Henry VI



The Minority Council

The Council met thirty-five times in 1426 with the Duke of Bedford presiding. It dealt with routine administration, while Bedford directed major policy.

Duchy of Gascony

Gaston de Foix Count of Longueville was granted the county of Benauges in Gascony on the advice of the Duke of Bedford. Sir Nicholas Bowet claimed properties in and around Bordeaux granted to Henry Bowet, Archbishop of York, who died in 1423.  Lord Tiptoft was granted the income from the lordship of Lesparre and Sir John Radcliffe was rewarded arrears of wages for his time as Seneschal of Gascony.


Hostages for King James’s unpaid ransom remained in England. Discussions of truce violations along the border took place with no results.

 The Duke of Bedford’s Reception

The Duke of Bedford was received into the City of London in January 1426 by the mayor and aldermen who offered him a traditional gift of 1,000 marks.

The Duke of Bedford and the Duke of Gloucester

The Duke of Gloucester refused to attend the council meeting called by the Duke of Bedford to resolve the quarrel between Gloucester and Henry Beaufort.

The Duke of Bedford and Pope Martin

The Duke of Bedford as Regent of France maintained good relations with the papacy.  While he was in England Bedford resolved the impasse between the pope and the council over appointments to vacant bishoprics.

Parliament of Bats

Parliament met at Leicester from 18 February 1 June 1426. Its nickname is contemporary, bestowed on it by the chroniclers. The Duke of Bedford prohibited those attending to carry weapons and so it was said that men concealed wooden battens in their clothing and then large stones carried inside their sleeves.

The Duke of Gloucester and Henry Beaufort

The Duke of Gloucester and Henry Beaufort appeared in Parliament to submit the causes of their quarrel to the judgement of nine arbitrators appointed by the Duke of Bedford. 

King Henry knighted and other knighthoods   

The Duke of Bedford knighted the five-year-old king while Parliament was in session at Leicester and King Henry made knights of the bath? Bedford knighted the four-year-old king.


Parliament rejected the Chancellor’s appeal for taxation alleging that the Council had failed to keep the act for hosting alien merchants passed in 1425

Hanseatic League

German merchants of the Hanseatic League petitioned Parliament to appoint an alderman to judge cases in dispute between them and the City of London. Parliament appointed William Crowmer.

The Duke of Bedford and Henry Beaufort

Henry Beaufort resigned as chancellor and the Duke of Bedford rewarded him by allowing him to accept a cardinal’s hat from the pope.

The Duke of Bedford and the Council

After Henry Beaufort’s resignation as chancellor the Duke of Bedford made changes to the other officers of state.

Burgundian Trade Mission 

The Duke of Burgundy’s ambassador, Hugh de Lannoy and representatives of the Four Members of Flanders visited England on a trade mission. 

The Duke of Brittany. St James de Beuvron

England declared war on the Duke of Brittany. Arthur de Richemont attacked St James de Beuvron on the Breton border and was defeated.

The Count of Penthièvres

The Counts of Penthièvres were rival claimants to the Duchy of Brittany. They sought an alliance with the Duke of Bedford.

The Death of the Duke of Exeter.

Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter, King Henry’s guardian died at the end of December 1426

Bibliography 1426



The Minority Council

The Council met thirty-five times in 1426 with the Duke of Bedford presiding. Parliament was in session at Leicester from 18 February until 1 June, and regular council members were joined at times by non-members who were at Leicester. The Proceedings records three meetings in January, five in March, one in April, five in May, two in June.

The Council met eight time in July, from 1 July to 27 July, at Westminster after Parliament was dissolved, four times in October, once in November and six times in December.

“And the fyrste day of Juylle be-ganne the counselle at London at Westemyster, ande duryd fully iij wekys.”    Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 161

Members of the Council and others who had stood surety for Henry Beaufort’s loan to the crown in 1425 had their obligations returned. The loan had been repaid (1). 

                                                              See Year 1425:  An Army for France

Crown Jewels

The Treasurer, Lord Hungerford, was authorized to negotiate for the return of crown jewels still held as security for the repayment of loans to Henry V, just as his predecessor John Stafford had done (2, 3).

The jewels were needed for the next round of borrowing to send reinforcements to France. The Issues of the Exchequer record details of the jewels held by Isabelle Dureward, widow and executrix of John Dureward, and the executors and John Hende respectively for repayment of their loans to King Henry V (4).


(1) PPC III, pp. 199 (Beaufort’s loan).

(2) PPC III, p. 201 (recovery of jewels).

(3) CPR 1422-1429, p. 345 (recovery of jewels).

(4) Issues of the Exchequer, pp. 396-398 (Dureward and Hende).


Henry VI’s Household

In March the Council granted an annuity of 40 marks a year to Alice Botiller, Henry VI’s governess from the fee farm of Great Yarmouth, in addition to the £40 a year she received as the king’s gift (1, 2).

See Year 1424: King Henry’s Household

They confirmed the annuity of £20 to Joan Waryn, Henry V’s wet nurse, made by him in 1415. Her annuity was to be paid by the Exchequer and not out of the income from the manor of Isleworth as this income had been assigned to the Priory of St Saviour of Shene. The change to the Exchequer made the payment of Joan’s annuity less secure (3, 4).

Robert Tendall had been in royal service under Henry IV and Henry V. Now a yeoman of the robes in Henry VI’s household, he petitioned for a grant of ‘the offices of ‘amobreship’ and ‘wodwardship’ in the commotes of Issaph and Ighaph in the county of Caernarvon.’ The Council granted them to him with the usual fees and profits, up to £10 a year. Any income over that was to be accounted for with the royal exchequer in Caernarvon (5, 6).

OED: amobreship: Welsh law. A collector of the fee payable by a lord on the marriage of his daughter.

OED: woodwardship. Welsh term. The keeper of a forest.


(1) PPC III, p. 191 (Alice Botiller).

(2) CPR 1422-1429, p. 323 (Alice Botiller).

(3) PPC III p. 190 (Joan Waryn).

(4) CPR 1422-1429, pp. 200 and 322 Joan Waryn).

(5) PPC III, pp. 198-199 (Tendall, Caernarvon grant).

(6) CPR 1422-1429, p. 347 (Tendall, Caernarvon grant).


Anne, Countess of Stafford 

Anne was the daughter and heiress of Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, Edward III’s youngest son. She was scheduled to appear before the Council on 15 October 1426 in pursuance of her claim to her father’s lordship of Holderness. King Henry IV had granted the lordship of Holderness to his son Thomas, Duke of Clarence, ignoring Anne’s claim.

After Clarence was killed at the battle of Baugé in 1421 Anne petitioned for the return of Holderness but the widowed Duchess of Clarence refused to surrender it, and in 1426 she appealed to the Council against Anne.  Anne failed to appear in Council and was declared to have defaulted (1, 2). The Duchess of Clarence held on to Holderness.

Joan Beaufort, Dowager Countess of Westmorland

Joan had been granted the wardship of the young Richard, Duke of York who was betrothed to Joan’s daughter Cecily Neville. On 26 May Countess Joan petitioned for an increase in the 200 marks allowed her for York’s maintenance, to be taken from the lands of the late Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March which were in the king’s hands. Richard of York was Mortimer’s heir. The Council granted her 100 marks (3, 4).

See Year 1425: Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March.


(1) PPC III, p 209 (Countess of Stafford).

(2) Rawcliffe, The Staffords, Earls of Stafford and Dukes of Buckingham 1394-1521, p. 18.

(3) PPC III, pp .194-195 (Joan Beaufort’s petition).

(4) Foedera X, p. 358 (Joan Beaufort’s petition).


Sir John Radcliffe

The crown was heavily indebted to Radcliffe for his services as Constable and then Seneschal of Gascony. He had returned to England in 1425 and resigned as Seneschal.

See Year 1423 The Duchy of Gascony, Sir John Radcliffe.

See Year 1425: Parliament, Sir John Radcliffe. 

On 20 July 1426 the Council granted him 2,000 marks, the crown’s fee for the marriage of the young Ralph, Earl of Westmorland to the widowed Lady Clifford, in part payment of  his wages and for the 200 mounted archers in his retinue. Lady Clifford had paid 200 marks for the right to marry whomsoever she pleased, and this too was granted to Radcliffe (1, 2).  

See Year 1423:  Wardships and marriages.


(1) PPC III, p. 204 (grants to Radcliffe).

(2) CPR 1422-1427, p. 350 (Lady Clifford).


Safe Conducts

William Bowes, a feoffee of the Duke of Clarence and one of the English commissioners who had witnessed King James I’s oath in 1424 to pay his ransom, was granted permission to go on pilgrimage to the Holy land (2). The authority is dated at Windsor, 23 April. King Henry may have been at Windsor for the festivities.

A safe conduct for Enrique Pérez de Guzmán, Count of Niebla (1396-1436) of the House of Medina Sidonia was issued in March for him to travel by sea from Andalusia in southern Spain aboard the Saint John of Bilboa. The reason is not given (1). Niebla was known for its silver works. Was the purpose of his visit religious, perhaps a pilgrimage to the shrine of Thomas Becket, or commercial to do with silver, or was it a diplomatic mission?

In May at Leicester the Duke of Bedford, the Duke of Glouceser, the Archbishop of Canterbury and four other bishops agreed that the three officers of state, the Chancellor, the Treasurer, and the Privy Seal should be given the power to issue safe conducts to the king’s subjects, to prisoners, and to hostages where appropriate (3).


(1) Foedera X, 356 (Bowes, pilgrimage).

(2) Foedera X, p. 356 (Count of Niebla).

(3) PPC III, p. 193 (Chancellor etc. to grant safe conducts).

NB: An investigation into England’s foreign relations at this period with all countries except France is long overdue.


French prisoners

Numerous safe conducts for the servants of French magnates still held prisoner in England were issued in 1426.

See Years 1422, 1423, 1424, and 1425 French prisoners.


Dionysius Rogier was to bring 600 pipes of wine to the Duke of Orleans.

The executors of Henry V’s will agreed to permit Oudart Cleppier, the Duke of Bourbon’s councillor, to visit him (1).

Charles d’Artois, Count of Eu petitioned the Council to consider the length of time he had been kept a prisoner since Agincourt in 1415. He requested a safe conduct for his servant Tousaintz de Chastell to go to France for three months to raise money for his living expenses (2). 

The last entry in the Foedera for 1426 is the first mention during Henry VI’s reign of a Breton held captive in England. The de Rieux were a powerful baronial family of Brittany, fighting for the Dauphin Charles. Pierre de Rieux was a marshal of France. He had been ambushed and captured in March 1420 by a small English force under the Earl of Huntingdon enroute to relieving the town of Fresnay-le-Vicomte in Maine (3).

