Beaufort, Henry

Beaufort, Henry an English prelate of considerable celebrity, was born about 1370. He was a natural son of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, and was half-brother to King Henry IV. He studied at Oxford and Cambridge, but received the principal part of his education at Aix-la-Chapelle. He became prebendary of Lincoln in 1389, dean of Wells in 1397, chancellor of Oxford University the same year, bishop of Lincoln in 1398, and bishop of Winchester in 1404. He repeatedly filled the office of lord-chancellor, and was involved in all the most important political movements of his times. He was present at the Council of Constance, and voted for the election of Pope Martin V., by whom he was subsequently made a cardinal. When the cardinal's nephew, Henry V. of England, proposed to levy a new impost on the clergy, in order to raise money for carrying on the war against France, Beaufort wasthe chief opponent of the measure; yet he loaned the king, out of his own private purse, £28,000, a sum which seems to indicate that he was the wealthiest subject of his time in all England. His service in this affair was soon recognized by the pope, who sent him as legate into Germany to organize a crusade against the followers of John Huss. This undertaking failed, and the cardinal, having expended, in levying an English army against France, the moneys granted from Rome for other purposes, fell under the papal displeasure. In 1431 Beaufort conducted the young king, Henry VI., to France, to be crowned in Paris as king of France and England. Here he also endeavored in vain to reconcile the duke of Bedford, regent of France, with the offended duke of Burgundy. Cardinal Beaufort died at Winchester, in 1447. His memory is stained by his suspected participation in the murder of his great political rival, the duke of Gloucester, who headed the lay opposition to the despotism of ecclesiastical statesmen, and by the fact that he presided over the tribunal which sentenced the Maid of Orleans to perish at the stake. See Milner, History of Winchester; Gough, Life of Beaufort, in Vetusta Monumenta, vol. ii; Le Neve, Fasti (Index).

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