Henry VI







The Minority Council. The Royal Household. Administration.

The Exchequer. The Judiciary. The Council as Judges.

Wales. The King’s Lieutenant in Ireland. Scotland. Wardens of the March.

French Prisoners. Henry VI Debts.

Council and the Church. Council and the Papacy. General Council at Pavia.

Foreign Relations. London. The Hanseatic League.

Calais. The Duchy of Gascony.

FRANCE. Siege of Meulan. Treaty of Amiens. An Army for Normandy.

Estates General of Normandy. The Siege of Le Crotoy. The Battle of Cravant.

Henry VI, a Pius King. Bibliography.





1423 the Minority Council gradually came to grips with the administration and with the responsibility of governing England, Wales, Ireland, Calais, and the Duchy of Gascony. They made provision for the king’s first household.  They grappled with the burden of settling King Henry V’s debts and of developing good relations with Scotland and the Papacy.  John Duke of Bedford as Regent of France assumed the government of the Duchy of Normandy and the pays de conquête but the Minority Council was required to raise and pay for sending an army to France. Parliament met in October and King Henry made his first public appearance when he attended it in November.

The Minority Council 

For the next twenty-three years until King Henry came of age, England would be governed by a council, made up of lords and clerics chosen by themselves. The Minority Council met several times a month throughout 1423, except in August and September, as its members came to grips with the problems facing them. The Council asserted its authority over government administration and the main offices of state, the chancery, the exchequer, and the judiciary.

The Parliament of 1423/24 was convened by the Duke of Gloucester on conciliar authority. It met on 20 October and sat until 17 December 1423; it was prorogued to meet again on 14 January 1424. 

 See Year 1424: Parliament for the second session.

Parliament had decreed that a quorum of at least four council members, not counting the three officers of state, should be present when decisions were taken. A majority must be present for matters affecting the realm; and, for important decisions which would normally be taken by the king, the Duke of Bedford, or the Duke of Gloucester must be consulted. Petitions were routinely addressed to the Duke of Gloucester and the Council or in some cases to Gloucester alone as Protector.

On 26 January the clerk of parliament read out in council a memorandum of the acts passed by Parliament in 1422 (1). He was instructed to submit it to the judges who would transcribe it and present those acts deemed to be statutes of the realm to the Lords for confirmation. Copies of acts affecting government by the Council were to be sent to the clerk of the council, Richard Caudray, to be written up and enrolled in Chancery ‘according to custom’ (2). Sir Walter Hungerford and Ralph, Lord Cromwell were sworn in as council members (3).

(1) PPC III, pp. 22-23 (memorandum of Parliament’s acts of 1422). 

(2) PPC III, preface, pp. v–viii (Nicolas on statutes versus acts).

(3) PPC III, pp. 22 and 23 (Hungerford and Cromwell).

Gloucester as Protector

The Duke of Gloucester’s salary as Protector and chief councillor was confirmed as 8,000 marks a year (1, 2). Half of it would come from Duchy of Lancaster lands (3). The remaining 4,000 marks would be made up of 1,000 marks out of the estates in the king’s hands of two minors: 1,000 marks from Thomas Lord Roos, whose elder brothers had both been killed at the Battle of Baugé in 1421; and 800 marks from Ralph Neville, son of Sir John Neville, eldest son of the Earl of Westmorland, who had died in France in 1420, The Exchequer would contribute 1,700 marks. Where the other 500 marks was to come from is not specified but the Exchequer would cover ‘all deficiencies and arrears.’

Gloucester was granted the lordship of Guines in the Pale of Calais for 14 years in April, paying 900 marks yearly to the crown. Gloucester indented to serve with 50 men-at- arms and 50 archers on foot, ‘excepting himself.’ (4).

(1) PPC III pp. 26-27 (Gloucester’s salary)

(2) Foedera X, p. 268 (Gloucester salary).

(3) PPC III, pp. 51–52 (orders to Duchy of Lancaster receiver).

(4) PPC III, p. 69 (Lordship of Guines granted to Gloucester).

Grants by Gloucester

The parish church of Bradfeld or Brayfield in the diocese of Salisbury was in the king’s gift because Edward Langford the heir to the advowson, (right of gift of a parish church), was a minor. On 21 January it was granted to the Duke of Gloucester’s clerk, John Swanwich, following the death of William Curteys (1, 2). But on 17 February it was presented to the king’s clerk, William Bontemps (3). Swanwich resigned it on 4 December 1423 and it was presented to Simon Lambthorp (4). 

John Everdon was an auditor of receipts in the Exchequer. In May 1423 he petitioned the Duke of Gloucester for the prebend and cannonry of Wortlyng Nennefeld [Wartling Ninfeld] and Hoo in the Collegiate Church of Hastings. The petition is endorsed H. CHAMBELLAN D’ENGLETERRE (5).

An entry in the Calendar of the Patent Rolls confirms the presentation to Everdon, but  he did not get it (5). In November 1423 it was presented to Thomas Bailly ‘by order of the king,’ i.e. the Council, overrode Gloucester’s grant. Bailly was installed by the vicar general in the absence of Thomas Polton, Bishop of Chichester, who was in Rome (see Polton below). (6). Gloucester believed he had the right as Protector to issue grants independently but the Council overrode his decisions whenever it suited them.

See 1424: Minority Council: Governance.

(1) Foedera X, p. 264 (Swanwich).

(2) CPR 1422-1429, pp. 33 (Swanwich),

(3) CPR 1422-1429, p. 54 (Bontemps)

(4) CPR 1422-1429, p. 158 (Lambthorp).

(5) PPC III, p. 99 (Everdon)

(6) CPR 1422-1429, p. 104 (Everdon). (7) CPR 1422-29. pp. 139, 140 (Bailly).

The Royal Household

King Henry was in the care of his mother Queen Katherine but as early as February 1423 the Council made provision for the formation of the king’s household and appointed officers to key administrative posts:

Lewis John, a retainer of Queen Katherine, was appointed steward and receiver general of the royal Duchy of Cornwall (1). Income from the Duchy was applied to the expenses of the royal households. 

John Snell, the king’s almoner, was instructed to enquire into the non-payment of deodands and to collect all outstanding sums due to the king. The income from deodands was used to defray the costs of the king’s alms giving. His warrant is addressed to all royal officers and civic authorities (2).

Deodands. OED definition: Personal chattel which, having been the immediate occasion of the death of a person, was forfeited to the crown to be applied to pious uses. A sum taken in lieu of the deodand.  

John Hotoft had been controller of Henry V’s household when Henry was Prince of Wales. He was appointed Treasurer of Henry VI’s household and remained in post until 1431 (3).

John Feriby became controller of the household, and remained in post throughout Henry VI’s minority. He was granted the office of Parker of Witley in Surrey by way of reward (4).

Robert Shiryngton was appointed Comptroller of the king’s works, with John Ardene as his clerk and surveyor, to repair and maintain royal residences (5).  

William Langton and ten other minstrels from Henry V’s household, now in Henry VI’s household were granted annuities of 100 shillings (£5) (6).

‘Divers silver vessels and other things’ valued at £1,466 13s 4d were purchased from Henry V’s estate on conciliar authority for use in Henry VI’s household, although the first instalment of £500 was not paid to the executors until November (7).

(1) PPC III, p. 24 and CPR 1422-1429, p. 45 (Lewis John).

(2) Foedera X, p. 264 (Snell, almoner) and CPR 1422-1429, p. 47 (deodans).

(3) PPC III, p. 25 (Hotoft).

(4) PPC III, p. 25 and CPR 1422-1429, p. 80 (Feriby).

(5) PPC III. p. 52 and CPR 1422-1429, p. 65 (Shiryngton).

(6) Foedera X, p. 287 and CPR 1422-1429, p. 102 (minstrels).

(7) Issues of Exchequer, p. 383 (silver vessels and other things).


Wardrobe Expenses

Robert Rolleston was Keeper of the king’s Great Wardrobe. On 21 February, the Council assigned £629 0s 1d at the Exchequer to Rolleston to meet the costs of clothing and wages for those who were entitled to receive them over the next twelve months (1). The first item in the first schedule of payments, £227 0s 7d, is for the expenses of the Feast of the Garter,

 In a second schedule £83 7s. 6d. was allocated for items supplied by the Great Wardrobe for Henry V’s funeral (see 1422) (2).

Rolleston petitioned the Council for payment in May (3).

In June he was ordered to arrange the delivery of items of clothing and beddings for six children of the chapel royal (choristers) (4).

(1) L&P I, pp. 384–385 (estimates of charges).

(2) L&P I, pp. 394–388 (itemized lists of recipients and costs).

(3) PPC III, p. 72 (Rolleston petition).

(4) PPC III, p.104 (children).


The Council confirmed that King Henry V’s grants ‘for good behaviour or for life’ would be renewed provided the holder was not deemed to be of ‘bad character’ or to have had any serious objection lodged against him. The King’s grants of annuities and offices ‘during pleasure’ would be reviewed on presentation by the recipients of proof of their grant (1).

The collectors of customs were confirmed in their lucrative posts (2) and in February justices of the peace, sheriffs and escheators were nominated for every county in England (3).

 Sheriffs were the crown’s principal administrative officers. Two sheriffs were elected annually for each shire and they took office at Michaelmas (29 September). They were expected to support the justices of the peace, to maintain law and order, to oversee parliamentary elections, and to collect the income from crown lands. They reported to the Exchequer twice a year to have their accounts audited and approved (4).

Sheriffs’ accounts were often in arrears due to difficulties of collection. In 1423 the Council instructed the Treasurer and Chamberlains of the Exchequer to pardon the sheriffs for any shortfalls, but only by ‘the smallest sum allowed to their predecessors.’ (5)

William Lisle was sheriff of Oxford and Berkshire in 1420-1421 and again in 1422-1423. In May, the Council postponed payment of his arrears of 100 marks to February 1424, and in view of  his long and expensive service to the crown he was to be permitted to name a suitable reward, such as the lease (farm) of crown lands at a special rate (6, 7).

(1) PPC III, pp. 20-21 (confirmation of Henry V’s grants).

(2) PPC III, pp. 26–27 (confirmation of customs officials).

(3) PPC III, p. 25 (nominations for JPs, sheriffs, and escheators).

(4) Brown, Governance of England, pp.  122-128 (JPs);  pp 142–145 (sheriffs and escheators).

(5) PPC III, pp. 38-39 (sheriffs’ accounts).

(6) PPC III, p. 86 (William Lisle).

(7) CFR 1422-1430, pp. 12, 52 and 85 (William Lisle).     

Wardships and marriages

Wardships and marriages were a lucrative source of income to the Crown. Until Henry VI came of age the Council had the rights of wardship: estates could be to be ‘let, sold or disposed of by the Council at the highest price without favour or any kind of partiality or fraud’ (1). 

If the heir to lands held of the king was a minor when his father died he and his lands passed into the king’s hands via the escheator to be held or regranted during the minority as the king saw fit. Escheators collected the wide variety of feudal levies due to the king. They held inquisitions post mortem with a local jury on the death of a royal tenant to establish the extent, and the value of the deceased holdings in crown lands and they took forfeited lands into their custody.  

Licence to marry for those who held lands from the king had to be paid for. The penalty for marrying without the king’s licence carried a hefty fine. Fines for licences (or pardons for failing to obtain one) were paid into the Hanaper, the department of the Chancery responsible for sealing documents.

Thomas Clifford  was only eight years old when his father, John, Lord Clifford was killed at the siege of Meaux in March 1422. In February 1423, Thomas’s marriage was granted to his mother and grandmother for a fee of 800 marks. His mother, Elizabeth (Percy) was Lord Clifford’s widow. His grandmother, Elizabeth, was the widow of Thomas Lord Roos who died 1391 (2).  

Margaret, Lady Roos, the widow of John, Lord Roos who was killed at the Battle of Baugé in 1421 married Roger Wentworth without licence. In February 1423 she was fined £1,000 which she paid in December  and received a pardon for herself and Roger (3).

In June Elizabeth Courtenay, Lady Harrington, the widow of John, Lord Harrington who died in France in 1418 was licenced to marry whomsoever she pleased on payment of £100 (4). 

The Council had ordered the receiver of the revenues of Thomas Lord Roos’s lands, in the king’s hands because Thomas was a minor, to pay him 100 marks a year plus the arrears of the £40 annually that King Henry V had awarded him for his maintenance until he came of full age.

In December 1423 Parliament agreed that Thomas Lord Roos, whose two elder brothers John and William had been killed at the Battle of Baugé should be allowed to marry on payment of 1,000 marks and be granted the right to farm his inheritance on terms to be agreed with the Treasurer until he came of age (5).

(1)  PROME X, p. 27 (Council and wardships).

(2) PPC III, p. 36 (Clifford).

(3) PPC III, pp. 129–130 (Margaret and Wentworth).

(4) PPC III, p. 103 (Harrington).

(5) PPC III, pp. 89 and 130 (Thomas Roos).

Remission of Rates and Local Taxes

The perennially impoverished northern counties often petitioned the Council for relief from the wool tax although they never escaped it entirely. They could make a better profit if their wool was not shipped via Calais and so subject to taxation and price controls.

In 1423 the merchants of Newcastle on Tyne were licenced to ‘sell abroad’ one year’s worth of wool from Northumberland, Cumberland, and Durham once customs duties had been paid, because wool ‘grown’ in the north was of inferior quality. The Earl of Northumberland, the Earl of Westmorland and Lord Cromwell were to audit the proceeding, to ensure that the merchants did not ship more than the permitted allocation. (1).

In July, Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmorland was licenced to export 500 sacks of wool from Northumberland, Cumberland, and Durham through Newcastle on Tyne to Middleburgh and Bruges, probably because payments owing to him for services to the crown were in arrears (2).

The Council licenced the merchants of Berwick on Tweed to purchase wool and wool fells raised in their region for a period of six years and export them via Middleburgh or Bruges, at a reduced rate of 13s 4d for every sack of wool or 240 wool fells (hides) (3).

There was a strong demand in Italy for the finer and therefore most expensive wool. Italian merchants were by custom exempt from the requirement to ship wool via Calais. In March the Council licenced Florentine merchants to export 300 sacks of wool via Zeeland and Brabant. (4). Italian merchants paid substantial sums for special licences to export wool, and they were also a welcome source of loans.  Crown borrowing from Italian merchants had been a standard practice since the days of Edward III (5).

