Henry of Monmouth, Volume 2 - Memoirs of Henry the Fifth
by J. Endell Tyler
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[Transcriber's note: Obvious printer's errors have been corrected. The original spelling has been retained.

Different spelling as been kept, e.g.: - Ruisseauville and Ruissauville - Azincour and Azincourt, etc ...

Some words on page 94 were partly unclear / illegible. - Page 249: ii. vol. changed to vol. ii. - Page 412: The missing anchor for the footnote 305 has been added.]










"Go, call up Cheshire and Lancashire, And Derby hills, that are so free; But neither married man, nor widow's son; No widow's curse shall go with me."









Henry of Monmouth's Accession. — National rejoicings. — His profound sense of the Awfulness of the Charge devolved upon him. — Coronation. — First Parliament. — Habits of business. — He removes the remains of Richard to Westminster. — Redeems the Son of Hotspur, and restores him to his forfeited honours and estates. — Generous conduct towards the Earl of March. — Parliament at Leicester. — Enactments against Lollards. — Henry's Foundations at Shene and Sion. Page 1



State of the Church. — Henry a sincere Christian, but no Bigot. — Degraded state of Religion. — Council of Constance. — Henry's Representatives zealous promoters of Reform. — Hallam, Bishop of Salisbury, avowed enemy of the Popedom. — Richard Ullerston: primitive views of Clerical duties. — Walden, his own Chaplain, accuses Henry of remissness in the extirpation of Heresy. — Forester's Letter to the King. — Henry Beaufort's unhappy interference. — Petition from Oxford. — Henry's personal exertions in the business of Reform. — Reflections on the then apparent dawn of the Reformation. Page 32

CHAPTER XIX. (p. iv)


Wars with France. — Causes which influenced Henry. — Summary of the affairs of France from the time of Edward III. — Reflections on Henry's Title. — Affairs of France from Henry's resolution to claim his "Dormant Rights," and "Rightful Heritage," to his invasion of Normandy. — Negociations. — His Right denied by the French. — Parliament votes him Supplies. Page 70


Modern triple charge against Henry of Falsehood, Hypocrisy, and Impiety. — Futility of the Charge, and utter failure of the Evidence on which alone it is grounded. — He is urged by his people to vindicate the Rights of his Crown, himself having a conscientious conviction of the Justice of his Claim. — Story of the Tennis-Balls. — Preparations for invading France. — Henry's Will made at Southampton. — Charge of Hypocrisy again grounded on the close of that Testament. — Its Futility. — He despatches to the various Powers of Europe the grounds of his Claim on France. Page 89



Preparations for invading France. — Reflections on the Military and Naval State of England. — Mode of raising and supporting an Army. — Song of Agincourt. — Henry of Monmouth the Founder of the English Royal Navy. — Custom of impressing Vessels for the transporting of Troops. — Henry's exertions in Ship-building. — Gratitude due to him. — Conspiracy at Southampton. — Prevalent delusion as to Richard II. — The Earl of March. — Henry's Forces. — He sails for Normandy. Page 119



Henry crosses the Sea: lands at Clef de Caus: lays Siege to Harfleur. — Devoted Attendance on his dying Friend the Bishop of Norwich. — Vast Treasure falls into his hands on the Surrender of Harfleur. — He challenges the Dauphin. — Futile Modern Charge brought against him on that ground. Page 143



Henry, with Troops much weakened, leaves Harfleur, fully purposed to make for Calais, notwithstanding the threatened resistance of the French. — Passes the Field of Cressy. — French resolved to engage. — Night before the Conflict. — FIELD of AGINCOURT. — Slaughter of Prisoners. — Henry, his enemies themselves being Judges, fully exculpated from every suspicion of cruelty or unchivalrous bearing. — He proceeds to Calais. — Thence to London. — Reception by his Subjects. — His modest and pious Demeanour. — Superstitious proceedings of the Ecclesiastical Authorities. — Reflections. — Songs of Agincourt. Page 156



Reasons for delaying a Second Campaign. — Sigismund undertakes to mediate. — Reception of Sigismund. — French Ships scour the seas, and lay siege to Harfleur. — Henry's vigorous measures thereupon. — The Emperor declares for "Henry and his Just Rights." — Joins with him in Canterbury Cathedral on a Day of Thanksgiving for Victory over the French. — With him meets the Duke of Burgundy at Calais. (p. vi) — The Duke also declares for Henry. — Second Invasion of France. — Siege of Caen. — Henry's Bulletin to the Mayor of London. — Hostile Movement of the Scots. Page 203



Henry's progress in his Second Campaign. — Siege of Rouen. — Cardinal des Ursins. — Supplies from London. — Correspondence between Henry and the Citizens. — Negociation with the Dauphin and with the French King. — Henry's Irish Auxiliaries. — Reflections on Ireland. — Its miserable condition. — Wise and strong measures adopted by Henry for its Tranquillity. — Divisions and struggles, not between Romanists and Protestants, but between English and Irish. — Henry and the See of Rome. — Thraldom of Christendom. — The Duke of Brittany declares for Henry. — Spaniards join the Dauphin. — Exhausted State of England. Page 221



Bad faith of the Dauphin. — The Duke of Burgundy brings about an Interview between Henry and the French Authorities. — Henry's first Interview with the Princess Katharine of Valois. — Her Conquest. — The Queen's over-anxiety and indiscretion. — Double-dealing of the Duke of Burgundy; he joins the Dauphin; is murdered on the Bridge of Montereau. — The Dauphin disinherited. — Henry's anxiety to prevent the Escape of his Prisoners. Page 249



Henry's extraordinary attention to the Civil and Private duties of his station, in the midst of his career of Conquest, instanced in various cases. — Provost and Fellows of Oriel College. — The Queen Dowager is accused of Treason. — Treaty between Henry, the French King, and the young Duke of Burgundy. — Henry affianced to Katharine. — The Dauphin is reinforced from Scotland. — Henry, accompanied by his Queen, returns through Normandy to England. Page 262



Katharine crowned. — Henry and his Queen make a progress through a great part of his Dominions. — Arrival of the disastrous news of his Brother's Death (the Duke of Clarence). — Henry meets his Parliament. — Hastens to the Seat of War. — Birth of his Son, Henry of Windsor. — Joins his Queen at Bois de Vincennes. — Their magnificent Reception at Paris. — Henry hastens in person to succour the Duke of Burgundy. — Is seized by a fatal Malady. — Returns to Vincennes. — His Last Hour. — HIS DEATH. Page 286


Was Henry of Monmouth a Persecutor? — Just principles of conducting the Inquiry, and forming the Judgment. — Modern charge against Henry. — Review of the prevalent opinions on Religious Liberty. — True principles of Christian Freedom. — Duty of the State and of Individuals to promote the prevalence of True Religion. — Charge against Henry, as Prince of Wales, for presenting a Petition against the Lollards. — The merciful intention of that Petition. — His Conduct at the Death of Badby. Page 319

CHAPTER XXX. (p. viii)


The Case of Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham. — Reference to his former Life and Character. — Fox's Book of Martyrs. — The Archbishop's Statement. — Milner. — Hall. — Lingard. Cobham offers the Wager of Battle. — Appeals peremptorily to the Pope. — Henry's anxiety to save him. — He is condemned, but no Writ of Execution is issued by the King. — Cobham escapes from the Tower. Page 348


Change in Henry's behaviour towards the Lollards after the affair of St. Giles' Field. — Examination of that affair often conducted with great Partiality and Prejudice. — Hume and the Old Chroniclers. — Fox, Milner, Le Bas. — Public Documents. — Lord Cobham, taken in Wales, is brought to London in a Whirlicole; condemned to be hanged as a Traitor, and burned as a Heretic. — Henry, then in France, ignorant, probably, of Cobham's Capture till after his Execution. — Concluding Reflections. Page 376


The Case of John Clayton, Richard Gurmyn, and William Taylor, burnt for Heresy, examined. — Result of the Investigation. — Henry not a Persecutor. — Reflections. Page 393


No. I. Ballad of Agincourt. 417 No. II. Siege of Rouen. 422 No. III. Authenticity of the Manuscripts—Sloane 1776, and Reg. 13, c. 1. 425






