John, Duke of Bedford

JOHN of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford (1389–1435), third son of Henry IV [q. v.], by his queen Mary, daughter of Humphrey Bohun, earl of Hereford, was born on 20 June 1389, and was knighted on 11 Oct. 1399, the eve of his father’s coronation, being one of the original knights-companions of the Bath; the following year he received the order of the Garter. On 10 Sept. 1403 he was made constable of England, and about the same time governor of Berwick and warden of the east marches (Rotuli Scotiœ, i. 164). By the middle of 1404 his pay was 4,000l. in arrear, his troops were mutinous, he was in a disaffected country, and was engaged in constant hostilities. Some instalments of pay were sent to him, but they were insufficient, and his troops were only pacified by some money which he borrowed from Lord Furnival (Ordinances of the Privy Council, i. 269; Rolls of Parliament, iii. 552). Although he received a grant of castles belonging to Henry Percy, he was forced to spend his revenues in maintaining his forces. In 1405 he wrote to inform the council of the revolt of Lord Bardolf, joined the Earl of Westmoreland, warden of the west marches, and met the Archbishop of York [see Scrope, Richard Le] and the other rebels on Shipton Moor. He received grants of the castles of the Earl of Northumberland. In April 1408, and again in April 1411, he was appointed to treat with the Scots. During the rest of his father’s reign, which ended in March 1413, he continued to hold his command in the north, fortifying Berwick and keeping peace as far as he was able in the east marches. Like his eldest brother, he seems to have been under the influence of the Beauforts, and acted cordially with the Earl of Westmoreland.

In the parliament held at Leicester in May 1414 he was created Duke of Bedford and Earl of Kendal, and in November following received the reversion of the earldom of Richmond, with its castles and honour, then held by the Earl of Westmoreland, whom he succeeded as regards this grant in 1425. In May he made a representation concerning his wardenship to the king in council, setting forth that, though he had made many complaints to the late king, he had been kept without the means of defending the marches, and had spent all his own money in the king’s service, that his soldiers were mutinous and that he was ruined (Ordinances, ii. 136-9). He resigned the wardership on 28 Sept. On the restoration of the young Earl of Northumberland he surrendered the castles of the earldom, and received in exchange a pension of three thousand marks.

Bedford was handsome and well-made; he was reckoned learned, and took a foremost place in his brother’s council, where he upheld the alliance with the Duke of Burgundy, while the Dukes of Gloucester, Clarence, and York favoured the party of Orleans (Juvenal Des Ursins, p. 497). In May 1415 he was present at the conference between Henry and the French ambassadors at Winchester, and was appointed lieutenant of the kingdom during the king’s expedition to France (August to November), receiving 5,334l. 6s. 8d. to maintain his state. On 4 Nov. 1415 he presided over the parliament which, on the announcement of the victory of Agincourt, granted liberal supplies. In May 1416 he met Sigismund, king of the Romans, at Rochester, escorted him to London, and sat on his left hand at a feast given at Windsor on St. George’s day in his honour, the king sitting on Sigismund’s right. On 22 July the king placed under the duke’s command an expedition destined for the relief of Harfleur, which the French had closely invested. The fleet sailed to the mouth of the Seine on 14 Aug., and the next day joined battle with the French fleet, which was superior in number, and included some large Genoese caracks. The fight began about 9 A.m. and lasted five or six hours. The crews fought hand to hand with much fierceness, and though the caracks were higher than any of the English ships, three of them were taken and another large French ship was sunk, the rest of the fleet escaping into the harbour of Honfleur with the loss of fifteen hundred men, while the English did not lose more than a hundred. Bedford landed stores at Harfleur, and returned to England with his prizes.

