contented himself with fitful outbursts of impotent wrath.


Yet, apart from this, his policy had a consistency which his actions lacked. When the second stage of the Hundred Years’ War was about to begin, he adopted an attitude which he maintained throughout his life. He then voted against the Burgundian alliance; at St. Omer he showed his dislike of such an alliance in the scant courtesy with which he treated the Count of Charolais; he defied the same Count when Duke of Burgundy with an animosity both personal and political; he encouraged the defiance which England flung at this same Duke after the congress of Arras; he resisted the release of Orleans partly because it was a Burgundian suggestion. Again, in 1415, he favoured an Armagnac alliance, and we find him voicing the same principle when it was a question of a marriage for Henry VI. with a daughter of the Armagnac or Angevin House. In the matter of the war, too, he was consistent to the extent of folly. His active life had begun in the Trench wars; he had accompanied his brother Henry V. on his expeditions to France. Henceforth he accepted the war as part of his political creed, and would not move one hair’s-breadth therefrom. At a time when no useful advantage could be gained by the prolongation of hostilities, he opposed the wise, pacific movement of Cardinal Beaufort, and did much to defame his political character with posterity by this dogged persistence of principle. Yet he could not devise a scheme for carrying on the war, and though he offered to undertake the command, he did not persist in his suggestion.

There is a possible view of Gloucester’s war policy, which may explain, if not justify, his attitude. In a political poem of the period, well known as the ‘Libel of English Policy,’ the principle, that command of the narrow seas was necessary for the safety of English commerce, is insisted on at some length.[1087] This command, it is to be presumed, was only to be maintained by a secure hold on both sides of the Channel, and the continuance of the war was considered necessary for this purpose. Calais, however, even in those days, was a sufficient guarantee for the openness of the Channel; but the supposition that trade considerations had their influence on Gloucester’s war policy is strengthened by his well-known connection with trade interests in the country. His popularity with the Londoners must have taken its origin from this side of the Duke’s policy, and from certain discussions at the Parliament at Leicester in 1426 it seems likely that the riotous tendencies in London, that led to the garrisoning of the Tower in 1425, had some connection with a movement against foreign traders in the capital.[1088] Gloucester, it will be remembered, had supported the Londoners in their objections to the garrison, and we may perhaps deduce from this a tendency to, what we may call, an ‘All British Policy,’ a trace of the modern Jingo politician. Humphrey had other connections besides this with the trading interests in the country. He had some intercourse with the weavers of York,[1089] and his wife was interested at one time in a petition from one of the glovers of that city.[1090] We also find a letter addressed to Gloucester during the reign of Henry VI. from an English merchant at Amiens, asking for his protection in matters commercial.[1091] The Duke had realised the strength of that new power which was arising in England, the power of the middle classes, the traders, and herein he foreshadowed the subsequent commercial policy of the first Yorkist King.

Gloucester began life as a soldier, he ended it as a politician. In the first capacity he showed ability to adapt himself to the new methods of warfare. His military skill was greater than subsequent historians have realised; he was a trusted Captain of Henry V.’s army, and was specially skilful in the management of a siege—the story of his attack on Cherbourg is a sufficient guarantee of his power in this sphere. But again his lack of persistency marred an otherwise promising talent, and as an independent general, save in short, detached expeditions, he was a dismal failure, coming near to be suspected of downright cowardice. But it is as a politician that he will be remembered, as the man who struggled with Cardinal Beaufort, the man whose ambition led him to demand what his fellows would not grant him. The world of politics was the scene of Gloucester’s greatest failure, for a failure his life certainly was. A man with more strength of character would have risen triumphant over the difficulties placed in his way, he would have secured the substance, if not the appearance of power. As it was, his ambition, his craft, his domineering instincts were called into play, and all the petty weaknesses of his character came to the front. We follow him from one poor shift to another, all aimed at satisfying his desire to be supreme over his rival. Herein lies the tragedy of his life. A man of great abilities, and destined by birth to take a prominent part in the affairs of his country, he nevertheless wasted his life in an endeavour to satisfy his personal ambitions. He cast aside the splendid opportunity to rise triumphant over opposition, and in a world of pigmies he failed to dominate them by his personality. He was not that great man who ‘aiming at a million misses an unit’; he was not even that low man who ‘goes on adding one to one.’ He spent his life and his abilities in aiming at the petty gratification of his lust for power, and in so doing failed to grasp the grand opportunity of being the saviour of the Lancastrian dynasty.


No comprehensive view of Gloucester’s policy can be attained without some reference to his relations with the various ecclesiastical bodies and the church problems of his time. Above all things, through thick and thin, in the midst of the vagaries of a lax life, and the uncanonical marriage that he made with Jacqueline, he was essentially orthodox. His seventeenth-century biographer spends much time in combating this opinion, and states that from his youth up he ‘favoured those that hold the opinion of Wickliff’;[1092] indeed at the end of the treatise it is evident, that its main object is to prove that its hero was the morning star of the Reformation. This contention is obviously absurd. ‘Amator virtuties et rei publicæ, sed principue clericorum promotor singularis[1093] is the character given to Humphrey by a contemporary, who therein gave utterance to the opinion of his day. It could hardly be otherwise. As a boy the future Duke of Gloucester had been surrounded by those whose orthodoxy was part of their political programme. Henry IV. had snatched his crown from the head of Richard, who was strongly suspected of Lollardy, and he resolutely refused to comply with the movement in favour of remitting the statutes passed against the Lollards.[1094] His successor had adopted the rôle of God’s messenger to the wicked Frenchmen, and had kept up his part all through his campaign, so much so that in 1418 he had retired to Bayeux to keep Lent, whilst his brothers fought his battles for him. In earlier years, too, as Prince of Wales, he had played the missionary to heretical criminals.[1095] No wonder, then, that Humphrey adopted the orthodox attitude of his House, and was punctilious in the performance of his religious duties.[1096]

A Page from the Duke of Gloucester’s Psalter.


Gloucester was not only orthodox himself, but also a stern opponent of the Lollards, and more than once we have seen him following the example of his brother Bedford, who as Regent condemned Oldcastle to death, and executing summary justice on those who attacked the Church. In this he doubtless looked to the political as well as the religious side of the Lollard movement, but this only confirms the fact, that his private opinion and the interests of the dynasty alike impelled him to adopt a strictly orthodox attitude. The story of the condemnation of his wife may seem to some to contradict this statement, but whether Gloucester had any part in the witchcraft or not, it was not in those days impossible to combine the grossest superstition with the strictest orthodoxy. That Humphrey dabbled in alchemy and astrology there is no doubt, but he did so in company with the monks of the strictly orthodox House of St. Albans.[1097] It was after the disgrace of Eleanor Cobham that the University of Oxford wrote, that the greatest splendour attaching to his name came from his persistent suppressions of the enemies of Holy Church,[1098] and when dedicating his Commentary on Genesis to his patron, Capgrave did not hesitate to call him ‘the most glorious defender of the Faith and diligent extirpator of heresies.’[1099] Moreover, it was not only in England that Gloucester owned a reputation for orthodoxy, for when writing to him on behalf of Pier Candido Decembrio, the Archbishop of Milan, devoted about half his letter to bewailing the strife and dissension within the Church, ending with a fervent appeal that his correspondent would use his influence to restore peace, since he was known everywhere as the chiefest friend and preserver of Holy Church.[1100]

With regard to Humphrey’s marriage to a lady who already possessed a husband, we must remember that a very plausible and strictly legal case was made out against the legality of her earlier marriage. We have no evidence that an answer to Gloucester’s argument was ever filed, and the history of the proceedings at Rome, where Robert Sutton and Vincent Clement represented his interests,[1101] points to the fact that the legal aspect of the case was never given a thought, and that the whole matter was decided by intrigue and personal considerations. The long delay in giving a decision convicts Martin V. of neglecting the rights and wrongs of the case, for had it been a mere matter of law, no such delay was necessary.


The secret history of these negotiations at Rome is unknown, and will probably never be revealed, but subsequent events point strongly to the intervention of Beaufort influence. The key to the whole matter is to be found in a quarrel which began some years later between the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Bishop of Winchester was no stranger to Martin V.; indeed, the Pope had every reason to be grateful to one who had had no small share in his election, for it was the arrival of Henry Beaufort at Constance, when the College of Cardinals could come to no decision, that turned the tide in favour of Oddo Colonna. An intimacy probably sprang up between the two, and the Pope was anxious to bestow a Cardinal’s hat on his friend, but this Henry V. refused to allow. We hear no more of Beaufort’s ecclesiastical ambitions during the rest of this reign, but when troubles and disturbances began to surround the Court of the younger Henry, then Beaufort was to the fore. He had not lost touch with the Court of Rome, and it cannot be doubted that his handiwork may be seen in a letter which in 1427 the Pope wrote to Archbishop Chichele. Martin V. had exalted ideas as to the importance of the papal power, and on this occasion he wrote in severe terms with regard to the existence of the statute of Præmunire, which limited his powers in England. Chichele was not blind to the meaning of this attack, which blamed him for placing patriotism to his country before loyalty to his Church.[1102] In his reply he did not beat about the bush, but plainly told the Pope that both the Duke of Gloucester and he himself had been maligned, if His Holiness regarded them as hostile to him in any way whatsoever. He added that were he able to undertake the journey he would gladly visit Rome, and explain the evil intentions of that faction which was attempting to drive him from his See.[1103] It was useless for the Pope to retort with increased anger that Chichele had no right to introduce the name of his ‘beloved son Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester,’ as no charge had been made against him.[1104] The inference is obvious. The faction of which the Archbishop complained was clearly the Beaufort party, else Gloucester would not have been mentioned as sharing the brunt of the attack made upon him. Chichele had not the unlovely graces and deceptions of diplomacy, and he retorted frankly to the spirit and not to the letter of the papal communication that he had received.

Moreover, the Pope was at the same time harassing the Duke on the same subject. In a letter, dated October 13 of this same year, he complained bitterly of the ill treatment and imprisonment which his Nuncio and Collector, John de Obizis, had experienced in England, and he declared that he understood that the Protector was the instigator of these proceedings. Beaufort had doubtless stirred up this cause of quarrel, and was also at the bottom of the demands with which the letter concluded. Martin asserted that the King had promised to call a Parliament to consider ‘the execrable statute against ecclesiastical liberty,’ and urged Gloucester, as next in importance to the King, to use his influence on the side of repeal.[1105] Thus was Humphrey drawn into the quarrel, and though it would seem that he tried to pacify the Pope by releasing the papal collector,[1106] there are no signs that he abandoned his old friend Chichele on the question of Præmunire. The tone of the papal letter addressed to the Protector, though couched in civil language, contains a decided threat, especially when we remember that the case of Jacqueline’s divorce was still pending at Rome. It is therefore impossible to doubt from the evidence before us that the attack on Humphrey and the offenceless Archbishop was the work of the Bishop of Winchester, meant to serve his own personal ends, and to gratify his political ambitions in England.

The excuse and foundation for this attack on Archbishop Chichele are not far to seek. The Bishop of Lincoln had been recently translated to the See of York by papal provision, and had been indicted for accepting this promotion under the statute of Præmunire. However, he had come to terms with the Lords of the Council, and in return for a promise to stay all proceedings against him and to reappoint him to the See of Lincoln, he had agreed to renounce all claims to the See of York, and to do his utmost to expedite the cause of the Duke of Gloucester at the Court of Rome, the cause being the divorce of Jacqueline, as yet undecided.[1107] This action on the part of the Council had enraged the Pope and annoyed Beaufort, the former because the statute of Præmunire had been employed to curb his power in England, the latter because it spoke of the influence which his rival had over the Council. Moreover, the Bishop had no desire to see the objectionable statute made use of against himself, for he had just been nominated a Cardinal for the second time,[1108] and was looking for a favourable opportunity to accept the honour without incurring the penalties of the law, penalties which would incur not only loss of power in the kingdom, but also the forfeiture of all those worldly possessions which he loved so dearly. He therefore used this opportunity for his advantage, and urged the Pope to attack Chichele, and through him Gloucester, who, with characteristic cunning, was not mentioned in the accusing letter.

The details of the struggle are, from Gloucester’s point of view, unimportant, as his name was sedulously excluded from the later stages of the controversy. Blustering epistles and the threat of an interdict shook Chichele’s resolution, but the nation stood firm, and beyond the personal satisfaction of having caused the Archbishop considerable anxiety, Martin gained nothing by his interference.[1109] Not so the Beaufort faction. The compromise with regard to the See of York was finally settled by the appointment of John Kemp, Bishop of London, a man who had made some show of friendship for Gloucester,[1110] but who was to join the party of his opponents before very long; besides this, the Bishop of Winchester was ultimately enabled, by means of the influence exercised on Bedford, to accept the cardinalate without incurring the penalties of Præmunire.


In connection with this episode in the struggle between Gloucester and Beaufort, a correspondence, which took place between Humphrey and the Pope in the year 1424, may have some bearing. The Duke complained that one, Simon da Taramo, papal collector in Ireland, had been traducing him to the Pope, and he had also exchanged letters with Simon on the subject. Simon declared that he had a complete answer to the charge,[1111] but he had undoubtedly meddled in Jacqueline’s divorce suit, and seemingly had made unauthorised promises in the name of Gloucester, possibly at the instigation of Beaufort.[1112] It is likely, though no definite opinion can be given on the subject, that this complaint made by Humphrey had some connection with the later attack on Archbishop Chichele, and that the intrigues of Beaufort were first levelled direct at his chief rival, and then diverted into fresh channels in an attempt to reach this rival through his friend and supporter. In detail the story is obscure, but the deduction is obvious. Regardless of the national spirit, which had asserted the independence of the Anglican branch of the Church Catholic from undue papal interference from the very earliest days of English history, Beaufort had entered into alliance against the long-established ecclesiastical liberties of England; he had disregarded the patriotic scruples of other great Englishmen, and had embarked on a policy in which patriotism was subordinated to private interest. Are we to blame Humphrey if he tried to prevent the government of the kingdom from falling into the hands of such an one as this? On the other hand, Gloucester himself had adopted a line of action in accordance with the accredited policy of England, he had shown himself the upholder of a method of procedure in which orthodoxy refused to yield to patriotism, even as earlier he had caused Martin V. to complain of his lack of energy in procuring the Archdeaconry of Canterbury for another papal nominee.[1113] This attitude was not chosen with any idea of gaining popularity in the kingdom, for he did not thrust his share in the quarrel to the front, and was content to limit his action to quiet, unobtrusive resistance to papal claims.[1114]

Later in life we see Gloucester’s interest in matters ecclesiastical exemplified in his relations to the Council of Basel.[1115] On July 4, 1437, he wrote a letter to the Council telling them of the excellent manner in which their emissaries had conducted themselves in England, and of the despatch with which he had secured an audience for them.[1116] Though strife was running high at the time between Pope and Council, their disputes had not yet reached the last extremity, so we cannot deduce from this evidence that Humphrey supported the Council against the Pope. Probably he was slow to withdraw the sympathy he felt for the Council, for we find a letter written to him in the following February by Eugenius IV., setting forth the reasons of his action in summoning the Council to sit at Ferrara,[1117] which would lead one to believe that he was trying to convert his correspondent to his views. However, there seems no reason to doubt that Gloucester’s hereditary orthodoxy led him to follow the example of the English King, who protested strongly against the action of the Council in refusing to acknowledge the Pope,[1118] and at a later date referred to the ‘rageous demenyng of theyme of Basyle.’[1119]


Humphrey’s ecclesiastical interests were mainly devoted to the monastic foundations of England. He was a member of the Fraternity of St. Edmund at Bury;[1120] it was to him that the Priory of Launceston appealed when, in 1430, there arose a dispute on the election of their Prior,[1121] and from him also the Prior of Binham Abbey sought support when the Bishop of Norwich found cause of complaint against that foundation.[1122] In this last case Wheathampsted, the famous Abbot of St. Albans, had acted as intermediary between the Prior and the Duke, since Bynham was a cell of St. Albans, and it was with this man, and the Abbey over which he ruled, that Gloucester had the most intimate connection of all.

The Abbey of St. Albans was one of the most fashionable monastic establishments in England. Queen Joan was accustomed to visit it from her palace at Langley; the Duchess of Clarence—Gloucester’s sister-in-law—was its friend and patroness, and was received into its Fraternity; Cardinal Beaufort visited it more than once, and was received with processions and rejoicings as befitted a prince of the Church; the Earl of Warwick, too, was here nursed by the monks through an attack of tertian fever.[1123] But Gloucester was the most consistent visitor of all; we have frequently seen him entertained by the monastery; he and his two wives were admitted to the Fraternity, and at one time he resided at the Manor of the Weald, on the hill close by, which at the present time practically corresponds to the parish of St. Stephen’s.[1124] From time to time he gave costly presents to the Abbey, and even in 1436 these had assumed considerable proportions. He had made eight distinct presentations, mostly of vestments and hangings for the altar, culminating in the gift of a shrine with a figure of the Virgin bearing her Son in her arms in the centre, and several figures grouped around standing on an ornamental pedestal, all surmounted by the Crucifixion, with the Virgin and St. John standing on either side.[1125]

Besides gifts to the Abbey, Humphrey gave some of his goods into the keeping of the monks, and at the time of his death many of his jewels were found in their hands.[1126] The presents were not all on his side; we find many entries in the accounts of the monastery recording payment made to the Duke and to his retainers at the time when the renewal of the charter of the Abbey was procured through his mediation with the King.[1127] Soon after this Wheathampsted resigned the Abbey, but before long Humphrey was summoned as chief patron to adjudicate between the late Abbot and his successor, John Stoke, since they had quarrelled over the former’s right of maintenance out of the revenues of the Abbey.[1128] After the retirement of Wheathampsted there is no recorded visit of Gloucester to the Abbey; he seems to have been there for the last time to celebrate the renewal of the Charter in 1440; but he did not forget the monastery of his choice, and less than four years before his death he bequeathed to it the alien Priory of Pembroke, in return for which masses were to be said for his soul and for that of Eleanor his wife.[1129]


As we have seen, it was in St. Albans Abbey that Gloucester found his last resting-place, in a tomb built for him before his death by Abbot Stoke at the considerable cost of £433, 6s. 8d.[1130] The tomb is still to be seen at the south side of the shrine of St. Alban, and though considerably mutilated on the north face, it still remains a very fine specimen of Perpendicular workmanship. It bears Humphrey’s arms with supporters, and the canopied niches above have once held figures, still to be seen on the south side, but impossible to identify, more especially as they seem to have been moved from their original places. It is possible that they are meant to represent the royal benefactors of the Abbey, most of whom would be in some way related to Humphrey. In 1703, while digging a grave for Mr. John Gape, the vault of the tomb was discovered, and the Duke’s body was found ‘preserved in a kind of pickle’ and enclosed in coffins of lead and wood.[1131] The tomb and body became thenceforth one of the sights of the place, and Lady Moira recounts that in 1747 she ‘took from the skull of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, in his vault at St. Albans Abbey a lock of hair which was so perfectly strong that I had it woven into Bath rings.’[1132] Others were no more particular about spoiling the dead than Lady Moira, and in 1789 only the lead coffin and bones were left,[1133] and even some of the last have been removed, and are to be found in the possession of private persons. There are still some of the remains of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, lying in the vault in which they were reverently laid by those who knew and who loved him, and there still may be seen the faded remains of a picture of the Crucifixion painted on the wall at the foot of the coffin.


Of Gloucester’s personal appearance we have little information. No contemporary gives us any description of him, and though we have some fairly authentic portraits, they are not sufficiently definite to give a clear conception of his personality.[1134] The utmost we can be sure of is that he had a somewhat emaciated face, and was clean shaven. His countenance, so far as we can know it, bears no sign of his individuality, and we must fall back on the scanty notices of the chroniclers for a description of his character. Later generations regarded Humphrey almost as a saint; he is eulogised in the pages of Camden;[1135] all the virtues he obviously lacked are attributed to him by Holinshed;[1136] Hall and Sandford unite in calling him the father of his country;[1137] his biographer, John Cooper, not to be outdone, declares that he was a ‘miracle of wisdom and goodness.’[1138] There seems to have been no divided opinion on the subject, probably due to his undoubted popularity with the people, and a writer who was perhaps born soon after the Duke’s death speaks of his ‘honourable fame and of his ’liberalite.[1139] Amongst his contemporaries, too, there is no lack of praise for his merits, though the unrestrained style of later centuries is modified. Mathieu de Coussy declares him to be the wisest, most powerful, and best loved prince in all England,[1140] and even Waurin, the follower of the Duke of Burgundy, turns aside from his account of the quarrel of Gloucester and Duke Philip, to say, ‘car pour verité, sans personne blasmer, il estoit prince de grant virtu, large, courtois sage et très vaillant chevallier de corps, hardy de ceur.[1141] Wheathampsted, his friend and supporter, was possibly biassed in his favour when he says:

‘Fidior in regno Regi Duce non fuit isto.
Plus ne fide stabilis, aut maior amator honoris.’[1142]

It cannot be doubted that Humphrey had many knightly qualities, and that there are many actions in his life which may be regarded as creditable, if not great. His personal character was spoilt by an entire lack of concentration and purpose. He had no philosophy of life, and no substitute for one. He accepted certain canons of policy and conduct, but could not live up to them, and this weakness was entirely due to the taint in his moral character which made him the victim of his passions. A weakness in itself, this indulgence drained all the life-blood from his actions, and increased year by year his inability to carry out a set purpose. He became more and more a producer of high-flown phrases, which sounded large and meant little owing to the lack of power behind them. This was especially evident in those sporadic bursts of energy during the last few years of his life, and there is much truth in the verdict of Pope Pius II., who declared him to be more suited to a life of letters and lust than to a life of arms, and accused him of never justifying his vast pretensions and of caring more for his life than for his honour.[1143] This unfavourable summary of his character was provoked by Humphrey’s actions in Hainault, and therefore was made under circumstances most unfavourable to him, and at a moment when his conflict with the canon law would colour the judgment of a papal writer. Nevertheless, Pius II. with unerring instinct placed his finger on the weak spot in the Duke’s character, and laid stress on just that element which spoilt his whole life.


Equally to the point is the sketch given by an anonymous chronicler who wrote in England, one that bears the impress of truth from its obvious impartiality, and sums up the situation in the best possible manner. ‘Duke Humphrey excelled all the princes of the world in knowledge, in comeliness of appearance and in fame, but he possessed an unbalanced mind, was effeminate and given over to sensual pleasures, a tendency which vitiated all his actions, prompted though they were by his many other good qualities. Moreover, he did not desist from his sensual indulgences either at this present time (the time of his marriage to Eleanor), or in the future, for which he received his due reward.’[1144] There could be no juster estimate of the man. That he had exhausted himself by indulgences, even as early as his twenty-fifth year, is established by the testimony of his physician Kymer,[1145] though too much emphasis may be laid on this dietary, for Humphrey was probably passing through a stage very common to young men in his position. To expect strict morals from him in the age in which he lived is to create a public opinion which did not exist, and we must remember that both his brothers Thomas and John left illegitimate children. Nevertheless, much of that instability of character which wrecked his life may be traced to indulgence in his besetting sin, an indulgence which seemed excessive even to his contemporaries, and it may well have been with his great patron in his mind that Lydgate penned the words:

‘Loke wel aboute, ye that lovers be;
Let not your lustes lede you to dotage.’[1146]

We must not gather from Humphrey’s volatile nature that he had no strong affections; even as he had a hatred of the Duke of Burgundy, so had he, in spite of his infidelities, a strong affection for his second wife. He did not forget her even after her disgrace, and set out on his last journey to Bury in the hope of obtaining her release from prison. She had been his evil genius since the day he met her among the ladies of Jacqueline. Ambitious and haughty, she had mixed in affairs of state,[1147] she had performed illegal acts, the effects of which were felt by her husband, and in her disgrace she brought the heaviest blow that had yet fallen upon him. She left no legitimate issue, but she may have been the mother of the two children who called Humphrey father. The son, Arthur, was one of those arrested at Bury, but neither before nor after this is there any trace of him.[1148] Of the daughter we know more. In accordance with her father’s classical tastes she was named Antigone, and in 1437 she married Henry Grey, Earl of Tankerville, a peer of no importance, who was never summoned to Parliament.[1149] Their son dropped the title, and the last of the line married the daughter of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk.[1150] Antigone survived her husband, and a year after his death we find her the wife of Jean d’Amancier, Esquire of the Horse to Charles vii of France.[1151] It is a strange paradox that Humphrey’s daughter should marry a man in the service of the King with whom he had advocated an endless war.