The Council occasionally remitted payment of local levies (rates) ‘to maintain and repair walls, bridges, buildings and other public amenities, some of them dating back to time immemorial. 

The Duke of Gloucester was Earl of Pembroke and lord of the port of Tenby in Pembrokeshire3. He used his influence at a council meeting on 2 March when it was agreed to exempt the people of Tenby for ten years from paying quayage (tolls levied on goods or vessels landing at a quayside) murage (toll for repairing stone walls) pontage (toll for repairing bridges) paviage (toll for repairing highways and streets) and picage (toll for ‘breaking ground’ to set up a fair or market) in the town and port of Bristol (6).

Tenby had strong trading links with Bristol. A year later, in February 1424, the mayor and bailiffs of Bristol were granted the right to collect quayage for six years, except on merchandise belonging to the people of Tenby. The levy was to be used for the repair of Bristol’s walls and pavements and would be supervised by the Dean of Wells Cathedral. (7).

(1) PPC III p. 43 (Newcastle merchants).

(2) PPC III, p. 115 (Westmorland).

(3) PPC III, p 39 (Berwick).

(4) CPR 1422-1429, p. 226 (Bristol).

(5) PPC III, p. 65 (Florentines merchants).

(6) Power and Postan, English Trade, pp. 43-44 (Italian wool trade).

(7) PPC III, p. 49 (Tenby).

The Exchequer

The Exchequer, presided over by the Treasurer, was responsible for receiving, accounting for, and disbursing the crown’s income. Warrants from the Council in the king’s name to the Treasurer and Chamberlains (officers) of the Exchequer for payments were usually but not exclusively issued under the Privy Seal. There was never enough cash to go around, and most ‘payments’ by the Exchequer took the form of tallies to be paid when sufficient income was available, or by assignments on money yet to come in. Everyone had to wait their turn for payment.

The first recorded meeting of the Council on 15 January confirmed John Stafford as Treasurer of England and William Alnwick as Keeper of the Privy Seal. Their salaries were set at 20 shillings (£1) a day each, with Stafford’s backdated to 1 September 1422 (1). His right to make appointments to offices in his gift as Treasurer and to let the farm of low value crown lands worth ten marks or less at his discretion (2).  Stafford was also promised compensation for the seizure of his goods by a Breton pirate, although he would have to defend his claim to the cargo of a captured Breton ship in the Admiralty  court against any counter claim made by the Bretons (3).

Barons of the Exchequer were judges in the Exchequer Court (the Exchequer of Pleas). They were highly qualified lawyers, usually sergeants-at -law (4).

Three men were nominated as Barons of the Exchequer in 1423. Nicholas Dixon in January, John Juyn, a justice of the Common Pleas nominated as Chief Baron in May (and granted 110 marks) and Thomas Bannister in November (5).

(1) PPC III, p. 19 (Stafford and Alnwick wages).

(2) PPC III, p. 24 and p. 69 (Treasurer’s patronage).

(3) PPC III, p. 19 (Breton ship).

(4) PPC III, pp. 22, 70 and 121 (Barons of the Exchequer).

(5) CPR 1422-1429, pp. 3 and 141 (Juyn and Bannister appointed).

The Mint

Bartholomew Goldbeter had been confirmed as master of the mint in the Tower of London and in Calais by the Temporary Council in October 1422 (1).

Goldbeter petitioned Parliament in December 1422 for a modification of the terms of his indenture, claiming that he could not afford the costs of ‘waste,’ as gold and silver bullion and plate were minted into coin. He requested to be discharged from office unless his request was granted (2). The Commons agreed to a modification of his terms until the next parliament met and this was endorsedby the Council in January 1423 (3). The Parliament of 1423/24 confirmed the previous parliament’s act and confirmed that ‘the said exchange shall be continued and implemented according to the form and content of the act made thereupon.’ (4)

An inventory of the gold and silver and ‘of the five forms of silver money minted between 1422 and 1423’ (a groat = 4 pence; half groat; penny; halfpenny; farthing) was held at the mint in June 1423 in Goldbeter’s presence, with the Duke of Gloucester, the three officers of state, other council members, and Barons of the Exchequer as witnesses (5).

(1) CPR 1422-1429, p. 1 (Goldbeter’s appointed).

(2) PROME  X, pp. 30–31 (Goldbeter’s petition 1422).

(3) PPC III, pp. 20–21 (Parliament’s act endorsed).

(4) PROME X, pp. 81-82 (Parliament’s confirmation 1423/24).

(5) CPR 1422-1429, p. 118 (June inventory 1423).

The Judiciary

The principal law courts at Westminster were King’s Bench and Commons Pleas

In May, the Council appointed William Babbington chief justice of the court of Common Pleas, with John Juyn and John Hals as judges ‘during pleasure.’ (1)

William Pope had been appointed chirographer (recorder of agreements) at King’s Bench ‘for life’ by Henry V who had also granted him the custodianship of ‘an idiot.’ Pope brought the unfortunate man before the Council and ‘having been fully proved to be of unsound mind, [he] was redelivered to his keeper.’ The Council confirmed Pope as chirographer but only until the next meeting of Parliament (2). 

(1) PPC III, p. 70 (Common Pleas appointments).

(2) PPC III, pp. 35 and 41 (William Pope).

The Council as Judges 

The Council also acted a law court. Councillors and judges could ‘sit in chancery’ usually more informally and less time consuming than the main law courts. Their jurisdiction was wide ranging, they heard cases outside the jurisdiction of the common law, such as prosecuting piracy or in disputes arising from land ‘use’ where several people held land to the ‘use’ of someone else, as well as cases resulting from riot or disorder. Litigants were summoned by writs issued by the Council (1).

Four disputes brought before the Council in 1423 are recorded in the Proceedings. 

Elizabeth Holand, the ‘deceased Lady Neville,’ was the youngest sister of the Earl of Kent and the widow of Sir John Neville, the eldest son by his first marriage of Ralph, Earl of Westmorland (2).

Sir John was killed in France in 1420 and Elizabeth died in January 1423. Her share of the Holand estates was not yet settled and may have called into question the provisions of her will. Her feoffees came before the Council in January and deposed that in accordance with her instructions they had paid her debts and given 40 marks to her son John, £20 to her son Thomas, and an unnamed amount ‘at their discretion’ to her daughter Margaret.

Her five manors, three in Yorkshire, one in Nottinghamshire and one in Surrey, were then enfeoffed on her son John. She left nothing to her eldest son, Ralph, who was heir to his grandfather’s Earldom of Westmorland (3).

In February, the dispute between Lady Elizabeth Trivet and Robert Chamberlain was referred to the Council. In July, Ralph Chamberlain, the opponent of Lady Trivet, was ordered not to leave London without the Council’s permission (4). Robert was Ralph’s son; he was only eighteen in 1423 so the reference to Ralph as the opponent of Lady Trivet is probably correct. The Chamberlains were a family from Gedding in Suffolk.

Also in July ‘Thirlewynd’ was ordered to appear before Council to answer Sir John Boys in a dispute that had been previously submitted to two justices, William Hankford and John Martin. They could not induce the litigants to agree to their judgement and the matter had been referred to the Council (5).

The plea between [    ] Radcliffe and John Ripon Abbot of Fountains Abbey was postponed by the Council from July to October.  As no first name is given it is impossible to identify Radcliffe. There is no record in any of the published rolls of a dispute between a Radcliffe and Fountains Abbey (6).

In May William Cheyne, William Babington and John Tiptoft were commissioned by the Council to investigate a dispute between William de Hertford, Abbot of Waltham Abbey and his recalcitrant tenants in the manors of Waltham, Nazing, Epping and Loughton who were refusing to carry out their traditional services to the abbey. Waltham Abbey was a royal free chapel and therefore did not come under the jurisdiction of a bishop (7, 8).

In July, the burgesses of Great Yarmouth brought a bill before the Council against twenty (named) citizens of Lowestoft in Suffolk who appointed Richard Caudray, Robert Palgrave, and John Westwood to represent them. The reason for the dispute is not given (9).

Simon Gaunstede, Keeper of the Chancery Rolls, died in 1423 and in October, while Parliament was in session, John Frank was appointed keeper, ‘with the usual fees and profits (10, 11).

(1) Brown, Governance, pp. 132-134 (chancery court).

(2) Complete Peerage  XIIB, pp. 548–549 (Elizabeth Holand).

(3) PPC III, p. 20 (Lady Neville).

(4) PPC III, pp. 36 and 113 (Trivet and Chamberlain).

(5) PPC III, p.112 (Thirlewynd and Boys).

(6) PPC III, p. 112  (Radcliffe and Fountains Abbey).

(7) PPC III, p. 90 (Waltham).

(8) Waltham Abbey in A History of the County of Essex, vol 2. britishhistoryonline

(9) PPC III, p. 116 (Lowestoft).

(10) PPC III, p. 118 (John Frank).

(11) CPR 1422-1429, p. 139 (John Frank).


The Welsh were feared in England and suspected of disloyalty. Owen Glyndower’s great rebellion against King Henry IV was still a living memory.

There was no Prince of Wales in 1423. Henry V had been Prince of Wales, but Henry VI became king before he was old enough to become Prince. The principality of Wales comprised Caernarvon in the North and Carmarthen in the South. They were administered by two justiciars and two chamberlains appointed by the crown. As the king’s representatives they had vice-regal powers.

The Welsh Marches, along the borders between England and Wales were in the hands of marcher lords who held their estates from the king but who were independent of royal officers. The local lords were autonomous, they imposed taxes and dispensed justice through the lords’ courts. The Marches were always turbulent, and one of the first acts of the Temporary Council immediately after Henry V’s death had been to order the Talbot and Ferrers families to maintain the king’s peace and suppress lawlessness along the border.

Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter, Henry VI’s great uncle and guardian appointed Justiciar of North Wales in February 1423. Exeter would largely be an absentee, his duties devolving on the Chamberlain (1).

In June Richard Walkestede, a former Constable of Beaumaris Castle replaced Thomas Walton as chamberlain of North Wales (2). 

James Touchet, Lord Audley, was a local lord who held estates along the Marches and in Wales. He became Justiciar of South Wales in November and remained in post throughout Henry VI’s minority (3).


Henry V claimed half the extensive Bohun estates of Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, through his mother Mary de Bohun. She and her elder sister Eleanor were joint heirs of their father. Eleanor had married Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, the youngest son of King Edward III, and their daughter Anne, Countess of Stafford, claimed a share of the Bohun inheritance through her mother.

Henry V had agreed to surrender Brecon to Countess Anne not long before he died, but  as so often happened in legal battles over land ownership, exact rights to the castle and town of Bronllys, the manor of Alexanderston, the lordship of Cantref Selyf and part of Pencelli were left in limbo. Were they part of the Lordship of Brecon or not?    

Henry V named William Botiller, Chamberlain of South Wales and John Merbury, Botiller’s predecessor as chamberlain, and receiver for Brecon, as joint custodians of the disputed estates for two years from July 1421. 

 The legal wrangling dragged on, and in May 1423 the Council extended the custodianship of Botiller and Merbury for a further three years with payment for custody (unspecified) to be divided between the crown and the countess until the question could be settled (4).

Sir Edward Stradling replaced William Botiller as Chamberlain and Receiver of South Wales in December 1423 and he took over the custodianship of the Brecon lordship lands. Stradling’s tenure was a success, he managed to increase the crown’s revenues from South Wales and was still steward and receiver for Cantref Selyf in 1428 (5, 6).

(1) PPC III, p. 24 (Exeter justiciar).

(2) PPC III, p. 108 (Walkestede).

(3) PPC III, p. 123 (Audley).

(4) PPC III, pp. 69–70 (Botiller and Merbury).

(5) PPC III, p. 129 (Stradling).

(6) Griffiths, King and Country, pp. 172, and 182–184.  

The King’s Lieutenant in Ireland  

Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March was appointed as the king’s lieutenant in Ireland with 4,000 marks a year if he went in person, 3,000 marks if he sent a baron as his deputy, and 2,000 if his deputy was a knight (1, 2). In April 1423, the wage for himself and his men (Mortimer was expected to have to fight in Ireland) was increased to 5,000 marks annually (3) “during the term of nine years to be fully completed, receiving yearly for himself and his men retained with him for the war and government of the said land during the nine years aforesaid; viz for each of the said nine years 5,000 marks for nine years.” (4).           

The appointment made political as well as diplomatic sense. The Mortimers were great Anglo-Irish landowners, and Edmund was Earl of Ulster. His father, Roger Mortimer, had been killed fighting in Ireland as King Richard II’s lieutenant. Mortimer accepted the appointment in May 1423; his indenture was to ‘date from the first day of his landing [in Ireland]’ (5, 6). On 20 May the Exchequer recorded his start date as 1 June and advanced him £400. Shipping was assembled in the summer of 1423 and again in February 1424 (7), although Mortimer did not leave England until the autumn of that year.

Southampton Plot

But the Mortimer name was tarnished and suspect. Edmund and his sister, Anne Mortimer, were descendants (through the female line) of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, the second son of King Edward III and so Edmund had a claim to the throne. In 1415, just as King Henry V was about to embark on his invasion of Normandy, Richard, Earl of Cambridge, who had married Anne Mortimer, launched a hare-brained coup to put Edmund on the throne. Edmund was privy to the plot but saved his life by betraying the Earl of Cambridge and his associates to Henry V. They were given short shrift and executed at Southampton before Henry sailed. Edmund then accompanied Henry to France and proved to be a loyal lieutenant (8).

One chronicler suggests that the reason for Mortimer’s appointment as lieutenant of Ireland was to get him out of England before a breach between him and the unpredictable Duke of Gloucester, who was jealous of Mortimer, could widen and became dangerous. Gloucester certainly distrusted Mortimer, he had not forgotten the Southampton plot. Mortimer courted popularity by maintaining a large retinue in London and keeping open house for anyone who cared to dine at his expense, while Gloucester was parsimonious (9, 10).

