Henry Beaufort (c. 1375 – 11 April 1447) was a medieval English clergyman, Bishop of Lincoln (1398) and then Winchester (1404) and from 1426 a Cardinal. He was a member of the royal house of Plantagenet, as the second of the four children of John of Gaunt and his mistress (later wife) Katherine Swynford, and often played an important role in English politics, being three times Lord Chancellor of England.
|Cardinal, Bishop of Winchester|
Cardinal Henry Beaufort
|Predecessor||William of Wykeham|
|Consecration||14 July 1398|
24 May 1426|
by Pope Martin V
Château de Beaufort, Anjou,
Kingdom of France
11 April 1447|
Wolvesey Castle, Winchester,
Kingdom of England
|Denomination||Roman Catholic Church|
|Parents||John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford|
|Coat of arms|
Beaufort was born in Anjou, an English domain in France, and educated for a career in the Church. After his parents were married in early 1396, Henry, his two brothers and one sister were declared legitimate by Pope Boniface IX and legitimated by Act of Parliament on 9 February 1397, but they were barred from the succession to the throne. This later proviso was promulgated with the exact phrase excepta regali dignitate (English: the royal dignity excepted) by their half-brother Henry IV with dubious authority.
On 27 February 1398, he was nominated Bishop of Lincoln, and on 14 July 1398, he was consecrated. After Henry of Bolingbroke deposed Richard II and took the throne as Henry IV in 1399, he made Bishop Beaufort Lord Chancellor of England in 1403, but Beaufort resigned in 1404 when he was appointed Bishop of Winchester on 19 November.
Between 1411 and 1413, Bishop Beaufort was in political disgrace for siding with his nephew, the Prince of Wales, against the king, but when King Henry IV died and the prince became King Henry V, he was made Chancellor once again in 1413, but he resigned the position in 1417. Pope Martin V offered him the rank of Cardinal, but King Henry V would not permit him to accept the offer.
Henry V died in 1422, two years after he had married Catherine of Valois, daughter of King Charles VI, who had disowned his son Charles in favor of Henry in the Treaty of Troyes. Henry and Catherine's infant son Henry VI, the Bishop's great-nephew, succeeded Henry as King of England, and, in accordance with the Treaty, succeeded Charles as King of France. Bishop Beaufort and the child king's other uncles formed the Regency government, and in 1424, Beaufort became Chancellor once more, but was forced to resign in 1426 because of disputes with the king's other uncles, in particular Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester.
Pope Martin V finally appointed Beaufort as Cardinal in 1426. In 1427, he made him the Papal Legate for Germany, Hungary, and Bohemia, and directed him to lead the fourth "crusade" against the Hussites heretics in Bohemia. Beaufort's forces were routed by the Hussites at the Battle of Tachov on 4 August 1427.
After the English captured Joan of Arc in 1431, legend has it that Beaufort was present to observe some of the heresy trial sessions presided over by Bishop Pierre Cauchon of Beauvais. However, the full record of the trial, which lists all those who took part in her trial on a daily basis shows that he was not there. His sole appearance is on the day of her abjuration (26th May 1431). The formal record does not include Beaufort's presence at her execution but legend has it that he wept as he viewed the horrible scene as she was burned at the stake. This legend derives from what is now known as the Rehabilitation Trial of Joan of Arc which culminated in an examination of numerous witnesses in 1455 and 1456 in which one of the 27 Articles of Enquiry was that Joan had died in "such a manner as to draw from all those present, and even from her English enemies, effusions of tears."  A number of witnesses at this re-trial inferred or declared his presence including one of the original trial judges, one Andre Marguerie, Canon of Rouen, who asserted that Beaufort had reprimanded his chaplain for complaining that the Bishop of Beauvais's sermon was too favourable to Joan. However, it is not clear to which sermon Marguerie was referring .
Affair and daughterEdit
When Henry was Bishop of Lincoln, he supposedly had an affair with Alice FitzAlan (1378–1415), the daughter of Richard FitzAlan and Elizabeth de Bohun and the widow of John Charleton, 4th Baron Cherleton.
"Henry fathered an illegitimate daughter, Jane Beaufort, in 1402, who some make Alice's daughter. Both Jane and her husband, Sir Edward Stradling, were named in Cardinal Beaufort's will. Their marriage about 1423 brought Sir Edward into the political orbit of his shrewd and assertive father-in-law, to whom he may have owed his appointment as chamberlain of South Wales in December 1423, a position he held until March 1437."
- Miranda, Salvador. "Henry Beaufort". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
- Rosenthal, Joel Thomas (1970). "The Training of an Elite Group: English Bishops in the Fifteenth Century". Transactions of the American Philosophical Society (New Series ed.). 60 (5): 7.
- Cokayne Complete Peerage Volume XII pp. 40–41
- Schofield, Nicholas; Skinner, Gerald (2007). The English Cardinals. Oxford, UK: Family Publications. p. 60. ISBN 978-1-871217-65-0.
- Williams, David (1996). British Royalty. London, UK: Cassell. pp. 240–41. ISBN 0-304-34933-X.
- Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 256
- Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 87
- Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 277
- Griffiths, p. 23
- Harriss, G.L. (1987). "Henry Beaufort, 'Cardinal of England'". Proceedings of the 1986 Harlaxton Symposium: England in the Fifteenth Century. Woodbridge, UK: Paul Watkins Publishing: 123–24.
- The Trial of Jeanne d'Arc translated in full by W.P.Barrett,, George Routledge & Sons,1931
- Pernoud, Regine, The Retrial of Joan of Arc, translated by J.M.Cohen, Methuen & Co. 1955
- Pernoud, Regine, The Re-trial of Joan of Arc, translated by J.M.Cohen, Methuen & Co. 1955
- R. A. Griffiths, Conquerors and Conquered in Medieval Wales, 1994.
- Cokayne, George E. (1982). The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct, or Dormant. XII (Microprint ed.). Gloucester, UK: A. Sutton. ISBN 0-904387-82-8.
- Fryde, E.B.; Greenway, D.E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third revised ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.
- Griffiths, Ralph A. (1981). The Reign of King Henry VI: The Exercise of Royal Authority, 1422–1461. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-04372-5.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Henry Beaufort.|
- Harriss, G. L. "Beaufort, Henry (1375?–1447)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/1859. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
| Lord Chancellor
Vicegerent in England to Henry VI
|Catholic Church titles|
| Dean of Wells
| Bishop of Lincoln
William of Wykeham
| Bishop of Winchester
| Cardinal Priest of S. Eusebio
Richard Olivier de Longueil
| Chancellor of the University of Oxford