KING HENRY VI
ING HENRY THE SIXTH, who subsequently became the husband of Margaret of Anjou, was only about nine
months old, as has already been said, when he succeeded to the throne by the
death of his father. He was proclaimed by the heralds to the sound of trumpets
and drums, in all parts of London, while he was yet an infant in his nurse's
Of course the question was now who should have the rule in England while Henry
remained a child. And this question chiefly affected the little king's uncles,
of whom there were three—all rude, turbulent, and powerful nobles, such as were
briefly described in the last chapter. Each of them had a powerful band of
retainers and partisans attached to his service, and the whole kingdom dreaded
greatly the quarrels which every one knew were now likely to break out.
The oldest of these uncles was Thomas. He was Duke of Exeter.
The second was John. He was Duke of Bedford.
 The third was Humphrey. He was Duke of Gloucester. Thomas and Humphrey seem to
have been in England at the time of their brother the old king's death. John, or
Bedford, as he was commonly called, was in France, where he had been pursuing a
very renowned and successful career, in extending and maintaining the English
conquests in that country.
The leading nobles and officers of the government were assembled in council soon
after the old king's death, and in order to prevent the breaking out of the
quarrels which were otherwise to have been anticipated between these uncles,
they determined to divide the power as nearly as possible in an equal manner
among them. So they appointed Thomas, the Duke of Exeter, who seems to have been
less ambitious and warlike in his character than the rest, to the charge and
custody of the young king's person. Humphrey, the Duke of Gloucester, was made
Protector of England, and John, the Duke of Bedford, the Regent of France. Thus
they were all seemingly satisfied.
But the peace which resulted from this arrangement did not continue very long.
Pretty soon a certain Henry Beaufort, a bishop, was appointed to be associated
with Henry's uncle
 Thomas in the personal charge of the king. This Henry Beaufort was Henry's
great-uncle, being one of the sons of John of Gaunt. He was a younger son of his
father, and so was brought up to the Church, and had been appointed Bishop of
Winchester, and afterward made a cardinal. Thus he occupied a very exalted
position, and possessed a degree of wealth, and power, and general consequence
little inferior to those of the grandest nobles in the land. He was a man, too,
of great capacity, very skillful in manúuvring and intriguing, and he
immediately began to form ambitious schemes for himself which he designed to
carry into effect through the power which the custody of the young king gave
him. He was, of course, very jealous of the influence and power of the Duke of
Gloucester, and the Duke of Gloucester became very jealous of him. It was not
long before occasions arose which brought the two men, and their bands of
followers, into direct and open collision.
I can not here go into a full account of the particulars of the quarrel. One of
the first difficulties was about the Tower of London, which Beaufort had under
his command, and where there was a prisoner whom Gloucester wished to set at
liberty. Then there was a great riot
 and disturbance on London Bridge, which threw the whole city of London into a
state of alarm. Beaufort alleged that Gloucester had formed a plan to seize the
person of the king and tale him away from Beaufort's custody; and that he had
designs, moreover, on Beaufort's life. To defend himself and, to prevent
Gloucester from coming to the palace where he was residing, he seized and
fortified the passages leading to the bridge. He built barricades, and took
down the chains of the portcullis, and assembled a large armed force to guard
the point. The people of London were in great alarm. They set watches day and
night to protect their property from the anticipated violence of the soldiers
and partisans of the combatants, and thus all was commotion and fear. Of course
there were no courts of justice powerful enough to control such a contest as
this, and finally the people sent off a delegation to the Duke of Bedford in
France, imploring him to come to England immediately and see if he could not
settle the quarrel.
The Duke of Bedford came. A Parliament was convened, and the questions at issue
between the two great disputants were brought to a solemn trial. The Duke of
Gloucester made out a series of heavy charges against the
cardi-  nal, and the cardinal made a formal reply which contained not only his defense, but
also counter charges against the duke. These papers were drawn up with great
technicality and ceremony by the lawyers employed on each side to manage the
case, and were submitted to the Duke of Bedford and to the Parliament. A series
of debates ensued, in which the friends of the two parties respectively brought
criminations and recriminations against each other without end. The result was,
as is usual in such cases, that both sides appeared to have been to blame, and
in order to settle the dispute a sort of compromise was effected, with which
both parties professed to be satisfied, and a reconciliation, or what outwardly
appeared to be such, was made. A new division of powers and prerogatives between
Gloucester, as Protector of England, and Beaufort, as custodian of the king, was
arranged, and peace being thus restored, Bedford went back again to France.
Things went on tolerably well after this for many years; that is, there were no
more open outbreaks, though the old jealousy and hatred between Gloucester and
the cardinal still continued. The influence of the Duke of Bedford held both
parties in check as long as the duke lived. At length, however, when the young
 king was about fourteen years old, the Duke of Bedford died. He was in France at
the time of his death. He was buried with great pomp and ceremony in the city of
Rouen, which had been in some sense the head-quarters of his dominion in that
country, and a splendid monument was erected over his tomb:
A curious anecdote is related of the King of France in relation to this tomb.
