Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester

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Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, Lord of the Isles 1437-1447

Channel Islands

Eighteen months after the death of John, Duke of Bedford, his brother, Humphrey was appointed Lord of the Isles by his nephew, Henry VI, by Letters Patent of 9 Apri 1437.

Henry's childhood playmate Henry de Beauchamp was appointed to succeed Humphrey on his death, but Henry died first and when Humphrey died in 1447 the lordship of the Channel Islands passed to Henry's three-year-old daughter Anne.

Family

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (3 October 1390 – 23 February 1447) was "son, brother and uncle of kings", being the fourth and youngest son of Henry IV by his first wife, Mary de Bohun, brother to Henry V, and uncle to the latter's son, Henry VI.

The place of his birth is unknown, but he was named after his maternal grandfather, Humphrey de Bohun, 7th Earl of Hereford.

Career

During the reign of Henry IV Humphrey received a scholar's education, while his elder brothers fought on the Welsh and Scottish borders. Following his father's death he was created Duke of Gloucester in 1414, and Chamberlain of England, and he took his seat in Parliament. In 1415 he became a member of the Privy Council.

During Henry V's campaigns in France, Humphrey gained a reputation as a successful commander. His knowledge of siege warfare, gained from his classical studies, contributed to the fall of Honfleur. For his services he was granted offices including Constable of Dover, Warden of the Cinque Ports and King's Lieutenant. His periods of government were peaceful and successful.

On the death of Henry V in 1422, Humphrey became Lord Protector to his young nephew, the heir to the throne, Henry VI. He also claimed the right to the regency of England, following the death of his elder brother, John, Duke of Bedford. Humphrey's claims were strongly contested by the lords of the king's council, and in particular his half-uncle, Henry Beaufort. The discovery of Henry V's will, at Eton College in 1978, actually supported Humphrey's claims.

Humphrey was consistently popular with the citizens of London and the Commons. He also had a widespread reputation as a patron of learning and the arts. His popularity with the people and his ability to keep the peace earned him the appointment of Chief Justice of South Wales. However, his unpopular marriage to Eleanor Cobham became ammunition for his enemies. Eleanor was arrested and tried for sorcery and heresy, and Humphrey retired from public life. He was arrested on a charge of treason on 20 February 1447. He died at Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk three days later and was buried at St Albans Cathedral, adjacent to Saint Alban's shrine. At the time, some suspected that he had been assassinated, though it is more probable that he died of a stroke.

Marriages and children

In about 1422 he married Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut, daughter of William VI, Count of Hainaut. Through this marriage he assumed the title "Count of Holland, Zeeland and Hainault", and briefly fought to retain these titles when they were contested by Jacqueline's cousin Philip III, Duke of Burgundy. They had a stillborn child in 1424.

The marriage was annulled in 1428, and Jacqueline died in 1436.

Meanwhile he remarried, his second wife being his former mistress, Eleanor Cobham. In 1441 Eleanor was tried and convicted of practising witchcraft against the King in an attempt to retain power for her husband. She was exiled and imprisoned for life.

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