BEAUFORT, HENRY (d. 1447), bishop of Winchester and cardinal, was the second and illegitimate son of John of Gaunt by Catherine, widow of Sir Hugh Swynford. His parents having been married in 1396, their children were the next year declared legitimate by Richard II, and the king’s patent of legitimation was confirmed by parliament. In common with his brother John, earl of Somerset, and Thomas, duke of Exeter, Henry took his name from Beaufort Castle, in Anjou, the place of his birth. He is said to have studied at Oxford, but he spent the greater part of his youth at Aachen, where he read the civil and the canon law. He was made prebendary of Thame 1389, and of Sutton 1391, both in the diocese of Lincoln. He held the deanery of Wells in 1397, and, having been appointed bishop of Lincoln by papal provision, was consecrated 14 July 1398, after the death of John Bokyngham [see Bokyngham, John]. The next year he became chancellor of the university of Oxford. The election of his half-brother, Henry of Lancaster, to the throne, gave the Bishop of Lincoln a prominent place in the kingdom. Forming a kind of constitutional court party, he and his brother steadily upheld the Lancastrian dynasty, while at the same time they were opposed to the masterful policy of Archbishop Arundel [q. v.]. Bishop Beaufort was made chancellor in 1403, and in the same year was named as a member of the king’s ‘great and continual council.’ On the death of William of Wykeham, in 1404, he was nominated to the bishopric of Winchester by papal provision, and in the spring of the next year received the spiritualities of the see. He resigned the chancellorship on his translation to Winchester. He is said to have been the tutor of the Prince of Wales. He certainly exercised considerable influence over him. While the king was in a great measure guided by Arundel, the prince attached himself to the younger and more popular party, of which the Bishop of Winchester was the head. In 1407 the archbishop, who was then chancellor, gained a triumph over the Beauforts; for when in that year the king exemplified and confirmed the patent of their legitimation granted by Richard, he inserted in it words (‘excepta regali dignitate’) which expressly excluded them from the succession. As, however, these words do not occur in the document confirmed by parliament in the preceding reign, they have no legal value, though probably this fact was not recognised at the time. The strength of Bishop Beaufort and the weakness of the archbishop alike lay in the parliament. Arundel felt himself unable to continue in office, and in 1410 Thomas Beaufort was made chancellor. As the new chancellor was not installed when the parliament met, his brother the bishop declared the cause of summons. Taking as the text of his discourse ‘It becometh us to fulfil all righteousness,’ he dwelt on the relations of England with France and Scotland, and on the duty of loyalty to the crown. Dr. Stubbs, who in his ‘Constitutional History’ (iii. c. 18) has given a masterly sketch of the career of Bishop Beaufort as an English politician, has pointed out the probability that during the administration of Thomas Beaufort the Prince of Wales ruled in the name of his father; for during this period the illness of Henry IV seems to have rendered him incapable of performing the duties of kingship. The rule of the prince involved the predominance of the Bishop of Winchester in the council. The divergence of the parties of Beaufort and Arundel came to a climax in 1411. A family quarrel probably hastened the issue of the struggle. On the death of John Beaufort, earl of Somerset, the bishop’s brother, in 1410, Thomas of Lancaster, the earl’s nephew, married his widow, and demanded that Bishop Beaufort should give up to him part of a sum of 30,000 marks, which he had received as the earl’s executor. The bishop refused the demand, and in the quarrel which ensued the Prince of Wales upheld his uncle against his brother. Prince Henry and the bishop were alike anxious to secure the continuance of their power. With the assent of the numerous lords of their party they tried to prevail on the king to resign the crown, and to allow the prince to reign in his stead. The king was much angered at this request, and dismissed the prince from the council. Bishop Beaufort and his whole party seem to have shared the disgrace of the prince; for in November the commons prayed the king to thank the Prince of Wales, the Bishop of Winchester, and other lords for their labour and diligence during the time that they were of the council, the archbishop succeeded Thomas Beaufort as chancellor in 1412. The change in the administration brought with it a change in foreign politics. The Bishop of Winchester agreed with the prince in upholding the cause of the Duke of Burgundy, and in 1411 the united forces of the English and Burgundians gained a brilliant victory over the Armagnacs at St. Cloud. On the accession of Arundel to power the alliance with Burgundy was suddenly broken, and an expedition was sent to help the Armagnacs.