Some time after the tomb was built Rouen fell into the hands of the French, and
some persons proposed to break down the monument which had been built in memory
of their old enemy; but the King of France would not listen to the proposal.
"What honor shall it be to us," said he, "or to you, to break down the monument,
or to pull out of the ground the dead bones of him whom, in his life, neither my
father nor your progenitors, with all their power, influence, and friends, were
ever able to make flee one foot backward, but who, by his strength, wit, and
policy, kept them all at bay. Wherefore I say, let God have his soul; and for
his body, let it rest in peace where they have laid it."
When King Henry was old enough to be crowned, in addition to the English part
of the ceremony, he went to France to receive the
 crown of that country too. The ceremony, as is usual with the French kings, was
performed at the town of St. Denis, near Paris, where is an ancient royal
chapel, in which all the great religious ceremonies connected with the French
monarchy have been performed. A very curious account is given by the ancient
chroniclers of the pageants and ceremonies which were enacted on this occasion.
The king proceeded into France and journeyed to St. Denis at the head of a grand
cavalcade of knights, nobles, and men-at-arms, amounting to many thousand men,
all of whom were adorned with dresses and trappings of the most gorgeous
description. At St. Denis the authorities came out to meet the king, dressed in
robes of vermilion, and bearing splendid banners. The king was presented, as he
passed through the gates, "with three crimson hearts, in one of which were two
doves; in another, several small birds, which were let fly over his head; while
the third was filled with violets and flowers, which were thrown over the lords
that attended and followed him."
At the same place, too, a company of the principal civic dignitaries of the town
appeared, bearing a gorgeous canopy of blue silk, adorned and embroidered in the
most beautiful manner
 with royal emblems. This canopy they held over the king as he advanced into the
At one place farther on, where there was a little bridge to be crossed, there
was a pageant of three savages fighting about a woman in a mimic forest. The
savages continued fighting until the king had passed by. Next came a fountain
flowing with wine, with mermaids swimming about in it. The wine in this fountain
was free to all who chose to come and drink it.
Then, farther still, the royal party came to a place where an artificial forest
had been made, by some means or other, in a large, open square. There was a
chase going on in this forest at the time when the king went by. The chase
consisted of a living stag hunted by real dogs. The stag came and took refuge at
the feet of the king's horse, and his majesty saved the poor animal's life.
Thus the king was conducted to his palace. Several days were spent in
preliminary pageants and ceremonies like the above, and then the coronation took
place in the church, the king and his party being stationed on a large platform
raised for the purpose in the most conspicuous part of the edifice.
After the coronation there was a grand
ban-  quet, at which the king, with his lords and great officers of state, sat at a
marble table in a magnificent ancient hall. Henry Beaufort, the Bishop of
Winchester, was the principal personage in all these ceremonies next to the
king. Gloucester was very jealous of him, in respect to the conspicuous part
which he took in these proceedings.
HENRY VI. IN HIS YOUTH.
Henry was quite young at the time of his coronations. He was a very pretty boy,
and his countenance wore a mild and gentle expression.
 The quarrel between the Duke of Gloucester and the bishop was kept, in some
degree, subdued during this period, partly by the influence of the Duke of
Bedford while he lived, and partly by Gloucester's mind being taken up to a
considerable extent with other things, especially with his campaigns in France;
for he was engaged during the period of the king's minority in many important
military expeditions in that country. At length, however, he came back to
England, and there, when the king was about twenty years of age, the quarrel
between him and the bishop's party broke out anew. The king himself was,
however, now old enough to take some part in such a difficulty, and so both
sides appealed to him. Gloucester made out a series of twenty-four articles of
complaint against the bishop. The bishop, on the other hand, accused the duke of
treason, and he specially charged that his wife had attempted to destroy the
life of the king by witchcraft. The duchess was condemned on this charge, and it
is said that, by way of penance, she was sentenced to walk barefoot through the
most public street in London with a lighted taper in her hand. Some other
persons, who were accused of being accomplices in this crime, were put to death.
 The witchcraft which it was said these persons practiced was that of making a
waxen image of the king, and then, after connecting it with him in some
mysterious and magical way by certain charms and incantations, melting it away
by degrees before a slow fire, by which means the king himself, as was supposed,
would be caused to pine and wither away, and at last to die. It was universally
believed in those days that this could be done.
Of course, such proceedings as these only embittered the quarrel more and more,
and Gloucester became more resolute and determined than ever in prosecuting his
intrigues for depriving the bishop of influence, and for getting the power into
his own hands. The king, though he favored the cardinal, was so quiet and gentle
in his disposition, and so little disposed to take an active part in such a
quarrel, that the bishop could not induce him to act as decidedly as he wished.
So he finally conceived the idea of finding some very intelligent and capable
princess as a wife for the king, hoping to increase the power which he exercised
in the realm through his influence over her.
The lady that he selected for this purpose was Margaret of Anjou.