Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 04.djvu/47

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Beaufort
Beaufort
43

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 com-