Henry IV. died at Westminster on Monday, March 20, 1413, and Henry of Monmouth's proclamation bears date on the morrow, March 21.[1] Never perhaps was the accession of any prince to the throne of a kingdom hailed with a more general or enthusiastic welcome. If serious minds had entertained forebodings of evil from his reign, (as we (p. 002) believe they had not,) all feelings seem to have been absorbed in one burst of gladness. Both houses of parliament offered to swear allegiance to him before he was crowned: a testimony of confidence and affection never (it is said) before tendered to any English monarch.[2] This prevalence of joyous anticipations from the accession of their young King could not have sprung from any change of conduct or of principle then first made known. Those who charge Henry most unsparingly represent his conversion as having begun only at his father's hour of dissolution. But, before that father breathed his last, the people of England were ready to welcome most heartily his son, such as he was then, without, as it should seem, either (p. 003) hearing of, or wishing for, any change. His principles and his conduct as a ruler had been put to the test during the time he had presided at the council-board; and the people only desired in their new King a continuance of the same wisdom, valour, justice, integrity, and kind-heartedness, which had so much endeared him to the nation as their Prince. In his subjects there appears to have been room for nothing but exultation; in the new King himself widely different feelings prevailed. Ever, as it should seem, under an awful practical sense, as well of the Almighty's presence and providence and majesty, as of his own responsibility and unworthiness, Henry seems to have been suddenly oppressed by the increased solemnity and weight of the new duties which he found himself now called upon to discharge. The scene of his father's death-bed, (carried off, as that monarch was, in the very meridian of life, by a lingering loathsome disease,) and the dying injunctions of that father, may doubtless have added much to the acuteness and the depth of his feelings at that time. And whether he be deemed to have been the licentious, reckless rioter which some writers have been anxious to describe, or whether we regard him as a sincere believer, comparing his past life (though neither licentious nor reckless) with the perfectness of the divine law, the retrospect might well depress him with a consciousness of his own unworthiness, and of his total inability to perform the work which he saw (p. 004) before him, without the strength and guidance of divine grace. For that strength and that guidance, we are assured, he prayed, and laboured, and watched with all the intenseness and perseverance of an humble faithful Christian. Those who are familiar with the expressions of a contrite soul, will fully understand the sentiments recorded of Henry of Monmouth at this season of his self-humiliation, and the dedication of himself to God, and may yet be far from discovering in them conclusive arguments in proof of his having passed his youth in habits of gross violation of religious and moral principle. We have already quoted the assertions of his biographer, that day and night he sought pardon for the past, and grace for the future, to enable him to bend his heart in faith and obedience to the Sovereign of all. And even during the splendour and rejoicings of his coronation he appeared to withdraw his mind entirely from the greatness of his worldly state, thus forced upon him, and to fix his thoughts on the King of kings.[3]

[Footnote 1: Close Roll.]

[Footnote 2: "The high esteem which the nation had of Henry's person produced such an entire confidence in him, that both houses of parliament in an address offered to swear allegiance to him before he was crowned, or had taken the customary oath to govern according to the laws. The King thanked them for their good affections, and exhorted them in their several places and stations to employ all their power for the good of the nation. He told them that he began his reign in pardoning all that had offended him, and with such a desire for his people's happiness, that he would be crowned on no other condition than to make use of all his authority to promote it; and prayed God that, if he foresaw he was like to be any other than a just and good king, he would please to take him immediately out of the world, rather than seat him on the throne, to live a public calamity to his country."—Goodwin. See Stowe. Polyd. Verg. Elmham.]

[Footnote 3: Elmham.]

But he never seems for a day to have been drawn aside by his private devotions from the full discharge of the practical duties of his new station. On the Wednesday he issued summonses for a parliament to meet within three weeks of Easter. On Friday the 7th of April, he was conducted to the Tower by a large body of men of London, who (p. 005) went on horseback to attend him. The next day he was accompanied back to Westminster, with every demonstration of loyalty and devotedness to his person, by a great concourse of lords and knights, many of whom he had created on the preceding evening. On the following morning, being Passion Sunday, April 9th,[4] he was crowned with much[5] magnificence in Westminster Abbey.[6]

[Footnote 4: Not Palm Sunday, but the fifth Sunday in Lent, was called Passion Sunday.]

[Footnote 5: "With mickle royalty."—Chron. Lond.]

[Footnote 6: Chroniclers record that the day of his coronation was a day of storm and tempest, frost and snow, and that various omens of ill portent arose from the circumstance.]

One of the first acts of a sovereign in England at that time was to re-appoint the judges who were in office at the demise of his predecessor, or to constitute new ones in their stead. Among other changes, we find Hankford appointed as Chief Justice in the room of Gascoyne, at least within ten days of the King's accession. For any observation which this fact may suggest, so contrary to those histories which repeat tales instead of seeking for the truth in ancient records, we must refer to the chapter in which we have already examined the credibility of the alleged insult offered by Prince Henry to a Judge on the bench of justice.[7]

[Footnote 7: Henry had excited feelings of confidence and admiration in the minds of foreign potentates, as well as in his subjects at home. Among the embassies, with offers and pledges of friendship and amity, which hastened to his court on his accession, are numbered those of John of Portugal, Robert Duke of Albany, Regent of Scotland, John King of Castile, John Duke of Brittany, Charles King of France, and Pope John XXIII.]

The first parliament of Henry V. met in the Painted Chamber (p. 006) at Westminster, on Monday, 15th of May. The King was on his throne; but the Bishop of Winchester, his uncle, then Chancellor of England, opened the business of the session. On this, as on many similar occasions, the chancellor, generally a prelate, addressed the assembled states in an oration, half speech and half sermon, upon a passage of Scripture selected as a text. On the opening of this parliament, the chancellor informed the peers and the commons that the King's purpose in calling them together as the Great Council of the nation was threefold:—First, he was desirous of supporting the throne,—"his high and royal estate;" secondly, he was bent on maintaining the law and good government within his realm; and thirdly, he desired to cherish the friends and to resist the enemies of his kingdom. It is remarkable that no mention is made in this parliament at all on the part of the King, or his chancellor, of either heresy or Lollardism. The speaker refers to some tumults, especially at Cirencester, where the populace appear to have attacked the abbey; complaints also were made against the conduct of ordinaries, and some strong enactments were passed against the usurpations of Rome, (p. 007) to which reference will again be made: but not a word in answer to these complaints would lead to the inference that the spirit of persecution was then in the ascendant. It was not till the last day of April 1414, after the affair of St. Giles' Field, that the statute against the Lollards was passed at Leicester.[8] The chancellor at that subsequent period speaks of their treasonable designs to destroy the King having been lately discovered and discomfited; and the record expressly declares that the ordinance was made with the consent and at the prayer of the commons.

[Footnote 8: Sir Edward Coke, in his 4th Inst. ch. i. declares that this act was disavowed in the next parliament by the Commons, for that they never assented. The Author has searched the Parliament Rolls in vain for the authority on which that assertion was founded.]

But though neither the King nor his council gave any indication, in his first parliament, of a desire to interfere with men's consciences in matters of religion, the churchmen were by no means slumbering at their post. Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, convened a council of the bishops and clergy, who met by adjournment, in full numbers, at St. Paul's, on the 26th of June 1413;[9] and adopted most rigorous measures for the extirpation of heresy, levelled professedly with a more especial aim against the ringleader of Lollardism, as he (p. 008) was called, the valiant and unfortunate Lord Cobham. On these proceedings we purpose to dwell separately in another part of this work; and, in addition to what we shall there allege, little needs be observed here by way of anticipation. In leaving the subject, however, as far as Henry V.'s character is concerned, it may not be out of place to remark, that historical facts, so far from stamping on him the mark of a religious persecutor, prove that it required all the united efforts of the clergy and laity to induce him to put the existing laws in force against those who were bold enough to dissent from the Romish faith. So far from his "having watched the Lollards as his greatest enemies," so far from "having listened to every calumny which the zeal and hatred of the hierarchy could invent or propagate against the unfortunate followers of Wickliff," (the conduct and disposition ascribed to him by Milner,) we have sufficient proof of the dissatisfaction of the church with him in this respect; and their repeated attempts to excite him to more vigorous measures against the rising and spreading sect. By a minute of council, May 27, 1415, we find that, whilst preparing for his expedition to France, he is reminded to instruct the archbishops and bishops to take measures, each within his respective diocese, to resist the malice of the Lollards. The King merely answered, that he had given the subject in charge to his chancellor; and we are assured that Dr. Thomas (p. 009) Walden,[10] one of the most learned and powerful divines of the day, but very violent in his opposition to the new doctrines, openly inveighed against Henry for his great negligence in regard to the duty of punishing heretics.[11] To his religious sentiments we must again refer in the sequel, and also as the course of events may successively suggest any observations on that head.

[Footnote 9: The Monday after Corpus Christi day; which feast, being the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, fell in the year 1413 on June 22.]

