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In the Temple Gardens Warwick had promised that
“This blot, which they object unto your house,
And Richard himself now appears determined to push his claim to the utmost, for he says,
“And therefore haste I to the parliament,
Accordingly, in the next scene, which represents the Leicester parliament already noticed, Warwick urges the claim of Plantagenet, which Gloucester supports, and nobody but Somerset opposes; whereupon the King creates him Duke of York, and promises to restore his whole inheritance. This is from Holinshed:—
“When the great fire of this dissension, between these two noble personages (Gloucester and Winchester) was thus by the arbitrators (to their knowledge and judgment) utterly quenched out and laid under board, all other controversies between other lords, taking part with the one party or the other, were appeased and brought to concord, so that for joy thereof the King caused a solemn feast to be kept on Whitsunday, on which day he created Richard Plantagenet, son and heir of the Earl of Cambridge, (whom his father at Southampton had put to death, as before ye have heard,) Duke of York, not foreseeing that this preferment should be his destruction, nor that his seed should of his generation be the extreme and final conclusion.”
I believe this to be all error. Rapin” has shown that Plantagenet was styled Duke of York previously to the Leicester parliament; and there is no record of any proceeding respecting him in that parliament. He was not summoned as such till 1433, when he had come of age." But the play has not even the insufficient authority of this Chronicler for any difference, at this time, between York and Somerset. The third act finishes with an incident, the first which we have of the quarrel of the Roses. Vernon —whom we have seen plucking a white rose—and + Basset, come to high words in the court at Paris about the merits of York and Somerset, and in another scene appear before the King demanding leave to decide their difference in single combat. The King enjoins them to peace—
“Let me be umpire in this dreadful strife.
The King uses here a curious method of showing
his impartiality; but the whole scene is imaginary,
and intended, I presume, to introduce the red rose
as the badge of the house of Lancaster.
“Cousin of York, we institute your grace
All this is placed just after Henry's coronation as King of France: that ceremony was performed in 1430, during the life of John Duke of Somerset. York was not appointed regent of France until after the death of the Duke of Bedford in 1435. But the playwright, with his usual contempt of dates, avails himself at this period of a passage in Holinshed which refers to the year 1435.
“Although the Duke of York was worthy, both for birth and courage, of this honour and preferment, yet so disdained of Edmund (John?) Duke of Somerset, being cousin to the King, that by all means possible he sought his hindrance, as one glad of his loss, and sorry of his well-doing; by means whereof, ere the Duke of York could get his dispatch, Paris, and divers others of the chiefest places in France, were gotten by the French king. The Duke of York, perceiving his evil will, openly dissembled that which he inwardly minded, either of them wishing things to the other's displeasure, till, through malice and division between them, at length by mortal war they were both consumed, with almost their whole lines and offspring.” +
For this beginning of strife between York and Somerset I find no older anthority than Hall's, who tells us, moreover, that Somerset “gaped for” the regency himself. At all events, this great quarrel did not originate in a “quillet of the law.”
The historians of the time take no notice of any rivalry between York and Somerset on the occasion of York's first appointment to the regency. The quarrel is stated to have begun, when, after five years' good service, he was reappointed.t
* Hol., 185.
* Wethamstede, ii., 345, 6; William of Wyrcester seems to put the quarrel in 1450, ii., 473. York was reappointed to the regency on 3d July, 1440; Rymer, 786. There is much doubt and confusion as to this regency. Holinshed says that York was superseded by Warwick in 1437; and though he expresses his doubts, that earl certainly was so appointed. (Rymer, x. 675.) Holinshed also says that, when York's reappointment was proposed, Somerset successfully opposed it; but it is clear that York was appointed, as above; and the nomination of Somerset was much later; and this was Edmund, brother to John, whose death Ho
Turn we now to the fifth act, where King Henry asks Gloucester and Exeter—
“Have you perused the letters from the Pope,
“The Earl of Armagnac—near knit to Charles, A man of great authority in France— Proffers his only daughter to your grace In marriage, with a large and sumptuous dowry.” Then come a legate from the Pope, and two ambassadors, “with Winchester in a cardinal's habit.” The King signifies his assent to the proposal, which, from the answer, Winchester is to carry over to France. On seeing Beaufort in his new habiliments, Exeter exclaims— “What is my lord of Winchester install’d, And call’d unto a cardinal's degree ?
linshed, erroneously, places about 1432, whereas he died (p. 246) in 1444.—See Hol., 185, 191, 194. Hardyng says that after Bedford's death, Burgundy was regent for a year, then Warwick one year, then Stafford (afterwards Buckingham) for two years, then Huntingdon (Holland, afterwards Duke of Exeter), and afterwards York seven years, then Somerset; but this is clearly wrong as to York.