On 14th September 1435 , John, duke of Bedford died. John was King Henry V’s brother and the eldest uncle of King Henry VI. When Henry V died, Bedford was nominally in charge of the Minority Council appointed to manage state affairs until the infant king reached his majority. He spent most of his time in Paris as Regent. Despite his long absences from Westminster, his death had major repercussions for the stability of the government of England.
John, duke of Bedford as Regent in France
Bedford spent much of his time in France managing English affairs there. It was a period when the French were beginning to recover some ground in the Hundred Years War with their army being inspired by Joan of Arc. Therefore, most of the time, the political and military priority was to counter resurgent France through arms and diplomacy.
Problems at Council
This led to some problems at Council as its head, Bedford, was rarely in attendance. This left the Duke of Gloucester as the senior royal on Council and whilst he is remembered as Good Duke Humphrey, he was a rather divisive figure.
Bedford’s diplomatic judgement could be called into question with regards to his choice of a second wife. His first wife was Anne of Burgundy. Anne died in 1432, but their marriage had helped bind England and Burgundy together against the French: vital if France were to be defeated.
Consequences of the death of John, duke of Bedford
When Anne died, Bedford took Jacquetta of Luxembourg as his second wife. This infuriated Philip the Good of Burgundy as Luxembourg was an area into which Burgundy had expansionist designs. The alliance became strained as a result and contributed to it breaking down. However, Bedford was a figure of stability within English politics, and his death left a void that needed a strong and capable figure to fill.
Arms of John, Duke of Bedford. Source: Wikipedia.