[Footnote 10: This Dr. Walden (so called from the place of his birth in Essex) was so able a disputant that he was called the Netter. He seems to have written many works, which are either totally lost, or are buried in temporary oblivion.]

[Footnote 11: Goodwin. Appendix, p. 361.]

When Henry IV. ascended the throne, parliament prayed that the Prince might not leave the realm, but remain in England as the anchor of the people's hopes; and, soon after his own accession,[12] Henry V. is advised by his council to remain near London, that he might receive prompt intelligence of whatever might arise in any quarter, and be able to take immediate steps for the safety of the commonweal. He seems to have carried with him even from his earliest youth, wherever he went, a peculiar talent of exciting confidence in every one. Whether in the field of battle, or the chamber of council,—whether as the young Prince, just initiated in affairs of war and government, or as the experienced captain and statesman,—his contemporaries looked to him as a kind of guardian spirit, to protect them from (p. 010) harm, and lead them onward to good success. No despondency, nor even misgivings, show themselves in the agents of any enterprise in which he was personally engaged. The prodigious effects of these feelings in the English towards their prince were displayed in their full strength, perhaps, at the battle of Agincourt; but similar results are equally, though not so strikingly, visible in many other passages of his life.

[Footnote 12: Minutes of Council, 29 June 1413.]

Among the various causes to which historians have been accustomed to attribute the general anticipations of good from Henry's reign, which pervaded all classes, is the appointment of Gascoyne to the high station of Chief Justice immediately upon his ascending the throne. But we have already seen that, however gladly an eulogist would seize on such an exalted instance of magnanimity and noble generosity, the truth of history forbids our even admitting its probability in this place. Henry certainly did not re-appoint Gascoyne. But, whilst we cannot admit the tradition which would mark the true character of Henry's mind by his behaviour to the Chief Justice, there is not wanting many an authentic record which would amply account for his almost unprecedented popularity at the very commencement of his reign. Among these we must not omit to notice the resolution which he put in practice of retiring for an hour or more every day, after his early dinner, to receive petitions from any of his subjects, however (p. 011) humble,[13] who would appeal to him for his royal interposition; to examine and consider the several cases patiently; and to redress real grievances. Indeed, numberless little occurrences meet us on every side, which seem to indicate very clearly that he loved the right and hated iniquity; and that he was never more happy than whilst engaged in deeds of justice, mercy, and charity. He seems to have received the golden law for his rule, "See that they who are in need and necessity have right;" and to have rejoiced in keeping that (p. 012) law himself, and compelling all within the sphere of his authority and influence to observe it also.

[Footnote 13: Many original petitions addressed to Henry are still preserved among our records. In one, which may serve as a specimen of the kind of application to which this custom compelled him to open his ear, Richard Hunt appeals to him as a "right merciable lord, moved with pity, mercy, and grace." "In great desolation and heaviness of heart," the petitioner states that his son-in-law, Richard Peke, who had a wife and four children, and had been all his life a true labourer and innocent man, and well-beloved by his neighbours, had been detected in taking from a vessel goods not worth three shillings; for which crime his mortal enemies (though they might have their property again) "sued to have him dead." He urges Henry to grant him "full noble grace," at the reverence of Almighty God, and for passion that Christ suffered for all mankind, and for the pity that he had on Mary Magdalene. The petitioner then promised (as petitioners now do) to pray for endless mercy on Henry; he adds, moreover, what would certainly sound strange in a modern petition to a monarch, "And ye, gracious and sovereign lord, shall have a good ox to your larder." Henry granted the petition. "The King woll that this bill pass without any manner of fine, or fees that longeth to him."]

Another incident recorded of Henry of Monmouth at this period, strongly marking the kindness and generosity and nobleness of his mind, was the removal of the remains of Richard II. from Langley to Westminster. Without implying any consciousness, or even suspicion of guilt, on the part of his father as to Richard's death, we may easily suppose Henry to have regarded the deposition of that monarch as an act of violence, justifiable only on the ground of extreme necessity: he might have considered him as an injured man, by whose fall his father and himself had been raised to the throne. Instead of allowing his name and his mortal remains to be buried in oblivion, (with the chance moreover of raising again in men's minds fresh doubts and surmises of his own title to the throne, for he was not Richard's right heir,) Henry resolved to pay all the respect in his power to the memory of the friend of his youth, and by the only means at his command to make a sort of reparation for the indignities to which the royal corpse had been exposed. He caused the body to be brought in solemn funeral state to Westminster, and there to be buried,[14] with all the honour and circumstance accustomed to be paid to the earthly remains of royalty, by the side of his former Queen, Anne, (p. 013) in the tomb prepared by Richard for her and for himself. The diligent investigator will discover many such incidents recorded of Henry V; some of a more public and important nature than others, but all combining to stamp on his name in broad and indelible letters the character of a truly high-minded, generous, grateful, warm-hearted man.

[Footnote 14: The Pell Rolls acquaint us with the very great expense incurred on this occasion.]

Another instance of the same feeling, carried, perhaps, in one point a step further in generosity and Christian principle, was evinced in his conduct towards the son of Sir Henry Percy, Hotspur, the former antagonist of his house. This young nobleman had been carried by his friends into Scotland, for safe keeping, on the breaking out of his grandfather's (Northumberland's) rebellion; and was detained there, as some say, in concealment, till Henry V. made known his determination to restore him to his title and estates. The Scots, who were in possession of his person, kept him as a prisoner and hostage; and although Henry might have considered a foreign land the best home for the son of the enemy of his family, yet so bent was he on effecting the noble design of reinstating him in all which his father's and his grandfather's treason had forfeited, that he consented to exchange for him a noble Scot, who had been detained in England for thirteen years. Mordak of Fife, son and heir of the Duke of Albany, had been taken prisoner at the battle of Homildon Hill, in 1402, (it is curious to remark,) by Hotspur, and his father Northumberland; and now (p. 014) Henry V. exchanges this personage for Hotspur's son, the heir of Northumberland. This youth was only an infant when his father fell at the battle of Shrewsbury; his mother was Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Edmund Mortimer,[15] Earl of March: and thus a king, under the circumstances of Henry, but with a less noble mind, might have regarded him with jealousy on both sides of his parentage, and been glad (without exposing himself to the charge of any positive act of harshness) to allow him to remain in a foreign country deprived of his honours and his estates. But Henry's spirit soared above these considerations; and, in the orphan of a generous rival, he saw only a fit object on whom to exercise his generosity and Christian charity. A negotiation was carried on between Henry and some who represented young Percy; care being taken to ascertain the identity of the person who should be offered in exchange for Mordak. After certain prescribed oaths were taken, and pledges given, and the payment of a stipulated sum, 10,000l., the young man was invited to come to Henry's court with all speed.

[Footnote 15: Dugdale's Baronage.]

There seems to have intervened some considerable impediment to this proposed exchange.[16] The commission to John Hull and William Chancellor to convey Mordak to the north bears date 21st of (p. 015) May; and yet instructions for a negotiation with his father, the Duke of Albany, then Regent of Scotland, for the exchange, were issued to Sir Ralph Evre and others, as late as the 10th of the following December. At the parliament, however, held March 16, 1416, Henry Percy, in the presence of the King himself, does homage for his lands and honours. And, before Henry's death, the Pell Rolls record payments to this Earl of Northumberland, appointed guardian of Berwick and the East March, as regularly as, in the early part of Henry IV.'s reign, issues had been made to his father Hotspur, and his grandfather, the aged Earl, for the execution of the same duties. The lands of the Percies, on their attainder, were confiscated, and given to the King's brother, the Duke of Bedford; to whom, on restoring his lands and honours to the young Earl, Henry made an annual compensation in part at least for the loss.[17]

[Footnote 16: Minutes of Council, 21 May and 10 Dec. 1415. Addit. MS. 4600. Art. 147.]

[Footnote 17: Pell Rolls, Mich. 4. Hen. V. Many documents also in Rymer refer to this transaction.]

