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Pitiful as this stipend—allowing for the full difference in the value of money in those days—was for the principal minister of a state-cabinet, the Lorraine chronicler complains that it was made one of the pretences of the Yorkists for their cruel calumnies against the queen. From the previous authority we find that— “John Wenlock, knight of the queen's chamber, had per annum, 401. Her knights of the board, forty marks each yearly. Ismania lady of Scales, Isabella lady Gray (Elizabeth Woodville), lady Mar. garet Ross, lady Isabella Dacre, and lady Isabella Butler, are mentioned as being in immediate attendance on her person. Likewise ten little damsels, and two chamber-women.” [The ladies appear to have served her for love, as no mention is made of money paid to them.] “Queen Margaret's herbman, 100s. per annum. Her twenty-seven armour-bearers, or squires, 1431.4s. 3d. in all. Her twenty-seven valets, 28l. 15s. 6d. The queen had a clerk of the closet, or private secretary.” These entries afford some idea of the household of queen Margaret, at that momentous period of her life when about to become for the first time a mother. That event took place on the 13th of October, 1453, when she gave birth, in Westminster-palace, to a prince, whom Speed pathetically designates “the child of sorrow and infelicity.” A writ of summons, under the privy seal, was issued to the ladies of the highest rank in England, to attend queen Margaret at the ceremony of her purification, or churching, which took place at the palace of Westminster on the 18th of November, in the thirty-second of the reign of Henry VI. The ladies summoned were the duchesses of Bedford, York, Norfolk the elder, Norfolk the younger, Buckingham, Somerset the elder, Somerset the younger, Exeter the elder, Exeter the younger, and Suffolk, with eight countesses, among whom may be noted the countess of Warwick, besides a viscountess and seventeen baronesses.” There is also an entry in the Pell rolls of the sum of 554l. 16s. 8d. paid to Margaret the queen, for a richly embroidered christening-mantle used at the baptism of the prince ; also for twenty yards of russet cloth of * Extracts from queen Margaret's Wardrobe-book, 1452-3.
* MSS. of sir Matthew Hale, left by him to the Society of Lincoln’s-inn: 75, Selden Collec.-See Catalogue published by the rev. Joseph Hunter, p. 277.
gold to array the font, and five hundred and forty brown sable backs, for trimming her own churching-robe. As the royal infant was born on St. Edward’s-day, queen Margaret, in the hope of propitiating the people, bestowed that name, so dear to England, on her son. This fair boy, as he is called in chronicle, was baptized by Waynflete bishop of Winchester. Cardinal Kemp, archbishop of Canterbury, the duke of Somerset, and the duchess of Buckingham, were his sponsors."
King Henry, meantime, continued in a state of the deepest mental aberration, the only person in his own palace unconscious of the consummation of the hopes of paternity, the anticipation of which he had, a few months before, greeted with transports of joy. His anxious consort caused him to be removed to Windsor-castle, to try the effect of change of air and profound quiet for the restoration of his health and sanity, but his malady continued unabated. The melancholy state of her royal husband was the more distressing to queen Margaret, because the political agitators who were endeavouring to undermine the throne of Lancaster took advantage of her being thus deprived of his protection and countenance, to stigmatize the birth of the prince by insinuating that he was a supposititious child. Now, as Margaret of Anjou was only in her twenty-fourth year, and the king just thirty-three at the birth of this infant, there could be no just cause to doubt of his deriving his existence from them; and the attempts to throw suspicion on the fact emanated, like the calumnies on the birth of the youngest son of James II. and his queen, from the political emissaries of the disappointed heirs-presumptive to the throne. Richard duke of York, who had tacitly occupied that position, was determined not to be superseded in the royal succession by the son whom queen Margaret had borne to king Henry at this inauspicious juncture, after nine years of barren wedlock; and it is palpably evident for what object his partisans endeavoured to poison the minds of the people against his infant rival, by circulating reports that it was either the fruit of an amour between the queen and her unpopular minister, Somerset, or some low-born child whom she had cunningly imposed upon the nation as her own, in order to get the whole power of the crown into her own hands, as queen-regent during the king's illness, or queen-mother in the event of his death. It was sometimes asserted, by way of variation to these slanders, that the infant of whom the queen was brought to bed had died, and had been replaced by another of the vilest parentage, picked up in the streets, to defraud the rightful heir of the crown. It had been a custom from remote antiquity, both in England and France, for the sovereign, on the birth of his eldest son, to solemnly recognise the infant's claims to his paternity, by taking him in his arms and blessing him, and then presenting him to his nobles as his veritable offspring and their future lord. This patriarchal ceremonial of state king Henry had not, as yet, been able to perform, not having had a single lucid interval since the birth of the prince; and it was in consequence asserted, by the parties most interested in taking advantage of the domestic calamity in the royal family, not that the king could not recognise the infant for his heir, but that “he would not.” Nor were these sayings confined to the gossip of old wives over their ale, for the earl of Warwick publicly proclaimed at St. Paul’s-cross, that the child who was called Edward of Lancaster and ‘the prince.’ was the offspring of adultery or fraud, and not the lawful issue of the king, who had never acknowledged him for his son, and never would." Margaret's indignation at these assertions acting on her naturally impetuous temperament, would not allow her to wait patiently the chances of the king's recovery for her justification; but, as if she expected that her integrity would be manifested by God's especial grace, she made a solemn appeal to the paternal instincts of the royal lunatic, by introducing his unknown infant into his presence, and urging him to bestow his benediction upon it, fondly imagining, no doubt, that at the sight of that fair boy, the mysterious voice of nature would assert its powerful influence on Henry's *George Chastellain, Chronicle of the Dukes of Burgundy,
'The monks of westminster were remumerated by the crown for the tapers Powided by them for the christening of the infant prince.
