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Thomas Arundel and the Baronial Party Under Henry IV*

  • John W. Dahmus


In July 1399, the exiled Henry of Lancaster returned to England with the exiled archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel, and a few followers and successfully wrested the English throne from Richard II. Historians have long debated the events of the revolution of 1399 and Henry's subsequent reign. In the last century Stubbs argued that Henry “had risen by advocating constitutional principles” and had “made the validity of a parliamentary title indispensable to royalty.” Lapsley, on the other hand, claims that it was Henry's followers, not Henry, who promoted parliamentary power; they tried to force a parliamentary title on him, but to no avail. McFarlane agrees with Lapsley that Henry was not inspired by constitutional principles; rather Henry “duped” and “outwitted” his followers in his successful usurpation of the crown.

McFarlane goes on to describe a baronial opposition to Henry which was led by Thomas Arundel. In his Cambridge Medieval History article on the Lancastrian kings, he writes: “At the beginning of the new reign he [Thomas Arundel] seemed to stand with the Percies and other noble supporters of the revolution for the preponderance of the baronage in the affairs of the realm.… In Lancastrian Kings and Lollard Knights this interpretation is somewhat qualified:

If we may judge from the speech with which he [Arundel] opened the first Parliament of the new reign he stood for what may be called the traditional baronial theory of government. The government he said, would not be “by the voluntary purpose or singular opinion” of the king alone but by “the advice, counsel and consent” of “the honourable wise and discreet persons of his realm.” This was as much a warning to Henry as a manifesto on his behalf.

McFarlane adds that Arundel was “evidently not altogether happy at the way the new king was already behaving.” He and Henry “only gradually … came together.”



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This is a revised version of a paper delivered at the Rocky Mountain Conference on British Studies in October, 1978.



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1 Stubbs, William, The Constitutional History of England in Its Origin and Development, 2d ed., 3 vols. (Oxford, 18751878; reprint, 1968), 3:8, and 2:508.

2 Lapsley, Gaillard, “The Parliamentary Title of Henry IV,” English Historical Review 49 (1934):423-449, 577606.

3 McFarlane, K.B., Lancastrian Kings and Lollard Knights, ed. Harriss, G.L. and Highfield, J.R.L. (Oxford, 1972), pp. 51-56, 63.

4 McFarlane, K.B., “England: The Lancastrian Kings, 1399-1461,” in Cambridge Medieval History, ed. Gwatkin, al., 8 vols. (Cambridge, 19111936; reprint, 19571959), 8:373.

5 McFarlane, , Lancastrian Kings, p. 64.

6 Ibid., pp. 64-65.

7 Ibid., pp. 106-109. See also Kirby, J.L., Henry IV of England (London, 1970), pp. 238242.

8 McFarlane, , Lancastrian Kings, p. 79.

9 Ellis, Henry, ed., The Chronicle of John Hardyng (London, 1812), pp. 350, 352 n.

10 McFarlane, , Lancastrian Kings, pp. 4952.

11 Ibid., pp. 52-54.

12 Davies, Richard, “After the Execution of Archbishop Scrope: Henry IV, the Papacy, and the English Episcopate, 1405-8,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 59 (1976):43, 45; idem, “Thomas Arundel as Archbishop of Canterbury, 1396-1414,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 14 (1973):15.

13 McFarlane, , Lancastrian Kings, pp. 6465. Davies, , “After the Execution,” p. 43, refers to McFarlane and writes: “Perhaps Arundel had not been entirely content with Henry IV's mode of accession to the throne.”

14 McFarlane, , Lancastrian Kings, p. 65.

15 McFarlane, , “England,” pp. 373–74.

16 McFarlane, , Lancastrian Kings, pp. 106113.

17 Kirby, , Henry IV, pp. 5574.

18 Ibid., pp. 53-54 (see also p. 208), p. 215.

19 Ibid., pp. 208, 233, 238, 242.

20 Aston, MargaretThomas Arundel: A Study of Church Life in the Reign of Richard II (Oxford, 1967), pp. 336350; McKisack, May, The Fourteenth Century 1307-1399 (Oxford, 1959), pp. 442461; Harley Ms. 3600 (printed as introduction to Dieulacres Chronicle), in Clarke, M.V. and Galbraith, V.H., eds., “The Deposition of Richard II,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 14 (1930):157161.