Another example of generous behaviour in the young King towards those whom he had in his power, and of whom less noble minds would have entertained suspicion and jealousy, is seen in his conduct towards the Earl of March.[18] This young nobleman, by the law of (p. 016) primogeniture, was rightful heir to the throne; being descended from Lionel Duke of Clarence, third son of Edward III. And so much was he a cause of apprehension and uneasiness to Henry IV. and his council, that it was thought necessary to keep him in close custody, and also near the person of the King, whenever the court removed towards the borders of the kingdom. It was in the name of this young man that his uncle Edmund Mortimer excited all his tenantry and dependents to join Owyn Glyndowr in rebellion against Henry IV; and on all occasions the malcontents of the whole country, supposing Richard to be dead, held forth the Earl of March as their liege sovereign. Henry V. could not have been charged with unwarrantable suspicions or severity, had he continued the same system of watchfulness over this formidable personage, which had been observed under the reign of his predecessor. Provided only that he treated him with kindness, few would have wondered or complained if he had still kept him as a prisoner on parole.[19] But Henry, to whose guardianship, whilst Prince (p. 017) of Wales, the young Earl had been intrusted, was no sooner seated on the throne, than he admitted this young man into a full share of his confidence; not with the suspicion of a rival, nor with the fear of an enemy, but with the openness of an acknowledged and kind master towards a trustworthy and devoted servant. The references to (p. 018) him which are found in the authentic records of that time (and they are not a few) all tend to establish this point.[20] Henry immediately gave him, on his coming of age, full and free possession of all his manors, castles, lands, advowsons, and honours; and seems to have had him continually in his retinue as a companion and friend. On one occasion we may suppose that Henry's suspicions and apprehensions of danger from the young Earl must have been roused; and yet we find him still continued in his confidence, and still left without any restraint or estrangement. When the conspiracy against Henry was discovered at Southampton, the Earl of Cambridge, (as we shall see more in detail hereafter,) in his letter of confession, declares it to have been the intention of the conspirators to carry the Earl of March into Wales, and to proclaim him as their lawful king. How far the young Earl was privy to this conspiracy, or to what extent he was "art and part" in it, does not distinctly appear. An expression, indeed, in the early part of the Earl of Cambridge's letter, "Having the Earl of March by his own consent, and by the assent of myself," should seem to imply that he was by no means ignorant of the plans of the conspirators, nor averse to them. How far, moreover, Henry thought him guilty, is matter of doubt; but certain it is, that he deemed (p. 019) it necessary to have the King's pardon regularly signed in the usual manner for all treasons, felonies, and misdemeanors. The instrument bears date August 7, 1415, at Southampton. This document, however, by no means proves his guilt: on many occasions such patents of pardon were granted to prevent malicious and vexatious prosecutions. Nevertheless, at all events, it shows that Henry's thoughts must have been especially drawn to the relative circumstances under which himself and the Earl of March were placed; and yet he continued to behave towards him with the same confidence and friendship as before. Two years afterwards, Henry appointed him his lieutenant at sea, with full powers; yet so as not to supersede the privileges and authority of the high admiral, the Duke of Exeter.[21] The following year, in the summer, he was made lieutenant and guardian-general of all Normandy; and in the December of the same year he was commissioned to receive the homage and oaths of all in that country who owed suit and service to the King. He fought side by side with Henry at the field of Agincourt; and there seems to have grown stronger and riper between them a spirit of friendship and mutual confidence.[22]

[Footnote 18: Roger Mortimer, fifth Earl of March, son and heir of Philippa, daughter and heiress of Lionel Duke of Clarence, third son of Edward III, died in 1398; leaving two sons, Edmund, of whom we are here speaking, then about six years of age, and Roger, about a year younger.]

[Footnote 19: In a previous section of these Memoirs, brief mention has been made of the abortive attempt to carry off into Wales this young Earl of March and his brother, and of the generous conduct of Henry of Monmouth in his endeavour to restore the Duke of York to the King's favour, which he had forfeited in consequence of his alleged participation in that bold design. A manuscript has since been brought under the Author's notice, which places in a very strong light the treasonable and murderous purpose of those who originated the plot, and would account for the most watchful and jealous caution on the part of the reigning family against a repetition of such attempts. Henry must have been fully aware of his danger; and the fact of his throwing off all suspicion towards the young Earl, and receiving him with confidence and friendship, enhances our estimate of the generous and noble spirit which actuated him. The document, in other points curious, seems to deserve a place here:

"The Friday after St. Vallentyne's day, anno 6 Henrici Quarti, ye Erll of Marche's sons was secretly conveyd out of Wyndsor Castell yerly in ye morninge, and fond af[ter?] by diligent serche. But ye smythe, for makyng the key, lost fyrst his lands; after, his heed. Ye Lady Spenser, wydow to the Lord Spenser executed at Bristow, and syster to ye Duke of York, was comytted cloase prysonner, whare she accused her brother predict for the actor, for ye children predict; and that he sholde entend to breake into the King's manor att Eltham ye last Crystmas by scaling the walles in ye nighte, and there to murther ye Kinge; and, for better proaffe hereof, that yf eyther knight or squyer of England wold combatt for her in the quarrell, she wold endure her body to be burned yf he war vanquished. Then W. Maydsten, one of her sqyres [undertook?] his Mrs. quarrell with gage of his wheed [so], and was presently arrested by Lord Thomas, ye Kyng's son, to the Tower, and his goods confyscatt. Thomas Mowbray, Erll Marshall, accused to be privy to the same, butt was pardoned."—Lansdown, 860 a, fol. 288 b.]

[Footnote 20: 14 Nov. 1414. MS. Donat. 4600. Reference is made there to June 9, 1413, not three months after Henry's accession.]

[Footnote 21: 1417, July 20, at Porchester. 1418, 2 June, at Berneye. December 1418, in the camp before Rouen. 11 June 1416.—Rymer.]

[Footnote 22: In the summer after the battle of Agincourt the King "takes into his especial care William of Agincourt, the prisoner of his very dear cousin Edmund Earl of March."]

These are a few among the many examples upon record of the (p. 020) generous and noble spirit of Henry; whilst history may be challenged to bring forward any instances of cruelty or oppression to neutralize them. Sir Matthew Hale confessed that he could never discover any act of public injustice and tyranny during the Lancastrian sway; and the inquirer into Henry of Monmouth's character may be emboldened to declare, that he can discover no act of wanton severity, or cruelty, or unkindness in his life. The case of the prisoners in the day and on the field of Agincourt, the fate of Lord Cobham, and the wars in France, require each a separate examination; and in our inquiry we must not forget the kind, and gentle, and compassionate spirit which appears to breathe so naturally and uniformly from his heart: on the other hand, we must not suffer ourselves to be betrayed into such a full reliance on his character for mercy, as would lead us to give a blind implicit sanction to all his deeds of arms. In our estimate of his character, moreover, as indicated by his conduct previously to his first invasion of France, and during his struggles and conquests there, it is quite as necessary for us to bear in mind the tone, and temper, and standard of political and moral government which prevailed in his age, as it is essential for us, when we would estimate his religious character, to recollect what were in that age (p. 021) throughout Christendom the acknowledged principles of the church in communion with the see of Rome.

On Monday, April 30, 1414, Henry met his parliament at Leicester.[23] Why it was not held at Westminster, we have no positive reasons assigned in history;[24] and the suggestion of some, that the enactments there made against the Lollards were too hateful to be passed at the metropolis, is scarcely reasonable.[25] The Bishop of Winchester, as Chancellor, set forth in very strong language the treasonable practices lately discovered and discomfited; and the parliament enacted a very severe law against all disturbers of the peace of the realm and of the unity of the church. It is generally said that the reading of the Bible in English was forbidden in this session under very severe penalties; but no such enactment (p. 022) seems to have been recorded. The prelates, however, were the judges of what heresy was; and to study the Holy Scriptures in the vernacular language might well have seemed to them a very dangerous practice; to be checked, therefore, with a strong hand. The judges, and other state officers, were directed to take an oath to exert themselves for the suppression of Lollardism.

[Footnote 23: This parliament was summoned to be at Leicester on the 29th of February, but was prorogued to the 30th of April. At this period parliaments were by no means uniformly held at Westminster.]

[Footnote 24: In this parliament we find a petition loudly complaining of the outrages of the Welsh.]

[Footnote 25: About this time there seems to have been entertained by the legislature a most determined resolution to limit the salaries of chaplains in private families. Many sumptuary laws were made on this subject. Provisions were made repeatedly in this and other parliaments against excessive payments to them. The origin of this feeling does not appear to have transpired. Probably it was nothing more than a jealousy excited by the increasing wealth of the church.—Parl. Rolls, 2 Henry V.]

