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Then, I perceive, that will be verified, Henry the Fifth did sometime prophesy— If once he come to be a cardinal, He'll make his cap co-equal with the crown.” Commentators have observed that Beaufort had appeared as cardinal in the very first act, and “it is strange the Duke of Exeter should not know of his advancement.’ The thing is wrong every way. Winchester was not a cardinal at the period intended in the first act, which is just after Henry the Fifth's death, and he became a cardinal long before the time of this intended marriage. But the critics have not observed that at this time there was no Duke of Exeter in existence, or, if there was, it was one of a different family. Beaufort Duke of Exeter, brother to the cardinal, died in 1426;” and it was in 1443, subsequently, I apprehend, to the present transaction, that John Holland was raised to that dignity which his father had formerly possessed.* Shakspeare follows Holinshed; in representing this match as offered by Armagnac, who had recently quarrelled with his kinsman, the King of * Nicolas's Synopsis, i., 224. # The first John Holland was the third son of Thomas Earl of Kent, by Joan, daughter of Edmund, son of Edward the First. This John was attainted in 1400, after the
deposition of Richard the Second. f Hol., 205.
France. That it was the particular project of the English council, or the peculiar favourite of Gloucester, nowhere appears. In fact, contemporaries are silent; we know nothing but that a mission was sent in 1442* to choose one of the daughters and to treat of the marriage. Fabyan says+ that
“it was afterwards disallowed and put apart by the means of the Earl of Suffolk, which kindled a new brand of burning envy between the lord protector and him, and took fire in such wise that it left not till both parties with many others were consumed and slain, whereof ensued much mischief within the realm, and loss of all Normandy.”
Rapin says that the English government “grew cold with respect to the match,” when Armagnac had been stripped of his territories by the French king.
Cardinal Beaufort was not (as in the play) employed upon this mission, nor upon any connected with the marriage of Henry; though he had been an extensive diplomatist, and was especially employed at the negociation of Arras in 1434, and at Calais in the following year.
The dramatist's mode of bringing about the match with Margaret of Anjou is quite imaginary.
Suffolk is made to take the young princess prisoner, about the time of the capture of Joan of Arc, to fall in love with her, to propose, on the spot, her union with Henry, and then to come home and suggest it to the King. Holinshed's account is different.
“In treating of this truce, the Earl of Suffolk, adventuring somewhat upon his commission, without the consent of his associates, imagined that the next way to come to a perfect peace was to contrive a marriage between the French king's kinswoman, the lady Margaret, daughter to Regnier, Duke of Anjou, and his sovereign lord King Henry. This Regnier named himself King of Sicile, Naples, and Jerusalem, having only the name and style of those realms, without any penny, profit, or foot of possession. This marriage was made strange to the Earl at the first, and one thing seemed to be a great hindrance to it, which was, because the King of England occupied a great part of the duchy of Anjou, and the whole county of Maine, appertaining (as was alleged) to King Regnier. The Earl of Suffolk (I cannot say either corrupted with bribes, or too much affectioned to this unprofitable marriage) condescended that the duchy of Anjou and the county of Maine should be delivered to the King, the bride's father, demanding for the marriage neither penny nor farthing; as who would say that this new affinity passed all riches, and excelled both gold and precious stones.* . . . . . . This lady excelled all other, as well in beauty and favour as in wit and policy, and was in stomach and courage more like a man than a wo
There is thus not even the slender authority of Holinshed for believing that Margaret was taken prisoner, or that Suffolk had seen her when he proposed the marriage. Nor indeed is it clear that he did propose the match. He was employed in the negociation which ended in the truce between England and France, and then, it is supposed, the project occurred to him: but his original instructions, which are on record, contemplated the King's marriage, though they are silent as to the person; and in these instructions Gloucester concurred.:
I know not then upon what authority it is presumed that the proposal of this ill-fated marriage came from Suffolk, or that it was suggested by him and the Cardinal in opposition to Gloucester; nor have we older authority than Fabyan's S for Gloucester's pleading the faith pledged to Armagnac. Suffolk, no doubt, was employed to espouse Margaret, as the King's proxy, and to bring her to England; and it is probable that he then got into
her good graces. But Lingard* has shown from the Rolls, that Gloucester concurred publicly in the thanks bestowed upon Suffolk for his conduct in the affair. After reciting the services of Suffolk in the truce and marriage, the record proceeds:—
“The Speaker, in the name of himself and all the said commons, prayed to all my lords, spiritual and temporal, there then being present, that they would vouchsafe, for the said considerations, pray and beseech our said sovereign lord the King to repute, accept, declare, and take my said lord of Suffolk to his good and benign grace and favour, for the causes above said, in manner and form above rehearsed at their singular prayer and desire, and desired the said declarations, labours, and demeaning of my said lord of Suffolk to be enacted in this present parliament, to his true acquittal and discharge and honour of him in time to come; upon the which request thus made to the King our sovereign lord, and to the lords spiritual and temporal, by the commons, my lord of Gloucester, and many other lords spiritual and temporal abovesaid, arose of their seats, and besought humbly the King of the same as they were prayed by the said commons,” &c.
But this historian also refers to the terms of Suffolk's instructions, by which it appears that he was diffident of approbation, and this perhaps counte
* W., 121, referring to Rolls, v. 73, 4 June, 1444.