HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PEOPLE, VOLUME III
JOHN RICHARD GREEN, M.A. Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford
THE PARLIAMENT, 1399-1461 THE MONARCHY, 1461-1540
First Edition, Demy 8vo, November 1877; Reprinted December 1877, 1881, 1885, 1890. Eversley Edition, 1895. London MacMillan and Co. and New York 1896
Book IV — The Parliament — 1399-1461
Chapter V — The House of Lancaster — 1399-1422
Chapter VI — The Wars of the Roses — 1422-1461
Book V — The Monarchy — 1461-1540
Authorities for Book V
Chapter I — The House of York — 1461-1485
Chapter II — The Revival of Learning — 1485-1514
Chapter III — Wolsey — 1514-1529
Chapter IV — Thomas Cromwell — 1529-1540
LIST OF MAPS
The Wars of the Roses
In Chapter I. some changes have been made which exactly follow corrections made by Mr. Green himself in the margin of his volume of the original edition.
BOOK IV THE PARLIAMENT 1399-1461
CHAPTER V THE HOUSE OF LANCASTER 1399-1422
[Sidenote: Henry the Fourth]
Once safe in the Tower, it was easy to wrest from Richard a resignation of his crown; and this resignation was solemnly accepted by the Parliament which met at the close of September 1399. But the resignation was confirmed by a solemn Act of Deposition. The coronation oath was read, and a long impeachment which stated the breach of the promises made in it was followed by a solemn vote of both Houses which removed Richard from the state and authority of king. According to the strict rules of hereditary descent as construed by the feudal lawyers by an assumed analogy with the rules which governed descent of ordinary estates the crown would now have passed to a house which had at an earlier period played a leading part in the revolutions of the Edwards. The great-grandson of the Mortimer who brought about the deposition of Edward the Second had married the daughter and heiress of Lionel of Clarence, the third son of Edward the Third. The childlessness of Richard and the death of Edward's second son without issue placed Edmund Mortimer, the son of the Earl who had fallen in Ireland, first among the claimants of the crown; but he was now a child of six years old, the strict rule of hereditary descent had never received any formal recognition in the case of the Crown, and precedent suggested a right of Parliament to choose in such a case a successor among any other members of the Royal House. Only one such successor was in fact possible. Rising from his seat and crossing himself, Henry of Lancaster solemnly challenged the crown, "as that I am descended by right line of blood coming from the good lord King Henry the Third, and through that right that God of his grace hath sent me with help of my kin and of my friends to recover it: the which realm was in point to be undone by default of governance and undoing of good laws." Whatever defects such a claim might present were more than covered by the solemn recognition of Parliament. The two Archbishops, taking the new sovereign by the hand, seated him upon the throne, and Henry in emphatic words ratified the compact between himself and his people. "Sirs," he said to the prelates, lords, knights, and burgesses gathered round him, "I thank God and you, spiritual and temporal, and all estates of the land; and do you to wit it is not my will that any man think that by way of conquest I would disinherit any of his heritage, franchises, or other rights that he ought to have, nor put him out of the good that he has and has had by the good laws and customs of the realm, except those persons that have been against the good purpose and the common profit of the realm."
[Sidenote: Statute of Heresy]
The deposition of a king, the setting aside of one claimant and the elevation of another to the throne, marked the triumph of the English Parliament over the monarchy. The struggle of the Edwards against its gradual advance had culminated in the bold effort of Richard the Second to supersede it by a commission dependent on the Crown. But the House of Lancaster was precluded by its very position from any renewal of the struggle. It was not merely that the exhaustion of the treasury by the war and revolt which followed Henry's accession left him even more than the kings who had gone before in the hands of the Estates; it was that his very right to the Crown lay in an acknowledgement of their highest pretensions. He had been raised to the throne by a Parliamentary revolution. His claim to obedience had throughout to rest on a Parliamentary title. During no period of our early history therefore were the powers of the two Houses so frankly recognized. The tone of Henry the Fourth till the very close of his reign is that of humble compliance in all but ecclesiastical matters with the prayers of the Parliament, and even his imperious successor shrank almost with timidity from any conflict with it. But the Crown had been bought by pledges less noble than this. Arundel was not only the representative of constitutional rule; he was also the representative of religious persecution. No prelate had been so bitter a foe of the Lollards, and the support which the Church had given to the recent revolution had no doubt sprung from its belief that a sovereign whom Arundel placed on the throne would deal pitilessly with the growing heresy. The expectations of the clergy were soon realized. In the first Convocation of his reign Henry declared himself the protector of the Church and ordered the prelates to take measures for the suppression of heresy and of the wandering preachers. His declaration was but a prelude to the Statute of Heresy which was passed at the opening of 1401. By the provisions of this infamous Act the hindrances which had till now neutralized the efforts of the bishops to enforce the common law were utterly taken away. Not only were they permitted to arrest all preachers of heresy, all schoolmasters infected with heretical teaching, all owners and writers of heretical books, and to imprison them even if they recanted at the king's pleasure, but a refusal to abjure or a relapse after abjuration enabled them to hand over the heretic to the civil officers, and by these—so ran the first legal enactment of religious bloodshed which defiled our Statute-book—he was to be burned on a high place before the people. The statute was hardly passed when William Sautre became its first victim. Sautre, while a parish priest at Lynn, had been cited before the Bishop of Norwich two years before for heresy and forced to recant. But he still continued to preach against the worship of images, against pilgrimages, and against transubstantiation, till the Statute of Heresy strengthened Arundel's hands. In February, 1401, Sautre was brought before the Primate as a relapsed heretic, and on refusing to recant a second time was degraded from his orders. He was handed to the secular power, and on the issue of a royal writ publicly burned.
[Sidenote: England and France]
The support of the nobles had been partly won by a hope hardly less fatal to the peace of the realm, the hope of a renewal of the strife with France. The peace of Richard's later years had sprung not merely from the policy of the English king, but from the madness of Charles the Sixth of France. France fell into the hands of its king's uncle, the Duke of Burgundy, and as the Duke was ruler of Flanders and peace with England was a necessity for Flemish industry, his policy went hand in hand with that of Richard. His rival, the king's brother, Lewis, Duke of Orleans, was the head of the French war-party; and it was with the view of bringing about war that he supported Henry of Lancaster in his exile at the French court. Burgundy on the other hand listened to Richard's denunciation of Henry as a traitor, and strove to prevent his departure. But his efforts were in vain, and he had to witness a revolution which hurled Richard from the throne, deprived Isabella of her crown, and restored to power the baronial party of which Gloucester, the advocate of war, had long been the head. The dread of war was increased by a pledge which Henry was said to have given at his coronation that he would not only head an army in its march into France but that he would march further into France than ever his grandfather had done. The French Court retorted by refusing to acknowledge Henry as king, while the truce concluded with Richard came at his death legally to an end. In spite of this defiance however Burgundy remained true to the interests of Flanders, and Henry clung to a truce which gave him time to establish his throne. But the influence of the baronial party in England made peace hard to keep; the Duke of Orleans urged on France to war; and the hatred of the two peoples broke through the policy of the two governments. Count Waleran of St. Pol, who had married Richard's half-sister, put out to sea with a fleet which swept the east coast and entered the Channel. Pirates from Britanny and Navarre soon swarmed in the narrow seas, and their ravages were paid back by those of pirates from the Cinque Ports. A more formidable trouble broke out in the north. The enmity of France roused as of old the enmity of Scotland; the Scotch king Robert the Third refused to acknowledge Henry, and Scotch freebooters cruised along the northern coast.
[Sidenote: Richard's death]
Attack from without woke attack from within the realm. Henry had shown little taste for bloodshed in his conduct of the revolution. Save those of the royal councillors whom he found at Bristol no one had been put to death. Though a deputation of lords with Archbishop Arundel at its head pressed him to take Richard's life, he steadily refused, and kept him a prisoner at Pomfret. The judgements against Gloucester, Warwick, and Arundel were reversed, but the lords who had appealed the Duke were only punished by the loss of the dignities which they had received as their reward. Richard's brother and nephew by the half-blood, the Dukes of Exeter and Surrey, became again Earls of Huntingdon and Kent. York's son, the Duke of Albemarle, sank once more into Earl of Rutland. Beaufort, Earl of Somerset, lost his new Marquisate of Dorset; Spenser lost his Earldom of Gloucester. But in spite of a stormy scene among the lords in Parliament Henry refused to exact further punishment; and his real temper was seen in a statute which forbade all such appeals and left treason to be dealt with by ordinary process of law. But the times were too rough for mercy such as this. Clouds no sooner gathered round the new king than the degraded lords leagued with the Earl of Salisbury and the deposed Bishop of Carlisle to release Richard and to murder Henry. Betrayed by Rutland in the spring of 1400, and threatened by the king's march from London, they fled to Cirencester; but the town was against them, its burghers killed Kent and Salisbury, and drove out the rest. A terrible retribution followed. Lord Spenser and the Earl of Huntingdon were taken and summarily beheaded; thirty more conspirators fell into the king's hands to meet the same fate. They drew with them in their doom the wretched prisoner in whose name they had risen. A great council held after the suppression of the revolt prayed "that if Richard, the late king, be alive, as some suppose he is, it be ordained that he be well and securely guarded for the safety of the states of the king and kingdom; but if he be dead, then that he be openly showed to the people that they may have knowledge thereof." The ominous words were soon followed by news of Richard's death in prison. His body was brought to St. Paul's, Henry himself with the princes of the blood royal bearing the pall: and the face was left uncovered to meet rumours that the prisoner had been assassinated by his keeper, Sir Piers Exton.
