140 Fathers and Sons

In his final years, Henry faced a new challenge – from his ambitious son Henry. Ill and tired, For a while he loses control to the young bucks, the new generation, the men of his son.


140 Fathers and Sons


The coming men 

Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester

Henry BeaufortChief of Prince Hal’s men was Henry Beaufort. the second of four illegitimate children of John of Gauntand Katherine Swynford. He seems to have been marked out for a clerical career from the start, going to Peterhouse, Cambridge and Queen’s College, Oxford. Advancements and positions came quickly, and in 1397 he was chancellor of Oxford University, and by 1398 Bishop of Lincoln. A liaison with Alice Fitzalan, Archbishop Arundel’s niece. In the autumn of 1402 he was appointed to the king’s council, and in 1403, he was appointed chancellor of England for two years. By 1404 he had progressed to the richest see in Europe – Winchester.

When in January 1410, Henry, prince of Wales, displaced Arundel as head of the council, Bishop Beaufort and his brother Thomas headed the administration. Thomas became chancellor while Bishop Henry opened parliament. For the two years of the prince’s administration, until November 1411, Beaufort followed a policy of fiscal solvency and friendship with Burgundy.

In March 1410 his elder brother John died, leaving his widow, Margaret, with three young children. Thomas of Lancaster  the king’s second son then managed to marry the widow, therefore enjoying the lands that formed the greater part of the young Beauforts’ inheritance. Bishop Henry tried to impede the marriage, and refused to surrender to Thomas his brother’s treasure for a while but in the end was forced to give way.

In November 1411 Henry IVth asserted himself one last time, and Beaufort was out on his ear. But after his death in 1413, Beauforth was back, made Chancellor and he was back in power. Beaufort would remain as the leading political figure unmtil his death in 1447, the most staunch and relentless supporter of the Lancastrian dynasty.

Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (1382-1439)

Richard Beauchamp, Earl of WarwickThe Beauchamp family was almost destroyed by Richard II in 1397–9 and saved only by the accession of Henry IV. His father had died in April 1401, leaving his lands concentrated principally in the west midland counties of Warwickshire and Worcestershire. Over the years, he rebuilt the fortunes of the family, participating in the battle of Shrewsbury in 1403, after which he was made a knight of the Garter. From 1408 to 1410 he travelled abroad, visiting Rome and the Holy Land and returning via eastern Europe and was a renowned jouster. In May 1410 he was named a royal councillor but in November 1411 he suffered the same fate as Beaufort when Henry IVth re-asserted himself.



