Post-classical history


The council of Constance continued to sit until 1418. In 1417, Benedict XIII was finally deposed and Martin V elected pope for the whole of Christendom. Pope John XXIII was then released from prison. He died in 1419, just a few months after the new pope had appointed him Cardinal Bishop of Tusculum. Gregory XII remained a cardinal and became bishop of Porto. He lived out his days at Ancona, dying in 1417. Benedict XIII went to his grave maintaining that he was the one true pope, dying at Peñiscola in 1423.

Charles VI remained king of France until his death in 1422. His estranged son, the dauphin John, duke of Touraine, died in 1417, having been poisoned. Charles was succeeded by his next son, Charles VII. It was this Charles who reunited the French and was crowned king of France by Joan of Arc in 1429.

John the Fearless was murdered during a meeting with the dauphin Charles on the bridge at Montereau in 1419. His death did not end the civil war, however. His son Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, openly sided with Henry V in his war against Charles VI, having an alliance with the English that lasted until 1435.

Henry himself led a second great expedition into France in July 1417. Thereafter he spent only four months of the remaining five years of his reign in England. In 1419 he took the city of Rouen and thereby secured control of most of Normandy. By the Treaty of Troyes (1420) he was given the hand in marriage of the French princess, Katherine, and was acknowledged as heir to the kingdom of France after Charles VI’s death. But he died of dysentery one month before the French king, leaving all his titles to his nine-month-old son, Henry VI. By the time of his death he had exhausted the crown financially, fallen out with his uncle Henry Beaufort (whom he prevented from becoming a cardinal), and seen his brother Thomas, duke of Clarence, killed in the disastrous battle of Baugé (1421).

The custody of the realm during Henry VI’s minority fell to John, duke of Bedford (d. 1435), and Humphrey, duke of Gloucester (d. 1447). They vied for power with their uncle Henry Beaufort (d. 1447), who finally became a cardinal in 1426. All three fought over Henry’s legacy – which almost immediately became legendary. With an increasingly idealised legend to live up to, and with his powerful guardians exercising a controlling influence over both him and his realms, Henry VI was doomed. His reign was a succession of political disasters. Harfleur was recaptured in 1435. Rouen fell to the French in 1449 and the duchy of Gascony was lost in 1453, leaving the town of Calais the only English possession in France.

The Lancastrian dynasty founded by Henry IV died out in 1471, when Henry VI was murdered on the orders of Edward IV – the grandson and heir of Richard of Conisborough, earl of Cambridge, and the great-nephew and heir of Edmund Mortimer, earl of March.

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