Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 04.djvu/46

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Beaufort
Beaufort
42

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