So, talk me through the father and son rivalry thing–Henry the Prince,Henry the King. Thrusting young buck, looking to show his dadhow muchbetter he is, how much more he knows. Slightly jaded, slightly superiorfather saying‘talk to the hand, whatever….’ This is thebiggeststory thattakes us to the endof Henry’s life–his struggle to hold on to power, andhis relationship with his son.The collapse of Henry Bolingbroke’s healthhadleft a power vacuum. Nowactually, that’s not necessarily a problem. The young Henry III had hisWilliam Marshal to help him through it, naeproblem.But in this situation,there were some tensions hanging around, some family tensions. Thomasof Lancaster, the second eldest son, was returned from Ireland and at hisfather’s bedside. Prince Henry was there to boot. But hewould have tohave been something of a saint not to be thinking about his potentialcoronation,the imminent arrival of power when Dad popped his clogs,would he not.And the next few years would show that that sense ofseparation and split loyaltyso clearly demonstrated in Prince Henry’syouth between Richard and his father.Before we launch into that, it’s worth just covering thestepmotherthing.One suggestion is that Prince Henry did not get on with his stepmother,Joanof Navarre; and it has to besaid that this is a not a surprisingconclusion–becauselater in life,when he was king,Prince Henry ratherbrutally had her accused of witchcraftand imprisoned for 4 years,so thathe could confiscate her income. I think we can agree that this is at veryleast unfriendly.However, there had been absolutely no sign of that before Bolingbroke’s death. In fact, there seems to have been somethingof an informal alliance between Prince and Stepmother over policies suchas the French alliance, which we’ll come toat some point.But look, whoknows? Families are odd things, with hidden shoals and currents, and atdistance with the odd reference and action here and there it’s completelyunknowable. Maybe Prince Henry was always sniping at the stepmother,and poor Joan over compensated–who knows. But I think we just haveto put that one in the unknowable category.Inhis will,however, which he made in 1409, Henry did make it clear thatthe throne was entailed on male descendants only, no women in this clubthank you very much, jacket and tie only–the idea being, possibly, thatat least Thomas of Lancaster would be the first to profit if Prince Henrywas shooting blanks.And there is other evidence that Good Prince Halwas proving a bit difficult, thathe had an agenda, that he was pushing theboundaries, impatient to exercise the control he had been born to takeand had been exercising in Wales.By this stage, Prince Henry had a household in the middle of London, atColdharbour in East Cheap, the manor ofthe BP which King Henry hadgiven to him. It’s at this time that we get the legend of good Prince Halthe good time boy, constantly out on the tiles, giving it large. In fact thereis wafer thin evidence for the idea that Henry was a wild child, only to bereformed when he assumed the throne. What there is, let me give youataste of.First of all, therearereferencesfrom chroniclers which are not veryexplicit and detailed, but reasonably widespread. Here’s one example,from Thomas of Walsingham:Passing the bounds of modesty he was a fervent soldier of Venus as wellas Mars; youth-like he was fired by her torches.Having said that, we have no evidence at all of any bastards, so…Then, there’s a report that he and his brothers spent their time ripping itup in London. The line is in the Chronicle of London,which described anincidentsimply asAn affray in East Cheap between the townsmen and Princes Thomas andJohnIn this one, Henry doesn’t even get a mench. It’s entirely possible that hewastucked up in bed with an improving book. Not entirely likely, butentirely possible.And then finally, there’s the report of what Henry did when he came tothe throne, from the Brut. It’s a long piece, but he’s talking to a group ofpeople, described as3faithful and long servingmen of his household, companions…he’d called them in a for a special meeting, and the 3 menwent alongfull of expectation of a great reward, that their boat had comein, that their careers were made and so on. This is what theyactuallygot:‘Sirs, you are the people I have cherished and maintained in riot and wildgovernance, and here I give you all commandment and charge you thatfrom this day forward you forsake all misgovernance and live accordingto the laws of Almighty God and the laws of our land’The long and short was, here’s a pay off, now naff off and never darkenmy doorsteps again or I’ll set the dogs on you, so help me I will.So look, there’s some evidence. On the one hand, none of it is veryconclusive, and when you get to know Henry over the next few episodeswell, I have to tell you, whatever you think of him, love him or loathe him,he is no flibbertygibbert, no cowboy, no fly-by-night, no lightweight. He’sa serious, serious bloke to whom my very bravest reply, had I been there,would have been ‘yes Sire’, nestled right next to ‘here, let me get that loopaper for you sire’.But on the other hand, this is not the kind of stuff thatgenerally survives from that far back, and the fact that some of it hascould besignificant. So, hang it all, I’m inclined to believe it. There,I’vesaid it. It is an opinionon which you should base absolutely no valuewhatsoever, it falls four square into the shed category, but that’s myopinion and I’m sticking to it.Anyway, where on earth are we after all of that? Henry, familyrelationships.Basically for 18 months, Prince Henry launches and pretty muchimplements a palace coup. That is probably a bad way to describe it-historians are keen to present this as a kindof utterly loyal desire to getinvolved and help out. Which is fine, and I buy that, but it’s close, close tothe line, so close to the line that it’s clearlyan invasion of the poor oldline’s personal bubble, so close to warrant a charge of harassment by anyright thinking line lawyers.It’s probably best if I tell you what actually happened, and then you canmake up your mind for yourselves. So, we’ve talked about ThomasArundel, ABC, and the king’s close friend as well as political heavyweight.He’sChancellor, and as Chancellor dominates the king’s council. Well, on27thJanuary 1410, parliament was opened not by Thomas Arundel but byHenry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester. The Beaufort family are of the royalblood, descendant from John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford, as Ibelieve I have told you more than a few times, so don’t tell me I treat youlike mushrooms. As it ‘appens, it was Thomas Arundel who had passedthe billexcluding the Beauforts from the successionto the throne.Now, the ABC and Henry Beaufort don’t see eye to eye. We’ve discussedArundel, and he’s no pushover spiritualtype, but Henry Beaufort, well he’swithout doubt a prince of the blood first and foremostand man of thecloth a distant, distant second. Excitingly, they, whoeverthey are, thinkthat a portrait by Jan Van Eyck could well be Henry Beaufort. We are


5 thoughts on “140 Fathers and Sons

  1. David: You are more than deserving of a sabbatical! 140 episodes is an extraordinary effort. For many of us, history will hibernate until you get back in the New Year.

  2. No..No. I do not support this decision. There’s no need for a break…I’m not even winded yet. I could listen to another hundred episodes without breaking a sweat.

  3. Have a great break, David. Probably my favourite podcast, so I’ll miss the regular Sunday updates. I’ll have to find something else to listen to while doing the ironing. Top effort to get to 140 episodes without much of a rest. Hope you do something nice in your break.

  4. David,
    I found your podcast in December and have been listening almost daily since that time and this is where I am at current. I will not explain to you how happy I was to find a replacement for the History of Rome (which I finished) and something with a deeper available catalog than the Dan Carlin

  5. Thanks Alex! I am glad you are enjoying them; one of the reasons I started was that I also found some podcasts I really liked, and listened to them when doing things like commuting. There’s a community out there of ironers, commuters, cyclists, runners…!
    Um, great question on Castle designers, and I can’t pretend to know the answer. I think often probably the Master Masons who designed the castle unfortunately just haven’t come down to us; there is one I know about – Edward I’s Master Mason, Jacques de Saint-Georges d’Esp

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