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purpose of obtaining the king's consent to the marriage of the young earl of March, at that time ward to the prince. To the disgrace of the queen, however, it is recorded, by the indubitable evidence of the Issue rolls, that she received, as the price of her good offices on this occasion, a promissory bribe from the prince, as the following entries testify —
“To Joanna queen of England. In money paid to her by the hands of Parnelle Brocket and Nicholas Alderwych," in part payment of a greater sum due to the said queen upon a private agreement made between the said queen and our present lord the king, especially concerning the marriage of the earl of March purchased and obtained of the said lady the queen by our said now lord the king, whilst he was prince of Wales. “By writ privy seal, £100.” “To Joan queen of England. In money paid to the said queen by the hands of Robert Okeburn, in part payment of a certain greater sum agreed upon between our said lord the king, whilst he was prince, and the said queen, for the marriage of the earl of March. “By writ, £100.” When we consider that, in point of legitimate descent, the earl of March was the rightful sovereign of England, it is surprising how such a measure was ever advocated by the Lancastrian prince of Wales, or permitted by so profound a politician as his father, who must have been aware of the perilous consequences to his descendants; and it is a proof that Joanna must have possessed an unbounded ascendancy over the mind of the king, to have been able to carry that point. The ladies of the Lancastrian royal family who wrote to Henry IV., do not forget to name his influential queen in their letters. His sister, queen Katherine, heiress of Castile, uses these words: “Most dear and beloved brother and lord, I entreat that by all means, as continually as you can, you will certify and let me know of your health, and life, and good estate, and of the queen your companion, my dearest and best-loved sister.” His half-sister of the Beaufort line, Joanna countess of Westmoreland, wrote to him from Raby-castle, and after telling, very prettily, the story of a romantic love-marriage between Christopher Standish and Margaret Fleming, recommends the lady to the care of the queen. She ventures not to call the king her brother, but says, “And most puissant prince and my sovereign lord, his (Christopher's) father has dismissed him from his service, and that merely because he and Margaret married for downright love, without thinking what they should have to live upon; wherefore I entreat your most high and puissant lordship to ordain for the said Margaret some suitable dwelling, or else to place her with the queen your wife, whom God preserve.” Henry IV., at that time sinking under a complication of infirmities, was probably indebted to the cherishing care of his consort for all the comfort he was capable of enjoying in life; and Joanna, who had learned so well how to adapt herself, while in early youth, to the wayward humours of her first husband, (the most quarrelsome prince in Europe,) was doubtless an adept in the art of pleasing, and of governing without appearing to do so. Henry, though only in his forty-seventh year, was worn out with bodily and mental sufferings. His features, once so regularly beautiful, and of which he, in some of his penitentiary observations, acknowledges himself to have been so proud,” became, in the autumn of this year, so marred and disfigured by that loathsome disease the leprosy, as to prevent him from appearing in public.” On account of this mortal sickness, he kept his last Christmas at Eltham with his queen, in great seclusion. His complaint was accompanied by epileptic fits, or death-like trances, in which he sometimes lay for hours, without testifying any signs of life. He, however, rallied a little towards the close of the holidays, and was enabled after Candlemas to keep his birthday, and to return to his palace at Westminster. He was at his devotions before the shrine of St. Edward, in the abbey, when his last fatal stroke of apoplexy seized him, and it was supposed by every one that he was dead; but *Cott. MSS. French letter: no date. * Hardyng's Chronicle. *If we may trust the witness of Maydestone, a priestly historian devoted to the cause of Richard II., Henry IV. was smitten with the leprosy as with a blight, on the very day Scroope, archbishop of York, was executed for treason without
* This Nicholas Alderwych was one of queen Joanna's Bretagne attendants, whom she persisted in retaining at the time when the aliens were dismissed from the royal household by vote of parliament. * Issue Rolls, 1st year of Henry V. p. 325. * Ibid. 329. * Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies, vol. i. p. 82; 1406.
benefit of clergy. The extreme anxiety of his mind, at this crisis, had probably given a complete revulsion to his constitution.
being removed to the abbot's state apartments, which were nearer than his own, and laid on a pallet before the fire, he revived, and asked “where he was P’ He was told, “In the Jerusalem chamber.” Henry received this answer as his knell; for it had been predicted of him that he should die in Jerusalem, which he supposed to be the holy city, and had solemnly received the cross, in token that it was his intention to undertake a crusade for the expiation of his sins. The blood he had shed in supporting his title to the throne lay very heavily on his conscience during the latter years of his reign; and in the hour of his departure he particularly requested that the Miserere should be read to him, which contained a penitential acknowledgment of sin, and a supplication to be delivered from “blood-guiltiness.” He then called for his eldest son, Henry prince of Wales, to whom he addressed some admirable exhortations as to his future life and government. Shakspeare has repeated almost verbatim the deathbed eloquence of the expiring king, in that touching speech commencing, “Come hither, Henry: sit thou on my bed,” &c."