On 25 July 1417 he was again appointed lieutenant of the kingdom during Henry’s absence in France, and the Scots, taking advantage of what they deemed the unprotected state of the country, laid siege to Roxburgh [see Douglas, Archibald, fifth Earl] and to Berwick. Bedford at once marched northward with a force of six thousand men, met the Duke of Exeter [see Beaufort, Sir Thomas], who was raising forces in Yorkshire for the French war, and was joined by the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland, and the Archbishop of York [see Bowet, Henry]. The Scots retreated at his approach, and their abortive attempt was called in derision the ‘Foul raid’ (Fordun, P. 1186; Hardyng, p. 380; Walsingham, ii. 325). After reinforcing Sir Robert Umfraville, governor of Berwick, Bedford returned to London. On 16 Nov. he presided over a parliament, and caused Sir John Oldcastle [q. v.], the lollard leader, to be arraigned before the lords as an outlaw for treason and an excommunicated heretic. He offered to save Oldcastle’s life if he would recant and submit, but, finding him resolute, sanctioned the sentence of the lords, and was present at his execution (Rolls of Parliament, iv. 108). He obtained supplies from parliament, and also a grant from convocation. Early in 1418 the council received a request for help from Jacqueline of Bavaria, daughter and heiress of William IV, count of Hainault, Holland, and Zealand (d. 1417), and widow of the dauphin John, against her uncle, John the Pitiless, bishop-elect of Liege, who was invading her lands, and had received investiture from Sigismund. A reply was sent on 3 March 1418 proposing a marriage between Bedford and the countess, but the proposal came to nothing (Ordinances, ii. 241; Fœdera, ix. 566; L’Art de Verifier, xiii. 370,451). Bedford appears to have had much to do to settle the claims of Flemish, Breton, and Genoese merchants, who declared that their ships had been seized unjustly by the English. In March 1419 Joanna II, queen of Naples, offered to adopt Bedford and make him her heir, subject to the approval of Pope Martin V, and her offer was seriously considered by the privy council; it was renewed the following spring, and the queen, who was then threatened by the grand constable, Sforza Attendolo, and Louis of Anjou, sent an ambassador to England to treat with the duke; but nothing came of the scheme, and a few months later she adopted Alfonso of Arragon (Fœdera, ix. 705, 865). Negotiations were also opened in 1419 for Bedford’s marriage to the daughter and heiress of Frederic, burggrave of Nuremberg, to the daughter and heiress of Charles, duke of Lorraine, Isabel, afterwards wife of Renfe of Anjou, and to some kinswoman of Sigismund (ib. pp. 710, 711). Having held another parliament in October 1419, and obtained grants from it and from the clergy, he resigned his office as lieutenant at the end of December, and sailed to join the king with eight hundred men-at-arms and two thousand archers. After the surrender of Melun on 18 Nov. 1420 he accompanied Henry to Paris, and on 23 Dec. was present at the meeting of the parlement held for the trial of the murderers of John, duke of Burgundy. On 6 Jan. 1421 he left Paris with the king, and, after spending some weeks at Rouen, arrived in England in February. He was again, on 10 June, appointed lieutenant of the kingdom during the king’s absence, and in December held a parliament, in which supplies were granted. He was one of the godfathers of the Prince of Wales (Henry VI), and in May 1422 escorted the queen to join her husband in Normandy. From Paris Henry sent him to receive the surrender of Compiegne on 18 June, and he rejoined the king at Senlis. Henry, who had promised Philip, duke of Burgundy, to march to the relief of Cosne, fell ill, and appointed Bedford to command his army. Bedford assembled his troop.s at Vezclay, joined the Burgundians at Avallon, and marched with Philip to Cosne, arriving on 11 Aug. On receiving tidings of his brother’s danger, he left the army and rode hastily to Vincennes, where the king lay. Henry died on 31 Aug. 1422, having on his death-bed declared that Bedford was to be guardian of the kingdom and of his heir [see under Henry V], and directed him to offer the regency of France to the Duke of Burgundy.

The Duke of Burgundy declined the regency, and it was, according to Henry’s wish, assumed by Bedford, who agreed with Duke Philip, the Duke of Exeter, and other lords, that the treaty of Troyes should be regarded as a permanent settlement. Bedford went into Normandy to arrange the affairs of the duchy, and follow his brother’s funeral procession. While he was there on 22 Oct. Charles VI died; he returned to Paris, and was the only prince that attended the funeral of the French king at St. Denis. As he reentered the city he caused a naked sword, an emblem of kingly authority, to be borne before him. On 19 Nov. he presided over a session of the parlement, caused the chancellor to deliver an address on the right of Henry VI, promising that the duchy of Normandy should be united to the crown of France, and made all present take an oath of fidelity to the young king. About Christmas some of the burghers of Paris plotted to deliver the city to Charles of Valois, and to this end one of their chief men tried to persuade the regent to make an expedition against some of Charles’s party who were, he alleged, in the neighbourhood. Bedford discovered the plot; some of the conspirators were beheaded, and a woman was burnt. Meanwhile in England it was, on 5 Dec. 1422, settled in parliament that the duke should be the ‘protector and defender’ of the kingdom and church of England and the king’s principal councillor, and that in his absence his brother, the Duke of Gloucester, should hold his office [see under Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester] (Rolls of Parliament, iv. 174). Meulan having been surprised by the enemy, the regent laid siege to it in January 1423; it surrendered on 1 March, and its fall was followed by the surrender of Marcoussis, Montlhéry, and other places.