On 13 December letters of safe conducts were issued for Robert de Preanne, John Delesen, and Colin le Conte, to come to England with three servants for four months to bring gold, silver, and other goods to Rieux (4). The safe conducts expired and were reissued in May 1427 to include a fourth man, Olivero Joveaux (4). 


(1) Foedera X, p. 350 (servants of Orleans and Bourbon).

(2) PPC III, pp. 192-193 (Count of Eu).

(3) Wylie & Waugh III, p. 216 (Rieux captured).

(4) Foedera X, p. 368 (servants of Rieux).



Richard Talbot, Archbishop of Dublin was appointed Chancellor of Ireland by the Minority Council in 1423.  After the death of Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March in 1425 James Butler, Earl of Ormond, known as the White Earl, became the interim lieutenant of Ireland for one year only, commencing on 13 April 1425 (1). Ormond used his position to force Richard Talbot out of the office of chancellor.

Talbot was reinstated as Chancellor by the Minority Council in October 1426, and they named Edward Dantsey, Bishop of Meath, as Treasurer of Ireland (2).

Sir James White, otherwise unidentified, petitioned the Council that he had been granted the stewardship of Ulster and had held it for a year before Jancio Dartas wrongly informed the Council that the stewardship was vacant (3).

Dartas held a number of crown offices, including that of Constable of Dublin castle, under Henry IV and Henry V (4. 5).  The stewardship was granted to Dartas in July 1425 (6). It was then regranted to White, apparently without question in December 1426 (7). Dartas may have been dead by that time, he certainly dead by November 1427 (8). 


(1) CPR 1422-1429 p 273 (Ormond’s appointment).

(2) PPC III p. 212 (Talbot reinstated).

(3) PPC III, pp. 228-229 (White’s petition).

(4) Wylie & Waugh I, p. 60 n. 2 (Dartas and references given there).

(5) CPR 1422-1429, pp. 20, 55 (grants by Henry IV and Henry V).

(6) CPR 1422-1429 pp. 287-88 (grant to Dartas).

(7) CPR 1422-1429, p. 383 (grant to White).

(8) CPR 1422-1429, p. 394 (Dartas dead by November 1427).



The accounts of the crown’s revenues from Wales were audited by Roger Appleton and William Ryman, auditors for the Chamberlains of North Wales and Cheshire, and by Roger Appleton and Henry Normanton for South Wales. Their accounts, submitted in December 1426, were accepted at the Exchequer (1).

(1) PPC III, p. 222 (audit of Wales accounts).



In June the Council authorized Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter as Justiciar of Cheshire, the Chancellor, and the Privy Seal, to arrest and imprison men in Cheshire (1). Cheshire was a remote and unruly county, where feuds were all too common among the local gentry (2).


(1) PPC III, p. 198 (Cheshire arrests).

(2) Griffiths, Henry VI p. 137 (citing the Egerton and Brereton families of examples feuding in Cheshire).


Reinforcements for France

The Duke of Bedford had left the Earl of Warwick in command of military operations in Normandy when he left France at the end of 1425. Warwick petitioned the Council for 100 men-at-arms and 300 archers to be sent to him as part of his current indenture with the crown (1).

Bedford, Gloucester and seven other members of the Council endorsed the request on 26 July. Confirmation of this part of Warwick’s indenture would be sealed with the privy seal and sent to Warwick in France for him to attach his seal in acknowledgement.

Bedford’s influence elicited a surprisingly quick response: the force for Warwick was to muster at Dover on 1 August. At the same time another 100 men and 300 archers were mustered at Poole under Sir Robert Hungerford, Sir Richard Stafford and [John] Passelewe. Stafford brought 39 men-at-arms and 120 archers. Hungerford and Passelewe 29 men-at-arms and 90 archers each (2).


(1) PPC III, pp. 207–208 (reinforcements for France).

(2) CPR 1422-1429, pp. 361–362 (troops mustered).


The Duchy of Gascony

The Minority Council made several grants in the Duchy of Gascony in 1426.

Gaston de Foix, Count of Longueville

Gaston de Foix, the younger brother of Jean, Count of Foix, remained loyal to Henry VI after Jean returned to his French allegiance in 1423.

See Year 1423: The Duchy of Gascony for Jean and Gaston de Foix.

Gaston had inherited the county of Benauges on his father’s death in 1412 but lost it during the civil wars in France. In 1426 the Minority Council, regranted Benauges to Gaston on the advice of the Duke of Bedford and the Grand Conseil of France.  

The grant acknowledged that much of the territory specified was not in King Henry’s obedience; Gaston would have to conquer it at his own cost while acknowledging King Henry’s sovereign rights over him.  Gaston was to receive 300 livres tournois annually ‘from the conquests he makes or will make against the king’s rebels and adversaries (1, 2).  It was an inexpensive way to pursue the war against the Dauphin in the south of France without financial assistance from England.


(1) Foedera X, p. 365 (Gaston and Benauges).

(2) Gascon Rolls, C61/121: 44 (Gaston and Benauges).


Sir Nicholas Bowet

Henry Bowet Archbishop of York, died in 1423. He had been Constable of Bordeaux under King Henry IV long before he became an archbishop and had been granted numerous properties in and around Bordeaux.  Sir Nicholas Bowet was Henry Bowet’s heir. His mother, Elizabeth, was the Henry Bowet’s niece.  

In 1426 Sir Nicholas claimed that his inheritance had been withheld because the escheator of Lincoln had not conducted the inquisition post mortem on the archbishop correctly and had failed to recognise Sir Nicholas as the rightful heir ‘to his great damage.’ The Council ordered the seneschal and constable of Bordeaux to allow Nicholas Bowet to take full possession of his inheritance (1, 2).  


(1) Foedera X, pp. 363-364 (Bowet inheritance).

(2) Gascon Rolls, C 61/121: 29 (Bowet Inheritance).


 John, Lord Tiptoft

Lord Tiptoft had been Seneschal of Gascony under Henry V. In December 1426 he revived his claim for the arrears of wages due to him as seneschal. He was awarded the issues of the lordship of Lesparre valued at 3,000 francs Bordeaux annually, until he had received 7,000 marks in final payment of the balance of the nearly £12,000 owed to him. He was still drawing revenue from Lesparre in 1433 (1, 2).


(1) PPC III, p 227 (Tiptoft).

(2) Vale, Gascony, pp 102-103 (Tiptoft).


A Book of Gascony

The Minority Council as a whole was unfamiliar with the estates and resources of the Duchy of Gascony. With the exception of Lord Tiptoft, none of them had serve there. In July William Hilla clerk in Chancery, was instructed to compile a register of all the lands in Gascony and a reference book listing the names of lords who owed fealty and services to the King of England.

Hill received 13s 4d as ‘an especial reward’ for compiling and writing two books containing this information to be held in safe keeping at the Treasury ‘for the benefit of the king’ (1).

(1) Issues of the Exchequer, p. 398 (record of Gascony).


King James failed to pay his ransom and the Scottish hostages remained in England.

See Years 1423 and 1425 Scotland for Scottish hostages.

Scottish Hostages

In January 1426 safe conducts were issued to the servants of James Dunbar of Frendraght, the Earl of Crawford, Patrick Lyon of Glamis, Gilbert Hay, James Hamilton, and William Oliphant of Aberdalgie, William of Ruthven, James Sandilands of Calder, William Douglas heir of Dalkeith, Andrew Gray of Foulis, and Patrick of Dunbar of Cumnock to come into England (1). According to Balfour-Melville, Hamilton, Oliphant, Sandilands, Douglas of Dalkeith, and Patrick Dunbar of Cumnock subsequently died in the Tower (2).

In July Gilbert Hay, one of the original hostages, and Sir Patrick Dunbar heir to the Scottish Earldom of March who came to England in 1425 in the first hostage exchange, petitioned for safe conducts for a year for their wives, with four servants each, to visit them wherever they were held in England and to be allowed to go on pilgrimage to Thomas Becket’s shrine at Canterbury. The request was granted (3).

Truce Violations

On 26 May, the Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of Exeter, Richard, Earl of Warwick. Henry, Earl of Northumberland, Ralph, Earl of Westmorland, Lord Willoughby, Sir Walter Hungerford and Sir Robert Umfraville were appointed conservators to redress violations  of the truce with Scotland (5). These appointments were largely notional. Warwick, and probably Lord Willoughby, were in France.

Sir Robert Umfraville met with the Scottish commissioners on 3 June at Reddenburn, on the Scottish border, the traditional meeting place for March Days

See Year 1425 Scotland for March Days.

Umfraville had complained in 1425 of Scottish recalcitrance and the refusal of Scottish envoys to negotiate with English commissioners.  It happened again in 1426: the Scots posed as the injured party and claimed reparations for English raids. Umfraville rejected their claims and the Scots refused to treat until these were met.

Umfraville adjourned the talks for two months to 6 August and returned to London to report to the Chancellor. He requested to be excused from attending the August meeting, but the Council (including the Duke of Bedford) while acknowledging his many unpaid services to Henry IV, Henry V and Henry VI required him to attend because the Earl of Northumberland, Warden of the East March, would need his advice (6). He would be accompanied to Scotland by Lancaster King of Arms. The Council awarded Umfraville £100 for his expenses as a conservator of the truce and Lancaster King of Arms  £6 13s 4d  (7, 8).

Nothing is known of the outcome of this projected meeting, but in December in anticipation of renewed Scottish raids, the Council allocated £200 to the repair of the walls of the town and castle of Berwick; £100 for repairs to Roxburgh Castle and £80 to repair the walls of the town and castle of Carlisle (9).


(1) Foedera X, p. 351 (servants of Scottish hostages).

(2) Balfour-Melville, James I, p. 293 (Scots’ deaths).

(3) Foedera X, pp. 364-365 (wives of hostages).

(4) PPC III, p. 193 (Chancellor to grant safe conducts).

(5) Foedera X, p. 358 (conservators of truce).

(6) PPC III, pp. 204-207 (Umfraville retained as commissioner).

(7) Documents Relating to Scotland IV, p. 205 (Umfraville and Lancaster Herald).

(8) PPC III p. 201 (£100 to Umfraville).

(9) PPC III, p. 221 (repairs to northern castles).


The Duke of Bedford’s Reception

The Duke of Bedford and Duchess Anne arrived in England on 20 December 1425 and spent Christmas at Eltham with Queen Katherine and the young king.