Again and again are we reminded, through the few years of Henry's reign, that the cause of liberty was progressive; and any encroachments of the royal prerogative upon the liberties of the Commons were restrained and corrected, with the free consent and full approbation of the King. A petition in English, presented to him in this parliament, in many respects a curious document, with the King's answer, bears testimony to the same point. "Our sovereign lord,—your humble and true lieges that been come for the commons of your land, beseech unto your right righteousness, that so as it hath ever been their liberty and freedom that there should be no statute nor law made otherwise than they gave their assent thereto, considering that the commons of your land (the which is and ever hath been a member of your parliament) been as well assenters as petitioners, that from this time forward, by complaint of the commons of any mischief asking remedy by mouth of their Speaker, or else by petition written, that there never be no law made thereupon, and engrossed as statute and law, (p. 023) neither by addition, neither by diminution, by no manner of term or terms, the which should change the sentence and the intent asked by the Speaker's mouth, or the petitions before said, given up in writing without assent of the aforesaid commons." To this petition the following answer was made: "The King, of his grace especial, granteth, that from henceforth nothing be enacted to the petitions of his commons that be contrary to their asking, whereby they should be bound without their assent; saving alway to our liege lord his real prerogative to grant or deny what him lust of their petitions and askings aforesaid."

This parliament was adjourned from Leicester, and re-assembled at Westminster on the Octaves of St. Martin, 18th November 1414. The most gratifying record of this great council of the realm is that which informs us of the restoration of Henry Percy to his estates and honours. The most important subject to which the thoughts of the peers and commons were drawn was the King's determination to recover his rights in the realm of France.

The motives which influenced Henry to undertake this extraordinary step can be known only to the Searcher of hearts. Some writers, in their excessive zeal for Protestantism, anxiously bent on stamping upon Henry the character of an ambitious tyrant and a religious persecutor, employ no measured language in their condemnation (p. 024) of his designs against France. Milner thus gives his summary of the proceedings of this reign at home and abroad. "Henry Chicheley, now Archbishop of Canterbury, continued at the head of that see from February 1414, to April 1443. This man deserves to be called the firebrand of the age in which he lived. To subserve the purposes of his own pride and tyranny, he engaged King Henry in his famous contest with France, by which a prodigious carnage was made of the human race, and the most dreadful miseries were brought upon both kingdoms. But Henry was a soldier, and understood the art of war, though perfectly ignorant of religion; and that ardour of spirit, which in youth[26] had spent itself in vicious indulgences, was now employed under the management of Chicheley in desolating France by one of the most unjust wars ever waged by ambition, and in furnishing for vulgar minds matter of declamation on the valour of the English nation. While this scene was carrying on in France, the Archbishop at home, partly by exile, partly by forced abjurations, and partly by the flames, domineered over the Lollards, and almost effaced the vestiges of godliness in the kingdom."

[Footnote 26: When his determination to recover his rights was announced in parliament, he was twenty-seven years of age.]

These are very hard words, much more readily written than justified. Such sentences of condemnation require a much clearer insight (p. 025) into the workings of the human heart than falls to the lot of any human being to possess, when he would examine into the motives of a fellow-mortal. It is very easy by one sweeping clause to denounce the war as unjust, and to ascribe it to the ambition of Henry, reckless of human suffering. But truth requires us to weigh the whole matter far more patiently, and to substitute evidence in the place of assumptions, and argument instead of declamation. And it is impossible for the biographer of Henry V. to carry his reader with him through the scenes of his preparation for the struggle with France, and his conduct in the several campaigns which chiefly engaged from this time till his death all the energies of his mind and body, without recalling somewhat in detail the circumstances of Henry's position at this time. This, however, will require also a brief review of the state of France through some previous years of her internal discords and misery. Reserving them for another chapter, there are some circumstances of a more private and domestic character which it might be well for us first to mention in this place.

That Henry was habitually under the influence of strong religious feelings, though his views of Christian doctrine partook much of the general superstition of the age, is evident; and one of the first acts of his government was to satisfy his own conscience, and to give full testimony to the church of his piety, and zeal, and devotedness, (p. 026) by founding three religious houses. When, exactly a century later, Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester, communicated to his friend, Hugh Oldham, Bishop of Exeter, his intention of founding a monastery, his friend, instead of giving him encouragement to proceed with his plan, remonstrated with him on the folly of building houses, and providing a maintenance for monks, who would live in idleness, unprofitable to themselves and to society;[27] urging him at the same time rather to found a college for the encouragement of sound learning: and the College of Corpus Christi in Oxford owes its existence, humanly speaking, to that sound admonition. Perhaps, had Henry V. been fortunate enough to meet with so able and honest an adviser, Oxford might have had within its walls now another nursery of religion and learning,—a monument of his piety and of his love for whatever was commendable and of good report. Our Oxford chronicles record his expressed intention both to reform the statutes of the University, and also to found an establishment within the castle walls, (p. 027) annexing to it all the alien priories in England for its endowment, in which efficient provision should be made for the instruction of youth in all the best literature of the age.[28] Had he first resolved to found his college, and reserved his religious houses for later years, his work might still have been flourishing at this day, and might have yet continued to flourish till the hand of spoliation and refined barbarism shall be strong and bold enough (should ever such a calamity visit our native land) to wrest these seminaries of Christian principles and sound learning from the friends of religion, and order, and peace. As it is, Henry's establishments survived him little more than a century; and the lands which he had destined to support them passed away into other hands, and were alienated from religious purposes altogether.

[Footnote 27: The answer which Bishop Oldham is said to have made on this occasion is chiefly remarkable for the intimation it conveys, that the downfall of the monasteries was anticipated a quarter of a century before their actual dissolution. "What, my lord, shall we build houses and provide livelihoods for a company of bussing monks, whose end and fall we may ourselves live to see? No, no; it is more meet that we should provide for the increase of learning, and for such as by their learning shall do good to the church and commonwealth."—Anthony Wood.]

[Footnote 28: Henry had much at heart the maintenance of the truth of the Christian religion, such as he received it. Of this he is thought to have given early proof, by confirming a grant of fifty marks yearly, during pleasure, to the prior and convent of the order of Preachers in the University of Oxford, to support the doctrine of the Catholic faith. It will be said that this was merely to repress the Lollards. Be it so, though the original document is silent on that point. It proves, at least, that he wished to maintain his religion by argument rather than by violence. The circumstance, however, of its being merely a confirmation of a grant, which even his father found in existence when he became King, takes away much from the importance of the fact.—Pell Rolls, 1 Henry IV.]

The sites which Henry selected for his establishments were, (p. 028) one at Shene, in Surrey; the other at Sion, in the manor of Isleworth, on the Thames.

The terms of the foundation-charters of these religious houses, their rules, and circumstances, and possessions, it does not fall within the plan of this work to specify in detail. The brothers and sisters admitted into these asylums appear to have been bound by very strict rules of self-denial and poverty.

The monastery at Shene, built on the site of Richard II.'s palace, which he never would enter after the loss of his wife Anne, who died there, and which on that account he utterly destroyed, was called "The House of Jesus of Bethlehem," and was dedicated "to the honour, and glory, and exaltation of the name of Jesus most dear;" Henry expressing in the foundation-charter, among sentiments less worthy of an enlightened Christian, and savouring of the superstition of those days, that he founded the institution in pious gratitude for the blessings of time and of eternity, which flow only from HIM.

The house of Sion in Isleworth, or Mount Sion, as it is called in the Pope's bull of confirmation, was dedicated "to the honour, praise, and glory of the Trinity most High, of the Virgin Mary, of the Disciples and Apostles of God, of all Saints, and especially of the most holy Bridget." This house was suppressed by Henry VIII; when the nuns fled from their native country, and took refuge, first in Zealand, then at Mechlin, whence they removed to Rouen; at last, fifteen reached (p. 029) Lisbon in 1594. The history of this little company of sisters is very remarkable and interesting. In Lisbon they were well received, and were afterwards supported by royal bounty, as well as by the benevolence of individuals. They seem to have settled there peaceably, and to have lived in their own house, and to have had their own church, for more than fifty years. In 1651 their house and church were both burnt to the ground; but, through the beneficence of the pious, they had the happiness of seeing them restored. In 1755 this little community suffered in common with the other unfortunate inhabitants of Lisbon, and seem to have lost their all in the earthquake. In their distress they cast their eyes to the land of their fathers, and applied for the charity of their countrymen. There is something very affecting in the language of the petition by which our countrywomen in their calamity sought to excite the sympathy, and obtain the benevolent aid, of their fellow-Christians at home.

We, the underwritten, and company, having on the 1st of November last suffered such irreparable losses and damage by the dreadful earthquake and fire which destroyed this city and other parts of the kingdom, that we have neither house nor sanctuary left us wherein to retire; nor even the necessaries of life, it being out of the power of our friends and benefactors here to relieve us, they all having undergone the same misfortune and disaster. So that we see no other means of establishing ourselves than by applying to the nobility, ladies, and gentlemen of our (p. 030) dear country, humbly imploring your tender compassion and pious charity; that, so being assisted and succoured from your bountiful hands, we may for the present subsist under our deplorable misfortune, and in time retrieve so much of our losses as to be able to continue always to pray for the prosperity and conservation of our benefactors. Augustus Sulyard, Eliz. Hodgeskin, Peter Willcock. Frances Huddleston, Cath. Baldwin, Sion House, Lisbon, Winifred Hill. May 25, 1756.

