Henry VI






Prelude: King Henry V.  Death of Henry V.

King Henry VI, birth, baptism and accession.

Henry VI’s Guardians.

The Great Seal and the Temporary Council. 

French Prisoners. Other Prisoners.

John, Duke of Bedford, Regent of France.

King Charles VI, death and burial. The Dual Monarchy.

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester.  The Minority Council. 

Parliament. Taxation. Bibliography. 

The last four months of 1422 were the first four months of King Henry VI’s reign. The question occupying everyone’s mind following the death of King Henry V, was how England would be governed and by whom until the baby king came of age. Henry VI became King of France in October 1422 after the death of his grandfather King Charles VI of France creating the dual monarchy that the Duke of Bedford would devote his life to defending while the Duke of Gloucester acted as Protector of England, and the Minority Council was formed.

Prelude: King Henry V

King Henry V, the second Lancastrian king of England came to the throne in 1413. Two years later he invaded France in pursuit of his claim to be King of France by rightful descent. He won his great victory at Agincourt in 1415, and over the next four years he conquered the Duchy of Normandy, claiming it as his inheritance by direct descendent from William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy.

The Kingdom of France was riven by civil war in a power struggle over who should govern the country in the name of the hapless King Charles VI. Charles’s periodic bouts of insanity or ‘absences’ as they were called made him unfit to rule, often for long periods. Charles’s only surviving son became the Dauphin Charles at the age of fourteen, but he was driven out of Paris and out of government in 1418 by John, Duke of Burgundy the most powerful man in France, known as ‘the Fearless’ for no particular reason. Burgundy was determined to ‘rule’ France for his own profit.

The Dauphin declared himself Regent for his father. With the support of the Armagnac faction as the adherents of Charles, Duke of Orleans were confusingly known, he set up a rival government centred on the town of Bourges in the Loire valley. The English referred to him as the ‘Dauphin Charles’ or ‘the little King of Bourges’ for many years after his father’s death and his own coronation (1).

An attempt at reconciliation between Duke John of Burgundy and the Dauphin in 1419 ended in disaster. Duke John was assassinated in the Dauphin’s presence and the new young Duke Philip of Burgundy vowed never to forgive his father’s murder. He allied himself with Henry V and recognized Henry’s claim to the throne of France. The French civil war materially aided Henry V’s conquests in northern France and in 1420, faced with almost certain defeat, King Charles VI and Queen Isabelle disinherited the Dauphin. By the Treaty of Troyes they ‘adopted’ Henry V as their son and heir and agreed to his marriage with their daughter Katherine. To all intents and purposes Katherine’s dower was the kingdom of France. Henry became Regent for his father-in-law and undertook to continue the war until he had conquered all the provinces still owing obedience to the Dauphin. He would become King of France on Charles VI’s death (2).

(1) Beaucourt, Histoire de Charles VII vol I, p. 120 and pp. 473–474 (Dauphin Charles as Regent of France).

(2) Sumption, Cursed Kings, Chapter 18, ‘The Death of Princes,’ pp. 735–771.

Death of Henry V

Henry V died on 31 August 1422 at the age of thirty-six after a spectacular reign of nine and a half years, the first king of England to die abroad since Richard I in 1199.

“Memorandum stating that King Henry V died at the castle of Bois de Vincennes, near Paris, on the last day of August 1422 in the tenth year of his reign and was succeeded by his son King Henry VI on the first day of September, in the first year of his age and of his reign.”    Proceedings of the Privy Council III, p. 3.

Queen Katherine was in Paris when Henry V died. She and her entourage escorted Henry’s body home from France. His funeral cortege took two months to reach England passing through Paris to Rouen and then to Calais, crossing to Dover and on to Westminster in slow stages. At each place his coffin rested the clergy sang the mass and performed funereal services for the dead king (1, 2).

The Mayor of London, William Waldern and the aldermen all dressed in black, received Henry’s coffin into the City at Blackheath on 6 November. The annual processions through the City to Westminster for the installation of the sheriffs at the end of September and of the mayor at the end of October had been cancelled because the City was in mourning. Breaking with tradition they travelled quietly to Westminster by barge (3, 4, 5).

Henry V was buried in Westminster Abbey on 7 November 1422. The funerary arrangements were extensive, elaborate, and expensive, as befitted England’s warrior king. Robert Rolleston, Keeper of the King’s Great Wardrobe, supplied ‘cloths of gold’ and other items, valued at £83 7s 6d, to be offered at Westminster Abbey (6).

(1)  Foedera X, pp. 255–257 (for ships, carriages, hearses and funerary equipment).

(2)  PPC III, p. 5 (lodging for those escorting and meeting the cortege).

(3) Sharpe, London, Letter Book K, pp. 2–3, (Henry’s reception).

(4) The Brut, Continuation E, p. 449 (mayor to Westminster by barge).

(5)  L&P I, p. 385 and 388 (cloths of gold ).

(6)  Lisa Monnas, ‘Textiles from the Funerary Achievements of Henry V,’ in J. Stratford,  Lancastrian Court, pp. 125–146.


King Henry VI, birth and baptism

King Henry VI the third and last Lancastrian King of England was the only child of Henry V and Katherine of Valois. He was born at Windsor on 6 December, Saint Nicholas Day, and named for his father.