See Year 1425: The Duke of Bedford’s Return to London.

“And ageyn christmas the duke of Bedford came out of Fraunce into England. And the kynge helde his Christmas at Eltham and the bishop of Wynchestre helde his Christmas at Marton.”      Chronicle of London, (Julius B I) notes, p. 167

After the Christmas/New Year festivities the duke and duchess made their formal entry into London on 10 January 1426, accompanied by Henry Beaufort. The mayor and civic dignitaries rode out as far as Merton to greet them and escort them to the royal lodging at Westminster palace. The London crowds were surly, Bedford was respected, but they were not pleased to see Beaufort.

The mayor, John Coventry, presented Bedford with a gift of a pair of silver gilt basins filled with 1,000 marks, but Bedford somewhat unfairly displayed his displeasure at the support the Duke of Gloucester had received from the City in the previous October.  

 “And the x day of Janyvere come the duke of Bedford to London and my lady his wife. And with hym come the Bysshop of Wynchestre.  And the Maire and all the Cite fette hym yn and mette with hym at Merton and brought hym to Westmynster. And in the kynges paleys was he logged and my lady his wyfe. And the Bysshop in the Abbey faste by hym. And the Maire with the Cite yafe my lord of Bedford a peyre of basyns and a M1 marc yn hem to his welcome. And yit they hadde but a litill thanke &c.      Great Chronicle pp 137-138; Gregory’s Chronicle, pp. 159- 160

Brut Continuation D says they lodged at the Bishop of Durham’s palace, 

“And at the Bisshoppis place of Dereham, there thei were herborowid; and with hem tho come the Bisshop of Wynchestre ridynge thorough London, to right grete greuance of the pepull, saue for the displeasaunce and presence of the Duke.”     Brut Continuation D, p. 433

Members of Bedford’s administration in France accompanied him to England.

Philippe de Morvilliers was President of the Parlement of Paris, the supreme court of France.

Sir Giles de Clemency and Master John Reyvelle were members of the Grand Conseil in Paris and Bedford’s council in Rouen.

In May John Everdon submitted his account of £131 5s 5d to the English Exchequer for their total expenses from 14 January to 20 March 1426 while they were in London and at the Leicester Parliament (1).

De Morvilliers also claimed expenses from the French treasury for a period from 3 November 1425 to 3 April 1426, at 8 livres tournois a day, totalling  976 livres tournois for the 122 days that he spent on Bedford’s business, visiting the war captains and other officials who would carry on the war and the administration in Bedford’s absence (2).


(1) L&P I, pp. 400–403 (total English expenses).

(2) L&P II, pp. 65-67 (Morvilliers’s French expenses).


The Duke of Bedford and the Duke of Gloucester

The moment Bedford set foot in England the Duke of Gloucester ceased to be Protector. Bedford took over the business of government and exercised his powers as Protector. He dominated the Minority Council in a way that neither the Duke of Gloucester nor Chancellor Beaufort could. Unlike Gloucester, Bedford commanded the respect and co-operation of the Council, most of whom were pleased that Henry Beaufort had sent for him. 

Bedford came to England specifically to deal with the rift between his brother and his uncle. He convened a special council meeting at the end of January 1426 in the Abbey of St Albans.  

“Also the same yeer John, Duk of Bedford, kom out of ffraunce into Englond to see the governaunce off the Rewme and also ffor to putte in pees and reste certeyne debates and hevynesses hangyng bytwene the Duk of Gloucestre, his Brothyr, and the Bisshop off Wynchestre, chanceller of Englond his Vncle.”  Julius B II (Chronicles of London) p. 76

“bicause that he [Beaufort] wolde not come in the city of London, for evil wille that he hadde therto, the counsel was holden at Seint Albones after Christmas but there wolde not the duke of Gloucestre come.”          A Chronicle of London, Julius B I, p.167

“Ande the xxj day of Feverer be ganne the counsel at Synt Albonys, but there hyt was enjornyd unto Northehampton.      Gregory’s Chronicle, pp. 159–160

Gloucester refused to attend because Henry Beaufort was to be there. He based his refusal on mistrust rather than his dislike of Beaufort. He turned Beaufort’s accusation that he was intent on stirring up civil war into a charge that it was Beaufort, with his army of retainers, who posed the real threat. Gloucester said he would not risk provoking public disorder by  lodging in any town that harboured the Chancellor. He opined that Beaufort was not fit to be Chancellor and should be forced to resign.

Bedford hoped to settle the quarrel before Parliament met on 18 February. He instructed Henry Chichele the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Earl of Stafford, Lord Talbot, Lord Cromwell, and Sir John Cornwall to visit Gloucester and try to reason with him, much as he had sent Sir Ralph Butler on the same errand in 1425 (1).

See Year 1425: The Duke of Gloucester and Henry Beaufort, Confrontation

They were to ‘invite’ Gloucester to attend a council meeting at Northampton on 13 February 1426, where matters to be raised in Parliament would be decided. The delegation was to acknowledge Gloucester’s anger against Beaufort, but they should urge him to come to Northampton and put his accusations against the Chancellor to Bedford and the Council, in the presence of the king. The quarrel could then be settled by ‘justice and reason.’  If he did not come the quarrel would be raised in Parliament and settled there for the good and peace of the country. 

If Gloucester feared he would be blamed for disturbing the peace by defending himself against an attack by Beaufort’s men, they were to assure him that Bedford guaranteed to prevent this from happening.  The Chancellor had promised to come to Northampton with only a small retinue as befitted his status, provided Gloucester undertook to do the same.

The councillors were to argue that Gloucester’s demand that Beaufort should not be invited to Northampton could not be met. Even the greatest authority in the land, the king himself, was required to hear arguments from both sides impartially and not deny one side or the other the right of appeal. Gloucester must surely realise that both participants must be present if their differences were to be settled fairly, as the Duke of Bedford and the Council earnestly wished.

As for requiring Chancellor Beaufort to surrender the Great Seal, Only King Henry could do this, no subject had the right to demand it. Gloucester’s father, Henry IV, had refused just such a demand for the dismissal of his chancellor. Royal official, even minor ones, could not be dismissed out of hand without just cause.

If Gloucester persisted in refusing to come to Northampton he was to be commanded in the king’s name to attend the Parliament at Leicester without fail. The reasons for calling Parliament, his own case among them, would be stated and justice would be meted out to everyone, regardless of rank or status (2). It was a face-saving threat with little substance, Gloucester had not refused to attend Parliament.

It was probably at Northampton after it became clear that the quarrel would have to be aired in Parliament, that the Council drew up an ordinance requiring the lords to swear an oath of loyalty and impartiality (3). 


(1) Harriss, Beaufort, p 150, n.1: “The MS of the meeting is defective and the names of some of the councillors present are not in the Proceedings”: the bishops of Durham, Worcester, St Davids, Exeter, Bath, and Rochester. Alnwick, Keeper of the Privy Seal, the Earl of Northumberland, William Philip, Lord Bardolf and others.

(2) PPC III, pp. 181-187 (instructions to delegation).

(3) PPC III, pp. 174-175 (the oath is dated by Nicolas to late 1425 but it was probably formulated much earlier).


The Duke of Bedford and Pope Martin 

As Regent of France the Duke of Bedford had established good relations with Pope Martin V.  He had permitted the pope, in consultation with himself, to appoint to benefices in Lancastrian France, hoping to persuade the pope to recognise Henry VI as King of France. He also mendaciously encouraged Martin to believe that as Protector he, Bedford, might extend the same permission in England, although he had no intention of doing so (1, 2). 


            (1) Harriss, Beaufort, pp. 154-155 (Bedford and papacy).

             (2) Harvey, England, and the Papacy, p. 143.


The Bishops

Several bishoprics were vacant in 1426 due to the animosity between the Council and Pope Martin over rights of appointment.

See Year 1424 The Council and the Papacy.

Bedford sorted out the indecision, being careful to inform Pope Martin (1).

John Kemp, Bishop of London

At the first recorded council meeting on 14 January 1426 Bedford persuaded the Council to endorse Kemp as Archbishop of York. Bedford had known Kemp when he was Henry V’s Chancellor of Normandy. Pope Martin provided Kemp to the archbishopric of York in July 1425 at Bedford’s request after it had been vacant for nearly two years.  The temporalities (income) were not restored to Kemp until April (2), and Kemp continued to be referred to as the Bishop of London in the Proceedings until then.

Philip Morgan, Bishop of Worcester, was the Council’s choice to become Archbishop of York. He was rejected by the pope. Bedford appointed him as Bishop of Ely.

Thomas Polton was recalled from Rome, to become Bishop of Worcester and Bedford’s confessor, John Rickingdale, replaced Polton as Bishop of Chichester.

William Grey the Dean of York replaced Kemp as Bishop of London, and William Alnwick, Keeper of the Privy Seal,  became  Bishop of Norwich.

Pope Martin had provided John Clitherowe [Clederowe] to become Bishop of Bangor, and John Wells to the bishopric of Llandaff in 1423. The Council had withheld the temporalities because they were papal provisions and Bedford restored them (3, 4).  

NB: The entry in the Proceedings dated 21 October 1426 (pp. 210–211) re Richard Fleming is misdated, it belongs in 1424.


(1) PPC III, pp. 180-181 (Bedford and nominations to bishoprics).

(2) PPC III, p. 192 (Kemp, temporalities restored April).

(3) Papal Letters VII, p. 256 (Clitherowe, papal provision).

(4) CPR 1422-1429, pp.  330 and 318 (Clitherowe and Welles temporalities restored).


Prospero Colonna

Pope Martin had provided his nephew, Prospero Colonna, to the archdeaconry of Canterbury when William Chichele, the nephew of Henry Chichele Archbishop of Canterbury died in 1424, but it was not until Bedford intervened in April 1426 that the Council granted permission for Colonna to hold benefices in England by papal provision up to a value of 500 marks (1, 2).

Archbishop Chichele opposed the grant: ‘The disadvantage of allowing the archdeaconry to be held by a foreigner was that it brought patronage of seven vicarages and one chantry, thus allowing Colonna (or his proctor) to make appointments in England’ (3), but Henry Beaufort supported Bedford in council and the pope wrote to Beaufort thanking him for favouring Colonna’s appointment (4).


(1) Foedera X, p. 354 (Colonna, permit to hold benefices).

(2) PPC III p. 190 (Colonna, permit to hold benefices).

(3) Harvey, England and the Papacy, p. 96 (Chichele’s opposition).