21 Strachey, al., eds., Rotuli Parliamentorum: ut et Petitiones et Placita in Parliamento, 6 vols. (London, 17671777), 3:351; Thompson, Edward M., ed., Chronicon Adae de Usk A.D. 1377-1421 (London, 1904), pp. 12-13, 155156; Stow, George B., ed., Historia Vitae et Regni Richardi II, a Monacho Quodam de Evesham Consignata (Philadelphia, 1977), p. 141. Although some of the French chroniclers claim that archbishop Arundel was involved in 1397 in a new plot by the same Appellants against the king, no evidence of a new conspiracy was brought forward in the 1397 trials. If Richard, therefore, knew of a new plot, he chose to ignore it. For contemporary evidence of this new plot and modern interpretations, see Tout, T.F., Chapters in the Administrative History of Medieval England, 6 vols. (Manchester, 19201933), 4:2122; Steel, Anthony, Richard II (Cambridge, 1941), pp. 230237; Jones, Richard, The Royal Policy of Richard II: Absolutism in the Later Middle Ages (New York, 1968), pp. 7684; Tuck, Anthony, Richard II and the English Nobility (New York, 1974), pp. 184185.

22 John Bushy, Speaker of the Commons, referred to Arundel as the greatest traitor of all. Riley, Henry T., ed., Johannisde Trokelowe et Henrici de Blaneforde, Monachorum S. Albani, Necnon Quorundam Anonymorum Chronica et Annales, Regnantibus Henrico Tertio, Edwarde Primo, Edwarde Secundo, Ricardo Secundo, et Henrico Quarto (London, 1866), pp. 209210; Chronicon Adae de Usk, pp. 10-11, 153-154; Historia Vitae, pp. 139, 141.

23 Lumby, Joseph, ed., Chronicon Henrici Knighton, 2 vols. (London, 18891895), 2:244245.

24 Aston, , Thomas Arundel, pp. 339340. See also her assessment of Arundel: “In a violent generation the part which most naturally suited him, in character as well as standing, was that of a mediator and conciliator (p. 377).”

25 Chronicon Henrici Knighton, 2:247; Aston, , Thomas Arundel, pp. 340341.

26 Reg. Wakefield (Worcester), f. 127 r-v, quoted in Aston, , Thomas Arundel, p. 343. See also Davies, Richard G., “Some Notes from the Register of Henry de Wakefield, bishop of Worcester, on the political crisis of 1386-1388,” English Historical Review 86 (1971):557. The historians of the fourteenth century relate much less about Arundel's activities in the events of 1388. Because the 1388 Parliament considered judgments of blood, Arundel as a churchman was unable to take a prominent part in the proceedings, either as supporter of the barons or as mediator between them and the king. Aston, , Thomas Arundel, pp. 345346.

27 Johannis de Trokelowe, pp. 202-203; Haydon, Frank S., ed., Continuatio Eulogium Historiarum sive Temporis, 3 vols. (London, 18581863), 3:371372.

28 Davies, Richard G., “The Episcopate and the Political Crisis in England of 1386-1388,” Speculum 51 (1976):666, 682683.

29 The Ricardian author of the Dieulacres Chronicle exaggerated Arundel's contribution by saying that he helped Henry win over “almost all the castles in all of England by tricks” (“The Deposition of Richard II,” p. 171). Exaggeration aside, Arundel's familial and social ties to the nobility, his friendships with the clergy, his past services to the realm, and his sheer ability were assets that Henry found useful.

30 Arundel considered himself archbishop from the moment he returned to England; Hook, Walter F., Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury, 12 vols. (London, 18601876), 4:483; Henry's acceptance of him as archbishop was crucial in this regard. The Chronique du Religieux de Saint-Denys, ed. Bellaguet, M.L., 6 vols. (Paris, 18391852), 2:712713, says that during the invasion Henry restored Arundel “de facto” to Canterbury by the authority of certain bishops, since royal and ecclesiastical authority had been suspended.