Besides incontinence, there are other blots on the Duke’s private character, and they also had their influence on his public career. If he was not habitually oppressive, he was none the less rapacious. His expenses as a prince who loved display, and a patron who kept many scholars in his service, were very great, and he never lost an opportunity of adding to his rent-roll, or of securing money by other more dubious methods. We have seen him accepting a heavy bribe from the Abbey of St. Albans for his services in securing for them a renewal of their charter; in his earlier days he had accepted another bribe from the Earl of Berkeley for his good offices with Henry V. in obtaining the Castle of Berkeley for that Earl;[1152] he tried to use his powerful position and the value of his protection to induce the Prior of Ely to disburse money for the Hainault campaign;[1153] and the Cinque Ports, of which he was Warden, had to pay him in hard cash for the renewal of their charter from the King.[1154] His rapacity in an age which produced Cardinal Beaufort was not unique, yet it shows a lack of restraint, and explains how much the tendencies of his private character moulded his career as a statesman.

Together with rapacity Humphrey harboured a pride which dictated many of his most unfortunate actions, and this pride was closely connected with an impetuosity which led him to discard wisdom for the pleasures of the moment. In battle he exposed himself to every danger, and even his epistolary style became infected with this characteristic, for in speaking of Simon da Taramo he alludes to the ‘venomous suggestion of this second Judas.’[1155] All through his life Gloucester was governed by his emotions, and he always obeyed the impulse of the moment, were it good or bad. Thus his love of order and his disgust at any kind of outrage so possessed him when he discovered that his retainers had been poaching at St. Albans, that he seized the nearest weapon to his hand and belaboured one of the wretched criminals as he sat in the stocks.[1156] Indeed the secret of the Duke’s character lay in the preponderating influence his emotions possessed over every action of his life. This partly explains his unstable nature, and accounts for his high-flown ideas and ill-considered plans, but when the power of the emotion had passed, all the vitality had gone from his undertakings. His emotions took him to Hainault, and their reaction produced his failure; his emotions produced those fitful attacks on his great rival Beaufort, but were not enough to construct for him a definite policy. The energy of his life all went to waste, because there was no strength of will to control his impressionable nature. Yet there were times when this impetuosity led to good results as well as to ill. It helped him to quell all tentative efforts at sedition, it kept him going in his warlike undertakings when they were not too prolonged; above all, it enabled him to broaden his interests, and to embrace the life of a patron of letters as well as that of a soldier and a politician. Yet sometimes he was able to restrain his ardour. During the Côtentin expedition he showed unexpected determination, and on occasions he could try persuasion when force was useless. The man who could burst into fits of rage under the influence of political disappointment, and jeopardise the safety of his country for the whim of the moment, could also stoop to argue with an irate prelate, and ‘doff his cap’ to the Bishop of Norwich when interceding for the liberties of the Prior of Binham.[1157]

The man who is governed by his emotions is seldom worthy of respect, but he has a charm which is all his own. This charm Gloucester undoubtedly possessed. Though in many ways a sore trial to Bedford, he did not lose his brother’s affection till an impetuous outburst produced a quarrel, which was never healed. All through the Hainault trouble the French Regent had borne with his brother, and his letters had shown affection even when they found fault. Even after the Parliament of Leicester he had manifested a tactful feeling for his brother’s tastes, and had sent him a beautifully adorned volume from the famous royal library of France.[1158] Others who had been brought into close contact with Duke Humphrey were warm in their praise of him; Wheathampsted and his St. Albans friends were faithful to him even after his death.[1159] The Bishop of Bayeux spread glowing reports of his generosity and kindliness throughout Italy, as is attested by more than one Italian humanist,[1160] and his personal charm exerted a strong influence on such men as Piero del Monte. This last spoke in warm terms of the happy intercourse he had had with the Duke of Gloucester while in England,[1161] and it was not therefore mere fulsome flattery which made Lapo da Castiglionchio declare that in conversation he was courteous and kind, and in every walk of life affable and genial.[1162] We have more than one indication of the goodness of Humphrey’s heart, apart from the possibly suspect statements of admirers, and it was no mere caprice that made him befriend the unhappy Queen Joan, who was left to eke out a life of honourable detention totally neglected by all the other prominent personages in the kingdom.

As we turn the last page of Humphrey’s political life, it is with a feeling of regret that we remember his career. We see brilliant abilities and immense possibilities for useful work all thrown away because the fire of genius burnt only in fitful gleams. Moral stamina was denied to an otherwise promising character, and the concentration which might have moulded his life’s work into a useful policy was lacking. He had done nothing to carry England further along the high-road to strength and fame, he had lived in a decadent age and had been overwhelmed by the spirit of his times. Yet his life was not in vain. No man has left a greater mark on the progress of English thought than this Duke Humphrey, and in the realm of ideas, whither we must now follow him, he did the good work he failed to do in the realm of action.


No period of English history is less romantic than that in which Humphrey of Gloucester’s life was cast. Apart from the fleeting glories of Agincourt, there is no outstanding event of transcendent interest, no episode of which Englishmen may be honourably proud. A disastrous and ill-conducted war abroad, bitter political dissensions at home, a feeble regency followed by a still feebler King, personal ambitions rampant, patriotic and unselfish action lost under the enervating influence of a false idea of foreign conquest, a nation that had outgrown its strength, a nobility that knew not the meaning of honour or disinterestedness—such was the state of England during the first half of the fifteenth century. This chaotic state was only to be wiped out by a long and disastrous civil war, yet working underneath all this seething mass of lost ideals there were forces which were to influence the formation of modern England as it emerged from this state of transition. It may be said that in one sense every age is one of transition, that the history of the world is the story of a great development, in which the old order is ever changing, giving place to the new; nevertheless we can note the spirit of change more clearly in some periods than in others. Gloucester lived at a time when the mind of man was broadening into a new phase of intellectual development. Already Petrarch had lived and died, declaring that he stood on the confines of two eras, looking back and looking forward; already Italy had realised that the long sleep of the Middle Ages was over; already that movement, which for lack of a better name we call the Renaissance, had begun. The traditional scholarship and the hereditary superstition which had dominated the Dark Ages was being superseded; a new field of human knowledge had been opened for Western Europe when Greek ceased to be an unknown tongue with the advent of Chrysoloras; the true meaning of that prophecy which had sprung from the lips of Joachim of Flora was dawning on men’s minds—‘the Gospel of the Father is past, the Gospel of the Son is passing, the Gospel of the Spirit is yet to be.’ A spirit of uneasiness was abroad, a spirit which proclaimed the emancipation of man from the bonds of ignorance and tradition, a spirit which was to proclaim his individuality, and to break down the trammels which had restrained the assertion of self. Morally, as well as legally, man was passing from status to contract.


Humphrey felt the full force of this movement; his life was moulded thereby. His activity and many-sided energy found their origin in this new spirit. His fervid imagination, which led him into impossible projects, his love of display, above all, his desire to stamp his individuality on the politics of his country, all sprang from the new realisation which was vouchsafed to him—the realisation of his own individuality. In England, the new spirit was more manifest politically than in isolated individuals; the country was throwing off the feudal system, her merchants and traders were demanding the acknowledgment of their importance, peasants and townsmen alike were preparing for that long, uphill struggle which has culminated in the parliamentary system of the nineteenth century. Humphrey, with all his senses ready to receive the message of the Renaissance movement, did not, however, grasp its true significance in England. The friend of the struggling masses, he nevertheless had no real sympathy with the popular movement; he was cast far more in the Italian than in the English mould. Though devoid of the cunning, the lack of scruple, and the conscienceless criminality of Machiavelli’s Principe, he nevertheless in his ambitions anticipated the type. He practised the art of popularity; he tried to make the nation feel that he, and he alone, was essential to the welfare of the kingdom, that the success of his policy was the only safeguard of the state. He failed, and failed egregiously, but the idea was the same as that which inspired the Florentine secretary; he had the idea, but in that he had not the weight of personality necessary for the typical tyrannus, he failed. More than this, the Italian type was not suited to English methods of thought; England had not progressed far enough along the road of new ideas to welcome despotism as the salvation of the nation. What the Tudors accomplished was impossible to Humphrey, both on account of his nature and on account of the temper of the people.


The comparison of Humphrey to the Italian despot must not be followed on the same lines, as in the case of his great successor, John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester. The tyrannus who passed gaily and naturally from cold-blooded murder to the society of the philosophers and poets of his court, found no parallel in his career; violence and determined cruelty were not among his characteristics. Indeed these are later manifestations of the Renaissance movement, bastard products of a too self-centred individuality. In Humphrey the Renaissance was manifested in its first youth, and even then incompletely; it was not till after his death that the new ideas began to be fully understood in England; he led the van of the army which set out to conquer the realms of knowledge, and perished before possession was assured. In no other Englishman of the time do we find the same love of the ancient classics which characterised Gloucester. His father had given books to the University of Oxford, but only such as dealt with mediæval lore;[1163] the Duke of Exeter had studied at an Italian University, but there the traditions of mediævalism, based on a study of law, lasted long after Petrarch and Boccaccio had pointed to the past as the teacher of the future. Henry V. showed considerable interest in literature, and possessed numerous books.[1164] Not once, however, is there mention of a work of classical origin. That prolific versifier Lydgate translated the Psalms of David into ‘heroicall English metre’ for him, and thus they were sung in the royal chapel;[1165] the same writer dedicated his poem The Death of Hector to him, and it was at his request that this work was undertaken;[1166] the same is true of the Booke of the Nativitie of our Lady from the same unskilled pen.[1167] Hoccleve, too, wrote at the King’s bidding, and bore testimony to his master’s love of books, and his enjoyment of a ‘tale fresh and gay,’[1168] tastes which never extended beyond the ephemeral literature of a decadent age, though Hoccleve’s Regiment of Princes, which was dedicated to Henry when Prince of Wales, might boast of a distant classical ancestry.[1169] To Henry also Walsingham dedicated his Ipodigma Neustriæ[1170] and at his death we find him in possession of three books, the Chronicles of Jerusalem, the Voyage of Godfrey of Bouillon, and a copy of the Works of St. Gregory.[1171]

Henry V., however, had no interest in the new learning which heralded the Renaissance; his interests were confined to the productions of inferior court poets, and works on theological questions. Indeed theology, together with law, was the staple diet of the mediæval scholar. Humphrey’s originality lay in the fact that he looked to the works of the Greeks and early Romans for his mental food, and therein showed the distinction which lay between the old and new learning. It was to Greece and her literature that both Petrarch and Boccaccio had stretched out their hands, to the literature of an age which had passed out of the ken of the mediæval scholar. Students during the Dark Ages had known of Aristotle only through incomplete and erroneous Latin translations, Plato was to them but a name, most of the works of Cicero were lost, and only the later writers of decadent Rome were really familiar to them. The new movement taught that the secret of progress was to be found by enlarging the mental horizon, and by looking back to the great writers who had written before the advent of Christianity, and who taught the gospel of the goodliness of humanity—a gospel entirely unknown under the sway of the scholastic theologians. As by degrees a knowledge of Greek philosophy spread over Europe, men began to realise that there was a goodliness in life which they had not hitherto imagined. A love of beauty, a love of nature, a respect for humanity, were all found in the works of the Greek authors, and these were the ideas that revolutionised the mental attitude of the Western world. All this realisation of self, which we have found so strongly developed in Humphrey, was borrowed from ancient Greece; modern individualism is but a reversion to an earlier civilisation. All the grandeur and the joy of life and its surroundings flooded the imaginations of the new scholars; a definite basis from which to leap into the future was secured; the past was invoked to give birth to the future.

Thus the encouragement of scholars and the patronage of authors was not the distinguishing mark of the Renaissance; it was the nature of the studies thus encouraged which gave a tone to the movement; the Humanists—the students of the litteræ humaniores—were the heralds of the new era. Humphrey stood almost alone amongst the Englishmen of his time in encouraging the new kind of learning. Cardinal Beaufort, it is true, brought back Poggio Bracciolini, famous as a Humanist, and as a diligent searcher after the lost writings of classical days, from the Council of Constance, but he did not show any real appreciation of the movement which was mirrored in his great follower, and though he supplied books for the Cathedral Library at Canterbury, he himself seems to have had but little respect for classical studies.[1172] Poggio, though he soon tired of the somewhat chilling atmosphere of England, did not sever all connection with his English patron, and during the last year of the Cardinal’s life wrote to him two letters calling himself his ‘servitor et antiquus familiaris.’[1173] However, his impression of the intellectual life of England was not very favourable, and in later life he was accustomed to descant more on the wealth and the wonderful eating power of Englishmen, than on the men of learning he met during his sojourn in this country. As to the scholars, such as they were, he declared that they showed their learning in dialectics and disputations such as the old schoolmen had loved, not in a love of the doctrines of the new learning.[1174]

Nor was Bedford any more imbued than his uncle with the spirit of the new learning, though he showed considerable taste for artistically adorned manuscripts, and collected a library at Rouen, of which the basis was the fine collection of books which Charles V. had made at Paris. His tastes were almost entirely confined to works studied by the old schoolmen, and to French translations of Latin or late Greek authors. Thus we find a treatise by the Greek medical writer Galen on the Aphorisms of Hippocrates, another man of medicine, and a work by the Arabian astronomer Aboo-l-Hassan on the stars—both translated into French—amongst his books, not to mention that most beautiful Salisbury Breviary, which will always rank amongst the marvels of fifteenth-century French art.[1175] The only book of genuine classical interest which we find in his possession was a French translation of Livy, and this he presented to his brother Humphrey as more suited to his tastes than to his own.[1176]


Gloucester therefore struck out a new line of thought when he turned to the study of the Humane as well as the Divine letters, and laid posterity in England under an obligation, which it is slow to acknowledge. The impulse which led him to this course is impossible to discover. His natural endowments were not calculated to produce a scholar. His early active life was spent in camps and sieges, his lightness of character and volatile nature promised to make him a courtier and a politician, not a student; his many-sided political ambitions would presuppose an absorption which would forbid a cult of letters and learning, yet even amidst the distractions of court life, the tumults of war, and the disturbances of an eventful political career, he found time for study, and the encouragement of scholars.[1177] The fact that he was in many ways the typical Renaissance prince does not necessarily presuppose a natural aptitude for this rôle; his actions in this respect are more the result of the new influences to which he resigned himself, than the causes which led him to become a patron of letters. On the other hand, it is probable that in his early years his education was not neglected. We have shown reason to believe that Bale’s statement that he was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, is founded on fact, and that there he imbibed a love of learning, which later blossomed out into the cult of the new forms of study then spreading over Europe. His brother Henry was also a student at this University; indeed, all the four sons of Henry IV. were carefully educated, and showed an aptitude for learning.[1178] There are many circumstances, too, which point to the likelihood that Humphrey was destined for a less active career than his brothers. Though only three years younger than Thomas, and by one year the junior of John, he took no part in the active life of the kingdom in which they largely shared during the reign of Henry IV. Both these brothers held important administrative posts under their father, and the eldest of all, Henry, played no insignificant part before he succeeded to the throne. Humphrey alone of the four is never mentioned either in official document or by contemporary chronicler; he passed his time in seclusion and retirement far from the gathering storm which was even then threatening the safety of the House of Lancaster. Henry IV. was by no means lacking in interest in scholastic studies, and it is possible that he had destined his youngest son for an ecclesiastical career, in which these studies would rightly play a large part. In no other way can the absence of Humphrey from public life, long after the age for beginning an active career, be explained. Henry may have learnt the lesson of the dangers which had resulted from the long list of royal princes who descended from Edward III., and he may have wished to prevent a similar danger arising from his offspring by devoting one son to a career in which descendants were an impossibility. Certainly Humphrey, during this enforced seclusion, had ample opportunity for study and reflection, his education was more probably that of a scholar than of a politician.

Whatever may have been the plans of Henry IV. for his youngest son, they ceased to be effective on his death. Almost immediately after that event we find Humphrey carving out an active life for himself, and embarking on that varied and interesting career which was only to end with the tragedy of Bury. Yet the seeds had been sown. Never throughout his life was the scholar quite swamped by the politician; his scholarly instincts, nurtured in youth, survived to form a source of refreshment and interest in the days of political misfortune. Nevertheless this early training gives no clue to the originality of Humphrey’s genius as a scholar. Whence was it that he drew the inspiration which enabled him to begin a new era in the development of the human intellect in England? He had been trained in the dry-as-dust learning of the Middle Ages—no other system was then known in England—he had been brought up on a mental diet of law and theology seasoned with rhetoric; to our knowledge he never had any opportunity of imbibing the new ideas which slowly and feebly were climbing the Alps preparatory to the conquest of the Western world; at that time he had never been out of England, he was never to visit Italy. Yet stage by stage he outgrew the teaching of the ancient schoolmen, and reached out to pick the fairest flowers of Greek learning. In him we find a new spirit of inquiry, a desire for a wider knowledge of the human mind. He was a son of the Renaissance before ever that movement had sent its missionaries to the last outpost of mediæval lore. There was no teacher to point the way for Humphrey, and we must fall back on his inherent originality to explain the phenomenon. With no promptings from the scholars of the new methods, he devoted himself to their patronage; he himself became a teacher before ever he was taught. As an apostle of progress Humphrey stands alone among his fellow-countrymen, and we must hesitate to deny him a place amongst the honoured disciples of Petrarch. What Petrarch did for the world, Humphrey did for England.


Dead and cold as England was to the new message which the Renaissance had to teach humanity, it was natural that Humphrey should look to Italy for help in his endeavours to study the forces which were being reborn to give a character to the history of the future. Perhaps the most interesting page in his history, therefore, deals with his relations to the Italian humanists of his day; from them he borrowed something of the spirit which was then becoming the most important element in Italian life, something of that polish of refined scholarship which marks out the humanistic scholar from the student of the Middle Ages. The effect on English scholars of his time was visible, and Æneas Sylvius was not slow to notice it. Writing to Adam Moleyns in answer to a letter from that distinguished Englishman, he complimented him in somewhat condescending language on his style; he marvelled how the reformed Latin style had thus early reached England, and then proceeded to give praise where praise was due. ‘For this progress’—he wrote—‘thanks are due to the illustrious Duke of Gloucester, who zealously received polite learning into your country. I hear that he cultivates poets and venerates orators, and hereby many Englishmen have become really eloquent. For as are princes so are servants, who improve by imitating their masters.’[1179] Æneas showed no inclination to dwell on the virtues of Humphrey when narrating his relations with Jacqueline, so this praise from him deserves close attention, doubly so, as it must have been in no way pleasant to the recipient of the letter, who was one of the faction so bitterly opposed to Gloucester.

Humphrey, therefore, was instrumental in bringing the fruits of the Italian scholarship to England, and he did this in two ways. He induced some of those who had drunk of the new spring of intellectual life which flowed from the teaching of Chrysoloras to come to England and enter his service, and he also entered into communication with some of the leading humanists who remained in Italy, and employed them on translations of the Greek classics which were sent to England. In England Greek was an unknown language, even as it had been in Italy until the last decade of the fourteenth century, and it was only by means of translations made by men who had a competent knowledge of Greek, that the great philosophical treatises of Aristotle and Plato could be read by Gloucester and his friends. Italy at this time was embarking on that period in the history of Humanism which we may call the age of translation and arrangement, the age when a minute knowledge of the language of ancient Greece and a new critical faculty, born of the emancipation from the hereditary theology of the Middle Ages, produced a band of scholars who devoted their time to interpreting the ideas of the past to the awakening intelligence of the present. These men, with all their ardour for study, were not, and could not afford to be, entirely disinterested in their work; to live, they must be paid for their translations, and in an age when the art of printing had not come to simplify the reproduction of books, they were compelled to appeal to some particular patron to reward them for their toil, and to him in return they dedicated their books. Many such patrons were to be found among the princes of Italy, but outside that country they were not common, and Humphrey stood out prominently amongst those patrons who were not Italians. We cannot tell what first led him to embark on this career, for he had, it would seem, no knowledge of Italy or the Italians, when Poggio came to England, and he had probably at this time evinced no desire to embark on the most interesting phase of his later life. Not once does Poggio make even the most distant allusion to Gloucester, either during his visit to England or after his return to Italy in the autumn of 1423,[1180] and we cannot attribute this entirely to his connection with the Duke’s great rival.


Humphrey’s introduction to the Italian Humanists was due to his friendship with Zano Castiglione, Bishop of Bayeux, a Frenchman by birth, but descended from a famous Italian family. This prelate had visited England, and had there become acquainted with the man who was to be instrumental in bringing Italian scholarship to this country. A token of their friendship is still extant at Paris in a manuscript collection of the letters of Cicero presented by Zano to the Duke of Gloucester.[1181]

In 1434 Zano was sent to the Council of Basel as representative of Henry VI., and he took with him a commission from Humphrey to purchase for him as many books as he could, especially such as had been written by Guarino, the famous schoolmaster of Ferrara, and by Leonardo Bruni, the biographer of Dante and Petrarch, whose reputation had already reached the Duke in London.[1182] At Basel the Bishop came to know Francesco Picolpasso, Archbishop of Milan, a scholarly ecclesiastic, who had relations with all the leading Italian Humanists; and when he followed the adjourned Council to Florence, this acquaintance became particularly useful to him in view of his commission. In Florence Zano spent a year, and we gather from the statements of Italian scholars, later to be detailed, that he there devoted much of his time to singing the praises of the English prince who took such an interest in literary matters. Of his commission to buy books we hear no more, though it is probable that when he returned to England especially to see Humphrey,[1183] he did not go empty-handed. It is possible that Gloucester, though already a collector of books, had not as yet thought of becoming the direct patron of foreign scholars, and that his commission to Zano bore far other and more important fruit than he had contemplated. Thus his original interest in scholarship was moulded by the turn of events, and the chance which took Zano from Basel to Florence laid the foundations of one of the most important phases of the Duke’s career. From this time forward Humphrey continued to be in close relationship with several of the best-known Humanists of the Italian Renaissance.


The first of these scholars to correspond with the new English patron was Leonardo Bruni, better known by his title of Aretinus, taken from Arezzo, the city of his birth. We have no evidence that Zano’s visit was the direct cause of his connection with the Duke, but the fact that the latter had specially mentioned a desire for his works when Zano went to Basel points to a strong probability that this was the case. It is probable that Zano had sent over to England this author’s translation of Aristotle’s Ethics; at any rate, it was after reading it that Humphrey wrote and suggested that Bruni should undertake the Politics,[1184] and in due course they were translated and dedicated to the Duke. In a manuscript copy of this translation in the Bodleian Library we find the dedication, and following it a letter from the author to Gloucester, which is in no sense a dedicatory epistle, but evidently written after the despatch of the volume to its destination, and later placed at the beginning of a copy of the original work.

In this letter Bruni rejoices to hear of the arrival of his translation of the books of Aristotle, which he had undertaken at the Duke’s request and suggestion, and to know that both Gloucester’s desire, expressed in several letters, has been fulfilled, and his own promise redeemed. He is convinced that Gloucester will have already read the book, and he may be sure that he has therein read the very words of Aristotle. To Gloucester’s action is due any value to the world in general that this translation may have, for it was undertaken at his request, and finished under pressure from him. In its completed form it stands as a monument to Gloucester’s love of learning.[1185] Throughout this letter we can see the shadow of Gloucester’s character; eager and impetuous in matters political, he displayed the same characteristic when he turned his mind to scholarship and learning; the same enthusiasm which took him to Hainault led him to harass Bruni till the coveted book was ready. Perhaps his eagerness to keep this shifty humanist to his work was well advised, else he might not have got the book at all, for almost immediately afterwards the dedication was changed, and that which Bruni had declared would be a monument to Gloucester’s glory, became by a stroke of the pen a monument to the glory of Pope Eugenius IV.[1186] The reason for this sudden change of patron is probably to be found in the almost universal greediness of the Italian Humanists, though the gossiping old bookseller Vespasiano ascribes it to the fact that Bruni thought that his work was not sufficiently appreciated[1187]—perhaps a polite way of putting the same truth.