(4) Papal Letters VII, p. 26 (Pope’s letter to Beaufort).


Parliament of Bats

Parliament met at Leicester on 18 February.  It was prorogued on 20 March for Easter and the Feast of the Garter and resumed for its second session on 29 April. It sat until 1 June 1426.

The chronicles confuse the date, possibly because it was not held in London. Benet’s Chronicle (p. 180) and Julius B I (p. 167) are the most accurate: Quadragesima, the beginning of Lent [17 February].  Brut Continuation D and Brut Continuation H assign it to year five instead of year four of the king’s reign;  Brut D (p. 433) “after the feast of St Hilary,” [13 January] may be a reference the writs of summons of 7 January (1). Gregory’s Chronicle (p. 160) and The Great Chronicle (p. 138), deriving from the same source, misdate it to 25 March.

Bedford chose Leicester for a number as a venue for a number of reasons, symbolic and practical. Leicester castle was a Lancastrian stronghold and its Great Hall was commodious enough to accommodate parliamentary sessions. He and the Duke of Gloucester had received their dukedoms from Henry V at the Leicester parliament of 1414. Leicester was far less volatile than London, but even here Bedford took care to pre-empt possible trouble. With tempers running high he forbade anyone to carry weapons. The lords’ retainers resorted to arming themselves with wooden clubs, which were not technically weapons, hence its name, the Parliament of Bats. When these were prohibited they secreted large stones in their sleeves and their pockets.

“And the xxv day of Marche nexte aftyr be-ganne the Parlyment at Layceter, and that induryd unto the fyrste day of June, and every man was warnyd and i-cryde thoroughe the towne that they shulde leve hyr wepyn yn hyr ynnys, that ys to saye, hyr swerdys and bokelers, bowys and arowys. And thenne the pepylle toke grete battys in hyr neckys and so they wentte. The nexte day they were chargyde that they shulde leve hyr battys at hyr ynnys, and thenne they toke grete stonys yn hyr bosomys and hyr slyvys, and so they wennte to the Parlyment with hyr lordys. Ande thys Parlyment sum men callyd the Parlyment of Battys.”                                       Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 160 and Great Chronicle, p. 138

Parliament was well attended by lords, the short notice of only six weeks, but even so messengers had to be sent to the Earl of Northumberland, to the Abbot of Bury St Edmunds, to the Prior of St John’s, Clerkenwell, and to the bishops of Bangor and Llandaff reminding them that they were expected to come to Leicester (2).

The Speaker, Sir Richard Vernon, a Duchy of Lancaster official, (3) was not presented until 28 February, ten days after the opening. The commissioning of a panel of arbitrators to settle the quarrel between Gloucester and Henry Beaufort took precedence.

The Commons became impatient and sent Roger Hunt, the experienced lawyer who had put the case for the Duke of Norfolk’s title to Parliament in 1425, to request that the differences between the Duke of Gloucester and the Chancellor might be resolved speedily so that the normal business of Parliament could resume (4).  

On 4 March Bedford informed the Commons that the lords attending Parliament had sworn an oath to remain impartial in any dispute and would offer considered, objective advice to the king and council. They had pledged to keep the peace and to resist anyone who attempted to settle disputes “by wey of feet” i.e. by intimidation or armed conflict. They would judge the quarrel between Gloucester and Beaufort “trewely, justely and indifferently without ony parcialte,” although their deliberations would be kept secret (5). Despite their oath, each man knew what Bedford expected of him.  


(1) CClR 1422-1429, pp. 261-262 (summons to Parliament).

(2) Issues of the Exchequer, pp. 395-396 (king’s messengers sent to deliver writs).

(3) Roskell, Commons and Speakers, pp. 189-190 (Vernon).

(4) PROME X, pp. 286-287 (speaker and oath).

(5) PPC III, pp. 187-189 (the oath and those who swore it; it is much the same as the oath sworn earlier at Northampton).


The Duke of Gloucester and Henry Beaufort

The stage was set for the conflicts of the summer and autumn of 1425 to be hashed out in Parliament in King Henry’s presence. Gloucester and Beaufort addressed their arguments to the king, with Gloucester accusing and Beaufort defending.  The record of their recriminations rests solely on information from the chronicles, their arguments are not recorded on the parliamentary rolls (1).  

The Duke of Gloucester

Gloucester’s case reads as if he prepared it himself rather than seeking legal counsel. His first complaint was valid. Richard Woodville’s refusal to allow him to enter the Tower of London still rankled. As Protector of England, he had the right to do so at any time he chose, and Beaufort had over-stepped the mark by ordering Woodville to keep him out and then defending Woodville’s action.

Beaufort reminded Gloucester that before he set out for Hainault in 1424, he had agreed that the Tower should be manned and fortified and that the appointment of Woodville was in line with this agreement. While Gloucester was away riots aimed at foreign merchants had caused many of them to flee the City, and bills slandering the Chancellor for protecting them had been posted up on the gates of his residence.  

Woodville had naturally been instructed not to allow any large body of men to enter the Tower. Beaufort implied that it was Gloucester’s responsibility as Protector to keep the City safe, but when he was needed he was not there and that on his return to England Gloucester had exacerbated the unrest by proclaiming that Beaufort and the Council had fortified the Tower because they suspected Londoners of disloyalty to the king. This was an obvious lie. 

Beaufort accused Gloucester of exceeding his authority by ordering the release of Friar Randolf  when the lieutenant of the Tower had direct orders from the Council forbidding it. If Gloucester was prepared to flout the Council’s orders in the matter of prisoners lawfully held in the Tower, what other extraordinary powers might he claim as Protector? 

See Year 1425: Gloucester’s Return.

Gloucester shifted his ground and introduced a new charge to justify his calling out the mayor and citizens of  London:  Beaufort had planned to kidnap King Henry! Gloucester claimed that as Protector he had more right ‘by nature and birth’ than any man to have charge of the king’s person and he had intended to ride to Eltham to rescue the king, but Beaufort had thwarted him by stationing armed men and archers to bar his way out of the City. They had orders to kill him if necessary to stop him reaching Eltham. Naturally he had called on the citizens of London to protect him.

Beaufort protested that he had fortified his house in Southwark for his own safety. He pointed out with truth that any attempt on his part to remove the king from Eltham would be foolhardy: King Henry was in the care of his mother Queen Katherine, and his guardian, the Duke of Exeter, was Beaufort’s brother. No one, not even Gloucester, who claimed to be the child’s natural protector, had the right to remove him against their wishes.

Beaufort alleged that Gloucester meant to follow up his occupation of London by riding to Eltham to take possession of the king, and he had even demanded that the mayor supply him with a mounted guard for the purpose. Beaufort had sent armed men to guard the southern end of London Bridge to prevent Gloucester from getting through.  Both claims were spurious afterthoughts, even Gloucester cannot have believed he could take possession of the king and get away with it.

Gloucester alluded, with doubtful veracity, to events dating back to the days when Henry V had been Prince of Wales  and to a story supposedly told to Gloucester by Henry V himself: Henry had lodgings in the ‘green chamber’ at Westminster where an attempt to assassinate him was foiled by Henry’s spaniel; the dog revealed the presence of a man concealed behind a wall-hanging. The man confessed, not to Henry, but to the Earl of Arundel, that he had been sent on Beaufort’s orders to kill the prince. Arundel had the man tied up in a sack and dropped into the Thames. Arundel had been a close companion of Henry V, but he was conveniently dead by 1426.

Gloucester had been too young to play a part in the political manoeuvring of his father’s reign, but he had been at court, and he remembered the discreditable gossip about the Bishop of Winchester. There was speculation in 1408 that ill health might make Henry IV abdicate in favour of the Prince of Wales. King Henry had fallen seriously ill and for a time the government was in the hands of the prince. When the king recovered there were serious disagreements between them over Prince Henry’s wish to ally England with John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy.

Gloucester claimed that Beaufort had urged Prince Henry to force his father to abdicate. The accusation was plausible, if grossly exaggerated. Beaufort had been a leading light in the prince’s council, and there is no doubt that his sympathies lay with Prince Henry, but whether he, or the prince, ever seriously considered forcing the king to abdicate, as Henry IV had forced Richard II, is another question.  But these charges, if true, were treason, and Gloucester appears to have hoped that at the very least they would be enough to get Beaufort removed as Chancellor.  

Henry Beaufort

Beaufort reported that he had been warned repeatedly from the time Gloucester returned to England that his life was in danger. There had been public demonstrations and threats against him during the previous summer. His friends had urged him not to attend parliament for fear of assassination although as Chancellor it was his duty to be there.

Beaufort denied Gloucester’s accusation of disloyalty more vehemently than any of the other charges. He protested his loyalty and allegiance to all three Lancastrian kings saying that he “nevyr purposyd treson nor untrouthe ayenst only of here persones and in especiall ayenst the persone of our said soverain lord kyng herry the V.”  He pointed out that Henry V would not have employed him in positions of trust if there had been the faintest suggestion of disloyalty. He righteously offered to stand trial before his peers, or in a court of law, to prove his innocence if it was required of him. Of course, it was not.

Beaufort backed off from the accusation in his letter to the Duke of Bedford that Gloucester (a prince of the realm) intended to start a civil war.

See Year 1425: The Duke of Gloucester and Henry Beaufort, Aftermath.

He said his words had been misconstrued; he merely meant to apprise Bedford of the recent unrest and urge him to intervene because Gloucester had not done his duty as Protector to keep the peace “with the devoir and diligence that he might have shewd.” He implied that Gloucester’s actions (or lack of them) had encouraged disaffected Londoners to raise a rebellion against an ordinance passed by the Mayor and Common Council of London, and endorsed by Parliament, to fix the daily wage of artisans (2, 3).    

Beaufort ended his defence by declaring that whatever the provocation he would never disturb the king’s peace or resort to force of arms since he knew Bedford would not tolerate such behaviour, but this, of course, applied as much to Gloucester as it did to Beaufort. 

Beaufort genuinely believed that Gloucester posed a danger to him personally, but did he believe that Gloucester had prepared a coup d’état? Gloucester was willful and headstrong, but he was not stupid; he did not have the means or the support to stand against the Council, the queen, and his two powerful uncles, let alone his brother, as Beaufort surely knew.  It may be doubted if either intended their confrontation to escalate into civil war, but it had been a dangerous exercise in brinkmanship on both sides and there can be no question of the seriousness of their quarrel or of its potential outcome. There was no room in Council for Gloucester and Beaufort.