31 Chronicle of John Hardyng, pp. 350, 352 n.

32 Chronicon Adae de Usk, pp. 28, 178; Johannis de Trokelowe, p. 249; Chronicle, Dieulacres, “The Deposition of Richard II,” p. 173; Rotuli Parliamentorum, 3:416; The Histoire du Roy d' Angleterre, Richard,” (Creton), ed. Webb, John, Archaeologia 20 (1824): 125-129, 347349, the Chronicque de la Traisen et Mort de Richart Deux Roy Dengleterre, ed. Williams, Benjamin (London: English Historical Society, 1846), pp. 47, 195, the Chronique du Religieux de Saint-Denys, 2:714715, and The Kirkstall Chronicle, 1355-1400,” ed. Clarke, M.V. and Denholm-Young, N., Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 15 (1931):134, omit Arundel's name, stating that only Northumberland served as Henry's envoy. But Creton blames Arundel for suggesting the sending of Northumberland because, said the archbishop, in no other way could Richard be captured. The Historia Vitae, p. 155 says that the archbishop, the earls of Northumberland and Westmorland, and Lord Henry Percy went to see Richard. The Continuatio Eulogium, 3:382, says Arundel and Henry of Lancaster met Richard at Conway; the chronicler here refers erroneously to the later meeting of Richard, Henry, and Arundel at Flint.

33 Chronicle, Dieulacres, “The Deposition of Richard II,” p. 173; Chronicque de la Traison, pp. 47, 197-198; “Histoire du Roy,” (Creton), pp. 133-137, 354-357.

34 McFarlane, , Lancastrian Kings, pp. 5152.

35 Bean, J.M.W., “Henry IV and the Perdes,” History 44 (1959):214; Tuck, , Richard II, pp. 4552.

36 “Histoire du Roy,” (Creton), pp. 140, 359.

37 Bean, , “Henry IV,” pp. 215219; Wilkinson, Bertie, “The Deposition of Richard II and the Accession of Henry IV,” English Historical Review 54 (1939): 217219 accepts the veracity of Hardyng's story.

38 Bean, , “Henry IV,” pp. 216217.

39 Chronicle, Dieulacres, “The Deposition of Richard II,” p. 179; Bean, , “Henry IV,” pp. 217218.

40 Bean, , “Henry IV,” pp. 219221; 225-226.

41 “Histoire du Roy,” (Creton), pp. 125-128, 347-348.

42 Ibid., p. 147; Chronicque de la Traison, pp. 50-52, 200-201.

43 McFarlane, , Lancastrian Kings, p. 52 remarks that an oath on the host was “no mere formality for an archbishop.”

44 Richard made a number of promises to Arundel and Henry at the time of their exiles which he failed to honor.

45 Continuatio Eulogium, 3:361, 369370. McNiven, Peter, “Legitimacy and Consent: Henry IV and the Lancastrian Title, 1399-1406,” Mediaeval Studies 44 (1982):477 finds “no conclusive evidence that Richard II had given any guidance on the question of his successor,” for the Parliament Roll contains no evidence of this claim made by the chronicler. See also Bean, , “Henry IV,” p. 219 n. 46.

46 McFarlane, , Lancastrian Kings, p. 52.

47 Ibid., pp. 54-55.

48 Chronicon Adae de Usk, p. 30.

49 Lapsley, , “Parliamentary Title,” pp. 583-587, 596606.

50 The events of September-October, 1399 have been much discussed, especially as a result of Lapsley's article. See Lapsley, , “Richard II's Last Parliament,” English Historical Review 53 (1938):5378; Clarke and Galbraith, eds., “The Deposition of Richard II,”; Wilkinson, “Deposition of Richard II”; McNiven, “Legitimacy”; Richardson, H.B., “Richard II's Last Parliament,” English Historical Review 52 (1937):3947; idem, “The Elections to the October Parliament of 1399,” Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research 16 (1938-1939): 137-143; Wright, H.G., “The Protestation of Richard II in the Tower in September, 1399,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 23 (1939): 151165; Dunham, William H. Jr. and Wood, Charles T., “The Right to Rule in England: Depositions and the Kingdom's Authority, 1327-1485,” American Historical Review 81 (1976):738761; Caspary, Gerard E., “The Deposition of Richard II and the Canon Law,” in Proceedings of the Second International Congress of Medieval Canon Law (Monumenta Juris Canonici, Series C:Subsidia, I), ed. Kuttner, Stephan and Ryan, J. Joseph (Vatican City, 1965), pp. 189201; Chrimes, S.B., “The Fifteenth Century,” History 48, n.s. (1963): 1827; idem, English Constitutional Ideas in the Fifteenth Century (Cambridge, 1936), pp. 106–115; Kirby, , Henry IV, pp. 6074; Jacob, E.F., The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485 (Oxford, 1961), pp. 1017; Steel, , Richard II, pp. 270285.