[Sidenote: Revolt of Wales]
In June Henry marched northward to end the trouble from the Scots. With their usual policy the Scottish army under the Duke of Albany withdrew as the English crossed the border, and looked coolly on while Henry invested the castle of Edinburgh. The wants of his army forced him in fact to raise the siege; but even success would have been fruitless, for he was recalled by trouble nearer home. Wales was in full revolt. The country had been devoted to Richard; and so notorious was its disaffection to the new line that when Henry's son knelt at his father's feet to receive a grant of the Principality a shrewd bystander murmured, "He must conquer it if he will have it." The death of the fallen king only added to the Welsh disquiet, for in spite of the public exhibition of his body he was believed to be still alive. Some hold that he had escaped to Scotland, and an impostor who took his name was long maintained at the Scottish Court. In Wales it was believed that he was still a prisoner in Chester Castle. But the trouble would have died away had it not been raised into revolt by the energy of Owen Glyndwr or Glendower. Owen was a descendant of one of the last native Princes, Llewelyn-ap-Jorwerth, and the lord of considerable estates in Merioneth. He had been squire of the body to Richard the Second, and had clung to him till he was seized at Flint. It was probably his known aversion from the revolution which had deposed his master that brought on him the hostility of Lord Grey of Ruthin, the stay of the Lancastrian cause in North Wales; and the same political ground may have existed for the refusal of the Parliament to listen to his prayer for redress and for the restoration of the lands which Grey had seized. But the refusal was embittered by words of insult; when the Bishop of St. Asaph warned them of Owen's power the lords retorted that "they cared not for barefoot knaves." They were soon to be made to care. At the close of 1400 Owen rose in revolt, burned the town of Ruthin, and took the title of Prince of Wales.
[Sidenote: Owen Glyndwr]
His action at once changed the disaffection into a national revolt. His raids on the Marches and his capture of Radnor marked its importance, and Henry marched against him in the summer of 1401. But Glyndwr's post at Corwen defied attack, and the pressure in the north forced the king to march away into Scotland. Henry Percy, who held the castles of North Wales as Constable, was left to suppress the rebellion, but Owen met Percy's arrival by the capture of Conway, and the king was forced to hurry fresh forces under his son Henry to the west. The boy was too young as yet to show the military and political ability which was to find its first field in these Welsh campaigns, and his presence did little to stay the growth of revolt. While Owen's lands were being harried Owen was stirring the people of Caermarthen into rebellion and pressing the siege of Abergavenny; nor could the presence of English troops save Shropshire from pillage. Everywhere the Welshmen rose for their "Prince"; the Bards declared his victories to have been foretold by Merlin; even the Welsh scholars at Oxford left the University in a body and joined his standard. The castles of Ruthin, Hawarden, and Flint fell into his hands, and with his capture of Conway gave him command of North Wales. The arrival of help from Scotland and the hope of help from France gave fresh vigour to Owen's action, and though Percy held his ground stubbornly on the coast and even recovered Conway he at last threw up his command in disgust. A fresh inroad of Henry on his return from Scotland again failed to bring Owen to battle, and the negotiations which he carried on during the following winter were a mere blind to cover preparations for a new attack. So strong had Glyndwr become in 1402 that in June he was able to face an English army in the open field at Brynglas and to defeat it with a loss of a thousand men. The king again marched to the border to revenge this blow. But the storms which met him as he entered the hills, storms which his archers ascribed to the magic powers of Owen, ruined his army, and he was forced to withdraw as of old. A raid over the northern border distracted the English forces. A Scottish army entered England with the impostor who bore Richard's name, and though it was utterly defeated by Henry Percy in September at Homildon Hill the respite had served Owen well. He sallied out from the inaccessible fastnesses in which he had held Henry at bay to win victories which were followed by the adhesion of all North Wales and of great part of South Wales to his cause.
[Sidenote: The Percies]
What gave life to these attacks and conspiracies was the hostility of France. The influence of the Duke of Burgundy was still strong enough to prevent any formal hostilities, but the war party was gaining more and more the ascendant. Its head, the Duke of Orleans, had fanned the growing flame by sending a formal defiance to Henry the Fourth as the murderer of Richard. French knights were among the prisoners whom the Percies took at Homildon Hill; and it may have been through their intervention that the Percies themselves were now brought into correspondence with the court of France. No house had played a greater part in the overthrow of Richard, or had been more richly rewarded by the new king. But old grudges existed between the house of Percy and the house of Lancaster. The Earl of Northumberland had been at bitter variance with John of Gaunt; and though a common dread of Richard's enmity had thrown the Percies and Henry together the new king and his powerful subjects were soon parted again. Henry had ground indeed for distrust. The death of Richard left the young Mortimer, Earl of March, next claimant in blood of the crown, and the king had shown his sense of this danger by imprisoning the earl and his sisters in the Tower. But this imprisonment made their uncle, Sir Edmund Mortimer, the representative of their house; and Edmund withdrew to the Welsh Marches, refusing to own Henry for king. The danger was averted by the luck which threw Sir Edmund as a captive into the hands of Owen Glyndwr in the battle of Brynglas. It was natural that Henry should refuse to allow Mortimer's kinsmen to ransom so formidable an enemy; but among these kinsmen Henry Percy ranked himself through his marriage with Sir Edmund's sister, and the refusal served as a pretext for a final breach with the king.
[Sidenote: Overthrow of the Percies]
Percy had withdrawn from the Welsh war in wrath at the inadequate support which Henry gave him; and his anger had been increased by a delay in repayment of the sums spent by his house in the contest with Scotland, as well as by the king's demand that he should surrender the Earl of Douglas whom he had taken prisoner at Homildon Hill. He now became the centre of a great conspiracy to place the Earl of March upon the throne. His father, the Earl of Northumberland, his uncle, Thomas Percy, the Earl of Worcester, joined in the plot. Sir Edmund Mortimer negotiated for aid from Owen Glyndwr; the Earl of Douglas threw in his fortunes with the confederates; and Henry Percy himself crossed to France and obtained promises of support. The war party had now gained the upper hand at the French court; in 1403 preparations were made to attack Calais, and a Breton fleet put to sea. At the news of its presence in the Channel Henry Percy and the Earl of Worcester at once rose in the north and struck across England to join Owen Glyndwr in Wales, while the Earl of Northumberland gathered a second army and advanced more slowly to their support. But Glyndwr was still busy with the siege of Caermarthen, and the king by a hasty march flung himself across the road of the Percies as they reached Shrewsbury. On the twenty-third of July a fierce fight ended in the defeat of the rebel force. Henry Percy was slain in battle, the Earl of Worcester taken and beheaded; while Northumberland, who had been delayed by an army under his rival in the north, Neville, Earl of Westmoreland, was thrown into prison, and only pardoned on his protestations of innocence. The quick, hard blow did its work. The young Earl of March betrayed the plans of his partizans to purchase pardon. The Breton fleet, which had defeated an English fleet in the Channel and made a descent upon Plymouth, withdrew to its harbours; and though the Duke of Burgundy was on the point of commencing the siege of Calais the plans of an attack on that town were no more heard of.
[Sidenote: Henry's difficulties]
But the difficulty of Wales remained as great as ever. The discouragement of Owen at the failure of the conspiracy of the Percies was removed by the open aid of the French Court. In July 1404 the French king in a formal treaty owned Glyndwr as Prince of Wales, and his promises of aid gave fresh heart to the insurgents. What hampered Henry's efforts most in meeting this danger was the want of money. At the opening of 1404 the Parliament grudgingly gave a subsidy of a twentieth, but the treasury called for fresh supplies in October, and the wearied Commons fell back on their old proposal of a confiscation of Church property. Under the influence of Archbishop Arundel the Lords succeeded in quashing the project, and a new subsidy was voted; but the treasury was soon as empty as before. Treason was still rife; the Duke of York, who had played so conspicuous a part in Richard's day as Earl of Rutland, was sent for a while to the Tower on suspicion of complicity in an attempt of his sister to release the Earl of March; and Glyndwr remained unconquerable.
[Sidenote: Turn of the tide]
But fortune was now beginning to turn. The danger from Scotland was suddenly removed. King Robert resolved to send his son James for training to the court of France, but the boy was driven to the English coast by a storm and Henry refused to release him. Had the Scots been friends, the king jested, they would have sent James to him for education, as he knew the French tongue quite as well as King Charles. Robert died of grief at the news; and Scotland fell into the hands of his brother, the Duke of Albany, whose one aim was that his nephew should remain a prisoner. James grew up at the English Court; and, prisoner though he was, the excellence of his training was seen in the poetry and intelligence of his later life. But with its king as a hostage Scotland was no longer to be dreaded as a foe. France too was weakened at this moment; for in 1405 the long-smouldering jealousy between the Dukes of Orleans and of Burgundy broke out at last into open strife. The break did little indeed to check the desultory hostilities which were going on. A Breton fleet made descents on Portland and Dartmouth. The Count of Armagnac, the strongest supporter of Orleans and the war party, led troops against the frontier of Guienne. But the weakness of France and the exhaustion of its treasury prevented any formal denunciation of the truce or declaration of war. Though Henry could spare not a soldier for Guienne Armagnac did little hurt. An English fleet repaid the ravages of the Bretons by harrying the coast of Britanny; and the turn of French politics soon gave Frenchmen too much work at home to spare men for work abroad. At the close of 1407 the murder of the Duke of Orleans by the order of the Duke of Burgundy changed the weak and fitful strife which had been going on into a struggle of the bitterest hate. The Count of Armagnac placed himself at the head of the murdered duke's partizans; and in their furious antagonism Armagnac and Burgundian alike sought aid from the English king.
