Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (I)


In the play "Henry VI" is a character, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. The real Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, on the death of his brother Henry V, became Protector of the Kingdom and the head of the Government, but his maladministration of public affairs was notorious and the country was in a continual turmoil.

The Dictionary of National Biography says: "His greediness was notorious. He was unprincipled, factious, and blindly selfish."
In the play "Henry VI" we find that the character of Duke Humphrey is the exact opposite. He is always referred to as "the good Duke Humphrey"; he is always the innocent victim, the Queen, the Duke of Suffolk and Cardinal Beaufort being the wicked conspirators. How can we account for the great discrepancy between the true character of Duke Humphrey and his character as portrayed in the play? Duke Humphrey and his wife lived at St.Albans, and were admitted to the fraternity of the great abbey there in 1424. He was buried there when he died in 1447. The abbot himself venerated his memory, and the people of St. Albans evidently had a good opinion of him.
Is it a coincidence that Francis Bacon lived at Gorhambury in the immediate vicinity of St. Albans, and would, therefore, know the opinion of Duke Humphrey held by the abbey and the local inhabitants, and does this account for the erroneous view of the character of the Duke that we find in "Henry VI ?"


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