In þat tyme vppone saynt Nicholas evyn, come tythynges from Wyndyssore to þe Maire, þat oure Quene Dame Kateryne, had borne a prince, a fayre sone. And a-none all þe belles in London were re[n]gon; ‘Te Deum’ was songone at Paules; And þer was the Chauncelere and many bysshoppys, And þe Maire and hys Aldermen, And all þe craftes of the Cite.”              Brut Continuation E, p. 448     

He became king on 1 September 1422 when he was less than a year old. His regnal years date from 1 September to 31 August.

Henry would not remember a time when he had not been king. The situation was unprecedented. No king of England had succeeded to the throne at so young an age. Henry III was nine when his father died in 1216, and Richard II was ten when his grandfather, Edward III, died in 1377. Henry VI  was the only English king to be crowned twice and buried twice. Uniquely at a time when military prowess was required of a king, Henry never took part in a battle, although England was at war, first with France and then with herself, throughout his reign.

Henry was baptised by Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury and his godparents were his uncle John, Duke of Bedford, his great uncle Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, and a high-ranking visitor to England, Jacqueline, Countess of Hainault (1, 2).                                                                                                                               

“And sone aftur, Kynge Henry the vi was born in the castell of Wyndesore, the day of seynt Nicholas the Bisshop the yere of oure Lord Ihesu Criste M cccc xxj, whos godfaderis and godmoderis at the fontstone weren these: sir Henry Beauford, Bisshop of Wynchestir, and John, Duke of Bedford; and the Duchesse of Holand was his godmodir; and  at his confirmaciion the Erchebisshop of Caunterbury was his god ffadir.”    Brut Continuation D, p. 427

(1) A Chronicle of London (Harley 565), p. 110.

(2) Chronicles of London (Julius B II) p. 74 and (Cleopatra C IV), p. 128.

Henry VI’s Guardians

As he lay dying Henry V named his brothers, John, Duke of Bedford as Regent of France and Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester as guardian and defender (tutelam et defensionem principales) of Henry VI, but he entrusted the personal care and education of his infant son to Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter, in association with Sir Walter Hungerford, steward of the household and Henry, Lord Fitzhugh, chamberlain of the household, one of whom was to stay with Henry VI at all times (1).

Several chronicles record that Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester was named as a guardian of the king. The chroniclers were misled because Henry Beaufort played a leading role in government during Henry VI’s minority. The error was repeated by the Tudor chronicler John Stow (2). Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick is also mistakenly named, he did not become Henry’s guardian until 1428.

“Kynge H. beinge sicke made his testament, apoynted his treasure and jewells to be solde, his dettes to be payde, as well to the pleasaunce of his souldiours as to othar that he owght good vnto in Englond, and in Fraunce, and ordeyned John, his brother, duke of Bedforde to be theyr regent and governor of Fraunce and Normandy; and he comitted the kepinge of H. his yonge sonne and prynce to sir Henry Beaufort, byshope of Winchester, and to sir Thomas Beaufort, duke of Excestar.”                              English Historical Literature (London Chronicle 1421–1430), p. 295.

“And for his tendir and yonge age, Henry his ffadir comyttid hym to the kepynge of Sir Henry Beauford, Bisshop of Wynchestre, and to Sir Thomas Beauford, Duke of Exetre, bothe his bele vnclys; and the kepynge of Fraunce and Normandie to Iohn the Duke of Bedford, to ben regent and gouernoure of bothe there, tille that Henry, his yonge sone, by his good counseile wold set it in bettur gouernaunce.  And the kepinge of Engelond to sir Vmfray, the Duke of Gloucestre, to ben Proptectour and deffendour of the Rewme tille that Henry his yonge sone, by alle the good counseile of Engelond, wold set and put it into bettur gouervaunce, and to moste profite of the Kynge and of the Rewme.”                                     Brut Continuation D, pp. 429–30, repeated on p. 431.

“On orders from his father the young king was placed under the protection of Henry, Bishop of Winchester and Richard Earl of Warwick.”  Giles, Chronicon Angliae, p. 3.

“And to Richard, Erle of Warrewik, was commyttit þe kepyng of hym, for-as-much he was countet and hold þe best-nurturet man of Englond.”  Brut Continuation H, p. 564.                                                             

(1) P. & F. Strong, ‘The last will and codicils of Henry V,’ English Historical Review XCVI (1981).

(2) Stow, Annales, p. 361.

The Great Seal and the Temporary Council 

On the death of a monarch the king’s Great Seal of gold, held by the Chancellor, had to be surrendered to the new king. The magnates who were not in France came in all haste to Windsor to carry out the customary procedures as best they could, handicapped by the age of the baby king.

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester was King Henry V’s younger brother. Born in 1390 he was thirty-two when Henry V died in France in August 1422. Gloucester was in England at the time, acting as Custodian of the Realm for Henry V. On 28 September in the ‘presence’ of King Henry VI, the Chancellor Thomas Langley, who had rushed south from his bishopric of Durham, put the Great Seal into the hands of  the Duke of Gloucester, and Gloucester entrusted it to Simon Gaunstede Keeper of the Chancery Rolls, who traditionally took charge of it when the chancellor was out of England (1).