Leonardo’s own explanation of the incident is to be found in one of his letters, and this throws light on the origin of the connection which Humphrey about this time began with another well-known Italian, Pier Candido Decembrio. This scholar, a native of Vigevano, near Pavia, was at this time secretary to Filippo Maria Visconti of Milan, whose life he ultimately wrote. Already famous as a translator of the Greek classics, he now saw an opportunity of gaining an important patron, and wrote a letter to Humphrey, in which he dwelt at some length on the fame which the Duke had already attained in Italy as a patron of letters, owing to the untiring praises of him which Zano had sung. Having heard, he continued, that Bruni had dedicated his translation of Aristotle’s Politics to the Pope instead of to the Duke as he had promised, he had resolved to offer his services in his place, and to suggest that he might translate Plato’s Republic for the distinguished Englishman of whom he had heard so much, though he had never seen his face.[1188] Being personally unknown to Gloucester, Candido determined to get an introduction to his future patron, and so forwarded this letter to his friend Rolando Talenti, a noble youth of Milan, who was at that time at Bayeux, probably on some diplomatic errand.[1189] Talenti was willing to do his friend a kindness, and promptly wrote to the Duke, enclosing Candido’s letter, and strongly advising him to accept the offer therein contained.

This recommendation must have carried weight, although Talenti did not at once receive an answer to his letter. The anxious humanist could not brook delay, and though he had received assurance from his correspondent that his work would not be done in vain, he wrote once more to Talenti asking him to find out definitely from the Duke what he had decided to do with respect to his offer to work for him. It was obviously of considerable importance to Candido to know if his work was to procure any reward, for though he was to prove more faithful than Bruni, he was none the less greedy of gain.[1190] Talenti accordingly wrote once more to Gloucester, asking him to let him know his decision about the offer lately made to him.[1191] After characteristic delay Humphrey replied to Talenti in enthusiastic terms, saying that he would gladly welcome the translation of Candido, who would never have reason to regret the offer of his services to a foreign patron.[1192] With this communication he enclosed a reply to Candido, dating it February 7, the year, which is omitted, being probably 1439.[1193] Herein he gladly accepted the offer, and with his usual impetuosity urged his newly made friend to hasten the completion of the translation; he gave devout thanks that there was in Italy such a devoted band of scholars, who not only had restored the old style of the Latin tongue, which had been altogether lost, but also had brought to light those long-forgotten philosophers of Greece, and their invaluable maxims for good living. He concluded with a warm assurance of affection, and a hearty promise of acceptance of anything new which Candido or any one else should bring to his notice.[1194]

Talenti accordingly forwarded the Duke’s acceptance to Candido, and in two successive letters to him urged that scholar to be industrious and to hasten the work to its completion, so that his patron might be able to appreciate to the full the depth of his scholarship.[1195] Accordingly, Candido set to work with a will, and soon after wrote to Zano, telling him of his undertaking and announcing the completion of the fifth book. The Bishop of Bayeux was also to be used as an intermediary between the Italian scholar and the English prince, for in the same letter he was informed of the author’s intention to forward the translation, when completed, to him for transmission to Gloucester.[1196] Zano was delighted at the news, and praised his correspondent’s intention, assuring him of a speedy reward for his work, and ample recognition from his new patron.[1197] Both Talenti and Zano therefore showed no slight respect both for Gloucester’s literary taste and for his generosity to those who worked for him, and this in spite of the fact that they both knew the story of Bruni’s relations with the Duke. They would hardly have encouraged their friend to undertake this work had they not been amply assured of his receiving an adequate reward, and neither for a moment doubted the sincerity and ability of this English patron. The readiness with which Gloucester’s literary interests were ministered to in Italy proves that his reputation must have been very great, else the Italian humanists would not have been so eager to work for a prince who dwelt in a land which was regarded as the home of ignorance, and which visitors like Poggio Bracciolini had painted in such unfavourable terms.

Zano and Talenti were not the only Italians to correspond with Humphrey about Candido’s translation. The completed fifth book was intrusted to Francesco Piccolpasso, Archbishop of Milan, to be forwarded to England as a sample of the whole work. In his covering letter this new correspondent gave still further evidence of Gloucester’s high repute in Italy, telling him that ever since his brother Gerardo Landriani, then Bishop of Lodi, had returned from a visit to England, he had been fired with a desire to know that country, or at least to correspond with its most famous son. So we see that Zano was not the only one to introduce the Italian scholars to a knowledge of Gloucester’s literary tastes. Francesco then recapitulated the story of how Candido first thought of translating the Republic, when he heard that Bruni had been breaking his word, and added some words of commendation of the former, who, he said, was equally well versed in Greek and Latin. It was merely with the idea of pleasing Humphrey that Candido had undertaken the task of translating the Republic, of which the fifth book, the first to be translated, was now sent as a foretaste of the feast that was to come. Francesco was delighted to be commissioned to send to the Duke a work of such value, and he trusted that it would be approved, so that the translator might be inspired to continue his work. He urged him further to allow Candido to occupy the place lately held by Bruni, and, when this work should be completed, to give him other commissions, which he was sure would be right well performed. The letter closed with a petition to Gloucester to use his influence to restore peace to the Church.[1198]


This letter, though, written in the first place to please a friend, deepens our impression of the respect Humphrey had already obtained in Italy, and also bears witness to the desire of Candido to take the place of Bruni with regard to the Duke. It was therefore probably about this time that this last-named humanist wrote an expostulatory letter to the Archbishop of Milan, in which he betrayed his chagrin at having lost his English patron, and gave his version of the change of dedications, of which Candido had made such good use. He complained that he had received copies of letters written by Francesco to Gloucester, informing the Duke that he (Bruni) was dead, and to Candido slandering his good name; besides this, the Duke had been told that his former translator was a promise-breaker. In every case there were misstatements, prompted probably by Candido. In justification of this assertion he gave a summary of his relations with Gloucester, how the Duke had urged him to translate the Politics, because he was so sensible of the use that his earlier translation of the Ethics would be to students. This Bruni promised to do, and fulfilled his promise by sending the first copy of his work to his lordship, who had asked him to undertake the translation for the good of the community, and not that it might be dedicated to him; indeed it was unlikely that the dedication thereof could have given any pleasure to so great a prince. In conclusion, Bruni emphatically stated that he never had received a penny from Gloucester for the work he had done. ‘I never sold my studies, nor made merchandise of books.’[1199]

This last statement we may well doubt, else why should Bruni be so angered at Gloucester being wrongly informed of his death? The case was probably the reverse of what he stated, and he had calculated on obtaining double payment for his work by securing for it two patrons, who were so distant from one another that the deception would not be discovered. The story told by Candido and the Archbishop of Milan, and borne out by the statement of Vespasiano, is probably nearer the truth, though Candido himself seems to have behaved in a somewhat underhand way in trying to secure a monopoly of the Duke’s favours. At all events, henceforth Candido was Gloucester’s chief literary representative in Italy, and we can trace their relationship by means of their correspondence, of which a part has been preserved.

Considering the facts which had enabled Candido to replace Bruni in the service of Duke Humphrey, it is rather extraordinary that he had the temerity to forward the first sample of his work without an inscription to his new patron. This omission was promptly noted by Gloucester, and in his reply to the letter of the Archbishop of Milan he complained about it, and with memories of the action of Bruni fresh in his mind, he asked his correspondent to urge Candido not only to hasten the completion of the translation, but also not to forget to dedicate it as he had promised.[1200] He wrote much in the same strain to Candido, expressing some surprise that the book was not dedicated to him, but supposing that this was so because it was only a portion of the whole translation. Again he urged Candido to renewed efforts, and promised that his friendship would not be unprofitable.[1201] Candido replied to this in most effusive terms. Giving devout thanks for the existence of a prince endowed with such an excess of virtue, he replied that though the whole work was to be dedicated to Gloucester, yet three separate books were to be dedicated to three other friends; the fifth to Giovanni Amadeo, a lawyer of Milan; the sixth to Alfonso, Bishop of Burgos; and the last to the Archbishop of Milan.[1202] The fervour of the praises lavished on the Duke in this letter suggest a fear on the part of the writer that offence might be taken at these subsidiary dedications, and still further to propitiate the Duke another letter followed almost immediately, announcing the despatch of the first five books of the translated Republic, which were already read to the honour and glory of Humphrey not only throughout Italy, but also in Spain. Happy would he be were he able to place his gracious patron’s name in all his books.[1203]


The translation of the first five books had been sent according to promise to Talenti, who was to have them carefully copied and sent to the Duke. At the same time Candido had promised that, when the whole work was completed, he would have all the books copied into a single volume and sent to his patron, and showing some distrust of Gloucester’s appreciation of his work, had asked his friend to convey his assurances of devotion.[1204] In due course this portion of the translation reached its destination, bearing a long dedicatory epistle, in which Candido once more laid stress on the way Zano had made Gloucester’s name a household word amongst the Italian Humanists. The dedication concludes with an account of the origin of the translation, telling how it was originally the work of Chrysoloras, but by reason of his defective Latin style was passed on to the writer’s father, who died before its completion, leaving it to be finished by his son.[1205] This genesis of the translation probably explains why Candido was able so quickly to prepare the first five books, for they must have been completed some time before they were sent, if their contents were already known throughout Italy and also in Spain; most likely the fifth book, which he had first sent to Gloucester, was the only one of the first five which was entirely his own translation.

The Duke of Gloucester’s Autograph in his copy of Decembrio’s translation of “The Republic” of Plato.

Label on the fly-leaf of a book given by the Duke of Gloucester to the Oxford Library.


Gloucester’s acknowledgment of the first five books of the Republic shows him to have been so thoroughly imbued with the peculiar spirit of the Renaissance scholars, that it is well to give it in full. ‘We have received your longed-for letters with the books of Plato,‘ he writes, ‘which have given us much pleasure. Nothing could give us more pleasure, especially since they will reflect honour and glory on us, as you say. We are therefore very grateful to you for having done so much hard work in our name, whence both we and you will receive great praise. The books are of such a kind that they invite even the unwilling to read them; such is the dignity and grace of Plato, and so successful is your interpretation of him, that we cannot say to whom we owe most, to him for drawing a prince of such wise statesmanship, or to you for labouring to bring to light this statesmanship hidden and almost lost by our negligence. You have chosen a noble and worthy province which cannot be taken from you in any age, nor be lost by any forgetfulness, that is, if what the wisest men say be true, and glory is indeed immortal. We have read and re-read these books, and with such pleasure that we have determined that they shall never leave our side, whether we be at home or on military service, for if your translation cannot be compared to the divine eloquence of Plato, nevertheless in our opinion it is hardly inferior. These books shall be always kept at hand, so that we may ever have something to give us pleasure, and that they may be almost as counsellors and companions for so much of our life as is left to us, as was the wisdom of Nestor to Agamemnon, and that of Achates to Æneas. On the same page Plato and Candido can be read and admired together, and the latter, no less than ourselves, be seen labouring to increase our dignity. We exhort, and would compel you to labour hard at the completion of the other books which we await impatiently. Do not think that anything can give us more pleasure than that which relates to learning and the cult of letters. You have and shall have whatsoever you wish from us, who have always favoured your studies. We possess Livy and other eminent writers, and nearly all the works of Cicero which have been hitherto found. If you have anything of great value, we beg of you to tell us.’[1206]

This letter is a typical example of Humphrey’s style, and the Latin has an unexpectedly classical tinge, though this was doubtless the work of one of his secretaries. The sentiments betray a love of learning for its own sake, and a genuine pleasure, not only in the possession of this translation of the Republic, but also in reading and re-reading it, for Humphrey was never one of those ignorant book-collectors who are made to writhe under the scornful lash of Lucian of Samosata. Still more interesting is the almost childish desire for fame and glory, that desire to live in the memory of posterity. Though to us this seems small and unworthy of either a great prince or a famous patron of scholars, we must remember that the desire to establish an unforgetable name was typical of the earlier Humanists, and sprang from a far from ignoble motive. In the Middle Ages man had looked on life as a weary pilgrimage, a disagreeable though necessary preliminary to a life of eternal bliss; the men of the new world looked on the happy side of things, and rejoiced in the goodliness of that life which God had given them. Man’s actions, therefore, became more important—more to be praised or blamed as the case might be. Thus to live a famous life, and to be remembered after death, were among the chief desires of the scholars of the new learning, desires which became intensified when the gospel of man’s individuality was more clearly understood. The glorification of the individual was part of the glorification of the world; and before the cult of the world became a mere striving after sensual indulgence, this desire for glory was a worthy ambition. In Humphrey this ambition is not the last phase of a selfish egotism, as the story of his life might suggest, but part of that new spirit of self-realisation, which had led Petrarch and Boccaccio to seek for fame as the only justification for their existence.


Candido was well pleased with his patron’s praises, and was able to reply with the grateful news that the other five books had just been finished, though the transcribing of a copy for the Duke would still take some time, especially as all ten books were to be copied into one volume, with the translator’s latest additions and corrections. Every care was to be bestowed upon it, to make it one of the most elegant works in the Latin language.[1207] In the meantime, however, Candido was not idle, since he had already received a commission to act as Humphrey’s literary agent in Italy, for there was no hope of getting translations of the Greek classics, or even faithful copies of the works of Latin authors, in England. He had by him some books which Humphrey had ordered, and in their purchase he had had a free hand, as his patron had declared that he was not to be deterred by any price, though in their selection he was guided by Humphrey’s choice. The Duke had a clear idea as to what he wanted in the way of books, and was in no way inclined to submit to what Candido cared to advise. Accordingly he sent a list, of which the chief items were the works of Cornelius Celsus, the medical writer of the Augustinian age, the Natural History of the elder Pliny, the Panegyricon on Trajan of the younger Pliny, and the works of Apuleius, the famous pagan philosopher, whose chief attraction was probably his treatise on the philosophy of Plato, and as many of the works of Varro, the friend of Cicero, as could be found, especially his treatise De Lingua Latina[1208]—a list which showed considerable catholicity of taste. Other books, too, Gloucester had ordered, but they had seemingly not found favour, as fit objects of purchase, with Candido. The Duke, however, insisted on his choice, ‘although we know them to be wrong frequently, owing to an absurd interpretation of the authors, yet they cannot be disregarded, if only on account of their authority and their proved learning’; at any rate, Candido would not suffer from their purchase, for he was bidden to send the prices of the various books whether ready copied, or to be copied in the future, and the money would be forwarded to him through those Italian merchants who made banking one of the chief branches of their trade.[1209]

At a later date Humphrey sent the catalogue of his library to his correspondent, who was genuinely surprised at the wonderful variety of the books therein detailed, but he modestly suggested that it lacked at least a hundred books which were indispensable for a collection that aimed at such completeness, and which he was quite prepared to procure. ‘You know my diligence and trustworthiness in this matter,’ he wrote with the usual guile of the Italian humanist, ‘I who desire nothing but your honour and glory, and that your name be handed down to everlasting repute as far as I can make it so.’ Truly this man knew how to win the heart of Humphrey, and wanted more of those lucrative commissions from the open-handed Duke. He went on to explain that the books could not be bought in a day, but they could be ordered, so there would be always some treasure coming to hand with which he could delight his patron.[1210]

Gloucester welcomed this list of desirable books, and therefrom compiled another list of volumes which Candido was to purchase for him; the rest he declared were in his possession, though not mentioned in the catalogue he had sent lately. This last statement reads as if he were asserting his own power of criticism, and did not choose to have all the books that his friend pressed upon him. At the same time Humphrey wrote to Filippo Mario Visconti, explaining to him how he was using his secretary, so that no difficulties might be placed in the way of Candido’s purchases, and that access to the Ducal Library at Milan might be allowed him.[1211] Copyists were promptly set to work to fulfil the Duke’s order, but as there was ‘no small love of libraries’ in Italy, the work progressed slowly, for the scribes had more than they could do. However, in May 1442 a small parcel of books was handed to the Borromei merchants for transmission to Gloucester.[1212] About this time, too, Zano returned from Florence, bearing with him manifold messages of fidelity from Candido, which he delivered in person to the Duke.[1213]

The books arrived quite safely, and with them the copy of Candido’s translation of the Republic, which had been long delayed owing to the author’s illness at the time of the completion of the translation, which had prevented him from revising and correcting the text as he had wished.[1214] This last volume was delivered in person by Scaramuccia Balbo, a personal friend of the translator and a servant of the Duke of Milan.[1215] When writing about the final completion of the Republic, in a letter which probably accompanied the book, Candido gives us an insight into the scholarship of Duke Humphrey. Casting aside all personal appeals or unctuous flatteries, he writes as one scholar to another, and declares that he had neither added to nor detracted from the work of Plato, he had simply put that work within the reach of those who knew no Greek.[1216] Humphrey was equally restrained when acknowledging the receipt of the completed work, declaring that he had had an immense desire to study the ‘great and broad mind of Plato, which indeed we find to be a heavenly constellation.’ At the same time he recorded the arrival of nine other volumes, and told Candido that he awaited the rest with great impatience, most especially Cicero’s De Productione et Creatione Mundi; the complete works of Aulus Gellius, the author of the Noctes Atticæ, a copy of which was included in the books given to Oxford in 1439; Cerelius, De Natali Die;[1217] Appuleius, De Magia; and the books of Lucius Florus. Amongst others, he desired Columella’s famous treatise on ancient agriculture, and that on architecture by Vitruvius; the works of the geographer, Pomponius Mela; Ptolemy’s Cosmographia and his treatise on the heavenly bodies; Pomponius Festus, De Vocabulis, and a book on the dignities and insignia of the Roman Empire.[1218] In a later letter he thanked Candido for sending a selection of the books he had ordered, together with some declamations written by the translator himself.[1219] These last were probably the two volumes of letters dealing with the controversy which had raged round Candido’s translation of the Ethics, which the author had dedicated to his English patron.[1220]

Four more books followed these in quick succession, but they were acknowledged in a somewhat curt letter in which Gloucester told his correspondent not to confide any more books to the merchants who had brought them, as they had been unduly long in fulfilling their commission.[1221] A year passed without further interchange of letters, and then the Duke wrote reproachfully, complaining of Candido’s long silence and the cessation of the supply of books. With thinly veiled sarcasm he attributed this to ill-health on the part of his agent, and concluded: ‘On this account we have determined to write this letter to you, in which we ask you to complete the work you have begun, and not to let our long silence about the reward of your labours affect you, for in the end, perhaps, you will get what you thought at the beginning, as we have never let any one who has done work for us go unrewarded.’[1222]


The tone of Gloucester’s letter is distinctly arrogant, but he was undoubtedly right when he conceived that it was a matter of reward which had risen up between him and his correspondent. On receiving the completed translation of the Republic he had written to Candido, saying that he wished to reward him for his exertions, and had decided to settle on him a salary of one hundred ducats a year. Having made all the preliminary arrangements, it occurred to him that this might give offence to Candido’s master, the Duke of Milan. In fear, therefore, of doing his friend more harm than good by this action, he had determined to postpone the idea till he had consulted Candido himself, whom he had asked to give his opinion.[1223] In a later letter Humphrey had written again to much the same effect, saying that he feared that Candido distrusted his honest realisation of the obligation he owed him. He urged him not to listen to empty rumours, and repeated the substance of what he had said before.[1224] It seems that Candido refused this offer, and in its place desired to be given what he called ‘Petrarch’s Villa’—possibly the house once owned by Petrarch at Gavignano near Milan. In making this request he was probably influenced by the fact that the scholar Filelfo had just received such a gift from Duke Filippo Maria, and by a desire to be equal with this great rival, who had so lately come to Milan. Be this as it may, Humphrey ignored his request, not vouchsafing an answer one way or the other. All this Candido stated in his answer to the Duke’s complaint of silence, and he pointed to his disinterested services in the past, and to the way he had spent three long years in translating the Republic, merely to win his patron’s friendship. It was not forgetfulness, but fear, caused by the Duke’s ignoring his request, that had induced his long silence, and in refutation of Gloucester’s suggestion of failing strength, he pointed to the fact that he was not yet forty years old, an age when Plato declared that a man was not past his prime. For himself, he was ready to continue to serve his old patron, and though busy at Rome of late, he had, during the time of silence, secured Columella’s treatise on agriculture and all the works of Apuleius in an emended transcript, besides other works, but since exception to sending them by merchants had been taken, there was no means of despatching them to their destination. If a means of conveyance were to be suggested by Gloucester, he would gladly avail himself thereof. This letter of great dignity and of veiled reproach ended on a pathetic note. ‘It is your silence, not the fear of no reward, that disturbs me, so I will not ask of you anything but friendship and kindness; my fidelity I will keep unshaken, and though my affairs are in no sound condition, I will pass that over. Nothing can be worse than to lose your favour.’[1225]

Thus ends one of the most interesting series of letters of the period, and we are left in the dark as to the ultimate decision of the matter. It seems probable, from the absence of any further letters, that Humphrey never replied to this, though the obvious loss of letters earlier in the correspondence makes this deduction inconclusive. If Candido’s statements are true, the Duke appears in a very unfavourable light. Some payments, of course, must have been made by him, and it is possible that they were sufficiently large to wipe out any obligation he might owe to the man who had worked so well for him, but it is equally possible that the exceeding liberality, of which he makes boast, was mostly confined to words. Instability—that canker which lay at the root of the ‘Good Duke’s’ character—had again asserted itself. He had disappointed Bruni of his hopes, he now did the same by Candido. Is this a true estimate of his relations with the Italian Humanists? We must remember that as a race these men were proverbially greedy, and that in both cases we have no definite statement of Humphrey’s case. How far with respect to Candido was the danger of alienating Filippo Maria of Milan a reality? More perhaps than we might think, for a few months after Gloucester’s death we find Candido petitioning for some recognition of his services from the governors of Milan, and he bases his claim on long and faithful service to the Visconti, to serve whom he had refused and contemned many valuable efforts made by both Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and the King of Spain.[1226] When it served his purpose, therefore, Candido stated the case more in favour of his English patron than his last letter would lead us to believe possible.

We can form no exact estimate of the number of books sent over by Candido to Gloucester. We hear of the safe arrival of at least thirty-one,[1227] and there is mention of many more in the correspondence. For the most part they were books by Latin authors, and those not always of the Golden Age of Latin literature. However, they show a great advance on the studies of the Middle Ages, and display a wonderful breadth of interest. We have no evidence that it was for practical purposes that Humphrey evinced a peculiar interest in agriculture, but his known liking for astrology is represented, and his wish to possess the treatise of Vitruvius on Architecture shows that he had an intimate knowledge of the writings of the past. Of these books and their indication of the tastes of their owner more will be said later.


Humphrey was acquainted with other Italian scholars less famous than Bruni and Candido. Among these was Piero del Monte, a learned Venetian, who had been a pupil of Guarino, and had studied at the Universities of Paris and Brescia. Appointed apostolic protonotary to Eugenius IV., he was sent to England as papal collector about 1434, being recommended to Cardinal Beaufort, who does not seem to have taken any interest in his scholarly visitor.[1228] Unlike Poggio, however, Piero became acquainted with Humphrey, of whom he conceived a very high opinion. On his return to Italy at the end of his mission, he dedicated to the Duke a moral treatise, which was the solitary product of his pen, if indeed a work, in which Guarino, Francesco Barbaro, and Andrea Giuliano were all collaborators,[1229] can legitimately be put down to any one man’s authorship. The title runs ‘Petrus de Monte ad illustrissimum principem Ducem Gloucestrie de virtutum et viciorum inter se differentia,’ and the dedicatory epistle is full of Gloucester’s praises. In this case we have no reason to suspect the genuineness of the laudatory remarks, for the writer was not one of the regular Italian translators and authors who looked to secure further employment by means of the fulsomeness of their dedications. Piero had a secure position and a fixed salary, and was compelled to bow down to no prince to eke out a precarious livelihood.

The very first words of the dedication strike the right note of genuine friendship, when Humphrey’s position as a prince among men by reason of birth is set aside, and his true title to respect is based on his scholarly interests. ‘You have no real pleasure,’ writes Piero, ‘apart from the reading of books.’ Still more stress is laid on the Duke’s energy, which enabled him to take an active part in the affairs of state, as well as to be a man of letters—a very unusual combination, so says the author. In this respect he is compared to Julius Cæsar, who waged war and wrote his Commentaries at the same time; to Augustus, and to Theodosius, who fought and judged by day, and wrote books by night, for, unlike his compatriots, he did not spend his leisure in hunting or pleasure, but preferred to ponder over books in some library.[1230] This versatile activity which characterised Humphrey was part of the Renaissance spirit which brightened his imagination. The men of the new birth were vigorous and enthusiastic in the days of their mental youth, no obstacle daunted them, no branch of life’s interests seemed unworthy of their attention. It is the astounding versatility of these men of the Renaissance which causes our wonder, even more than their enlightened originality, and it was the same inspiration which enabled men like Leonardo da Vinci to be painters, poets, musicians, inventors, and scientists all in one, that also enabled the English Duke to combine an active military career and vast political ambitions with an enthusiastic study of the ancient classics.

