Regency Government of England 1422–1437

The Regency Government of England 1422-37 ruled while Henry VI was a minor. Decisions were made in the king's name by the regency Council made up of the most important and influential government of England, and dominated by Henry IV's son Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester and Bishop Henry Beaufort (Cardinal Beaufort from 1426), who was Henry V's half-uncle.

The Council soon split along lines of opposition and support to the continuation of the war in France. Gloucester had always been fervently in favour of finishing the war his brother had started in France and seeing it through to victory at any price. However, in the face of a resurgent French army led by Joan of Arc, the crowning of the Dauphin as Charles VII in 1429, it became clear that the French were gaining the upper hand and slowly expelling the English from their country. A peace party emerged led by Cardinal Beaufort, who saw the war as a drain on resources and unwinnable.

However, for most of the period 1422-37, the regency council was able to govern effectively and fairly. The splits became most evident towards the end. In 1433 Anne of Burgundy died; she had been married to John, Duke of Bedford, Henry V's other brother, a marriage which was instrumental in maintaining the alliance between England and Burgundy against France. Hoewever, following her death, Bedford married Jacquetta of Luxemburg, which the Duke of Burgundy disapproved of and Burgundy made peace with France. With the loss of the alliance with Burgundy, Bedford became convinced that peace was the only solution, but at a conference arranged in Arras in 1435, the English delegation refused to give up their claim to the French throne. Bedford died just after the conference and was replaced with Richard, Duke of York who did not favour the peace policy.

When Henry finally came of age in 1437, he took over at just about the worst time possible, when splits about the war and rivalries between the various nobles were at their deepest, the crown had huge war debts and there was general lack of leadership in the French territories which seemed to be slipping slowly but surely out of the English hands.


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