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.
The coming men
Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester
Chief 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)
The 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
4finally getting to the stage where we have masters of the painting artcreating paintings that give you come insight into the sitter, which is veryexciting. I choose, again, to believe.Have a look at the portrait on mywebsite. That’s the face of a player, gentle listener, a complex subtle man,and a player. One of the reasons the ABC doesn’t like him is becauseHenry Beaufort fathered a bastardby his niece, which is agood reason foran ABC to tek agin a man.Anyway, why was it Henry Beaufort opening parliament, rather thanThomas Arundel? It would be because Thomas Arundel is no longerChancellor. Through 1409,Good Prince Hal had built his supporters, andhis supporters felt that Prince Henry should have more of a say and aninfluence on the king’s government, and that Bad king Hal was too ill tobe effective. Good Prince Halhimselfclearly though he should have agreater say in the king’s government. Well, OK, he’sthe heir afterall, butthere are suspicions that it went a good deal further than loyal support;there’s a suspicion that Beaufort suggested to King Henry that he shouldabdicate in favour of his lad.Throughout 1408 and 1409, Prince Henry’s stock was growing; he hadfulsome praise from Parliament over the way he’d handled his Welsh job;he was showered with honours, madeconstable of Dover castle,Wardenof the Cinque Ports, and Captain of Calais. King Henry was ill and lookingpretty terminal, so you’d have to be something of a political dipstick not toget yourself on the Prince’s staff, and so that’s what duly happened.And ithas to be said that Prince Henry inspired trust and loyalty; there’s afamous incident where the Prince hit the Chief Justice in the face as aresult of a charge against one of his followers.The menwho came to the Prince’s sidewere influential and powerful;Richard Beauchamp, the Earl of Warwick; Henry Chichele the Bishop of StDavids; but most of all the Beauforts, Henryand hisbrother Thomas.Throughout 1409, King Henry could have no influence on the council, andwithout him it toreitself apart; the Prince, despite his job in Wales, was aconstant presence at the council meetings, and over time he and hissupporters began to dominatewhere Arundel had once ruled.Back in the family, Henry’s brothers were not at all pleased by thisdevelopment. Thomas of Lancaster had already held office in Ireland;John of Lancaster in the north of England. Prince Henry appears to puthisbrothers in their place, arguing that Thomas, for example, should resignhis post in Ireland now that he’s back home at his father’s bedside, andtherefore give up any idea ofkeeping asalaryfor the job. The futurehistory of the brothers is actuallypretty good; but there’s tension andhigh feeling in 1409.But ‘twas ever thus with brothersof course.King Henry meanwhile was a remote figure, struggling with his own illness,and spending most of his time in private houses away from matters ofstate. In November he went on pilgrimage and on 21stBeaufort declaredofficiallyfor the Prince in council. 2 weeks later, one of the king’s righthand men, a chap called Tiptoft, the Treasurer of England, resigned,feeling his positionto be hopeless as the Prince and his supporters5controlled and dominatedproceedingsof the council. Henry rushed backto London to try to cope with the crisis, but could do nothing; Arundelresigned his post and there was nothing the king coulddoto talk him outof it. Theailingking waited and dithered through December and January,but could not talk his old friend round and in the end was forced to admitdefeat.And soHenry Beaufort’s younger brother, Thomas Beaufort, wasmade Chancellor. Essentially the weakened King had handed power to hisson.Andhence, back towhy the parliament of 1410 wasbeing opened byHenry Beaufort, not Archbishop Arundel; essentially it’s a palace coup.Down the years, you get this feeling of a kind of irritable impatience onbehalf of young thrusting Prince in the face of the older, ill and decayingbut stubborn King. We have a father son thing. The son wants to get onwith it, feels born to rule, and has a vision he wants to start painting, andfrankly doesn’t think Dad is up to it. The king doesn’t want to be pushedaside, ad anyway thinks the son doesn’t know quite as much as he thinkshe does. At one stage we strongly suspect that Prince Henry tried to getthe king to stand aside for the younger generation because, quote‘he could no longerapply himself to the honour and profit of the realm’And so it’s come to this; Henry has fought rebellion, faced accusations ofusurpation, been deprived of the money he needed, been humiliated byparliament–and