There is an interesting document in Henry VI’s name dated 2 October 1422, only four days after the surrender of the Great Seal, ‘given under our Privy Seal at Westminster,’ instructing the Exchequer to renew the grant of £100 a month made by Henry V to Jacqueline, Countess of Hainault in 1420 (2). Henry VI did not yet have a privy seal, so Henry V’s seal had to be used, and the order can only have been issued by the Duke of Gloucester. It is an indication that he contemplated marriage with Jacqueline some months before he actually married her. 

See Year 1424 for Gloucester’s marriage to Jacqueline

The transfer was witnessed by a temporary council of the lords: Henry Chichele Archbishop of Canterbury, Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, Philip Morgan Bishop of Worcester a former Chancellor of Normandy, Edmund Lacy Bishop of Exeter, and Richard Fleming Bishop of Lincoln, James Butler Earl of Ormond, the king’s lieutenant in Ireland, John, Lord Talbot who would shortly be ordered to secure the king’s peace in the Marches of Wales, John Stafford, Keeper of the Privy Seal, William, Lord Clinton and Robert, Lord Poynings, who were presumably near at hand (3).

They reassembled in the Star Chamber at Westminster on the following day, 29 September, and handled the unexpected transition of government smoothly and competently. On their authority Gaunstede issued letters patent under the Great Seal reappointing the king’s officers (including himself) and the judiciary to their positions to ensure continuity of government and administration until a new chancellor could be appointed. Gaunstede retained the Great Seal until it was returned to the Duke of Gloucester in November while Parliament was in session. (He was paid for keeping the seal from 28 September to 17 November 1422) (4).

Writs to summon Parliament were issued on 29 September (5, 6, 7). 

(1) PPC VI, pp. 343–344 (surrender of the Great Seal).

(2) Foedera X, p. 253 (surrender of the Great Seal).

(3) PPC  III,  p. 11 (£100 to Jacqueline).

(4) Foedera X, p. 262. (Gaunstede was paid for keeping the seal from 28 September to 17 November 1422).

(5 PROME X, pp. 14–15 (summons to Parliament).

(6) Report on the Dignity of a Peer IV, pp. 855–857 (summons to Parliament).

(7) Calendar of Close Rolls 1422-29, pp.  43–44 (summons to Parliament excerpts).

The Temporary Council

The Council’s immediate concern was for ‘good governance,’ the maintenance of law and order especially in the turbulent Marches of Wales. On 1 October the sheriffs of Worcester, Gloucester, and Hereford, Staffordshire, and Shropshire, were ordered to make public proclamations of the peace and two days later John Talbot and his brother William, who held lands in Hereford and Shropshire, and Sir Edmund Ferrers of Chartley, whose lands were in Staffordshire, received instructions to suppress lawlessness along the Welsh border (1).

Gaunstede was directed to issue individual letters patent to Henry V’s appointees, William Troutbeck the Chamberlain of Chester, William Botiller the Chamberlain of South Wales and Thomas Walton the Chamberlain of North Wales, confirming them in their offices (2, 3, 4).

William Hankford, Chief Justice in King’s Bench, was instructed to order the sheriffs of London, Robert Tattersall and William Estfeld, to keep Thomas Payne, who was being held in Newgate on suspicion of treason, in safe custody or risk severe penalties should he escape (5).

Payne was a Welshman who had been implicated in the Lollard uprising of 1414 against Henry V; after 1414 Lollardy was deemed to be treason as well heresy (6). 

According to testimony given to Henry VI and the Council many years later by one Thomas Haseley, a chancery clerk who was seeking an annuity, Payne became involved in a plot to ‘rescue’ King James of Scotland, a prisoner in England, who was then at Windsor (3). The abortive attempt, if it occurred, must have taken place sometime before May 1420 when King James accompanied Henry V to France. Haseley claimed that he lay in wait for the plotters for over a week before he captured Payne (7). The Duke of Bedford had Payne committed to the Tower of London but Payne escaped with some other prisoners. He was recaptured and returned to the Tower. By 1 October 1422,  still awaiting trial, Payne had been moved to Newgate prison (8). Payne petitioned Parliament to have his case heard speedily as he had been in prison for a long time (9, 10). 

(1) Foedera X, p. 254 (Talbot and Ferrers).

(2) CPR 1422-29, pp. 3–4 and p. 60 (appointments in Wales).

(3) Griffiths, ‘William Botiller: A Fifteenth Century Civil Servant,’ in King and Country, pp. 179–186.

(4) Griffiths, ‘Patronage Politics and the Principality of Wales,’ in King and Country, p. 168.

(5) PPC III, p. 3 (Payne).

(6) Wylie & Waugh, Henry V volIII, p. 395, n. 1.

(7) PPC  V, pp. 104–107 (Haseley’s testimony).

(8) Issues of the Exchequer, pp. 373 and 375 (Payne recaptured).

(9) Rotuli Parliamentorum IV, p. 196 (Payne’s petition in full). 

(10) PROME X, Appendix Item 20, p. 63 (Payne’s petition noted).

French Prisoners

Five French nobles, four of them captured at Agincourt in 1415, were prisoners in England when King Henry V died. Charles, Duke of Orleans, John, Duke of Bourbon, Charles d’Artois Count of Eu, John, Count of Angoulême and Louis, Count of Vendôme.