The latter half of Piero’s dedication again lays stress on Humphrey’s many interests, his delight, ‘not only in one art and science, which might be considered sufficient, but in nearly all of them.’ We also get an interesting sketch of Humphrey as he appeared to a man who had spent much time in his society. His power of discussing literary matters, we are told, was great, and the tenacity of his memory for all he both read and heard was astounding, and so accurate that he could quote chapter and verse in support of his statements. His kindness to Piero had been very great, and it was in memory of the happy days spent in his company that the present work was hesitatingly, yet hopefully, dedicated to him.[1231]

After Piero had returned to Italy he seems to have kept up a correspondence with his friend in England, at least so we gather from the one letter which survives. Indeed, Humphrey had commissioned him to procure something for him in Italy, books for his library probably, though Piero, it seems, forgot what he had been asked to do. However, on his own initiative he got some manuscripts copied for the Duke, though we have no evidence that they were ever despatched.[1232] It is to be deplored that this correspondence has not been preserved even to the imperfect extent that the letters which passed between Humphrey and Candido have survived. In the latter case the connection was between master and servant, between employer and employed, who had no personal knowledge of each other. In the case of Piero del Monte the relationship was of a different order. Two scholars with similar tastes and aspirations had struck up a friendship based on a strong intellectual sympathy, and the mercenary motives, which obtruded themselves where Candido was concerned, were here absent. We can listen to the praise of Del Monte without any nauseating suspicion of the reality of the sentiments expressed.


Yet another Italian scholar do we find sending books from Italy to Humphrey in the person of Lapo da Castiglionchio, a pupil of Filelfo, and a great translator of Lucian, Xenophon, Isocrates, Demosthenes, and Plutarch. His abilities were recognised by his contemporaries as of the highest order, and for his work of translation he possessed the essential equipment of an excellent Latin style; but a premature death cut short what promised to be a brilliant career. Lapo was one of those numerous poor scholars, who were compelled to appeal to powerful and wealthy patrons for the means of subsistence, and he numbered among these Eugenius IV., Cosimo de’ Medici, and the Cardinals Vitelleschi, Cesarini and Orsini, ultimately becoming secretary to the papal court.[1233] It was through Zano that he came to think of Gloucester as a possible patron, and in both the dedications, which he inscribed to the Duke, he made mention of the Bishop. Of the Lives of Plutarch translated by Lapo, at least one, the Life of Artaxerxes, was dedicated ‘Ad Illustrissimum Principem Enfridum, Gloucestrie Ducem et Pembrochie Comitem,[1234] and his original treatise, Comparatio Studiorum et Rei militaris, is addressed to the same person. The question discussed in this second work is one of great difficulty, so says the author in his dedicatory preface, and fittingly inscribed to one who is renowned not only in England, but also in France, Germany, Spain, ‘Besia,’[1235] and Italy, as a famous soldier, and who at the same time surpasses all other contemporary princes in ‘learning, eloquence, and the humane studies.’ With all humility the attempt to compare these two spheres of human activity is therefore submitted to his criticism. Together with this treatise Lapo sent ‘three orations of Socrates,’ one of which instructed youth in the way of virtue, whilst the other two dealt with the relations of prince and subject, all of which the translator thought would be useful to one who had the charge of a youthful king, and was busied with the government of a great kingdom.[1236]

The Life of Artaxerxes was translated for the Duke at a later date than this, and together with it Lapo sent other translations from the Greek of Plutarch, including the Lives of Theseus, Romulus, Solon, Publicola, Pericles, Fabius Maximus, Themistocles, Camillus, and Aratus. The dedication is too highly coloured to be taken seriously, and the list of virtues possessed by the Duke, according to the conversation of Zano as recorded by the author, only speaks to the writer’s ingenuity. Yet there are some signs of real feeling beneath this fulsome flattery, and the praise accorded the Duke for his interest in all study, especially that of the humanities, rings true. It tells how Humphrey devoted to the acquisition of learning much time that others spent in feasting and pleasure, and how therein he resembled some of the most celebrated men of the past, both Greeks and Romans. This alone would account for Lapo’s decision that, though the men of the present compared very poorly with those of the past, an exception must be made in the case of the ‘illustrious Duke of Gloucester.’[1237] The sifting of the chaff from the wheat in this dedication is not so hard a task as it might at first seem. Zano had evidently spoken in no measured terms of the greatness of his princely friend, and the literary leanings of this patron had appealed to the inflammable imaginations of the Italian scholars. Lapo was speaking with knowledge when he alluded to the Duke’s love of learning, of hearsay only when he embarked on a personal and political eulogy, and whilst we may accept as genuine his admiration of Gloucester’s scholarship, we must ignore his statements as to his patron’s other virtues. Further evidence as to the relations between Lapo and Humphrey we do not possess, though doubtless, did we but know it, a correspondence passed between them. Castiglionchio at any rate was not the least of that band of Italian scholars who acknowledged this English patron.

The list of those men who worked for Duke Humphrey in Italy ends with the name of Antonio Pasini of Todi, well known for his Latin translations of Plutarch, which were much sought after, and were frequently reproduced by the early Italian printers, there being at least seven complete editions of them between 1470 and 1558. His translation of the Life of Marius was dedicated to the Duke, and in his preface we find that he, like so many of his fellow-scholars, had been induced to work for him by the way Zano had spoken of his patronage of learning. It seems, too, that it was due to Zano that Humphrey possessed so great a military reputation in Italy, which is alluded to by nearly all his Italian scholar friends. Still more is said in a somewhat fulsome strain about the kindness and generosity of the Duke, and the usual eulogy of his literary tastes is naturally emphasised.[1238] This somewhat trite and commonplace effusion is the least interesting of all the dedications to Gloucester still extant: there is a servility and a lack of genuine feeling which shines through the flattering words. Of all the Italians, Pasini wrote most obviously for lucre and not for love.


Besides the professional Italian Humanists Humphrey numbered at least one of the princes of Italy amongst his friends and correspondents, for in the Vatican Library there is preserved a copy of a letter written by him to Alfonso, King of Aragon and Naples. This prince, though of Spanish origin, had asserted his right to the crown of Naples, and had become more Italian than the Italians themselves, just as a later Spanish importation in the Chair of St. Peter was to be. He was one of the most devoted patrons of the Renaissance in Italy, converting his court into an assembly of scholars, and even when on a campaign refusing to be separated from his beloved books. To this typical prince of the Italian Renaissance Humphrey wrote as a man of like sympathies, dating his letter from Greenwich on July 12, 1445. The tone of this letter would lead us to believe that the two princes had already corresponded, and that some agent or follower of the King of Naples had lately visited the Duke, who strangely enough praises his correspondent in very similar terms to those used by Lapo da Castiglionchio of himself, alluding to the great reputation which Alfonso possessed both as a soldier and as a scholar. Chancing to be reading a French translation of Livy when Philip Boyl arrived,[1239] he happened on a passage that dealt with learning, which convinced him that the book would form an ideal present for Alfonso, and he accordingly sent it to him as a token of his great esteem.[1240] No present could be more acceptable to the King of Naples, who, it is said, treated one of the bones of Livy, sent to him by the Republic of Venice, as a mediæval churchman would have treated the relic of a saint. Strangely enough, another great prince of the new learning presented a copy of Livy to Alfonso, for this was the present with which Cosimo de’ Medici made a friend of a former opponent.[1241] The copy which Humphrey sent was probably that one which Bedford had presented to him, and which is now in the Bibliothèque de Sainte Geneviève at Paris; for when Charles VIII. of France invaded Naples, Alfonso’s fine library was dispersed, and it is therefore possible that this item found its way back to the land of its origin by this circuitous route.


Humphrey was not content merely to correspond with the Italian Humanists; he brought several of them over to England to assist him in the study of the books he procured from their fellow-countrymen. So well known was this custom of his, that Æneas Sylvius, when writing to Sigismund of Austria, alluded to it in laudatory terms.[1242] No more striking evidence of the great reputation which the Duke of Gloucester possessed in Italy is to be found, than the way that this distinguished scholar, who, as far as we know, was personally unknown to him, on more than one occasion alluded to his literary qualities. Of the foreigners whom we find in connection with Humphrey from time to time some mention must be made of Vincent Clement, who represented him for some time at the papal court. A Spaniard by birth, but an Italian by education, Vincent was a man of considerable scholarly interests, a friend of Gloucester’s chancellor Beckington, and at one time favoured by Henry VI., who recommended him to Oxford as a suitable recipient of academic honours.[1243] A certain Maufurney, of French origin, acted as Humphrey’s private secretary for a considerable time, and in that capacity received the honour of naturalisation in 1426.[1244] Also among the Duke’s secretaries we find Antonio di Beccaria, a native of Verona, who had studied under that prince of Renaissance schoolmasters, Vittorino da Feltre. He was one of Filelfo’s many friends, and devoted his attention to writing erotic verse and to the translation of Greek authors, amongst whom mention may be made of Dionysius Periegetes, whose geographical poem appeared in a Latin translation under the title of ‘De Situ Orbis.[1245] For the Duke of Gloucester Beccaria translated several of the less well-known treatises of St. Athanasius, which are contained in two volumes now bound as one, and preserved in the British Museum.[1246] At the end of each an inscription by Humphrey records that they were translated for him by Antonio, his secretary, but some words in the opening preamble of the second volume lead us to believe that this latter work was finished after the translator had returned to his native land.[1247] Yet another of Antonio’s translations of Athanasius—in this case the famous tract against the Arian heresy—was dedicated to Humphrey,[1248] who, however, did not employ this secretary for theological purposes alone.

The Renaissance scholar had wide interests, and from Athanasius Antonio turned at the bidding of his master to the translation into Latin of one of Boccaccio’s works. This was one of the poet’s minor poems, probably little read at the present day, though not without its importance in the fifteenth century. The ‘Corbaccio’ or ‘Laberinto d’Amore’ is a bitter tirade against women, and is described by the translator as ‘Corvaccium adversum mulieres’ with a commendable frankness, for which he apologises to the sex generally towards the end of his dedicatory letter. It was written originally for the purpose of humiliating a certain lady who had not welcomed Boccaccio’s advances, and it may be possible that it was with somewhat similar feelings that Duke Humphrey bade his secretary translate the work, though Antonio is at some pains to emphasise that it was the literary form, not the sentiments, that appealed to his master.[1249] The existence and the origin of the translation, which have been hitherto unknown, throw considerable light on Gloucester’s literary tastes, and we gather from the wording of the dedicatory epistle addressed to him, that he had a considerable knowledge of the Italian writings of this famous scholar, and been especially anxious for a translation of this particular poem. Though this is the only Italian work we know to have been translated for him, its existence suggests that it was not a unique example, and that, unlike most Renaissance scholars, the Duke took an interest in Italian literature, and refused to ignore the poetry of Boccaccio in favour of his scholarly works, as did Villani and Domenico of Arezzo when selecting that poet’s niche in the temple of fame.

Antonio’s dedication follows the worthy traditions of other Italian writers, and exalts Duke Humphrey in no measured terms, but it is almost entirely confined to a description of his literary tastes, and passes over his personal virtues and political triumphs. The translator knew England well, and was fully conscious of his patron’s unique position in that country. He describes him as learned in the humane letters, and well versed in the literature of other countries besides his own. He touches on his knowledge of history past and present, his energy in procuring translation of the Greek classics, not sparing trouble or expense; his diligent study, which led him to waste no moment of his time; but the greatest stress is laid on the fact that in an age of darkness he shone forth as the one true light. Julius Cæsar and Augustus might deserve their meed of praise as students and patrons in times when to be unlearned was a disgrace, but to Humphrey fell the greater glory of having recalled scholarship and literature ‘from death unto life’ at a time of literary decadence and decay.[1250] Undoubtedly Antonio was fully justified in selecting this point of view as the most important aspect of his master’s career, and it shows that the problem, whence came the inspiration which led the Duke to become a patron of letters and a friend of the new learning, was as inexplicable to his contemporaries as it is to us.


One of the best known of Gloucester’s Italian followers in England was the man whose name, obviously partly borrowed from the famous Roman author, varies as it occurs in different places. On the title-page of his history it appears as ‘Titus Livius Forojuliensis,[1251] whilst in an official document of the year 1437 he is called ‘Titus Livius de Fralovisiis de Ferraria.’[1252] He has been called in modern times ‘Tito Livio of Forli’[1253] and ‘Tito Livio of Friuli,’[1254] but we have his own statement as evidence that he was born at Ferrara.[1255] He is described as ‘poet and orator’ of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and himself tells us that poverty and love of travel drove him to leave his native place, and to come to England, where he applied to Humphrey for patronage and support. By him he was welcomed and honoured, and it was at the suggestion of his patron that he undertook to write the Vita Henrici Quinti, which still remains one of the most important authorities for the reign of that King.[1256] He must have been in Gloucester’s service before 1437, for on March 7 of that year his patron secured his naturalisation by letters-patent.[1257] For long it was thought that this scholar who settled in England was totally unknown to the humanists of his native land,[1258] but it now appears that he was a correspondent of Pier Candido Decembrio. From a still extant letter of his to this translator we gather, that he was in communication with certain humanists in Italy, and that he had a complaint against some Italian prince, which probably was the original reason for his leaving Italy. He showed himself to be interested not only in literary studies, but also in physics and medicine, and was the subject of compliments on the part of the scientists of Tolsa. Like his master, he commissioned Candido to procure him books, mentioning as his chief desiderata the works of Celsus, the distinguished writer on rhetoric, agriculture, and medicine, whose treatise De Medecina is the only product of his pen still extant, and of Galen, the Greek physician, who was patronised by Marcus Aurelius.[1259] Of his relations with Humphrey, beyond the bare facts already stated, we know nothing, but it is interesting to find among the followers of the ‘Good Duke’ the first Italian who contributed anything towards the study of English history—the precursor of the Italian Polydore Vergil, who came to England as a papal collector, and stayed to write the history of the English people.


The interest that Livius—to use the name by which we have quoted him as an authority for the reign of Henry V.—showed in medical lore was only a reflection of one of the branches of knowledge which attracted his patron, for throughout his life Humphrey studied both the theory and practice of medicine. Many medical works are to be found in the list of the books that he gave to Oxford, and the description of his own health, which is preserved in the Dietarium de Sanitatis Custodia, already cited, probably owes its immense detail to his proclivities in this direction; indeed, it is conceivable that this should be considered as a scientific treatise, more than as a faithful report of the Duke’s health. The author of this dietary was one Gilbert Kymer, who seems to have held an important position in the household of the Duke of Gloucester—‘Celsitudinis vestre clericum,’ as he is called by the University of Oxford.[1260] It was this Kymer who was responsible for conveying to Oxford the gift of books made in 1439;[1261] and he it was whom the University petitioned to use his influence with the Duke at a time of internal trouble,[1262] and only a few months before Gloucester’s death the same University re-elected this physician to be Chancellor, in order that he might suggest any steps which they might take to give pleasure to their friend and constant patron.[1263] Yet another physician was an inmate of Gloucester’s house, for he took steps to bring over from Italy Giovanni dei Signorelli, a native of Ferrara, whom he attached to his household in this professional capacity, and whose naturalisation he secured in 1433.[1264]

With the name of this man ends the long list of Italian scholars and students with whom Humphrey came in contact. They are sufficiently numerous to give him the proud title of being the first Englishman to bring the Renaissance influence to this country by introducing the learning of Italy to his fellow-countrymen. His patronage of letters had given him a great reputation in the Italian peninsula, for apart from the flowery praises of those who sought his financial sympathy, the fact remains that he was well enough known to be cultivated by men who could find patrons in almost every town in Italy, and this at a time when communication with any one at such a distance was arduous and dangerous. Humphrey renounced the circumscribed limits of the old schoolmen, and appreciated the new learning and the new spirit thereby engendered, yet he was perhaps not wholly conscious of the great step he had taken. When he first brought Italian scholars and Italian scholarship to his native land, he originated a movement which has not ceased to have its influence even in the twentieth century, though many may be as unconscious of the true origin of this movement, as was he of its far-reaching effects.


Had the Duke of Gloucester confined his patronage to scholars of foreign birth, and taken no part in the intellectual life of England as a whole, he would deserve only a passing mention by those who would trace the development of English thought. His praises, however, were not sung by Italian humanist and French ecclesiastic alone. In England he was the acknowledged leader in the world of letters, the centre round which native scholar and poet alike revolved, and his patronage was extended to all who took an interest in intellectual pursuits. He therefore became the medium of introducing the new ideas from Italy to the English scholars, though it must be admitted that the latter were very slow to accept the message of the new movement. They were reared in an entirely different atmosphere to the Italians, and in most cases showed little or no interest in the new learning. Even Wheathampsted of St. Albans, who seems in some ways to have acted as the Duke’s literary adviser, showed but scant sympathy with the scholarship fostered by his friend and patron. On the whole, it is probable that this Abbot was more a political than a literary friend to Gloucester, and it has been considered significant that he resigned the Abbacy in 1440, just when his friend and supporter was losing his hold on the politics of the country.[1265] Wheathampsted, however, was associated with the Duke in literary matters, and was employed by him to adorn and increase his collection of books, though our authority for this statement seems to suggest that this was only part of his policy of securing his patron’s favour.[1266] He showed a distinct interest in books apart from his relations with Duke Humphrey, himself building a library for his monastery out of his own pocket,[1267] and presenting at least one book to the students at Oxford, probably to the foundation of Gloucester College, which was connected with the House of St. Albans.[1268] From time to time we find gifts of books to Humphrey entered in the accounts of the monastery, one of which alone cost £6, 13s. 4d.,[1269] a fact which may help us to estimate the enormous sums which the Duke must have spent in collecting his great library. On another occasion we hear of the gift of three books to the Duke of Gloucester, one of them being a Cato Glossatus, which we may identify with the Catonem Comentatum presented to Oxford in 1443,[1270] probably an annotated copy of Cato’s famous treatise De Re Rustica. The other two books of this gift were of the Abbot’s own compilation,[1271] probably two parts of his three-volume work, the Granarium de Viris Illustribus, which we also find included in the Oxford gifts.[1272] From his connection with Wheathampsted and his Abbey of St. Albans Humphrey may have imbibed that love of astrology which was so unfortunately shared by his wife, but there is no recorded gift of a work on this subject to him, though Bedford received a treatise of this kind at the hands of these monks, who were famous for the study of the occult sciences.[1273]


Amongst monkish scholars to be found in the Duke’s following was John Capgrave, a native of Lynn, in Norfolk. He studied at Oxford, Cambridge, and London, and was for a time a tutor in the first-named University, ending his days as a member of the Augustinian community in its monastery at Lynn. He was a prolific writer on theological and historical subjects, and also a composer of English verse, into which he translated a Life of St. Catherine of Alexandria, attributed by some to St. Athanasius.[1274] He is said to have been intimate with Humphrey, who retained him to discuss matters of philosophy when the mood was upon him.[1275] It is interesting to note that Capgrave was one of the first monkish chroniclers to use the vulgar tongue for historical purposes, and his Chronicle of England is one of the most useful contributions to the history of his times still extant. This adoption of English as a medium for the writing of history casts an interesting gleam of light on the position of Duke Humphrey in the Renaissance movement, one of the most important aspects of which was the abolition of ‘Christendom’ as a political term, and the development of the nationalities of Europe, a development which is mirrored by the adoption of the vernacular languages for scholarly purposes.

It was probably at the instance of Humphrey that the Chronicle of England was compiled, as well as the Commentary on Genesis which was dedicated to him. To this book, of which the original copy is preserved in the Library of Oriel College, Oxford, is prefixed a dedication to Duke Humphrey, in which he is described as the extirpator of heresy and the protector of the poor. The author goes on to say that no one was so worthy as Gloucester to receive the gift of such a book, for ‘flourishing in the vigour of a most subtle intellect you give yourself, as is reported, with the greatest earnestness to the study of the works of ancient authors.’ Most especially was the Duke famous for his studies in the Scriptures, and, much in the spirit of the Italian Humanists, Capgrave thanks God that such a prince should devote himself to the pursuit of knowledge, especially in an age when even ecclesiastics abandon the cloister for the field of politics, and without studying themselves, discourage studies in other people.[1276] Had he set out to paint Humphrey in relation to his times, this author could not have drawn the picture more accurately than he has here done. The scholars of the Middle Ages had lost all traces of enthusiasm; their scholarship was in that state of decay which preceded its entire abolition. To such a state of affairs came Humphrey, the first of that long line of laymen who were to usurp the place which the Church could no longer hold in the vanguard of the pursuit of knowledge. The domination of the ecclesiastical mind over the intellectual development of the world was about to pass away; no longer would it be possible for a Gregory the Great to order the destruction of a library of ancient classics, for a poet such as Alcuin of York to declaim against heathen authors, or for any one to cry in the words of Gregory of Tours, ‘Let us shun the lying fables of poets, and forgo the wisdom of sages at enmity with God, lest we incur the doom of endless death by sentence of our Lord.’ Humphrey and Capgrave were both faithful sons of the Church in which they had been born, yet they did not hesitate to denounce the scholarship of the mediæval ecclesiastics which had developed into a science of superstition, and to herald a new era in which knowledge was to be the birthright of all men, a means whereby they might perfect their lives by a realisation of the goodliness of humanity.

Capgrave presenting his Commentary on Genesis to the Duke of Gloucester.

An equally interesting feature of this dedication is that Capgrave commends this commentary on Genesis to his patron on the ground that in it is to be found the science of judging literature.[1277] The new science of theology was to discard the crutches of tradition, and to take its place side by side with the other interests of the human mind. No longer was it to be a science apart, but rather one branch of a great and growing literature, which had for its object the improvement of man’s state, both mentally and morally. In these words of Capgrave may we not see some indication of that critical faculty, which plays so large a part in the new birth of the mind of man? That Humphrey could be addressed after this manner clearly shows the position that he held among those who aspired to more freedom of thought; it is significant that a theological treatise should be dedicated to him on the ground that in it full play was given to the critical faculty.

It seems likely from the wording of the dedication of this Commentary on Genesis, that Capgrave was not at that time patronised by Humphrey, for he alludes to the Duke’s love of learning as a matter of report and not of personal knowledge. Probably this book and its dedication served as an introduction for its author, even as the Republic of Plato had served for Pier Candido Decembrio, and from the autograph at the end we gather that it was personally presented by Capgrave in the year 1438. We have no other work by Capgrave with a dedication to Gloucester, though four books written by this author, including this same copy of the Commentary on Genesis, were presented to Oxford; yet we know of one which would have been of immense interest had it survived, for it seems an undoubted fact that Capgrave wrote a Vita Humfridi Ducis. In his De Illustribus Henricis he tells us that such a work was in contemplation,[1278] and it was known to exist in the days of Bale and Pits, the last of whom declares that in his time it formed part of the Library of Balliol College, Oxford.[1279]

Among other English authors patronised by Duke Humphrey we must place Nicholas Upton, a Fellow of New College, Oxford, who dedicated his work De Studio Militari to ‘Excellentissimio et illustrissimo Principi meo singulari, Humfrido.[1280] It is a work of heraldic rather than of military interest, and bears more on the public than on the literary side of Gloucester’s character. Also a host of quite forgotten men, mostly clerics, circled round this famous prince and patron, such as John Homme, Canon of Hereford, and at one time the Duke’s secretary;[1281] Richard Wyot, his Dean of the Chapel;[1282] John Everdon, who successfully petitioned for a Canonry in the Collegiate Church of Hastings;[1283] and one Henry Abingdon, who for services rendered received an annuity of £8 per annum.[1284] All these probably were employed at one time or another in copying books for their master, and all found the reward they sought at the hands of their employer, a fact which leads us to believe that the complaints of Bruni and Candido were based more on cupidity than on justice.