51 Chronicon Adae de Usk, pp. 29-30, 181-182.

52 Rotuli Partiamentorum, 3:422.

53 Lapsley, , “Parliamentary Title,” pp. 589, 604; Stubbs, , Constitutional History, 2:503.

54 Rotuli Partiamentorum, 3:415.

55 Lapsley, , “Parliamentary Title,” pp. 605606; idem, “Richard II's Last Parliament,” p. 74.

56 Rotuli Partiamentorum, 3:415.

57 McFarlane, , Lancastrian Kings, p. 64.

58 Chronicon Henrici Knighton, 2:219; Davies, , “Episcopate,” pp. 666, 682 suggests Arundel was an “important contributor” to this political theory presented to Richard.

59 Davies, John S., ed., An English Chronicle of the Reigns of Richrd II, Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI, Camden Society 64 (1855):16; Continuatio Eulogium, 3:382 where the meeting is incorrectly placed at Conway Castle.

60 Rotuli Parliamentorum, 4:3.

61 Ibid. 3:434 (for Richard's tyrannies, see pp. 417-422). Tuck, , Richard II, p. 1, says the king's most important problem in the fourteenth century was his relations with his nobility. They expected the king “to pay due regard to their interests and prejudices in his conduct of government.” If he did, they only advised and provided military leadership; if he did not, they might try to intervene and impose restraint on him.

62 Davies, , “After the Execution,” pp. 43, 45; idem, “Thomas Arundel,” p. 15.

63 Kirby, J.L., “Councils and Councillors of Henry IV, 1399-1413,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th series, 14 (1964):42 remarks: “Arundel was a conscientious archbishop, and his political ambitions probably took second place to his desire to administer his province in peace and protect his church from the Lollards.”

64 Davies, , “Thomas Arundel,” p. 12.

65 Ibid., p. 13.

66 Kirby, , “Councils,” pp. 6165; attendance records are extant for only 247 days between November 11, 1399 and January 30, 1407, when Arundel became chancellor. Arundel appears on 68 of the lists; see also pp. 38-39 for a brief analysis of the proportion of these surviving records to the actual conciliar meetings.

67 Ibid., p. 42. “He was the leading member of the council during the whole reign with the exception of the two years, 1410 and 1411.…”

68 Public Record Office E 28/7; Kirby, “Councils,” p. 46.

69 Davies, , “Thomas Arundel,” p. 15.

70 Public Record Office E 401/617, 621, 623, 626, 631, 637; E 404/20/268; E 403/580/6; E 403/587/12; E 401/638; E 403/595/9; Calendar of the Patent Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office (Henry IV), 4 vols. (London, 19031909), 3:215, 4:421; [N.] Nicolas, Harris, ed., Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council of England, 7 vols. (London, 1834), 2:32. Only two of these ten loans came after 1407.

71 Rotuli Partiamentorum, 3: 524526. Davies, , “After the Execution,” p. 45.

72 Johannis de Trokelowe, p. 399; Joan, countess of Hereford, wrote in October 1405, that she and her brother the archbishop had been slandered to the king; Legge, M. Dominica, ed., Anglo-Norman Letters and Petitions from All Souls Ms. 182 (Oxford, 1941), pp. 399400 has suggested that this letter refers to suspicions arising from the Scrope uprising; her source (Wylie, James H., History of England under Henry the Fourth, 4 vols. (London, 18841898), 2:51) does not say this but refers instead to the duke of York's conspiracy. The letter might refer to either event. On the matter of the execution of Scrope—Henry's execution of Archbishop Scrope despite the pleas of Arundel need not indicate that Arundel had fallen from favor but simply that Henry, enraged at the continual revolts against his rule, had determined to stop uprisings and so made an example of Scrope; Kirby, , Henry IV, pp. 187188. Davies, , “After the Execution,” p. 45 believes Arundel was “under a cloud” at the time of Scrope's execution.

73 Johannis de Trokelowe, p. 399; Davies, , “After the Execution,” p. 45.

74 Luders, al., eds., Statutes of the Realm [1101-1713], 9 vols, in 10 (London, 18101828), 2:125128.

75 Johannis de Trokelowe, pp. 373-374, 391-393; Riley, Henry T., ed., Historia Anglicana Thomae Walsingham, 2 vols. (London, 18631864), 2:259, 265266.