Charles Duke of Orleans was the most valuable of Henry V’s captives. He was the Dauphin’s first cousin and heir presumptive.  Henry V left instructions in his will that Orleans was not to be released, but in any case, Orleans would have found it impossible to raise a large ransom, he could not even meet his earlier obligation to ransom his brother. He had frittered away his patrimony in a fruitless and financially crippling vendetta against John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy in the civil war in France after Burgundy ordered the assassination of Charles’s father, Louis of Orleans, in 1407 (1).

Sometime in 1422 Orleans was placed in the custody of Sit Thomas Comberworth, a Lincolnshire knight at Bolingbroke Castle. He was paid £40 in December 1422 for Orleans’s maintenance (2).

See Years 1432, 1433, and 1434 for Orleans.

John of Angoulême was Orleans’s younger brother. He was a hostage, not a prisoner of war. He had been a captive in England since the age of twelve. He had been pledged by his brother Charles, Duke of Orleans in 1412 as security for a debt owed by Orleans to Thomas, Duke of Clarence. Orleans failed, as he did all his life, to keep his promises of payment, and the unfortunate Angoulême remained in England for thirty-three years, until 1445 (3).

See Year 1434 Sir Thomas Rempston for Angoulême.

John, Duke of Bourbon, was the second most valuable prisoner after the Duke of Orleans. He would die in England in 1434. In December 1422 Sir Nicholas Montgomery was awarded £100 for  Bourbon’s maintenance (4).

See Year 1427 The Duke of Bourbon and the Earl of Somerset.

Charles d’Artois, Count of Eu, was the Duchess of Bourbon’s son by a previous marriage, making him the Duke of Bourbon’s stepson. Sir John Grey of Ruthvin captured Artois but was forced to sell him to Henry V as a royal prisoner. Grey received only 1,000 marks, ‘in part satisfaction of a larger sum granted by the king to Sir John Grey for the ransom of the Count of Ewe lately taken at Agincourt’ (5). Artois remained a prisoner until 1438.      

Louis de Bourbon, Count of Vendôme was also claimed by Henry V as a royal prisoner. He addressed a petition to the Duke of Gloucester and the Council, probably during the second half of 1420 while Gloucester was Custodian of England, complaining of the conditions in which he was being held and asking to be allowed to return to France to raise his ransom or at least to send servants to his wife for money, as he was destitute (6). 

See Year 1423 French Prisoners for Vendôme.

Two other long-term prisoners, Jean d’Estouteville and Raoul de Gaucourt, had been in command at Harfleur when it fell to Henry V in 1415, and they undertook to surrender themselves, which they did at Calais in November after the Battle of Agincourt (7).

They expected to be set free on parole to raise their ransoms, but Henry had them shipped to England and refused to agree to terms for their release: ‘their defiance of the king in holding Harfleur for so long against him would be neither forgiven nor forgotten. Their captivity would endure long after most of the prisoners taken at Agincourt had been released’ (8).

See Year 1425: ‘John Holand, Earl of Huntingdon,’ for Estouteville and Gaucourt.

Other less important prisoners were also held at the Tower. Robert Scott, the lieutenant of the Tower was paid £40 for their maintenance (9). His petition to the Duke of Gloucester for the release of 23 prisoners in his charge belongs in 1424.

(1) Sumption, Cursed Kings, pp. 326-328 (Charles of Orleans).

(2) PPC III, p. 10 (payments for Orleans).

(3) M. Jones, ‘Henry VII, Lady Margaret Beaufort and the Orleans Ransom,’ in Kings and Nobles in the Later Middle Ages, ed. R.A. Griffiths and J. Sherborne, pp. 254–257. 

(4) PPC III, p. 10 (payments for Bourbon)

(5) Issues of the Exchequer, pp. 344–345 (payment to Grey). 

(6) L&P II, ed. Stevenson, pp 377–384 (Vendôme’s petition).

(7) Barker, Agincourt, p. 368 (Estouteville and Gaucourt). 

(8) Barker, Agincourt, pp. 342 for the quote, and 370–372 for negotiations).

(9) PPC III, p. 11 (custody payment to Scott).


Prisoners’ Servants

The prisoners were in fact well treated. The English Exchequer contributed to their keep, and their councillors, retainers, and servants regularly received safe conducts to visit them in England bringing them money or valuables and, just as important, news from France. (1).

In November 1422 William Baroguier, Angoulême’s esquire, received a safe conduct to go to France on Angoulême’s behalf and in December 1422 safe conducts were issued for five of Angoulême’s servants to come to England (2).

A safe conduct for one month was issued on 23 December for John Fournier, esquire of the kitchen, and Eustace de Montfornier, secretary of the Duke of Bourbon with three servants to come to England from Rouen with money and ‘furnishings’ (bonis et hernesiis) for the duke (3).

A safe conduct from 23 November 1422 until the follow February was issued for Peter Gonzalles, John Leveille, and Peter Gervese with one servant to come to England to bring money, valuables, and ‘horse furnishings’ to Vendôme.’ (4).

Estouteville’s servants received a safe conduct to bring jewels, gold, and other goods to him [in England] between 4 November 1422 and Easter 1423 (5). He remained in England until 1425.