More a friend than a follower was Thomas Beckington, a man of some political importance, at one time Lord Privy Seal, Private Secretary to Henry VI., and ultimately Bishop of Bath and Wells. He was elected a Fellow of New College, Oxford, in 1408, a position which he held till 1420, about which time he probably became Gloucester’s chancellor, for he is alluded to as such in a letter written by Henry V. to Pope Martin V.[1285] He was a man who leant towards the new learning, led thereto probably by the example of his friend, and we find him in communication with Italian Humanists, such as Flavio Biondo of Forli and Piero del Monte, while at home he was connected with such scholars as Adam Moleyns, Thomas Chandler, and William Grey,[1286] the last of whom was the first great scholar churchman of England whose enthusiasm for the new learning was anything but a passing fancy. It may be that, through Beckington, Humphrey had some connection with these men, though all trace of this has vanished; at least he probably knew Grey, who claimed a distant relationship with the royal House. Lastly, it has also been stated that Reginald Pecock, the famous heretical Bishop of St. Asaph, was patronised by Gloucester, and we are told that he was ‘quiet and safe, and also bold to dispute and to write his mind’ so long as his patron was alive.[1287] Moreover, he is said to have been appointed Master of Whittington College, London, in 1431, through the influence of Duke Humphrey.[1288] The original authorities for these statements cannot be found, but it is significant that Pecock began the propaganda which ended in his disgrace immediately after the death of the man who is said to have been his patron. It may be that the orthodoxy of Humphrey acted as a restraint on the Bishop so long as he lived. However, this cannot be anything but supposition, as there is no real authority on which to base this hypothetical connection.

While speaking of the English writers patronised by the Duke of Gloucester, some mention must be made of a small band of poets—or perhaps it would be more correct to term them writers in verse—who had some relation with Gloucester. The fifteenth century was entirely barren of English literature. After the bright sun of Chaucer had set, a period of darkness arose, unrelieved by the slightest gleam of brilliancy or genius. An unheroic age produced a race of unheroic versifiers, men who slavishly followed in the steps of Chaucer, hailed him as their master in all their works, and exemplified the law that a literature which looks for its ideals to the age that has just passed must be devoid of all originality and of all real power. Interested as he was in the rediscovery of the lost literature of the past, Humphrey did not patronise the poets with the fervour he showed in reading the ancient classics, yet most of the versifiers of the day seem to have had some connection with him. Most famous of these was John Lydgate, who was responsible for about fifteen thousand of the worst lines of poetry that have ever been produced. He acted as a self-appointed poet-laureate, writing a poem to celebrate every important national event. Thus he described the triumphant entry of Henry V. into London after Agincourt; he welcomed the attempts at peace in 1443; Queen Margaret’s advent and the truce she brought with her were celebrated in the same manner.[1289] His output of bad verse is amazing, and, with the exception perhaps of his ‘London Lyckpenny,’ it is totally devoid of interest whether literary or personal. The greater part of his life was spent as an inmate of the great Benedictine monastery at Bury St. Edmunds, and it was probably here that he first met Gloucester. Several of his all too frequent poems were written to celebrate Duke Humphrey. He produced one of these on the occasion of his patron’s first marriage, and entitled it ‘A comendable balade by Lydgate dame John at ye reverence of my lady of Holland and of my lord of Gloucester to fore ye daye of there maryage in the desyrous tyme of their true louynge.’[1290] In another poem he bewailed the sad fate of Jacqueline in a way which was not very complimentary to Humphrey, though this production of his has not survived in a complete state, two whole folios being mercifully missing.[1291] Finally, he lived long enough to write the ‘Epitaphium Ducis Gloucesterie,’ a piece of doggerel which almost surpasses its predecessors.[1292]


Apart from these original poems, Lydgate produced one work commissioned by the Duke. This was a verse translation of Boccaccio’s encyclopædic Latin work De casibus Virorum et Feminarum illustrium, though a French translation by Laurent de Premierfait and not the original was used by the English versifier. The title runs, ‘Here beginneth the book callyd I Bochas, descriuyng the falle of Pryncys, pryncessys, and other nobles, translated into Inglish by John Ludgate, monke of the Monastery of Seynt Edmundes Bury, after commaundment of the worthi prynce Hunfrey duk of Gloucestre, beguning at Adam and endyng with Kyng John taken prisoner in France bi Prince Edward.’[1293] Humphrey showed considerable interest in the works of Boccaccio, for he possessed other translations of this master’s writings. To his copy of the Corbaccio we have already alluded, and a French version of the Decameron was presented to him by the Earl of Warwick.[1294] His appreciation of Italian literature was not confined to these items, though it is evident that he had no knowledge of the Italian language. To Oxford he gave a copy of Dante’s works, and a commentary thereon, together with several volumes of Petrarch and Boccaccio, all in Latin, but these may well have contained translations of the Italian compositions of these writers, as well as those originally written in the scholarly language of the time. Italian literature was undoubtedly known in England before Humphrey’s day. Richard of Bury had been the friend of Petrarch, who, together with Dante, was the acknowledged inspiration of Chaucer’s poetry,[1295] and so there is no occasion for surprise at finding that these works formed part of the literary equipment of the Duke of Gloucester.

The translation of Boccaccio’s work must have cost the Duke dear, for in the midst of the translating he received a rhymed communication from Lydgate, urging penury as an excuse for a request for money, and asking him at least to give a moment,

‘To so th’ entent of this litel bille,
Whiche whan I wrote my hand felt I quake.’[1296]

There is something peculiarly modern in this appeal, and to judge by the fervent thanks in the text of the work, it was not in vain. A tribute is paid to the munificent patron of the work in the Prologue, which is interesting as evidence of what was the general opinion about Humphrey’s humanism in England. His ability and energy in governing the kingdom occupy two stanzas, and still more space is devoted to his exertions in support of Holy Church, which were so successful,

‘That in this londe no lollard dar abide.’

The greatest stress, however, is laid on the Duke’s literary qualities:

‘He doth excelle
In understandyng alle othir off his age,
And hath gret joie with clerkes to commune,
And no man is more expert off language.
Stable in study alwey he doth contune,
Settyng a side alle changis of fortune.
Duc off Gloucestre men this prynce calle,
And notwithstanding his staat and dignite,
His corage never doth appalle
To studie in bokis off antiquite.
Therin he hath so gret felicite
Vertuously himselff to ocupie
Off vicious slouthe to have the maistrie.’[1297]

Strangely enough, this encomium on the literary character of Gloucester runs on very much the same lines as the praises of the Italian Humanists, and though it may have been written by a grateful poet about a munificent patron, yet there is a certain restraint about it, unusual in Lydgate’s verses, which leads us to believe it is prompted by genuine feeling. It would seem that the book was not dedicated to the Duke, though undertaken at his request, and these lines occur unheralded in the midst of the prologue to the reader.


Lydgate was not the only English poet who owned Gloucester as a master, though there is no other mention of poetical work being either composed at his request, or dedicated to him when finished. On the title-page of his Boke of Nurture, John Russell describes himself as ‘Sum tyme seruande with Duke Ufrey of Glowcetur, a prynce fulle Royalle, with whom Uschere in Chambur was I, and Mershalle also in Halle,’ and in the course of the poem, which is interesting as an indication of contemporary manners and customs, we read:

‘Pray for the soule of John Russelle that God do hym mede.
Sum tyme seruande with duke umfrey due of Glowcetur in dede,’[1298]

a couplet which gives a clear indication of the poetical qualifications of Gloucester’s usher. George Ashley, who was clerk of the signet to Queen Margaret, and compiled a moral poem for the instruction of her ill-fated son, Prince Edward, was also at one time in Humphrey’s service, at least so we would gather from a statement made by his mistress that at the time of his death the Duke owed him money.[1299]

A closer connection existed between Humphrey and Thomas de Norton, who was his chaplain[1300] and chancellor of his house.[1301] This post was probably one of importance, for he assisted materially in securing the renewal of the St. Albans charter, and was in correspondence with Abbot Wheathampsted on this subject. Norton was a man of more eminence than these other English versifiers, though he was probably but a young man when his master died. A native of Bristol, he became one of the most noted alchemists of his day, and embodied his knowledge in a poem called the ‘Ordinal,’ using this form and the vernacular, in order that he might instruct the unlearned in a science so useful to them,[1302] a reason which bears some affinity to the remarks made by Dante to the Prior of the Convent of Santa Croce when explaining his use of Italian in the Divina Commedia. It was most likely in his primary capacity as a scientist, and not as a poet, that Norton appealed to Humphrey, who died long before this poetical scientific treatise was written.


There is still one more versifier to be mentioned in connection with the Duke of Gloucester, though his name has not survived, and perhaps, considering the quality of his verse, he was wise not to betray his identity. Indeed, he is so conscious of his feebleness as a poet that he alludes to it more than once in the prologue which precedes his verse translation of the De Re Rustica of Palladius.[1303] This prologue, which, consists of sixteen stanzas, is not directly addressed to the Duke, nor is there any formal dedication of the poem to him. Nevertheless, frequent mention is made of the writer’s patron, and in a few introductory verses to the second book of the work it is obvious that the translation was undertaken for him.

‘I wul assay hem up to plowe and delue;
A lord to plese, how suete is to laboure,’[1304]

writes this rhymester, and there is no doubt as to the identity of this lord, for he tells us plainly,

‘My blissed lord, mene I the duc homfrey.’[1305]

The writer was well acquainted with the life of his ‘blissed lord,’ most especially with his literary leanings, and he devotes nearly two whole stanzas to retailing his benefactions to Oxford, and the nature of the books given to that University.[1306] He also mentions the famous men in the Duke’s following, making special allusion to Wheathampsted, Piero del Monte, Livius, and Antonio di Beccaria, and he further gives us a speaking picture of the extensive field which his master’s studies covered.[1307] He also makes the somewhat startling statement that ‘he taught me meter make,’[1308] which we may well discount as a poetical exaggeration, not to be taken too literally. Doubtless it was at the Duke’s bidding that the translation was undertaken, and the author was probably a member of the foundation of St. Albans. This last supposition is suggested by the placing of Wheathampsted first on the list of Humphrey’s literary friends, and by an allusion in the course of the prologue to the robber Wawe, whose crimes were only of local importance, and would be unknown to us save for the account of them given by the St. Albans chronicler.[1309] The poem must have been written between the years 1439 and 1447, that is, after the first gifts to Oxford, and before the death of the writer’s patron, who was obviously still alive at the time of writing. The literary form of the poem cannot enhance Gloucester’s reputation, but it bears interesting testimony to the important position held by him amongst the scholars of the kingdom.

The list of English poets connected with Duke Humphrey is not brilliant, but this was not his fault. There was no great light in the poetic firmament whom he could patronise in the way his grandfather had patronised Chaucer, though it may seem a strange omission that this dead poet was totally unrepresented as far as we know, in his library, We must qualify our surprise by remembering that we possess no complete list of Gloucester’s books, so that a copy of Chaucer may have been among them, but at least we have sufficient evidence to prove that he did not despise the vernacular languages as did so many of the earlier humanists. True, we can only directly connect three books written in English with his name, and he seems to have found French more natural to his use than the language of his native land, since all the inscriptions in his books are written in that language, but practically all the writers of his age who wrote in English enjoyed his patronage, and we have the evidence of the University of Oxford to prove that he encouraged the production of books in the national language.[1310] Humphrey was not so busy in the rediscovery of the forgotten poets and philosophers of the past, as not to realise that the knowledge he was acquiring was to be the basis of the vernacular literature of the future, that the spirit of the new learning, while it liberated men’s minds from bondage, must also find a means of expression for itself. Though intent on building the foundations, he did not fail to consider the nature of the edifice which should crown his labours.


The historian of Literature is little more than the historian of exploded reputations; the great men with whom we must deal are the great men who no longer loom large on the horizon, and this is doubly true of a patron of literature. Humphrey’s reputation as scholar and patron, though it flourished in his day in countries far distant from England, is now not even a distant memory, save perhaps in that society which frequently in his lifetime expressed the conviction that his fame would be immortal, not so much for his military or political glories, though indeed they were great, as for his constant liberality to its members, and that the University of Oxford would ever be the home of his glory.[1311] In Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, Oxford found one of her most generous and constant patrons of any age, one who laid the University under an obligation which not all her sons are ready to recognise. Certainly no contemporary of the ‘Good Duke’ could rival his generosity to the ‘clerks of Oxenford,’ though they were not destitute of important patrons. Henry IV. was numbered amongst the benefactors of the early library;[1312] Henry V. took an interest in the welfare of the University, on one occasion making special ordinances to be proclaimed and observed therein,[1313] and at his death bequeathing certain books to the Library.[1314] It is said that he had intended to found a great college there, and though this plan was never carried out, Archbishop Chichele built and endowed his foundation of All Souls in memory of his royal master. Of Henry’s sons, Bedford had the intention of founding lectures in the seven liberal arts and the three philosophies, but it is uncertain whether this project was ever brought to fruition.[1315] Henry VI. was but a churlish friend of the University in spite of the obsequious flattery he received therefrom, and on more than one occasion we find him as a harsh landlord raising the rent of ‘Bedel Hall,’ or cutting down the hard-earned fees of the masters teaching in the arts.[1316] On the other hand, Queen Margaret was the founder of a lectureship in theology,[1317] whilst Cardinal Beaufort, who had neglected his Alma Mater during his life, thought it well to add to his chances of eternal salvation by bequeathing five hundred marks towards the completion of the Divinity School, in return for which he was to be remembered in all the University prayers.[1318]


Oxford, therefore, was a fashionable subject of interest, though the benefits gained were not in proportion to the giving capacity of the donors. Humphrey was not only a liberal benefactor, but a faithful and trusted friend to the University. We may smile at the servility of the eulogies, and the extravagances of the compliments in the letters addressed to him, and also at the obvious suggestion in these utterances that there was a distinct hope of favours to come, yet with all this we can trace a note of genuine admiration and respect in these flowery effusions. For many years the Duke of Gloucester was the ‘great protector’[1319] of Oxford outside the confines of the University, a power in the land who would stand up for the privileges and rights of Chancellor and Proctors in a way that was far more valuable than many liberal donations at a time when the majesty of the law was a very venal sovereign. In a case of trouble or danger, whether from within or from without, the University would invariably appeal to her good patron, and did not find him wanting. Even when it was a matter of a quarrel with the members of the Benedictine order, of whose monasteries he was acknowledged to be quasi fundator, the University did not hesitate to appeal to the Duke to use his influence with the Chancellor in stopping the proceedings instituted by these monks in the Court of Arches against the usual payment of six shillings and eightpence made by each student to the master whose lectures he attended. At the same time he was besought to bring the presidents of the Benedictine order, namely the Abbots of St. Albans and Abingdon, to reason in this matter.[1320] The appeal was probably successful, for Humphrey’s sense of justice was seldom subordinated to his predilections, and he had already upbraided the Prior of the monks in Oxford for unseemly behaviour towards the scholars of Glastonbury.[1321] At any rate, no further appeal was found necessary, so that it may be presumed that the monks were compelled to yield the point. The incident recalls an interesting aspect of Gloucester’s relations with Oxford, in that he devoted his sympathies to the University as a corporate body, and neglected the separate foundations which made up the whole, even to the extent of having no connection with Gloucester College, the home of these monks of the Benedictine order, and the offshoot of his beloved monastery of St. Albans.

But while Gloucester favoured Oxford, he was not unduly partial, and in one case at least the University had to compromise. A certain friar, William Mussilwyk, had been deprived of his doctor’s robes, and his supporters had been suspended, whereupon Gloucester wrote to remonstrate. The University declared that their patron had been misinformed as to the rights of the case, but after considerable correspondence with him on the subject, a compromise was arranged, and it was agreed that the disgraced friar was to be reinstated if he acknowledged his fault; it was, however, emphatically explained that this course was adopted merely as a personal favour to the Duke, and was in no way a confession of error.[1322]

The University had reason to be grateful to Gloucester, for he had taken it under his special protection, at least so one would gather from the phraseology of a letter written to him in 1430, wherein elaborately worded thanks are given him for his great generosity towards it ever since he had been its protector.[1323] He was not the man to give his protection without his interest, and he wrote to the University in 1431, requesting that certain reforms which he suggested should be carried into effect. An evasive reply explained that at present this could not be done, as so many members of the University were then absent from Oxford, and the time was too short for so important a question to be decided; however, it was hoped that a more definite answer could be sent before Christmas.[1324] Of this promised answer there is no trace, and the event passed into oblivion as one of no importance, save that it might suggest a marked continuity in the history of the University. This is the only record of unsolicited interference in the internal history of Oxford on the part of Humphrey, and it comes somewhat as a surprise that a man who has the reputation of being overbearing and interfering should not have tried to stamp his individuality more clearly on the University of which he was the protector.

Throughout the earlier years of the connection between Humphrey and Oxford it is the latter that invokes aid, not the former who would press his own wishes. Each may occasionally ask the other’s help for a friend,[1325] but the letters addressed by the University to their patron were mainly written in pursuit of some benefit from outside, or in the hope of the pacification of some internal quarrel. At one time the Duke is besought to use his influence in securing for them the books bequeathed by Henry V.;[1326] at another, as protector of the realm, he is asked, together with the King’s Council, to advise as to the treatment of certain defiant heretics, who are preaching ‘uncircumcised and seditious words’;[1327] or again he is appealed to in matters of purely internal concern—the disputes between Town and Gown, or the insubordination of the members of the University themselves. Thus in 1434 the authorities sought aid in enforcing a statute which had been passed in the interests of peace, which was meant to satisfy both the townsmen and the scholars, but the opposition thereto threatened to render it a nullity.[1328] The very next year a claim made by the Bachelors to be called Masters threw the University into a state which bordered on civil war, and caused a total cessation of lectures and all teaching. Urgent letters were written to Gloucester asking his assistance in quieting these disturbances, and Kymer was petitioned to use his influence with the Duke to beg him to grant their supplication.[1329] No sooner was the town reduced to quiet than the scholars of Devon and Cornwall organised a riot, and bearing off the image of St. Peter from a parish church, they placed it in the monastery of St. Frideswide, and desired all other scholars to attend Mass there. An attempt on the part of the University authorities to allay the tumult resulted in armed resistance, in which the law-students took the lead. Oxford, in a state of anarchy, once more appealed to its patron.[1330] We have none of the replies to these various petitions, but from a subsequent letter from the University it would seem that Gloucester had shown sympathy, and had intervened, for peace, though not entirely restored, was then at least in sight.[1331]

Interesting though they are, Gloucester’s relations to the University in his capacity of a great prince have not the importance of his intercourse with her as a man of letters. Noisiness and a tendency to tumult have not always been signs of decay in Oxford, but at this moment they were the outward tokens of inward debility. Poverty, ‘the step-mother of learning,’ was the bane of university life, and we have seen the efforts of some students to escape paying their fees. A large percentage of the letters written by the University had this lack of money as their theme, and it was not greediness for more of the good things of life, but a desire for mere necessaries, that obliged them so to write. The University was as Rachel weeping for her children—so says a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1438: once she was famous in the world, and students flocked to her from all parts; then she possessed many men learned in the arts and sciences, her schools were not depopulated, nor were her halls empty. Now there was a scarcity both of food and money, and learning was so little rewarded that few came to acquire it; scarcely a thousand scholars and masters remained in the University, doors were locked, the buildings in ruins. Those who still remained had to be content to see ignorant and unlettered men promoted over their heads in the world outside, whilst they were left to starve.[1332]

Oxford had indeed fallen from her high estate, and was experiencing a period of affliction. The scholarship of the Middle Ages was worn out, the gospel of the New World had not yet been preached to her, but when, as in all its troubles, the University turned for help to the Duke of Gloucester, it had taken the first step towards better things. To him its grievances were told, and it was his generosity that resuscitated the lectures on the seven liberal arts and the three philosophies.[1333] Still, there was not sufficient for their continual maintenance. The lectures were carried on for some time, till the expense was more than could be borne, and again an appeal was made to the Duke. It was imperative that they should have a permanent foundation for three more lecturers, and they must have books, and money to buy more. Yet another important corollary to these demands was that more suitable appointments should be made by those in authority in the kingdom, and that a man who had been educated at Oxford should not be at a disadvantage by reason of his superior knowledge.[1334] We have here the grievance in a nutshell. University education was unpopular, no one was ready to provide the means for that education, and the existing means were at present wholly inadequate.


Probably the lack of books was the greatest want, for beyond a very few volumes in the chests of the Library named after Bishop Cobham, and some others possessed by masters more wealthy than their fellows, there were no books at all in the University. The students had no access to books, all the teaching had to be done orally, and hence the knowledge acquired was of that purely hereditary type which could not be enlivened by the infusion of new ideas. To a lover and student of books such as Duke Humphrey this defect in the equipment of both teachers and taught must have come home very strongly, and his reply to the appeal, which was made in April 1438, was not tardy. Already his name, together with those of his father and brothers, was written on that tablet in the Oxford Library which recorded the benefactors of that institution,[1335] and in 1435 he had presented both money and books to the University, for which he had received the warmest thanks, and a promise of renewed diligence in study, as recognition that it was his wisdom that had brought about a revival of learning in Oxford.[1336] In answer to the direct appeal he had received in 1438, he forwarded what must have been an important part of his library, in the shape of one hundred and twenty-nine volumes[1337], ‘a more splendid donation than any prince or king had given since the foundation of the University,’ valued as it was at more than £1000.[1338] The letter of thanks spoke in naturally high terms of the Duke’s wisdom and learning, and compared him to Julius Cæsar, who founded a library in Rome, for he, like Gloucester, combined the attributes of a great soldier with those of an enthusiastic scholar.[1339] Not content with their own thanks, these grateful scholars wrote to Parliament, urging its members to thank the Duke, since both they and their relatives had been, or in the future would be, beholden to the University for their education[1340]—a request which, it is hardly a surprise to find, went unheeded. On November 5, 1439, an indenture in receipt of the books was drawn up, and thereon were inscribed the first word or words occurring on the second folio of each volume, so that identification in case of loss might be possible.[1341] This last precaution, which was customary in most libraries of that period, is still of immense value in verifying the authenticity of manuscripts said to have formed part of the donations of Duke Humphrey to Oxford. Two more gifts followed in 1441, the first consisting of seven, the second of nine books, of which we have only the names of the latter preserved.[1342] It is noticeable that on both these occasions the books were conveyed to Oxford by Sir John Kirkby, a soldier who had served under Humphrey in the campaign of 1417. Finally, in 1444, came a gift of one hundred and thirty-four volumes, which were indented for in the usual manner.[1343]

Gifts of books in such numbers were unique in the history of the University, and continued to be so for some time to come. Other donors there were, amongst whom may be numbered Bedford, Wheathampsted, the Duchess of Suffolk, Thomas Knolles, and John Somersett.[1344] These, however, were all either small collections or single books, and even a gift by Henry VI. to the foundation of All Souls only numbered twenty-three volumes.[1345] Throughout, Duke Humphrey had led the way in the patronage of the University. He had befriended it at a time when it sadly needed support, and he now endowed it with a library, which in numbers compared very favourably with any similar collection in England. It was a deed of open-handed generosity, which well deserved all the thanks it provoked, for in all he must have given quite three hundred volumes to the University[1346]—by no means an insignificant collection of books when all had to be copied by hand. They were drawn undoubtedly from his own private library, as there had been no time between the request and the donations to collect for the purpose, and the gift becomes thereby all the more interesting to us, and all the more honourable to the donor. Humphrey cared not for books merely for the sake of collecting them; he valued their teaching, and did his utmost to give them every opportunity of spreading their gospel abroad among the students of the land.

Special arrangements were made by the University for the preservation of these additions to their Library. Already since 1412 there had been a Librarian, who cared for the books collected in the room over the porch of St. Mary’s Church. He was in receipt of a salary of one hundred shillings per annum, besides six shillings and eightpence for every university Mass that he said, and the right to receive robes from every beneficed graduate at the time of his graduation. Only graduates and members of the religious orders who had studied philosophy for eight years were given access to the Library, though certain exceptions, as in the case of sons of members of Parliament, might be made. Oaths must be taken by all readers not to mutilate the books by erasures or blots, an ordinance, let us hope, which was observed more carefully at that time than it is now in modern libraries. The Library was open from nine to eleven and from one to four o’clock, except on Sundays and certain specified days, including the Librarian’s holiday of one month in the long vacation.[1347]

Fresh provisions were drawn up in 1439 in view of the recent additions. All books were to be entered on a list kept in the Library, and their titles were to be clearly marked on the first page with a list of the contents; none were to be alienated or removed from the Library, save for the purpose of rebinding, though the Duke might borrow any volume after having submitted a written request to that effect. The books were to be kept in chests for the use of lecturers and masters, and in the absence of lectures students might have access to them. In case of loss the loser was to pay to the University the sum marked on the book, which was to be in excess of its real value.[1348]

The possession of a useful library did much to restore the old position of the University. From having almost no books—so wrote the authorities to Gloucester—they now had plenty, so that both the Greek and Latin tongue was there studied—that is, both the Greek and Latin authors, for no Greek books were included in the gift. Men from all lands came to study in Oxford now, as they had done before, and the letter concludes with a phrase couched in more intimate terms than had been hitherto customary; ‘we wish you could see the students bending over your books in their greediness and thirst for knowledge.’[1349] So great were the crowds that used these volumes, that the accommodation afforded by the old library was insufficient, and so the University wrote to Gloucester, suggesting that the new Divinity school, then in course of construction, should be used for the purpose. It was in every way suitable for a library, being retired and quiet, and the idea that this new home for his books should be called by his name was submitted to the donor thereof for his approbation.[1350] Herein we may see a polite hint that money as well as books would be acceptable. We have no evidence that the Duke responded to this appeal at the moment and he died before the building was completed by the munificence of Thomas Kempe, Bishop of London, who gave one thousand marks for the purpose. With a conveniently short memory the University alluded to the finished Library as tuam novam librariam when writing to Kempe in 1487.[1351]


This last request of Oxford, though only suggested, did not go unanswered, for Humphrey appeared in the House of Congregation, and publicly promised to give the rest of his Latin books to the University together with £100 towards the new Divinity school, a promise which he renewed just before his death. But this promise was never fulfilled, and in spite of numerous letters to the King, the executors of the Duke’s will and many other influential persons, neither the books nor the money ever found their way to Oxford.[1352] Even as the library bequeathed by Petrarch to Venice in the preceding century never reached its destination, so did Oxford never benefit by the last promise of her friend and patron.