The Duke of Bedford took the precaution during the Council meeting at St Albans in January of issuing an order in the king’s name to Thomas Langley, Bishop of Durham and ex-Chancellor, to bring King Henry V’s last will with him to parliament. On the same day as Archbishop Chichele delivered the arbitrators’ verdict, Langley produced the will with the codicils and entrusted it to William Alnwick, Keeper of the Privy Seal (4, 5). What use Bedford planned to make of it is not clear, perhaps there were clauses in it that could be cited for or against the disputants to bring them into line, but in the event this proved to be unnecessary.

The arguments and deliberations lasted for five days until on 12 March the nine members of the Council acting as arbitrators reached a decision: Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Beaufort Duke of Exeter, John Mowbray Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Langley Bishop of Durham, Philip Morgan Bishop of Worcester, John Stafford Bishop of Bath and Wells the Treasurer of England, William Alnwick, Keeper of the Privy Seal, Lord Cromwell, and the young Humphrey, Earl of Stafford. Their judgement was read out in full parliament by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the presence of the king and entered on the parliament roll: (4).

All that had been said and done by both parties before 7 March was to be forgiven and forgotten. Neither was to hold a grudge against the other or against anyone who had supported or opposed either of them. Gloucester was to be a ‘good lord’ to Beaufort, his kinsman and uncle, and Beaufort was to promise to perform any lawful and honourable service demanded of him by Gloucester as Protector (5).

Under intense pressure from Bedford, Gloucester and Beaufort agreed to accept a reconciliation, but only on certain terms.  Gloucester’s was simple: Beaufort must be replaced as Chancellor. He also hoped that once the quarrel was settled Bedford would return to France and he could become Protector and take charge of the Council once again.

Beaufort demanded that Bedford and the Lords acknowledge that he had never been disloyal and that their exoneration should be entered on the rolls of Parliament. He was requested to leave the Chamber for a time while the Lords conferred, but their agreement was never in doubt.  

Beaufort, on the word of a priest, swore that he had always been a true subject to Henry IV and Henry V, and as he was now and ever would be, to Henry VI. Bedford then declared him to be the king’s true man. Beaufort apologised to Gloucester saying that he deeply regretted believing the false reports of the duke that had been made to him; he had never intended any threat or prejudice to Gloucester’s honour or position and he trusted that Gloucester would accept his word and be a ‘good lord’ to him in future.

Gloucester, on the word of a prince, accepted Beaufort’s declaration and said he was glad that it was so. Their handshake to settle the matter was undoubtedly perfunctory and made with gritted teeth. Benet’s Chronicle (p. 180) records that they were made to reconcile, but not willingly, while the English Chronicle (p. 59) says “they were accorded with grete instaunce, but neuerϸelesse ϸer wasse prevy wrathe betvene thaym longe tyme after.”


(1) Julius B II pp. 76–88 and The Great Chronicle pp 138-144 (account of the proceedings ). J.B. II is printed in full in modern English in PROME X, Appendix. pp 76-94.

(2) Sharpe, London, Letter Book K, p. 38 (wage fixing. This ordinance is undated).

(3) PROME X, p. 271 (wage fixing).

           (4) PPC III, p. 190 (Henry V’s will).

(5) PROME X, pp. 292-293 (Henry V’s will).

(6) Great Chronicle, pp. 138-149 (list of arbitrators).

(7) PROME X, pp. 287–292 (The judgement but not the arguments).


King Henry knighted, and other knighthoods 

Parliament reassembled for its second session on 29 April 1426 and Bedford introduced a festive note into the proceedings at Leicester by staging an elaborate knighting ceremony. On Whit Sunday 19 May, Bedford knighted the four-year-old king who had sat docilely through the lengthy arguments between Gloucester and Beaufort which he can barely have understood.

Twenty-three men were originally to receive knighthood at the king’s hands, (1) but according to the chronicles more names were added (1). Some of them were under fifteen, the traditional age of knighthood, because King Henry was even younger.  Some of them were in the king’s household; a Council ordinance of 1425 had decreed that heirs of magnates who were minors and the king’s wards should join the royal household.

King Henry was too young to be crowned, so the traditional ceremony at a coronation of creating Knights of the Bath could not take place, and the knighting at Leicester was partly to compensate for this and partly to honour the families of the men who had served Henry V faithfully. Bedford hoped and believed that these boys and young men would one day become the king’s companion in arms. Did Bedford lift the heavy sword, or was a special light weight blade provided for the baby king, who would never wield a sword in anger?

Of the original twenty-three names six do not appear in the chronicles and it may be that, for whatever reason, they were unable to attend:

Thomas Courteney Earl of Devon,  John, Lord Beaumont, Hugh, Lord Camoys, Henry Bourgchier, Henry Grey and Gilbert Debenham. 

Richard, Duke of York, aged fifteen, was the premier peer in England after the two royal dukes. He the first to be knighted.

John Mowbray was only eleven. He was the son of John Mowbray, Earl Marshal of England who had been recognised as Duke of Norfolk by Parliament in 1425.

Thomas Courtenay, Earl of Devon was twelve in 1426.  His father had died in 1422. He is not in the chronicles lists.                      

John de Vere, Earl of Oxford was Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter’s ward.  He was eighteen and although under age, he swore the oath of allegiance with the other lords.

Richard (sic) Earl of Westmorland. An error for Ralph. Ralph Neville, the new earl of Westmorland, was the grandson and namesake of the Earl of Westmorland who died in 1425. He was aged about twenty.

NB: Nicolas’s footnote in the Proceedings p. 94 accepts the name Richard and lists him as one of the sons of Westmorland by his second wife, Joan Beaufort, but this Richard Neville was already a knight. Westmorland’s son by his first wife predeceased him; his grandson inherited the title.

Henry Percy, son of Henry Percy Earl of Northumberland, was about the same age as King Henry.

Thomas, Lord Roos was twenty in 1426. He took the lords’ oath of allegiance. In December he petitioned the Council for an allowance from his lands, still in the king’s hands, to enable him to fight in France. The Council granted him £100 provided he accompanied the Duke of Bedford on his return to France (2).

John, Lord Beaumont, whose father died in 1413, would have been about fifteen in 1426. He was in the care of his mother, Elizabeth, daughter of Lord Willoughby. He is not in the chronicles’ lists.

Lionel, Lord Welles was about twenty. He was the grandson of John, Lord Welles who died in 1421. He had livery of his lands in the following year. 

John Arundel, was Lord Mautravers through inheritance from his great grandmother, Eleanor, baroness Mautravers. He was about eighteen and contracted to marry Sir John Cornwall’s daughter.

William Neville, Lord Fauconberg. The second son of Ralph, Earl of Westmorland and Joan Beaufort. He was about twenty-five.

George Neville, William’s younger brother, later Lord Latimer. George’s year of birth is uncertain, either 1407 or 1414 so he was nineteen or possibly only twelve. They are omitted in The Great Chronicle and Julius B II but included, with their titles, in Harley 565. Cleopatra C IV includes William but not George. 

John Talbot, the son of John, Lord Talbot later Earl of Shrewsbury. He was thirteen.

Hugh, Lord Camoys, was the grandson of Thomas, Lord Camoys who fought at Agincourt and died in 1421. Hugh was a ward of the king and he died on 18 June 1426 when he was about twelve. He is not listed in the chronicles; he may have been too ill to attend the summons of 4 May. In July William Estfeld an alderman of London was paid £7 10s by order of the Treasurer of England for costs he incurred arranging the funeral and burial of Hugh at Clerkenwell (3).

William Sheyne (Cheyne), He became Chief Justice of King’s Bench in 1424 on the death of William Hankford. He was a trier of petitions at the Leicester Parliament. Gregory’s Chronicle mistakenly names the Chief Justice as ‘John.’

William Babington was chief justice of the Court of Common Pleas from 1423 and a trier of petitions at Leicester. He is misnamed as ‘Bekyngton’ in The Great Chronicle and Julius B II.

James Butler, eldest son of the Earl of Ormond, was only five or six.

Henry Bourchier was the son of Sir William Bourchier, Count of Eu, who died in 1420. He was about fourteen and is not in the chronicle lists.

Henry Grey of Codnore in Foedera. He was the younger son of Richard Grey who died in 1418. His elder brother, John Grey of Codnore, was still alive in 1426 when Henry Grey, who was his heir, was about twenty-six. A Lord Grey, probably this John Grey, took the oath of allegiance.

Henry Grey of Tankerville in the chronicles. His father, John, Lord Grey of Heton was created Count of Tankerville by Henry V in 1419 and killed at the battle of Baugé in 1421. Henry’s mother, Joan, Lady of Powis, died in 1425 and the Duke of Bedford was granted custody of the Powis lands. This Henry Grey was six in 1426; he later married Antigone, natural daughter of the Duke of Gloucester.

Robert Vere. Probably the younger brother of John de Vere Earl of Oxford. Gregory’s Chronicle lists the Earl of Oxford and his brother as receiving knighthoods.

The last three names were clients of Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter (6), possibly a reward by Bedford for Exeter’s loyalty and support.

Gilbert Debenham of a Suffolk gentry family, was about twenty-one. He is not in the chronicles lists and there is no evidence that he was ever knighted. He subsequently became a client of the Duke of Norfolk.



“As soon as parliament was dissolved [1 June] the king went to Kenilworth Castle because plague was rife in London and Northampton.”   Benet’s Chronicle, p. 181


(1) Foedera X, pp. 356-357 (original 23 names, 4 May).

(2) PPC III, p. 225-226 (Roos).

(3) Issues of the Exchequer p. 397. (Camoys).

(4) H. Castor, King, Crown and Duchy, p. 74 n. 104. (Exeter’s clients).


The chronicles record nearly forty names: 

Chronicle of London (Harley 565),  pp. 114-115 (38 names, listed).

Brut G, p. 499  (38 names, listed).

Chronicles of London (Cleopatra C IV), pp. 130-131 (the same as Harley 565 but omits of George Neville). (Julius B II) pp. 86-88 (36 names, listed). 

The Great Chronicle, pp. 149-150 (36 names, listed).

Short English Chronicle, p. 59 (34 knighted, not listed).

Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 160 (35 men knighted but only nine listed. The Duke of York, the Earl of Oxford and his brother, the sons of the Duke of Norfolk and the Earl of Ormond, Edmund Hungerford, and the judges, Cheyne, Babington and Juyn).

Brut Continuation H, p. 568 (24 knighted but not listed).

Benet’s Chronicle, p. p 181 (an inflated figure of 60, but no names). 

Brut Continuation D, p. 433 confuses the creation of the knights of the Bath at King Henry VI’s coronation in 1429, with the knights at Leicester in 1426.

