Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The will of Henry, Cardinal Beaufort. 1443

Dealings with the Dead
Vol 2

Project Gutenburg
"Henry Beaufort was the second son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, by Katherine Swinford, a bastard born, but with his brothers and sister, legitimated by act of Parliament, 20 Rich. II., became Bishop of Lincoln 1397—translated to Winchester, 1404, and made a Cardinal. He was remarkable, for his immense wealth, prudence, and frugality. He was four times Chancellor of England. He is reported to have clung to life with a remarkable tenacity. Rapin says, he died for grief, that wealth could not save him from death. The death bed of this Cardinal is admirably described by Shakspeare, in the second part of King Henry VI., Act III., Scene III.:

K. Henry.
How fares my lord? Speak Beaufort to thy Sovereign.
If thou best Death, I'll give thee Englands treasure,
Enough to purchase such another island,
So thou wilt let me live, and feel no pain.

See how the pangs of death do make him grin.
Disturb him not, let him pass peaceably.
K. Henry.
Peace to his soul, if Gods good pleasure be!
Lord Cardinal, if thinkst on Heavens bliss,
Hold up thy hand, make signal of thy hope.
He dies, and makes no sign; Oh God forgive him!
So bad a death argues a monstrous life.
K. Henry.
Forbear to judge, for we are sinners all—
Close up his eyes, and draw the curtains close.

The Cardinals will, though without date, was made about 1443.—“I will that ten thousand masses be said for my soul, as soon as possible after my decease, three thousand of requiem, three thousand of de rorate cœli desuper, three thousand of the Holy Ghost, and one thousand of the Trinity. * * * *

Item, I bequeath to my Lord, King Henry, a tablet with reliques, which is called the tablet of Bourbon, and a cup of gold with a ewer, which belonged to the illustrious prince, his father, and offered by him on Easter Eve, and out of which cup he usually drunk, and for the last time drank. * * * *

Item, I bequeath to my Lord the King, my dish or plate of gold for spices, and my cup of gold, enamelled with images.”

In two codicils to this will, Cardinal Beaufort refers to certain crown jewels, and vessels of silver and gold, pledged to him by the King and Parliament, for certain sums lent. When the King went into France and Normandy, and upon other subsequent occasions, the Cardinal had loaned the King £22,306 18s. 8d. It appears in Rymer, vol. x. page 502, that the King redeemed the sword of Spain and sundry jewels, pledged to the Cardinal, for £493 6s. 8d."

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