gentle heart, and so rouse a momentary glimpse of light and recollection into the darkened chambers of the brain. The scene which took place when the child was brought to Windsor for this purpose, is thus quaintly but touchingly related in a contemporary letter addressed to the duke of Norfolk by some person in the royal household, who was apparently an eyewitness of what he describes:–
“At the prince's coming to Windsor, the duke of Buckingham took him in his arms and presented him to the king in goodly wise, beseeching the king to bliss it: and the king gave no manner answer. Natheless, the duke abode still with the prince in his arms by the king; and when he could no manner answer have, the queen came in and took the prince in her arms, and presented him in the like form that the duke had done, desiring ‘that he should bliss it!” But all their labour was in vain, for they departed thence without any answer or countenance, saving that only once he looked on the prince, and cast down his een again, without any more.” What a subject for an historical painting that scene so simply told, which, without describing, implies the various passions that agitated the presence-chamber, the hushed attention of peers, prelates, and councillors of state, when the royal wife and mother, she who was not only the partner of Henry's throne, but, till this fearful cloud came over his faculties, sole queen of Henry's heart, essays her influence, and woos his blessing for the lovely boy she offers with impassioned tenderness to his paternal embrace; and after her importunity has succeeded in attracting a momentary attention to the infant in her arms, sees the unconscious eye of frenzy sulleniy withdrawn. This frightful abstraction, this utter forgetfulness of the dearest objects of his affection, while it afforded the saddest and most conclusive proof of the hopeless character of the king's malady, was peculiarly distressing to the queen; for as holy Henry was invested by the more venerative portion of his subjects with the attributes of a saint and prophet, it was asserted that he had manifested, not merely reason in madness, but a miraculous power of discrimination by tacitly refusing to sanction the affiliation of the luckless babe.
The death of cardinal Kemp, who filled the important
offices in church and state of archbishop of Canterbury and
* Ms. Letter of Intelligence, January 1454; edited by sir Fred. Madden.— Archaeologia, vol. xxix. p. 305.
lord chancellor, and had assisted Margaret in the government, increased her troubles, and her claiming to appoint a successor being resisted by the duke of York's party, brought matters to a crisis. As a preparatory measure for depriving Margaret of the regency, the duke of York caused a motion to be carried in the house of lords for sending a deputation from their body to ascertain the real state of the king, by inquiring his pleasure touching the appointments left vacant by the death of the cardinal." The commissioners proceeded to Windsor. They were admitted into his chamber, and declared their errand; but the king made no reply, and appeared to have lost all consciousness of the things of this world. His reason must at that time have been under a total eclipse. On the 25th of March, 1454, the committee reported to the parliament, “that they had been to wait upon the king at Windsor, and after three interviews with him, and earnest solicitation, they could by no means obtain an answer, or token of answer, from him.” When the situation of the king was made known to his peers of parliament, they, on the 27th of March, appointed the duke of York “protector and defender of the king during the king's pleasure, or until such time as Edward the prince should come to age of discretion.” An intention was thus manifested of preserving the rights of the reigning family, by securing the reunion of this office for an infant not six months old. Patents, bearing the name of the king's letterspatent, were read in the parliament on the 3rd of April, granting to the infant prince the same allowance that was made for his royal father in the first year of his reign, with the yearly fee of two thousand marks only, besides allowances for learning to ride and other manly exercises, “provided the same grant be in no ways prejudicial to any grant made to Margaret queen of England.” King Henry, though incapable at that time of business, is made, by similar instruments, to create his son Edward prince of Wales and earl of Chester. This was confirmed by the hands of all the lords, and by the
* Parliamentary History... *Parliamentary Rolls. Acts of the Privy Council * Parliamentary Hist. Rymer's Foedera.