Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 29.djvu/440

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

were made against him, it should be made openly before the king in parliament. After some consideration, the chancellor, John Stafford, bishop of Bath and Wells, replied that neither the king, the Duke of Gloucester, nor the council had heard such charges, and that the king thanked him for his faithful services. The appointment of a new treasurer, and an examination into the finances of the kingdom, are to be attributed to his influence (Stubbs, Constitutional History, iii. 117). When parliament met again in November, after an adjournment, he made, in agreement with the commons' prayer, a promise of concord and of government according to the will of the council. On the 24th the speaker, Roger Hunt [q. v.], delivered a speech before the king in praise of Bedford's self-denying devotion in France, and begged Henry to direct Bedford to remain in England in order by his presence to secure the peace of the realm. Bedford, in reply, expressed his satisfaction at this proof of the commons' affection, and placed himself wholly at the king's disposal (Rolls of Parliament, iv. 423). He unselfishly offered to relieve the wretched condition of the finances by accepting 1,000l. only as salary as chief counsellor, instead of the five thousand marks hitherto paid to Gloucester, and showed his desire to act constitutionally by laying before parliament a series of articles with reference to the continual council. In an extraordinary council held in April 1434 Gloucester offered to carry on the war, and made some observations which led Bedford to demand that his words should be written down that he might answer them before the king. At Henry's request the matter was dropped. In a meeting of the privy council on 14 June Bedford set forth the difficulties with which he had contended in France, pointing out how all things had prospered till the unlucky siege of Orleans, 'taken in hand God knoweth by what advis.' He advised the prosecution of the war, and offered to devote to it the whole of the revenues of his own Norman estates (Ordinances, iv. 222). On the 20th he took leave of the council, exhorting them to observe the articles which he had proposed. He asked for certain castles in Medoc, but the council considered that they had no right to alienate them from the crown, promising, however, that when the king was grown up he should be advised to reward him for his services. A few days later he returned to France.

During Bedford's visit to England two embassies arrived from Duke Philip to suggest proposals for peace. To the first Bedford spoke of Philip in conciliatory terms. The second, which arrived shortly before Bedford's departure, stated that Philip desired the king either to agree to terms or to be more active in prosecuting the war. The council, no doubt by Bedford's advice, answered that the war was being carried on with vigour. This was true, for a dangerous insurrection in Normandy was in course of repression by the Earl of Arundel [see Fitzalan, John VI, who, on Bedford's return, made a successful campaign in Maine. The English and Burgundian forces gained much ground on the borders of Valois and Picardy, and Talbot, at the head of reinforcements from England, was successful in the county of Beauvais. On the other hand, the constable was on the eve of making his peace with Charles VII, and Duke Philip was strongly pressed by the emperor, the pope, and the council, then sitting at Basle, to come to terms with the king. On 18 Dec. 1434 Bedford again visited Paris, and stayed until 10 Feb. 1435. Some disgust was felt by the Parisians at the honour which was shown him. He was forced to assent to the attendance of English ambassadors at a congress to be held at Arras for ending the war. While he was at Rouen in the beginning of May he heard that some French companies had seized Rhue and were desolating Ponthieu and Artois. He ordered Arundel to march from Mantes to Ponthieu, and the earl was defeated at Gerberoy and died soon afterwards. In July Bedford received tidings that the French had surprised St. Denis, and that the Parisians were in the greatest alarm. He despatched to Paris a force sufficient to clear the neighbourhood of the French. This was immediately before the council at Arras began its proceedings. On 31 Aug. the English ambassadors declared themselves unable to assent to the French conditions, and on 6 Sept. they withdrew from Arras, leaving Duke Philip to desert his ancient allies and enter into an alliance with their enemy. Bedford saw that the cause for which he struggled so long was ruined. He died at Rouen on 14 Sept. 1435, and was there honourably buried in the choir of the cathedral church of Notre Dame. He left no children by either of his wives. His widow married, probably in 1437, Richard Woodville, created earl Rivers [q. v.], by whom she became the mother of Elizabeth [q. v.], queen of Edward IV [q. v.] By his will, made four days before his death, he left all his possessions to his wife except one castle, which was to go to his natural son Richard. His nephew, King Henry, was to have all in remainder (Royal Wills, p. 270). A portrait of Bedford is preserved in his