“ [Latin]  Edmund Earl of March came to the parliament at London with a very large retinue; [he stayed] in the Bishop of Salisbury’s hospice and distributed victuals generously every day to anyone who came. Thus some of the lords were jealous of him, especially the Duke of Gloucester, because the late king [Henry V] had never permitted Edmund to have a larger retinue than Gloucester . . . The council, therefore, to avoid such jealousies, sent Edmund to fight in Ireland, but within six months he was struck down by the plague and died without issue.”           

                                          Giles, Chronicon Angliae, p. 6.

Despite appointing him as lieutenant in Ireland because of his heritage, the Council was not convinced that Mortimer was up to the job. To maintain a semblance of orderly government until Mortimer arrived, they appointed the experienced Richard Talbot, Archbishop of Dublin as chancellor of Ireland (10, 11). And on 4 July 1424 Hugh Bavant, clerk of the hanaper in Ireland, was appointed as Treasurer of Ireland (12, 13).   Thus, two key posts were filled by the Council, not by Mortimer, before he even set foot in Ireland. 

(1) Otway-Ruthven, Medieval Ireland, p. 363. (Mortimer appointed).

(2) PPC III pp. 49 (Mortimer appointed).

(3) PPC III, p. 68 (wages increase).

(4) Issues of Exchequer, p. 378 (Mortimer’s wages)

(5) Foedera X, p. 282 and CPR 1422-1429, p. 96 (May indenture).

(6) Griffiths, Henry VI, p. 164 (Mortimer’s appointment).

(7) Foedera X, p 319.  CPR 1422-29, p. 122 (shipping).

(8) Pugh, ‘The Southampton plot of 1415,’ in Kings and Nobles, ed. Griffiths and Sherborne.

(9) Griffiths, Henry VI, pp. 135-36 (Gloucester and Mortimer).

(10) PPC III, p. 93 (Richard Talbot, chancellor).

(11) CPR 1422-1429, p. 103 (Richard Talbot).


James Stewart, the only surviving son of King Robert III of Scotland, was a state prisoner in England for eighteen years. Robert had sent the twelve years old James to France for safe keeping in 1406, but James was captured at sea. Robert died shortly afterwards and the boy became King James I of Scotland. Henry IV had him educated as a prince and Henry V took him to France in 1420 so that the Scots in the French ranks could be deemed traitors for fighting against their king (1).

In 1423 the Council decided that a truce with Scotland was essential, if only to aid the Duke of Bedford’s war efforts by stemming the flow of Scots into the Dauphin’s armies. An invitation for Scottish representatives to come to England was issued in February, but nothing came of it (2).

There was a groundswell of opinion in Scotland, fostered by letters and appeals from James, for the return of their king. Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany had been Regent of Scotland during James’s captivity and he (like Henry V) had opposed James’s release. But Albany died in 1420 and his son Murdoch was an inept replacement.

In July Thomas Langley Bishop of Durham, Philip Morgan Bishop of Worcester, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland and Sir Richard Neville, the Wardens of the March, with Lord Cromwell, Sir Thomas Chaworth, John Woodham Archdeacon of the East Riding, and Sir Robert Waterton were commissioned to negotiate with the Scots for a truce and for King James’s release (3).

Safe conducts had been issued in May for Scottish envoys to come to Pontefract (4) and on 19 August Murdoch commissioned the Chancellor, William Lauder, George, the Scottish Earl of March, James Douglas of Balvany, Patrick Callandar Abbot of Cambuskenneth, John Hales of Balmerino, Sir Patrick Dunbar, Sir Robert Lauder,  George Borthwick Archdeacon of Glasgow, and Patrick Houston to treat for King James’s liberation (4).

James was to be permitted to consult privately with the Scots if he wished, although he must return to London at the end of the negotiations. He travelled to Pontefract in style, as befitted his rank, accompanied by the Bishop of Worcester who was allowed £40 for his expenses (5, 6). James received £100 for his private purse (7, 8) and the Council authorized payment of £120 to John Everdon, who kept James’s household accounts, for necessary purchases, transport, and the wages of his household in transit (9, 10). William Welles was ordered to provide carriages and food for the party (12).

(1) Balfour-Melville, James I, pp. 31 (capture) and 87–88 (to France).

(2) Foedera X, pp. 266 (invitation to Scottish representatives).

(3) Foedera X, pp. 294–295 (English delegation, instructions).

(4) Foedera X, p. 286 (Scottish representatives).

(5) PPC III, p. 116 (Morgan’s expenses).

(6) Issues of Exchequer, p. 381 (Morgan expenses).

(7) Foedera X, p. 290 (James private expenses).

(8) PPC III, p. 99 (James private expenses).

(9) Foedera X, p. 293 (travel expenses).

(10) Issues of Exchequer, pp. 380-381 (travel expenses).

(11) Foedera X, p. 296 (food).

(12) CPR 1422-1429, p. 112 (food). 

Ransom and Truce

James was desperate to obtain his freedom and willingly endorsed the terms on offer.  Initial agreement was reached in less than a month. His ransom was set at 60,000 marks or £40,000, to be paid over six years in annual instalments of 10,000 marks. The sum was neatly disguised not as ransom but as the cost to the English crown of James’s maintenance during his years in captivity.

At the suggestion of Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter, 10,000 of the 60,000 marks would be waived on condition that James married an English lady. The Beaufort brothers, Henry and Thomas, had their niece, Joan Beaufort, in mind as the future queen of Scotland. She was the daughter of their elder brother John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset who died in 1410 (1).

Under the terms of the treaty Scots would be forbidden to serve in French armies.

James was to take an oath before and after leaving England to observe the terms of the treaty, and twenty-one Scottish nobles were named as hostages, to ensure that he would keep his side of the bargain.

James was to come to Brancepeth Castle near Durham by 1 March 1424 and treat in person with his nobles as to which of them would be willing to sacrifice their liberty for their king. They would be delivered into the hands of English commissioners to be escorted south to live at their own expense until the ransom was paid, although they could be exchanged for others of equal rank and wealth from time to time. If a hostage died in captivity a replacement must be sent (2).

Safe conducts, valid until the end of April 1424, were issued on 13 December for nearly sixty of James’s subjects to come to come to Durham to receive him (3).

See Years 1424, 1425, 1426, 1427, 1431, 1432 for the Scottish hostages.

The treaty for James’s release was signed at York on 10 September 1423 by the bishops of Durham and Worcester the Earl of Northumberland and John Woodham as the English representatives (4).

There was a good deal of interest in these negotiations in England. The Commons in Parliament expressed their approval but requested further clarification from the Duke of Gloucester on the exact conditions; they hoped the final settlement would be in the best interests of the realm (5).

The treaty was ratified by both parties at Westminster on 4 December 1423 (6). William Lauder, John Hales, Archdeacon George Borthwick, and Patrick Houston came to London under safe conduct. Philp Morgan, bishop of Worcester, John Stafford, the Treasurer, William Alnwick, Keeper of the Privy Seal, Lord Cromwell, Sir John Pelham, Sir Robert Waterton, and Doctor John Stokes represented the Council and the crown (6).

(1) Balfour-Melville, James I, pp. 93–99.

(2) Foedera X, pp. 307-308 (hostages).

(3) Foedera X, pp. 308-309 (Scots to Durham).

(4) Foedera X, pp. 299-30 (treaty signed September)

(5) PROME X, p. 81

(6) Foedera X, pp. 301-306 (treaty ratified December).


Wardens of the March

Raiding across the borders between Scotland and England was endemic, it was a way of life. Local and temporary truces were negotiated at meetings on ‘March Days’ but these never lasted for long. A Warden of the East and of the West March was a military and permanent office but maintaining them and their retinues was an expensive commitment by th crown.

The wardens’ salaries were in arrears in 1423, as they would continue to be throughout Henry VI’s reign. Their tallies had expired on the death of Henry V and in February the Council ordered the Exchequer to reissue them (1) but full payment was rarely achieved.

Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland was Warden of the East March. He held the great castle fortress of Berwick with its permanent garrison. In May the Council awarded £3,000 to Northumberland to cover ‘old and new debts for the East March’ and a warrant was issued to the Exchequer three weeks later (2).

Sir Richard Neville was the eldest son of Ralph, first Earl of Westmorland by his second marriage. He was Warden of the West March.  

Sir Ralph Neville a former Warden of the West March, was the younger son of Ralph first  Earl of Westmorland by his first marriage. He petitioned in May for four new tallies each worth £100 to replace those issued by Henry V in 1420 (3).  The Warden of the West March in 1423, with responsibility for defending Carlisle.  

John, Lord Greystoke was Constable Roxburgh Castle, a strategic border castle claimed by the kings of Scotland. He indented to continue as constable for two years on the same terms as he had under Henry V, with assignment for payment on the port of Hull (4).

(1) PPC III, p. 44 (tallies renewed).

(2) PPC III, pp. 69 and 100 (Northumberland).

(3) PPC III, p. 73  (Neville, tallies from 1420).

(4) PPC III, p. 41 (Greystoke).

French Prisoners

Charles, Duke of Orleans, John, Duke of Bourbon, John, Count of Angoulême. Louis, Count of Vendome, Charles d’Artois, Count of Eu and other French prisoners of war remained in custody in England in 1423.

Charles, Duke of Orleans

Sir Thomas Comberworth was allowed 20s (£1) a day from 1 May 1423 ‘for as long as the Duke of Orleans should remain in his custody’ at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire (1, 2).  Comberworth brought Orleans to London for a month in May, presumably to negotiate with the Council, but it was not until the following November that the Council assigned Comerberworth £42 13 4d for this jaunt and ordered an advance of £114 for Orleans’s custody (3).

Orleans owed money to a London goldsmith, John Whitwell, who had died sometime before May 1423. The Council released certain of Orleans’s pledges for his ransom, held by Richard Caudray clerk of the council, to pay Whitwell’s widow, Isabel. She and William Russe, another goldsmith, whom she subsequently married, were John Whitwell’s executors (4).

Safe conducts for three months had been issued at the end of December 1422 for the Duke of Orleans’s treasurer, James Boucher, his chancellor William Cousmont, Master Hugh Perrier, and other servants to come to England bringing valuables for the Count of Angoulême’s ransom (5).

The safe conducts were renewed on 1 February 1423, but Orleans’s officials were not ready to set out until May. Orleans requested confirmation of their safe conducts as they were coming to negotiate for the release of Angoulême and the other hostages. The safe conducts were reissued on 21 May, plus one to John de Moncy who would carry the safe conducts to France (6).


(1) Foedera X, p. 289 (Comberworth for Orleans expenses).

(2) PPC III, p. 79 (Comberworth payment).

(3) Issues of Exchequer p. 383 (Orleans to London).

(4) PPC III, p. 100 (Whitwell).

(5) Foedera X pp. 262-65 (safe conducts Orleans / Angoulême servants).

(6) Foedera X, pp. 288–291 (safe conducts Orleans/Angoulême servants).


Louis de Bourbon, Count of Vendôme

Vendôme was captured at Agincourt by Sir John Cornwall, but Henry V claimed him as a royal prisoner.

Safe conducts for five months were issued in February and in March 1423 for four of Vendôme’s servants to go to France and return to bringing money, jewels and other valuable goods (1).

As soon after Henry’s death as he decently could, Cornwall had reclaimed custody of Vendôme. In May the Council ordered the lieutenant of the Tower to release Vendôme into   Cornwall’s custody, and the Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of Exeter, and Henry Beaufort met with Cornwall to discuss compensation (2).

Cornwall claimed 5,500 marks, the Council offered 3,000, to be paid over the next six years from the estates of the Earldom of Arundel, in the king’s hands because Arundel’s heir was a minor. The balance would come from taxation, provided the next parliament agreed.  If parliament objected, provision would be made to secure the whole amount and the arrears whether the heir [Arundel] died before it was paid or not. In the meanwhile, Cornwall was to retain custody of Vendôme (3).  

In June, Hugh de Voyre and Peter Gervayse received safe conducts to go to Hainault (to raise the ransom money?) and to return with gold, silver, jewels, and goods for the ‘expenses’ of the count. Safe conducts were again issued in July for Vendome’s servants to come from France to England (4).  

In November, the Council awarded Cromwell 600 marks for the cost of his suit to recover Vendôme and ‘delivered’ Vendôme to him with permission for Vendôme to go to France himself to raise his ransom (5). A safe conduct for Vendôme to cross to France was issued on 28 November 1423. He was to return to England by 15 July 1424 (6, 7, 8).


(1) Foedera X, pp. 265, 269, 291–292 (safe conducts Vendôme’s servants).

(2) Foedera X, p. 289 (release into Cornwall’s custody).     

(3) PPC III, pp. 108–110 (Cornwall, recompense).

(4) Foedera X, p. 291 (safe conduct to Hainault).

(5) Issues of Exchequer, p. 384 (Cornwall paid £400).

(6) Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records, 48, pp. 229 and 231 (Vendome’s safe conduct).

(7) Foedera X p. 260. (Where the licence is wrongly dated to 28 November 1422).

(8) Foedera X 297. (Where the safe conduct dated 15 July for Vendôme’s return is misdated to 1423).


Richemont, Boucicault, the Count of Eu and Gaucourt

Henry V had entrusted the custody of Arthur de Richemont, Marshal Boucicault (Jean le Maingre) and Charles d’Artois, Count of Eu, captured at Agincourt, to Sir Thomas Burton, the captain of Fotheringhay Castle. They were kept at Fotheringhay from June 1417 to February 1420 when they were transferred to the custody of Sir Robert Waterton, Constable of Pontefract Castle. Waterton was a trusted servant of Henry IV and Henry V.

Henry V did not order payment for their maintenance while they were in Burton’s custody; it was not until November 1423 that the Council instructed the Treasurer to pay Burton at a rate of 23s. 4d. a week while they were domiciled, and 33s 4d a week when they travelled, a total of £178 10s 10d (1). But the payment was not made. Burton petitioned in January 1424 for the £178 10s 10d (2). 

Raoul de Gaucourt, captured at Harfleur in 1415, was also in Burton’s custody.  Burton was granted 50 marks for Gaucourt’s keep in February 1423 and in May he petitioned for an increase to 100 marks a year from the day of Henry V’s death for as long as Gaucourt remained in his charge (3, 4).


