Henry Beaufort

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Henry Beaufort (c. 1375 – 11 April 1447) was a medieval English clergyman and Cardinal Bishop of Winchester,[1] an anomaly in being both a bishop and a member of the royal house of Plantagenet.[2][3]



The second son of John of Gaunt and his mistress Katherine Swynford, Beaufort was born in Anjou, an English domain in France, in about 1374 and educated for a career in the Church. After his parents were married in early 1396, Henry, his two brothers and one sister were declared legitimate by the pope and legitimated by Act of Parliament on 9 February 1397, but they were barred from the succession to the throne.[4][5][6] On 27 February 1398 he was nominated Bishop of Lincoln and on 14 July 1398 he was consecrated.[7] When his half-brother deposed Richard and took the throne as Henry IV of England, he made Bishop Beaufort Lord Chancellor of England in 1403.[8] Beaufort resigned that position in 1404 when he was appointed Bishop of Winchester on 19 November.[9]

Between 1411 and 1413 Bishop Beaufort was in political disgrace for siding with his nephew, the Prince of Wales, against the King, but when King Henry IV died and the Prince became Henry V of England, he made his uncle Chancellor again in 1413; however, Beaufort resigned the position in 1417.[8] Pope Martin V offered the Bishop a cardinal's hat, but King Henry V would not let him accept it. Henry V died in 1422, shortly after making himself heir to France by marrying Charles VI's daughter, and their infant son Henry VI of England. Bishop Beaufort and the child king's other uncles formed the Regency Government of England 1422-1437, and in 1424 Beaufort became Chancellor once more, but was forced to resign again in 1426[8] because of disputes with the King's other uncles.

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