 Chronicle Names

James, Lord Berkeley, nephew of Thomas, Lord Berkeley who died in 1417, was not summoned to parliament as Lord Berkeley until 1421, owing to an inheritance dispute, although he was of full age. He attended the Leicester parliament and swore the oath of allegiance with the other lords. He was thirty-two in 1426.

James and John Botiller were probably the sons of the Earl of Ormond.  James Butler or Botiller is in the Foedera list and listed twice in the chronicles. John Butler, his younger brother, is not named in the original summons, but may have been among those summoned later. 

Ralph ‘Radclyff’, listed in Harley 565, Cleopatra C IV and Brut G, in place of Botiller, is probably an error, unless Sir John Radcliff’s (seneschal of Gascony) son, another John, is meant. 

Edmund Hungerford was the younger son of Walter, Lord Hungerford who had just become Treasurer of England.

Richard Woodville, the son of the Richard Woodville who had refused Gloucester entry to the Tower.  He was just twenty-one in 1426.

Reginald Cobham was the son of Sir Reginald Cobham, father of Eleanor, later Duchess of Gloucester. He predeceased his father. The Complete Peerage III, p. 354, claims that the elder Reginald was knighted at Leicester, but this is unlikely.  Sir Reginald, born in 1381, was already a knight, he was forty-five in 1426.

John Passelewe accompanied Sir Richard Stafford to France in August 1426 with his own retinue (1).

Sir John Chidiock, Lord Fitzpayn.  His father died in France in 115. He had livery of his father’s lands in 1423 and held the manor of East Chelborough co. Dorset in chief (2, 3). He was aged twenty-five in 1426

Edmund Trafford of Derbyshire was named to the commission of the peace in 1425 as an esquire and again in 1427 as a knight (4).

William ap Thomas of Raglan had fought as Agincourt; he became known as the ‘Blue Knight of Gwent.’ He was the father of Sir William Herbert, later earl of Pembroke.  

Ralph Grey of Wark was the son of the Northumbrian knight Sir Thomas Grey of Heton who was involved in the Southampton plot of 1415. Quite why Ralph should have seen selected for knighthood (except that he was wealthy) is not recorded. He went on to serve in France, becoming captain of Mantes (5)                              

Richard Grey. To which branch of the extensive Grey families Richard  belonged remains uncertain.

Raoul [Ralph] Longford of Derbyshire was the youngest of the six sons of Sir Nicholas Longford who died in 1401, the kings’ clients in the Duchy of Lancaster.

John Juyn, a lawyer. Chief Baron of the Exchequer and Justice of the Court of Common Pleas. He was a trier of petitions in the Leicester Parliament. His birth date and therefore his age is unknown.

Thomas Tunstall misnamed as ‘Bunstall’ in the chronicles. The son of Sir Thomas Tunstall of Thurland Lancashire who fought at Agincourt.

Robert Wingfield, misnamed as ‘Walter.’ Robert was about twenty-six.  The Wingfields held lands in Suffolk and were clients of the Dukes of Norfolk.

‘Gilbert’ (or ‘Robert’) Beauchamp, may be the Beauchamp listed without a first name as doing good service in the war in Gascony, although his name was probably John.


(1) CPR 1422-29, p. 362. (Passelewe).

(2) CPR 1422-29, p. 290. (Chidiock).

(3) Complete Peerage V, pp 459-460 (Chidiock).

(4) CPR 1422-29, pp. 467 and 561. (Trafford).

(5) Bell & Curry, The Soldier, p. 237 (Ralph Grey).



The Duke of Bedford was prepared for opposition from the Commons to granting further taxation. Nicholas Dixon one of the Barons of the Exchequer brought the account rolls and receipts at the Exchequer to Leicester in case they were needed to convince the Commons of the necessity of a tax grant. Dixon was paid £10 for 15 days ‘going, tarrying and returning,’ but if he presented the figures they are not on the parliamentary roll (1).

The Commons extended the wool subsidy and tonnage and poundage on alien merchants to November 1431 but refused to extend tonnage and poundage on English merchants for more than one year, to November 1427.  They claimed that the terms on which they made their original grant in 1425, that foreign merchants should be ‘hosted,’ had not been met. The subsidy was granted on 1 June, the day parliament was dissolved (2, 3).  

“Parliament was prorogued until after Easter, in which session the Commons made a grant of tunnage and poundage for two years.”   Benet’s Chronicle, p. 180

“And att þat parlement were made many statutes and ordynaunces, and many newe officers.”         Brut Continuation H, p. 568 (misdated to Anno V)

In fact, only five new statutes were passed (4), but numerous petitions were dealt with, and the chronicler may be referring to the changes in the principal officers of state after Henry Beaufort’s resignation as chancellor. 


(1) Issues of the Exchequer, p. 395 (Exchequer rolls).

(2) PROME X, pp. 298–299 (taxation).

(3) Roskell, Commons and Speakers, p. 191 (taxation).

(4) PROME X, pp. 307-311 (five statutes).


The Hanseatic League

In 1426 representatives of the German merchants of the Hanseatic League resident in London complained that they were denied justice or a fair hearing from the mayors and sheriffs of London who refused to acknowledge the privileges laid down in their charters. They had the right to have an alderman of London appointed as judge in a special court to hear their complaints and claims for debt recovery, and to have their difficulties settled in a timely manner but there had been no such judge appointed for over seven years. (1).

See Year 1423 The Hanseatic League

They petitioned Parliament to appoint an alderman as judge and to ensure that if for any reason he left office another aldermen would replace him.

Parliament appointed William Crowmer, alderman of Candlewick Ward, who had been Mayor of London in 1423-24 and had acted as an arbitrator in property disputes before the                                               mayor’s court (2, 3).


(1) Foedera X, p 351 (Hanse complaint).

(2) PROME X, p. 301 (Hanse petition and Crowmer appointed).

(3) CPR 1422-1427, p. 346 (Crowmer appointed).


The Duke of Bedford and ‘Cardinal’ Beaufort

Henry Beaufort resigned as Chancellor on 13 March 1426 at Bedford’s behest. On the following day he petitioned for permission to go on pilgrimage. His petition was endorsed by Bedford and by Gloucester who resumed his place as chief councillor (1, 2).

Bedford had resorted to bribery to persuade Beaufort to resign. He knew that Beaufort  coveted the cardinal’s hat denied to him by Henry V. Henry  had dismissed Beaufort as  Chancellor in 1417 for accepting the pope’s nomination of him as a cardinal without seeking the king’s consent. Bedford had no such scruples. Taking advantage of his good relations with Pope Martin he prepared for the intended outcome of the contest in Parliament well in advance.

Only eight days after Beaufort resigned as chancellor Pope Martin created him cardinal priest of St Eusebius and legate a latere with papal authorisation to remain Bishop of Winchester, and therefore to retain his wealth (3).

Papal legates were not popular in England and Bedford was mindful of past difficulties. Pope Martin’s appointment of Beaufort was as legate a latere outside England for the kingdoms of Bohemia, Germany, and Hungary (4). By redirecting Beaufort’s interest and ambitions to European and papal politics Bedford hoped that Gloucester would perform his role as Protector more sensibly in Beaufort’s absence.


(1) Foedera X, p 358 (Beaufort to go on pilgrimage).

(2) PPC III, pp. 195-196 (pilgrimage).

(3) Papal Letters VII, pp. 30-31 (Papal appointment cardinal).

(4) Harriss, Beaufort, p. 152 (Papal appointment legate at latere).


The Duke of Bedford and the Council

A New Chancellor and Treasurer

On 14 March, the day after Henry Beaufort’s resignation as Chancellor, the Duke of Bedford carried the white leather bag countersealed by Beaufort containing Henry VI’s the Great Silver Seal, into the Great Hall at Leicester Castle. The Council and John Frank, keeper of the Rolls of Chancery, witnessed the breaking of the bishop’s seal and the use of the seal to authenticate certain outstanding letters patent and writs. The Great Silver Seal was then replaced in its leather bag and entrusted for safe keeping to the Dominican Friary in Leicester (1).  

King Henry had to be present for the creation of a new chancellor and the ceremony took place two days later in Leicester Abbey. Bedford brought the Great Silver Seal into the abbey and surrendered it to King Henry.

John Kemp, Archbishop-elect of York, but still referred to as the Bishop of London, swore the chancellor’s oath, and King Henry put the seal into Kemp’s hands. Kemp retained possession of it (2).

The Treasurer brought the Great Seal of Gold into Parliament at Leicester on 18 March and delivered it to Bedford. Bedford removed it from its leather bag and held it up for the assembled lords to see before replacing it and sealing the bag with his seal. He gave it into John Kemp’s keeping. England had a new Chancellor (3). 

John Stafford resigned as Treasurer of England. He had performed the thankless task of managing an almost empty treasury patiently and well. He had become Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1425, and by his own admission he was happy to return to his neglected diocesan duties, but he remained a member of the Council.

Walter Hungerford,  steward of the royal household and an executor of Henry V’s will, was summoned to the Leicester parliament as Lord Hungerford. He replaced Stafford as Treasurer of England (4). 

Bedford had filled two of the two great offices of state with men he knew and trusted. Kemp had been King Henry V’s chancellor of Normandy; he had surrendered the seal of Normandy to Bedford in Rouen in 1422. Pope Martin provided Kemp, to the archbishopric of York at Bedford’s request and Bedford had persuaded the Minority Council to endorse him.

Bedford knew Hungerford even better than he knew Kemp. Hungerford had joined Henry of Bolingbroke in his bid to become King Henry IV in 1399. He was Speaker in Henry V’s first Parliament in 1414. He fought at Agincourt and for the remainder of Henry V’s reign he served in military and diplomatic postings in France. He had spent six months with Bedford in Rouen before Bedford’s return to England (5).

On 1 June, the day Parliament was dissolved, Thomas Langley, Bishop of Durham and former Chancellor, requested to be excused from Council meetings on account of his advanced age, his numerous infirmities and his episcopal duties, which like Stafford, he claimed to have neglected (6).  Either Bedford did not accept his resignation, or he was persuaded to attend council meetings from time to time. His signature T. DUNELM’ occurs in the Proceedings for several years after 1426. 


(1) Foedera X, p. 353 (delivery of the silver seal).

(2) PPC VI, pp 347-349 (delivery of the silver seal).

(3) PROME X, p 272 (surrender of the gold seal).

(4) CPR 1422-1429, p. 330 (Hungerford treasurer).

(5) Roskell, Parliament and Politics II, pp. 95-135 (Hungerford).