(1) Wylie & Waugh III, p. 39, n. 1 and the references given there (servants)

(2) Foedera X, pp 260 (Angoulême’s servants). 

(3) Foedera X, p. 262 (Bourbon’s servants).

(4) Foedera X, p. 263 (Vendôme’s servants).

(5) Foedera X, p. 260 (Estouteville’s servants).


Other Prisoners

The Council ordered Robert Scott, the lieutenant of the Tower, to release two other prisoners.  Louis de Braquemont (sic) and Alexander Home, but the clerk who recorded the minutes of the 21 December meeting was seriously confused (1). There never was a Louis de Braquemont. 

Louis de Robessart was John Robessart’s brother. John and Louis Robessart were Hainaulters in the service of Henry V who made them Knights of the Garter and named Louis Robessart as an executor of his will.  John Robessart was with Gloucester at the siege of Cherbourg in 1418 (2).

Robert de Braquemont was the French (Armagnac) Admiral of France. He had  made his fortune in Spain, rising to become Admiral of Castile (3). His son John may have been born there which would account for his being described as Spanish. John de Braquemont was captured during the Duke of Bedford’s sea battle off Harfleur in 1416 and sent to the Tower (4). Henry V had promised to hand him over to John Robessart so that the latter could collect his ransom in payment for services rendered to the king.

(1) PPC III, p. 12 (Braquemont and Home).

(2) Wylie & Waugh III, p. 110 (Robessart at Cherbourg).

(3) Sumption, Cursed Kings, p. 554 (Robert de Braquemont).

(4) Wylie & Waugh III, p. 366 n. 6 (Braquemont’s capture).

Alexander Home 

Four Scots, David Dunbar, Nicholas Bastard of Dunbar, Alexander Home and John Herring had been imprisoned in the Tower of London on Henry V’s orders in May 1421 (1, 2).  The reason for their imprisonment is not stated. Were they prisoners of war taken in the fighting in France, or were they hostages for the future good behaviour of their fathers?

Sir Alexander Home of Dunglass had been captured at the Battle of Homildon Hill in 1403. The Alexander Home (Hume) for whom the Earl of Northumberland posted a bond for £500 on 22 December was probably Sir Alexander’s son (3). Northumberland undertook to surrender Alexander Home to the Council before Easter 1423 if the bond was not honoured (4). Did Northumberland, as Warden of the East March, plan to use Alexander as a bargaining counter in the negotiations he was about to open with the Scots, or was he acting on Sir Alexander’s behalf in return for future co-operation?

(1) CFR 1413-1422, p. 22 (Scottish prisoners).

(2) Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland IV, p. 183 (imprisonment and safe conducts).

(3) PPC III, p. 12, n.1 (Northumberland bond).

(4) CClR 1422-1429, p. 53 (Northumberland’s recognizance).

John Duke of Bedford, Regent of France

John, Duke of Bedford, Henry V’s oldest surviving brother, became Regent of France at the age of thirty-three. He was a brilliant administrator, but he was relatively unknown in France and he faced a monumental task. He had to defend Henry V’s conquests and attempt to extend them throughout the rest of France but without the X-factor, Henry V’s charisma and reputation for invincibility (1).

The Burgundian chroniclers Monstrelet and Chastellain claim that Henry V had instructed Bedford to offer the Regency to Philip, Duke of Burgundy to retain the important Anglo-Burgundian alliance, but that Burgundy refused it. The only English source to confirm this is Walsingham’s Historica Anglicana (2, 3, 4).

“By the authority of the kings of France and of England  and their grand council, the Duke of Bedford was appointed Regent of France in consequence of the Duke of Burgundy not wishing to undertake that office.”     Monstrelet I, p. 486

If Bedford did offer the Regency to Burgundy, and this is doubtful, he need not have bothered, Duke Philip did not want it. Unlike his father, Philip had no ambition to ‘rule’ France, his interest lay further east, to expanding Burgundian domination over the Low Countries. He had allied with the English to punish his father’s murderer. Nevertheless, Philp was first and foremost a prince of France. He would not serve as Regent or rule France in the name of the King of England. Philip carefully avoided any occasion that would require him to swear fealty to Henry VI as King of France, and he did not come to Paris when King Charles VI died (5).   

(1) Williams, E. Carleton, My Lord of Bedford

(2) Chastellain, Oeuvres I, pp. 328­–331.

(3) Walsingham, Historica Anglicana II, p. 345.

(4) Roskell, Parliament and Politics I, p. 200 and n. 3.

(5) Vaughan, Philip the Good, p. 16 (for Burgundy’s ambitions).

Bedford responsibilities as Regent of France made it impossible for him to return to England and attend Parliament in 1422. Nevertheless, as heir presumptive to the throne he initially expected to become Regent of England. He probably envisaged an arrangement similar to that made by Henry V, with the Duke of Gloucester as Custodian of the Realm in his absence. He wrote from Rouen to the Mayor and Common Council of London on 26 October (and probably to members of the Council at same time although his letters have not survived).