[Sidenote: Prince Henry]
But the fortune which favoured Henry elsewhere was still slow to turn in the West. In the opening of 1405 the king's son, Henry Prince of Wales, had taken the field against Glyndwr. Young as he was, Henry was already a tried soldier. As a boy of thirteen he had headed an incursion into Scotland in the year of his father's accession to the throne. At fifteen he fought in the front of the royal army in the desperate fight at Shrewsbury. Slight and tall in stature as he seemed, he had outgrown the weakness of his earlier years and was vigorous and swift of foot; his manners were courteous, his air grave and reserved; and though wild tales ran of revels and riots among his friends, the poets whom he favoured and Lydgate whom he set to translate "the drery piteous tale of him of Troy" saw in him a youth "both manful and vertuous." There was little time indeed for mere riot in a life so busy as Henry's, nor were many opportunities for self-indulgence to be found in campaigns against Glyndwr. What fitted the young general of seventeen for the thankless work in Wales was his stern, immoveable will. But fortune as yet had few smiles for the king in this quarter, and his constant ill-success continued to wake fresh troubles within England itself. The repulse of the young prince in a spring campaign in 1405 was at once followed by a revolt in the north. The pardon of Northumberland had left him still a foe; the Earl of Nottingham was son of Henry's opponent, the banished Duke of Norfolk; Scrope, Archbishop of York, was brother of Richard's counsellor, the Earl of Wiltshire, who had been beheaded on the surrender of Bristol. Their rising in May might have proved a serious danger had not the treachery of Ralph Neville, the Earl of Westmoreland, who still remained steady to the Lancastrian cause, secured the arrest of some of its leaders. Scrope and Lord Nottingham were beheaded, while Northumberland and his partizan Lord Bardolf fled into Scotland and from thence to Wales. Succours from France stirred the king to a renewed attack on Glyndwr in November; but with the same ill-success. Storms and want of food wrecked the English army and forced it to retreat; a year of rest raised Glyndwr to new strength; and when the long-promised body of eight thousand Frenchmen joined him in 1407 he ventured even to cross the border and to threaten Worcester. The threat was a vain one and the Welsh army soon withdrew; but the insult gave fresh heart to Henry's foes, and in 1408 Northumberland and Bardolf again appeared in the north. Their overthrow at Bramham Moor put an end to the danger from the Percies; for Northumberland and Bardolf alike fell on the field. But Wales remained as defiant as ever. In 1409 a body of Welshmen poured ravaging into Shropshire; many of the English towns had fallen into Glyndwr's hands; and some of the Marcher Lords made private truces with him.
The weakness which was produced by this ill-success in the West as well as these constant battlings with disaffection within the realm was seen in the attitude of the Lollards. Lollardry was far from having been crushed by the Statute of Heresy. The death of the Earl of Salisbury in the first of the revolts against Henry's throne, though his gory head was welcomed into London by a procession of abbots and bishops who went out singing psalms of thanksgiving to meet it, only transferred the leadership of the party to one of the foremost warriors of the time, Sir John Oldcastle. If we believe his opponents, and we have no information about him save from hostile sources, he was of lowly origin, and his rise must have been due to his own capacity and services to the Crown. In his youth he had listened to the preaching of Wyclif, and his Lollardry—if we may judge from its tone in later years—was a violent fanaticism. But this formed no obstacle to his rise in Richard's reign; his marriage with the heiress of that house made him Lord Cobham; and the accession of Henry of Lancaster, to whose cause he seems to have clung in these younger days, brought him fairly to the front. His skill in arms found recognition in his appointment as sheriff of Herefordshire and as castellan of Brecknock; and he was among the leaders who were chosen in later years for service in France. His warlike renown endeared him to the king, and Prince Henry counted him among the most illustrious of his servants. The favour of the royal house was the more noteable that Oldcastle was known as "leader and captain" of the Lollards. His Kentish castle of Cowling served as the headquarters of the sect, and their preachers were openly entertained at his houses in London or on the Welsh border. The Convocation of 1413 charged him with being "the principal receiver, favourer, protector, and defender of them; and that, especially in the dioceses of London, Rochester, and Hereford, he hath sent out the said Lollards to preach ... and hath been present at their wicked sermons, grievously punishing with threatenings, terror, and the power of the secular sword such as did withstand them, alleging and affirming among other matters that we, the bishops, had no power to make any such Constitutions" as the Provincial Constitutions, in which they had forbidden the preaching of unlicensed preachers. The bold stand of Lord Cobham drew fresh influence from the sanctity of his life. Though the clergy charged him with the foulest heresy, they owned that he shrouded it "under a veil of holiness." What chiefly moved their wrath was that he "armed the hands of laymen for the spoil of the Church." The phrase seems to hint that Oldcastle was the mover in the repeated attempts of the Commons to supply the needs of the State by a confiscation of Church property. In 1404 they prayed that the needs of the kingdom might be defrayed by a confiscation of Church lands, and though this prayer was fiercely met by Archbishop Arundel it was renewed in 1410. The Commons declared as before that by devoting the revenues of the prelates to the service of the state maintenance could be made for fifteen earls, fifteen hundred knights, and six thousand squires, while a hundred hospitals might be established for the sick and infirm. Such proposals had been commonly made by the baronial party with which the house of Lancaster had in former days been connected, and hostile as they were to the Church as an establishment they had no necessary connexion with any hostility to its doctrines. But a direct sympathy with Lollardism was seen in the further proposals of the Commons. They prayed for the abolition of episcopal jurisdiction over the clergy and for a mitigation of the Statute of Heresy.
[Sidenote: Action of Prince Henry]
But formidable as the movement seemed it found a formidable opponent. The steady fighting of Prince Henry had at last met the danger from Wales, and Glyndwr, though still unconquered, saw district after district submit again to English rule. From Wales the Prince returned to bring his will to bear on England itself. It was through his strenuous opposition that the proposals of the Commons in 1410 were rejected by the Lords. He gave at the same moment a more terrible proof of his loyalty to the Church in personally assisting at the burning of a layman, Thomas Badby, for a denial of transubstantiation. The prayers of the sufferer were taken for a recantation, and the Prince ordered the fire to be plucked away. But when the offer of life and a pension failed to break the spirit of the Lollard Henry pitilessly bade him be hurled back to his doom. The Prince was now the virtual ruler of the realm. His father's earlier popularity had disappeared amidst the troubles and heavy taxation of his reign. He was already a victim to the attack of epilepsy which brought him to the grave; and in the opening of 1410 the Parliament called for the appointment of a Continual Council. The Council was appointed, and the Prince placed at its head. His energy was soon seen in a more active interposition in the affairs of France. So bitter had the hatred grown between the Burgundian and Armagnac parties that both in turn appealed again to England for help. The Burgundian alliance found favour with the Council. In August, 1411, the Duke of Burgundy offered his daughter in marriage to the Prince as the price of English aid, and four thousand men with Lord Cobham among their leaders were sent to join his forces at Paris. Their help enabled Duke John to bring his opponents to battle at St. Cloud, and to win a decisive victory in November. But already the king was showing himself impatient of the Council's control; and the Parliament significantly prayed that "as there had been a great murmur among your people that you have had in your heart a heavy load against some of your lieges come to this present Parliament," they might be formally declared to be "faithful lieges and servants." The prayer was granted, but in spite of the support which the Houses gave to the Prince, Henry the Fourth was resolute to assert his power. At the close of 1411 he declared his will to stand in as great freedom, prerogative, and franchise as any of his predecessors had done, and annulled on that ground the appointment of the Continual Council.
[Sidenote: Death of Henry the Fourth]
The king's blow had been dealt at the instigation of his queen, and it seems to have been prompted as much by a resolve to change the outer policy which the Prince had adopted as to free himself from the Council. The dismissal of the English troops by John of Burgundy after his victory at St. Cloud had irritated the English Court; and the Duke of Orleans took advantage of this turn of feeling to offer Catharine, the French king's daughter, in marriage to the Prince, and to promise the restoration of all that England claimed in Guienne and Poitou. In spite of the efforts of the Prince and the Duke of Burgundy a treaty of alliance with Orleans was signed on these terms in May, 1412, and a force under the king's second son, the Duke of Clarence, disembarked at La Hogue. But the very profusion of the Orleanist offers threw doubt on their sincerity. The Duke was only using the English aid to put a pressure on his antagonist, and its landing in August at once brought John of Burgundy to a seeming submission. While Clarence penetrated by Normandy and Maine into the Orleanais and a second English force sailed for Calais, both the French parties joined in pledging their services to King Charles "against his adversary of England." Before this union Clarence was forced in November to accept promise of payment for his men from the Duke of Orleans and to fall back on Bordeaux. The failure no doubt gave fresh strength to Prince Henry. In the opening of 1412 he had been discharged from the Council and Clarence set in his place at its head; he had been defeated in his attempts to renew the Burgundian alliance, and had striven in vain to hinder Clarence from sailing. The break grew into an open quarrel. Letters were sent into various counties refuting the charges of the Prince's detractors, and in September Henry himself appeared before his father with a crowd of his friends and supporters demanding the punishment of those who accused him. The charges made against him were that he sought to bring about the king's removal from the throne; and "the great recourse of people unto him, of which his court was at all times more abundant than his father's," gave colour to the accusation. Henry the Fourth owned his belief in these charges, but promised to call a Parliament for his son's vindication; and the Parliament met in the February of 1413. But a new attack of epilepsy had weakened the king's strength; and though galleys were gathered for a Crusade which he had vowed he was too weak to meet the Houses on their assembly. If we may trust a charge which was afterwards denied, the king's half-brother, Bishop Henry of Winchester, one of the Beaufort children of John of Gaunt, acting in secret co-operation with the Prince, now brought the peers to pray Henry to suffer his son to be crowned in his stead. The king's refusal was the last act of a dying man. Before the end of March he breathed his last in the "Jerusalem Chamber" within the Abbot's house at Westminster; and the Prince obtained the crown which he had sought.