Meanwhile the regent was making strenuous efforts to secure the good will of Duke Philip; for while the English had made themselves masters of Normandy, Guienne, and Gascony, and, above all, of Paris, which Bedford reckoned the most important of their possessions, their power in Artois, Picardy, and Champagne rested on the Burgundian alliance. An alliance with Brittany was also highly desirable, for they would thus be masters of the whole north-west coast of France. The two alliances almost depended on each other, for Arthur de Richemont, brother of John, duke of Brittany, was a close friend of Duke Philip, and was about to marry Philip’s sister, the Duchess of Guienne. Philip, however, was displeased with the English because about the autumn of 1422 Gloucester [see under Humphrey] married Jacqueline of Hainault, who had divorced her husband John of Brabant, Philip’s cousin, and taken refuge in England. This marriage gave Gloucester a right to Jacqueline’s inheritance, which Philip had counted on making his own. In order to avert Philip’s alienation from the English alliance, which Gloucester’s conduct seemed to invite, Bedford in 1422 proposed to marry Philip’s sister Anne, then eighteen. In December it was agreed that the girl’s dowry should be 150,000 gold crowns, and that, in case Philip died without a male heir, she should succeed to the county of Artois, or, if Philip left an heir, she should receive 100,000 gold crowns. Bedford arranged a meeting with the Dukes of Burgundy and Brittany at Amiens in April 1423, and in order to overcome John of Brittany’s reluctance to attend, paid all his expenses, amounting to 6,000l. On 17 April a triple alliance was signed by the dukes, which was distinctly in favour of England, for they agreed to use their best endeavours to terminate the wars in France, or, in other words, to defeat the efforts of Charles VII. In the hope of securing the alliance of the Count of Foix, and stopping the supplies procured from Spain by Charles, Bedford, with the concurrence of his allies, appointed the count governor of Languedoc and Bigorre; but the measure was unsuccessful, and the count and his brother, the Count of Comminges, soon deserted the alliance. In June Bedford married Anne with great magnificence at Troyes. On his way back to Paris he took Pont-sur-Seine by assault, the garrison being put to the sword. At Paris he resided at the palace of the Tournelles, on the site of the present Place des Vosges, which was repaired for the reception of his duchess. While he was there his forces took D’Orsay, after a defence of six weeks; the soldiers of the garrison were sent into Paris bareheaded, and were imprisoned in the Châtelet, there to await execution; but the young duchess interceded for them, and Bedford gave them their liberty without condition. In July he sent troops under the Earl of Suffolk to meet the Burgundians at Auxerre, and under the Earl of Salisbury they gained a complete victory over the French at Crevant. In August 1423 Philip and Richemont visited the regent at Paris, and Bedford settled the duke’s claims arising from his marriage with his late wife Michelle, daughter of Charles VI, by placing in his hands Péronne, Roye, and Montdidier, but was unable to satisfy him with reference to Gloucester’s marriage. Nor did a meeting held at Amiens in the following January 1424 produce better results (Moxstrelet, iv. 175).

Bedford did all in his power to restore prosperity to the parts of France under his rule, which had suffered terribly in the war. During the first two years of his regency he did much to reform the debased coinage. He sought to encourage trade by conferring privileges on merchants, and granted charters to the woollen manufacturers of Rouen, Evreux, and Beuvais, and the silk wearers of Paris. In his government of Paris he showed himself just, humane, and anxious to remove abuses, checking bribery, and forbidding the cruel usage to which prisoners were subjected (Ordonnances des Roys, xiii. Pref. xciv, p.52. and passim). In the course of the summer he received another visit from Duke Philip and Richemont, Richemont demanded the command of an army. The regent deeply offended him by refusing his demand, probably through doubt as to his good faith, though he gave the somewhat insulting reason that as Richemont had not fought since Agincourt he must have forgotten the art of war. Attempts to appease Richemont’s anger failed; he retired to Brittany, and early the next year accepted the office of constable from Charles VII. As the quarrel between Burgundy and Gloucester was becoming dangerous, the regent, inorder to secure Duke Philip’s alliance, made over to him the counties of Macon and Anxerre, and granted him other favours. He then marched against an army consisting of Scots under the Earl of Douglas [see Douglas, Archibald, fourth Earl], French, and Lombards, which had been assembled on the border between Perche and Normandy, look Ivry, and came up with the enemy at Verneuil. Bedford sent a mocking message to Douglas, referring to his retreat from Roxburgh in 1417, and on 17 Aug. 1424 gave battle. Both sides fought on foot, save that two thousand French and Italian men-at-arms were sent to attack the regent’s army on the rear. After three hours’ indecisive fighting the French gave way. The Scottish contingent was destroyed, while the battle was nearly as disastrous to the French nobility as Poitiers or Agincourt. The Duke of Alençon and many more were made prisoners. Among them were some French and Norman deserters, who were beheaded by Bedford’s order. There regent re-entered Paris on 8 Sept., and was received with great rejoicings; for though a conspiracy in favour of Charles had been discovered in his absence, the citizens generally were strongly on the Burgundian and Englieh side (Journal d’un Bourgeois de Paris, p, 243). The victory apparently gave the English rule in France the greatest strength that it attained. But the dissatisfaction of Duke Philip continued, and, though Bedford was constant in his endeavours to conciliate him, all his efforts were thwarted by Gloucester’s invasion of Hainault in October. Philip prepared to lead his forces into Hainault. A conference between Bedford and Philip in Paris lasted into November 1424, but Gloucester’s obstinacy made any arrangement impossible. Bedford was appointed the arbiter of the challenge which Gloucester sent to Philip, and was thus enabled to do somethmg on the side of peace. After visiting Philip at Hesdin, where he had the mortification of seeing the Burgundian lords wearing a badge indicating their resolve to maintain the cauae of John of Brabant against Gloncecter, he held a great council at Paris, and pronounced his judgment that the challenge should not be prosecuted further.

