This was the second Parliament to meet during Henry VI’s minority; writs were issued on the anniversary of his accession. It was held by the Protector, the king’s younger uncle the duke of Gloucester, in the absence in France of the duke of Bedford. The opening sermon, given by the chancellor, Thomas Langley, bishop of Durham, indicated that this was intended as an opportunity to review how the arrangements for conciliar government were working in practice, and towards the end of the second session the names of the councillors were published, revealing only minor changes since 1422. The king himself, not yet two years old, was brought into Parliament in November.
Abroad, Gloucester’s ambition to exploit his marriage with Jacqueline of Hainault was seriously jeopardizing the Anglo-Burgundian alliance, while his brother Bedford sought to strengthen the alliance by his own marriage to the duke of Burgundy’s sister. Military activity continued in France. By contrast, relations with Scotland were improving. On 21 Nov. the Commons were able to send a deputation to the Lords thanking them for the chancellor’s statement on the progress of negotiations, and early in 1424 these resulted in the liberation of James I of Scotland (captive since 1406) and his marriage with Bishop Beaufort’s niece.
The Crown faced serious financial demands. The wills of the king’s grandfather and father had still not been fulfilled, and their debts, including wages and costs incurred in the French war, were outstanding. As much as 40,000 marks was required. Much of the two sessions was taken up by both Lords and Commons in sanctioning the demands made by the executors of Henry IV and Henry V, and in answering the petitions of some of the most important of their creditors. There was resistance to the vote of any direct tax in the crown’s great necessity, and the council was disappointed in its bid to secure taxation for a new expedition to France. All the financial help the Commons would give was a two years’ extension of the subsidies on wool, plus tunnage and poundage on aliens.