Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 04.djvu/50

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Beaufort
Beaufort
46

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,