now his son wants shot of him. No wonderhe preferredthe company of his son Thomasto that ofhis son Henry.Onto this stage burst the French. Because in Francethings were hottingup, and hotting up into 2 factions. In the blue corner, ladies andgentlemen, we have the Duke of Burgundy, Johnthe Fearless, and in theRed corner Charles the Duke of Orleans. In the middle, well and trulycaught between the two mad boxers, was the poor mad and helpless kingCharles, and his much maligned and insulted Queen Isabeau.Let me take you back, just toremind you of what’s going on there,because this will be crucial. We have Charles VIth of France, as mad as abox of cheese and absolute proof that however you might not like anautocratic system of government, and might prefer a anarcho-syndicalismcooperative, if you live in an autocracy you’d better have a competentbloke at the top. As we will see with Henry VIth, when you don’t thewhole system falls to pieces. Because Charles had 4 uncles, and all ofthem argued over the family silver and felt theyshould have it.This chaos developed into a vicious struggle for power between KingCharles’s brother the Duke of Orleans, and the King’s cousin, the Duke ofBurgundy, John the Fearless. During the struggle, the poor old Dauphin,i.e. the heir to the throne, was passed around from faction to faction like atoy in a game of pass the parcel. Then, in 1407 John the Fearless provedhe was badly named. John the pile of poo more likely, as he had the DukeofOrleans assassinated, and really didn’t bother to conceal the fact thathe’d done it. Remorse was not a major part of John the Pile of Poo’s6personal make up–he persuaded theuniversity college, theSorbonne, todeclare that the Duke of Orleans had been a tyrant, and so John had beenjolly well justifiedin having him butchered. Well done John, good lad.Now I know I’ve told you all this before, but now the situation developed.What happened was that the Duke of Orleans’ son looked for help.Unfortunately he’s called Charles just like the King and the Dauphin, whichis really irritating if you are trying to write a podcasts. There are simplytoo many Henry’s and too many Charles. Anyway, from now on we aregoing to go for King Charles as the mad king, the Dauphin as the youngheir to the throne, and Orleans as the young Duke. OK?So, the young 14year oldOrleans quickly realised he needed a strong ally,or he was going to be toast. Enter Bernard VII, Count of Armagnac.Hopefully you’ll all remember the Armagnac family, not just because it’s adrink, butbecause you’ll know the Counts of Armagnac were one of thethree leading families of the South of France and Aquitaine, pretty muchinveterate enemies of the Dukes of Aquitaine, otherwise known as thekings of England.Now, I know us English like to think that we’ve given the French a prettygood run for their money over the years, but I have to say that the truthis that after the Angevin Empire went the way of all flesh the biggestfactor that defined English success in this age old struggle wasFrenchdisunity, rather than English brilliance. Sorry about that. Obviously I hateto be fair mindedwhere the French are concerned, and obviously as a redblooded Englishman I dearly love Edward III, the BP, Agincourt and allthat but hey, really when the French were untied within themselves theEnglish were usually on the run, it’s when the French fell out with eachother that the fun started. And the French have just fallen out with eachother, big time.So now we have Armagnac versus Burgundy, and at thisstage Burgundyalso meant the King of France; and each party was looking for anadvantage. And right across the channel was England, a country, full offrankly inferior folk, obviously, but with the potential to swing the balanceof power. And so both parties came to court the English. Looking backboth parties would probably wish they hadn’t, since they get a good dealmore than they bargained for, as often happens when you invite thebarbarians in, but hey.The story goes that the French strategy was yet another area where KingHenry and the Prince fell out, and it’s probably true. In King Henry’s mind,as he shuffled around in Leicestershire from place to place seeking relieffrom his illness, Burgundy represented the king of France, and the king ofFrance was to be opposed. But the Prince saw the opportunity withBurgundy, and hate it or loathe it, the Prince was in the driving seat justnow.And so it was Burgundy who got the love.And so in 1411, there was a little known invasion into France, led bytheEarl of Arundel, not to be confused with Archbishop Arundel, who wasbusy burning people in barrels, of which more another time. And the7English proved that they still had it in them, defeating the Armagnacsoutside Paris at St Cloud, and helping theBurgundians seize Paris.Now I know what you are thinking, You are