(6) PPC III, p 197-98 (Langley resigned).


Council Wages

John Kemp was awarded £200 annually from the day of his appointment as Chancellor.  Lord Hungerford was to receive 200 marks annually from 16 March, the day he became Treasurer (1).

On 10 May the Council authorized Treasurer Hungerford to pay the Duke of Bedford £125 12s 4½d as the arrears of wages due to him as Custodian of the Realm for Henry V, from 10 June 1420 to 12 May 1421 28). And on 27 May the Council agreed that Bedford should be paid 8,000 marks a year during his time in England, the same salary as the Duke of Gloucester had received. (3).

In July Twas granted an annuity of 300 marks as a member of the Council, back dated to 1422, the same as his brother, Henry Beaufort, had received (4).  Bedford replaced Exeter as Admiral of England, Gascony and Ireland. This is not necessarily a mark of disfavour. Exeter was not a well man, he no longer had the strength to put to sea or command a fleet as he had when he was young, and he would be dead by the end of 1426. It made sense for Bedford to become Admiral on conciliar authority before returning to France to continue the war (5).

In October the Council awarded the Duke of Gloucester 3,000 marks in recognition of his close kinship with King Henry, for his attendance at Council as the king’s chief councillor, and for the (unexplained) expenses he had sustained during the Duke of Bedford’s stay in England. A special order in King Henry’s name was sent to the Exchequer to make the payment (6). 

In December Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, an original council member, was awarded 200 marks yearly back dated to 1422. Humphrey, Earl of Stafford (newly appointed) and John Holand Earl of Huntingdon (recently returned from France) were to receive 200 marks yearly from 20 March 1426, the day their appointment as members of the Council was confirmed (7).


(1) PPC III, p. 212 (Kemp, Hungerford).

(2) Foedera X, p 357 and 359 (arrears paid to Bedford).

(3) PPC III, p. 196 (salary paid to Bedford).

(4) Foedera X, p. 360 (payment to Exeter).

(5) PPC III, pp. 205-207 (Bedford Admiral of England).

(6) PPC III, p. 210 (Gloucester) and pp. 227-228 (wrongly dated by Nicolas to 12 December).

(7) PPC III, p. 222 (payments to Northumberland, Stafford, Huntingdon).


 Conciliar Authority

The Council was taking no chances on the probable reaction of the Duke of Gloucester once Bedford returned to France and Gloucester became Protector once again.  In anticipation of Bedford’s intention to leave England early in 1427, the Council held a special meeting at Reading on 24 November 1426. The obligations of Council membership, and of the Protector (whether Bedford or Gloucester) were spelled out in detail, and twenty-nine articles reiterated and extended the guidelines for conciliar authority first set out in 1424 (1).

 See Year 1424: The Minority Council

Nicolas printed two lists in the Proceedings of members who attending the council at Reading in November 1426, an amalgam of MSS. Titus E V headed Anno quinto Henrici vj, and the last section of Cleopatra F IV.  The lists vary slightly, the first has nineteen names, the second twenty-two names (2).  Both lists may have been compiled at a later date from a standard list of council members and tacked onto copies of the council minutes for 24 November. Harriss’s suggestion that the second list, Cleopatra F IV, belongs to a council meeting in January 1427, is plausible (3).

Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter is in the first list but it is unlikely that he attended the November council. He died a month later.

The Earl of Northumberland, an original council member, is only in the second list. William Alnwick too is in the second list only, but he would have attended as Keeper of the Privy Seal. 

Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick is in the first list, but he was in France.

Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, an original council member, is only in the second list. So too is William Alnwick, but he would have attended as Keeper of the Privy Seal. 

Thomas Montague, Earl of Salisbury’s name appears in both lists but like Warwick he was in France. He did not become a member of the council until July 1427. 

The surprise inclusion in both lists is Henry Beaufort. He had not attended meetings after his resignation as Chancellor, but it is possible that he came to Reading to hear what changes might be made to conciliar rule once Bedford returned France. A slight corroboration for Beaufort’s presence occurs in Benet’s Chronicle, although the dates do not fit, and there is no other source for a meeting, much less a reconciliation, between Gloucester and Beaufort at Reading. The chronicler may have conflated it with the reconciliation in March:

“And about All Saints Day [1 November] the king held a council at Reading, where Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and Henry, Bishop of Winchester, were reconciled.”  Benet’s Chronicle, p.  181    


(1) PPC III, pp. 214-221 (29 articles, council regulations).

(2) PPC III, pp. 213 and 221 (lists of members).

(3)  Harriss, Beaufort, p. 157.


Burgundian Trade Mission

 Hugh de Lannoy, Duke Philip of Burgundy’s ambassador, and four other Burgundian councillors visited the Duke of Bedford in England in 1426. They were accompanied   by  six envoys from the semi-independent Four Members of Flanders: the towns of Ghent, Bruges, the castellany (or Franc) of Bruges, and Ypres. Orders to treat the   Flemings with respect and facilitate their journey were issued to all royal officers (1).

 The Burgundians received £200 for their expenses. Robert Rolleston, Keeper of the Great Wardrobe was instructed to present them, and the Flemings, with twelve yards of scarlet cloth as a gift from the king (2).  (To demonstrate the superior quality of English cloth?)

The Duke of Bedford wished to establish better trading relations with the Four Members. The weaving towns of Flanders were an important market for English wool, but the cloth they produced from that wool meant that English and Flemish merchants became rivals in the woollen cloth trade and Flemings resident in London were resented, reviled and occasionally attacked. They were seen as ‘aliens’ but the Council claimed them as the king’s subjects because Henry was King of France.  

In July proclamations in the king’s name he sheriffs of Devon (Fowey in Devonshire was a favourite haven for English pirates) Cornwall, Newcastle on Tyne, York, London, Sussex, Southampton, Somerset and Dorset, Lincoln, Norfolk, Suffolk, Bristol, and the Constable of Dover Castle and their officials to protect the Flemings, to welcome them in English ports, and to permit them to travel safely by land and sea.

The sheriffs of London, the Cinque Ports and certain counties were ordered to prevent attacks on, or interference with, Flemish merchants going about their lawful business. Flemings were to be treated as King Henry’s subjects since he was King of France, and they were entitled to claim redress under the law for any injuries done to them (3).

On 27 July, the council decreed that the king’s subjects, his friends, and his allies, travelling with safe conducts were under his protection. They could lay a complaint of molestation or seizure of their person, their goods or their ships before the Chancellor who had the power to arrest and prosecute anyone so charged (4).

On the same day, 27 July, perhaps to demonstrate the Council’s determination to implement their edict,  Marcellus Daudelyon, Abbot of the Benedictine Abbey of St Augustine in Canterbury, was judged guilty of receiving a cargo of wine from a captured ship belonging to Burgundian merchants of Abbeville, Bruges and Boulogne. The abbot was fined seven nobles for each of the thirty-nine casks of wine found in his possession, six nobles for each of thirty-seven casks which had been destroyed, and sixty nobles in damages. Bedford and five other members of the council passed this judgement (5).


(1) Foedera X, p. 352-353  (Duas literas patentes de commandatione pro certis servitoribus familiaribus & officiariis Ducie Burgundiae coming to the king and the Duke of Bedford on certain matters).

(2) PPC III, p. 200 (gifts).

(3) Foedera X, pp 360 and 361-363, 367 (protection for Flemings).

(4) PPC III, p. 208 (protection for king’s subjects).

(5) PPC III, p 208 (fine for wine piracy).


Jacqueline of Hainault

Although his visit was primarily a trade mission, Hugh de Lannoy requested an assurance that while the Duke of Burgundy was at war with her, Jacqueline of Hainault would not receive help from England. After the defeat of the army sent by the Duke of Gloucester to aid his estranged wife, the beleaguered countess had received no further assistance from England. 

See Year 1425: The Duke of Gloucester and Jacqueline

Throughout 1426, with the support of her loyal adherents, Jacqueline had courageously resisted all the Duke of Burgundy’s efforts to defeat and capture her. The Duke of Bedford had no sympathy for Jacqueline, but public opinion was on her side, and he did not want to alienate Burgundy by any show of support for her cause.

He sent an embassy to Burgundy for the express purpose of resolving the impasse between Jacqueline (and by implication the Duke of Gloucester) and Duke Philip.  Sir William Oldhall, Richard Woodville, Master John Estcourt, and Nicholas Harton (or Harley) left London at the beginning of August and were away for over two months (1, 2).  They returned to England empty handed. Acquiring Jacqueline’s patrimony by fair means or foul was far too important to the Duke of Burgundy for him to take any notice of a low-ranking embassy from England.

A belated letter from the Council in February 1427 acknowledged Burgundy’s letters delivered by Hugh de Lannoy and excused the delay in replying. Extensive lacunae in the text obscure the letter’s purpose, but it was addressed to Burgundy as Count of Flanders, so it presumably referred to the trade discussions rather than to Oldhall and Woodville’s embassy (3).

In February 1427 they petitioned the Council for payment of their expenses. Oldhall and Woodville had been granted £50 for expenses, Estcourt and Harton 50 marks.  The Council allocated an additional £20 to Woodville as the Duke of Bedford’s chamberlain, for him to cross to Calais and prepare for Bedford’s return to France (4).


(1) PPC III, pp. 201-202 and 244 (ambassadors to Burgundy).

(2) Roskell, Parliament and Politics II, p 182 (Oldhall embassy).

(3) PPC III, pp. 252 (letter to Burgundy in Henry VI’s name).

(4) PPC III, pp. 244 and 245 (petition for payment and Woodville).


The Duke of Brittany

One of the Duke of Bedford’s first acts in January 1426, within a week of assuming his powers as Protector of England, was to instruct Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter, the Admiral of England, and the sheriffs in every shire to proclaim publicly that England was at war with the Duke of Brittany (1, 2).

Duke John of Brittany had been an ally of England since 1423 when he reluctantly signed the Treaty of Amiens, a triple alliance with the Duke of Bedford and the Duke of Burgundy against the Dauphin Charles.

See Year 1423: The Treaty of Amiens

Duke John’s brother, Arthur de Richemont. captured at the Battle of Agincourt, was released on parole by King Henry V in 1420 after giving an undertaking that he would do all he could to keep his vacillating brother loyal to the English.

Richemont kept his word until March 1425 when he broke his oath and changed sides. He was ambitious for military glory, and he could not resist the offer from the Dauphin to make him Constable of France if he returned to his allegiance. As Constable Richemont would command all the military resources at the Dauphin’s disposal. In October 1425, the belligerent Richemont bullied the Duke of Brittany into renouncing his English alliance and pledging fealty to the Dauphin (3).