When, in 1413, the prince succeeded his father as Henry V, he at once gave the chancellorship to Bishop Beaufort, who accordingly, on 15 May 1413, opened the first parliament of the reign. On 23 Sept. he sat as one of the assessors of the archbishop on the trial of Sir John Oldcastle. In opening the parliament held at Leicester in the April of the next year he referred at some length to the dangerous rising which followed Oldcastle’s escape. Preaching on the words ‘He hath applied his heart to understand the laws,’ he described how the christian faith was in danger of being brought to naught by the Lollard confederacy, and the peace of the realm by riots, and called on the estates to aid the crown in the work of government by their good advice. The bishop was this year sent to France, along with other ambassadors, to propose terms which were too hard to be accepted even in the distracted state of that kingdom. In opening parliament on 4 Nov. 1415 the chancellor embarked on the noble exploits of the king in the war with France, and made an appeal to the gratitude of the people, which was answered by a liberal grant. The war, however, placed the king in constant need of money, and Henry found his uncle the chancellor always ready to lend. As Beaufort cannot have inherited any great estates, and as the income of his see, considerable as it was, was by no means large enough to supply him with the vast sums which he lent the crown from time to time, as well as to provide him with the means of indulging his taste for magnificence, it is probable that his constant power of finding ready money was the result of singular financial ability, combined with a high character for integrity. Knowing how to use money, and using it with boldness, careful to maintain his credit, and not afraid of making his credit serve him, Beaufort gained immense wealth. While he guarded this wealth carefully, he never refused to lend it for the support of the crown. In 1416 he lent the king 14,000l., secured on the customs, and received a certain gold crown to be kept as a pledge of repayment. Having been relieved of his office in the July of 1417, the bishop left England, nominally on a pilgrimage. The real object of his journey was to attend the council then sitting at Constance. His arrival at the council was coincident, and can scarcely have been unconnected, with an important change in the position of parties. Up to that time the English and the Germans worked together in endeavouring to force the council to undertake the reformation of the church. In alliance with the Emperor Sigismund, Henry, by the English representatives, opposed the election of a pope until measures had been taken to bring about this reformation. On the other hand, the Latin nations sided with the cardinals in demanding that the council should at once proceed to the election of a pope, and should leave the work of reformation to be accomplished by him. Henry had, however, suffered from reformers in his own kingdom. Whatever the reasons of the king may have been for changing his policy, there can be no doubt that the Bishop of Winchester carried out this change. He effected a compromise, to which the emperor was forced to agree. At his suggestion the council pledged itself to a reformation to be effected after the election of a pope. The conclave was formed. It was believed in England that the Bishop of Winchester was, among many others, suggested as the future pope. The choice of the conclave fell on the Cardinal Colonna, who took the title of Martin V. The new pope was not unmindful of the good service rendered him by Beaufort, and on 28 Dec. nominated him cardinal, without specifying any title. Claiming a universal right of presentation, and intent on bringing the English church into subservience to the see of Rome, Martin hoped to find in Beaufort an instrument for carrying out his schemes of aggression. He intended to apply to the king to allow the bishop to hold the see of Winchester in commnendam, and to accept him as legate a latere holding office for life. He mistook the king with whom he had to deal. When Archbishop Chichele, who had succeeded Arundel in 1414, heard of the plan, he wrote to Henry, who was then in France, and remonstrated against such an outrage on the liberties of the kingdom and on the rights of his own see. Henry refused to allow the bishop to accept the office of cardinal, saying, if we may trust the account of the matter given in 1440 by the Duke of Gloucester, that ‘he had as lief sette his coroune besyde hym as to see him were a cardinal’s hatte, he being a cardinal.’ Great as must have been the bishop’s disappointment, the refusal of the king did not alienate him from his attachment to the crown; for when in 1421 Henry returned to England to raise money for a fresh expedition, Beaufort, who had as yet only received in repayment part of his former loan, lent him a further sum of 14,000l., making a total debt of 22,306l. 18s. 8d., and again received from the hands of the treasurer a gold crown as security for repayment. In the December of the same year he stood godfather to the king’s son, Henry of Winchester. And the next year the king, when on his deathbed, showed his confidence in him by naming him one of the guardians of the infant prince.