thinking hey, I thought theEnglish crown was destitute, didn’t have two beans to rub together, andnow here they are wanderingup anddown the River Seinewitha bigarmy, eatingbonbonsand beating up the French.Actually, you areprobably not thinking that at all, but it’s a poorly concealed device to allowme to tell you that to find the money for this, Prince Henry suspended allthose annuities that the king gave to his friends and ladies. The kingwould have been furious, livid–and there could be no greater sign of hishelplessness.Meanwhile, the Princes friends were enjoying the thrill of power. HenryBeaufort, felt empowered enough to argue the toss with the royal princes,opposing the king’s favourite son, Thomas, in his marriage plans. I doubtthe King enjoyed that either. And it’s probably at this time that the Princeand Beaufort went to the King and told him it was time to step aside andlet the younger generation have itsday.On 2ndNovember, parliament arrived for its first day; Beaufort, the Princeand their council were in the chair of course, and no one expected theking to be there, he’d be watching his bottom half decaying. So imaginethe surprise, and indeedconsternation when the king’s writ arrived tellingthem all to hold off for a day, because he’d be coming down to run theshow the following day.The following day duly arrived, and Henry was duly at parliament. Butnothing seemed untoward–parliament wentahead as normal. It was notuntil 30thNovember that all became clear andHenry made his move.Henry had the Speaker bring all of his council forward. The Speaker,incidentally, was a man called Thomas Chaucer, a representative fromOxfordshire and son ofthat chap who tortured small boys with his writing.Anyway forwardthe councilcame and knelt before the throne. You’ve allbeen Great, said Henry, thank you so much. Brilliant, marvellous, youhave by full support, super. Ooh, by the way, there isn’t a councilanymore.Effectively, they wereallfired, and Henry was back.With one final heave of will and super human effort, Henry Bolingbrokehad refused to be replaced by the youngergeneration. Thomas Beaufortwas sacked as chancellor, those 31 articlesfrom way backlimiting theking’s power were annulled. Around him, Henry’s Lancastrian affinitygathered and brought him the support he needed to survive. ByDecember, the king had a new council of his own people and guess what?Archbishop Arundel was back as Chancellor.In February 1412, the changes went on; Burgundy was out, Armagnacwas in. The king was still in great pain, unable to walk or ride a horse, butmade it down to Canterbury for discussions with the Armagnacrepresentatives, and a deal wasstruck. Henry’s favourite son Thomas of8Lancaster, now Duke of Clarence, would lead an expedition to the SouthWest of France. Armagnac would stop trying to chuck the English out ofGascony, and instead the English could have their old extended realm ofAquitaine back. Standing at the back of the delegation, fuming with rageno doubt, were Prince Henry and Henry Beaufort. For them this was afurther public humiliation.The Prince was in a rage. As we’ll see before long, Prince Henry was not achap to suffer argument. He wrote a letter stuffed with accusationsagainst the king’s advisers, and claiming thathehadbeen asked to leadthe expedition to Francebefore his brother Thomas,but he’drefusedbecause we wasn’t offered enough men. The world was fullof rumour–mainly that the Prince was going to remove his father by force. Therumours were so strong that the Prince had to issue a public letterdenying it. By May and June 1412 the relationship between father and sonwas at an all-time low, seriously;Henry had all his sons swear to supportthe expedition to France, worried that Prince Henry would break ranks.What happens next is interesting. Just as the King had showed hismeasure by refusing to give into his constant pain and political adversity,so his sonnowshowed his mettle. Henry Vth is sometimes presented atthe apex of kingship, and sometimes as a cold, brutal, megalomaniac.Both of those share a characteristic of a cool calculating head, that soughtto drive events and people rather than tobe driven.Ian Mortimer, in his Book ‘The Fears of Henry IVth’, well worth a read bythe way, paints a great picture.On 29thJune 1412, the Prince went to thePalace of Westminster. He was accompanied by a huge crowd ofsupporters and followers. He’d dolled himself up in his Sunday best. Hearrived at Westminster Hall, told his mates to stay in the lower end of thehall, and went up to the dias where theoldking waited for him. Throughthey went to a private chamber behind, with just a few others there, sonknelt before father, declared that he’d never for a moment wanted ill ofhim, and that he did want to live without his father’s love. And with thishe passed his dagger to the king and saidTherefore