John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford
|John of Lancaster|
Duke of Bedford|
Regent of France
|Born||20 June 1389|
14 September 1435 (aged 46)|
Castle of Joyeux Repos, Rouen
30 September 1435|
Rouen Cathedral, Rouen, Normandy
Anne of Burgundy
(m. 1423; d. 1432)
Jacquetta of Luxembourg
(m. 1433; d. 1472)
|House||House of Lancaster|
|Father||Henry IV of England|
|Mother||Mary de Bohun|
|Allegiance||Kingdom of England|
Anglo-Scottish border wars|
Hundred Years' War
John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford, KG (20 June 1389 – 14 September 1435), was a medieval English nobleman, soldier, and statesman. A prince of the royal House of Lancaster, he was the third surviving son of King Henry IV of England (reigned 1399–1413), brother of King Henry V (r. 1413–22), and uncle of King Henry VI (r. 1422–61). Bedford acted as regent during his nephew’s minority, and was a leading commander at the height of the Hundred Years' War in France. Despite his military and administrative talent, the situation in France had clearly deteriorated by the time of his death.
Like his brother before him, John proved a capable administrator and soldier, and his effective management of the war brought the English to the height of their power in France. However, difficulties mounted after the arrival of Joan of Arc, and unity in Henry VI's realms was threatened by political struggles in England and the unreliability of English allies in the continent. In the 1430s, the conflict devolved into a war of attrition, and Bedford became increasingly unable to gather the necessary funds to prosecute the conflict.
Bedford died during the Congress of Arras, just as England's key ally Burgundy was set to sign a separate peace with Charles VII of France. Bedford's decade-long efforts to create a functional dual monarchy of England and France would ultimately fail, and his untimely death left England without a unified and sound leadership in a critical moment of its history.
After his father's accession to the throne of England as Henry IV in 1399, John of Lancaster began to accumulate lands and lucrative offices. He was knighted on 12 October 1399 at his father's coronation and made a Knight of the Garter by 1402. Between 1403 and 1405 grants of the forfeited lands from the House of Percy and of the alien priory of Ogbourne, Wiltshire, considerably increased his income. He was appointed master of the mews and falcons in 1402, Constable of England in 1403 and Warden of the East March from 1403 to 1414. He was created Earl of Kendal, Earl of Richmond and Duke of Bedford in 1414 by his brother, King Henry V.
When Henry V died in 1422, Bedford vied with his younger brother, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, for control of the Kingdom. Bedford was declared regent but focused on the ongoing war in France, while during his absence Gloucester acted as Lord Protector of England. Bedford defeated the French several times, most notably at the Battle of Verneuil, until the arrival of Joan of Arc rallied the opposition. Bedford handed Joan to an ecclesiastical court, which had her tried and executed at Rouen in 1431, though Bedford himself took no part in the trial. He then arranged a coronation for the young Henry VI at Paris.
Bedford had been Governor in Normandy between 1422–1432 where the University of Caen was founded under his auspices. He was an extremely important commissioner of illuminated manuscripts, both from Paris (from the Bedford Master and his workshop) and England. The three most important surviving manuscripts of his are the Bedford Hours (British Library Ms Add 18850) and the Salisbury Breviary (Paris BnF Ms Lat. 17294), which were both made in Paris, and the Bedford Psalter and Hours of about 1420–23, which is English (BL Ms Add 42131). This last is signed in two places by Herman Scheere. All are lavishly decorated and famous examples of the style of the period.
John's second marriage was to Jacquetta of Luxembourg, on 22 April 1433 at Thérouanne in northern France. This marriage was also childless, though Jacquetta went on to have more than a dozen children in her second marriage.
John died in 1435 during the Congress of Arras at his Castle of Joyeux Repos in Rouen and was buried at Rouen Cathedral near Henry the Young King, but his grave was destroyed by the Calvinists in 1562. Today a plaque marks the former emplacement of his grave. He had no legitimate surviving issue.
In the Bedford Book of Hours these arms are shown supported by an eagle collared with a crown and a sable yale all on a gold field sewn with gold "wood stocks" (cut tree stumps with roots), a heraldic badge of King Edward III, referring to Woodstock Palace. It is possible that the yale was painted in silver which has tarnished black. The shield is surrounded with a pair of banners gules which reverse in argent with the motto repeated four times: A vous entier (To you / yours entire[ly]). This may be a pun on the German Tier, i.e., beast, or on (English) tears —or 'tiers' of meaning, including tierce, referring to himself as third in line to his father's throne and by now rightful king but for the baby Henry VI. The Hours were supposedly produced as a courtship present from John to his wife, Anne, daughter of John the Fearless of Burgundy.
There is a Queen's Arms public house sign from Birmingham which uses these supporters reversed and with an argent yale uncollared on a shield showing the English royal arms at left and to the right six divisions representing Lorraine. John's second wife, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, cousin to the Emperor (the King of Hungary), was mother to Elizabeth Woodville who may be this queen. Elizabeth Woodville's right to inherit these armorial supporters would seem dubious if they belong to her mother's first husband or to his first wife. Alternatively, though equally incorrect, the arms may be her mother's used in a flattering conceit.
|Ancestors of John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford|
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John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford
Cadet branch of the House of PlantagenetBorn: 20 June 1389 Died: 14 September 1435
|Peerage of England|
|New creation|| Duke of Bedford
16 May 1414 – 14 September 1435
Extinct, next held by
|New creation|| Earl of Kendal
16 May 1414 – 14 September 1435
Extinct, next held by
|New creation|| Earl of Richmond
24 November 1414 – 14 September 1435
reverted to the crown
Title next held byEdmund Tudor
| Honour of Richmond|
21 October 1425 – 14 September 1435
|New creation|| Duke of Anjou
Count of Maine
20 June 1424 – 14 September 1435
Title next held byEdmund Beaufort
|New creation|| Viscount of Beaumont
20 June 1424 – 14 September 1435
|New creation|| Duke of Alençon
20 June 1424 – 8 September 1430
|New creation|| Count of Mortain
20 June 1424 – 22 April 1427
Title last held byThomas Beaufort
| Count of Harcourt
May 1427 – 14 September 1435
William de la Pole
| Count of Dreux
1431 – 14 September 1435
|Vacant|| Regent of France for Henry II (VI)
19 November 1422 – 14 September 1435
The Duke of York
|Vacant|| Lord Protector of England for Henry VI
5 December 1422 – 6 November 1429
With: Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester
Title next held byThe Duke of York
The Duke of Exeter
| Lord High Admiral
26 July 1426 – 14 September 1435
The Earl of Huntingdon