“the gouvernance of the Reaume of England after [by] the lawes and ancient usage and custume of the same Reaume as we be enformed belongeth un to us as to ϸe elder brother of our saide souverain lord that was. And as next unto ϸe croune of England and having the chief interesse after the king [that now is] . . . .”  (1)

(1) Sharpe, London and the Kingdom III, pp. 367–68 (Bedford’s letter).  Reprinted in Chrimes & Brown, Select Documents, p. 245. Referenced in John Vales’ Book ed. Kekewich, p. 139 but not printed there.

King Charles VI, Death and Burial

King Charles VI of France died at his residence at the Hotel St. Pol in Paris on 21/22 October 1422 after an unspectacular reign of forty-four years. It was a sad ending to a sad life (1, 2).

“This same yere vpon a wednesday the xxj day of Ottober, the owre between vj and vij in the mornyng, dyed kyng Charles of ffraunce in his hous of seint poule with in the cite of Parys, and ys buryed at seynt Denys.” Chronicles of London (Cleopatra C IV)  p. 128

 The Duke of Bedford came from Rouen to arrange and preside over the royal funeral. He was the chief and only mourner. No French magnate was present. The Bourgeois of Paris noted that “not one [member] of the house of France was there that day . . . . nor any lord at all except one English duke, called the Duke of Bedford.” (3).

On 9 November, two days after King Henry was buried at Westminster, and three weeks after he died, King Charles’s coffin, escorted by the clergy, by representatives of the university of Paris, and by the city’s civic dignitaries was carried in procession to Notre Dame and then to St Denis for burial.

After the ceremony Bedford left the church with the sword of the kings of France carried upright before him which caused great offence to the citizens of Paris. Bedford might be Regent, but he was not king of France (4).

(1)  Chronicle of London (Harley 565), p. 111 (Charles VI death).

(2) The Brut Continuation D Appendix, p. 440 (Charles VI’s death, misdated to 1420-21).

(3) Bourgeois of Paris, pp. 179–183.

(4) Monstrelet, I, pp. 486–487.

The Dual Monarchy

King Henry VI of England was now King Henri II of France. The Treaty of Troyes united the two crowns creating the dual monarchy, one king, but two kingdoms. This was Henry V’s legacy to the son he had never seen. The concept would prove impossible to maintain. Henry V might have managed it, but the Regent Bedford could not, although he made it his life’s work. 

Bedford summoned the parlement of Paris, the highest court in the land, in November and required its members to swear an oath to keep the peace and to acknowledge Henry VI as King of France. He sternly reminded the assembly that the Dauphin Charles had no right to the throne: he had been disinherited because he was responsible for the murder of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy (1).

Good Frenchmen were now Henry VI’s subjects and Bedford issued a decree that anyone who opposed the dual monarchy and supported the Dauphin Charles was to be referred to as an ‘Armagnac’ and not as French (2). The term ‘Armagnacs’ is used frequently in the English chronicles.

Normandy was to have been reunited with the crown of France when Henry V became king, but his premature death changed the political situation and made Normandy a special case. The duchy was Henry V’s personal possession and on his deathbed Henry had insisted that Bedford must hold Normandy for his son at all costs. It was a fatal bequest.

(1) L&P I, pp. lxxvii–lxxx. (parlement of Paris).

(2) BL. Birch MS 4101 ff 65–69 printed in  B. J. H. Rowe, ‘Discipline in Norman Garrisons,’ English Historical Review XLVIX, (1931), pp. 201–06; p. 205 (for the term ‘Armagnacs’).

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester

The magnates who had been in France with Henry V had returned to London by the beginning of November 1422 and added their weight to the temporary council. The Duke of Gloucester expected to govern England as Regent with the advice but not with the consent of the Council, in accordance with Henry V’s testamentary dispositions. The lords thought differently.

Twenty-one lords, including Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, were present at a council meeting on 5 November 1422. As a first step towards limiting his ambition, the Council nominated Gloucester to open Parliament in the king’s name, but only with the assent of the Council. Gloucester protested vigorously that these words curtailed his rightful powers. He argued that he had opened and closed Parliament as Custodian of the Realm while Henry V was in France and that to deny him this right would undermine his status although he did not mean to infringe the rights of his brother the Duke of Bedford. The lords replied that the circumstances were entirely different, Henry V had given him the authority, but Henry VI could not, and that authority now rested with the Council (1). 

Stung by the lords’ decision Gloucester prepared a memorandum in which he vehemently defended his right to become Regent or Governor of England (2, 3, 4). According to Gloucester the lords had initially assented to Henry V’s codicil making him tutela et defensionem principales but they then reneged on their promise to assist him and objected to the implications in civil law of the term tutela.

Gloucester drew their attention to the title bestowed on William Marshal, who was not even of royal blood, during the minority of King Henry III as ‘Ruler of the King and of the Kingdom’ Rector regis et regni Angliae. He requested to be named Ruler or Governor of the Kingdom but said he would not go so far as to claim to be ruler of the King (the sole legal source of authority). If the style and status of Governor of the Kingdom was accorded to him, he would govern with the advice of the Council, but if they were split, his decision should prevail.

Gloucester claimed that the Commons had asked the Lords to name a governor (although this request is not on the Parliament Roll) and that the title they proposed for him of ‘Defender and Chief Councillor’ was insufficient, it did not meet the Commons’ expectations. He again made the point that his claim was for himself alone and should not prejudice his brother’s rights, and, perhaps to postpone a final decision and give himself time to get Bedford on side, he suggested hopefully that the Lords should wait until Bedford returned to England to settle the question. Both brothers could then accept whatever was decided. The Lords would have none of it.