It was with genuine regret that Oxford learned the death of the Duke of Gloucester, and an invocation, inspired by sorrow and fear for the future, appears in their letter-book.[1353] His obsequies were performed with great pomp,[1354] and an ordinance was issued enjoining all graduates to pray for him at the beginning of all sermons preached before the University, at St. Paul’s Cross, and at St. Mary’s Hospital, Bishopsgate.[1355] Every year Mass was said on the anniversary of his death for the repose of his soul, and later of that of his wife Eleanor.[1356]

The old Divinity Schools and Duke Humphrey’s Library at Oxford.

The Oxford masters had reason to be grateful to Gloucester, and in the later epistles to him we can trace a growing simplicity and a growing genuineness in their tone—‘unable to repress our feelings, we pray you of your goodness accept our simple gratitude.’[1357] Like the Italian Humanists, they dwelt on that great combination of qualities which made him a great soldier and a great man of letters in one,[1358] and speaking of his books given to them, they cried, ‘Statues, sculpture, and graven brass will not so long preserve the memory of the great, as will the living records of history.’[1359] The prophecy was justified, but later events mitigated the exactitude of its operation. When the ecclesiastical reformers, whom Humphrey had suppressed, won their final triumph in the unlovely days of Edward VI., the tangible evidences of the ‘Good Duke’s’ benefactions to his University were lost. How or exactly when this happened we cannot tell, but of the original manuscripts not one was left in the Library. A fanatical abhorrence of illuminations and rubricated initials, combined with a mediæval disregard of the intellectual side of life, destroyed, scattered and lost, in most cases for ever, these interesting relics of an interesting personality.[1360] The student of the early Renaissance in England has good ground of complaint against the Protestant Commissioners of King Edward VI. Yet in the University which educated him, and which he helped to educate, the memory of Duke Humphrey is not entirely forgotten. For long it treasured a silver-gilt belt known as ‘le Duke Humfrey’s gyrdyll’ as a remembrance of their benefactor,[1361] and to this day every preacher in the University pulpit still recalls to his hearers the bounty of this fifteenth-century prince. The building which was erected to contain his manuscripts, now the central part of the larger room in which the present students ‘studie in bokies off antiquite,’ still bears his name, and beyond that barrier where visitors dare not—or rather should not dare to—tread lies ‘Duke Humphrey’s Library.’ Though Oxford may call her Library by the name of its restorer, Sir Thomas Bodley, yet there is an older tradition which never dies, the tradition of the man who, with all his faults and with all his vices, did not forget his debt of gratitude to his Alma Mater—‘literatissimus princeps, amicissimus noster.’[1362]


All that we know of Gloucester’s literary career tends to prove that his patronage of Oxford was only one branch of his scholarly activities. It is evident that he had an extensive collection of books over and above those that he gave to the University, and it is the loss of nearly all knowledge regarding this private library which is our most serious disadvantage when estimating his literary tastes. We have but little evidence of the nature of the books which belonged to the Duke and never reached Oxford, or of the subjects of a less classical bias that he studied; had we even the catalogue of books in his possession that he sent to Candido, we might be able to estimate his position in the literary life of his age more justly, but this also seems to have gone to that bourne from whence no knowledge returns. Apart from the zeal of the reformers and the carelessness of the ignorant, we doubtless owe the loss of many of these books to that discovery which has helped to perpetuate thelearning of the past. Humphrey stood on the threshold of the age of printing, that age when the multiplication of printed books cast their written forebears into the lumber-room. A manuscript of which the contents had been printed was then regarded as a cumbrous method of imbibing learning; its historical value was not recognised. Humphrey’s library was not long to remain as a monument to his memory, as the University of Oxford had predicted that it would; it no longer remains to help us to gauge with any hope of exactitude the breadth of his interests, or the nature of his talents. That he loved his books, and took an interest in them for what they contained, is beyond dispute, though in those copies that survive there is no evidence that he wrote in them ‘Moun bien mondain,’ as Leland asserted, and Hearne either copied or confirmed.[1363]

The fact that a large proportion of the books which once belonged to Humphrey, and are still extant, did not form part of the gift to Oxford, leads us to believe that a considerable part of his library must remain unknown to us, even as to the titles of the various volumes. From the Oxford lists, however, it is evident that the scholarship of the Middle Ages had but little interest for him. Theology holds an important place among the gifts to Oxford, but the schoolmen are but scantily represented on the list. Bede, William of Occam, Pietro Damieno, and Albertus Magnus, the master of Thomas Aquinas, are there, but there is no trace of the writings of Aquinas himself, Peter Lombard, Bradwardine, Duns Scotus, and many other famous schoolmen. The early Fathers are well represented, some only by volumes of letters, others by their better-known works, and these last seem to be more the imaginative than the doctrinal theologians of their day. Taken as a whole, the theology of Humphrey’s library betrays a tendency to ignore mediæval doctrinaires, and to turn to the early Fathers, who wrote before Imperial Rome had passed into final decay. Mediæval law shared the fate of mediæval theology, and even more markedly. Hardly any of the numerous treatises on a subject which formed part of the staple food of the mediæval mind appear on Humphrey’s lists; canon law is but sparsely represented, civil law is almost entirely neglected.

Humphrey’s library was fairly well supplied with historical writers. We find the works of Suetonius, the historian of the twelve Cæsars, the Jewish historian Josephus, Tragus Pompeius, and Cassidorus; among later historians Eusebius and Vincent of Beauvais, Bede, and Higden. Among other historical works were a copy of the Flores Historiarum, an Eulogium Historiarum, a volume entitled Tripartita Historia, a Polycronicon, the Granarium of Wheathampsted, and other anonymous chronicles. These were a goodly number of historical books for the times in which Humphrey lived, but more remarkable is the large quantity of medical and astronomical treatises. A long list of books from the pens of doctors ancient and modern belonged to him, beginning with the early Greek writers on medicine, and ending with the compilations of his own physician-in-chief, Gilbert Kymer. Side by side with these stand all the leading authorities on astronomy and astrology, including the works of the chief Arabian philosophers and Roger Bacon’s De Celo et Mundo. No mention is made of Bacon’s Opus Majus, nor are there any traces of any scientific treatises outside those known to the mediæval scholars. The interest evinced by the Duke in medicine is both interesting and unusual; his knowledge of astrology proved one of the most fatal of his accomplishments in the days when his wife was accused of sorcery. A word should be said about the recurrence of several works on agriculture, both in Humphrey’s library and amongst the books he requisitioned Candido to procure for him. Whether this points to a practical interest in agriculture we cannot tell, though the probability is against it, and there seems no reason to believe that the Duke anticipated that other disappointed politician, who forgot grief at the loss of power in the useful, if unheroic, occupation of growing turnips.

Humphrey’s chief distinction as a collector of books lies in the possession of those copies of the ancient classics which he had procured from Italy. Though the Cosmography of Ptolemy, the Politics of Aristotle, and the Lives of Plutarch were absolutely unknown in Western Europe till Palla degli Strozzi had them brought to Italy from Constantinople, yet within a few years of this they were to be found in Latin translations among the Duke of Gloucester’s books. Other classical works there were in that collection. Five more volumes of Aristotle, the Republic, the Meno, and the Phædrus of Plato, all the known works of Cicero, and a volume of that ‘most learned of the Romans,’ Varro; Sallust, the historian of the Cataline conspiracy; grammarians such as Aulus Gellius and Priscian; rhetoricians such as Quintilian; poets such as Ovid and Terence, all stood side by side in this wonderful library. Seneca was represented both by his philosophical and by his dramatic writings, and criticisms on the philosophy of Aristotle might be found from the pen of Averrois or John of Damascus. The Greek language had been relearned in Italy during the Duke’s lifetime, and a step towards bringing it to England was taken in the presentation of a Greek dictionary to Oxford. Finally, Humphrey showed his sympathy with the men of the new learning by possessing five volumes of Boccaccio and seven of Petrarch, and his appreciation of what was best in mediæval thought by the inclusion of a volume of Dante and a commentary thereon amongst his books.[1364]

None can doubt the catholicity of Gloucester’s tastes after a glance at the names of the books which he collected, and we must believe that they genuinely manifested his predilections, and that Leland was clearly in the right in praising his sound judgment in matters literary.[1365] His taste was developed by genuine study. Numerous references to him by contemporaries prove that his patronage of literature was no pose adopted for the sake of the popularity it might bring. Livius declares that he surpassed all other princes of his time in his devoted study of letters both humane and divine;[1366] Basin bears the best testimony,[1367] Capgrave follows suit,[1368] and an unknown hand has left a record of high praise for his love of study on the fly-leaf of an Oxford manuscript.[1369] It is, moreover, obvious that the Duke’s interests were not confined to the volumes presented to Oxford, and it is noteworthy that among the survivals of his library there is a great contrast in subject-matter between the books of the Oxford donation and those which were retained in his own hands. While the Oxford books are strictly classical and scholastic, the others show a wide range of subjects, and give us reason to believe that they must have formed part of a collection of considerable literary interest. This shows at once the wisdom of the Duke in making his selection of works to give away to a great educationary foundation, and his great range of knowledge, which in many cases stepped outside the traditional limits both of the Schoolmen and of the Humanists. Perhaps the most striking fact is the existence of so many French works in Gloucester’s library.[1370] The large majority of these are translations from the Latin, which might at first glance seem to imply that Humphrey was but an indifferent Latin scholar, and preferred to read his books in French. It is undoubtedly true that French was to him the most natural language; he invariably used it in inscribing his name in his books, and he even went so far as to possess a French translation of Livy.[1371] But we must remember that in those days of infrequent and costly manuscripts a collector was only too glad to secure a copy of the author he wanted in whatever language it was written, and moreover a large number of these French books, notably the Livy, were presents from friends, and not private purchases on the part of the Duke. It is, however, interesting to note that whilst he gave a Latin version of the military treatise of Ægidius Romanus to Oxford, he retained in his own hands a French version of the same work.[1372] Undoubtedly, Humphrey read gladly and largely in French, but there is ample evidence that he was also a finished Latin scholar, and deeply versed in the classics. This alone can explain the wealth of classical quotations in letters addressed to him on matters purely personal, when the writer was trying to ingratiate himself with his princely correspondent.[1373] Moreover, his letters to his Italian friends, though doubtless they owe their final shape to a secretary, make constant allusion to classical reading. He was never separated from his copy of the Republic of Plato, and on one occasion at least he borrowed a book from the Oxford Library for his own private use.[1374] On this showing he must have been able to read Latin with ease, and his favourite study was the works of Plato, whose philosophical system was the chief new discovery of the Italian Humanists.[1375]

Earnest though he was in the study of the ancient classics, Gloucester did not allow it to restrict his mental vision. As a practical soldier he was interested in the theory of military operations, and besides his copy of the work of Ægidius Romanus he possessed in his private library a French version of the Epitome Institutionum Rei Militaris of Vegetius.[1376] This treatise, which deals with the organisation of armies, the training of soldiers, and other kindred subjects, was doubtless used by him as a basis for his military theories, and proved a useful handbook on which to found a system more in accord with the circumstances of his day. In general literature, apart from the English poetical works composed for him, Humphrey showed an interest in early French romance by the possession of a copy of the Roman du Renard[1377] and at the same time this shows how his political inclinations affected his literary outlook. The Roman du Renard, unlike its predecessors of the Carlovingian and Arthurian epic cycles, was produced by the growing sense of independence in the French towns. It has a direct bourgeois inspiration, which must have appealed to a man who found his chief supporters among the burgesses of the City of London. Gloucester’s personal tastes may also be traced in his possession of a copy of the resolutions passed at the Council of Basel,[1378] and in the Songe du Vergier, which also formed part of his library.[1379] This last consists of a discussion on the relative spheres of the spiritual and temporal powers, and shows us the learned Duke applying his intellect to the pressing ecclesiastical problems of his day, problems about which he had taken a very definite stand in his public actions. Closely connected with this was his interest in matters theological, his acceptance of Capgrave’s Commentary on the Book of Genesis,[1380] and his possession of numerous tracts by Athanasius,[1381] and of both an English and French version of the Bible.[1382]

Apart from matters purely literary, we have reason to believe that Humphrey’s interests were very wide. He showed considerable artistic taste in the beautifully illuminated manuscripts which formed part of his library, though the books that were written specially for him were not often very elaborately adorned. Like his brother Bedford, he knew how to appreciate this kind of artistic work, and we need but allude to the beautiful edition of the Psalms compiled for him, to the St. Omer Psalter once in his possession, and to his copies of the Decameron and of Livy, to realise how he was able to gratify this taste.[1383] In an age when artistic values were still the monopoly of Italians, the illuminated books in the Duke’s possession, if of no great artistic value, were excellent examples of the decorative work of the period.[1384] In the kindred art of music also Gloucester probably took some interest. We find frequent mention of ‘The minstrels of the Duke of Gloucester,’ who visited Winchester, Reading, Lydd, and many other towns ‘as a courtesy,’ for which they received monetary recognition from the inhabitants.[1385] Possibly these were a band of strolling musicians who enjoyed the patronage of the ‘Good Duke,’ much in the same way as at a later date actors were known as the ‘King’s servants.’ In any case there is a strong presumption that musicians as well as scholars enjoyed the bounty of the Duke of Gloucester.

A Page from the Duke of Gloucester’s copy of “Le Songe du Vergier,” once part of the Library of Charles I of France.


Just as Humphrey was a great student so was he a great personality in the life of England, the Mæcenas of the new learning, and the friend of all scholars. A considerable portion of his books were presents from various people, and he seems to have been always approachable by any one who could take an interest in any branch of knowledge. Those who gave books to him were drawn from various classes of the community. Men who would earn his patronage presented their work to him as did Capgrave;[1386] his friend Wheathampsted cemented their friendship in the same way.[1387] Frenchmen as well as Englishmen knew of his tastes, and approached him with literary gifts, whether it were the learned Bishop of Bayeux,[1388] or an insignificant Canon of Rouen.[1389] The Duke of Bedford chose a choice treasure from the library of Charles VI. as a gift for his brother,[1390] and the Earl of Warwick, the ‘Father of Courtesy’ and the tutor of the young King Henry VI., offered a French translation of the Decameron as a mark of friendship and esteem for the man under whom he had served.[1391] Men of less mark followed the lead of the princes of the land. Sir Robert Roos, a public servant of some eminence, gave yet another French work to the then Protector of England,[1392] and Sir John Stanley, possibly the Sir John Stanley who was king of the Isle of Man, hastened to add his tribute of homage in the shape of a French Bible.[1393]

It is hard to say whether these gifts were in all cases indications of literary esteem, or merely means towards securing the favour of a powerful prince. At least they show that Humphrey’s interest in all kinds of literature and learning was not assumed as a pose, but was a veritable passion, ministered to by all who desired his friendship. To no other man of his time were such gifts in such profusion given, gifts, moreover, which came not only from the needy scholars who desired his support, but from prince, noble, priest, and humble gentleman alike. There is, too, a remarkable absence of party politics in the literary friendships which these gifts manifest. Bedford not once nor twice was compelled to condemn his brother’s action. Warwick was a member of the Council of Regency which withstood the Protector’s ambitious claims. Sir Robert Roos, though he accompanied Beckington on his embassy to the Court of Armagnac, was prominent in carrying out the peace policy which Humphrey opposed, and in 1445 was intrusted with bringing Henry VI.’s Queen over to England. Sir John Stanley may possibly be the man to whom the Duchess of Gloucester was intrusted when she was confined in Leeds Castle, and when we look further afield we find that Piero del Monte, the friend of Duke Humphrey, did not hesitate to give the papal blessing to the union of Margaret and Henry VI. when they were married by proxy at Tours.


Humphrey therefore was more than a mere patron of scholars, and more than a mere literary dilettante. He was known to be more devoted to literature of all kinds than to anything else, and the subtle monks of St. Albans knew well how to win his favour by enlarging his library. His powers of criticism and appreciation are, however, hidden from us. Beyond the nature of the books he collected and a few words of formal appreciation of the works of Plato, we have nothing to guide our judgment, for though a patron and a student, he was not himself an author, in spite of statements to the contrary.[1394] There still exists a copy of certain astrological tables entitled Tabulæ Humfridi ducis Gloucestriæ in judiciis artis geomansie, but this was merely a compilation made at his command.[1395] He was content to encourage learning, and to qualify himself for this rôle by study. Thus the Duke of Gloucester devoted a large amount of his superfluous energy to the really great work of encouraging learning in England; yet at first sight it may seem that he laboured in vain. England did not at once adopt the new doctrines that were paving the way to modern methods of study, and it has been thought that Humphrey simply worked in the spirit of the mediæval scholar, and did not in any way appreciate the importance of his actions. England had lagged behind other nations in accepting the doctrines of the Renaissance scholars. Men imbued with the scholastic spirit had journeyed to Italy before the days of Duke Humphrey, but they had not understood the message which the Italians taught them. Richard of Bury had been the friend of Petrarch, but had entirely failed to understand his point of view, and when the future Duke of Gloucester was but five years old, a certain Augustinian monk, known in Italy as Thomas of England, was lecturing in Florence, but was said by Leonardo Bruni to have loved Humanism only so far as an Englishman could understand it.[1396] The Italian scholar therefore had been contemptuous of his English contemporary, but a new era dawns when Humphrey begins to take an interest in Italian scholarship. The Italians who wrote to him showed clearly in their letters that they understood their patron’s interest to be intelligent and quite different to the mediæval conceptions of his predecessors, and in some cases we can see the genuine appreciation of the scholar peeping through the adulation of the retainer. His love for Plato, and his clear understanding of the contrast between his philosophy and that of Aristotle, show how entirely he had thrown off the intellectual fetters of the Middle Ages, and in his selection of books we clearly see that he understood that the progress of the future must be based on an understanding of the past. In Humphrey, too, we see traces of that critical faculty which characterised the new movement. He did not look on the classics as an allegorical commentary on the Scriptures, and as a basis for Christian Theology; he studied them from the literary and philosophical point of view, and refused to accept the system laid down by the mediæval schoolmen. He was the first great Englishman to introduce these new ideas into England, though there were other scholars of the period who understood the new doctrines, if they did not preach them; men like Andrew Holles, who after long study in Italy retired to a country benefice, and did nothing towards spreading the new ideas he had acquired.[1397]


Herein lies the importance of Duke Humphrey’s career. He not only understood the meaning of the new doctrines, but he paved the way towards their fuller appreciation by the nation as a whole. As a layman and a man of affairs he was able to take a more comprehensive view of the significance of the new learning than the churchmen who hitherto had held the monopoly of English knowledge, and he laid the foundations on which others were to build. In the first place he taught men that it was to Italy that they should look for direction in their studies. He himself had not visited that country as so many of his contemporaries had done, but he had brought himself into nearer touch with its intellectual life than any other Englishman. The man who was the patron of Leonardo Bruni, the constant correspondent of Pier Candido Decembrio, the friend of Piero del Monte, and the literary acquaintance of Alfonso of Aragon, the man who more than once was picked out by Æneas Sylvius for literary appreciation, was far more in sympathy with Italian aspirations than such a one as Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter, who showed no signs of having been influenced in any way by his sojourn at the University of Padua.

Yet the interest of Humphrey’s Italian sympathies lies not so much in his connection with Italy as in the fact that he never set foot in the country. He did not take himself and his energies to be expended in a selfish pursuit of learning in Italy, like his contemporary Holles, but he helped to bring the intellectual aspirations of the Italians over to England. He not only taught men to study Italian wars, but also led them to bring the results of that study home to their own doors. And he was not without disciples. It is customary to believe that the humanistic aspirations of the ‘Good Duke’ received no echo in the England of his day, but we cannot but think that his example helped to inspire the exertions of that devoted band of scholars which included the princely ecclesiastic, William Grey, poor students such as John Free, Fleming, and Gunthorpe, and the notorious but scholarly John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester. Indeed there is much to suggest this, and perhaps the most curious of all our evidence centres in the name of Guarino da Verona, the great schoolmaster of Ferrara, who was intrusted with the education of Lionello and Borso d’Este. Every one of this band of English students studied under the direction of this famous scholar. Grey attended his instructions while living in princely state at Ferrara; Free journeyed from his home in Bristol to get the benefit of his teaching; Tiptoft turned aside during his wanderings in Italy to visit him in his adopted home; all at one time or another joined that ever-increasing band of English scholars who flocked to the Ferrarese school in such numbers as to be specially mentioned by Lodovico Carbone in his funeral oration over the dead scholar.[1398] Humphrey’s influence is to be traced here, for it was he who had first pointed to Guarino as the fountain of true learning. When commissioning Zano of Bayeux to buy him books in Italy, he had laid special stress on his desire to possess anything that had been written by this teacher.[1399] By selecting Guarino as the mentor of his intellectual aspirations, he had pointed out the road for future scholars to tread.

All these scholars followed in the steps of the Duke of Gloucester, and had all grown up before he passed from the scene of his activities. They, however, failed to carry out his theories to the full. Though they submitted themselves to the desire for the new learning, they did but little to bring it home to the great mass of Englishmen. They studied, but they did not teach. They had all learnt the earliest lesson of the new ideas under the shadow of the University of Oxford; all were Oxonians, and thus were direct products of Duke Humphrey’s patronage of that home of learning, and they so far followed in his footsteps as to give or bequeath the books they collected either to the University itself, or to some College within it. It was in this way that Gloucester had most conspicuously prepared the high-road to learning. By his gifts of books he had given Oxford students the opportunity of further researches into the human mind, he had thrown open the doors which had hitherto barred the way to Englishmen who desired a knowledge of what the past had thought of life and its component elements. For the first time in England men were able to know something of what the ancients had written. In the book-chests of Oxford lay the seeds of the English Renaissance. The immense importance of access to these books may easily be misunderstood at the present day; it is hard to realise completely the limitations which surrounded the mediæval scholar, but once this is achieved, the presence of these works, which reflected, if they did not very accurately represent, the ideas of classical writers, will be fully appreciated.

By his patronage of Oxford and his gifts of books Humphrey had inspired his immediate successors to carry on his work, and to bring together the materials for future generations to use. His work was crowned when Greek came to be taught in England. He himself had known no Greek, Grey and his friends had known but not imparted it; it remained for William Selling of All Souls at Canterbury, and Thomas Linacre, William Grocyn, and Thomas Latimer at Oxford, to bring this language and the literature which it voiced to the knowledge of educated Englishmen. Linacre, perhaps even more than his fellows, was cast in the mould that Humphrey would have approved. Like Humphrey, he was a man of immensely wide interests, not the dry-as-dust scholar, but the man of the world; like Humphrey, he was a special student of medicine, a science which owed its development in Italy to the discovery of the works of Hippocrates. At the same time he, more than any one else, completed the edifice of which Humphrey had built the foundations. Again we can trace the direct influence of the Duke. This last band of scholars who finally established the new learning in England were, like their predecessors, all Oxonians. The University which Gloucester had started on the way of good things was the parent of the new school of thought, it carried on the work of its great patron. It is to the lasting fame of this indifferent politician that through him the humanities came to be taught in England, that through him Oxford was induced to lead the van in introducing the new culture. We are apt to forget the debt we owe to the work of these early intellectual reformers, and to minimise the influence of the ideas they introduced on every aspect of our lives. Yet reflection will give its due meed of praise to their laborious efforts, and if it goes far enough back, will, like the Bidding Prayer read from the pulpit of the University Church, place Duke Humphrey’s name first on the list of benefactors.