[Sidenote: Suppression of the Lollards]
The removal of Archbishop Arundel from the Chancellorship, which was given to Henry Beaufort of Winchester, was among the first acts of Henry the Fifth; and it is probable that this blow at the great foe of the Lollards gave encouragement to the hopes of Oldcastle. He seized the opportunity of the coronation in April to press his opinions on the young king, though probably rather with a view to the plunder of the Church than to any directly religious end. From the words of the clerical chroniclers it is plain that Henry had no mind as yet for any open strife with either party, and that he quietly put the matter aside. He was in fact busy with foreign affairs. The Duke of Clarence was recalled from Bordeaux, and a new truce concluded with France. The policy of Henry was clearly to look on for a while at the shifting politics of the distracted kingdom. Soon after his accession another revolution in Paris gave the charge of the mad King Charles, and with it the nominal government of the realm, to the Duke of Orleans; and his cause derived fresh strength from the support of the young Dauphin, who was afterwards to play so great a part in the history of France as Charles the Seventh. John of Burgundy withdrew to Flanders, and both parties again sought Henry's aid. But his hands were tied as yet by trouble at home. Oldcastle was far from having abandoned his projects, discouraged as they had been by his master; while the suspicions of Henry's favour to the Lollard cause which could hardly fail to be roused by his favour to the Lollard leader only spurred the bold spirit of Arundel to energetic action. A council of bishops gathered in the summer to denounce Lollardry and at once called on Henry to suffer Oldcastle to be brought to justice. The king pleaded for delay in the case of one who was so close a friend, and strove personally to convince Lord Cobham of his errors. All however was in vain, and Oldcastle withdrew to his castle of Cowling, while Arundel summoned him before his court and convicted him as a heretic. His open defiance at last forced the king to act. In September a body of royal troops arrested Lord Cobham and carried him to the Tower; but his life was still spared, and after a month's confinement his imprisonment was relaxed on his promise of recantation. Cobham however had now resolved on open resistance. He broke from the Tower in November, and from his hiding-place organized a vast revolt. At the opening of 1414 a secret order summoned the Lollards to assemble in St. Giles's Fields outside London. We gather, if not the real aims of the rising, at least the terror it caused, from Henry's statement that its purpose was "to destroy himself, his brothers, and several of the spiritual and temporal lords"; from Cobham's later declarations it is probable that the pretext of the rising was to release Richard, whom he asserted to be still alive, and to set him again on the throne. But the vigilance of the young king prevented the junction of the Lollards within the city with their confederates without, and these as they appeared at the place of meeting were dispersed by the royal troops.
[Sidenote: Renewal of the French War]
The failure of the rising only increased the rigour of the law. Magistrates were directed to arrest all heretics and hand them over to the bishops; a conviction of heresy was made to entail forfeiture of blood and estate; and the execution of thirty-nine prominent Lollards as traitors gave terrible earnest of the king's resolve to suppress their sect. Oldcastle escaped, and for four years longer strove to rouse revolt after revolt. He was at last captured on the Welsh border and burned as a heretic; but from the moment when his attempt at revolt was crushed in St. Giles's Fields the dread of Lollardry was broken and Henry was free to take a more energetic course of policy on the other side the sea. He had already been silently preparing for action by conciliatory measures, by restoring Henry Percy's son to the Earldom of Northumberland, by the release of the Earl of March, and by the solemn burial of Richard the Second at Westminster. The suppression of the Lollard revolt was followed by a demand for the restoration of the English possessions in France, and by alliances and preparations for war. Burgundy stood aloof in a sullen neutrality, and the Duke of Orleans, who was now virtually ruler of the French kingdom, in vain proposed concession after concession. All negotiation indeed broke down when Henry formally put forward his claim on the crown of France. No claim could have been more utterly baseless, for the Parliamentary title by which the House of Lancaster held England could give it no right over France, and the strict law of hereditary succession which Edward asserted could be pleaded, if pleaded at all, only by the House of Mortimer. Not only the claim indeed, but the very nature of the war itself was wholly different from that of Edward the Third. Edward had been forced into the struggle against his will by the ceaseless attacks of France, and his claim of the crown was little but an afterthought to secure the alliance of Flanders. The war of Henry on the other hand, though in form a mere renewal of the earlier struggle on the close of the truce made by Richard the Second, was in fact an aggression on the part of a nation tempted by the helplessness of its opponent and galled by the memory of former defeat. Its one excuse lay in the attacks which France for the past fifteen years had directed against the Lancastrian throne, its encouragement of every enemy without and of every traitor within. Henry may fairly have regarded such a ceaseless hostility, continued even through years of weakness, as forcing him in sheer self-defence to secure his realm against the weightier attack which might be looked for, should France recover her strength.
In the summer of 1415 the king prepared to sail from Southampton, when a plot reminded him of the insecurity of his throne. The Earl of March was faithful: but he was childless, and his claim would pass at his death through a sister who had wedded the Earl of Cambridge, a son of the Duke of York, to her child Richard, the Duke who was to play so great a part in the War of the Roses. It was to secure his boy's claims that the Earl of Cambridge seized on the king's departure to conspire with Lord Scrope and Sir Thomas Grey to proclaim the Earl of March king. The plot however was discovered and the plotters beheaded before the king sailed in August for the Norman coast. His first exploit was the capture of Harfleur. Dysentery made havoc in his ranks during the siege, and it was with a mere handful of men that he resolved to insult the enemy by a daring march like that of Edward upon Calais. The discord however on which he probably reckoned for security vanished before the actual appearance of the invaders in the heart of France; and when his weary and half-starved force succeeded in crossing the Somme it found sixty thousand Frenchmen encamped on the field of Agincourt right across its line of march. Their position, flanked on either side by woods, but with a front so narrow that the dense masses were drawn up thirty men deep, though strong for purposes of defence was ill suited for attack; and the French leaders, warned by the experience of Crecy and Poitiers, resolved to await the English advance. Henry on the other hand had no choice between attack and unconditional surrender. His troops were starving, and the way to Calais lay across the French army. But the king's courage rose with the peril. A knight in his train wished that the thousands of stout warriors lying idle that night in England had been standing in his ranks. Henry answered with a burst of scorn. "I would not have a single man more," he replied. "If God give us the victory, it will be plain we owe it to His grace. If not, the fewer we are, the less loss for England." Starving and sick as they were, the handful of men whom he led shared the spirit of their king. As the chill rainy night passed away he drew up his army on the twenty-fifth of October and boldly gave battle. The English archers bared their arms and breasts to give fair play to "the crooked stick and the grey goose wing," but for which—as the rime ran—"England were but a fling," and with a great shout sprang forward to the attack. The sight of their advance roused the fiery pride of the French; the wise resolve of their leaders was forgotten, and the dense mass of men-at-arms plunged heavily forward through miry ground on the English front. But at the first sign of movement Henry had halted his line, and fixing in the ground the sharpened stakes with which each man was furnished his archers poured their fatal arrow-flights into the hostile ranks. The carnage was terrible, for though the desperate charges of the French knighthood at last drove the English archers to the neighbouring woods, from the skirt of these woods they were still able to pour their shot into the enemy's flanks, while Henry with the men-at-arms around him flung himself on the French line. In the terrible struggle which followed the king bore off the palm of bravery: he was felled once by a blow from a French mace and the crown of his helmet was cleft by the sword of the Duke of Alencon; but the enemy was at last broken, and the defeat of the main body of the French was followed by the rout of their reserve. The triumph was more complete, as the odds were even greater, than at Crecy. Eleven thousand Frenchmen lay dead on the field, and more than a hundred princes and great lords were among the fallen.
[Sidenote: Conquest of Normandy]
The immediate result of the battle of Agincourt was small, for the English army was too exhausted for pursuit, and it made its way to Calais only to return to England. Through 1416 the war was limited to a contest for the command of the Channel, till the increasing bitterness of the strife between the Burgundians and Armagnacs, and the consent of John of Burgundy to conclude an alliance, encouraged Henry to resume his attempt to recover Normandy. Whatever may have been his aim in this enterprise—whether it were, as has been suggested, to provide a refuge for his house, should its power be broken in England, or simply to acquire a command of the seas—the patience and skill with which his object was accomplished raise him high in the rank of military leaders. Disembarking in July 1417 with an army of forty thousand men near the mouth of the Touque, he stormed Caen, received the surrender of Bayeux, reduced Alencon and Falaise, and detaching his brother the Duke of Gloucester in the spring of 1418 to occupy the Cotentin made himself master of Avranches and Domfront. With Lower Normandy wholly in his hands, he advanced upon Evreux, captured Louviers, and seizing Pont-de-l'Arche, threw his troops across the Seine. The end of these masterly movements was now revealed. Rouen was at this time the largest and wealthiest of the towns of France; its walls were defended by a powerful artillery; Alan Blanchard, a brave and resolute patriot, infused the fire of his own temper into the vast population; and the garrison, already strong, was backed by fifteen thousand citizens in arms. But the genius of Henry was more than equal to the difficulties with which he had to deal. He had secured himself from an attack on his rear by the reduction of Lower Normandy, his earlier occupation of Harfleur severed the town from the sea, and his conquest of Pont-de-l'Arche cut it off from relief on the side of Paris. Slowly but steadily the king drew his lines of investment round the doomed city; a flotilla was brought up from Harfleur, a bridge of boats thrown over the Seine above the town, the deep trenches of the besiegers protected by posts, and the desperate sallies of the garrison stubbornly beaten back. For six months Rouen held resolutely out, but famine told fast on the vast throng of country folk who had taken refuge within its walls. Twelve thousand of these were at last thrust out of the city gates, but the cold policy of the conqueror refused them passage, and they perished between the trenches and the walls. In the hour of their agony women gave birth to infants, but even the new-born babes which were drawn up in baskets to receive baptism were lowered again to die on their mothers' breasts. It was little better within the town itself. As winter drew on one-half of the population wasted away. "War," said the terrible king, "has three handmaidens ever waiting on her, Fire, Blood, and Famine, and I have chosen the meekest maid of the three." But his demand of unconditional surrender nerved the citizens to a resolve of despair; they determined to fire the city and fling themselves in a mass on the English lines; and Henry, fearful lest his prize should escape him at the last, was driven to offer terms. Those who rejected a foreign yoke were suffered to leave the city, but his vengeance reserved its victim in Alan Blanchard, and the brave patriot was at Henry's orders put to death in cold blood.