In the debates on the regency which followed the death of Henry V, Beaufort opposed the ambitious claims of the Duke of Gloucester, the late king’s youngest brother. During the long and bitter quarrel which ensued between the uncle and nephew, Beaufort’s wise and loyal policy stands in strong contrast to the wild schemes by which Gloucester, as protector in the absence of his brother Bedford, sought his own aggrandisement at home and abroad. In December 1422 Beaufort was named a member of the council, and powers were granted to that body which strictly limited the authority of the protector. When, in 1424, Gloucester was about to leave England on his futile expedition against Hainault, the bishop was again appointed chancellor. In the absence of both Bedford and Gloucester the whole burden of the government rested on him, and in consideration of his extra work he received an addition of 2,000l. to his salary. His administration was unpopular in London, where the citizens were attached to the Duke of Gloucester. The favour which the chancellor showed to the Flemings angered the merchants, and some ordinances restraining the employment of labourers, which were made by the mayor and aldermen, and were approved by the council, set the working classes against the government. Threatening bills were posted on the gates of the bishop’s palace, and a tumultuous meeting of men of ‘low estate’ was held ‘at the Crane of the Vintry,’ in which some loudly wished that they had the bishop there, that they might throw him into the Thames. Beaufort took the precaution of placing in the Tower a garrison composed of men from the duchy of Lancaster. While affairs were in this uneasy state, the Duke of Gloucester returned to England. The strictures of the council on his foolish expedition doubtless helped to fan the discord between him and the chancellor. On 30 Oct. 1425. the duke persuaded the mayor to keep London Bridge against the bishop, and so prevent him from entering the city. The men of the bishop and of the duke well nigh came to blows. All the shops in London were shut, the citizens crowded down to the bridge to uphold their mayor, and had it not been for the interference of the archbishop and the Duke of Coimbra, a dangerous riot would have taken place. The chancellor wrote urgently to Bedford begging him, as he valued the welfare of the king, his safety, and the safety of the kingdom, to return to England with haste. On the return of Bedford the council tried to arrange the dispute. Matters were, however, still unsettled when the parliament, called the Parliament of Bats, met at Leicester on 18 Feb. 1426. At the petition of the commons Bedford and the lords undertook an arbitration. Gloucester charged the chancellor with refusing to admit him into the Tower, with purposing to slay him at London Bridge, and with designing to seize the person of the king. He also declared that he had plotted against the life of Henry V when prince of Wales, and had counselled him to take the crown from his father. Beaufort made answer to these accusations. The lords decreed that he should make a distinct denial of the truth of the charges of treason against Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI, that Bedford should thereupon declare him a ‘true man to the king, his father, and his grandfather,’ and that he and Gloucester should take each other by the hand. The bishop must have felt the pacification, which was effected on 12 March, a distinct defeat. He resigned the chancellorship, and applied for license to perform a vow of pilgrimage by which he was bound. He does not, however, seem to have left England, and his name appears twice in the proceedings of the council during the remainder of the year.
Encouraged by the condition of the government in England, the pope renewed his plan of making the Bishop of Winchester a cardinal, which had been defeated by the vigorous policy of Henry V. His special object in conferring this office on Beaufort at this time was to gain his help against the Hussites. The bishop was nominated cardinal-priest of St. Eusebius on 24 May 1426. He left England in company with the Duke of Bedford in March of the next year, and on Lady day received the cardinal’s hat from the hands of the duke in St. Mary’s church at Calais. In accepting the cardinalate Beaufort made a false step, which brought him into much trouble. The legatine commission which accompanied his new dignity lessened his popularity, and gave occasion to his enemies to attack him. His energies were to some extent diverted from the service of his country, and men naturally looked on him as identified with the papal policy which, under Martin V, was antagonistic to the ecclesiastical liberties of England. The new cardinal lost no time in obeying the papal call for help in the Hussite war. With the full approval of the emperor he accepted the office of legate in Germany, Hungary, and Bohemia. At the moment of his entrance into Bohemia a combined attack was made by three armies of the crusaders upon the Hussites at Mies. The attack failed, and at Tachau the cardinal met the German host in full flight. He bade them turn against their pursuers, and, planting a cross before them, succeeded for a moment in his attempt to rally the panic-stricken multitude. At the sight of the advancing army of the Bohemians the Germans again turned and fled. The cardinal vainly called on them to halt and make a stand against their enemies. In his indication he tore the flag of the empire and cast it before the feet of the German princes. His efforts were fruitless, and the close approach of the Bohemian army forced him to share the flight of the Germans. The pope wrote him a letter encouraging him to persevere in the crusade. He exhorted him to restore ecclesiastical discipline in Germany, and to put an end to the quarrel between the archbishops of Coln and Maintz, that the German churchmen might be more earnest in the crusade.