Bedford was requested to return to England by a letter from the council, dated 31 Oct. 1425, to settle the quarrel between Henry Beaufort [q. v,], bishop of Winchester, and Gloucester, who had returned from Hainault. Oommitting the prosecution of the war to the Earls of Warwick, Salisbury, and Suffolk, he left Paris in December with his duchess and a small company, and marched to Amiens, where an attempt was made to surprise him by a certain Sauvage de Fermainville, at the head of a band of freebooters. He avoided the snare, landed at Sandwich on the 20th, and entered London on 10 Jan. 1430. At Merton he was met by a large number of the citizens, who escorted him to Westminster; he was honourably received, the mayor presenting him with a bowl of silver gilt and one thousand marks, for which he is said to have returned little thanks (Gregory, p. 160). A kind of bond of alliance, in which the queen-mother joined, seems to have been formed between him and Gloucester (Letters of Bishop Beckington, i. 130 sqq.; Stubbs, Constitutional History, iii, 102), After attending a council at St. Albans, where the Archbishop of Canterbury and others were sent to Gloucester to urge him to come to a future meeting and make up his quarrel before the parliament assembled, he attended the parliament held at Leicester, where on 12 March he and other lords acted as arbitrators between Beaufort and Gloucester, and a reconciliation took place. Before the parliament broke up, on 1 June, Bedford knighted the young king. In a council which he held in London on 28 Jan. 1427, an attempt was made to bind Gloucester to act constitutionally. The chancellor made a speech to Bedford, setting forth the position of the council and the duty of the protector, and Bedford, who had no doubt planned the incident, replied by promising to act in accordance with the will of the council, and then, with tears in his eyes, opened a copy of the gospels lying in the ‘sterred chamber, and thereto swore by them’ (Ordinances, iii. 235-49; Constitutional History, iii. 105). After this the council could more easily ask a like assurance from Gloucester. Two days previously it was arranged that the expenses of Bedford’s return to France should be paid out of the exchequer,’because he was not in the king’s pay.’ On 25 Feb. 1427 it was decided by the council that it was time that he should return to France, in as much as the late king had desired that he should guard Normandy. Early in March, having raised a large body of troops and artillery, he left England, and Beaufort accompanied him across the Channel.

Little change in the relative position of the two parties in France had taken place in Bedford’s absence. He re-entered Paris on 5 April, and soon visited Duke Philip at Lille. Gloucester was again planning an expedition on Jacqueline’s behalf. Bedford peremptorily ordered him to desist. Meanwhile the Duke of Brittany had followed his brother’s example and attached himself to Charles, but, finding that Duke Philip did not desert the English alliance, he grew less devoted to Charles, and after Bedford had threatened his duchy again swore to the treaty of Troyes. Bedford and the English council at Paris desired to confiscate the revenues granted to the church during the last forty years. Many conferences were held on the subject with the university of Paris, and the plan was abandoned. The year 1428 was marked by several successes. Salisbury took Jargeau and many towns on the right bank of the Loire, and the important city of Le Mans was also gained. Charles was reduced to the last extremity, and René of Anjou entered into negotiations with the regent. The siege of Orleans, which was suggested by Salisbury and was begun on 12 Oct., roused much misgiving in Bedford, who had consented to it reluctantly. Salisbury’s death was a heavy blow to the regent, who appointed Suffolk to succeed him. Early in February 1429 Bedford despatched Sir John Fastolf [q. v.] with supplies for the besiegers which he had levied from the Parisians, and the attempt of the French to intercept the stores at Rouvroy, in the engagement which is called the Battle of the Herrings, luckily failed. Duke Philip agreed to accept the offer of the besieged to surrender the city to him; but Bedford held a council in Paris to consider the arrangement, and, after representing that it would by no means be fair that after the English had spent so much on the siege another should reap the benefit, contrived that the scheme should be rejected. Philip, who was in Paris, showed himself discontented with the decision, and Bedford, who made certain that Orleans would fall and knew that Philip was ready to withdraw from the English alliance, was not conciliatory. The duke, on leaving Paris about 25 April 1429, sent a herald to Orleans along with the ambassadors from the city, commanding his forces to quit the siege.

