Book 12 Reign of Henry VI

Book 12 Reign of Henry VI

Book XII

HENRY V when within view of his end, seemed to have been taken out of the world, by a par­ticular direction of Divine Providence, which is sometimes pleased to stop the best concerted undertakings, when just on the point of accomplishment. The peace of Troye not being yet firmly settled, and the Prince who was to mount the throne, but an infant of nine months, every thing seemed to occur to take from the English the hopes, of seeing the two kingdoms of France and England united under a King of their na­tion.

On the other hand, the noble qualities of the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester, brothers of the deceased King, encouraged the most timid. How great soever the loss might be, it was not thought irre­parable, since the valour, experience, and wisdom of these two Princes, enabled them to support the new King’s minority. Instead therefore of being disheartened at so terrible a blow, they showed, by proclaiming young Henry King of England, and heir of France, that they were determined to maintain what the King his father had so gloriously established.

The Duke of Gloucester had governed the kingdom by the title of guardian, ever since the Duke of Bed­ford his eldest brother attended the Queen into France. But this dignity being inconsistent with a King actually present in his kingdom, ceased the moment young Henry was proclaimed. It is true, the late King had ordered upon his death-bed, that during his son’s mino­rity, the Duke of Gloucester should be Regent, or protector in England. But this was not a sufficient war­rant to exercise that important office. The Parliament’s confirmation was also requisite. For that, and some no less urgent reasons, the council speedily summoned a Parliament for the 9th of November. Till the two Houses should settle the form of government, during the King’s minority, the council, whereof the Duke of Gloucester was president, issued all necessary orders for whatever would not admit of delay.

Previously to the meeting of the Parliament, died King Charles VI. at Paris, the 21st of October, having survived Henry V his son-in-law, but fifty-five days. His death entirely changed the face of affairs. It was not doubted that the Dauphin would take the title of King of France, and exert his utmost to procure the possession of a crown, which he deemed fallen to him by the death of the King his father. Whilst Charles VI was alive, many of his subjects thought it their duty to obey him, without enquiring, whether what he did was conformable to the laws, and beneficial to the state, because, their oath to him was not conditional.