It is a relief to turn from the stormy political career of Duke Humphrey to that sphere of his activity where undiluted praise can be given; to forget that public life which was marred by instability and prejudice, and to admire that industry which won him a great reputation both with his contemporaries and with posterity. Yet we must not forget that many of the qualities which led him to court disaster in public life were due to his leanings towards a life of study. The circumstances of his life and the tendencies of his age were against him. A student by nature and a politician by birth, he had too much ambition and too little restraint to choose the better path, and confine his energies to spreading the gospel of the new learning. The man of letters is seldom wise in adopting a life of political activity, and the case of Humphrey was in some ways repeated later in the life of Bacon. Even if we place the Duke of Gloucester amongst the worst types of political criminals—and we have no adequate reason for so doing—we must accord him a position of honour amongst those to whom posterity should be grateful. By those who have laboured under the shadow of his personality in the Library which preserves his name the memory of the ‘Good Duke’ must be cherished as an inspiration. They indeed must catch something of the spirit which enabled Hearne to speak of him as ‘that religious, good and learned prince whose handwriting I us’d, whenever I saw it in the Bodleian Library ... to show a particular sort of respect to, as some little Remains of a truly great Man, one that was both a Scholar himself, and the chiefest Promoter of Learning and Scholars at that time.’[1400]

The first page of the Renaissance in England consists of the life of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and all who value the inspiration to be drawn from the new era in human thought which dates from that great movement, must respect the memory of this great Lancastrian Prince.


The dispersion of a Library is in all cases unfortunate, but most especially so when it serves as a monument to a great personality. Even as Petrarch’s two hundred manuscripts are scattered and lost so that not forty of them can be now identified, so Duke Humphrey’s private library and the books he presented to Oxford, which in all must have numbered five hundred at least, are now recognisable only in a very few instances. Only three of the manuscripts given to Oxford repose now on the shelves of the Bodleian, and these have not continued there since the days when they were transferred thither from the chests of Cobham’s Library. The first of these is a copy of the letters of Nicholas de Clemenges (Hatton MS., 36), a French theologian and Rector of the University of Paris, who died about 1440. The book was a present to Gloucester from one of the Canons of Rouen, and formed part of his last donation. The first folio has been torn out, but the opening words of the second are ‘O nos,’ which corresponds to the entry in the University indenture, though the scribe by a slip of the pen has transcribed it ‘O vos’ (Epist. Acad., 235). The last folio bears the Duke’s inscription, ‘Cest livre est A moy Homfrey duc de Gloucestre du don maistre Guillaum erare docteur en theologie chanoyne de Ram.’ A still more interesting volume in the same library is that which contains the Letters of the Younger Pliny (Bodley MS., Auct. F. 2, 23, at present on view in glass case No. 1), probably one of the books sent over from Italy by Candido. It also bears the Duke’s autograph, ‘Cest livre est A moy Homfrey duc de Gloucestre,’ and formed part of the same gift as the letters of Nicholas de Clemenges (Epist. Acad., 235). Both these manuscripts were in private hands in the seventeenth century, the former owned by Henry Holford of Long Stanton, the latter by Dr. Robert Master, Bishop of Lichfield. Notes to this effect are appended in the respective manuscripts.

A more doubtful authenticity attaches to a third manuscript in the Bodleian Library, which contains Bruni’s translations of Aristotle’s Politics (Bodley MS., 2143 [Auct. F. 27]). Therein is contained a dedication to Humphrey and the letter from the translator quoted in the text (see p. 352). At the end there is an erased and unrestorable inscription placed exactly in the position that Humphrey almost invariably used for his autograph. Unfortunately the two first folios of the text proper are missing, though the prefatory letter is intact, but in no case did the University scribes count the folios from anywhere but the beginning of the book itself, all prefatory matter being disregarded. The possibility of proving that this is the actual volume presented to Oxford is thus removed, and when we remember that the terms of the letter preceding the translation show that the original copy had reached its destination before this letter was written, we must doubt that this was the volume received from Italy. Possibly, and almost probably, this manuscript in the Bodleian was a copy of the original translation, made by one of Gloucester’s secretaries, with the letter written by Bruni introduced by way of preface. Two other manuscripts in the Bodleian Library are copies of work given by Humphrey to Oxford, one the ‘De Regimine Principum’ of Egidius (Hatton MS., 15), the other the moral treatise dedicated by Piero del Monte to the Duke (Bodley MS., 3618 [E. Museo, 119]). Neither of these belonged to Gloucester, nor do they correspond to their fellows in the indenture. By a strange error another manuscript in the same Library, containing the last six books of the historical anecdotes of Valerius Maximus and notes thereon (Bodley MS., F. infra, i. 1), has been numbered among Gloucester’s books (Macray, Annals of the Bodleian). The mistake probably arose from the fact that the Duke’s arms appear on the first folio, but an inscription plainly refutes the theory, and shows that the book was given ‘ad usum scolarium studencium Oxonie’ by Abbot Wheathampsted. It was given therefore for the use of the ‘scholars’ of the University, and the presence of the arms is explicable, if we remember that Humphrey was Wheathampsted’s friend and patron, and that another copy of this book was probably given by the Abbot to Gloucester. It is even possible that the copying of the book was undertaken at Gloucester’s suggestion, and that his arms were placed there in token of this.

Outside the University Library three Oxford Colleges can boast the possession of a manuscript which belonged to Humphrey. In the Library of Corpus Christi there is preserved a large folio volume (Corpus Christi MS., ccxliii.), containing numerous treatises of a philosophic nature in Latin, all in the handwriting of ‘Fredericus Naghel de Trajecto,’ and dated 1423 ‘in alma Universitate Oxoniensi.’ Amongst the most interesting items are Latin translations of the Phædo and Meno of Plato, the last of which concludes the volume, and is followed by Gloucester’s autograph, ‘Cest livre est A moy Homfrey duc de Gloucestre du don (some words are here erased) treschier en Dieu labbe de seint Albon.’ A note in a later hand tells us that in 1557 the manuscript belonged to a certain John Dee, who had bought it by weight. Though it cannot be stated definitely, as the earlier folios are missing, yet there seems little doubt that this volume did not ever belong to the University Library. At Oriel there is a manuscript to which we have already had reason to refer, the ‘Commentary on the Book of Genesis’ by John Capgrave (Oriel MS., xxxii.), which according to a concluding note was written between October 1437 and September 1438. The initial letter of the dedication contains a miniature in which a very simple-minded-looking monk is presenting his book to a still more simple-minded patron, evidently meant to represent Capgrave and Gloucester, though it gives no suggestion of portraiture. At the end of the Commentary the Duke has appended his autograph, ‘Cest livre est A moy Homfrey duc de Gloucestre du don frere Jehan Capgrave quy le me fist presenter a mon manoir de Pensherst le jour de lan lan [M] ccccxxxviii.’ This book formed part of the last donation of Gloucester to the University (Epist. Acad., 233).

In the Magdalen College Library another of Gloucester’s books is to be found. This is the copy of Ptolemy’s ‘Cosmographia’ (Magdalen MS., 37), which was given to Oxford in 1443, though the scribe who drew up the indenture of books transcribed the first words of the second folio as ‘vel toto’ (Epist. Acad., 236), while in the manuscript they are ‘vel tota,’ obviously merely a clerical error. At the end of this work an erased inscription, when treated with chemicals, reveals Humphrey’s autograph, ‘Cest livre est A moy Homfrey duc de Gloucestre.’ Bound up with the ‘Cosmographia’ in a sixteenth-century binding are three translations from the Greek by Antonio Pasini. The first of these is Plutarch’s ‘Life of Marius, which is dedicated to Gloucester, but the other two, though in the same hand, have no mention of the Duke. This volume, which in the present manuscript occupies the first sixty folios, has an erased inscription at the end, but all efforts to restore it fail to reveal any more than ‘Cest livre’ at the beginning, and a date at the end. No mention is made of this work amongst the books of Humphrey’s gifts, and therefore it probably never belonged to the Oxford Library; on the other hand, it may be one of the volumes that belonged to the Duke, for the inscription is placed at the end in the not very usual place that he nearly always used, and the first two words, in so far as they can be read, seem to be in his handwriting. Added to this, I believe this copy to be unique, so it is possibly a book acquired by Humphrey late in life, and never copied by his secretaries. It may be one of the volumes so vainly sought for by the University after the death of the donor.

In the British Museum there are nine volumes that once belonged to Gloucester. Among the Harleian manuscripts there is a treatise on heretics by William of Occam (Harleian MS., 33), which was one of the books conveyed to Oxford in 1443 (Epist. Acad., 233). Unlike all the other books known to have belonged to Humphrey, it bears no inscription, and depends for its verification solely on the correspondence of the first words of the second folio. The volume has been bound up with what seems to be part of a fourteenth-century collection of extracts from the Fathers, two folios of which appear at the beginning and two at the end. On the second of these folios is pasted a square slip of paper bearing Gloucester’s arms, roughly executed, and the inscription ‘Ex dono illustrissimi principis et domini. Domini Humfredi filii fratris regum et patrui. Ducis Gloucestrie comitis Pembrochie et magni camerarii Anglie.’ The wording of this label suggests that it was a kind of book-plate placed on the volumes of the Duke’s gifts to distinguish them from the other books in the Oxford Library, and the present appearance almost conclusively proves this. It is very dirty, and has evidently been exposed on the outside of a book, and the corners are worn away, as though it had been lifted from some other place. In all probability its original position was on a panel of the binding, and when this was renewed, it was removed to its present position on the spare leaves, which must have been inserted at the time of re-binding. That no other volume known to have been in the Oxford Library bears this label is no argument against the theory that all the books of Duke Humphrey’s gifts were thus marked, for the plunderer does not expend his pains in preserving the indications that his booty was once the property of another. The absence of these book-plates is only the result of the policy which has erased so many of the autograph inscriptions in Gloucester’s books, and thus increased the difficulty of tracing these volumes tenfold.

A still more interesting manuscript in the Harleian collection contains the first five books of Candido’s translation of Plato’s Republic (Harleian MS., 1705), and is evidently the same copy which was sent over from Italy by the translator, for the inscription in Gloucester’s handwriting on the verso of the last folio runs, ‘Cest livre est A moy Homfrey duc de Gloucestre du don P. Candidus secretaire du duc de Milan.’ The volume is beautifully written on fine vellum with many illuminated letters, but many of the leaves are now missing, and some of the illuminations have been cut out. Prefixed to the actual translation are the earlier letters exchanged between the Duke and his translator. The book has never belonged to the Oxford Library, doubtless because it contains only the first half of the Republic, and so Candido’s request that it should not be shown abroad in view of the corrections he had made in the translation was respected (Eng. Hist. Review, xix. 516). The translation of the Republic given to Oxford we must believe was the complete work, and this did not reach the Duke till some time after the copy of the first five books. These two Harleian volumes must be the books which Hearne refers to, when he says in 1714 that the Earl of Oxford possessed two manuscripts once the property of Gloucester (Hearne, Remarks and Collections, Oxford Hist. Society, 1885-1898, iv. 421).

A book from the Oxford Library is preserved amongst the Cottonian manuscripts in the British Museum, and consists of the collected ordinances and decrees of the Council of Constance (Cotton MS., Nero, E. v.). The last two folios are devoted to a short description of the origin of the Scotch nation, and the rights of the Kings of England over those of the sister kingdom. At the end of the last sentence Gloucester has written, ‘Cest livre est A moy Homfrey duc de Gloucestre lequel jachetay des executeurs maistre Thomas Polton feu eveque de Wurcestre.

Several more of Humphrey’s books are still extant in the old Royal Collection of manuscripts, now in the British Museum. A beautifully illuminated fourteenth-century volume entitled Chroniques des Roys de France jusques a la mort de St. Loys l’an 1270 (Royal MS., 15, G. vi.) bears the inscription, ‘Cest livre est A moy Homfrey duc de Gloucestre du don des Executeurs le Seigneur de Faunhere,’ but it was not included in the gifts to Oxford. In the same collection there is a volume containing several translations of the works of St. Athanasius (Royal MS., 5, F, ii.). The original format of this manuscript is a matter of uncertainty. The first treatise begins abruptly without title or address, save in small letters above the text, ‘lege feliciter serenissime Princeps’; at the beginning of the second book of the treatise the title runs ‘Athanasii viri sanctissimi de humanitate verbi contra gentes liber secundus incipit ex graeco in latinum conversus per antonium Beccariam veronensem ad serenissimum ac illustrissimum principem ducem Gloucestrie dominum suum singularissimum.’ A fly-leaf, which may have been originally the termination of a volume, divides the first from the second treatise, which begins on folio 70. This ends on folio 91, and on the verso stands the Duke’s autograph, ‘Cest livre est A moy Homfrey duc de Gloucestre lequel jay fait translater de grec en lattyn par Antoyne de Beccara Veroneys mon serviteur.’ This may be the end of one volume, and the treatise which begins on the next page may be the opening of another one. It begins with a dedicatory epistle to Gloucester, which by its phraseology seems to be the opening of a new book (see p. 377, note 1247), and whereas the earlier part of the present volume is illustrated, this second portion has only the blank spaces left for such adornment. There are on this page none of the signs of wear which might suggest that it had been the first sheet of an independent volume, but it is possible that it was never much used, and only acquired late in life by Gloucester. A later owner may have bound up the two volumes together, and handed them down to us in their present shape. It seems thus most probable that in Duke Humphrey’s day this manuscript consisted of two volumes, else he would not twice have appended his autograph, nor probably have varied it in the same book, for an inscription at the end of the last treatise reads ‘Cest livre est A moy Homfrey duc de Gloucester lequel je fis translater de grec en latin par un de mes secretaires Antoyne de Beccara ne de Verone.’ The first volume corresponds in its second folio to an entry in the Oxford Register (Epist. Acad., 767. The second folio in the register is marked ‘racti quae,’ whilst in the manuscript it is ‘rati quae,’ probably only a clerical error. The University scribe also misnamed the volume as ‘Athanasius, de Trinitate’), and so was part of the gifts to that University; the second probably never passed out of its owner’s hands till his death. At one time this manuscript, in its present shape, was in the possession of a certain Mr. Fowler of Hampton, near Cirencester (James MS., 30, p. 84).

A very interesting copy of the ‘Historia Anglie’ of Matthew Paris (Royal MS., 14, C. vii.) likewise belonged to Duke Humphrey, though it was not presented to Oxford. The ‘History’ is in the author’s own hand, but is continued down to 1273 by some other chronicler. When finished by Paris it was presented by him to the Abbey of St. Albans whence it may have been given to Gloucester by Wheathampsted. At the end there is an inscription, which when restored by a chemical reagent was read by Sir Frederick Madden as ‘Cest livre A moy Homffrey duc de Gloucestre’ (Introduction to Matthew Paris, Historia Anglorum (Rolls Series, 1866-1869), pp. xxxviii-xl). The erasure has been so carefully effected that under all circumstances the words are hard to decipher, but a close inspection seems to reveal that the inscription is that of Humphrey, and that it follows the spelling which he invariably used: ‘Cest (not ceste) livre est A moy Homfrey(not Homffrey) duc de Gloucestre.

Also in the Royal Collection there is a French version of the ‘Somnium Viridarii,’ originally written about 1376 (Royal MS., 19, C. iv.). ‘Le Songe du Vergier,’ as the French title runs, is in the form of a discussion, a method so popular at that period, between a knight and clerk on the question of the relative spheres of the spiritual and temporal powers. This manuscript, which was once the property of King Charles V. of France, is beautifully illuminated throughout, and is illustrated at the beginning of each of the two books of which it is composed. At the end an erased but just decipherable inscription reads, ‘Cest livre est a moy Homfrey duc de Gloucestre (see Paleographical Society’s Facsimiles, Second Series, Plate 169, and also Paulin Paris, Manuscrits Français (Paris 1840), iii. 299-328). Neither this nor a still more beautifully adorned volume containing certain selected Psalms (Royal MS., 2, B. i.) was given to Oxford. This last is ornamented throughout with initial letters and pendants in gold and colours, those in the calendar at the beginning being particularly finely executed. On the first page of the text Gloucester’s arms appear in two different places, and the next page is headed by a minature, which we may perhaps take to represent the Duke kneeling at a Prie-Dieu, and being presented to the Saviour by one who may be St. Alban, or more probably David. Humphrey is here represented as quite a young man, which would agree with the date of the volume, which may be fixed about 1415. (See Facsimiles of MS. and Inscriptions, published by the Palæographical Society, Second Series, Plate 201.) Besides the Psalms and calendar above mentioned a few Latin prayers are added, and the whole is preceded by a dedication to God’s service. At the end stands the inscription, ‘Cest livre est A moy Homfrey duc de Gloucestre des seaulmes les quels jay esleus du saultier,’ of which the first part is only legible when restored by chemicals. Those who secured the books of the dead Duke were remarkably anxious to remove the traces of his ownership, even when they were not part of his gifts to Oxford. This book is an interesting personal relic of Gloucester, and apart from this it is also a very favourable specimen of the art of the period.

Amongst the Egerton manuscripts in the British Museum there is an English version of the Holy Scriptures, usually called Wycliff’s Bible, in two volumes, with the books up to the Proverbs omitted (Egerton MSS., 617 and 618). At the end is a calendar of the Gospels and Epistles for the year according to the Sarum use. The manuscripts bear no inscription, but we may surmise that it belonged to Humphrey by the presence of his coat of arms in the centre of the second folio above the text. This is not a conclusive proof of possession, as we have seen in the case of the book given by Wheathampsted to Oxford, but in the absence of any hostile evidence it may be accepted.

Yet one other book which may be put down among the possessions of Duke Humphrey survives in the British Museum, a vellum folio containing a medical treatise by the most famous of all the Arabian writers on surgery, Aboo-l-Kassim, who flourished in the latter part of the eleventh century. The title runs ‘Albucasis sive Albukassem Khalof Ebn Abbas Al-Zaharias Antidotarium per Lodaycum Tetrafarmacum e lingua Arabica translatum’ (Sloane MS., 248). At the end of the text an inscription has been erased and its restoration is impossible, though the first three words, ‘Cest livre est,’ can just be made out, and after this there seem to be traces of the big ‘A’ with the particular flourish the Duke always used when writing his name in his books. On the top of the first leaf is written ’Loyale et belle a Gloucester,’ and again on a blank leaf at the end in the same hand occurs ‘Loyale et belle de Gloucestre. Loyalement voster la Duchesse.’ These last two sentences are repeated on the next blank leaf. The meaning of these inscriptions is not evident, though we know that the Duke adopted the motto, ‘Loyale et belle.’ In default of better evidence they seem to suggest that the book, once the property of Gloucester, was given by him to his wife.

Outside Oxford and the British Museum there are in England four manuscripts which are thought to have once formed part of the Duke’s library. In the possession of Mr. Henry Yates Thompson, of 19 Portman Square, London, there is a Psalter with an erased inscription at the end of the text, which, when treated with a chemical reagent, reveals the words, ‘Cest livre est A moy Homfrey fiz frere et uncle de roys duc de Gloucestre comte de pembroc grant chambellan dangleterre, etc.’ (Henry Yates Thompson MS., 58. Cf. the descriptive Catalogue of the Thompson Collection (Second Series, Cambridge, 1902), pp. 75-81). This book was originally copied for the family of St. Omer of Mulbarton in Norfolk, and the illuminations, which make it one of the most beautiful examples of English art in two periods, are distinctly of the East Anglian school. The latter part of the volume was left unfinished, though part of the illuminating work must have been executed early in the fifteenth century. The absence of the Gloucester coat of arms in any part of the book shows that it must have been in its present state of completion when it came into the Duke’s hands.

Another brightly decorated manuscript was till lately preserved in the library of Earl Fitzwilliam at Wentworth-Woodhouse in the shape of an English verse translation of Palladius, De Re Rustica (Wentworth-Woodhouse MS., Z. i. 32). It is brilliantly illuminated, the poem being written in scarlet, crimson, blue, and green, with a few words in gold, and the effect is naturally more startling than beautiful. The book is bound richly but roughly in Russian leather, and inserted in the cover is an enamel of a woman of good but heavy features. Round this enamel runs the legend, ‘Jacqueline, Dutchess of Bavaria, Countess of Holland, Zealand, and Hainault, wife to Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester, 1427.’ We gather from a modern fly-leaf that this manuscript was in a ‘rotten wood binding’ in 1767, and the enamel was ‘judged proper to make a part of the new binding.’ According to the canons of Labarte this portrait cannot be earlier than the sixteenth century. (Inquiry at Wentworth-Woodhouse has resulted in a declaration that no such volume is now known to exist there. In the Bodleian Library, however, there is a photographic facsimile of it made in 1888. Bodley MS., Arch. F. d. 1.) The proem to this translation contains a good deal about Gloucester’s books at Oxford, and his relationship to the Italian Humanists in England. This, together with the portrait, have been declared undoubted evidence that it was the copy presented to Humphrey, and the presence of his arms in the initial letter of the poem strengthens, though it does not entirely confirm, this suggestion (see article in the Athenæum for November 17, 1888, p. 664). On the other hand, the fact that the introduction and text are written in different hands, would lead us to think that this was not the copy presented by the author to his patron.

The Cambridge University Library possesses a volume at the end of which occurs the inscription, ‘Cest livre est A moy Honfrey duc de Gloucestre du don mess Robert Roos chevalier mon cousin’ (Cambridge University Library, MS. Ee. 2, 17. It is described by P. Mayer in Romania, xv. 264, 265). It contains the last two sheets of a French translation of the De Regimine Principum of Ægidius Romanus, and the Rei Militaris Instituta of Flavius Renatus Vegetius, also translated into French by Jean de Vignai. Also at Cambridge, in the Library of King’s College, there is a manuscript which is thought to have once belonged to Duke Humphrey. This is a translation of some of the speeches of St. Athanasius by Antonio Beccaria, and is written in an Italian hand of the fifteenth century (King’s College MS., 27). Prefixed is a dedication to the Duke, one leaf of which is missing, but it bears no inscription, nor are there signs of there ever having been one. This volume is the only surviving relic of the original library of the college, and it has been suggested that, since it is dedicated to Humphrey, it was part of his library, and given by Henry VI., with others of his uncle’s books, to the college of his foundation, as some part of the spoils shared among the King’s favourites after the tragedy of Bury. The old library catalogue, which dates from 1453, helps to confirm this theory, for in it occur translations of Plato and Plutarch, and several of the Latin classics, which give a tone to the collection unlikely to be borrowed from any one but the late Duke of Gloucester (see Catalogue of MSS. of King’s College, by Montague Rhodes James (Cambridge, 1905,) pp. 46, 47, 70, 71). The theory is ingenious and worth considering; at any rate it suggests a possible destination for those books which the University of Oxford sought so long and so vainly to obtain.

Some of Gloucester’s books in course of time have found their way across the Channel, and six volumes, once part of his library, are now extant in France. In the Bibliothèque Nationale there are two Latin books which bear his autograph. The first is a collection of ancient panegyrics (Bibliothèque Nationale, MS. latin, 7805), on the first fly-leaf of which is written in the scribe’s hand, ‘Est illustrissimi domini ducis Gloucestrensis,’ which shows that the volume was written for Gloucester himself. These panegyrics are addressed by ancient writers to various emperors, the most interesting being one composed by the Younger Pliny for the benefit of Trajan. The whole manuscript is written in a neat Italian hand of the fifteenth century, and bears an illuminated letter at the beginning of each panegyric. On the verso of the last folio Humphrey has written ‘Cest livre est A moy Homfrey duc de Gloucestre,’ and by him it was given to Oxford in 1443 (Epist. Acad., 235). The other Latin work is a collection of the letters of Cicero, which was given to the Duke by his friend Zano, Bishop of Bayeux (Bibliothèque Nationale, MS. latin, 8537). It is written in a clear, clerkly hand of the fifteenth century, and adorned with occasional illuminated letters. The copyist was evidently no Greek scholar, for there are frequent gaps left for words of that language, which are supplied in a scrawling hand, with the Latin equivalents above. Several letters to Atticus are included, and the earlier ones are either addressed to or received from Brutus. At the end of the last folio is written, in large uncertain capital letters, ‘Rudolfus Johannis de Misotis de Feraria SS. MCCCCXV.’ Below this again the Duke has written, ‘Cest livre est A moy Homfrey duc de Gloucestre du don Reverend piere en Dieu Zanon eveque de Bayeux.’ The volume was probably purchased by Zano in Italy and presented to his friend when he returned to England to visit him, later passing by the gift of 1439 into the possession of the University of Oxford (Epist. Acad., 183).