On 29 April the ‘Maid,’ Jeanne Darc (or Joan of Arc), entered Orleans with a relieving force. The siege was raised on 8 May. Other disasters followed immediately. Jargeau was carried by assault and the Earl of Suffolk was taken prisoner. Bedford raised troops with all speed, and a large body which he sent from Paris under Sir John Fastolf to reinforce Lord Talbot was defeated at Patay. On learning the news from Fastolf he is said to have sharply rebuked him and to have deprived him of the order of the Garter [but cf. Fastolf, Sir John]. During the seven succeeding weeks Bedford acted with extraordinary judgment and energy. In Paris there was a general fear that the Armagnacs, as the Parisians still called Charles’s party, were approaching. Bedford took measures for strengthening the city, displaced the provost and other municipal officers, and appointed others whom he could trust more fully. He wrote to the council in England for reinforcements, and it was agreed on 1 July 1429 that he should have the troops raised by Cardinal Beaufort for the Hussite crusade. He also sent to Duke Philip, begging him to come at once to Paris. Philip came on the 10th, and renewed his alliance, being influenced, it is said, by his sister, the Duchess of Bedford. The dukes excited the feeling of the Parisians by arranging a half religious ceremony, which included a reading of the record of the assassination of Duke John the Fearless, and the principal burghers renewed their oaths to the treaty of Troyes. Philip returned to Flanders, taking his sister with him, but leaving some of his troops with the regent and sending him others, and Bedford went to Rouen to meet his reinforcements, gather an army, and keep the Normans stedfast. Meanwhile Charles was daily gaining ground; many towns submitted to him, and among them Troyes, the principal city in Champagne; he was crowned at Rheims on 17 July, and advanced towards Paris. On 24 July 1429 Bedford re-entered Paris with his army, and on 4 Aug. left the city with a force of ten thousand men to bar the king’s approach. The slow movements of the French enabled him to recover some lost ground. Taking up a position at Montereau he sent on the 7th, by Bedford herald, a letter to Charles, reproaching him with deceiving the people with the help of a woman of disorderly life, dressed in man’s clothes, and of an apostate friar, and so seducing them from their allegiance, taunting him with the murder of John the Fearless, and, while declaring himself ready to conclude a solid peace, challenging him in default of that to meet him in battle. Neither side would open the attack, and Bedford returned to Paris, for his object was to defend the city. But when the enemy advanced to Dammartin he again sallied out, and again both sides refused to give battle. The march of the French towards Senlis seemed to Bedford to threaten Normandy. Marching from Paris, he took up his position at the abbey of St. Victoire, immediately to the east of Senlis, while the French were encamped close by under Mont Piloy. His position was well chosen, and he drew up his army skilfully. The French also were drawn up for battle, but for two days the armies faced each other without engaging, except for some skirmishes, in which the Picards in Bedford’s army distinguished themselves so much that he rode down their ranks thanking them. When the armies separated, Bedford returned to Paris. Chateau Gaillard, Torcy, and other places soon surrendered to Charles, and the Normans proved to be ill affected. Accordingly Bedford hastened to Rouen, met the estates of the province in August, reminded them of the benefits enjoyed by them under English rule, and, after making many promises, persuaded them to give him a large grant. Meanwhile his difficulties were increased by the vacillation of Duke Philip, who concluded a truce with Charles at Compiegne on the 28th, as far as concerned a portion of France, and entered into negotiations for a definite peace. During Bedford’s absence Charles and the Maid took possession of St. Denis, and on 8 Sept. the Maid assaulted Paris unsuccessfully. After this failure the king’s army withdrew from Paris. A few days later Bedford returned and punished the people of St. Denis. He soon received a visit from Duke Philip, who brought back his sister, Bedford’s duchess. The two dukes met with signs of affection. Bedford was ready to make any sacrifice to retain Philip’s alliance; he was conscious that all his energies would be required for the defence of Normandy, and that, while the Parisians feared the Armagnacs and were as strongly Burgundian as ever, they were not satisfied with the English rule. Accordingly, at the request of the university, the parlement, and the townspeople, he resigned the regency to the Duke of Burgundy, to whom he also granted investiture of Champagne, and retained for himself the government of Normandy. Philip accepted the regency (Journal d’un Bourgeois, p. 257; Histoire des Ducs de Bourgogne, vi. 54). While the new arrangement, which was mortifying to Bedford, set him at liberty to attend to the affairs of Normandy, it does not seem to have been permanent. In 1430 and later years Bedford was regarded as regent.

A fortnight later Bedford and his English forces left Paris and established themselves at Rouen, where he directed sieges in different directions with decided success. Many towns that the French had won were regained during the next year, generally with little loss. The Normans who had transferred their allegiance to the French king were put to death as traitors. On 23 May 1430 the Maid of Orleans was made prisoner by the followers of John of Luxemburg, a Burgundian, at Compiègne. Bedford and his council instructed Pierre Cauchon, the ejected bishop of Beauvais, a violent Burgundian, to claim her as a sorceress taken within his diocese, and furnished the ten thousand livres for which John sold his prisoner. Her removal to Rouen followed, and on 3 Jan. 1431 an order was issued in King Henry’s name that those who had charge of her should present her before her judges. She was judged by Cauchon, who forced the vicar of the inquisitor-general to sit with him, and certain assessors, and she was burnt as a sorceress and relapsed heretic on 30 May. Cauchon and his assistants were the instruments of the English. Cardinal Beaufort, who was with the king at Rouen at the time, appears to have been far more actively concerned than Bedford in the proceedings. Bedford might doubtless have saved the Maid’s life, but no one in that age would, in like circumstances, have done so, and his rigid orthodoxy would in any case have made him unwilling to interfere in her favour.