Through another fifty years, the little band, still keeping up the succession by novices from England, remained in the land of their refuge; till, in 1810, nine of them, the majority, it is said, of the survivors, fled from the horrors of war to their native island; and their convent, whose founder was Henry, the greatest general of his age, became the barracks of English soldiers under Wellington, the greatest general of the present day. On their first return they lived in a small house in Walworth; and in 1825, the remainder, now advanced in years and reduced to two or three in number, were still living in the vicinity of the Potteries in Staffordshire,—the last remnant of an English convent dissolved in the time of Henry VIII. There are at this time mulberry-trees growing at Sion House, one of the Duke of Northumberland's[29] mansions, which are believed, not only (p. 031) to have been living, but to have borne fruit, in the time of the monastery.[30]

[Footnote 29: The present Duke and Duchess kindly searched out and visited the remaining sisters in Staffordshire.]

[Footnote 30: Dugdale; ed. 1830.]

Henry seems to have had much at heart the intellectual, moral, and religious improvement of those who might be admitted to a share of his bounty in these establishments. The Pell Rolls record a payment "of 100l. part only of a larger sum, to the prior and convent of Mount Grace, for books and other things to be supplied by them to his new foundation at Sion."[31] Whether the prior and brethren of Mount Grace had duplicates, or were mere agents, or parted with their own stock to meet the wishes of their King, the record does not tell.

[Footnote 31: April 11, 1415.]




Some writers, (taking a very narrow and prejudiced view of the affairs of the age to which our thoughts are directed in these Memoirs, and of the agents employed in those transactions,) when they tell us, that Henry was so devotedly attached to the church, and so zealous a friend of her ministers, that he was called the Prince of Priests, would have us believe that he "entirely resigned his understanding to the guidance of the clergy." But his principles and his conduct (p. 033) in ecclesiastical matters have been misunderstood, and very unfairly exaggerated and distorted. That Henry was a sincere believer in the religion of the Cross is unquestionable; and that, in common with the large body of believers through Christendom, he had been bred up in the baneful error of identifying the Catholic church of Christ with the see of Rome, is in some points of view equally evident: but that he was a supporter of the Pope against the rights of the church in England and other his dominions, or was an upholder of the abuses which had then overspread the whole garden of Christ's heritage, so far from being established by evidence, is inconsistent with the testimony of facts. The usurpations of the Romish see called for resistance,[32] and Henry to a certain extent resisted them. The abuses in the church needed reformation, and Henry showed that he possessed the spirit of a real reformer, bent on the correction of what was wrong, but uncompromising in his maintenance of the religion which he embraced in his heart. He gave proof of a spirit more Catholic than Roman, more Apostolic than Papal.

[Footnote 32: In the early part of his father's reign, an ordinance was made, charging the King's officers not to suffer aliens to bring bulls or other letters into the kingdom, which might injure the King or his realm.—Cleop. F. III. f. 114.]

In his very first parliament strong enactments were passed forbidding ecclesiastics to receive bishoprics and benefices from Rome, on pain of forfeiture and exile. And on complaints being made against (p. 034) the ordinaries, Henry's answer is very characteristic of his principles of church reform: "I will direct the bishops to remedy these evils themselves; and, if they fail, then I will myself take the matter into my own hands."

He had been little more than half a year on the throne,[33] when he sent a peremptory mandate to the bishops of Aquitain, that they should on no account obey any provision from the court of Rome, by which preferment would be given to an enemy of England. And in the following month, Dec. 11, 1413, Henry issued a prohibition, forbidding John Bremore, clerk, whom the Pope had recommended to him when Prince of Wales, to return to the court of Rome for the purpose of carrying on mischievous designs against the King and his people, under a penalty of 100l. And among his own bishops, countenanced and confidentially employed by himself, were found men who protested honestly and decidedly against the tyranny and corruption of Rome, and were as zealously bent on restoring the church to the purity of its better days, as were those martyrs to the truth who in the middle of the next century sealed their testimony by their blood. To what extent Henry V. must be regarded as having given a fair promise that, had he lived, he would have devoted the energies of his mind to work out such an effective reformation as would have satisfied the majority of the people in England, and left little in that way for his successors (p. 035) to do, every one must determine for himself. In forming our judgment, however, we must take into account, not only what he actually did, but also whatever the tone, and temper, and turn of his mind (from such intimations as we may be enabled to glean scattered up and down through his life) might seem to have justified persons in anticipating. It would be vain to build any theory on what might have happened had the course of Providence in Henry's destinies been different: and yet we may without presumption express a belief that, had his life been spared, and had he found himself seated in peace and security on the united throne of England and France, instead of exhausting his resources, his powers of body and mind, and his time, in a fruitless crusade to the Holy Land, (by which he certainly once purposed to vindicate the honour of his Redeemer's name,) he might have concentrated all his vast energies on the internal reformation of the church itself. Instead of leaving her then large possessions for the hand of the future spoiler, he might have effectually provided for their full employment in the religious education of the whole people, and in the maintenance of a well-educated, pious, and zealous body of clergy, restored to their pastoral duties and devoted to the ministry. That the church needed a vigorous and thorough, but honest and friendly reform,—not the confiscation of her property to personal aggrandizement and secular purposes, but the re-adjustment of what had degenerated from its original intention,—is proved by (p. 036) evidence most painfully conclusive. Indeed, the enormities which had grown up, and which were defended and cherished by the agents of Rome, far exceed both in number and magnitude the present general opinion with regard to those times. The Conventual system[34] had well nigh destroyed the efficiency of parochial ministrations: what was intended for the support of the pastor, was withdrawn to uphold the dignity and luxury of the monastery; parsonage houses were left to fall to decay, and hirelings of a very inferior class were employed on a miserable pittance to discharge their perfunctory duties as they might. "Provisions" from Rome had exempted so large a proportion of the spirituality from episcopal jurisdiction, that, even had all the bishops been appointed on the principle of professional excellence, their power of restoring discipline would have been lamentably deficient. But in their appointment was evinced the most reckless prostitution of their sacred order. Not only was the selection of bishops made without reference to personal merit and individual fitness, whilst regard was had chiefly to high connexions and the interests of the Papacy; but even children were made bishops, (p. 037) and the richest dignities of the church were heaped upon them: foreigners unacquainted with the language of the people were thrust into offices, for the due discharge of the duties of which a knowledge of the vernacular language was absolutely necessary. The courts ecclesiastical ground down the clergy by shameless extortions; whilst appeals to Rome put a complete bar against any suit for justice. Their luxury and excesses, their pride and overbearing presumption, their devotedness to secular pursuits, the rapacious aggrandizement of themselves and their connexions, and the total abandonment of their spiritual duties in the cure of souls, coupled with an ignorance almost incredible, had brought the large body of the clergy into great disrepute, and had filled sincere Christians (whether lay or clerical, for there were many exceptions among the clergy themselves) with an ardent longing for a thorough and efficient reformation. It is true that their indignation was chiefly roused by the prostitution of the property of the church, and its alienation from the holy purposes for which the church was endowed; and that gross neglect of discipline rather than errors in doctrine called into life the spirit of reformation: but even in points of faith we perceive in many clear signs of a genuine love of Evangelical and Catholic truth; among whom we are not without evidence sufficient to justify us in numbering the subject of these Memoirs. Henry of Monmouth, whilst he adhered (p. 038) constantly to the faith of his fathers, yet manifested a sincere desire to become more perfectly acquainted with the truth of the Gospel; and spared no pains, even during his career of war and victory, in providing himself with the assistance of those teachers who had the reputation of preaching the Gospel most sincerely and efficiently. Henry's, indeed, was not the religion which would substitute in the scale of Christian duties punctuality of attendance on frequent preaching for the higher and nobler exercises of adoration. Many an unobtrusive incident intimates that his soul took chief delight in communing with God by acts of confession, and prayer, and praise. He seems to have imbibed the same spirit which in a brother-monarch once gave utterance to expressions no less valuable in the matter of sound theology, than exquisitely beautiful in their conception:[35] "I had rather pass an hour in conversation with my friend than hear twenty discourses in his praise." And yet Henry delighted also in hearing Heaven's message of reconciliation faithfully expounded, and enforced home.