By the time Parliament met on 9 November the lords had decided on conciliar government and had settled the make-up of a Minority Council among themselves. They were determined that until Henry VI came of age England would be ruled by a Council acting in his name and on his authority.

“In whiche parlement was ordeyned the governaunce of the kyng, how and in what manere he schude be governed in his tender age,”

Great Chronicle, p. 123; A Chronicle of London (Harley 565), p. 110; Gregory’s Chronicle, p 149

The chroniclers’ statement is misleading. The question of who would rule England was settled by the authority of Parliament but the Lords, not the Commons, made this decision. As Professor Griffiths puts it: ‘such matters were considered inappropriate for discussion by the Commons, who simply received the lords’ decision’ (5).

On 5 December 1422 the Lords in Parliament named the Duke of Bedford as Protector and Defender of the realm, and principal councillor of the King whenever he was in England.  The Duke of Gloucester would be Bedford’s deputy during his absence. Bedford commanded far more respect than Gloucester, and had he been in England the outcome might have been different 6, 7, 8). As it was neither Bedford nor Gloucester was recognised as Regent of England (9).

(1) PPC III, pp. 6–7 (council meeting in November).

(2) English Historical Documents, ed. Myers, pp. 232–33.

(3) PROME X, Appendix p. 61. Printed in modern English.

(4) Chrimes, ‘The Pretentions of the duke of Gloucester in 1422,’ English Historical Review XLV (1930). Reprinted in Chrimes & Brown, Select Documents, pp. 248–249.

(5) Watts, Henry VI and the Politics of Kingship, pp. 113-114

(6) Griffiths, Henry VI, p. 24 (decision by the Lords).

(7) PROME X, pp. 23–24 (Concerning the appointment of the protector and defender of the realm of England).

(8) Foedera X, p. 261 (appointment of Bedford). 

(9) CPR 1422-29, p. 65 (appointment of Bedford).

(10) Roskell, ‘The Office and Dignity of Protector of England with special reference to its origins,’ in Parliament and Politics I, pp. 193–234.

Gloucester as Protector

In December the Council awarded Gloucester £300 as Protector (1).

To enhance his dignity and perhaps to soothe his pride, Parliament created him Great Chamberlain of England and granted him the constableship of Gloucester castle, with all its profits. (2).

The Exchequer was authorized to reimburse him for the value of two purses of gold garnished with jewels each worth £2,000 that he had received from Henry V as surety for payment for the men-at-arms and archers he had contributed to Henry’s campaigns (3). Henry V subsequently ordered him to return the purses, they were to be given to the Duke of Burgundy and Duke of Bavaria respectively (possibly to pay them for the troops they supplied).

Peter de Alcobasse the king’s physician, petitioned Gloucester for a prebend in St George’s Chapel Windsor vacated by the death of John Eston. Gloucester chose to use his title Great Chamberlain of England over that of Protector and Defender. The grant is headed Le Roy la Grante and signed  H. Chambellan d’Angleterre. (4, 5).   

Alcobasse was Portuguese, naturalized in 1420. He was physician to all three Lancastrian kings (6). He exchanged benefices with John Hogge, parson of Watton atte Stone in 1423 (7) and died in 1427.

(1) PPC III, p. 11 (£300 wages)

(2) PROMEs X pp. 22–23 (Great Chamberlain).

(3) PPC III, pp. 8-10 (gold purses)

(4) Foedera X, p. 263 (petition for prebend).

(5) CPR 1422-29, p. 13 (petition for prebend). 

(6) Talbot and Hammond, Medical Practitioners, pp. 246–47 (Alcobasse).

(7) CPR 1422-29, p. 160 (exchange of benefices).

The Minority Council  

So who were these men who took it upon themselves to dictate to the late king’s brothers and to ignore Henry V’s last known wishes? As might be expected they had all served under Henry V (1, 2, 3).  

Officers of State

Thomas Langley, Bishop of Durham, Chancellor. Bishop of Durham from 1406. He was Chancellor under Henry IV, Henry V and Henry VI. He resigned in 1424. 

William Kinwolmersh. Treasurer under Henry V. He died in December 1422.

John Stafford. Keeper of the Privy Seal replaced Kinwolmersh as Treasurer, and became Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1425. He resigned as Treasurer in 1426.

William Alnwick, Henry V’s secretary replaced Stafford as Keeper of the Privy. He became Bishop of Norwich 1426, following the death of John Wakering.

The Bishops

Henry Chichele. Archbishop of Canterbury. 

John Kemp, Bishop of London. Chancellor of Normandy. When Henry V died Kemp held two seals, one as Chancellor of Normandy, and another similar to the Great Seal of England that Henry V had with him in France. Kemp surrendered the seal for Normandy to the Duke of Bedford in Rouen before he returned to England. He brought the second seal with him and surrendered it to the baby king at Windsor in the presence of the Duke of Exeter, the Earl of Warwick, and the Earl of March, all of whom had returned from France (4, 5).

Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester. Great uncle of Henry VI. One of the three Beaufort brothers, the sons of John of Gaunt, legitimated in 1396 by King Richard II and then by their half-brother King Henry IV. Beaufort was the richest man in England. He became Chancellor in 1424 and was the most important and influential member of the Minority Council, except for Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, until his resignation in 1426.

John Wakering. An early Keeper of the Privy Seal under Henry V. Bishop of Norwich from November 1415. He was in Normandy when Henry V died but returned to England in time to attend the 5 November council meeting. He died in April 1425.

Philip Morgan, Bishop of Worcester. First Chancellor of Normandy, 1418. Bishop of Worcester 1419. Bishop of Ely 1426.

The Magnates

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, Protector.

Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter, the young king’s guardian. Younger brother of Henry Beaufort and great uncle of Henry VI. He died 1426.

John Mowbray, Earl of Norfolk, Earl Marshal of England.

Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March. Named as the king’s lieutenant in Ireland in 1423. He died there in 1425.

Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, mistakenly named as guardian of Henry VI in Brut Continuation H. 

Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland. Warden of the East March towards Scotland since 1417.

Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmorland. Warden of the West March with his son Sir Richard Neville. He died in 1425.

The Lords and Knights

Sir Walter Hungerford. Speaker of the Commons, 1414. Steward of the household. Executor of Henry V’s will.

Henry, Lord Fitzhugh. Chamberlain of the household. Executor of Henry V’s will. He died in 1425.

Ralph, Lord Cromwell. Not a member of Henry V’s household. Negotiator of the Treaty of Troyes.

John, Lord Tiptoft, household official, Speaker of the Commons 1406.

Sir Walter Beauchamp, household official, Speaker of the Commons 1416. Executor of Henry V’s will.

(1)  PPC III, pp. 16–18.  (Minority Council).

(2)  PROME  X, p. 26 (Minority Council).

(3) Harriss, Beaufort, p. 118 (Minority Council).

(4)  PROME X, p. 15 (Kemp returned the king’s seals).

(5)  Brut Continuation E, p. 449 (Kemp as Bishop of London).


The Parliament of 1422 met on 9 November and was dissolved on 18 December.     

A summary of the acts of parliament in the Proceedings of the Council for 1422 is misdated by the editor to 9 November (1). It must have been drawn after December 18 as it is a recapitulation, partly in Latin and partly in English, of the acts of Parliament to 18 December, the day Parliament was dissolved. 

Parliament confirmed Queen Katherine’s dower and added Leeds Castle, the castle and town of Rochester, and the castle and town of Hawardin to her estates (2).

 Humphrey, Earl of Stafford, a descendent through his mother of King Edward III, was granted livery of his father’s lands in accordance with a promise made by Henry V just before he died, although Humphrey was still a minor (2, 3).

On 12 December ‘it was agreed in full parliament’ that 1,000 marks should be paid to the Earl of Northumberland as Warden of the East March and custodian of Berwick.

The Earl of Westmorland’s son Sir Richard Neville would receive 500 marks as Captain of Carlisle and Warden of the West March (4).

On 20 December £250 was allocated by the Council to Lord Greystoke, Captain of Roxburgh Castle (5).

See Year 1423 for the Wardens of the March.

(1) PPC III, pp. 13-18 (summary of acts of Parliament).

(2) PROME X, pp. 43–55 (list of Katherine’s dower lands). 

(3) PROME X, Item18 Appendix, pp. 62–63 (Livery of lands to Stafford).

(4) Foedera X, p. 259 (Grant to Katherine and livery of his lands to Stafford).

(5) PPC III, pp. 7-8 (Wardens of the March). 

(6) PPC III, p. 11 (Greystoke for Roxburgh).


The establishment of the Minority Council was the main preoccupation of Parliament in 1422, but the question of taxation was almost as important. King Henry V’s second legacy to his son was the crippling cost of the war in France to establish the dual monarchy.  Henry VI inherited a massive crown debt. He was never to be free of it.

The crown’s income, from Parliamentary taxation, customs duties, and the royal demesne, including the Duchy of Lancaster, came nowhere near meeting the expenditure on a war not just of conquest but also of occupation.

The Commons were not overly generous in 1422. They renewed the traditional grant of the subsidy (tax) on wool, which had lapsed automatically on Henry V’s death, and backed dated it to 1 September 1422, the first day of Henry VI’s reign (1).

 Customs duties on wool was the crown’s principal source of income, used partly to pay off outstanding debts but mainly as security to raise loans. The Commons granted a tax of five nobles (33s. 4d. or £1 13s. 4d.) on every sack of export wool and every 240 wool fells (tanned skins) shipped by English merchants for the next two years.

Foreign merchants (aliens) were to pay 53s. 4d (£2 13s 4d.) on every sack of wool; tonnage (duty on imported wines) was set at 3 shilling per tun; and poundage (duty on imports) at 12 pence in the pound, for the next two years (1)

(1) PROME X, pp. 21–22.

Gregory’s Chronicle says, ‘during the term of the yere.’ The Great Chronicle says three years. 

“Also in that Parlyment was grauntyd unto the kyng v. noblys of every sacke wolle duryng the terme of the [so in MS.] yere.”  Gregory’s Chronicle, p 149

“Also it was graunted to the kyng v nobles of every sak wolle to custome during iij yere.”  Great Chronicle, p. 123


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