(1) PPC III, p.181 (England declares war on Brittany).

(2) Foedera X, p. 349 (England declares war on Brittany).

(3) Beaucourt, Charles VII, vol II, pp 113-114 (Brittany and Charles VII).


St James de Beuvron

The Duke of Bedford ordered William de la Pole Earl of Suffolk, in command of Lower Normandy to open hostilities. Sir Thomas Rempston, Sir Philip Branche, and Sir Nicholas Burdet established their headquarters at St James de Beuvron a fortress town on the Norman/Breton border.

They raided into Brittany penetrating as far as Rennes and returned to St James de Beuvron loaded down with booty: cattle, prisoners, and other valuable goods. The Duke of Brittany did nothing to stop them, but Arthur de Richemont was furious. He assembled an army and marched on St James de Beuvron.

“Also this same fourthe yere and of oure lord M1CCCCxxv Arthour Erle of Rychemonde And Richard his brother And the Baron of Colombe with grete multitude of Britons layen atte siege of seint Jakes de Beveron to the somme of xx M1 bretons which yaven a sawte to the toune and were beten and myghtyly put of and rebuked and slayne of hem CCCC.

And in the toune were Cheveteyns Sir Thomas Ramston sir Philip Braunche sir Nicholl Burdet and sir Richard Stafford and with hem ixc persones englyssh and normandes And the nyght folowyng faste by the toune in two myles were iijc bretons logged and the knyghtes with a certeyne meyne wenten oute and brenten the mylles and slowe of the britons betwene iij and iiij score. 

And afterward Arthour and his meyne maden a nother saute and there loste vij score and j standardes and getouns and viijxx men of cote armes and legharneys And Arthour was sore hurte in the thygh nygh the body and so they wtdrowen hem homeward to Brytayne. 

And Thomas of Burgh with peple of the garyson folowed after hem and slowe of xxvc  And the Bryton lefte by hynde hem here gonnes and here wyne the somme of vjc pipes of wyne and floure brede fygges reysons grete plente of egges and butter wt moche fyssh and so fledden with myschief.  [Inserted in MS]  levyng behynd them all ther tentes & other stuffe.”

                                    The Great Chronicle p. 149

Richemont battered the walls of St James de Beuvron with his artillery for over a week before launching a frontal assault. Part of his army, sent to besiege a gate at the back of the town, attempted to gain access by crossing a narrow causeway over a large fish pond to one side of the gate. Sir Nicholas Burdet with 60 to 80 men lay in wait until the Bretons crossed over and climbed down into the ditch outside the walls. They then burst out from their concealed positions shouting their war cries of “Salisbury” and “Suffolk” so loudly that the Bretons, believing them to be in great numbers, turned tail and fled. Some were killed, others drowned in the pond or were taken prisoner.

Richemont’s second assault sustained heavy losses, about 300 men. One of his standards and a number of battle flags were captured and Richemont was injured in the thigh. Typically, Richemont had overestimated his own abilities and underestimated the strength of the English because St James de Beuvron was in bad repair and had not previously been fortified.

Richemont called off his attack, held a council of war, and decided to raise the siege. What was left of the Breton army slipped away under cover of darkness, abandoning their artillery and all their provisions. They were chased by Sir Thomas Burgh and the English garrison who slaughtered 2,500 of them.

On the following morning Rempston had everything they left behind brought inside the walls of St James de Beuvron (6).

Two days after Richemont’s retreat the Earl of Suffolk brought up reinforcements and John of Brittany saw the error of his ways. He sued to Suffolk for a three months’ truce.

See Year 1427: The Duke of Brittany for the treaty.

The numbers involved in the fighting vary in the chronicles: Chartier says Rempston, Branche, and Burdet had an army of 900 English and Norman soldiers, Wavrin says 1200 (1, 2). Monstrelet puts the figure at 700 to 800 killed and 50 taken prisoner. Richemont had the larger army, although Chartier’s estimate of 20,000 men is an obvious exaggeration (3).

Wavrin and Monstrelet do not confirm that Richemont was wounded or that the garrison pursued the Bretons who withdrew after nightfall. Chartier excused the rout because most of Richemont’s troops were Bretons unseasoned in war; they fled, forcing Richemont to retreat plus graciousement qui il peult’ – as best he could.  The list of abandoned stores offers an interesting insight into the provisions thought necessary for an army in the field: 600 pipes of wine, flour, bread, figs, raisons, eggs, butter, and fish (herrings in Gregory’ Chronicle).

The account in Chronicle of London (Julius B I p. 167) is identical with that of The Great Chronicle may be based in part Chartier: Richemont had an army of 20,000 men. His first assault was beaten back with the loss of 400 men. Three hundred Bretons positioned near two water mills outside the town were surprised by the English who attacked and killed between 60 and 120 of them.

Gregory’s Chronicle (p. 161) gives 6 March as the date of Richemont’s attack. It derives from the same source as The Great Chronicle but is shorter and slightly muddled. The chronicler failed to copy part of the original: “And he [they] toke alle hyr ordynanuns. . . . ” Read literally this would refer to Richemont, but is obviously meant to refer to the English, none of whom are named.

Chartier confirms the presence of Jean de la Haye, Baron de Coulonces in Richemont’s ranks, but not Richemont’s brother, Richard, Count of Ètampes (4).

Nicholas Burdet had been knighted by Bedford  after the Battle of Verneuil but he was captured at the siege of Mont St Michel and was still a prisoner in June 1425. The date of Burdet’s release (or escape) is not recorded but presumably he joined Suffolk at St James de Beuvron as soon as he was free (5).

The introduction of Sir Thomas Burgh into The Great Chronicle’s account may be due to a confusion by the English chroniclers between the siege of Mont Saint Michel, a mere ten miles to the north, and the siege of St James de Beuvron. The siege at Mont Saint Michel was better known because the English failed to take it. Thomas Burgh was Captain of Avranches and he took part in the siege of Mont St Michel conducted by Nicholas Burdet (6).

 Sir Richard Stafford, named in  The Great Chronicle, did not muster to cross to France until August (7).


(1) Chartier I, pp. 49-50.

(2) Wavrin III, pp. 147-149 (dates St James de Beuvron to the same time as the siege of Pontorson in 1427).

(3) Monstrelet I, p. 540.

(4) Chronique de Mont- Saint-Michel  I. ed. S. Luce, p. 242 (payment to de la Haye by Richemont).

(5) Chronique de Mont- Saint-Michell I, pp. 148-149 (Burdet to lay siege to Mont-Saint-Michel) ; p. 199 (Burdet captured). Numerous references to Burdet, pp. 148-205.

(6) Chronique de Mont- Saint-Michel  I. p. 149 (Thomas Burgh at siege of Mont-Saint-Michel.)

(7) CPR 1422-1429 p. 362 (Richard Stafford mustered at Dover in July).


 The Count of Penthièvre

Olivier de Blois, Count of Penthièvre and John, Duke of Brittany were sworn enemies. The Counts of Penthièvre had been the most powerful barons in Brittany in the fourteenth century and rival claimants to the dukedom.

 In 1420, relying on support promised by the Dauphin Charles who authorized the kidnap, Olivier ambushed Duke John and demanded the Duchy of Brittany as the price of his release.

Jeanne de Valois, Duchess of Brittany, Queen Katherine’s sister, and a far more capable ruler than her husband galvanised the Breton nobles into action. They rallied to their duke and raised an army to rescue him. The Estates of Brittany declared that all the de Penthièvre lands within the duchy were forfeit and Duke John appealed to King Henry V for assistance. Faced by overwhelming odds, Olivier was forced to release Duke John after holding him for nearly five months. Not surprisingly Olivier was condemned to death as a traitor; he and his brother fled into exile (1, 2).

The Penthièvres were proscribed as enemies of England until the news of Richemont’s attack on St James de Beuvron was known. Olivier and his brother (another John!) seized their opportunity. Duke John’s volte face had made the Penthièvres potential allies, and the Duke of Bedford would surely be prepared to exploit the Penthièvre claim to the Duchy of Brittany. Olivier petitioned the Minority Council for safe passage for himself, his brother, and sixty retainers to travel to England via Bordeaux.

Unfortunately for them, their request coincided with Richemont’s defeat at St James de Beuvron and Duke John’s return to his English alliance. The Penthièvres were not of any immediate use to the Duke of Bedford, but given John of Brittany’s record, they might be in the future and Bedford was prepared to welcome them as such.

Safe conducts for one year were granted to Olivier and John on Bedford’s advice.  Warrants to facilitate their journey were issued to the English Council at Bordeaux, to the Comte de Longueville, Captal of Buch, England’s ally in Gascony, and to the Seneschal of Gascony, or his lieutenant, since Sir John Radcliffe was in England (3).


(1) Sumption, Cursed Kings, pp. 688-689 and 706-707 (Penthièvres).

(2) Jones, Creation of Brittany, pp. 342-344 (Penthièvres).

(3) Foedera X, pp. 354-355 (safe conducts).


The Death of the Duke of Exeter

Thomas Beaufort created Duke of Exeter in 1416 by Henry V, died without issue on 31 December 1426 at the age of forty-nine.  He suffered from ill health towards the end of his life like his eldest brother John, Earl of Somerset, who died in 1410. Exeter’s body was brought from Greenwich to St Paul,s for a requiem mass and he was buried at Bury St Edmunds.

Thomas was the youngest of the three Beaufort half- brothers of Henry IV and a companion in arms to Henry V throughout the latter’s campaigns in France. Henry added a codicil to his will naming Thomas as guardian of Henry VI. Thomas is a shadowy figure compared with his more flamboyant brother Henry, but “to his contemporaries he appeared the model of knighthood, displaying valour, discipline, good lordship, largess, fidelity, and compassion and earning the sobriquet of ‘the good duke’ of Exeter’(1).  

“And in this same yere [1426] deid Sir Thomas Beauford, Duke of Exetur, the kyngis bell vncle, in a place where he lay in the toune of Grenewiche, iiij myle oute of London; and thanne he was brought into London to Seint Poulis, and there he had Dirige and messe; and from thens thei caried hym to Seint Edmondisbury; and there he was worthili enterid and burid in Cristenmesse woke in the yere of oure Lord Ihesu criste M1CCCC xxvj; on whos soule God haue mercy! Amen!        

                                                                                                               Brut Continuation D, p. 433

(1)  Harriss, Beaufort, pp. 161–64.


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