[Sidenote: Death of Henry the Fifth]
A few sieges completed the reduction of Normandy. The king's designs were still limited to the acquisition of that province; and pausing in his career of conquest, he strove to win its loyalty by a remission of taxation and a redress of grievances, and to seal its possession by a formal peace with the French Crown. The conferences however which were held for this purpose at Pontoise in 1419 failed through the temporary reconciliation of the French factions, while the length and expense of the war began to rouse remonstrance and discontent at home. The king's difficulties were at their height when the assassination of John of Burgundy at Montereau in the very presence of the Dauphin with whom he had come to hold conference rekindled the fires of civil strife. The whole Burgundian party with the new Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good, at its head flung itself in a wild thirst for revenge into Henry's hands. The mad king, Charles the Sixth, with his queen and daughters was in Philip's power; and in his resolve to exclude the Dauphin from the throne the Duke stooped to buy English aid by giving Catharine, the eldest of the French princesses, in marriage to Henry, by conferring on him the Regency during the life of Charles, and recognizing his succession to the crown at that sovereign's death. A treaty which embodied these terms was solemnly ratified by Charles himself in a conference at Troyes in May 1420; and Henry, who in his new capacity of Regent undertook to conquer in the name of his father-in-law the territory held by the Dauphin, reduced the towns of the Upper Seine, and at Christmas entered Paris in triumph side by side with the king. The States-General of the realm were solemnly convened to the capital; and strange as the provisions of the Treaty of Troyes must have seemed they were confirmed without a murmur. Henry was formally recognized as the future sovereign of France. A defeat of his brother Clarence at Bauge in Anjou in the spring of 1421 called him back to the war. His reappearance in the field was marked by the capture of Dreux, and a repulse before Orleans was redeemed in the summer of 1422 by his success in the long and obstinate siege of Meaux. At no time had the fortunes of Henry reached a higher pitch than at the moment when he felt the touch of death. In the month which followed the surrender of Meaux he fell ill at Corbeil; the rapidity of his disease baffled the skill of the physicians; and at the close of August, with a strangely characteristic regret that he had not lived to achieve the conquest of Jerusalem, the great conqueror passed away.
CHAPTER VI THE WARS OF THE ROSES 1422-1461
[Sidenote: Plans of Henry V]
At the moment when death so suddenly stayed his course the greatness of Henry the Fifth had reached its highest point. In England his victories had hushed the last murmurs of disaffection. The death of the Earl of Cambridge, the childhood of his son, removed all danger from the claims of the house of York. The ruin of Lord Cobham, the formal condemnation of Wyclif's doctrines in the Council of Constance, broke the political and the religious strength of Lollardry. Henry had won the Church by his orthodoxy, the nobles by his warlike prowess, the whole people by his revival of the glories of Crecy and Poitiers. In France his cool policy had transformed him from a foreign conqueror into a legal heir to the crown. The King was in his hands, the Queen devoted to his cause, the Duke of Burgundy was his ally, his title of Regent and of successor to the throne rested on the formal recognition of the estates of the realm. Although southern France still clung to the Dauphin, the progress of Henry to the very moment of his death promised a speedy mastery of the whole country. His European position was a commanding one. Lord of the two great western kingdoms, he was linked by close ties of blood with the royal lines of Portugal and Castille; and his restless activity showed itself in his efforts to procure the adoption of his brother John as her successor by the queen of Naples, and in the marriage of a younger brother, Humphrey, with Jacqueline, the Countess of Holland and Hainault. Dreams of a vaster enterprise filled the soul of the great conqueror himself; he loved to read the story of Godfrey of Bouillon and cherished the hope of a crusade which should beat back the Ottoman and again rescue the Holy Land from heathen hands. Such a crusade might still have saved Constantinople, and averted from Europe the danger which threatened it through the century that followed the fall of the imperial city. Nor was the enterprise a dream in the hands of the cool, practical warrior and ruler of whom a contemporary could say, "He transacts all his affairs himself, he considers well before he undertakes them, he never does anything fruitlessly."
[Sidenote: John of Bedford]
But the hopes of far-off conquests found a sudden close in Henry's death. His son, Henry the Sixth of England, was a child of but nine months old: and though he was peacefully recognized as king in his English realm and as heir to the throne in the realm of France his position was a very different one from his father's. The death of King Charles indeed, two months after that of his son-in-law, did little to weaken it; and at first nothing seemed lost. The Dauphin at once proclaimed himself Charles the Seventh of France: but Henry was owned as Sovereign over the whole of the territory which Charles had actually ruled; and the incursions which the partizans of Charles, now reinforced by Lombard soldiers from the Milanese and by four thousand Scots under the Earl of Douglas, made with fresh vigour across the Loire were easily repulsed by Duke John of Bedford, the late king's brother, who had been named in his will Regent of France. In genius for war as in political capacity John was hardly inferior to Henry himself. Drawing closer his alliance with the Duke of Burgundy by marriage with that prince's sister, and holding that of Britanny by a patient diplomacy, he completed the conquest of Northern France, secured his communications with Normandy by the capture of Meulan, and made himself master of the line of the Yonne by a victory near Auxerre. In 1424 the Constable of Buchan pushed from the Loire to the very borders of Normandy to arrest his progress, and attacked the English army at Verneuil. But a repulse hardly less disastrous than that of Agincourt left a third of the French knighthood on the field: and the Regent was preparing to cross the Loire for a final struggle with "the King of Bourges" as the English in mockery called Charles the Seventh when his career of victory was broken by troubles at home.
[Sidenote: Humphrey of Gloucester]
In England the Lancastrian throne was still too newly established to remain unshaken by the succession of a child of nine months old. Nor was the younger brother of Henry the Fifth, Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, whom the late king's will named as Regent of the realm, a man of the same noble temper as the Duke of Bedford. Intellectually the figure of Humphrey is one of extreme interest, for he is the first Englishman in whom we can trace the faint influence of that revival of knowledge which was to bring about the coming renascence of the western world. Humphrey was not merely a patron of poets and men of letters, of Lydgate and William of Worcester and Abbot Whethamstede of St. Albans, as his brother and other princes of the day had been, but his patronage seems to have sprung from a genuine interest in learning itself. He was a zealous collector of books and was able to bequeath to the University of Oxford a library of a hundred and thirty volumes. A gift of books indeed was a passport to his favour, and before the title of each volume he possessed the Duke wrote words which expressed his love of them, "moun bien mondain," "my worldly goods"! Lydgate tells us how "notwithstanding his state and dignyte his corage never doth appalle to studie in books of antiquitie." His studies drew him to the revival of classic learning which was becoming a passion across the Alps. One wandering scholar from Forli, who took the pompous name of Titus Livius and who wrote at his request the biography of Henry the Fifth, Humphrey made his court poet and orator. The Duke probably aided Poggio Bracciolini in his search for classical manuscripts when he visited England in 1420. Leonardo Aretino, one of the scholars who gathered about Cosmo de Medici, dedicated to him a translation of the Politics of Aristotle, and when another Italian scholar sent him a fragment of a translation of Plato's Republic the Duke wrote to beg him to send the rest. But with its love of learning Humphrey combined the restlessness, the immorality, the selfish, boundless ambition which characterized the age of the Renascence. His life was sullied by sensual excesses, his greed of power shook his nephew's throne. So utterly was he already distrusted that the late king's nomination of him as Regent was set aside by the royal Council, and he was suffered only to preside at its deliberations with the nominal title of Protector during Bedford's absence. The real direction of affairs fell into the hands of his uncle, Henry Beaufort, the Bishop of Winchester, a legitimated son of John of Gaunt by his mistress Catharine Swynford.
[Sidenote: Jacqueline of Hainault]
Two years of useless opposition disgusted the Duke with this nominal Protectorship, and in 1424 he left the realm to push his fortunes in the Netherlands. Jacqueline, the daughter and heiress of William, Count of Holland and Hainault, had originally wedded John, Duke of Brabant; but after a few years of strife she had procured a divorce from one of the three claimants who now disputed the Papacy, and at the close of Henry the Fifth's reign she had sought shelter in England. At his brother's death the Duke of Gloucester avowed his marriage with her and adopted her claims as his own. To support them in arms however was to alienate Philip of Burgundy, who was already looking forward to the inheritance of his childless nephew, the Duke of Brabant; and as the alliance with Burgundy was the main strength of the English cause in France, neither Bedford, who had shown his sense of its value by a marriage with the Duke's sister, nor the English council were likely to support measures which would imperil or weaken it. Such considerations however had little weight with Humphrey; and in October 1424 he set sail for Calais without their knowledge with a body of five thousand men. In a few months he succeeded in restoring Hainault to Jacqueline, and Philip at once grew lukewarm in his adherence to the English cause. Though Bedford's efforts prevented any final break, the Duke withdrew his forces from France to aid John of Brabant in the recovery of Hainault and Holland. Gloucester challenged Philip to decide their claims by single combat. But the enterprise was abandoned as hastily as it had been begun. The Duke of Gloucester was already disgusted with Jacqueline and enamoured of a lady in her suite, Eleanor, the daughter of Lord Cobham; and in the summer of 1425 he suddenly returned with her to England and left his wife to defend herself as she might.
[Sidenote: Henry Beaufort]
What really called him back was more than his passion for Eleanor Cobham or the natural versatility of his temper; it was the advance of a rival in England to further power over the realm. This was his uncle, Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester. The bishop had already played a leading political part. He was charged with having spurred Henry the Fifth to the ambitious demands of power which he made during his father's lifetime; he became chancellor on his accession; and at his death the king left him guardian of the person of his boy. He looked on Gloucester's ambition as a danger to his charge, withstood his recognition as Regent, and remained at the head of the Council that reduced his office of Protector to a name. The Duke's absence in Hainault gave fresh strength to his opponent: and the nomination of the Bishop to the Chancellorship marked him out as the virtual ruler of the realm. On the news of this appointment Gloucester hurried back to accept what he looked on as a challenge to open strife. The Londoners rose in his name to attack Beaufort's palace in Southwark, and at the close of 1425 Bedford had to quit his work in France to appease the strife. In the following year Gloucester laid a formal bill of accusation against the bishop before the Parliament, but its rejection forced him to a show of reconciliation, and Bedford was able to return to France. Hardly was he gone however when the quarrel began anew. Humphrey found a fresh weapon against Beaufort in his acceptance of the dignity of a Cardinal and of a Papal Legate in England; and the jealousy which this step aroused drove the Bishop to withdraw for a while from the Council and to give place to his unscrupulous opponent.