(1) PPC III, pp. 118–121 (Burton arrears for prisoners).

(2) PPC III p. 132 (Burton petition in 1424).

(3) PPC III, pp. 37 and 85 (50 and then 100 marks for Gaucourt).


Henry V released Arthur de Richemont on parole in the autumn of 1420 and Marshal Boucicault died at Methley near Pontefract on 29 June 1421, leaving Charles d’Artois Count of Eu, a more valuable prisoner, in Robert Waterton’s custody.

Henry V had assigned three tallies worth £150 to Waterton for the prisoners’ maintenance and for the four-year-old Richard, Duke of York, whom the king had placed in Waterton’s care at Pontefract in 1415 (1). The tallies had not been honoured before King Henry died.

Waterton petitioned the Duke of Gloucester for reimbursement, and for two other prisoners, Perron de Lupé and Guichard de Sesse (Chissay) the Captain of Meaux, from 1420 to May 1423 (2). The Council allocated an additional £276 6s. 10½d to Waterton, mainly as arrears for the maintenance of the Duke of York between October 1417 and June 1422 (3). The Exchequer recorded an assignment to him of the larger sum on 21 June 1423, but the original £150 was not assigned until November (4).


(1) Wylie & Waugh I, pp. 534–535 (Duke of York).

(2) Foedera X, p. 290 (Waterton petition).

(3) L&P I, pp. 392–394 (Waterton, additional sum).

(4) Issues of Exchequer pp. 379 and 383 (Waterton, assignments).


Guy, Bastard of Bourbon

Guy, an illegitimate son of John, Duke of Bourbon, was not captured at Agincourt. He was an admiral of the French fleet in command of nine Genoese carracks hired by the Dauphin to blockade the mouth of the Seine and prevent Henry V’s second invasion of France in 1417. Guy was defeated in a sea fight on 29 June 1417 by an English squadron under John Holand, Earl of Huntington.  Huntingdon scattered a combined French and Genoese fleet, and Guy was captured (1, 2).

Sir John Pelham was paid £173 6s 8d for keeping Guy for two and a half years in the great stronghold of Pevensey Castle (3, 4).


(1) Chronicles of London (Julius B.I.) p. 71 (sea fight).

(2) English Historical Literature, p. 307 (sea fight).

(3) Issues of Exchequer, p. 384 (payment for Bastard).

(4) L&P I, pp. 397–98 (payment for Bastard).


Sir John Braquemont

Braquemont was a special case. He had been captured in the sea fight off Harfleur in 1416 and sent to the Tower. In 1422 Henry V had granted Braquemont’s ransom to Sir John Robessart, in payment for services rendered, but Robessart’s claim to it came under scrutiny by the Council and the securities that Robessart had given for Braquemont’s safe keeping were annulled.

On 1 February 1423, the Council required Robessart to give an undertaking to appear in chancery a month later, if summoned, to answer questions pertaining to Braquemont’s ransom, on pain of a 2,000 mark fine (1). On 7 March, Robessart petitioned for a safe conduct for eight months for Braquemont to return through France to Spain to raise his ransom (2).

Robessart’s services to the House of Lancaster stood him in good stead; in October 1423 he applied for denization which was granted and confirmed in Parliament, ‘to be done as desired, for a reasonable fee to be paid in Chancery,’ although it is not on the parliament roll (3, 4). Nothing more is recorded concerning Braquemont’s ransom. Did Robessart receive it?


(1) PPC III, p. 23 (Braquemont).

(2) Foedera X, p. 279 (Robessart safe conduct).

(3) Foedera X, p. 312 (Robessart denization)

(4) CPR 1422-1429, p. 229 (Robessart denization). Robessart’s original petition to Parliament is in the National Archives, SC 8/68/3394. He refers to his services to Henry V, Henry IV, and John of Gaunt.



Harfleur prisoners

Most of the prisoners captured at Harfleur in 1415 were not shipped back to England. “They were ransomed generally for quite small sums or allowed to leave on their parole or sold to ransom brokers” (1).  Only the more valuable prisoners were taken to England.  

In May 1423 the Council instructed the Chancellor, Thomas Langley, to order the Warden of the Fleet Prison to bring seven prisoners taken at Harfleur before him and to administer the oath of allegiance to Henry VI to them. Presumably they were the last of the Harfleur prisoners, except for Raoul de Gaucourt and Jean d’Estouteville, the captains of Harfleur, who were set free after taking the oath (2).

(1) Sumption, Cursed Kings, p. 466 (prisoners at Harfleur)

(2) PPC III, pp. 93-95 (Harfleur prisoners in the Fleet. The wording of the oath is in French, pp. 94-95).


Meux Prisoners

The siege of Meux was Henry V’s last campaign. Reducing the city took longer than he had anticipated, and it was at Meaux that he contracted the disease that killed him. Meuax surrendered in March 1422. “The haul of prisoners was very large” (2)

Henry Somer, John Scott, and John Yerde were instructed to transfer the prisoners taken at Meaux from the Tower to separate prisons and negotiate with them for their ransoms (3).

John Salghall, Constable of Harlech Castle petitioned the Duke of Gloucester in March for payment of £79 7s. for thirty prisoners taken at Meaux whom he had escorted from London to Harlech Castle and then back to London on Henry V’s orders (4, 5).

Sir John Bolde, Constable of Conway Castle had taken three French knights into custody in London in 1422 and escorted them to Conway. The Council authorized a payment of £11 3s. for his costs, but they thought that 4d. per day for six ‘valets’ (archers?) to guard the prisoners was excessive, and in May they ordered the Chamberlain of North Wales to discharge them (6, 7).

Bolde promptly requested to be released from his duty if they were not retained and the Council compromised: three of the ‘valets’ could remain (8). The Chamberlain of North Wales was to pay Bolde for the expenses of the prisoners and the three ‘valets’ at the rate of 3s. 4d. per week from 1 September 1422 (9). 

In July 1423 safe conducts were issued to seven named prisoners taken at Meaux ‘and others,’ held by Robert Scott the lieutenant of the Tower of London, to go to France for six months to raise their ransoms (10).

Henry V had placed Robert Giresmen, bishop elect of Meaux, in the custody of Henry Chichele, the Archbishop of Canterbury. In February 1424, at his request, the Council authorized the transfer of Giresmen to the Tower of London. (11).


(1) PPC III, pp. 93-95 (Harfleur prisoners in the Fleet. The wording of the oath is in French, pp. 94-95).

(2) Allmand, Henry V, p. 168

(3) PPC III, pp. 23-24 (Meaux prisoners).

(4) PPC III, p. 61 (Salghall).

(5) Wylie & Waugh III, p. 351 and n. 10. ‘Two of the Harlech prisoners died soon after reaching the castle and two more during their journey back to London in the following December.’

(6) PPC III, pp. 27–28 (costs to take prisoners to Conway).

(7) Issues of Exchequer, p. 379 (‘In money paid to him by the hands of his son, Richard Bolde,’ £11 3s.’)

(8) PPC III, p. 81(three ‘valets’).

(9) PPC III, pp. 96–97 (Chamberlain of North Wales to pay).

(10) Foedera X, p. 297 (seven prisoners held in the Towers).

(11) Foedera X, p. 318 (Archbishop of Canterbury).


King Henry V’s debts

Henry V was massively in debt when he died. Well might Gerald Harriss, write, ‘Let me make it clear at the outset that my subject is Henry V’s financial policy and not the state of his finances.’ A nice distinction! 

From the time he inherited the throne in 1413 Henry V began borrowing to finance his dream of the conquest of France. Throughout his reign he raised money wherever and however he could, not always ethically as he himself acknowledged on his deathbed.

Henry left jewels and other valuable items, and an order to sell off royal ships, to meet his obligations. He also enfeoffed Duchy of Lancaster lands worth £6,000, the income to be used to discharge his debts and those of his father (1, 2).

Sale of the king’s ‘great ships’ got underway in March 1423. They were to be sold only to Englishmen and not to any alien (foreigner) unless they were subjects of the king’s allies (3). It was a short-sighed policy that seriously affected England’s ability to patrol the seas during Henry VI’s reign. 

In an over generous and totally unrealistic gesture the Parliament of 1422 had agreed to ‘purchase’ Henry’s moveable goods from his executors for 40,000 marks. The executors were to meet the requirements of Henry’s will and render their final account at the next Parliament (4). The Council authorized Treasurer Stafford to receive at the Exchequer such sums ‘out of the goods of the late king’ as he required to pay debts to individuals (5), but there was never any possibility that Stafford would recover 40,000 marks from Henry V’s possessions or that the Exchequer could raise such a sum in the time allowed.

“Grant by advice of the council and pursuant to an act of parliament to Lord Fitzhugh, Walter Hungerford, Walter Beauchamp, Louis Robessart, William Porter and Robert Babthorp knights, John Wodehouse and John Leventhorpe esquires, goods to the value of 40,000 marks, out of which 18,000 marks are to be paid to the executors of Henry IV and the rest administered under the supervision of the surveyors named in Henry V’s will, Gloucester, Exeter, Henry Beaufort and Thomas Langley, before the next parliament when the said executors are to render their final account and after which they are to be exempt from further process of any kind in the matter and should such be attempted the chancellor or keeper of the great seal is to issue the necessary write of supersedeas.”             CPR 1422-1429, p. 64.

Not surprisingly the executors took fright. At a council meeting on 15 February they refused to act until the feoffees, led by Henry Beaufort, guaranteed that funds from the Duchy of Lancaster lands would be made available up to the amount of the 40,000 marks authorized by Parliament (6, 7).

An obscure entry dated 2 March in the Proceedings appears to grant permission to the executors and administrators to recover, or to deal with, the ‘distribution’ [the value?] of a cup in the keeping  of one ‘Mapulton’ (there was a chancery clerk named John Mapilton) which for some reason did not fall within the limit of the 40,000 marks (8). 

Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter was with Henry V when he died and he received special mention by codicil in Henry’s will. Henry left him a bed with tapestry hangings depicting hunting scenes (un lit d’arras de Hawkyng) together with other furnishing and fittings. A detailed schedule of the value of the items specified was sent in Henry VI’s name to Robert Rolleston, Keeper of the Great Wardrobe, for release of the bed (9).

As always with Henry V there was a financial fish hook: if the sale of his goods raised sufficient money to pay his debts Exeter would receive the bed as a bequest, but if they did not then Exeter was to be allowed to purchase it (hence the schedule).

On 5 March, the Council agreed that the bed should be delivered to Exeter on the above conditions. Exeter was present at the meeting and he agreed to accept payment of Henry V’s debt to him for his war services from the sale of Henry’s possessions. The treasurer was instructed to assign £600 to Exeter from this source and Robert Rolleston was ordered to deliver the bed, valued at £139 11s 8d, presumably as part of the payoff (10).  


(1) Strong, ‘Last Will,’ pp. 86–87.

(2) Somerville, Duchy of Lancaster,  p. 199.

(3) PPC III, p. 52 (sale of ships).

(4) PROME X, pp. 19–20.

(5) PPC III, p. 43 (Treasurer to receive money to pay debts). 

(6) PPC III, p. 34 (executors’ refusal). 

(7) Harriss, Beaufort, p. 127 (Beaufort guaranteed funds).

(8) PPC III, p. 49 (cup).

(9) PPC III, pp. 57–59 (instruction and schedule).

(10) PPC III, p. 60 (£600 to Exeter).    

Lands and Jewels   

King Henry’s largest land grabs had been at the expense of his own family. He wrested her dower lands from his step mother, the Dowager Queen Joan in 1419 on a trumped-up charge of witchcraft. He repented, but only on this deathbed, and the 1422 Parliament restored her income and estates in accordance with Henry’s dying wish (1).

Henry V’s brother, Thomas, Duke of Clarence had enfeoffed some of his castles, manors and lordships. After Clarence’s death in 1421 Henry declared that Clarence did so without licence and he seized the lands into his own hands.

In February 1423, the Council pardoned all those involved in the unlicensed enfeoffment on payment of a fine of 1,000 marks. The feoffees were instructed to surrender Clarence’s properties in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire to his executors, Lord Willoughby, Thomas Erpingham, William Bonville, William Bowes, Thomas Burgess, and William Thirlwall, to be retained for forty years to pay off Clarence’s debts. After that they would revert to the crown. The rest of Clarence’s enfeoffed lands would be returned to his feoffees (2, 3, 4).

In April Walter Hungerford was ordered to surrender the ‘pledges’ given to him by the late king. The Treasury would retain them until such time, if ever, as the administrators of Henry’s will paid him their true value (5). 

In May Treasurer Stafford, John [Feriby] and William Mares were instructed to turn over all the goods, jewels and chattels belonging to the late king now in their possession to Henry’s executors up to the value of 40,000 marks (6). The executors were authorized ‘to obtain possession of his goods in whosoever hands they might be.’ (7)

In June John Feriby, as comptroller of the household, was ordered to deliver to the Treasurer whatever was left of Henry V’s war chest of 1,000 pounds of silver bullion (8).

In July the Council agreed that when the Treasurer had certified the names of those still in possession of the king’s goods they would command them to be turned over, either to the Treasurer or to the king’s administrators (9). 

Stafford did his work well. He called in all the jewels and valuable items pledged by Henry V still in private hands that he could trace. He reported to Parliament in October 1423 that he had obeyed the council’s order to turn over Henry V’s goods to his executors and he presented a full inventory of all Henry’s possessions that he had managed to recover. The total amounted to £18,404 4s 10d. Stafford, the executors and their heirs were indemnified from all future claims against them by any persons whatsoever (10).

(1) PROME X, pp. 173–176 (Queen Joan).

(2) CPR 1422-1429,  pp. 59–60 (Clarence, 1,000 marks fine).

(3) PPC III, pp. 30–34 (Clarence, executors).

(4) PPC III, p. 45 (enfeoffed lands restored).

(5) PPC III, p. 68 (Hungerford).

(6) PPC III, p. 89 (Treasurer to turn over jewels etc. to Henry V’s executors).

(7) PPC III, p. 100 (executors to obtain goods).

(8) PPC III, p. 103 (silver bullion).

(9) PPC III, p. 115 (return of valuables).

(10) PROME X, pp. 110–162 (Stafford’s report and inventory).