76 The pardon granted to Arundel in June 1412 does not have reference to any real crimes; Rymer, Thomas and Sanderson, Robert, comps., Foedera, Conventiones, Litterae et Cujuscumque Generis Acta Publica, inter Reges Angliae, 20 vols. (London, 17041735), 8:753. The same pardon was made to “each and all the lieges” of the king; ibid. 8:711; Calendar of the Close Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office (Henry IV), 5 vols. (London, 19271938), 4:311. Perhaps the pardons refer to the fact that by the end of December 1411, the king was finally in control of the government, and all rebellions had been put down. All his lieges were, therefore, made secure against charges resulting from most past wrongdoing. Perhaps Arundel's oppostion to the royal council that had just lost power (the party of Prince Henry) prompted a specific grant to him. The pardons may be a royal response to a specific petition of the Lords and Commons in the Parliament that had just ended, that Henry consider them and the members of his previous Parliament as his faithful and loyal lieges; Rotuli Partiamentorum, 3:658.

77 McFarlane, , “England,” pp. 373374.

78 Davies, , “After the Execution,” p. 50.

79 Kirby, , “Councils,” p. 64.

80 Brown, A.L., “The Commons and the Council in the Reign of Henry IV,” English Historical Review 79 (1964):2-11, 29. See Chrimes, S.B. and Brown, A.L., eds., Select Documents of English Constitutional History 1307-1485 (London, 1961), pp. 205206 and Rotuli Parliamentorum, 3:530 for some of the documents.

81 Brown, , “Commons,” pp. 1228; Kirby, , “Councils,” pp. 5456; see also Rotuli Partiamentorum, 3:567607.

82 Kirby, , “Councils,” pp. 55-56, 64.

83 Brown, , “Commons,” pp. 2627. Brown claims that after 1406 “the council became more active in dealing with major questions than in the first part of the reign.” This period, however, “requires a separate study,” which apparently has never been made.

84 Kirby, , Henry IV, pp. 226, 241242.

85 Kirby, , “Councils,” pp. 57-59, 65.

86 McFarlane, , “England,” p. 375; idem, Lancastrian Kings, pp. 106-108; McNiven, Peter, “Prince Henry and the English Political Crisis of 1412,” History 65 (1980):2. See also Kirby, , Henry IV, pp. 226228.

87 Giles, John A. ed., Incerti Scriptoris Chronicon Angliae de Regnis Trium Regum Lancastrensium Henrici IV, Henrici V, et Henrici VI (London, 1848), pp. 6263. The Continuatio Eulogium, 3:420421 and An English Chronicle, p. 37 date this suggestion of abdication to 1413. Years later (1426) Beaufort did not specifically deny the charge that he had suggested abdication; Rotuli Parliamentorum, 4:298; Kingsford, Charles L., ed., The First English Life of Henry V (Oxford, 1911), p. xxi; idem, ed., Chronicles of London (Oxford, 1905), p. 92; see also Kirby, , Henry IV, p. 238.

88 McNiven, , “Prince Henry,” pp. 35; he argues that a dispute over an unauthorized military venture to France, probably “despatched by the prince against his father's wishes” was “amajor specific factor in a more general political conflict over the royal prerogative and the exercise of authority.”

89 Kirby, , Henry IV, pp. 209210.

90 This theory is accepted in part by Stubbs, , Constitutional History, 3:63 and Kingsford, Charles, Henry V: The Typical Mediaeval Hero (New York, 1901), pp. 65, 70.

91 Anstey, Henry, ed., Munimenta Academica, 2 vols. (London, 1868), 1:251252; see Salter, H.E., ed., Snappe's Formulary and Other Records, Oxford Historical Society 80(1924) for the story of the conflicts of Arundel and Oxford.

92 See Bean, , “Henry IV,” pp. 221227 for examples.

93 Brown, A.L., “The Reign of Henry IV,” in Fifteenth-Century England 1399-1509: Studies in Politics and Society, ed. Chrimes, S.B., Ross, C.D., Griffiths, R.A. (New York, 1972), pp. 114.

* This is a revised version of a paper delivered at the Rocky Mountain Conference on British Studies in October, 1978.


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