[Sidenote: Siege of Orleans]
Beaufort possessed an administrative ability, the loss of which was a heavy blow to the struggling Regent over sea, where Humphrey's restless ambition had already paralyzed Bedford's efforts. Much of his strength rested on his Burgundian ally, and the force of Burgundy was drawn to other quarters. Though Hainault had been easily won back on Gloucester's retreat and Jacqueline taken prisoner, her escape from prison enabled her to hold Holland for three years against the forces of the Duke of Brabant and after his death against those of the Duke of Burgundy to whom he bequeathed his dominions. The political strife in England itself was still more fatal in diverting the supplies of men and money which were needful for a vigorous prosecution of the war. To maintain even the handful of forces left to him Bedford was driven to have recourse to mere forays which did little but increase the general misery. The north of France indeed was being fast reduced to a desert by the bands of marauders which traversed it. The husbandmen fled for refuge to the towns till these in fear of famine shut their gates against them. Then in their despair they threw themselves into the woods and became brigands in their turn. So terrible was the devastation that two hostile bodies of troops failed at one time even to find one another in the desolate Beauce. Misery and disease killed a hundred thousand people in Paris alone. At last the cessation of the war in Holland and the temporary lull of strife in England enabled the Regent to take up again his long-interrupted advance upon the South. Orleans was the key to the Loire; and its reduction would throw open Bourges where Charles held his court. Bedford's resources indeed were still inadequate for such a siege; and though the arrival of reinforcements from England under the Earl of Salisbury enabled him to invest it in October 1428 with ten thousand men, the fact that so small a force could undertake the siege of such a town as Orleans shows at once the exhaustion of England and the terror which still hung over France. As the siege went on however even these numbers were reduced. A new fit of jealousy on the part of the Duke of Burgundy brought about a recall of his soldiers from the siege, and after their withdrawal only three thousand Englishmen remained in the trenches. But the long series of English victories had so demoralized the French soldiery, that in February 1429 a mere detachment of archers under Sir John Fastolfe repulsed a whole army in what was called "the Battle of the Herrings" from the convoy of provisions which the victors brought in triumph into the camp before Orleans. Though the town swarmed with men-at-arms not a single sally was ventured on through the six months' siege, and Charles the Seventh did nothing for its aid but shut himself up in Chinon and weep helplessly.
[Sidenote: Jeanne Darc]
But the success of this handful of besiegers rested wholly on the spell of terror which had been cast over France, and at this moment the appearance of a peasant maiden broke the spell. Jeanne Darc was the child of a labourer of Domremy, a little village in the neighbourhood of Vaucouleurs on the borders of Lorraine and Champagne. Just without the cottage where she was born began the great woods of the Vosges where the children of Domremy drank in poetry and legend from fairy ring and haunted well, hung their flower garlands on the sacred trees, and sang songs to the "good people" who might not drink of the fountain because of their sins. Jeanne loved the forest; its birds and beasts came lovingly to her at her childish call. But at home men saw nothing in her but "a good girl, simple and pleasant in her ways," spinning and sewing by her mother's side while the other girls went to the fields, tender to the poor and sick, fond of church, and listening to the church-bell with a dreamy passion of delight which never left her. This quiet life was broken by the storm of war as it at last came home to Domremy. As the outcasts and wounded passed by the little village the young peasant girl gave them her bed and nursed them in their sickness. Her whole nature summed itself up in one absorbing passion: she "had pity," to use the phrase for ever on her lip, "on the fair realm of France." As her passion grew she recalled old prophecies that a maid from the Lorraine border should save the land; she saw visions; St. Michael appeared to her in a flood of blinding light, and bade her go to the help of the king and restore to him his realm. "Messire," answered the girl, "I am but a poor maiden; I know not how to ride to the wars, or to lead men-at-arms." The archangel returned to give her courage, and to tell her of "the pity" that there was in heaven for the fair realm of France. The girl wept and longed that the angels who appeared to her would carry her away, but her mission was clear. It was in vain that her father when he heard her purpose swore to drown her ere she should go to the field with men-at-arms. It was in vain that the priest, the wise people of the village, the captain of Vaucouleurs, doubted and refused to aid her. "I must go to the King," persisted the peasant girl, "even if I wear my limbs to the very knees." "I had far rather rest and spin by my mother's side," she pleaded with a touching pathos, "for this is no work of my choosing, but I must go and do it, for my Lord wills it." "And who," they asked, "is your Lord?" "He is God." Words such as these touched the rough captain at last: he took Jeanne by the hand and swore to lead her to the king. She reached Chinon in the opening of March, but here too she found hesitation and doubt. The theologians proved from their books that they ought not to believe her. "There is more in God's book than in yours," Jeanne answered simply. At last Charles himself received her in the midst of a throng of nobles and soldiers. "Gentle Dauphin," said the girl, "my name is Jeanne the Maid. The Heavenly King sends me to tell you that you shall be anointed and crowned in the town of Reims, and you shall be lieutenant of the Heavenly King who is the King of France."
[Sidenote: Relief of Orleans]
Orleans had already been driven by famine to offers of surrender when Jeanne appeared in the French court, and a force was gathering under the Count of Dunois at Blois for a final effort at its relief. It was at the head of this force that Jeanne placed herself. The girl was in her eighteenth year, tall, finely formed, with all the vigour and activity of her peasant rearing, able to stay from dawn to nightfall on horseback without meat or drink. As she mounted her charger, clad in white armour from head to foot, with a great white banner studded with fleur-de-lys waving over her head, she seemed "a thing wholly divine, whether to see or hear." The ten thousand men-at-arms who followed her from Blois, rough plunderers whose only prayer was that of La Hire, "Sire Dieu, I pray you to do for La Hire what La Hire would do for you, were you captain-at-arms and he God," left off their oaths and foul living at her word and gathered round the altars on their march. Her shrewd peasant humour helped her to manage the wild soldiery, and her followers laughed over their camp-fires at an old warrior who had been so puzzled by her prohibition of oaths that she suffered him still to swear by his baton. For in the midst of her enthusiasm her good sense never left her. The people crowded round her as she rode along, praying her to work miracles, and bringing crosses and chaplets to be blest by her touch. "Touch them yourself," she said to an old Dame Margaret; "your touch will be just as good as mine." But her faith in her mission remained as firm as ever. "The Maid prays and requires you," she wrote to Bedford, "to work no more distraction in France but to come in her company to rescue the Holy Sepulchre from the Turk." "I bring you," she told Dunois when he sallied out of Orleans to meet her after her two days' march from Blois, "I bring you the best aid ever sent to any one, the aid of the King of Heaven." The besiegers looked on overawed as she entered Orleans and, riding round the walls, bade the people shake off their fear of the forts which surrounded them. Her enthusiasm drove the hesitating generals to engage the handful of besiegers, and the enormous disproportion of forces at once made itself felt. Fort after fort was taken till only the strongest remained, and then the council of war resolved to adjourn the attack. "You have taken your counsel," replied Jeanne, "and I take mine." Placing herself at the head of the men-at-arms, she ordered the gates to be thrown open, and led them against the fort. Few as they were, the English fought desperately, and the Maid, who had fallen wounded while endeavouring to scale its walls, was borne into a vineyard, while Dunois sounded the retreat. "Wait a while!" the girl imperiously pleaded, "eat and drink! so soon as my standard touches the wall you shall enter the fort." It touched, and the assailants burst in. On the next day the siege was abandoned, and on the eighth of May the force which had conducted it withdrew in good order to the north.
[Sidenote: Coronation of Charles]
In the midst of her triumph Jeanne still remained the pure, tender-hearted peasant girl of the Vosges. Her first visit as she entered Orleans was to the great church, and there, as she knelt at mass, she wept in such a passion of devotion that "all the people wept with her." Her tears burst forth afresh at her first sight of bloodshed and of the corpses strewn over the battle-field. She grew frightened at her first wound, and only threw off the touch of womanly fear when she heard the signal for retreat. Yet more womanly was the purity with which she passed through the brutal warriors of a mediaeval camp. It was her care for her honour that led her to clothe herself in a soldier's dress. She wept hot tears when told of the foul taunts of the English, and called passionately on God to witness her chastity. "Yield thee, yield thee, Glasdale," she cried to the English warrior whose insults had been foulest as he fell wounded at her feet; "you called me harlot! I have great pity on your soul." But all thought of herself was lost in the thought of her mission. It was in vain that the French generals strove to remain on the Loire. Jeanne was resolute to complete her task, and while the English remained panic-stricken around Paris she brought Charles to march upon Reims, the old crowning-place of the kings of France. Troyes and Chalons submitted as she reached them, Reims drove out the English garrison and threw open her gates to the king.
[Sidenote: Capture of Jeanne]
With his coronation the Maid felt her errand to be over. "O gentle King, the pleasure of God is done," she cried, as she flung herself at the feet of Charles and asked leave to go home. "Would it were His good will," she pleaded with the Archbishop as he forced her to remain, "that I might go and keep sheep once more with my sisters and my brothers: they would be so glad to see me again!" But the policy of the French Court detained her while the cities of the North of France opened their gates to the newly-consecrated king. Bedford however, who had been left without money or men, had now received reinforcements. Excluded as Cardinal Beaufort had been from the Council by Gloucester's intrigues, he poured his wealth without stint into the exhausted treasury till his loans to the Crown reached the sum of half-a-million; and at this crisis he unscrupulously diverted an army which he had levied at his own cost for a crusade against the Hussites in Bohemia to his nephew's aid. The tide of success turned again. Charles, after a repulse before the walls of Paris, fell back behind the Loire; while the towns on the Oise submitted anew to the Duke of Burgundy, whose more active aid Bedford had bought by the cession of Champagne. In the struggle against Duke Philip Jeanne fought with her usual bravery but with the fatal consciousness that her mission was at an end, and during the defence of Compiegne in the May of 1430 she fell into the power of the Bastard of Vendome, to be sold by her captor into the hands of the Duke of Burgundy and by the Duke into the hands of the English. To the English her triumphs were victories of sorcery, and after a year's imprisonment she was brought to trial on a charge of heresy before an ecclesiastical court with the Bishop of Beauvais at its head.