The cardinal returned to England to raise money for the prosecution of the war, and on entering London 1 Sept. 1428 was received with great state by the mayor and aldermen. When, however, he opened his legatine commission, the Duke of Gloucester refused to recognise it, as contrary to the customs of the kingdom, and Richard Caudray, the king’s proctor, argued the case against him. Beaufort promised not to exercise his legatine functions without the king’s leave, and the matter was dropped for the time. In Februarv 1429 the cardinal went to Scotland on civil as well as ecclesiastical business, and had an interview near Berwick with James and with his niece, Joan the queen. On his return Gloucester made an effort to deprive him of his see by bringing before the council the question whether he, as a cardinal, might lawfully officiate at the chapter of the order of the Garter on St. George’s day, a right which pertained to him as bishop of Winchester. The question was left undecided; but the council requested him not to attend the service. In after years he officiated on these occasions without any objection being made. In spite of the somewhat doubtful attitude of the council he obtained leave to raise a body of troops for the Bohemian war, and to publish the crusade. On 22 June he again set out for Bohemia. Disasters in France, however, caused the council to press on him the necessity of allowing his troops to serve six months with the regent. Beaufort agreed to this, and stayed himself with the regent in France. He excused his conduct to the pope by declaring that he was forced to obey the king’s command, and that his troops would have refused to follow him had he not done so. The death of Martin V, in February 1431, put an end to Beaufort’s legation and to his part in the Bohemian war.
At the close of 1429 Beaufort received 1,000l. to defray the expenses of a mission which he was about to undertake to the court of Philip, duke of Burgundy, who had just married his niece, Isabella of Portugal. His compliance in lending the troops which he had raised for the crusade evidently strengthened his position at home; for an attempt made by Gloucester in the December following to shut him out from the council, on the ground of his beings a cardinal, was answered by a vote that his attendance was lawful, and was to be required on all occasions except when questions between the king and the papacy were in debate. Alarmed at his increasing power, Gloucester persuaded him to accompany the king to France in April 1430, and during 1430-1 he was constantly employed in the affairs of that kingdom. In November 1430 he lent the king 2,815l. 13s., and an order was made in council the following year for the repayment of this and of other sums which were owing to him. On 17 Dec. 1431 he crowned Henry VI king of France at Paris. Meanwhile, Gloucester took advantage of his absence to make another attempt to deprive him of his see. This attack seems to have been made in the name of the crown; for in a general council, held 6 Nov., the king’s serjeants and attorney argued that he could not, as cardinal, continue to hold an English bishopric. At this council the Bishop of Worcester, in answer to a question from Gloucester, asserted that he had heard the Bishop of Lichfield, who acted as Beaufort’s proctor, say that the cardinal had bought an exemption from the jurisdiction of Canterbury for himself and his see. The Bishop of Lichfield, who was present, seems neither to have denied nor confirmed this statement. The council was not disposed to proceed in haste in a matter of such importance, and made an order that documents should be searched, and the question was put off until the return of the king. Three weeks afterwards, however, Gloucester was more successful in the privy council, where the number of bishops was larger in proportion to the lay councillors than in the general council. This preponderance of the clerical element was contrary to Beaufort’s interest; for Archbishop Chichele naturally bore him no good will, and the chance of a vacancy of the see of Winchester excited the hopes of the other bishops. Accordingly, in this council writs were sealed of præmunire and attachment upon the statute against the cardinal. Some valuable jewels also belonging to him were seized at Sandwich. The cardinal boldly faced the danger. He returned to England and attended the parliament which met in May 1432. There, in the presence of the king and of the Duke of Gloucester, he demanded to hear what accusations were brought against him. He had come back, he said, because the defence of his name and fame and honour was more to him than earthly riches. Gloucester was foiled by this appeal to the estates, and in answer to his demand the cardinal was assured that the king held him loyal. He further demanded that this answer should be delivered under the great seal, which was accordingly done. The parliament then proceeded to consider the seizure of his jewels. In order to get them at once into his possession the cardinal deposited the sum of 6,000l.; and as in 1434 an order was made that this money should be repaid, it is evident that on inquiry the seizure was shown to have been made unlawfully. He also lent the crown another sum of 6,000l., and further respited a debt of 13,000 marks. Beaufort owed his victory in this, which was the greatest crisis of his life, to the support of the parliament; and on the petition of the commons a statute was framed exonerating him from the penalties of any offences which he might have committed against the Statute of Provisors, or in the execution of any papal bulls.