In the same library we find three French manuscripts which Gloucester once possessed, and which, owing to the language in which they are written, do not naturally form part of his gifts to Oxford, consisting as these did exclusively of Latin works. An elaborately illuminated manuscript bearing the title ‘Le Bible hystoriaux’ (Bibliothèque Nationale, MS. français, 2) bears on the last folio written in a large hand, not that of the scribe, the inscription, ‘Le dixiesme jour de Septembre lan mil quatrecens vingt sept fut cest livre donne a tres hault & tres puissant prince Humfrey duc de Gloucestre Conte de Haynau Holland, etc., & protecteur & deffenseur d’engleterre par Sire Jehan Stanley Chevalier ledit prince estant en l’abbaye notre dame A Chestre.’ In this French version of the Scriptures the books are arranged in an arbitrary order, and in the New Testament everything after the Epistle to the Hebrews is omitted. The pages are all adorned with elaborate floral decorations, and they also bear numerous small illustrations of varying artistic value, some reaching a respectable standard, others being grotesque even for the age in which they were produced. The volume was originally written for William, Bishop of Sens, and in 1451 was bought in London by Philip de Loan, who was in the service of Philip, Duke of Burgundy. Thus one at least of Gloucester’s books passed to the Court of his great enemy.

The second of the French books once belonging to Humphrey, and now in this library, is a translation of the Decameron of Boccaccio (Bibliothèque Nationale, MS. français, 12,421). It is but poorly written, though a small portion of it is in a slightly better hand than the rest. A few coloured letters relieve the monotony of bad writing, and some fairly frequent illustrations help to give colour to the manuscript. Some of the last are typical fifteenth-century work, possibly slightly less grotesque than those in the last-mentioned volume. Others, however, are beautifully executed in water-colours, and appear to be of a much later date. The presumption is that the original illustrator did not fill up all the spaces at his disposal, and that a later artist, who betrays more technical ability than even the fifteenth-century painter, Jean Fouquet, completed the work. At the end of the last folio there is to be found a faded yet quite legible inscription, which shows traces of an attempt at erasure. It reads, ‘Cest livre est A moy Homfrey duc de Gloucestre du don mon tres chier cousin le conte de Warwic.’ Less ornate is the third French manuscript in the Bibliothèque Nationale, which we can trace back to Duke Humphrey’s library (Bibliothèque Nationale, MS. français, 12,583). This is a poorly written copy of the early French romance, Le Roman de Renard. At the head of the first words stands a picture of inferior execution, and beyond this no adornment is attempted. The text ends abruptly on the 48th folio, and shows traces of mutilation. The fly-leaf at the beginning is pasted down, and on it is cut ‘Homfrey’ in fairly large characters. This seems to be a later addition, as an experimental ‘H’ has been cut higher up on the page, and its tail cuts the ‘de’ in the following inscription, ‘Cest livre est a Humfrey duc de Gloucestre.’ The writing of this is not in the hand of Duke Humphrey, though there seems no reason to doubt the accuracy of the statement.

The list of Gloucester’s books now extant in Paris is brought to a conclusion with a large folio volume of 433 folios containing Livy’s Roman History translated into French by Pierre Bersuyre, or Bercheure, or Berchoire, and dedicated to King John of France (Bibliothèque de Ste. Geneviève, MS. français, 777). The manuscript is beautifully illuminated, and at the head of the title-page there stands a painting divided into nine medallions showing various episodes in the history of Rome. There are two other large title-pages in the volume, and others have been cut out. This manuscript must have formed part of Charles V.’s library, for the colours of the illuminations are blue, red, and white, such as are found in all his books. Thence it probably passed into the possession of Charles VI., for a volume closely resembling it is to be found in the catalogue of this king’s library drawn up by order of Bedford (Catalogue des Manuscrits de la Bibliothèque de Sainte Geneviève, par Ch. Kohler (Paris, 1893), vol. i. p. 370, quoting a MS. in the same library). The English regent sent it to his brother, who in his turn possibly sent it to Alfonso of Aragon. Below a rubbed space at the end of the last sentence, which is supposed to have held the ex libris of Charles VI., stand these words, ‘Cest livre fut envoye des parties de France et donne par mons le regent le royaume duc de Bedford a mons le duc de Gloucestre son beau frere l’an mil quatre cens vingt sept.

Thus of the great library, at the size of which we can only guess, only some twenty-seven works in twenty-nine volumes, at the most generous computation, survive. Others there may be which have escaped the notice of librarians, cataloguers, and the researches of the present writer, or may lie buried in the dust of unexplored libraries. Yet even were this list of survivals to be doubled or trebled the loss would be enormous.


In Cotton MS., Claudius, A. viii. ff. 195-198, there is an entry of which the title runs: ‘In this sedule be conteyned the charges and observances appointed by the noble Prince Humfrey late Duke Gloucester to be perpetually boren by thabbot and Convent of the Monastery of Seint Alban.’ The entries contained in the schedule are as follows:—

Paid by the said Abbot and convent ‘for making of the tombe and place of sepulture,’ £433, 6s. 8d.

To two priests for saying Mass daily at the altar of the tomb at the rate of 6d. a day each. £18, 5s. per annum.

To the Abbot for his expenses on the ‘day of anniversary of the Duke,’ 40s. per annum, and to the Prior for the same, 20s. per annum.

To 40 monks in orders, to be paid on this ‘day of anniversary’ every year, 6s. 8d. each, £13s, 6s. 8d.

To 8 monks as above on the same day, 3s. 4d. each, £1, 6s. 8d.

To an ‘ankress’ at St. Peter’s Church and another at St. Michael’s on that same day each year, 20d.

To be distributed to the poor on that day each year, 40s.

To 13 poor men bearing torches round the tomb on that day each year, 2s. 6d. each, £1, 8s. 2d.

To wax burnt daily at the Duke’s Mass and torches at his anniversary, £6, 13s. 4d.

To the kitchen of the monastery ‘in relief of the great decay of the livelod of the said monasterie in the marches of Scotland, which before time had been appointed to the said Kechyn,’ £60 per annum.

In payment for these expenses, the Duke transferred to the monastery the alien Priory of Pembroke in his possession.

(This schedule is printed in Dugdale’s Monasticon, ii. 202, and in the notes to the English Chronicle, edited by J. S. Davies, p. 195.)

On the south wall of St. Alban’s shrine, close to Humphrey’s tomb, an epitaph was once written, but it is now lost owing to restoration. It was the work of Dr. John Westerman, Vicar of Bushey early in the seventeenth century, and was placed under Gloucester’s arms, which were surmounted by a coronet.


Hic jacet Humfredus dux ille Glocestrius olim
Henrici Regis protector, fraudis ineptae
Delector; dum ficta notat miracula caeci,
Lumen erat Patriae, columen venerabilis regni:
Pacis amans, musisque favens melioribus, unde
Gratum Opus Oxonio, quae nunc schola sacra refulget
Invida sed mulier regno, regi, sibi nequam,
Abstulit hunc, humili vix hoc dignata sepulchro
Invidia rumpente tamen post funera vivit.
Deo Gloria.

(Weever, Ancient Funeral Monuments, p. 555, writing in 1631; Ashmole MS., 784, f. 41, writing in 1657; Sandford, Genealogical History, 309, writing in 1677 and dating the epitaph about 60 years earlier; History of the County of Hertfordshire, by Robert Clutterbuck (London, 1815), i. 73.)

The third line of this epitaph refers to a legend which first appears in the works of Sir Thomas More, and which had a great popularity at one time. It recounts how a man, who declared that he had been blind from birth and that he had been miraculously cured at the shrine of St. Alban, was proved to be lying by the Duke of Gloucester, who asked him the colours of the coats of the various people standing round and was answered correctly. As the man declared that his sight had been restored that very day, the impossibility of his having learned the various colours in so short a time proved the baselessness of his story. (Foxe, Acts and Monuments, iii. 713; cf. Shakespeare, Second Part of King Henry VI., Act II. Scene i.)

Later generations made a strange mistake with regard to the place where Duke Humphrey was buried. The reverent affection with which his name was regarded, after the defamations of the Lancastrians had caused a reaction which went to the opposite extreme, led the Londoners to do him honour, and for this purpose they selected a tomb in the old St. Paul’s Cathedral. By what chance the mistake was made cannot be known, but in the days of John Stow, the chronicler, the tomb of Sir John Beauchamp, son of Guy, Earl of Warwick, who died in 1358, was thought to contain the remains of the ‘Good Duke.’ Every year a ceremony was observed when ‘on May Day tankard-bearers, watermen, and some other of like quality beside, would use to come to the same tombe early in the morning’ and strew herbs and sprinkle water thereon. The precise significance of this proceeding seems to be unknown. (Stow’s Survey of London, ed. Thomas, 1842, p. 125.)

In connection with this mistake as to Gloucester’s tomb, there grew up a saying, which is known to most people at the present day, though in many cases the origin is forgotten. ‘To dine with Duke Humphrey’ was till comparatively recent years synonymous with not dining at all, and the saying arose from the mistaken idea, that the tomb in St. Paul’s was Gloucester’s last resting-place. In the days when the Cathedral was a public meeting-place for Londoners, and a centre of social and commercial life, it was the custom for certain gallants, whose pretensions were greater than their purses were full, to hang about there in the hopes of receiving an invitation to dinner, and failing in their quest, they were compelled to dispense with dinner altogether. The rendezvous of these hangers-on of society, who sought to live on men whose social position they despised, was opposite the tomb of Sir John Beauchamp, and it is of them that Thomas Dekker, who has left us so many interesting facts relating to the early seventeenth century, wrote, when he said: ‘Such schemes are laid about eleven o’clock in St. Paul’s (even amongst those that wear gilt rapiers by their sides), where for that noone they may shift from Duke Humphrey, and be furnished with dinner at some meaner man’s table’ (Dekker’s Dead Terme, D. 3). Those that failed in their endeavours, and were left dinnerless near the tomb where they had taken their stand, were therefore said ‘to have dined with Duke Humphrey.’ A reflection of this same phrase is to be found in Bishop Corbet’s ‘Letter to the Duke of Buckingham,’ where he alludes to

‘Poets of Paules, those of Duke Humfrey’s messe,
That feed on nought but graves and emptiness.’


Wheathampsted tells us that the Duke died intestate (Whethamstede, i. 74), and on March 24, 1427, a commission was issued to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Say de Sele, Sir Thomas Stanley, John Somerset, and Richard Chester, empowering them to dispose of the goods and chattels of the late Duke of Gloucester, since he had died intestate (Rot. Pat., 25 Henry VI., Part ii. m. 35; Rymer, V. i. 171). On the other hand, there is a strong presumption that a will did really exist, and that the Duke’s enemies suppressed it. No such document has survived, but in one of their frequent letters written to various persons in the hope of securing the books promised to them, the authorities of the University of Oxford ask for a copy of Gloucester’s will, as though it were a well-known fact that such a document existed (Epist. Acad., 285). In several other letters the will is referred to, though it is noticeable that when writing to the King on the subject, its existence is not mentioned (Epist. Acad., 252). The date of this last letter is 1447, whilst the former was written in 1450, which seems to imply that the University had obtained evidence of the existence of a will in the interval. Moreover, in one letter there is a thinly veiled suggestion that those in power were diverting the property of the late Duke to their own private ends (Epist. Acad., 286). It seems likely that Gloucester’s enemies seized the majority of his property, and that the King himself presented some of his uncle’s possessions to the foundations at Eton and Cambridge in which he was so much interested. Certainly some church ornaments and jewels, which had belonged to Humphrey, and were then in the keeping of the Abbey of St. Albans, found their way to these institutions, though the monks were to a certain extent compensated for the loss (Rot. Parl., v. 307; Whethamstede, i. 65), and we have already shown the probability that the Library of King’s College, Cambridge, was begun with a collection of Humphrey’s books. It is noteworthy that a loving-cup, now in the possession of Christ’s College, bears the arms of Gloucester quartered with those of his Cobham wife; (ex relatione Sir Alfred Scott-Gatty, Garter); this, too, was probably part of the plunder which fell to the King on his uncle’s death. The supposition that there was a will, and that it was suppressed, is strengthened by the fact that the Parliament of Bury passed an ordinance annulling Eleanor of Gloucester’s right to any dower, or to any freehold or other possession left to her by her husband (Rot. Parl., v. 135). Apart from the question of dower, how could Eleanor have any claim to the late Duke’s possessions except under the terms of his will?

It is significant that the question of the settlement of Duke Humphrey’s affairs was reopened by the Parliament which was called after the first battle of St. Albans under Yorkist influence, the same assembly that petitioned the King for the vindication of his uncle’s memory. In another petition this Parliament besought the King to provide for the administration of Gloucester’s estate, since his creditors had not been paid, and were in great want. It was suggested that fresh commissioners for this purpose should be appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and that they should have right of action against those who were detaining the property of the Duke illegally. It was definitely stated that the existing goods and chattels would not both pay his debts and fulfil his will, a statement which cannot be regarded as consistent with the assertion that he died intestate (Rot. Parl., v. 339). The petition was dismissed with the familiar formula ‘Le roi s’advisera,’ but some steps were ultimately taken, and in 1462 we find the Archbishop of Canterbury busy in arranging for ‘the performance of the will of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (Westminster Abbey MSS., Miscellanea, Press 6, Box 2, Parcel 20; see Hist. MSS. Rep., iv., Appendix, p. 176). All the facts suggest that Wheathampsted was once again mistaken with regard to the events which surrounded his friend and patron’s death, and that a will was made by Gloucester, but suppressed by his triumphant enemies, and probably in the end never completely executed.


There are indications that Duke Humphrey possessed several houses scattered about the country in which he dwelt from time to time. We have seen him residing and holding his Court at Pembroke Castle (Rot. Parl., iv. 474); on one occasion, at least, he was resident at his manor of Penshurst in Kent (Oriel MS., xxxii.); and he is said to have at one time dwelt at the Manor of the Weald, near St. Albans (Newcome, History of Abbey of St. Albans, 510). Another story declares that he held the castle of Devizes and had a mansion there (Holkham MS., p. 68), but there is no trace of the possession of the castle in official records, and it is known to have been demolished towards the end of the reign of Edward III. It would seem likely that he resided at Leicester and Pontefract at certain times, as on the fly-leaf of a book that he gave to his wife there are scribbled certain accounts relative to his household, dated at the two above-named places (Sloane MS., 248). The most famous of Gloucester’s residences was the one situated at Greenwich. This mansion is supposed to have been a royal residence as far back as the days of Edward I.; Henry IV. was constantly resident there, and from it his will is dated. Henry V. gave it to Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter, for his life, and within two years of the latter’s death, we find it in the possession of Duke Humphrey (St. Albans Chron., i. 32)—possibly under the provision in Henry V.’s will that gave all his castles in the south of England to his youngest brother (Test. Vetust., i. 21). Henceforth it was Duke Humphrey’s favourite resort, and between 1432 and 1437 he transformed it into a far more important house than it had been hitherto. He was given permission to increase his possessions in the immediate neighbourhood by exchanging some lands for seventeen acres belonging to the Carthusian Monastery of Jesus of Bethlehem at Shene (Ancient Petitions, File 113, No. 5612; Rot. Parl., iv. 466; Ordinances, iv. 136-138), and ultimately he surrounded the manor with a wall, embattled the mansion itself, and built towers and turrets within the park, one of which stood on the spot on which Greenwich Observatory is now placed. The house was surrounded by a park of some two hundred acres, most of which had been enclosed and afforested by special permission of the King (Rot. Parl., iv. 498, 499; Ordinances, iv. 136-138; Cal. Rot. Pat., 277). Both in official documents and in letters written from Greenwich this residence is called ‘the manor of Plesaunce,’ and at Humphrey’s death it reverted to the Crown and was inhabited by Henry VI., when Jack Cade’s rebellion had made the capital unsafe (Fabyan, 623). Edward IV. enlarged and furnished this palace, Henry VII. spent much time there, his son Henry VIII. and his grand-daughters Mary and Elizabeth were all born there. At the Restoration, the King pulled down the old building, and in the days of Humphrey’s seventeenth-century biographer hardly a stone of it was left; and a new building was rising on the site (Holkham MS., p. 68). This new house, by the gift of William III. and Mary, became, and still is, the National Hospital for Seamen. (See Gentleman’s Magazine, New Series, vol. xiii. pp. 21-24; ‘Cygnea Cantio auctore Joanne Lelando,’ in Leland’s Itinerary, ed. by Thomas Hearne (Oxford, 1768), vol. ix. p. 17.)

Besides his residence in Greenwich, Humphrey possessed a house in London, ‘a place callid the Duke’s Wardrobe atte Baynardes Castel in London, otherwise called Waterton’s Aley’ (Rot. Parl., v. 239). This mansion was situated on the banks of the river, just west of Paul’s Wharf, and bounded on the north by what is now Queen Victoria Street. It has been thought that this was the same site as the original castle of Bainard and the Fitzwalter family (Stow’s Survey of London (London, 1720), Book i. pp. 60, 61), though modern research tends to prove that this earlier fortress was in another parish (London, by J. W. Loftie, Historical Towns Series (London, 1887), p. 80). Possibly the palace of the earliest Saxon kings stood on this spot, and in Chaucer’s day it seems to have been a royal residence, to which Edward II. had added a lofty tower (The Pageant of London, by Richard Davey (London, 1906), i. 42, 188). In 1428 a devastating fire reduced this quarter of London to ashes, and it seems that it was at this time that Humphrey built the palace associated with his name, though no documentary evidence exists to justify the suggestion (Stow’s Survey, Book i. pp. 60, 61; London City, by W. J. Loftie (London, 1891), p. 249). The fact that in 1427 the Duke was at an ‘Inn,’ when the representatives of Parliament called upon him, supports the theory that at that time he had no permanent residence in the city. The house was called Baynard’s Castle after the ward in which it was built, extensive grounds surrounded it, and it was only second in magnificence to the palace at Greenwich, if we are to believe a political songster of the time, who makes Eleanor sadly take leave of ‘fayer places on Temmy’s side’ (‘The Lament of the Duchess of Gloucester,’ in Polit. Songs, ii. 207). Mansion, gardens, and all pertaining thereto were given by the King in 1447 (when they reverted to him at the death of his uncle) to King’s College, Cambridge (Rot. Parl., v. 132), but in the reign of Edward IV. we find the King’s mother there resident, and it was at Baynard’s Castle that the Mayor of London waited on Richard of Gloucester in 1483 with the formal offer of the English Crown (London City, pp. 76, 116). Henry VII. rebuilt the palace early in his reign, but it was not then embattled, ‘or so strongly fortified castle-like,’ as in Duke Humphrey’s days, but was more of a royal and family residence (Stow’s Survey, Book i. pp. 60, 61). We next find it in the possession of the Herbert family, and on July 19, 1553, the Privy Council met there to proclaim Mary queen, the owner being then William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke (The History and Survey of London, by B. Lambert, London, 1806, iii. 98). John Cooper, the seventeenth-century biographer of Duke Humphrey, had himself visited Baynard’s Castle, and by that time, he tells us, the property had been split up, and was intersected by streets and lanes, but they still bore ‘the name of Duke Humphries.’ Indeed there stood an inn which bore the sign of the Duke just on the edge of the site of the old mansion, and at the time of writing was famous for a recent brawl on the premises (Holkham MS., pp. 68, 69). The whole district was swept away by the great fire of 1666, but in 1809 two towers of the old castle were still standing, and to this day Castle Street and Castle Yard commemorate the past glories of Gloucester’s London residence (Davey’s Pageant of London, i. 337).


I. In a book of portraits in Vol. 266 of the Bibliothèque de la ville d’Arras, on folio 37, there is a portrait bearing Gloucester’s name, a reproduction of which hangs in the Bodleian Library. It appears among a series of portraits of people from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century, which represent in most cases Flemish grandees and prominent courtiers of the Court of Burgundy. On folio 36 there is a portrait of Jacqueline of Hainault, and on folio 35 another of the Dauphin John, her first husband. All are in crayon, and are probably the work of Jacques Le Boucq, a herald of the Toison d’Or, who was known as a painter in the days of Philip II. of Spain. It has been thought probable that he copied contemporary portraits for these crayon drawings, and if this be true, he provides us with the only attempt at real portraiture of Duke Humphrey (Catalogue of the Arras Library; Les Portraits Aux Crayons, by Henri Bouchet, Paris, 1884).

II. In the initial letter of the dedication to Duke Humphrey, prefixed to Capgrave’s Commentary on Genesis, a miniature portrays the author in the act of presenting his book to his patron. The workmanship of this miniature is too coarse to allow of any portraiture, though a slight likeness to the Arras portrait may be traced (Oriel MS., xxxii.). A line reproduction of the Duke’s head, taken from this manuscript, is given in Doyle’s Official Baronage.

III. In a register at St. Albans Abbey there is a small illumination representing Duke Humphrey and his wife Eleanor, painted on the occasion of the latter’s reception into the confraternity of St. Albans. There is here a more successful attempt at portraiture than in the Oriel manuscript, and the type of face, long, clean shaven, almost apathetic, is similar to that in the Arras drawing. Nevertheless, here as elsewhere there is no real character in the face of Humphrey, and still less in that of his wife; there is, indeed, a strong suggestion of mediæval formalism (Cotton MS., Nero, D. vii. f. 154).

IV. Among the royal collection of manuscripts in the British Museum there is a Psalter which was prepared for Duke Humphrey, and which, besides being beautifully illuminated, bears a miniature which may contain a portrait of the owner (Royal MS., 2, B. i.). It represents a man kneeling at a Prie-Dieu, with a patron standing behind him. The kneeling figure may very well be taken to represent the owner of the book. Again there are very few signs of portraiture, but such as it is, the miniature seems to be the likeness of Humphrey when still a young man The manuscript was written about 1415, which would lead us to suppose that the artist here tried to present the Duke’s features at the age of twenty-five.

V. In the church at Greenwich which was destroyed in 1710 there was a stained-glass window representing the Duke in a kneeling posture. A copy of this window is still extant, and is to be found as the headpiece of the preface to the old catalogue of manuscripts contained in the Bodleian Library (Oxford, 1697). A rough drawing thereof, executed in 1695, is also to be found in Tanner MS., 24, f. 107, and another, dating from some seventy-five years earlier, exists in Ashmole MS., 874, f. 113vo. Humphrey is represented in armour, and in appearance he is here totally unlike any of the above-mentioned portraits, being represented as wearing a beard. The window was probably placed in Greenwich church some time after his decease.

VI. In the year 1610 there was at the west end of the church of St. Helen’s, Abingdon, a glass window, in which were portraits of Henry V. and his three brothers. ‘These Dukes be in their robes and their coronalls with their arms over their Hedds, and their names written under their feet.’ No drawing of this window has survived, and it has disappeared as completely as the one in Greenwich church. (Ashmole MS., 874, f. 113vo.)

VII. Horace Walpole possessed amongst his collection of pictures at Strawberry Hill three paintings in which he claimed there were portraits of Duke Humphrey. The first was a representation of the marriage of Henry VI., and Walpole thought that it was probably designed for the King, but executed after his death. The King and Queen stand in the front of the picture, and behind the former is a nobleman, bald headed, with a beard, and wearing a furred mantle. The workmanship throughout shows considerable power and expression, and would seem to be of a later date than is supposed. (Walpole, Anecdotes of Painting in England, London, 1876, i. 34, 35; Catalogues of Strawberry Hill Sale, p. 197.) The second picture was once part of the doors of a shrine in the Abbey of St. Edmundsbury, which Walpole had sawed into four panels. According to his judgment two of the panels bear portraits of Cardinal Beaufort and Archbishop Kemp; the third may represent St. Joseph in adoration, or more probably the donor, the fourth is described as a portrait of Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, and corresponds exactly in dress and appearance with the figure said to be a likeness of the same Duke in the ‘Marriage of Henry VI.’ The third and fourth panels ‘are so good that they are in the style of the school of the Caracci. They at least were painted by some Italian; the draperies have large folds, and one wonders how they could be executed in the reign of Henry VI.’ (Walpole’s Letters, Mrs. Paget Toynbee’s edition, xi. 183, 184; Catalogue of Strawberry Hill Sale, p. 211.) Probably neither of these pictures was painted in the reign of Henry VI.