[Sidenote: Death of Jeanne]
Throughout the long process which followed every art was used to entangle her in her talk. But the simple shrewdness of the peasant girl foiled the efforts of her judges. "Do you believe," they asked, "that you are in a state of grace?" "If I am not," she replied, "God will put me in it. If I am, God will keep me in it." Her capture, they argued, showed that God had forsaken her. "Since it has pleased God that I should be taken," she answered meekly, "it is for the best." "Will you submit," they demanded at last, "to the judgement of the Church Militant?" "I have come to the King of France," Jeanne replied, "by commission from God and from the Church Triumphant above: to that Church I submit." "I had far rather die," she ended passionately, "than renounce what I have done by my Lord's command." They deprived her of mass. "Our Lord can make me hear it without your aid," she said, weeping. "Do your voices," asked the judges, "forbid you to submit to the Church and the Pope?" "Ah, no! our Lord first served." Sick, and deprived of all religious aid, it was no wonder that as the long trial dragged on and question followed question Jeanne's firmness wavered. On the charge of sorcery and diabolical possession she still appealed firmly to God. "I hold to my Judge," she said, as her earthly judges gave sentence against her, "to the King of Heaven and Earth. God has always been my Lord in all that I have done. The devil has never had power over me." It was only with a view to be delivered from the military prison and transferred to the prisons of the Church that she consented to a formal abjuration of heresy. She feared in fact among the soldiery those outrages to her honour, to guard against which she had from the first assumed the dress of a man. In the eyes of the Church her dress was a crime and she abandoned it; but a renewed affront forced her to resume the one safeguard left her, and the return to it was treated as a relapse into heresy which doomed her to death. At the close of May, 1431, a great pile was raised in the market-place of Rouen where her statue stands now. Even the brutal soldiers who snatched the hated "witch" from the hands of the clergy and hurried her to her doom were hushed as she reached the stake. One indeed passed to her a rough cross he had made from a stick he held, and she clasped it to her bosom. As her eyes ranged over the city from the lofty scaffold she was heard to murmur, "O Rouen, Rouen, I have great fear lest you suffer for my death." "Yes! my voices were of God!" she suddenly cried as the last moment came; "they have never deceived me!" Soon the flames reached her, the girl's head sank on her breast, there was one cry of "Jesus!"—"We are lost," an English soldier muttered as the crowd broke up; "we have burned a Saint."
[Sidenote: Death of Bedford]
The English cause was indeed irretrievably lost. In spite of a pompous coronation of the boy-king Henry at Paris at the close of 1431, Bedford with the cool wisdom of his temper seems to have abandoned from this time all hope of permanently retaining France and to have fallen back on his brother's original plan of securing Normandy. Henry's Court was established for a year at Rouen, a university founded at Caen, and whatever rapine and disorder might be permitted elsewhere, justice, good government, and security for trade were steadily maintained through the favoured provinces. At home Bedford was resolutely backed by Cardinal Beaufort, whose services to the state as well as his real powers had at last succeeded in outweighing Duke Humphrey's opposition and in restoring him to the head of the royal Council. Beaufort's diplomatic ability was seen in the truces he wrung from Scotland, and in his personal efforts to prevent the impending reconciliation of the Duke of Burgundy with the French king. But the death of the duke's sister, who was the wife of Bedford, severed the last link which bound Philip to the English cause. He pressed for peace: and conferences for this purpose were held at Arras in 1435. Their failure only served him as a pretext for concluding a formal treaty with Charles; and his desertion was followed by a yet more fatal blow to the English cause in the death of Bedford. The loss of the Regent was the signal for the loss of Paris. In the spring of 1436 the city rose suddenly against its English garrison and declared for King Charles. Henry's dominion shrank at once to Normandy and the outlying fortresses of Picardy and Maine. But reduced as they were to a mere handful, and fronted by a whole nation in arms, the English soldiers struggled on with as desperate a bravery as in their days of triumph. Lord Talbot, the most daring of their leaders, forded the Somme with the water up to his chin to relieve Crotoy, and threw his men across the Oise in the face of a French army to relieve Pontoise.
[Sidenote: Richard of York]
Bedford found for the moment an able and vigorous successor in the Duke of York. Richard of York was the son of the Earl of Cambridge who had been beheaded by Henry the Fifth; his mother was Anne, the heiress of the Mortimers and of their claim to the English crown as representatives of the third son of Edward the Third, Lionel of Clarence. It was to assert this claim on his son's behalf that the Earl embarked in the fatal plot which cost him his head. But his death left Richard a mere boy in the wardship of the Crown, and for years to come all danger from his pretensions was at an end. Nor did the young Duke give any sign of a desire to assert them as he grew to manhood. He appeared content with a lineage and wealth which placed him at the head of the English baronage; for he had inherited from his uncle the Dukedom of York, his wide possessions embraced the estates of the families which united in him, the houses of York, of Clarence, and of Mortimer, and his double descent from Edward the Third, if it did no more, set him near to the Crown. The nobles looked up to him as the head of their order, and his political position recalled that of the Lancastrian Earls at an earlier time. But the position of Richard was as yet that of a faithful servant of the Crown; and as Regent of France he displayed the abilities both of a statesman and of a general. During the brief space of his regency the tide of ill fortune was stemmed; and towns and castles were recovered along the border.
[Sidenote: Eleanor Cobham]
His recall after a twelvemonth's success is the first indication of the jealousy which the ruling house felt of triumphs gained by one who might some day assert his claim to the throne. Two years later, in 1440, the Duke was restored to his post, but it was now too late to do more than stand on the defensive, and all York's ability was required to preserve Normandy and Maine. Men and money alike came scantily from England—where the Duke of Gloucester, freed from the check which Bedford had laid on him while he lived, was again stirring against Beaufort and the Council. But his influence had been weakened by a marriage with his mistress, Eleanor Cobham, and in 1441 it was all but destroyed by an incident which paints the temper of the time. The restless love of knowledge which was the one redeeming feature in Duke Humphrey's character drew to him not only scholars but a horde of the astrologers and claimants of magical powers, who were the natural product of an age in which the faith of the Middle Ages was dying out before the double attack of scepticism and heresy. Amongst these was a priest named Roger Bolinbroke. Bolinbroke was seized on a charge of compassing the king's death by sorcery; and the sudden flight of Eleanor Cobham to the sanctuary at Westminster was soon explained by a like accusation. Her judges found that she had made a waxen image of the king and slowly melted it at a fire, a process which was held to account for Henry's growing weakness both of body and mind. The Duchess was doomed to penance for her crime; she was led bareheaded and barefooted in a white penance-sheet through the streets of London, and then thrown into prison for life. Humphrey never rallied from the blow. But his retirement from public affairs was soon followed by that of his rival, Cardinal Beaufort. Age forced Beaufort to withdraw to Winchester; and the Council was from that time swayed mainly by the Earl of Suffolk, William de la Pole, a grandson of the minister of Richard the Second.
[Sidenote: The Beauforts]
Few houses had served the Crown more faithfully than that of De la Pole. His father fell at the siege of Harfleur; his brother had been slain at Agincourt; William himself had served and been taken prisoner in the war with France. But as a statesman he was powerless in the hands of the Beauforts, and from this moment the policy of the Beauforts drew England nearer and nearer to the chaos of civil war. John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, and his brother, Edmund, Earl of Dorset, were now the representatives of this house. They were grandsons of John of Gaunt by his mistress, Catharine Swynford. In later days Catharine became John's wife, and his uncle's influence over Richard at the close of that king's reign was shown in a royal ordinance which legitimated those of his children by her who had been born before marriage. The ordinance was confirmed by an Act of Parliament, which as it passed the Houses was expressed in the widest and most general terms; but before issuing this as a statute Henry the Fourth inserted provisions which left the Beauforts illegitimate in blood so far as regarded the inheritance of the crown. Such royal alterations of statutes however had been illegal since the time of Edward the Third; and the Beauforts never recognized the force of this provision. But whether they stood in the line of succession or no, the favour which was shown them alike by Henry the Fifth and his son drew them close to the throne, and the weakness of Henry the Sixth left them at this moment the mainstay of the House of Lancaster. Edmund Beaufort had taken an active part in the French wars, and had distinguished himself by the capture of Harfleur and the relief of Calais. But he was hated for his pride and avarice, and the popular hate grew as he showed his jealousy of the Duke of York. Loyal indeed as Richard had proved himself as yet, the pretensions of his house were the most formidable danger which fronted the throne; and with a weak and imbecile king we can hardly wonder that the Beauforts deemed it madness to leave in the Duke's hands the wide power of a Regent in France and the command of the armies across the sea. In 1444 York was recalled, and his post was taken by Edmund Beaufort himself.