 Foreign Commitments

Louis, Count Palatine of the Rhine (referred to as the Duke of Bavaria) had married Henry V’s sister, Blanche and her dowry was set at 40,000 nobles, 16,000 to be paid at the wedding and the rest in instalments over two years. Henry IV had not made any further payments and in 1415 Louis claimed the balance owing even though Blanche had died in 1406 (1).

Henry V replied that he too could not pay. In 1419 he turned the claim into an annuity of 1,000 marks a year, probably in return for military aid (Louis brought a contingent of 700 men to serve with the English army in 1420, although no copy of the agreement survives) (2).

The first recorded payment of the annuity is in 1421, but the obligation did not end with Henry V’s death. Payment was reaffirmed by the Council in December 1422 (3). In January 1423 Johannes Labanum Louis’s attorney, came to London to collect the arrears of 1,000 marks (4).

A further payment was authorized by the Council in May (5), and in October, at Heidelberg, Louis commissioned three citizens of Cologne, Jon Pott, John Dahs and Ertmar Survartz coming to London, to collect the next instalment (6). The annuity was paid regularly until 1429, but irregularly after that. 

Henry V had commissioned Sir Walter de la Pole and Doctor Nicholas Bildeston to join Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln, on an embassy to the Emperor Sigismund and other German princes (7, 8). They were away from early March to mid-September 1422, by which time Henry was dead.

In February 1423 the Exchequer was ordered to reimburse Walter de la Pole for his expenses; the exact amount was not stipulated, he was to be paid whatever was customary. De la Pole received no satisfaction and in May he reminded the Council that they had authorized the Exchequer to pay him. This time he included a claim for two earlier embassies, to the King of Poland and the Grand Master of Prussia for £39 13s 4d, and the Emperor Sigismund for £33 13s 4d, respectively. The embassy of 1422 had cost £144 13s 2d, making a total of £217 9s 10d.  The Council ordered that he should be paid (9).

In the euphoria of the success of the Treaty of Troyes in 1420 Henry V and Duke Philip of Burgundy vowed to give thanks to God by going on crusade to rescue Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Burgundy’s commitment was genuine (10); Henry V’s vow was in keeping with his self-created image as God’s chosen warrior. Perhaps he did mean to go – at some future date. 

Henry commissioned the experienced Burgundian traveller and diplomat, Ghillebert de Lannoy, who had visited the East once before, to go as an ambassador on an extensive military reconnaissance mission and to distribute gifts from the King of England to rulers of the lands he passed through: Egypt, Syria, the Levant, and Jerusalem (11).

Lannoy left in May 1421 and was away for two years. By the time he returned to London in October/November 1423 King Henry was dead. The Council welcomed Lannoy in Henry VI’s name and awarded him £100, with 50 marks to John de la Roe, who had accompanied him. They also paid John Killingham, Keeper of the Bell [Inn?] in Carter Lane £17 14s 8d for the hire of servants and horses for 28 days for Lannoy’s use while he was in London: (12, 13).  

(1) Ferguson, Diplomacy, pp. 70–72 (Blanche’s dowry).

(2) Wylie & Waugh III, p. 183, n. 1 (Louis’s military commitment).

(3) PPC III, p. 12 (payment, December 1422).

(4) L&P I, p. 383 (January 1423, payment of arrears).

(5) PPC III, p. 77 (payment May).

(6) Foedera X, pp. 282 (payment May). 

(7) Foedera X, p. 312 (citizens of Cologne).

(8) PPC III, p. 29 (Henry V’s embassy).

NB: The Editor’s note on p. 29 is incorrect. Richard Clifford, Bishop of London was dead by 1422. Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln and Doctor Nicholas Bildeston (not Bidleston) were de la Pole’s fellow ambassadors.

(9) Fergusson, Diplomacy pp. 110 and 210–211 (Henry V’s embassies to German states).

(10) PPC III, pp. 97-98 (De la Pole’s claim).

(11) Vaughan, Philip, pp. 268-269 (Philip as crusader).

(12) M. La Barge, ‘Ghillebert de Lannoy: Burgundian Traveller.’  No references, but a useful survey. Lannoy also rates an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

(13) PPC III, pp. 117–118 (Lannoy’s expenses). 

(14) Issues of Exchequer, pp. 383–384 (Lannoy’s expenses). 


Domestic Debts

Edward, Duke of York died fighting at Agincourt and Henry V had his body brought home for burial in St Pauls. The hearse was made by a wax chandler, Simon Prentout, and he was owed £40 for his work (1). 

Sir Ralph Rochford had been granted property held by the alien priory of Newton Longueville in Buckinghamshire (belonging to the Abbey of Angers) and the manor of Spalding worth £40 by Henry IV in 1402 and re-granted free of all fees in 1412 (2).

Henry V had confirmed the grant until other provision could be made and in 1423 the Council reconfirmed it in accordance with whatever promise Henry V had made to Rochford at Dover in 1421 (3, 4, 5).

John Spencer had been controller of Henry V’s household when he was Prince of Wales and he became Keeper of the Great Wardrobe on 1 October 1413 (6). Spencer was dead by February 1423 and the Exchequer was ordered to allow Spencer’s executors, John Tyrell and Spencer’s wife Catherine, [the value of ?] ‘all the parcels’ [of fabrics?] contained in a great roll’ from the time that Spencer was Keeper (7). 

John Merston, a household official, petitioned for an annuity of £12 from the farm of the Hundred of Dudeston, belonging to the Abbot of Gloucester, that had been promised to him by Henry V (8). The promise was witnessed by Louis Robessart, Lord Bourgchier, Thomas Swynford, and Thomas Porter, but the king fell ill before he could confirm the grant (9).  Merston also had aa pension of 100 shillings (£5) a year, granted to him by Henry V, which the Council had confirmed in December 1422 (10).

In June Peter Lowart was granted an annuity of £40: £20 from the fee farm of the Prior and Covent of Barnwell in Kent, and £20 from the fee farm of the town of Winton for his services to Henry V. Four days later arrears of £200 were awarded to him (11).

Arnold Kent was awarded the arrears of an annuity of 200 marks granted to him by the late king. In fact an annuity of £40 (60 marks) had been granted to him by Henry IV and renewed by Henry V. Kent was paid £10 by the Exchequer in February 1423; the 200 marks granted in June is presumably the balance due (12, 13).

Henry V’s grant to Maud (Matilda) Clifford, Countess of Cambridge, the second wife of the disgraced Richard, Earl of Cambridge of £100 annually had been confirmed to her in December 1422. In June 1423 Maud petitioned the Council to instruct William Harrington, the sheriff in Yorkshire to pay her £50 of the £100 due to her (14).

(1) PPC III, p. 118 (wax chandler).

(2) Given-Wilson, Henry IV, p. 75 (Rochford). 

(3) Allmand, Henry V,  p. 209 (Rochford).

(4) PPC III, p. 40 (Rochford).

(5) therochfords.wordpress.com/biographies/Rochford-of-fenne-and-stoke-rochford/sur-ralph-rochford-iii/  (no bibliography)

(6) Wylie & Waugh I, p. 28 (Spencer).

(7) PPC III, p. 34 (‘the parcels contained in a great roll’).

(8) PPC III, p. 75  (Merston, annuity).

(9) CPR 1422-1429, pp. 94, and 110-111 (witnesses to annuity).

(10) CPR, 1422-1429,  p. 22 (Merston, pension).

(11) PPC III, p. 103 (Lowart).

(12) PPC III, p. 108 (Arnold Kent).

(13) Issues of Exchequer, p. 377 (Kent).

(14) PPC III, p. 107 and CPR 1422-1429, p. 11 (Maud).

War Debts

Tallies for the Common Council of London’s loan of 2,000 marks to Henry V expired on his death and new tallies were ordered to be issued on 21 October 1423, the day after Parliament met (1). 

The largest loans to finance Henry V’s wars came from Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, the only man in England rich enough to loan money on a vast scale.

Beaufort loaned £8,306 18s 8d in 1417 and £11,513 18s 3d in 1421. Repayment was guaranteed and assigned on the customs in the port of Southampton with the proviso that if these returns fell short Beaufort could claim the customs on wool in the port of London, which he did (2). On 8 February 1423, his patent was extended to include not only London but numerous other ports in the country (3).

A week later, on 15 February, Beaufort’s right to collect on the customs was challenged in Council, possibly by the Duke of Gloucester, on the grounds that the Commons in Parliament had assigned the customs specifically for the defence of the realm.

The judges and sergeants-at-law were asked to adjudicate and they ruled that since the loans had been made to enable Henry V to fight in France, they were for the defence of the realm. Repayment was lawful and not contrary to the act of parliament (4). Throughout Henry VI’s reign ‘defence of the realm’ would be the euphemism for requests to the Commons to grant further taxes usually for the war in France.

These large sums were not the only loans Henry Beaufort made to Henry V. On 22 February, Treasurer Stafford was authorized to issue replacements for two tallies that had expired on Henry V’s death, worth a mere £2,000! (5).

(1) PPC III, p. 117 (Common Council, London).

(2) Harriss, Beaufort, pp. 123–124 (loans and repayment).

(3) CFR 1422-1430, pp. 18–20 (Beaufort’s nominees to collect customs in ports listed).

(4) PPC III, pp. 34–35 (challenge).

(5) PPC III, p. 42 (£2,000 tallies).

Smaller debts for service in Henry V’s wars were redeemed by the Council in 1423:

In May Richard Rowe, master of the king’s ship, the Valentine de la Tour and another called Le Swan claimed the arrears of wages for himself and thirty-five members of his crew for services during the siege of Rouen, from 29 September 1418 to 25 January 1419, and for conveying  ambassadors from the Count of Foix from Southampton to Bordeaux (sic) between 25 April and 1 July 1422 (not 1420; see Duchy of Gascony below). (1, 2)    

Also in May Sir Thomas Rokeby petitioned for payment for four years’ service with his retinue in France and Normandy from 1416. The Council confirmed payment, but the amount is not given (3, 4).  

In June Menauton [Menaldo] de Saint Marie petitioned for 2,000 nobles for his services in Normandy for three and a half years with 10 men-at-arms and 50 bowmen. If this payment could not be met he asked to be granted the provostship of Saint Emelion in Gascony valued at 25 marks a year. The Council of Bordeaux was to be instructed to grant the provostship (4).  

Three more claims were met in November:

Sir Thomas Carew petitioned for payment for his services at sea. He had been retained by Henry V in 1416 to serve for six months with 315 men-at-arms and  632 archers. He had not been paid because the muster roll made by Thomas, Duke of Clarence and Lord Fitzhugh had been lost. He had mustered at Dartmouth on 1 March 1416. He also claimed wages for himself and 39 men-at-arms and 80 archers from 1 September to 27 October 1417 when Henry V commanded him to transport Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March to Le Hogue in Normandy and back to England. (5, 6).

 Sir William Talbot, younger brother of Sir John Talbot had been retained by Henry V in 1415 to serve with four men- at-arms and two archers and given jewels as pledges for payment of £59 9s 9d. His petition for payment was granted (7).

Elizabeth, Lady Harrington  the widow of John, Lord Harington who died in France in 1418 had been granted a licence in June 1423 to remarry anyone she chose (see Wardships and Marriages above). Elizabeth evidently preferred to collect the debt owed to her late husband. In November she and Thomas Broughton, her husband’s executor, petitioned for the £162 13s 4d in wages due to Lord Harrington from 1415 (he fought at Agincourt). He held jewels and gold and silver plate as pledges of payment, but they  had been reclaimed by the Treasurer. Elizabeth and Broughton were assigned the amount she sought (8, 9).  

The Council also a received a petition, probably one of many not recorded in the Proceedings, from Thomas Hostell, an old soldier who had fought at Harfleur and Agincourt as well as at sea. He had been seriously wounded in King Henry’s service, for which he had received no reward. He was no old and fallen on hard times, he petitioned for alms to relieve his poverty (10, 11).

Henry V’s legacy and his debts took up an inordinate amount of the Council’s time and resources. The members did their best to honour his wishes and his memory. They received petitions for redress throughout the 1420s and beyond. Cleansing the Augean Stables took Henry Beaufort and the feoffees who were still alive nearly twenty years of complicated financial juggling to discharge Henry V’s obligations.

(1) PPC III, pp. 82–83 (Rowe’s petition).

(2) Wylie & Waugh II, p. 371, n. l: ‘the Valentine de la Tour conveyed the ambassadors of the Count of Foix from Southampton to Bayonne with receipt dated April 25, 1422,’ citing Exchequer Accounts 49/27, with broken seal.

(3) PPC III, pp. 90-91 (Rokeby).

(4) Original Letters Illustrative of English History . . . .  ed. H. Ellis, pp. 96-97 (Rokeby’s letter). 

(5) PPC III, pp. 105-106 (Menauton).

(6) PPC III, pp. 125-127 (Carew).

(7) Wylie & Waugh III, p. 45 n. 6 notes that Carew’s muster roll was not lost, it has survived intact.

(8) PPC III pp. 124-125 (Talbot).

(9) PPC III pp. 127-129. (Harrington).

(10) Issues of Exchequer pp. 385-86. (Harrington).

(11) L&P I, pp. 421–422 (misdated by Stevenson to 1429).

(12) Original Letters Illustrative of English History . . . .  ed. H. Ellis, pp. 95-96 (Ellis dates Hostell’s letter to 1422, but 1423 is more likely).


The Council and the Church

The Council exercised the royal prerogative of appointment to church benefices, and to grants affecting the crown’s rights over church property.

St Mary’s Abbey, York was the largest and wealthiest Benedictine house in the north of England. Its abbots had the right to wear a mitre like a bishop, and they were summoned to parliament. Abbot William Dalton died in December 1422 and on 14 January the prior and convent of the abbey were licensed to elect a new abbot. They elected William Wells (1, 2).

Two days later the Duke of Gloucester, the Earl of Warwick, Treasurer Stafford and William Alnwick, Keeper of the Privy Seal agreed that the temporalities while the abbacy was vacant should be ‘farmed’ i.e. collected by the prior and convent until they were confirmed to the next abbot (3).     

