Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][merged small]

love of money, so unworthy a man of parts—impatience of a superior, so apt to engender jealousy and revenge—care for worldly things, cherished in the hour of death, and betokening little of a devout spirit —these stains may be suffered to rest on his memory, and from these Gloster's is entirely free. The Cardinal was neither much better, nor much worse, than the other Romish dignitaries of the fifteenth century, who, regarding the authority and the wealth of the hierarchy as the appanage of the aristocracy, thought less of the duties attached to it than of making its privileges the road to temporal power, and cultivated political arts rather than the learning, which they left to the studies of the humbler clergy. But if it would be wholly incorrect to regard him as even approaching to a faultless character, it would be far more unjust to believe the popular traditions by which his memory is blackened, in the dark portraiture which has reached us from the poetry of Shakespeare and the pencil of Reynolds.1

The dissensions of these two powerful rivals caused great embarrassment to Bedford, and mightily increased the difficulties of his situation, which the important victory at Verneuil had seemed materially to lessen. But the imprudent conduct of his brother was attended with far worse consequences than the opposition of his uncle; for it occasioned the estrangement of Philip, and even placed the Burgundian alliance in jeopardy.

'Note LVL

Jacqueline of Bavaria, heiress of William, Count of Hainault, had been recognised also by the States of Holland as his successor in that country. To both these dominions she succeeded on his decease in 1417. She had been married to the Dauphin John, who died a short time before his father; and she then married John, Duke of Brabant, a weak Prince, for whom she soon lost all respect; and her contempt was changed into hatred when he refused to assist her against her uncle, John of Bavaria, who, claiming Holland as a male fief, invaded it, and threw the country into confusion. Her disgust towards her husband did not stop here. On pretence that her marriage was illegal on account of consanguinity, and that the Pope, Martin V.'s licence having been first granted, then revoked, afterwards granted again, was not valid to cure the defect, she declared herself single, left the country, betook herself to England on a secret understanding with Gloster, who had set his affections both upon her person and her inheritMarcU 8 ance, was naturalised by Act of Parliament, 1423- and married him publicly, to the great scandal of the world, without awaiting the result of a new appeal to Rome for having her former marriage declared void. It unfortunately happened, that Philip, though equally related to Jacqueline and her second husband, the one being nephew and the other niece of his father, Jean-Sans-Peur, yet took part with the Duke, and joined the rest of mankind in being shocked at Jacqueline's shameless conduct. It is also certain that he regarded with jealousy Gloster's manifest designs upon the succession to Hainault and Holland, on both of which dominions the event proved that he intended himself to advance claims. Accordingly, he openly declared war against Gloster, who had soon after his marriage made preparations for supporting Jacqueline's rights to Hainault and Holland; and when some months after he marched an army of 5000 men into the former country, all measures were broken between the two Princes. The most violent personal altercations were joined with their adverse military operations, insomuch that a challenge to single combat was given and accepted, and the duel was only prevented, after every preparation had been made for it, by the interposition of Bedford, to whose arbitration the dispute was submitted. This prudent ruler had in vain attempted to heal the breach between the parties; he had held a conference for the purpose with Philip, who most fairly offered to make him umpire; terms had been agreed upon, and the Regent's award was pronounced; but Gloster's fiery spirit would brook no control, and the war continued until, seeing that all the towns in Hainault took part against Jacqueline, he was obliged to return with his army to England and leave her in Mons, the only place that still supported her. Yet here, too, she was unfortunate; for the people gave her up to Philip, who detained her in an honourable confinement at Antwerp. From thence she escaped, disguised as a man, into Holland; and Philip maintained the war against her until her husband, John of Brabant's death, when she purchased peace by declaring the Burgundian heir to all her dominions. Meanwhile, the Pope having pronounced her divorce void, and her marriage with Gloster invalid, even in the event of her second husband's decease,1 he consummated his imprudence by espousing Elizabeth Cobham, a person of rank much inferior to his own, and with whom he had carried on an intrigue while she was one of Jacqueline's attendants. Jacqueline herself married a person also of very inferior station, from whom Philip compelled her to separate because the match had not his previous consent, which the terms of their treaty required.2

All these transactions, for which Gloster alone was to blame, proved disastrous to Bedford. Notwithstanding the great pains which he took to prevent the alienation of Philip, the Burgundians and the English had become estranged from each other. They had, indeed, more than once met in hostile array during the contest for Hainault. A meeting had been held by Philip at Macon, for the purpose of negotiating a marriage between his sister, the Princess Agnes, and Clement de Bourbon, cousin to Charles, whose ambassador had even attended the conferences. The strength of the tie which knit the Burgundian

1 The adultery with Gloster rendered any subsequent marriage with him invalid by the canon law.

* P. Dan., via. 0. liym., x. 298. Hall, iii. 128. Monstrel., torn. ii. fol. xv. to xx.

[ocr errors]

HENRY THE SIXTH. 267

to the natural enemy of his country became daily weakened, while the conflicting sentiments engendered by Gloster's indiscretion gained force; and it might now be perceived that almost the only link which remained of the alliance was the personal ascendant of the Regent, and his constant study to maintain a place in Philip's affections. But the most immediate of the evil consequences which had attended Gloster's misconduct was the positive loss of numbers which it entailed upon the English army. The troops sent into Hainault on Jacqueline's behalf and those with which Philip prepared to meet them, were alike taken from Bedford's force by intercepting his supplies; and he was under the necessity of repairing to England, in order, if he could not appease the quarrel between his brother and Beaufort, at least to prevent more of the English resources from being squandered upon the war in Hainault. A Parliament was held, and by great exertions Gloster was prevailed upon to let his dispute with his uncle be decided by arbitrators chosen from among the Prelates and Peers. He brought forward charges against the Bishop, accusing him among other things of a design to assassinate the late King, a story resting upon some loose expression of that Prince, but nega- March 7 tived by his whole conduct towards his *■*uncle down to the time of his death. The arbitrators decreed that Gloster should retract the accusation, which was pronounced by the Parliament to be groundless, and that, each party disclaiming all ani

[graphic]
« ZurückWeiter »