[Sidenote: Loss of Normandy]
But the claim which York drew from the house of Mortimer was not his only claim to the crown; as the descendant of Edward the Third's fifth son the crown would naturally devolve upon him on the extinction of the House of Lancaster, and of the direct line of that house Henry the Sixth was the one survivor. It was to check these hopes by continuing the Lancastrian succession that Suffolk in 1445 brought about the marriage of the young king with Margaret, the daughter of Duke Rene of Anjou. But the marriage had another end. The English ministers were anxious for the close of the war; and in the kinship between Margaret and King Charles of France they saw a chance of bringing it about. A truce was concluded as a prelude to a future peace, and the marriage-treaty paved the way for it by ceding not only Anjou, of which England possessed nothing, but Maine, the bulwark of Normandy, to Duke Rene. For his part in this negotiation Suffolk was raised to the rank of marquis; but the terms of the treaty and the delays which still averted a final peace gave new strength to the war-party with Gloucester at its head, and troubles were looked for in the Parliament which met at the opening of 1447. The danger was roughly met. Gloucester was arrested as he rode to Parliament on a charge of secret conspiracy; and a few days later he was found dead in his lodging. Suspicions of murder were added to the hatred against Suffolk; and his voluntary submission to an enquiry by the Council into his conduct in the marriage-treaty, which was followed by his acquittal of all blame, did little to counteract this. What was yet more fatal to Suffolk was the renewal of the war. In the face of the agitation against it the English ministers had never dared to execute the provisions of the marriage-treaty; and in 1448 Charles the Seventh sent an army to enforce the cession of Le Mans. Its surrender averted the struggle for a moment. But in the spring of 1449 a body of English soldiers from Normandy, mutinous at their want of pay, crossed the border and sacked the rich town of Fougeres in Britanny. Edmund Beaufort, who had now succeeded to the dukedom of Somerset, protested his innocence of this breach of truce, but he either could not or would not make restitution, and the war was renewed. From this moment it was a mere series of French successes. In two months half Normandy was in the hands of Dunois; Rouen rose against her feeble garrison and threw open her gates to Charles; and the defeat at Fourmigny of an English force which was sent to Somerset's aid was a signal for revolt throughout the rest of the provinces. The surrender of Cherbourg in August, 1450, left Henry not a foot of Norman ground.
[Sidenote: National discontent]
The loss of Normandy was generally laid to the charge of Somerset. He was charged with a miserly hoarding of supplies as well as planning in conjunction with Suffolk the fatal sack of Fougeres. His incapacity as a general added to the resentment at his recall of the Duke of York, a recall which had been marked as a disgrace by the despatch of Richard into an honourable banishment as lieutenant of Ireland. But it was this very recall which proved most helpful to York. Had he remained in France he could hardly have averted the loss of Normandy, though he might have delayed it. As it was the shame of its loss fell upon Somerset, while the general hatred of the Beauforts and the growing contempt of the king whom they ruled expressed itself in a sudden rush of popular favour towards the man whom his disgrace had marked out as the object of their ill-will. From this moment the hopes of a better and a stronger government centred themselves in the Duke of York. The news of the French successes was at once followed by an outbreak of national wrath. Political ballads denounced Suffolk as the ape with his clog that had tied Talbot, the good "dog" who was longing to grip the Frenchmen. When the Bishop of Chichester, who had been sent to pay the sailors at Portsmouth, strove to put off the men with less than their due, they fell on him and slew him. Suffolk was impeached, and only saved from condemnation by submitting himself to the king's mercy. He was sent into exile, but as he crossed the sea he was intercepted by a ship of Kentishmen, beheaded, and his body thrown on the sands at Dover.
[Sidenote: Revolt of Kent]
Kent was the centre of the national resentment. It was the great manufacturing district of the day, seething with a busy population, and especially concerned with the French contest through the piracy of the Cinque Ports. Every house along its coast showed some spoil from the wars. Here more than anywhere the loss of the great province whose cliffs could be seen from its shores was felt as a crowning disgrace, and as we shall see from the after complaints of its insurgents, political wrongs added their fire to the national shame. Justice was ill administered; taxation was unequal and extortionate. Redress for such evils would now naturally have been sought from Parliament; but the weakness of the Crown gave the great nobles power to rob the freeholders of their franchise and return the knights of the shire. Nor could redress be looked for from the Court. The murder of Suffolk was the act of Kentishmen, and Suffolk's friends still held control over the royal councils. The one hope of reform lay in arms; and in the summer of 1450, while the last of the Norman fortresses were throwing open their gates, the discontent broke into open revolt. The rising spread from Kent over Surrey and Sussex. Everywhere it was general and organized—a military levy of the yeomen of the three shires. The parishes sent their due contingent of armed men; we know that in many hundreds the constables formally summoned their legal force to war. The insurgents were joined by more than a hundred esquires and gentlemen; and two great landholders of Sussex, the Abbot of Battle and the Prior of Lewes, openly favoured their cause. John Cade, a soldier of some experience in the French wars, took at this crisis the significant name of Mortimer and placed himself at their head. The army, now twenty thousand men strong, marched in the beginning of June on Blackheath. On the advance of the king with an equal force however they determined to lay their complaint before the royal Council and withdraw to their homes. The "Complaint of the Commons of Kent" is of high value in the light which it throws on the condition of the people. Not one of the demands touches on religious reform. The question of villeinage and serfage finds no place in it. In the seventy years which had intervened since the last peasant rising, villeinage had died naturally away before the progress of social change. The Statutes of Apparel, which from this time encumber the Statute-book, show in their anxiety to curtail the dress of the labourer and the farmer the progress of these classes in comfort and wealth; and from the language of the statutes themselves it is plain that as wages rose both farmer and labourer went on clothing themselves better in spite of sumptuary provisions. With the exception of a demand for the repeal of the Statute of Labourers, the programme of the Commons was not social but political. The "Complaint" calls for administrative and economical reforms; it denounces the exclusion of the Duke of York and other nobles from the royal councils; it calls for a change of ministry, a more careful expenditure of the royal revenue, and for the restoration of freedom of election which had been broken in upon by the interference both of the Crown and the great landowners.
[Sidenote: Suppression of the revolt]
The Council refused to receive the "Complaint," and a body of troops under Sir Humphrey Stafford fell on the Kentishmen as they reached Sevenoaks. This attack however was roughly beaten off, and Cade's host turned back to encounter the royal army. But the royal army itself was already calling for justice on the traitors who misled the king; and at the approach of the Kentishmen it broke up in disorder. Its dispersion was followed by Henry's flight to Kenilworth and the entry of the Kentishmen into London, where the execution of Lord Say, the most unpopular of the royal ministers, broke the obstinacy of his colleagues. For three days the peasants entered the city freely, retiring at nightfall to their camp across the river: but on the fifth of July the men of London, goaded by the outrages of the rabble whom their presence roused to plunder, closed the bridge against them, and beat back an attack with great slaughter. The Kentishmen still however lay unbroken in Southwark, while Bishop Waynflete conferred with Cade on behalf of the Council. Their "Complaint" was received, pardons were granted to all who had joined in the rising, and the insurgents dispersed quietly to their homes. Cade had striven in vain to retain them in arms; on their dispersion he formed a new force by throwing open the gaols, and carried off the booty he had won to Rochester. Here however his men quarrelled over the plunder; his force broke up, and Cade himself was slain by Iden, the Sheriff of Kent, as he fled into Sussex.
[Sidenote: York and the Beauforts]
Kent remained restless through the year, and a rising in Wiltshire showed the growing and widespread trouble of the time. The "Complaint" indeed had only been received to be laid aside. No attempt was made to redress the grievances which it stated or to reform the government. On the contrary the main object of popular hate, the Duke of Somerset, was at once recalled from Normandy to take his place at the head of the royal Council. York on the other hand, whose recall had been pressed in the "Complaint," was looked upon as an open foe. "Strange language," indeed, had long before the Kentish rising been uttered about the Duke. Men had threatened that he "should be fetched with many thousands," and the expectation of his coming to reform the government became so general that orders were given to close the western ports against his landing. If we believe the Duke himself, he was forced to move at last by efforts to indict him as a traitor in Ireland itself. Crossing at Michaelmas to Wales in spite of the efforts to arrest him, he gathered four thousand men on his estates and marched upon London. No serious effort was made to prevent his approach to the king; and Henry found himself helpless to resist his demand of a Parliament and of the admission of new councillors to the royal council-board. Parliament met in November, and a bitter strife between York and Somerset ended in the arrest of the latter. A demand which at once followed shows the importance of his fall. Henry the Sixth still remained childless; and Young, a member for Bristol, proposed in the Commons that the Duke of York should be declared heir to the throne. But the blow was averted by repeated prorogations, and Henry's sympathies were shown by the committal of Young to the Tower, by the release of Somerset, and by his promotion to the captaincy of Calais, the most important military post under the Crown. The Commons indeed still remained resolute. When they again met in the summer of 1451 they called for the removal of Somerset and his creatures from the king's presence. But Henry evaded the demand, and the dissolution of the Houses announced the royal resolve to govern in defiance of the national will.
[Sidenote: Failure of York]
The contest between the Houses and the Crown had cost England her last possessions across the Channel. As York marched upon London Charles closed on the fragment of the duchy of Guienne which still remained to the descendants of Eleanor. In a few months all was won. Bourg and Blaye surrendered in the spring of 1451, Bordeaux in the summer; two months later the loss of Bayonne ended the war in the south. Of all the English possessions in France only Calais remained; and in 1452 Calais was threatened with attack. The news of this crowning danger again called York to the front. On the declaration of Henry's will to resist all change in the government the Duke had retired to his castle of Ludlow, arresting the whispers of his enemies with a solemn protest that he was true liegeman to the king. But after events show that he was planning a more decisive course of action than that which had broken down with the dissolution of the Parliament, and the news of the approaching siege gave ground for taking such a course at once. Somerset had been appointed Captain of Calais, and as his incapacity had lost England Normandy, it would cost her—so England believed—her last fortress in France. It was said indeed that the Duke was negotiating with Burgundy for its surrender. In the spring of 1452 therefore York again marched on London, but this time with a large body of ordnance and an army which the arrival of reinforcements under Lord Cobham and the Earl of Devonshire raised to over twenty thousand men. Eluding the host which gathered round the king and Somerset he passed by the capital, whose gates had been closed by Henry's orders, and entering Kent took post at Dartford. His army was soon fronted by the superior force of the king, but the interposition of the more moderate lords of the Council averted open conflict. Henry promised that Somerset should be put on his trial on the charges advanced by the Duke, and York on this pledge disbanded his men. But the pledge was at once broken. Somerset remained in power. York found himself practically a prisoner, and only won his release by an oath to refrain from further "routs" or assemblies.