BEDFORD, duke of

John

b. 20 Jun 1389
d. 15 Sep 1435, Rouen, France

Title: Regni Anglie et Ecclesie Anglicane Protector et Defensor ac Consiliaris Principalis domini Regis (Protector and Defender of the Kingdom of England and the English Church and principal councillor of the King)
Term: 5 Dec 1422 - 6 Nov 1429
Chronology: 5 Dec 1422, appointed protector by the king's patent
  6 Nov 1429, the office of protector lapsed with the coronation of King Henry VI
Names/titles: Duke of Bedford and Earl of Kendal [from 16 May 1414]; Earl of Richmond [from 24 Nov 1414]
Biography:
The third son of Henry earl of Derby (later King Henry IV), John was created Duke of Bedford when his brother, Henry V, acceeded to the throne. Bedford was named lieutenant of the kingdom (11 Aug 1415) during Henry's expedition to France, and commanded a fleet, which routed the French ships at the mouth of the Seine. Again appointed lieutenant on 25 Jul 1417, he relieved Berwick besieged by the Scots and governed the country until December 1419, when he was called to join the king in France, and his brother, Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, replaced him as lieutenant (30 Dec 1419). Returning to England, he was appointed lieutenant for the third time on 10 Jun 1421, but departed for France in May 1422, where he stayed at the time when Henry V died (31 Aug 1422). Henry's last wish was that Bedford should be guardian of the kingdom and of the young king, Henry VI, but Parliament decided that Bedford should be "protector and defender" of the kingdom (5 Dec 1422), and that in his absence the office should devolve upon the Duke of Gloucester. Having taken over the leadership of the French campaign, Bedford gained control over northwestern France and defeated the army of King Charles VII at Verneuil (17 Aug 1424). Bedford did not visit England until early 1426, when he was forced to return to settle the dispute between Gloucester and Chancellor Henry Beaufort. He conceded to follow the decisions of the king's Council and returned to France in March 1427. Despite the successes of the French army under Joan of Arc, Bedford proved his personal ability to continue the conqest. The office of protector lapsed when Henry VI was crowned as King of England (6 Nov 1429), but Bedford retained the title of Regent of France, which he assumed shortly after the death of King Henry V. Henry VI arrived to Paris, where Bedford had him crowned as King of France (16 Dec 1431). As the Anglo-Burgundian alliance weakened, the English troops began to lose ground and Bedford returned to England in June 1433. He served briefly as the king's chief councillor, but returned to France, where he died just before Burgundy concluded a separate peace treaty with France (21 Sep 1435). Biography source: [1; 2; 3; 4]

[1] "Dictionary of National Biography" (Smith, Elder, London, 1900).
[2] "The Reign of King Henry VI: The exercise of royal authority 1422-1461", by Ralph A. Griffiths (University of California Press, 1981).
[3] "Henry VI", by Bertram Wolffe (Eyre Methuen, London, 1980).
[4] "Fœdera, conventiones, litterae et cujuscunque generis acta publica, etc. etc. etc.", ed. by Thomas Rymer (London, 1704), vol. ix, pp. 305-306, 475, 830-831; vol. x, p. 261.
Last updated on: 14 Mar 2010 03:56:29