Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 28.djvu/251

This page has been validated.
Humphrey
Humphrey
245

the advice and assistance of the other lords, but refused Beaufort's request that his. accusers should prefer formal charges against him. The result of the session was to confirm Gloucester in the improved position he had obtained during the king's absence abroad.

In 1433 Burgundy and Bedford were on the verge of quarrelling. In April the council sent Gloucester to join Bedford and Beaufort at Calais to conduct the projected negotiations for peace. He remained abroad from 22 April to 23 May (Fœdera, x. 548, 549; but cf. Plancher, Histoire de Bourgogne, vol. iv. preuves, p. cxxxv). But nothing resulted from Gloucester's efforts, and in the parliament which met in July the financial difficulties of the administration were fully exposed. Bedford had come over to the parliament. Gloucester was forced to renew his former declaration of concord, and even to follow his brother's example and content himself with a reduced salary of 1,000l. But he became more and more jealous of Bedford, and in a great council in April 1434 he came forward with an offer to go to France and carry on the war on a new system. This was indignantly resented by Bedford, and rejected by the council. The young king endeavoured to restore harmony. But Bedford at once withdrew to France, joined in the great conference at Arras, which Gloucester persistently opposed, and died on 14 Sept. 1435. His death made Gloucester next heir to the throne.

The defection of Burgundy had just taken place, and the event stirred up the warlike feeling in England, which Gloucester dexterously used to his own advantage. On 1 Nov. he was appointed in parliament captain of Calais for nine years (Rot. Parl. iv. 483). Calais was besieged before he was ready to go to its assistance, and he had the mortification of seeing it relieved by his enemy, Edmund Beaufort, the cardinal's nephew. After long delays his troops assembled at Sandwich about 22 July 1436 (Fœdera, x. 647). On 27 July he was appointed the king's lieutenant over the new army (ib. x. 651). He crossed to Calais on 28 July at the head of ten thousand men, and accompanied by Warwick and Stafford. On 30 July he was solemnly appointed count of Flanders, Philip having been adjudged to have forfeited the territory by his treason to the lawful king of France (ib. x. 652). After leading a hasty foray through Flanders in the first few days of August (1-16 Aug. Stevenson, ii. xix-xx; 1-12 Aug. Engl. Chron. p. 55; nine days, Wyrcester, p. 761; cf. Waurin, Chroniques, 1431-47, pp. 200-6), Gloucester abruptly returned home. Impotent in court and council, he became more popular with the country now that he posed as the uncompromising champion of the English rights in France. In his bitter but fruitless protest against the release of Orleans in 1440 (Fœdera, x. 764-7; Stevenson, ii. 440-51), he denounced Beaufort and Kemp with much bitterness for sacrificing the interests of the country to their fondness for peace with France, and accused them of personal dishonesty and the meanest treachery. A dignified protest of the council answered his graver charges (Stevenson, ii. 451-60), and on 28 Aug., when Orleans solemnly swore in Westminster Abbey, before the king and lords, to observe the treaty of his release, Gloucester left the church as the mass began (Paston Letters, i. 40). He immediately went to South Wales. He had been nominated chief justice of the district in February 1440, on resigning the chief justiceship of North Wales, which he had held since 1427 (Doyle, ii. 23).

Gloucester's period of power was now at an end. He still attended council, but he was in a minority. He obtained no further public appointments. A grave domestic trouble further complicated his position. Eleanor Cobham had long held dealings with professors of the black arts. Roger Bolingbroke, `that was a great and cunning man in astronomy,' encouraged her to believe that her husband would become king, and he, in conjunction with Thomas Southwell, canon of St. Stephen's, Westminster, exposed a wax doll, modelled like King Henry, to a slow fire, in the belief that, as the wax gradually melted, the health of the king would equally dwindle away. The intrigue was divulged. Bolingbroke and Southwell were arrested, and on Sunday, 23 July 1441, Bolingbroke abjured his black art on a high stage at Paul's Cross during sermon time, and accused the lady of Gloucester of being his instigator to treason and magic. Thoroughly alarmed, Eleanor fled on Tuesday night to the sanctuary at Westminster. The two archbishops, Cardinal Beaufort, and Ayscough, held a court in St. Stephen's Chapel, before which she was called upon to answer charges of `necromancy, witchcraft, heresy, and treason,' and by their judgment she was imprisoned on 11 Aug. at Leeds Castle in Kent. She remained at Leeds until October, when a special commission was appointed, including the earls of Huntingdon, Stafford, and Suffolk, and some of the judges, before whom Bolingbroke and Southwell as principals and Eleanor as an accessory were indicted of treason. On 21 Oct. another commission of bishops met at St. Stephen's Chapel, and Eleanor was brought before them. She admitted some of the