At a better attended meeting on 8 February, it was agreed that the prior and convent should not be required to pay more than £40 for the temporalities ‘because the abbacy had been vacant twice in one year.’ (4). Abbot Thomas Spofford had become Bishop of Hereford and William Dalton had died in 1422.

The Duke of Exeter held the manor of Scotton in North Yorkshire. One of his tenants, William Nesfeld, had willed £20 to St Mary’s to pray for his soul and give alms of 3 pence a day to three poor men. In March 1423 Exeter requested a licence for the abbot and convent to acquire in mortmain the parish church of Hornsey in Yorkshire and to endow its vicar with 20 marks a year, which was granted (5).

Exeter then authorized an exchange of the £20 from Scotton for the parish church at Hornsey. The exchange must have been worth it, the abbot paid £80 to the hanaper for the licence to acquire Hornsey (6). Nevertheless, two months later, on 21 May when Exeter was present, the Council fined him 120 marks for appropriating Hornsey to the Abbey of St Mary without licence (7). The Council collected income for the crown whenever and wherever it could.

Mortmain.  Royal licence to alienate (transfer) lands to the church in perpetuity as gifts or in exchange.

William Prestwick, clerk, was appointed Dean of the free chapel of Hastings, Sussex,  in January 1423 (8). As a ‘free’ chapel Hastings was in the king’s gift, it did not come under the control of any episcopate. Prestwick remained dean until his death in 1436. He is probably the William Prestwick who became clerk of parliament in 1424. The two offices would not be incompatible.

William Bradley, Abbot of SS Mary and Kelm at Winchcombe in Gloucestershire died in 1422 and licence to elect his replacement was issued on 2 January (9). John Chiltenham, a monk of the abbey was elected, and on 26 January the prior and convent requested the Council’s recognition of the election, which was granted, the election to be enrolled in chancery according to custom (10, 11).

On 10 February, the new abbot swore fealty to Henry VI, and on the 12 February Philip Morgan, Bishop of Worcester, signified his consent and the temporalities of the abbey being restored (12).

(1) PPC III, pp. 18–19 (St Mary’s, licence to elect)

(2) CPR 1422-1429, p.19  

(3) PPC III, pp. 19–20 (temporalities farmed)

(4) PPC III, p. 25 (to pay no more than £40)

(5) PPC III, 52–53  (permission to acquire Hornsey)

(6) CPR 1422-1429, pp. 97–98 (Scotton)

(7) PPC III, p. 100 (Exeter fined). 

(8) PPC III, p. 20 (Prestwick). british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol2/pp112-117.

(9) PPC III, p. 22 (SS Mary and Kelm licence to elect).

(10) PPC III, p. 25 (Chiltenham elected and fealty).

(11) CPR 1422-1429, p. 16, (Chiltenham)

(12) CPR 1422-1429, p. 47 (abbey’s temporalaties restored).

In February, the Dean and chapter of Salisbury Cathedral were licenced to acquire property to the value of £50 a year to raise money to repair ‘the stone belfry standing in the middle of the cathedral church’ and to pray for King Henry and all donors of the required lands (1, 2). John Chandler was Bishop of Salisbury, the dean was Simon Sydenham.

Roger de Birne a clerk of the Exchequer was granted a corrody in the Abbey of St Germans in Selby, Yorkshire in February (3). A corrody was a royal order to an abbot to supply a place of  residence within the abbey for the recipient to be housed, fed and clothed at the abbey’s expense. William Pigot was Abbot of Selby.

(1) Foedera X, p. 267 (licence to acquire property).

(2) CPR 1422-1429, p. 70 (licence to acquire property).

(3) PPC III, p. 25 (payment for temporalities).

The manor of Great Cressingham belonged to the bishopric of Norwich. Bishop John Wakering, a member of the Minority Council, sought council authority to appropriate it and bring it under the jurisdiction of his Prior, Robert Burnham (1). The order of service in the church at Great Cressingham may not have been strict enough for Wakering’s liking, and who better than the prior to administer divine worship according to his bishop’s precepts.

Nicholas Bubwith, Bishop of Bath and Wells was licenced, for £50 paid in the hanaper, to grant in mortmain to the Dean and Chapter of the cathedral church of St Andrew, Wells, the advowson of the church of Abbots Bokeleand, in Berkshire, in the diocese of Salisbury and to ‘authorize them to acquire lands not held of the king to the value of 40 marks annually.’(2, 3). The Dean of Wells was none other than John Stafford, Treasurer of England. He would become Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1424.

In December Elizbeth, Lady Botreaux and her son William, Lord Botreaux, petitioned for a licence to upgrade the church at North Cadbury in Somerset to a collegiate church, with seven chaplains and four clerks. One of the chaplains would be appointed Rector, and the new church would be named the College of St Michael the Archangel. Daily prayers would be said for the health of King Henry, and for Elizabeth and William during their lives and for the souls of whole Botreaux family ‘and all the faithful departed’ after their deaths.

They received a licence to grant in mortmain the advowson of North Cadbury and two acres of land, part of the manor of North Cadbury next to the churchyard, held in chief, (i.e. of the king) for a manse to be built as a residence for the rector and chaplains (4).

The rector (when he should be established) could acquire property not held of the king to the value of 100 marks yearly, together with other legal rights. Three other local men were licenced to grant pastureland not held in chief to the rector, in return for prayers for their souls. William Botreaux and the others involved in the transaction were licenced to release this land to the rector when he took up his position. The fee was 200 marks paid in the hanaper (5).

The charter of the Knights Hospitaller of St John of Jerusalem at Clerkenwell was confirmed in King Henry VI’s name on 27 October 1423. It had been issued by King Richard I in 1194 for their services to him while he was on crusade and reissued by King Edward III (6). The Prior of the order was always summoned to Parliament as the first baron of the land. William Hulles was Prior in 1423.

(1) PPC III, p. 122 (Wakering). british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol6/pp94-107

(2) PPC III, p. 124 (Bubwith).

(3) CPR 1422-1429, p. 168.

(3) PPC III, p 130. (Botreaux)

(4) CPR 14292-1429, pp. 189–190 (Botreaux).

(5) Foedera X. pp. 313–315. (Knights of St John).


The Council also controlled the licencing of ships to carry pilgrims to the shrine of St James de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. The numbers of pilgrims permitted to make the journey was strictly controlled. In May John Gower of Weymouth was licenced to convey 60 pilgrims in his barge La Lenard (7, 8).

See Year 1428: Pilgrimages

 (1) Foedera X, p. 281 (pilgrimages).

(2) CPR 1422-1429, p. 85 (pilgrimages).


William Taylor, A Lollard

The Council did not have jurisdiction over spiritual matters. Bishops, usually members of the Council, presided in ecclesiastical courts to punish heresy and other spiritual sins.

William Taylor was a Lollard, a follower of John Wyclif (1320-1384) whose doctrines had been condemned as heretical by the orthodox church. As early as 1406 Taylor had preached a sermon at St Paul’s Cross in praise of Wyclif, and in 1417 he preached against the veneration of images and declared that fasting on the eve of Saints Peter and Paul and Saint John the Baptist was an acceptable substitute for regular confession.

He was brought before Archbishop Chichele in 1420 where he admitted that he had been excommunicated for fourteen years by the previous Archbishop of Canterbury. Taylor must have been a persuasive speaker because when he claimed to have repented and Chichele absolved him. But he continued to preach, and in 1421 he was arrested again and brought before Convocation where he denied that his preaching was heretical.

He was condemned to prison for life unless he recanted, but he convinced Philip Morgan, Bishop of Worcester, of his penitence and he was again set free, but he did not alter his ways. In 1423 he was up before Convocation once more and this time he was condemned to death as a relapsed heretic (1).

The penalty was to be burned at the stake and William Taylor was burned at Smithfield in March 1423.  Londoners always enjoyed a public spectacle, whether a hanging or a burning and his execution is noted in most of the chronicles (2).

“Also the same yere the first day of March was Maister William Taillour degraded of his ordre of preest hode. And on the morowe that was the second day of Marche he was brente in Smythfelde for heresie.”  

                                                                                                                           Great Chronicle, p. 123

 “And in þis same yere,  Maister William Tailour, clerk of Oxenforde, was a-fore the clergie at Saint Paules in London, And þer he was convicte in heresie ; and aftir, by Temporall lawe he was brought into Symthfelde, & there was he brent for his heresie.”                                             Brut D Appendix, p. 440.

(1) Thomson, Later Lollards, pp. 24–26.

(2) Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 149. Short English Chronicle, p. 58. Chronicles of London, (Julius B. II) p. 74 and (Cleopatra IV) p. 128.  Chronicle of London (Harley 565) p. 111 are the same. Brut Continuation H, p. 563. Brut Continuation E, p. 449, is the only account to place the burning in Norfolk.

The Council and the Papacy

Cardinal Oddone Colonna was elected Pope Martin V in 1417. He had a stormy relationship with King Henry V and with the Council during Henry VI’s minority over the Statute of Provisors. The 1351 Statute of Provisors denied the pope’s right to appoint bishops in England and Wales without the king’s consent. The 1353 Statute of Praemunire prohibited the clergy from referring disputes over church appointments to the papal court at Rome.

Pope Martin wanted the statutes repealed; Henry V had wanted papal recognition of the Treaty of Troyes and his right to the French throne. Neither would accommodate the other; the statutes remained in force and papal recognition of the dual monarchy was not forthcoming. The political importance and wealth of the bishoprics meant that it was imperative for the king to keep appointments to them in his own hands. The temporalities (income) of vacant bishoprics were a source of income to the crown for as long as they remained vacant.

Pope Martin needed money and papal influence desperately to establish himself firmly in Rome. He resumed his attempts to have the statutes repealed after Henry V’s death, hoping to overawe the Council. The background to the Council’s nominations to vacant bishoprics formed the background to their ongoing disputes with Pope Martin V (1).   

Roger Whelpdale, Bishop of Carlisle died in February 1423. The prior and convent received licence to elect on 5 March (2), but Pope Martin nominated William Barrow, Bishop of Bangor and he was translated to Carlisle in April.  Carlisle was not a rich see and the Council may have decided it was not worth their while to resist the pope in this instance. Instead they delayed granting the temporalities for as long as possible. On 10 February, the ‘pension’ (empensio) due to the next bishop was allocated to Thomas Franks (3) a clerk in the Privy Seal office, for good service to Henry V and Henry VI.

On 29 May John Henege and John Kyghley received the farm of the bishopric’s lands in Lincolnshire during pleasure (4), and on 8 June Reginald Lathbury was appointed to farm the temporalities in Derbyshire and Leicestershire (5). The temporalities were finally released to Barrow on 16 June (6).

 John de la Zouche, Bishop of Llandaff,  died in April 1423. The cathedral chapter elected John Fulford and the royal assent was signified to the Pope in May (7). Pope Martin rejected Fulford in favour of John Wells. Llandaff, like Carlisle, was a poor see and once again the Council eventually accepted Martin’s nominee. Fulford was never consecrated; after an interval of nearly two years Wells did fealty to Henry VI and was consecrated, but the temporalities of Llandaff were not delivered to him until January 1426 (8).

The Council’s most unusual ecclesiastical gift was to Branda da Castiglione, Cardinal of Placentino. He was a protegee of Pope Martin and he had obtained the bishopric of Lisieux in Normandy in 1420 despite Henry V’s preference for John Langdon. It was a trade-off. Henry accepted Branda partly because he hoped to entice the pope to endorse the Treaty of Troyes, recognising him as King of France, and partly because Branda was reputed to be a friend to England (he had supported the rights of the English delegation at the Council of Constance) (12, 13).

The Council appointed Branda to the prebend of ‘Swerdes’ in the church of Dublin.  The town of Swords fell under the jurisdiction of Richard Talbot, Archbishop of Dublin and Talbot was ordered to admit Branda and to assign him a stall in the choir and a seat in chapter (14, 15). Branda, despite his professed friendship, never visited England, and certainly never set foot in Ireland. It appears that the Council, like Henry V, hoped to placate Pope Martin with this unusual ‘gift’ to an Italian, but one wonders if Branda ever collected any income from his prebend.

The most important ecclesiastical death occurred in October 1423 when Henry Bowet, Archbishop of York, died. The Archbishop of York ranked second only to the Archbishop of Canterbury, primate of England, and the Council’s choice fell on Philip Morgan, Bishop of Worcester, and a member of the Council (13). Licence to elect was issued on 16 November.

Until a new archbishop could be appointed (see 1424), the temporalities of the rich see of York were added to the king’s coffers. Lord Cromwell, an expert in financial affairs who would later become Treasurer of England, Sir Walter Beauchamp, Sir William Harrington, Roger Rolleston and Robert Rolleston Keeper of the Great Wardrobe, Thomas Chaworth, Thomas Mayn, William Woodhorne Prior of Hexham, and William Carnaby bailiff of Hexham, were to administer  the income, estimated in 1425 to be worth 2,000 marks annually, to the king’s use (14).

 Chancellor Langley was Bowet’s executor. King Henry had borrowed £983 6s 8d from Bowet, from Langley himself, from the prior of Durham, and from three other men in 1415. The king had pledged a large gold tabernacle as surety, and Langley wished to retain it, but Treasurer Stafford insisted on its return, promising that he would repay what was still outstanding on the original loan. Langley was not convinced, he petitioned Parliament to be allowed to retain the tabernacle unless Parliament gave assurances that Stafford would indeed redeem the debt. His petition was granted (15).

(1) M. Harvey, England and the Papacy  (for the ongoing disputes between the Council and the Pope).

(2) PPC III, p. 60 (Carlisle, licence to elect).

(3) PPC III, pp. 25 (Thomas Franks).

(4) Foedera X, p. 291 and CPR 1422-1429, p. 105 (Henege and Kyghley).  

(5) CPR 1422-1429, p. 103 (Lathbury).

(6) Foedera X, pp. 292-293 ; CPR 1422-1429, p. 112 (Barrow, temporalities granted).

(7) Foedera X, p. 286 (Fulford).

(8) CPR 1422-1429, pp. 97 and 318 (Fulford and Wells).

(9) Harvey, Papacy, pp. 132–133 (Branda).

(10) Allmand, Henry V, p. 263 (Branda).

(11) PPC III, pp. 76–77 (Branda and Ireland).