[Footnote 33: November 7, 1413.]

[Footnote 34: By a statute (4 Hen. IV. 1402), after the Legislature had complained that the Convents put monks, and canons, and secular chaplains into the parochial ministry, by no means fit for the cure of souls, it is enacted, that a vicar adequately endowed should be everywhere instituted; and, in default of such reformation, that the licence of appropriation should be forfeited.]

[Footnote 35: Henry III. is said to have assigned to Louis IX. this reason for his preference of devotional exercises to sermons.]

Whilst, for example, he was pursuing his conquests in Normandy, the report no sooner reached him of a preacher named Vincentius, (who was labouring zealously in the cause of Christ in various parts of Brittany, and who was said by his earnest and affectionate (p. 039) preaching to have converted many to the Lord their God,) than Henry sent for him, and took great delight in hearing his faithful expositions of the word of truth and life. And we have good reason for believing that the consolations of the pure doctrines of the Gospel, as a guardian angel ministering the cup of Heaven, attended him through life and in death.

There is no intimation dropped by historians, nor is it intended in these Memoirs to intimate, that Henry's eyes were opened to the doctrinal errors of the church of Rome. But there are circumstances well worthy of consideration before we pronounce definitively on that point. When we bear in mind that, in those days, prayers and vows were habitually made to the Virgin for success, and, after any prosperous issue of the supplicants' exertions in war or peace, offerings of thanksgiving were addressed to her as the giver of victory and of every blessing; and whilst, at the same time, we find in Henry of Monmouth's letters and words no acknowledgment of any help but God's only; the question may be fairly entertained, whether he had not imbibed some portion of the pure light of Gospel truth on this very important article of Christian faith. The Author is well aware of the words at the close of his Will, referred to hereafter; and is very far from saying that he should be surprised to find other instances of a similar character. Still Henry's silence as to the power and (p. 040) assistance of the Virgin, the absence of prayer to her in his devotions, many of which are especially recorded; the absence of praise to her after victory and success, though he was very far from taking praise to himself, always ascribing it to God Almighty only, may seem to justify the suggestion of an inquiry into this point.

For a knowledge of the degraded state to which the church had sunk, and her inefficiency as the guardian and dispenser of religious truth, we are not left to the vague representations of declaimers, or the heated exaggerations of those by whom everything savouring of Rome is held in abomination. The preambles of the laws which were intended to cure the evils, bear the most direct and full evidence of their existence and extent. One parliamentary document, after prefacing that "Benefices were founded for the honour of God, the good of the founders, the government and relief of the parishioners, and the advancement of the clergy," then states "that the spiritual patrons, the regular clergy throughout the whole realm, mischievously appropriate to themselves the said benefices, and lamentably cast to the ground the houses and buildings, and cruelly take away and destroy divine service, hospitality, and other works of charity, which used to be performed in the said benefices to the poor and distressed; that they exclude and ever debar the clergymen from promotion, and privately convey the treasure of the realm in great sums to the court of Rome,—to the confusion of their own souls, the grievous (p. 041) desolation of the parishioners[36] and the whole country, the ultimate ruin of the clergy, the great impoverishment of the realm, and the irrecoverable ruin of the holy church of England."[37]

[Footnote 36: It is curious at the same time to observe what extraordinary notions the Commons, who presented this petition, had formed of freedom; how jealous they were of the lower orders, and how determined to exclude them from sharing with themselves the good things of the church's temporalities. The Commons pray that (no nief or vileyn) no bondswoman or bondsman, be allowed to send a son to school with a view of being advanced in the church; and that for the maintenance and safety of the honour of all the free men of the land.]

[Foonote 37: 15 Richard II. (1391.)]

A case argued before the judges in the time of Henry IV, very interesting in itself, and closely connected in many points with the subject of this chapter, is recorded in the Year Books. The argument arose on a writ of Quare impedit, directed against Halomm (Hallam) Bishop of Salisbury and Chichel (Chicheley) Bishop of St. David's, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. The question at issue regarded the voidance of a prebend in the church of Salisbury, caused by Chicheley being created Bishop of St. David's, who held that prebend, to which he had been presented by Richard Medford, a former Bishop of Sarum. Against the King's claim of right of presentation to the void prebend, the defendants answered that the Pope had granted to Chicheley licence to enjoy all the preferments which he held before, together with his bishopric. For the King's right it was pleaded, (p. 042) that the creation of Chicheley took place whilst the temporalities of Sarum were in the hands of the King, on the translation of Hallam from York to Sarum;[38] but the question at length turned virtually upon the power of the see of Rome to dispense with the laws of England.

[Footnote 38: Some persons would probably be surprised, among the facts recorded in this cause, (all which however are confirmed by the ecclesiastical registers,) to find that by a sort of retrograde promotion, according to our usual ideas of episcopal preferment, a Bishop of London, Nicoll Bubwith, was translated from London to Salisbury, and from Salisbury to Bath and Wells. The pleading also reminds us of a curious fact with regard to Bishop Hallam's promotion, not generally known. The record merely states that "the Bishop of Sarum, that now is, was translated from York to the church of Sarum." This latter translation, however, (if such it can be properly called,) admits of a more easy solution than the preceding. The fact is, that Hallam was actually appointed by the Pope to the archbishopric of York; to which appointment the King objected. The nomination of the Pope was not persisted in, and Hallam was consecrated Bishop of Salisbury.]

In the first sitting (Mich. 11 Henry IV.—i.e. 1409), Horton for the defendants alleged, "We continued in possession of the prebend after Richard Hallam had received the temporalities from the hands of the King. Subsequently to which, and before we were created Bishop of St. David's, our Saint Peter the Apostle, reciting by his bulls that we were elected Bishop of St. David's, granted us licence to enjoy all our other benefices." On which, Thirning, Justice, observed, "The grant of the Apostle in this case cannot change the law of the land." To which Hankford (who proved himself throughout the most zealous supporter of the omnipotence of the Popedom) merely replied, "The Pope can do all things;" his use of the Latin words evidently showing that he was quoting a dictum,—"Papa omnia potest." After some discussion, and a reference to former precedents chiefly alleged by Hankford, Thirning rejoins very significantly, "That was in ancient times, and I will not raise the question as to the power of the Apostle; (p. 043) but I cannot see how he by his bulls can change the law of England."[39] In the third deliberation, Culpeper says, "The intention of the statute is now to be considered; and I conceive that it was made to protect the King and other patrons in their rights, and to restrain the encroachment of the Apostle which he makes against the law." On the third discussion, Till argued, "Since by the law of the land the creation of a bishop causes a voidance in fact of a benefice before held, and by such voidance the title of presentation or collation accrues to the patron, I say that the Apostle can by no grant beforehand oust the patron of his right, and restrain the title which ought to accrue to him upon such creation: for if so, he ought to restrain and change the course of inheritance by the law of the land; and that he cannot do, no more than if the King wished to (p. 044) give or grant to a man that he should hold his lands after he has entered upon a monastic life, and professed; for such grant would be contrary to the common law of the land, and therefore would be altogether void. So also in this case." To this argument Horton replied, among other points, "I take it that the Apostle may grant to a man to hold three bishoprics at a time;" in which Hankford agreed, "provided it were with the consent of the patrons." On which Skeene observed, "If the Pope made such a grant, the King might retain the temporalities in his own hands, if he wished it." To this observation, Hankford, among many other things, said, "The Apostle can in many cases change the course of the law of the land, and prevent the occurrence of that which ought to follow." The same judge, pressing again the argument on which he had before relied, asks, "What say ye? suppose the Apostle, before a man becomes a professed monk, grants him a dispensation to hold his benefices after his profession?"—"I say," replied Hill, "that in such a case he cannot deprive me of my right of patronage."

[Footnote 39: "Jeo ne ferra disputation del poiar l'appost', mes jeo ne scay veier coment il par ses bull' changer, le ley d'Engleterre."]

The question at issue was found to be so difficult of solution, and the judges viewed the law of the case in such opposite lights, that it was argued and debated between them by adjournment in four several terms; at length the advocates of the Pope's omnipotence gave (p. 045) way, and judgment was given for the Crown.[40]

[Footnote 40: See Year Book, "Anno xi. Hen. IIII."—Term. Mich. fol. 37; Hilar. fol. 38; Pasc. fol. 59; Trin. fol. 76.]