Meanwhile, the war went on in Normandy, and Bedford, anxious to secure the allegiance of Henry’s French subjects, had, as early as April 1429, urged the English council to have him crowned in France. The preliminary step to this was his coronation in England on 6 Nov., which put an end to Gloucester’s protectorate, though the lords left it in Bedford’s power to retain the office if he would. On 23 April 1430 Henry landed at Calais, and joined Bedford at Rouen. It was arranged that Bedford’s regency should be suspended while the king was in France, but that he should continue to hold the lordships of Alençon, Anjou, and Maine, and that if he hereafter had to resign them to the king, he should be recompensed for them (Ordinances, iv. 37). The taking of Louviers by La Hire enabled that captain to plunder almost to the walls of Rouen, and it is probable that to this period may be referred a story that Bedford and his duchess nearly fell into the hands of the enemy while hunting near Rouen (Amundesham, i. 42). In Champagne and the borders of Picardy the war went badly for the English, or, rather, the Burgundians, who were chiefly concerned in it. On 4 Aug. 1431 Bedford was marching from Rouen to Paris with a slender escort, when Marshal de Boussac and Saintraille, who were occupying Beauvais, surprised him near Nantes; he escaped by getting into a boat, in which he made his way to Paris. Nearly all his men perished. The Earls of Warwick and Arundel, who were encamped before Louviers, heard that be had either been slain or taken prisoner, followed the French, defeated them near Beauvais, and took Saintraille and a youth called Guillaume-le-Pastourel, who aspired to rival the exploits of the Maid. Bedford, who had returned to Rouen, was delighted at their success. Louviers was surrendered on 25 Oct. Philip was growing more and more impatient at the prolongation of the war, and complained bitterly to the English council. Bedford and the council at Rouen answered him as well as they could, but the truth was that both England and Normandy were exhausted. Dissatisfied with their answer, he again entered into negotiations with Charles, and a legate of Eugenius IV visited both him and the English court at Rouen for the purpose of making peace. Bedford sought to keep the duke from taking any measures in the direction of peace apart from the English council. On 2 Dec. he brought the young king to Paris, and on the 16th caused him to be crowned at Notre Dame by Beaufort.

In the spring of 1432 the English lost Chartres. Bedford then made a vigorous attempt to retrieve their fortunes in Brie and the He de France. Finding that a force sent against Lagni-sur-Marne made no progress, he set out in person with reinforcements and cannon, and pressed the siege so hotly that the garrison was on the point of capitulation when a French army arrived in August and relieved the place. The French then drew off, apparently in the direction of Paris. Bedford accordingly broke up his camp and, marching to Paris in haste, left cannon and stores behind him. His failure disgusted the Parisians. Some nuns of St. Antoine, with their abbess, were imprisoned on suspicion of having plotted in his absence to admit Charles’s party. In other parts he had little to encourage him. A quarrel between the Dukes of Brittany and Alençon gave him an opportunity of striking a blow at the French cause by sending troops to help Brittany, but the quarrel was composed by Richemont. On 13 Nov. Bedford’s wife, Anne of Burgundy, died at Paris, and was buried in the church of the Celestins. She was only twenty-eight, and was much beloved both by the Parisians and the Burgundians, being described as ‘bonne et belle’ (Journal d’un Bourgeois, p. 270). Her death, which Bedford felt deeply, broke the tie which bound Duke Philip to him. Early in 1433 the regent (for he still held that title) left Paris for Rouen to receive the return of a heavy tax laid upon the provinces, and then proceeded to Calais, where he punished some mutinous soldiers. While he was there Louis of Luxemburg, bishop of Therouanne, arranged a marriage between his niece, Jacqueline or Jacquetta, daughter of Pierre, count of St. Pol, and the regent; for Bedford was anxious to form an alliance which might be useful to the English cause, and the house of Luxemburg was rich and powerful. The marriage was performed by the bishop at Therouanne on 20 April. The new duchess, who was only seventeen, was handsome and lively, and Bedford as a thankoffering presented the cathedral with two, or five, fine bells, which he had cast in England for the purpose. The match, made without the knowledge of Duke Philip, the feudal lord of the bride’s father, interrupted all friendly relations between Philip and Bedford. Philip, was unwilling that the English should gain. influence in Picardy. Cardinal Beaufort in vain attempted to arrange a reconciliation between the two at St. Omer. Now that all parties were tired of the war, a conference was held near Melun, before the cardinal of Ste.-Croix, by ambassadors of England, France, and Burgundy. Bedford had an interview there with the cardinal. But the negotiations were fruitless, and Bedford visited England with his duchess, entering London on 23 June.