King Henry was doubtless arrayed in his regal robes and diadem while publicly performing his devotions at the throne of the royal saint, his popular predecessor, which accounts for the crown having been placed on his pillow, whence it was removed by his son Henry prince of Wales during the long death-like swoon which deceived all present into the belief that the vital spark was extinct. Of the many historians who have recorded the interesting death-scene of Henry IV., not one has mentioned his consort, queen Joanna, as being present on that occasion. King Henry's will, which was made three years before his death, bears testimony to the deep remorse and self-condemnation which accompanied him to the grave. This curious document, a copy of which was discovered by sir Simon d'Ewes,” after diligent search, is as follows:—
“I, Henry, sinful wretch, by the grace of God king of England and of France, and lord of Ireland, being in mine whole mind, make my testament in manner
* Second Part of Henry IV., act v. * This was, perhaps, a codicil, for it differs from a will quoted in Rymer
and form that ensueth. First, I bequeath to Almighty God my sinful soul, the which had never been worthy to be made man but through his mercy and his grace; which life I have mispended, whereof I put me wholly at his grace and mercy with all mine heart. And, at what time it liketh him of his mercy to take me, my body to be buried in the church of Canterbury, after the discretion of my cousin the archbishop. And I also thank my lords and true people for the true service they have done to me, and I ask their forgiveness if I have misintreated them in anywise; and as far as they have offended me in anywise, I pray God to forgive them it, and I do. And I will that my queen be endowed of the duchy of Lancaster.” He appointed Henry V. his sole executor. “The words,” says Hardyng, “which the king said at his death were of high complaint, but nought of repentance or restoration of the right heirs of the crown.” Henry expired on St. Cuthbert’s-day, March 19th, 1413. He was buried by the side of Edward the Black Prince, with great pomp and state, on Trinity-Sunday, Henry W. and all his nobility being present. In the first years of her widowhood, queen Joanna received every mark of attention and respect from the new king, Henry V., who was anxious to avail himself of her influence with her son, the duke of Bretagne, in order to secure the alliance of that prince in his projected wars with France. Henry, in his letters and treaties, always styles the duke of Bretagne his dearest brother, and the duke reciprocrates the title when addressing him." The temporizing politics of the duke prove that his own interests were studied by him, in preference to his royal mother's regard for her English connexions. Joanna was entrusted by her royal step-son with a share in the government, when he undertook his expedition against France. Speed, Stowe, Hall, Goodwin, and White Kennet, affirm that she was made queen-regent at the same time that John duke of Bedford was appointed protector and lord-lieutenant of England. Trussel" uses these words:– “Henry appointed his mother-in-law, Joan de Navar, a woman of great prudence and judgment in national affairs, to be regent in his absence, with the advice of the privy council.” But, notwithstanding these important authorities, there is no documentary evidence in proof of the fact. She was, however, treated with higher consideration than was ever
shown to a queen-dowager of this country who was not also queen-mother, and appears to have enjoyed the favour and confidence of the king in no slight degree. The same day that Henry quitted his metropolis, June 18th, after having been in solemn procession to St. Paul's with the lord mayor and corporation of the city of London, to offer his prayers and oblations for the success of his expedition, he returned to Westminster for the purpose of taking a personal leave of queen Joanna." This circumstance is commemorated in a curious poem of the time:’—
“To Powlys then he held his way *
This farewell visit to queen Joanna was the last thing Henry V. did previously to leaving his capital. Their perfect amity at that time may be inferred from Henry's gracious licence to the royal widow, whom he styles “his dearest mother, Joanna queen of England,” to reside with her retinue in any of his royal castles of Windsor, Wallingford, Berkhamstead, and Hertford, as of old, during his absence in foreign parts. This order is dated Winchester, June 30th, 1414." There are also various gifts and concessions granted by Henry W. to queen Joanna on the rolls of the third, fourth, and fifth years of his reign.
The foreign connexions of Joanna, and her pertinacity in retaining her Breton and Navarrese attendants about her person, excited once more an expression of jealous displeasure from the English parliament; and an address was presented to the king, complaining of her disregard to the act for purging the
* Sir Harris Nicolas's Agincourt, p. 24. * Preserved among the Harleian MSS.; 565, fol. 130. * Rymer's Foedera. * Ibid.