Among many memorable facts recorded by the Year Book during the progress of this cause, most persons probably will regard with interest the resistance made by the Crown, at this period, against the encroachments of the Pope,—the boundless power, ecclesiastical and political, assumed and exercised by the pontiff, and conceded to him in England,—and, at the same time, the spirit which shows itself on the part of some of our judges to vindicate the supremacy of the law of England over the alleged omnipotence of the court of Rome. The great difference of opinion also as to the power of the Pope, expressed by the members of the judicial bench, cannot fail to interest every Englishman, whether lawyer or not; whilst the terms in which some of the judges speak of the encroachments of the Apostolic see, against which the legislature of England had deemed it necessary to enact some stringent laws, are not a little remarkable. But to Protestants of the present day, perhaps the most surprising feature of all may appear to be the title ascribed to the Pope by the judges, whilst publicly and solemnly dispensing the laws of the country. They do not speak of him as the Pope, except once in the citation of a Latin dictum; nor do they refer to him as a sovereign pontiff exercising the delegated authority of the chief Apostle, and (p. 046) representing him in the church militant on earth: they do not give him the title of "successor to St. Peter," or "our father filling the Apostolic chair:"—they speak of him throughout in direct terms as "the Apostle;" and in some passages they even call him "Saint Peter," and "our Saint Peter" the Apostle.[41] It is however very curious, in tracing the argument in this cause, to lay the strong terms employed by the advocates of the Pope's paramount authority side by side with the striking expressions used by others of those high functionaries on the supremacy of the English law, and the inability of the Apostolic see in the plenitude of its power to change or dispense with the common or statute law of the realm.

[Footnote 41: "L'appost'." "Nostre Saint Pier l'appost'." "Bulls fait par Saint Pier."]

Abuses such as we have referred to in the previous sections of this chapter prevailed everywhere, and called loudly for vigorous measures to rectify them. At the same period the church through Christendom was distracted and torn by contending factions, each supporting a pontiff of its own.

To put an end to these disgraceful and unhappy feuds, as destructive of the peace of Europe as they were hurtful to the cause of true religion, and to effect a full reformation in the church, the Council of Constance was professedly convened. That synod was summoned nominally by Pope John XXIII, but in reality by the united voice (p. 047) of the sovereigns of Europe, especially at the instance of the Emperor Sigismund himself. It falls not within the province of these Memoirs to record the proceedings of that council, either in extinguishing the flame of discord within the pale of the church, or in kindling the sadder flame of persecution[42] against all who dared to think for themselves in a matter peculiarly their own, or in its lamentable forgetfulness of the abuses for the correction of which it was mainly convened. The records of the Council of Constance, however, abound in matters of interest in connection with the immediate and professed object of this work. We infer from them that Henry V. was then taking a lead in religious matters, and, whilst he was anxious to resist the overbearing tyranny of Rome, he was at the same time bent on making the religious establishment within his own kingdom an efficient means of conveying to all his subjects the blessings of the Gospel; he was an honest reformer of abuses, but, at the same time, the conscientious and uncompromising supporter of the religion of his fathers.

[Footnote 42: It is very painful to reflect on the intolerant spirit of this very Sigismund, who was so anxious to reform the abuses of the church; but it is forced upon us whilst we are inquiring into the times of Henry. Sigismund had paid (as we shall see) a visit to Henry, and he meditated another. But he never put that design into execution. A letter from Heretong Van Clux, Henry's minister, informed his master that he must not expect to see the Emperor, for he had employment at home in putting down the followers of Huss. "Now I know well he might not come, for this cause, that many of the great lords of Bohemia have required him for to let them hold the same belief that they are in. And thereupon he sent them word, that rather he would be dead than he would sustain them in their malice. And they have answered him again, that they will rather die than go from their belief. There is a great power of them, lords, knights, and esquires; but the greatest power is of the commoners. Therefore the Emperor gathers all the power that he may, to go into Bohemia upon them."—See Ellis's Original Letters.]

* * * * *

It was on the 20th of October 1414, that Robert Hallam, Bishop of Salisbury, the Bishops of Bath and Hereford, the Abbot of (p. 048) Westminster, the Prior of Worcester, Lord Warwick, and others, were commissioned by Henry to proceed to Constance, and as his representatives[43] to treat about the reformation of the universal church; or, as the Pell Rolls speak, "for the salvation of Christian souls." Another body of commissioners was subsequently sent, when not less than four hundred Englishmen went in company of the embassy, among whom were reckoned two archbishops, seven bishops, and many other lords and gentlemen. Of those who were first commissioned by Henry, Robert Hallam (or Allam) was most strenuous in urging (p. 049) the work of reformation before and above all other matters with which they had to do. The Cardinals were equally urgent to have the election of Pope first settled, and then to proceed afterwards to the question of reformation. The Bishop of Salisbury, acting, doubtless, with the full approbation, it may be at the immediate suggestion of Henry, was instant, in season and out of season, in forcing the work of reformation on the Council. He was called the Emperor's right hand, so entirely did he and Sigismund co-operate for this purpose. Indeed, the English generally appear at first to have been among the principal promoters of reform, and, as long as Hallam lived, to have pursued it zealously; but on his death[44] they were much less noted for the same zeal. Previously, however, to that event, a great schism arose (p. 050) among the English at Constance, and the authority of the bishops was much disregarded. To remedy these disorders, Henry wrote a peremptory letter (18 July 1417), commanding all his people to be obedient to the bishops, and to abstain from all factious conduct; enjoining them, on pain of forfeiting their goods, either to behave in a manner becoming his subjects, or to return home; directing also, that, in all differences of opinion, the minority should conform to the decision of the majority.

[Footnote 43: This council seems to have entailed, first and last, on England, a very considerable expense. Within a week of the date of the commission, the Pell Rolls record the payment of 333l. 6s. 8d. (a large sum in those days) "to Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, sent as the King's ambassador to the General Council held at Constance before our lord the Pope, the Emperor, and others, there assembled for the salvation of Christian souls." Payments also to others are recorded.]

[Footnote 44: Bishop Hallam died at Constance, Sept. 5, 1417. On which day the Cardinal des Ursins addressed a letter to Henry, praying him to appoint as Hallam's successor at Salisbury, John Ketterich, Bishop of Lichfield, to whose ability and zeal and worth the Cardinal bears strong testimony. This same Cardinal had a personal interview with Henry in 1418, just before the taking of Rouen.

Le Neve leaves it in doubt whether Bishop Hallam was buried at Constance, or in Westminster Abbey. But the Author has been kindly furnished by Sir Francis Palgrave, who visited Constance last year, with the following interesting particulars relative to the resting-place of that excellent man. "The monument of Bishop Hallam consists of a slab inlaid with brass, in the usual style of English memorials of the same period, but quite unlike those of Germany; and I have no doubt but that the brasses were sent from England. He is represented at full length in the episcopal dress, his head lying between two shields, the royal arms of England within the Garter, (as Chancellor of the order,) and his own bearings. But the tomb being placed exactly in front of the high altar, the attrition to which it has been exposed in this part of the church has nearly effaced the engravings." His funeral, we are told, was attended by the assembled princes and prelates and nobles of the council, who followed him to the grave with every demonstration of respect and sorrow.]

Bishop Hallam entertained a most rooted antipathy to the Pope and the Popedom; and he once gave expression to his sentiments so freely and unreservedly to the Pope himself, that his Holiness complained grievously of him to the Emperor: but Sigismund was himself too heartily bent on reforming the abuses of the Popedom to chide the zeal and freedom of the English prelate. On one occasion the Bishop maintained that a General Council was superior to the Pope (a doctrine subsequently recognised, but then, as it should seem, new and bold); on another he is reported to have gone so far as to affirm (p. 051) that the Pope, for his enormities, deserved to be burnt alive. Bishop Hallam[45] was by no means singular either in the sentiments which he entertained with regard to the corruptions of the Romish Church "in its head and its members," and the imperative necessity of an universal reform, or in the unreserved boldness and plainness with which he published those sentiments. The whole of Christendom rang with loud and bitter complaints against the avarice, the sensuality, the overreaching and overbearing tyranny, the total degeneracy and worthlessness of the Popes, the Cardinals, and the religious orders; but in no place were the protests against such deplorable (p. 052) corruptions more unsparingly uttered than at the Council of Constance itself: and among those who willingly offered themselves to testify, in their Saviour's name, against such a prostitution of his blessed Gospel to the purposes of worldly ambition, such gross depravity and total neglect of duty, the names of many of our own countrymen are recorded. These pillars of the church, these lights in the midst of darkness, seem indeed to have entertained sentiments, as to the duties and responsibilities of the Christian priesthood, worthy of the purest age. Some of their recorded doctrines are truly edifying, and find a response in some of the best episcopal charges and admonitions of the Protestant church at the present day.

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