On 13 July 1433, in a speech in parliament, he defended his administration in France from some charges (for which Gloucester was probably responsible) of neglect and carelessness. He demanded that, if any accusation were made against him, it should be made openly before the king in parliament. After some consideration, the chancellor, John Stafford, bishop of Bath and Wells, replied that neither the king, the Duke of Gloucester, nor the council had heard such charges, and that the king thanked him for his faithful services. The appointment of a new treasurer, and an examination into the finances of the kingdom, are to be attributed to his influence (Stubbs, Constitutional History, iii. 117). When parliament met again in November, after an adjournment, he made, in agreement with the commons’ prayer, a promise of concord and of government according to the will of the council. On the 24th the speaker, Roger Hunt [q. v.], delivered a speech before the king in praise of Bedford’s self-denying devotion in France, and begged Henry to direct Bedford to remain in England in order by his presence to secure the peace of the realm. Bedford, in reply, expressed his satisfaction at this proof of the commons’ affection, and placed himself wholly at the king’s disposal (Rolls of Parliament, iv. 423). He unselfishly offered to relieve the wretched condition of the finances by accepting 1,000l. only as salary as chief counsellor, instead of the five thousand marks hitherto paid to Gloucester, and showed his desire to act constitutionally by laying before parliament a series of articles with reference to the continual council. In an extraordinary council held in April 1434 Gloucester offered to carry on the war, and made some observations which led Bedford to demand that his words should be written down that he might answer them before the king. At Henry’s request the matter was dropped. In a meeting of the privy council on 14 June Bedford set forth the difficulties with which he had contended in France, pointing out how all things had prospered till the unlucky siege of Orleans, ‘taken in hand God knoweth by what advis.’ He advised the prosecution of the war, and offered to devote to it the whole of the revenues of his own Norman estates (Ordinances, iv. 222). On the 20th he took leave of the council, exhorting them to observe the articles which he had proposed. He asked for certain castles in Medoc, but the council considered that they had no right to alienate them from the crown, promising, however, that when the king was grown up he should be advised to reward him for his services. A few days later he returned to France.

During Bedford’s visit to England two embassies arrived from Duke Philip to suggest proposals for peace. To the first Bedford spoke of Philip in conciliatory terms. The second, which arrived shortly before Bedford’s departure, stated that Philip desired the king either to agree to terms or to be more active in prosecuting the war. The council, no doubt by Bedford’s advice, answered that the war was being carried on with vigour. This was true, for a dangerous insurrection in Normandy was in course of repression by the Earl of Arundel [see Fitzalan, John VI, who, on Bedford’s return, made a successful campaign in Maine. The English and Burgundian forces gained much ground on the borders of Valois and Picardy, and Talbot, at the head of reinforcements from England, was successful in the county of Beauvais. On the other hand, the constable was on the eve of making his peace with Charles VII, and Duke Philip was strongly pressed by the emperor, the pope, and the council, then sitting at Basle, to come to terms with the king. On 18 Dec. 1434 Bedford again visited Paris, and stayed until 10 Feb. 1435. Some disgust was felt by the Parisians at the honour which was shown him. He was forced to assent to the attendance of English ambassadors at a congress to be held at Arras for ending the war. While he was at Rouen in the beginning of May he heard that some French companies had seized Rhue and were desolating Ponthieu and Artois. He ordered Arundel to march from Mantes to Ponthieu, and the earl was defeated at Gerberoy and died soon afterwards. In July Bedford received tidings that the French had surprised St. Denis, and that the Parisians were in the greatest alarm. He despatched to Paris a force sufficient to clear the neighbourhood of the French. This was immediately before the council at Arras began its proceedings. On 31 Aug. the English ambassadors declared themselves unable to assent to the French conditions, and on 6 Sept. they withdrew from Arras, leaving Duke Philip to desert his ancient allies and enter into an alliance with their enemy. Bedford saw that the cause for which he struggled so long was ruined. He died at Rouen on 14 Sept. 1435, and was there honourably buried in the choir of the cathedral church of Notre Dame. He left no children by either of his wives. His widow married, probably in 1437, Richard Woodville, created earl Rivers [q. v.], by whom she became the mother of Elizabeth [q. v.], queen of Edward IV [q. v.] By his will, made four days before his death, he left all his possessions to his wife except one castle, which was to go to his natural son Richard. His nephew, King Henry, was to have all in remainder (Royal Wills, p. 270). A portrait of Bedford is preserved in his ‘Book of Hours,’ now in the British Museum (Gough, Account of a Missal); it has often been engraved. It gives him a fleshy face and highly-coloured complexion, retreating forehead, prominent and arched nose, and well-marked chin. Although less brilliant than his brother, Henry V, his abilities were good. He was clear-sighted and full of resource. In war he was brave and prudent, and in peace a wise counsellor. In his administration in France he showed that he was not a mere warrior; for, accepting the policy of Henry V, he laboured to make the conquered people contented, and above all to knit Normandy close to England by ties of self-interest and good rule. The exigencies of war brought about the ruin of his work in this respect, though, indeed, it could never have been successful; and he was forced to lay repeated burdens on the province until, the upper class being for the most part in exile, the peasants were driven to a desperate revolt. Brought up, as he evidently was, under the influence of the Beauforts, he adhered to the best traditions of his family, and always exhibited respect for constitutional government. His high character and his powers of command, no less than his exalted position, enabled him to restrain the unruly ambitions which distracted England during the later years of Henry VI. He was a strict churchman. If in his punishment of offenders he was sometimes over-stern, he was naturally humane and never wantonly cruel. In spite of a pride that was not ill-founded, he was, as may be gathered from his answer to the commons in 1434, not destitute of true humility. His temper was hasty, but he was ready to sacrifice much to put an end to discord. Above all the men of his time he is conspicuous for his fidelity and unselfishness, and he stands in marked contrast to his brother, the Duke of Gloucester, in that he never allowed his own interests to hinder the performance of his duty. His motto, ‘A vous entiere,’ expresses the character of his life. With never-failing courage he supported a long and disheartening conflict, and the failure of the cause to which he devoted himself was due to no fault or mistake of his.