most redoubted lord and father, I desire you inthe honour ofGod, for the easing of your heart, here before your knees to slay me withthis dagger. My Lord and father my life is not so dear to me that I wouldlive one day that I should be to your displeasure…I forgive you my death’KingHenryturnedon the waterworks andburst into tears. People blubbedall the time in those days before the stiff upper lip arrived. He flung hisson’s dagger across the room and saidMy right dear and heartily beloved son, it is true I partly suspected you,and as I now perceive, undeservedly on your part. But seeing yourhumility and faithfulness, I shall neither slay you nor henceforth any morehave you in distrust for any report that shall be made to me. Andtherefore I raise you upon my honour9And so the king and his son were reconciled. I suspect Prince Henrycontrolled himself, swallowed his pride and made a conscious decision todo what he needed to do, however unsavoury.Because he knew hewouldn’t have long to wait.Meanwhile favourite son, Thomas Duke of Clarence, just 14 years old, wassailing to Gascony for glory and to hook up with the Armagnac andtheDuke of Orleans and do some serious damage to the lands of the French.Or so he thought. In fact he was on a road to nowhere, and the Armagnachad no intention of inviting him inside. While he wasatsea, the Frenchcame temporarily to their senses, patched up their differences anddecided they really ought to be fighting the English rather thanthemselves.So when Clarence arrived he was high and dry. Thomas was no pushover–really, Henry and his brothers formed a pretty remarkable array oftalents. So, nothing daunted, he declared war on the whole French nation,and set off on a chevaucee. Now I am prepared to accept that his trail ofviolence made no strategic difference whatsoever, and the whole affairhad done nothing for the king’s reputation for a strong grasp of strategy.But I suspect none the less a bit of mindless violence made Thomas andthe English feel a bit better.Back at home, Prince Henry and Thomas Arundel were still sniping at eachother, with Arundel trying to stitch Prince Henry up on a charge of misuseof public funds, and the Prince trying to get Arundel on a charge oftreason.The king was focussed on other things.His minds had turned back to Jerusalem, where it had been prophesisedthat he was to die. Like the yearning after youth of fat 50year oldpodcasters, Henry wanted to visit the home of God and the memories ofhis hale and hearty youth.But it was not to be. It seemedpretty clear that King Henry’s health wasfailing again. Although parliament had been assembled in January 1413,Henry was too weak to attend, and people hung around, guessing whatwas going to happen.Henry drifted in and out of consciousness, and as he lay there, PrinceHenry arrived. There’s a deal of commentary that survives on his death.One of these is a famous story that the Prince picked up the crown andtried it on for size; that the king stirred, saw his son andasked what righthe had to the crown, since he himself had none; in reply the warlike sonsaid:My lord, as you have held it by right of your sword, it is my intent to holdand defend it in the same way10The King repliedWell, act as you see best. I leave all things to God and pray that he willhave mercy on meLike many nice stories in history, it probably fits into the bunkumcategory; in all likelihood this is French propaganda, to discredit theprince as a disrespectful, greedy crown grabber, and to discredit thewhole Lancastriandynastic claim to the throne through King Henry’sconfession that he had no right to it.Another story has it that the king got quite a lot of grief from the variouschurchmen gathered around, quizzing him on his feelings about kingRichard…you know thekind of thing…My lord, now that you are lyinghelplessly in agony, ill and on the edge of death, do you regret at allbrutally murdering Richard and stealing his crown? And do you regretmurdering a saintly Archbishop…hmmm?’Henry kept his cool to the end it seems. He had absolution forRichard,had done penance for theAB, and as for the usurpation–well, he slightlysardonically remarked that his sons wouldn’tlethim give that up now.And then with all the traditional expressions of regret and hopes for God,and instructions to pay off all his debts, he croaked.So there we are we come to the end of another king, Henry IVth, not themost famous of our kings, or indeed the most glorious.Over the last fewweeks I don’t think I’ve had reason to changemy mind about Henry IVth;I wonder if regretted the transition from carefree aristocratic golden boyto ill and careworn king, but then you have to say he wasn’t given a lot ofchoice. And in the end he survived, andhedid his duty–left a fine collection of heirs, a stable realm and crown, despite all the challenges he had faced