On 16 Feb. 1433 the cardinal obtained leave to attend the council of Basel. As he received license to take with him the large sum of 20,000l., it seems probable that he desired to make interest for himself in the hope that he might at some future time be chosen pope. Although he did not take advantage of this permission to attend the council, he did not abandon his intention of doing so, and in the June of the next year he presented a series of ‘demands’ to the king, in which, after asking. for securities for his loans, he stated that he was bound by certain vows, and that since it would be to his jeopardy if the time or end of his journey should be known, he desired license to go when and whither he pleased and to take with him such money as he might choose. In answer to this request he was told that he might attend the council and take with him the sum allowed in the previous year. Meanwhile, on the return of Bedford in 1433, the cardinal upheld him against Gloucester, and, in common with other lords, agreed with the request made by the commons that the duke should remain in England, and help to carry on the government. The change in the administration was followed by a vigorous attempt to introduce economy into the disordered finances of the kingdom, and the cardinal, together with some other members of the council, following the example set by Bedford, agreed to give up their wages as councillors, provided that their attendance was not enforced in vacation.
In 1435 the cardinal was present at the famous European congress, held at Arras, for the purpose, if possible, of making peace. In common with the other ambassadors from England, he had power to treat for a marriage between the king and the eldest or other daughter of his adversary of France. He joined his colleagues on 19 Aug. Failing in their preliminary negotiations with the French, and convinced that the Duke of Burgundy was about to desert their alliance, the English ambassadors returned on 6 Sept. The death of the Duke of Bedford, which took place a few days afterwards, had a considerable effect on the position of the cardinal. With Bedford the Lancastrian house lost almost all that remained of the strength of the days of Henry V. From this time the house of York began to occupy a prominent place, and in doing so it naturally entered into a rivalry with the Beauforts, who had no other hope than in the fortunes of the reigning house. When Bedford was dead, the cardinal was the only Englishman ‘who had any pretension to be called a politician.’ His policy was now plainly marked out, and from this time he began to labour earnestly for peace (Stubbs, Constit. Hist. iii. c. 18). Gloucester, who had of late made his brother Bedford the chief object of his opposition, now turned all his strength to thwart the policy of his uncle, even, as it seems, trying to use against him the hostile family interest of the house of York.
