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WILLIAM BEDELL (1571-1642)

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Originally appearing in Volume V03, Page 617 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WILLIAM BEDELL (1571-1642), Anglican divine, was born on his return to London he brought Sir John Oldcastle to trial at Black Notley in Essex, in 1571. He was educated at Cam- and was present at his execution. He appears to have governed bridge, became fellow of Emmanuel in 1593, and took orders. the country with considerable success until December 1419, In 1607 he was appointed chaplain to Sir H. Wotton, then when he resigned his office as lieutenant and joined the king English ambassador at Venice, where he remained for four years, in France. Returning to England, he undertook the lieutenancy acquiring a great reputation as a scholar and theologian. He for the third time in June 1421, and in the following May con-translated the Book of Common Prayer into Italian, and was on ducted the queen to join Henry in Normandy. He then took terms of closest friendship with the reformer, Sarpi (Fra Paolo). his brother's place and led the English troops to the relief, of In 1616 he was appointed to the rectory of Horningsheath (near Cosne, but on hearing of the king's serious illness he left the army to Bury St Edmunds, where he had previously laboured), which he and hurried to his side. Henry's last wish was that Bedford held for twelve years. In 1627 he became provost of Trinity should be guardian of the kingdom and of the young king, and College, Dublin, and, in 1629, bishop of Kilmore and Ardagh. that Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, should act as regent He set himself to reform the abuses of his diocese, encouraged the in France. But when Philip declined to undertake this office, use of the Irish language, and personally undertook the duties it too was assumed by Bedford, who, after the death of the French generally discharged by the bishop's lay chancellor. In 1633 king Charles VI. in October 1422, presided at a session of the parlement of Paris, and compelled all present to take an oath of fidelity to King Henry VI. Meanwhile the English parliament had decided that Bedford should be " protector and defender " of the kingdom, and that in his absence the office should devolve upon his brother Humphrey, duke of Gloucester. Confining himself to the conduct of affairs in France the protector took up Henry V.'s work of conquest, captured Meulan and other places, and sought to strengthen his position by an alliance with Philip of Burgundy. This task was rendered more difficult as Gloucester had just married Jacqueline, countess of Holland and Hainaut, a union which gave the English duke a claim on lands which Philip hoped to secure for himself. Bedford, however, having allayed Philip's irritation, formed an alliance with him and with John VI., duke of Brittany, at Amiens in April 1423, and himself arranged to marry Anne, a sister of the Burgundian duke. This marriage was celebrated at Troyes in the following June, and the war against Charles, the dauphin of France, was prosecuted with vigour and success. Bedford sought to restore prosperity to the districts under his rule by reforming the debased coinage, granting privileges to merchants and manufacturers, and removing various abuses. He then granted some counties to Philip to check the growing hostility between him and Gloucester, and on the 17th of August 1424 gained a great victory over a combined army of French and Scots at Verneuil. But in spite of the efforts of the protector the good understanding between England and Burgundy was partially destroyed when Gloucester invaded Hainaut in October 1424. The ambition of his brother gave Bedford trouble in another direction also; for on his return from Hainaut Gloucester quarrelled with the chancellor, Henry Beaufort, bishop of Winchester, and the council implored Bedford to come to England to settle this dispute. He reached London in January 1426, and after concluding a bond of alliance with Gloucester effected a reconciliation between the duke and the chancellor; and knighted the young king, Henry VI. Bedford then promised to act in accordance with the will of the council, and in harmony with the decision of this body raised a body of troops and re-turned to France in March 1427. Having ordered Gloucester to desist from a further attack on Hainaut, he threatened Brittany and compelled Duke John to return to the English alliance; and the success of his troops continued until the siege of Orleans, to which he consented with reluctance, was undertaken in October 1428. Having assured himself that Philip was prepared to desert him, Bedford sent orders to his army to raise the siege in April 1429. He then acted with great energy and judgment in attempting to stem the tide of disasters which followed this failure, strengthened his hold upon Paris, and sent to England for reinforcements; but before any engagement took place he visited Rouen, where he sought to bind the Normans closer to England, and after his return to Paris resigned the French regency to Philip of Burgundy in accordance with the wish of the Parisians. Retaining the government of Normandy Bedford established himself at Rouen and directed the movements of the English forces with some success. He did not interfere to save the life of Joan of Arc. He was joined by Henry VI. in April 1430, when the regency was temporarily suspended, and he secured Henry's coronation at Paris in December 1431. In November 1432 his wife Anne died, and in April 1433 he was married at Therouanne to Jacqueline, daughter of Pierre I., count of St Pol. But notwithstanding Bedford's vigour the English lost ground steadily; and the death of Anne and this marriage destroyed the friendly relations between England and Burgundy. Negotiations for peace had no result, and when the duke returned to England in June 1433 he told parliament that he had come home to defend himself against the charge that the losses in France were caused by his neglect, and demanded that his detractors should make their accusations public. The chancellor replied that no such charges were known to the king or the council, and the duke was thanked for his great services. His next act was to secure an inquiry into the national finances; and when asked by the parliament to stay in England he declared that his services were at the king's disposal. Aschief councillor he offered to take a smaller salary than had been previously paid to Gloucester, and undertook this office in December 1433, when his demands with regard to a continual council were conceded. Bedford, who was anxious to prosecute the war in France, left England again in 1434, but early in 1435 was obliged to consent to the attendance of English representatives at a congress held to arrange terms of peace at Arras. Unable to consent to the French terms the English envoys left Arras in September, and Philip of Burgundy made a separate treaty with France. Bedford only lived to see the ruin of the cause for which he struggled so loyally. He died at Rouen on the 14th of September 1435, and was buried in the cathedral of that city. He left a natural son, Richard, but no legitimate issue. Bedford was a man of considerable administrative ability, brave and humane in war, wise and unselfish in peace. He was not responsible for the misfortunes of the English in France, and his courage in the face of failure was as admirable as his continued endeavour to make the people under his rule contented and prosperous. The chief contemporary authorities for Bedford's life are: Vita et gesta Henrici Quinti, edited by T. Hearne (Oxford, 1727) ; E. de Monstrelet, Chronique, edited by L. D. d'Arcq. (Paris, 1857–1862); William of Worcester, Annales rerum Anglicarum, edited by J. Stevenson (London, 1864). See also Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council of England, edited by J. R. Dasent (London, 1890-1899) ; W. Stubbs, Constitutional History, vol. iii. (Oxford, 1895) P. A. Barante, Histoire des ducs de Bourgogne (Paris, 1824). In 147o GEORGE NEVILL (c. 1457—1483), son of John, earl of Northumberland, was created duke of Bedford; but after his father's attainder and death at the battle of Barnet in 1471 he was degraded from the peerage. The next duke of Bedford was JASPER TUDOR (c. 1430-1495), half-brother of King Henry VI. and uncle of Henry VII. He was made earl of Pembroke in 1453. Having survived the vicissitudes of the Wars of the Roses he was restored to his earldom and created duke of Bedford in 1485. The duke, who was lord-lieutenant of Ireland from 1486 to 1494, died without legitimate issue on the 21st of December 1495.
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