(12) Foedera X, p. 282 (Branda and Ireland).

(13) CPR 1422-1429 p. 138 (licence to elect Bowet’s replacement).

(14) PROME X, pp. 103-104 (Henry V’s debt).

(15) PPC  III, pp. 121 and 166 (temporalities of archbishopric).

A General Council at Pavia/Siena

Pope Martin V called a General Council of the Church in accordance with the decree of the Council of Constance that church councils should meet regularly. A General Council was not in the pope’s best interests; he had to pay lip service to the need for church reform, but no pope could admit that decrees by a General Council were superior to his own. The Council met at Pavia in April but was transferred to Siena in July because of plague. It was the biggest non-event of 1423.

Thomas Polton, Bishop of Chichester, had been Henry V’s proctor at the papal court and he was reappointed  by the Minority Council (1). At the same time the Council requested Pope Martin to translate Polton’s fellow delegate, Bernard de la Planche, Prior of Soulac to become Bishop of Dax (2).  As usual Martin was slow to act on any elevation he did not initiate, and de la Planche was did not become Bishop of Dax until 1427.

Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln, together with Polton and de la Planche, were instructed to clarify the tricky question of papal recognition for an English delegation to the General Council. Pope Martin did not recognise Henry VI as King of France. Would delegates from the Dauphin Charles be permitted to represent France?  (3, 4).

In February Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, Philip Morgan, Bishop of Worcester, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, Lord Ferrers of Groby, Sir John Tiptoft, Walter de la Pole, Robert Gilbert, and Nicholas Bildeston were named as delegates to the General Council (5). Their wages were authorized on 5 March but no amounts were specified. They were to be equipped with letters of recommendation to the princes of Germany and other towns and lordships they might pass through (6, 7).

The Pavia Council is poorly documented and there is no record that any of those named attended, except Nicholas Bildeston who did not leave England until June. He was reimbursed in March 1425 for paying 50 marks to one of the king’s advocates at the Roman curia (8, 9). John Whethamstede, Abbot of St Albans, whose name does not appear in the Proceedings or in the Foedera travelled to Siena and fell ill in Rome (10).

1) Foedera X, p. 266 (Polton reappointed).

(2) PPC III, p. 39 (Bernard de la Planche. His name in French is Bernat de Laplagne but he is always de la Planche in English sources (including the Foedera).

(3) PPC III, p. 43 (procuration to Fleming, Polton and Planche).

(4) Foedera X,  p. 269 (commission to Polton and Planche).

(5) PPC III, p. 42 (delegates).

(6) PPC III, p. 54 (wages authorized). 

(7) PPC III, p. 59 (letters of recommendation).

(8) Ferguson, Diplomacy, pp. 124-125 and n. 1 (Bildeston).

(9) Issues of Exchequer, p. 392 (Bildeston, 50 marks).

(10) Harvey, England and the Papacy, pp. 59 and 85 (Whethamstede).

Henry Beaufort had supported the election of Martin V as Pope at the Council of Constance (1) and he may have toyed with the idea of going to Pavia with an entourage as the king’s representative, attended by the senior herald, Garter King of Arms. Letters of protection were issued for Sir Henry Husse ‘going to the general council in the retinue of the Bishop of Winchester.’ (2). This was mere window dressing, possibly orchestrated by Beaufort to reassure the pope of his support. Beaufort’s main interest in 1423 was to establish himself as a dominant figure on the Minority Council and it is unlikely that he would have seriously considered leaving England, especially as the status of an English delegation had yet to be confirmed. 

In May similar letters of protection, but without mentioning Beaufort, were issued for Nicholas Frome Abbot of Glastonbury (3).

Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland was a somewhat unlikely delegate. As Warden of the East March he was far more use defending the border or negotiating with the Scots. But he was the only magnate available to represent the Minority Council. Westmorland was too old, Warwick was Captain of Calais, Exeter and Norfolk were proposing to go to France, and Mortimer was to go to Ireland.

As 1423 was a Jubilee Year Northumberland may have planned to combine the journey to Pavia with the obligatory pilgrimage to Rome. He was present at a council meeting when he awarded wages of 66s 8d a day for an estimated six months absence and the Exchequer advanced him £100 (4, 5). He informed the Council that ‘he had debts incurred in the service of Henry V for which he wished to make provision,’ and he was licenced to enfeoff Percy lands in Yorkshire to the value of £300 to Thomas Langley, Bishop of Durham, and others (6, 7).

Did Northumberland go? If he did, it was not for long. Allowing for the time it took to go and return, he was back in England by the end of June at the latest. On 6 July he was appointed to negotiate with the Scots, well before the council was transferred to Siena.

The Council was so poorly attended that Pope Martin, who had not wanted to call it in the first place, dissolved it in February 1424.

(1) Foedera X, p. 268 (Beaufort and Garter King at Arms).

(2) Foedera X, p. 279 (Henry Husse).

(3) Foedera X, p. 281 (Nicholas Frome).

(4) PPC III, pp. 60-61 ; Foedera X, p. 271 (Northumberland wages).

(5) Issues of Exchequer, pp. 377–378.

(6) PPC III, p. 44 (Northumberland enfeoffments).

(7) CPR 1422-1429, p. 127 (enfeoffments).

Foreign Relations

Paris was the capital of Lancastrian France in 1423, but it was by no means secure and its citizens, who had endured real hardships during the French civil wars, were fearful of the future. It remained to be seen how the English would fare in France now that Henry V was dead.

A delegation led by Louis of Luxembourg Bishop of Thérouanne Bedford’s chancellor in France, came to London in January with respresentatives of the Duke of Burgundy seeking reassurance from the Council that an army would be sent from England to protect Paris against the Dauphin Charles and the Armagnacs. According to the Burgundian chronicler Jean de Wavrin the Council gave the required assurances (1, 2). 

“And in þat same yere, come Frenche bysshoppys oute of Fraunce; And oþer Frenche lordys and worthy knyghttes of Fraunce come to þe Kyng to do homage to hym as for heyre of Englond and Fraunce.”    

 Brut Continuation E,  p. 449.

Their expenses, from 21 January to 9 March 1423, for ‘victuals, wines, carriage, porterage, expenses for boats, allowance for horses, and other things,’ were met by the English Exchequer.  

Richard Rystone, a clerk of the Exchequer, was allowed £40 for expenses, but gifts to the delegates proved more costly: ‘£80 to Louis of Luxemburg, £40; to Lourdin de Saligny, £40; to Master John de Mailly £40; to certain doctors (of law) and John Ryvel, a secretary, to each of them to the value of £20.’ (3).

Rystone claimed £248 4s. 7d. for the costs of this embassy, combined with the expenses for King James of Scotland who was at Westminster in February and may have taken part in whatever discussions took place (4).

(1) Monstrelet I, p. 492 (delegation).

(2) Wavrin III, pp. 5–6. (delegation).

(3) PPC III, pp. 21 and 35–36 (expenses and gifts).

(4) L&P I, pp. 389–392 (Rystone’s claim).

Ambassadors from the Kingdoms of Aragon and Portugal came to London in March.

Sir John de Falces received £40 for his expenses in coming to England with an answer to an embassy sent to King Alfonso of Aragon by Henry V in 1421 (1, 2, 3). Henry had been seeking Aragon’s support at best, or neutrality at worst, for his wars in France (4).

Sir Rothamagus Myndee, a Portuguese ambassador, received £46 13 4d and a cup worth £20 (5, 6, 7). The Kingdom of Portugal had strong trading and dynastic ties with England, King João I of Portugal had married Philippa, a daughter of John of Gaunt.

A second embassy from Paris came to London in November. Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, Gilles de Duremont, Abbot of Fécamp, and Jean de Saint Yon were members of the Grand Conseil in Paris. Fergusson confused their visit with Louis of Luxemburg’s embassy in January (8). The Proceedings records only that William Brewster, clerk, received money for their expenses, but no amount is given and there were no costly gifts such as those given to Louis of Luxembourg (9). 

(1) PPC III, p. 54 (Aragon).

(2) Foedera X, p. 270 (Aragon).

(3) Ferguson, Diplomacy, p. 201 identifies him as Lluis de Falcs.

(4) Wylie & Waugh III, p. 289 (Henry V and Aragon).

(5) PPC III, pp. 59-60. (Portugal).

(6) Foedera X, p. 270 (Portugal).

(7) Ferguson, Diplomacy, p. 203, dates Myndee’s embassy to March 1424, citing E 43/658/m. 14.

(8) Ferguson, p. 3, n 1. Citing E101/322/7 and E 28/43/8.

(9) PPC III, p. 123 (Brewster for expenses).



Weather and Food

The weather and its effect on crop production and the food supply was of perennial interest to the London chroniclers. Food was plentiful in the warm summer of 1423 but abnormally heavy rainfall from Midsummer until Christmas made it difficult to get the harvest in although there was no serious shortage of food until the 1430s.

“Also this same yere in the somertide was grete plente of all maner of cornes and frutes. But a litil before Mydsomer it be gan to falle moche water of Reyne which continued lesse or more every day for the moost partie, how so evyr the wynde stode unto viij days before Cristmasse so that men might not gader yn theire crone, and namely the Cdde corne. And zit ther was plente of corne i nough.”   Great Chronicle, p. 128.

Mayor of London

The folk tale of Dick Whittington and his cat is known to every English school child, and beloved by pantomime audiences. Richard Whittington came to London as a penniless younger son and made his fortune as a member of the Mercers Company. Initially Whittington and failed to find work, but as he turned his back on the City in despair, he heard the bells of London ring out to him: “Turn again Whittington, thou worthy citizen, Lord Mayor of London” (1).

Whittington is the best known, and probably the richest, member of the merchant oligarchy who ruled the City of London. He became Mayor of London three times. He died childless in March 1423, leaving his money to charitable works, including the rebuilding of the prison at Newgate (2, 3).

Newgate was the principal gaol for the City of London and Middlesex (4). Whittington’s executors petitioned the Council for permission to pull down the old gate and gaol, Whittington ‘having pity and compassion for the sudden and terrible deaths which occurred daily amongst the prisoners from bad air and other causes in the dilapidated and ruinous gate and gaol of Newgate’ (5).

Building began in 1423 and the new prison was finished by January 1431. 

“Also the same yere Newgate was be gon to be made a Newgate by the executourys of that famos marchant and merser, Rycharde Whytyngdone.”                                       Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 156.

“This yeare the west gate of London was begun to be builded by the Executors of Richard Whittington.” 

                                   Brut Continuation E, p. 449.

(1) Barron, ‘Richard Whittington: the man behind the myth’

(2) Foedera X, p. 287 (money for new gaol). 

(3) Sharpe, London, Letter Book K, p. 19 (money for new gaol). 

(4) Bassett, ‘Newgate,’ p. 239.

(5) PPC III, p. 79 (Whittington’s executors petition)

The Hanseatic League

The Hanseatic League, a consortium of German towns, maintained a permanent trading post in London at the Steelyard on the banks of the Thames.

Successive kings from Edward III on had granted the merchants of the Hanse special privileges and tax exemptions to encourage England’s trade within the Baltic. Richard II signed a charter confirming their rights in 1380, and Henry IV renewed it by treaty in 1408. Englishmen trading with the Hanse towns enjoyed less favourable conditions, they did not have the right to establish permanent trading posts (staples)  in major German towns such as Lubeck or Danzig. This disparity was fiercely resented by English merchants (1).

In 1423, the Hanse merchants, citing exemptions under their charter, refused to pay the tax of tunnage and poundage of ‘3 shillings on every tun of wine and 12 pence on every pound,’ imposed by Parliament on foreign merchants in 1422. The terms and conditions for payment were to be set by the Council (2). 

Aware of the importance of trade with the Hanse, the Council allowed the merchants an exemption to the end of October (when Parliament was due to meet). They referred the question of the legality of the Hanse’s refusal to pay the tax to the chief justices and the Chief Baron of the Exchequer.

The Council also reduced by 10 shillings, the tax imposed by Parliament of 53s 4d on every sack of wool and 240 wool fells exported by alien merchants over two years, but for one year only (3).

The judges handed down their verdict on 23 October: they had investigated the matter and found that since the tax was imposed by Parliament, and German merchants were aliens and not denizens (Henry VI’s subjects) they were liable for payment (4).

As well as claims at the national level, there were disputes at the local level. The Mayor and Common Council of London had granted the merchants from Damme, a town in Lower Saxony, the right to reside and trade in the City, a privilege for which they each paid 50 marks a year.

In July 1423 John Burneux of Damme petitioned the Council and the judges that Nicholas Wotton, while Mayor of London in 1415/16, had compelled Robert Cok to pay £30. But under the terms of the agreement between London and Damme the charge did not apply in time of war when alien merchants did not have free access to London: 1415 was the year of Agincourt.

The Council ordered Wotton to repay the £30 and confirmed the rights of the merchants of Damme (5). This is an early example of the protection of foreign merchants in order to promote trade that prevailed throughout out Henry VI’s reign.

(1) Power & Postan, English Trade, p. 98

(2) PROME X, p. 21 (tax).

(3) PPC III, p. 35 (wool tax reduced).

(4) PPC III, pp. 110, 111 and 117 (judgement).

(5) PPC III, pp. 113-115 (repayment).


The Pale of Calais was an English enclave stretching for twenty miles along the coast of France and six miles inland, with the fortresses of Oye, Marck and Hammes to the east, Guines and Sangratte to the west and Balingham to the south, surrounded by Burgundian territory.

King Edward III had granted a monopoly to the Merchants of the Calais Wool Staple in 1363, and in theory all export wool had to pass through Calais and pay customs duties unless exempted by the crown. The garrison at Calais was vital to the defence of the port and its precious wool but there was never enough money to pay the soldiers.  In 1423 the crown’s debt to the captains, officers and men of the garrisons stood at £28,718  (1).

The Council had allocated 2,000 marks to Calais in December 1422. They increased it to £2,500 in January 1423, but the Exchequer could not meet the commitment (2). In February Sir Thomas Foxton, the Mayor of Calais, and some soldiers came over to England, presumably to attest to conditions and the unrest prevailing there. The Council awarded them £50 (3).