[Stubbs’s Const. Hist. vol. iii. recording Bedford’s work in England; Elmham’s Vita et Gesta Hen. V, ed. Hearne; Elmham Liber Motricus and Redman’s Vita Hen. V. in Memorials of Hen. V, ed. Cole (Rolls Ser.); Gesta Hen. V, ed. Williams (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Titus Livins, ed. Hearne; Otterbourne, ed. Hearne; Libel of English Policie, in Political Songs, ed. Wright (Rolls Ser.); for sea-fight of 1416, see also Nicolas’s Hist, of Navy, ii. 419-24; Incerti Script. Chron. ed. Giles; Collections of a Citizen of London, ed. Gairdner (Camd. Soc.); English Chron. 1377-1461, ed. Davies (Camd. Soc.); T. Walsingham, vol. ii. (Rolls Ser.); J. Amundesham, vol. i. (Rolls Ser.) supplying a few personal notices; Hardyng’s Chron. ed. Ellis. Among later writers Polydore Vergil’s Hist. Angl. ed. 1651, or translation published by Camden Society, and Hall’s Chron., cd. Ellis, are valuable; among published documents, Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. ii., and Addit. Documents relating to Scotland have some notices of Bedford’s life as warden of the east marches; Proceedings and Ordinances of Privy Council, vols. i-iv., ed. Nicolas, present a striking picture of Bedford’s public life in England; Rymer’s Fœdera, vols. ix. x. ed. 1710; Rolls of Parliament, vols. iv. v. For offices and personal particulars, Doyle’s Official Baronage, i. 150; Dugdale’s Baronage, ii. 200; Gough’s Account of a Missal; Royal Wills, p. 270. For Bedford’s administration in France the best modern authority is Barante’s Histoire des Ducs de Bourgogne, t. vi, which may be supplemented by Martin’s Hist. de France, t. vi. and Vallet de Viriville’s Hist. de Charles VII for the contemporary history on French side. Of fifteenth-century writers, Juvenal des Ursins, ed. Buchon, has one or two notices of early years; Monstrelet, vols. ii. iii. iv. ed. Douët-d’Arcq (Société de l’Histoire de France); Jehan de Waurin’s Recueil des Chroniqnes, t. iii. ed. W. Hardy (Rolls Ser.), though founded on Monstrelet, has some special information; Journal d’un Bourgeois de Paris, ed. Michaud (Nouvelle Collection), an interesting chronicle of events in Paris by an ecclesiastic of the Burgundian party, most valuable; Jean le Févre, Seigneur de St. Rémy, vols. i-iv. ed. Moraud (Soc. de l’Hist. de France); T. Basin, bishop of Lisieux (b. 1412, d. 1491), Œuvres, ed. Quicherat (Soc. de l’Hist. de France), in Latin; Jean Chartier, brother of Alain, historiographer of Charles VII, Cronique in Recueil de Charles VII, ed. Godefroy, does not seem absolutely trustworthy; Procès de Jeanne d’Arc, vols. i-v. Condemnation et Réhabilitation, ed. Quicherat (Soc. de l’Hist. de France), in t. iv. Histoire par P. de Cagny; Mémoires concernant la Pucelle, Histoire de Richemont in Collection des Mémoires, t. viii. ed. Petitot; Letters, &c., illustrative of the Wars of the English in France, 2 vols. ed. Stevenson (Rolls Ser.), vol. ii. pt. 2, contains the collections of William of Worcester, to which reference is made in Preface to Gesta Hen. V (Engl. Hist. Soc.), noted above.]

Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 29
John of Lancaster by William Hunt

Leave a Reply