Although by the decision of the council in 1429 the attendance of the cardinal was not required when questions between the king and the papacy were in debate, he took part in the settlement of a dispute which arose from an attempt made by the council in 1434 to put an end to the claim of the pope to nominate to English bishoprics. The immediate question, which concerned the appointment to the see of Worcester, was settled by a compromise proposed in a letter from the council to Eugenius IV to which the name of the cardinal is subscribed. The jealousy of papal interference which was aroused by this dispute may probably be discerned when, in April 1437, the cardinal having requested license to go to Rome, the council recommended the king not to allow him to leave the kingdom, alleging as their reasons for this advice their fear lest evil should befall him by the way, and the importance of his presence at the negotiations for peace which were then on foot. The following year they further advised the king not to allow him to attend the council of Basel, a determination which Sir Harris Nicolas considers (Ordinances of the Privy Council, v. pref. xxx) to have arisen from ‘the fear of his intriguing with the cardinals and other influential ecclesiastics at the council for the tiara at the sacrifice of the interests of his country.’ In this year Beaufort obtained from the king a full pardon for all offences ‘from the beginning of the world up to that time.’ This pardon evidently had reference to his dealings with securities. Taken, however, in connection with the refusal of his journey, it seems to indicate that his influence was shaken. If this was so, it was not long before his importance as financier fully restored him to power. The futile campaign of Gloucester in Flanders, and the continued demands for money from France, having exhausted the treasury, the cardinal lent the king 10,000 marks, extended the time of repayment of another sum of 14,000 marks, and gave him possession of some jewels which had been pledged to him. Each year the hopelessness of the war became more apparent. In January 1439 the cardinal had a conference with the Duchess of Burgundy at Calais, and it was agreed that ambassadors should be sent thither to treat of peace. During the negotiations which ensued, the cardinal had full and secret powers from the king, and in conjunction with the duchess acted as mediator between the ambassadors of the two parties. He landed at Calais on 26 June. As he was the advocate of peace, and hoped to secure it by means of the intervention of the captive Duke of Orleans, while, on the other hand, Gloucester was set on prosecuting the war and on keeping the duke prisoner, the discretionary powers entrusted to the cardinal and the part taken by Orleans in the negotiations show that Beaufort had by this time fully regained his influence in the council. In his absence, however, the Duke of Gloucester was left without control, and the council accordingly sent instructions to the ambassadors to refuse the French demands, which were indeed of such a nature as to make the failure of the negotiations certain. On 2 Oct. the cardinal and the ambassadors returned to England. Another attempt to arrange a peace was made by the cardinal and the Duchess of Burgundy in January 1440. Ambassadors were again appointed, and the council decided on the release of the Duke of Orleans. Against this decision Gloucester made a violent remonstrance to the king. He embodied in a long document all his causes of complaint against Beaufort. He began with his acceptance of the cardinal’s hat and his retention of the see of Winchester. He accused him of defrauding the crown, of forwarding the interests of his family to the hurt of the king, alleging divers instances, and among them the fact that while Beaufort was chancellor part of the ransom of James of Scotland was remitted on his marriage with his niece. He further declared that he had been guilty of extravagance and mismanagement at the congress of Arras and at the late meeting of ambassadors at Calais, and that he now intended to destroy the king’s realm of France by the release of the Duke of Orleans. To this manifesto, which is full of bitterness and mischievous intent, the council returned a moderately worded answer. Powerful as Gloucester was to do evil by slandering those who were striving for peace and by setting men’s minds against them, he had, in comparison with the cardinal, little real weight in the conduct of affairs. His weakness was manifested in the following year by the trial of his wife, Eleanor Cobham, who was accused of witchcraft before the archbishops and the cardinal.
Although Beaufort was eagerly desirous of peace, he never discouraged any efforts which were made to prosecute the war with vigour. In a debate in the council on 6 Feb. 1443, when the question was proposed whether an army should be sent to the relief of Normandy or of Guienne, since there seemed little hope of sending troops to both, the cardinal, after others had spoken, some for the one plan and some for the other, declared that ‘him seemeth both to be entended were right necessary,’ and suggested that the treasurer should declare what funds he had available for ‘the setting of the said armies’ (Ordinances, v. 224). And when his nephew, the Duke of Somerset, was persuaded to take the command of the expedition which was fitted out in that year, the cardinal promised to lend 20,000l. towards its equipment, insisting, however, at the same time that the patent securing the repayment of this sum should be drawn out in the exact words he chose; ‘else he would lend no money.’ When, therefore, the form was being read before the lords of the council, the Duke of Gloucester said that such reading was needless, since his uncle had passed it, and would have that and no other (Ord. v. 280). Bitterly as the words were spoken, they were true enough, for without the help of the cardinal the whole expedition must have come to naught. In this year Beaufort obtained another general pardon and release from all fines and penalties for anything which he had done. In the marriage of the king with Margaret of Anjou, in 1445, the cardinal must have believed that he saw the promise of that peace for which he had sought so earnestly, and it is therefore interesting to find (Ord. v. 323) that the queen’s wedding-ring was made out of a ring with ‘a fair ruby’ which the cardinal had presented to the king on the day of his coronation. In the mysterious death of the Duke of Gloucester, which took place 23 Feb. 1447, Cardinal Beaufort certainly could have had no part. Bitter as was the duke’s enmity against him, Beaufort would never have done a deed which was so contrary to the interests of the Lancastrian dynasty, and which opened the way for the ambitious schemes of the rival house. A few weeks later, on 11 April, the great cardinal died. The scene in which Shakespeare portrays (Second Part Hen. VI, act iii. sc. 3) ‘the black despair’ of his death has no historical basis. Hall records some words of complaint and repentance which, he says, Dr. John Baker, the cardinal’s chaplain, told him that his master uttered on his death-bed. In spite, however, of this authority, there is good reason for doubting the truth of the story. A short account of the cardinal’s last days has been given us by an eye-witness (Cont. Croyland). As he lay dying in the Wolvesey palace at Winchester, he had many men, monks and clergy and laymen, gathered in the great chamber where he was, and there he caused the funeral service and the requiem mass to be sung. During the last few days of his life he was busied with his will, and added the second of its two codicils on 9 April. In the evening before he died the will was read over to him before all who were in the chamber, and as it was read he made such corrections and additions as he thought needful. On the morning of the next day he confirmed it with an audible voice. Then he took leave of all, and so died. He was buried, according to his directions, in his cathedral church of Winchester. A large part of his great wealth was left for charitable purposes. When his executors offered the king 2,000l. from the residue of his estate, Henry refused it, saying, ‘My uncle was very dear to me, and did me much kindness while he lived; may the Lord reward him! Do with his goods as ye are bound to do; I will not have them’ (Blakman, De Virtutibus Hen. VI). At Winchester Beaufort finished the rebuilding of the cathedral, and re-founded and enlarged the hospital of St. Cross, near that city, giving it the name of Nova Domus Eleemosynaria Nobilis Paupertatis. Busied in the affairs of the world, he lived a secular life. In his early years he was the lover of Lady Alice Fitzalan, daughter of Richard, Earl of Arundel, and by her had a daughter named Joan, who married Sir Edward Stradling, knight, of St. Donat’s, in the county of Glamorgan. Beaufort was ambitious, haughty, and impetuous. Rich and heaping up riches, he has continually been charged with avarice. He certainly seems to have clung unduly to his office as trustee of the family estates of the house of Lancaster, which must have given him command of a considerable sum of money. Trading in money, he was not to blame if he took care that he should as far as possible be defended from loss, and if he loved it too well he at least made his country a gainer by his wealth. His speeches in parliament are marked by a constitutional desire to uphold the crown by the advice and support of the estates of the realm. He was unwearied in the business of the state and farsighted and patriotic in his counsels. Family relationships with foreign courts, as well as his position as cardinal, gave him a place in Europe such as was held by no other statesman, and made him the fittest representative of his country abroad. The events which followed his death are the best proofs of the wisdom of his policy and of his loyalty both to the crown and to the truest interests of England.
[Ordinances of the Privy Council, ii.-v. ed. Sir H. Nicolas; Rolls of Parliament, iii. iv.; Rymer’s Fœdera, ix. x.; Gesta Henrici V. ed. Williams, Eng. Hist. Soc.; Thomas Otterbourne’s Chron. ed. Hearne; Thomas do Elmham’s Vita, &c. ed. Hearne; Letters illustrative of the Wars in France, ed. Stevenson, Rolls Ser.; Historical Collections of a Citizen of London, ed. Gairdner, Camden Soc.; Walsingham’s Historia, John Amundesham’s Annales, Chron. Monast. Sancti Albani, ed. Riley, Rolls Ser.; Hardyng’s Chron.; Hall’s Chron.; Cont. Croyland, Gale’s Scriptores, i.; Raynaldus, Eccl. Annales; Æneas Sylvius, Historia Bohemica; Andrew of Ratisbon, Höfler, Geschichtschreiber der Hussitischen Bewegung, ii.; Duck’s Life of H. Chichele, Abp. of Cant. 1699; Godwin de Præsulibus; Le Neve’s Fasti, ed. Hardy; Wharton’s Anglia Sacra, i.; Nichols’s Royal Wills; Stubbs’s Const. Hist. iii. c. 18; Excerpta Historica, ed. Bentley; Creighton’s History of the Papacy during the Reformation]
Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 04
Beaufort, Henry by William Hunt