The Council also authorized a distribution of £5,000 in arrears of wages to garrisons throughout the Pale of Calais, to be raised by allocating one mark (13s 4d) to Richard Buckland, the Treasurer of Calais, from the tax on wool and wool fells granted by Parliament in 1422. It was to be taken at all English ports except Southampton from 1 February 1423 to the next meeting of Parliament (4). The Southampton customs were earmarked to repay Henry Beaufort’s loans to Henry V.

John Cappe, the lieutenant of Balinghem (Pale de Calais) and the garrison there were to receive arrears from 4 February 1421 to 24 July 1422.

The garrison at Marck was to be paid from the death of its captain William Swinbourne in 1422 until a new captain could be appointed.

Sir Thomas Levysham was to receive 6s 4d a day for his services in the Marches of Picardy from 5 April 26 June 1422.

The lieutenant and soldiers of Guines were to receive the arrears from the captaincy of Thomas, Duke of Clarence, Henry V’s brother, who was Captain of Guines until his death in 1421 when Henry himself assumed the captaincy (5).

As these payments were more likely to take the form of tallies or assignments on the Exchequer rather than in cash, and the men of the garrisons had no faith in government promises. In April they resorted to the only protest open to them: they mutinied and seized the wool held in the Calais warehouses. As a minute of the council put it tactfully, ‘they caused the wool to be arrested.’ 

The Merchants of the Calais Staple, many of them wealthy Londoners, had a vested interest in keeping the garrison contented and the wool safe. The Council appealed to them for a loan, setting a pattern that would continue throughout Henry VI’s reign and they agreed to loan £4,000 for the garrison’s wages (6).

A letter in King Henry’s name was sent to Calais, sympathising with the plight of the soldiers and promising that £5,000 in money and assignments would be distributed among them (£4,000 to Calais, £1,000 to Marches) and that as soon as further funds became available the assignment for their pay would be increased (7).

“Yat alssone as any good encreses and growes unto us . . . . for youre said paiement shall be notably enlargissed . . . until full compenstuon had been paid.” PPC,  p. 96.

In May, the Council somewhat optimistically ordered that arrears due to the crown from Wales were to be assigned to Richard Buckland for Calais (8).

Richard Beauchamp Earl of Warwick, a member of the Minority Council, had been Captain of Calais since 1414 but his indentures lapsed on Henry V’s death. In March Richard Buckland was instructed to pay Warwick for the two years which were not covered by his indenture with late king, and as soon as the garrison agreed to accept what the crown had to offer, new indentures would be drawn up (9).

The Duke of Gloucester was granted the lordship of Guines for 14 years in April, paying 900 marks yearly to the crown. Gloucester indented to serve with 50 men-at- arms and 50 archers on foot, ‘excepting himself.’ (10).

(1) Harriss, Beaufort, pp. 121-122 (debt to Calais garrison).

(2) PPC III, p. 40 (£2,000 and £2,500 for Calais).

(3) PPC III, pp. 49 (Foxton).

(4) PPC III, pp. 49–50 (£5,000 allocated from taxation).

(5) PPC III, pp. 55-56 (captains of garrisons).

(6) PPC III, pp. 95–96 (Henry VI’s letter).

(7) PPC III, pp. 67–68 (mutiny and Staplers’ loan).

(8) PPC III, pp. 76 and 89 (£4,000 from Wales).

(9) PPC III, p. 54 (Warwick Captain of Calais).

(10) PPC III, p. 69 (Lordship of Guines granted to Gloucester).

The Duchy of Gascony

The English Duchy of Gascony (frequently referred to as Aquitaine) had been an inheritance of the kings of England since the twelfth century. It was all that was left in English hands of the great Duchy of Aquitaine, part of the Angevin empire of King Henry II and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine.

The entry in the Proceedings under 1 March 1423 was seriously misdated by its editor. It belongs in March 1413, the first year of Henry V’s reign not in 1423, the first year of Henry VI’s reign. It is a report by Sir Thomas Swynbourne. (1).

There are numerous anomalies which should have altered Nicolas: A meeting at Greenwich in 1423 without the Duke of Gloucester? Henry Beaufort was not Chancellor in 1423. Warrants were routinely issued by the Minority Council in Henry VI’s name, but not with the endorsement ‘The K agreed.’

In the memorandum the Council agreed ‘subject to the king’s approval, that Swynbourne would be given 1,000 [?] to distribute to the garrison at Fronsac ‘to get the cust castel into the King’s hands.’ He was to be its captain for the next five years. Swynbourne was dead by 1423.

The king referred to is Henry V and the situation is that of 1405 and the next few years when Swynbourne was Mayor of Bordeaux and Captain of Fronsac Castle. The Duke of Orleans cannot be Charles, who had been a prisoner in England since 1415, it was his father, Louis, who campaigned in Gascony (3, 4). 

Joseph Stephenson in Letters & Papers accepted Nicolas’s dating without reading the memorandum carefully and perpetuated the 1423 dating (4).

(1) PPC III, p 46–48 (misdated).

(2) Vale, Gascony, pp. 50–51, and 183, n. 2 (Gascony 1405-1408).

(3 Sumption, Cursed Kings, p. 184. (Louis of Orleans).

(4) L&P, Chronological Abstracts, p. 523, n 2.

Administration (1)

Gasçons owed allegiance to the king of England as Duke of Guyenne, and Gascony was administered by a council in Bordeaux representing the English crown. There was no king’s lieutenant in Gascony when Henry V died, the highest ranking official in Gascony was the Seneschal.

Sir John Tiptoft was Henry V’s Seneschal of Gascony but in 1423 he was in England and a member of the Minority Council. At a meeting in March the Council replaced him with Sir John Radcliffe the Constable of Bordeaux.

Tiptoft took the opportunity to petition for payment of arrears for his services to Henry V in France and Normandy, some of which had been agreed verbally, without written indentures. For his wages as Seneschal of Gascony: 4,000 francs (a franc = 2s 6d) and for his costs in repairing and garrisoning the castle at Bayonne with six men-at-arms at 12d a day, and fourteen archers at 6d a day from Christmas 1420. The Council issued a warrant for payment (2). 

Sir John Radcliffe, indented at the end of April to serve as Seneschal of Gascony with 200 mounted archers (3, 4). In May the Exchequer was ordered to pay him the arrears of his wage of 1,000 marks per annum for five years as Captain of the castle of Fronsac and the surrounding countryside (5). In June William Soper and John Pole were ordered to impress ships to take Sir Walter Hungerford to Normandy and Radcliffe with his 200 horses, their trappings and stores, to Gascony. They would sail from Southampton (6).

The over hasty decision to replace Radcliffe as Constable of Bordeaux with John Stokes, a Doctor of Laws, and to appoint a court official, Roger Fiennes, as mayor of Bordeaux was rescinded. They had no prior connection to Gascony (7).

Thomas Barneby, a former servant of Henry V, was appointed Constable of Bordeaux in May (8) and in October 1423 Radcliffe and Barneby were authorized to coin money at the mint in Bayonne (9). Barneby died in office in 1427.

Sir Lawrence Merbury became Mayor of Bordeaux with the same wages and fees as his predecessor, Sir John St John, who had returned home (10). Merbury had been Chancellor of Ireland until in 1423 he fell foul of the Earl of Ormond, the king’s deputy lieutenant of Ireland (11).  The Council preferred not to get involved in Irish political infighting, and instead put Merbury’s administrative and financial experience to good use in Gascony (12). He remained mayor until 1428.

Gaillard de Durefort, Lord of Duras and Blanquefort was an ex-Seneschal of Gascony. Unusually for a Gascon, Henry IV had appointed him in 1399 and he remained in office until Henry V replaced him with Tiptoft in 1415. Durefort requested and received confirmation of the office of Provost of Bayonne which had been granted to his father by Richard II and confirmed by Henry IV (13).

The custody of Budos [Bydos] Castle was confirmed to another Gascon, Pons VIII, Lord of Castillon (14, 15).

In July, David de Montferrand, Archbishop of Bordeaux, received a licence to continue to sell wine from his lands at a special rate. Presumably, it was thought advisable to retain the archbishop’s loyalty! (16).

Another example of the Council’s attention to minutiae among more important matters is the instruction to the chancellor to confirm letters patent legitimizing Thomas Busshon ‘of the Duchy of Aquitaine’ so that he and his heirs could inherit legacies from his father (17).

The Minority Council recommissioned the judiciary and other royal officers in Bordeaux, Bayonne, and elsewhere in Gascony and letters for justice were to be issued to Gascons who petitioned for them (18).

(1) www.gasconrolls.org. C 61 119 passim for Gascony.

(2) PPC III, pp. 62–63 (Tiptoft).

(3) Woolger, ‘Sir John Radcliffe,’ www.historyofparliamentonline.org

(4) PPC III, p. 68 (Radcliffe’s indenture).

(5) PPC III, p. 70 (arrears, Fronsac).

(6) CPR 1422-29, p. 124 (shipping).

(7) PPC III, p. 52 (Stokes and Fiennes).

(8) PPC III, p. 89 (Barneby).

(9) Foedera X, p. 313 (coinage).

(10) PPC III, p. 77 (Merbury).

(11) Otway-Ruthven, p. 359 (Ireland).

(12) Gascon Rolls C61/119 (Merbury)

(13) PPC III, pp. 91–92  (Durefort).

(14) PPC III, p. 60 (Bydos).

(15) gasconrolls.org C61 119 (Bydos)

(16) Foedera X, p. 298 (Montferrand).

(17) PPC III, pp.  51-52 (Busshon).

(18) PPC III, p. 55-56 (royal officials).

Castles and Towns

The castles and fortified towns throughout Gascony formed a defensive network to guard the duchy, but as Vale observed, ‘castles held by captains avowing allegiance to England changed hands with kaleidoscopic regularity’ (1).

The great southern French magnates, Jean de Grailly, Count of Foix, Jean, Count of Armagnac, and Charles d’Albret held territories in and around Gascony and they made alliances and changed their allegiances as the fortunes of war ebbed and flowed.

Sir John Radcliffe, Constable of Bordeaux under King Henry V, was captain of the strategically important castle of Fronsac. He initiated a campaign to recover towns in Gascony that had fallen into French hands principally through neglect of their defences.

The names of the towns and castles he recovered over a period of years, listed in Chronicles of London, (Julius B I), and in The Great Chronicle derive from the same source (2. 3). Exact dating, from 1420 to (probably) 1425 or later, is difficult and in some cases the names themselves are obscure.  

Radcliffe took the towns of La Réole (or possibly ‘Rowele that stant on ϸe watere of Dordo[g]ne,’ and Rions on the Garonne, the first ‘by scaling,’ the second by composition.’ The castle of ‘Grounde’ may be the castle of Gironde but there are other castles on the Gironde River, Soulac, Blaye, and Bourg. The identity of Seincase or Seintase is uncertain, the editors of The Great Chronicle suggest the Chateau de Cazes à Saint Surplice de Guilleragues.

Radcliffe personally conducted the siege of Castets-en-Dorthe (Endorte) in the spring of 1424. It was held by Charles, Lord of Albret, who owed allegiance to the Dauphin. Gensac, on the Dordogne also belonged to d’Albret while St Bazeille belonged to Francois d’Albret, Charles’s cousin. François had promised to swear fealty to Henry V.

Castelnau de Cernes and Noaillon in the Landes surrendered in July 1424. Castelmoron was taken by assault and burned.

Radcliffe took Duras, Montsegur, Lavignac and Pellagrue in the area between the Garonne and the Dordogne known as Entre deux mers, the town and castle of Meilhan and the castle of Fumel on the River Lot.

He recovered Bazas first by siege and then by default in 1425 because the French declined to face him in the field. Marmande was not taken until 1428.

 John Beauchamp who is reported to have campaigned so heroically in and around Roergue and Montalban and captured the castle of Craissac and ‘Donel’ on the River Lot is presumably the Beauchamp who is listed as having served in Gascony with Sir John Radcliffe and others during the first years of Henry VI’s reign. Otherwise unidentified, he is described as ‘an esquire of great name,’ possibly a kinsman of the Earl of Warwick? (4).

(1) Vale, Gascony, p. 6.

(2) Chronicles of London (Julius B. I.)  pp. 283–284 (list of towns).

(3) Great Chronicle, pp. 131–132 (list of towns).

(4) L&P II, ii, p. 438 (John Beauchamp).

Diplomatic Relations (1)

Jean de Grailly, Count of Foix was the most militarily powerful of the southern magnates. He was an arch trimmer, ready to serve whichever side was winning. This looked like Henry V, and in 1421 Foix had sent envoys to him (2).

Henry V wanted Foix’s allegiance or at least his neutrality. He opened negotiations and offered Foix financial inducements, including a large sum in cash (which he paid) and territorial concessions (though not in Gascony) if Foix would take the oath to recognise Henry as Regent and heir of France and make war on the Dauphin. Henry appointed Foix as King Charles VI’s lieutenant in Languedoc, but before Foix had taken the oath or begun the war, King Henry died (3).  

Foix’s envoys came to London in December 1422 to inquire if his agreement with Henry V was still valid, and what Foix might expect from the new regime. The Exchequer was ordered to pay them £20, but they only received £13 6s 8d (4).

An alliance with Jean de Foix had much to recommend it. Henry V had been prepared to pay for it, and Henry never spent money lightly. Tacitly ignoring the fact that Foix had not personally taken the oath of allegiance to Henry V or Henry VI, the Minority Council confirmed Foix as lieutenant of Languedoc and Bigorre (5).

Foix was to require his brother, Matthew Count of Comminge, and the inhabitants of Languedoc to swear the oath of allegiance to Henry VI once Foix had established himself as the king’s lieutenant there (6). It would be no easy task. The Estates of Languedoc and the three principal towns, Toulouse, Narbonne, and Carcassonne were loyal to the Dauphin Charles.

William Barry and Master Peter, the English envoys to the Count of Foix, were awarded 40 marks each for their expenses. Two of Foix’s ambassadors got 20 marks each and John, Lord of ‘Tutteville’ received £10 for his stay in London (7).

Pierre Girault, formerly secretary to King Charles VI, handled the details of the negotiations; he was confirmed as Provost of Montpellier, first bestowed on him by Charles VI in 1418 (8).

The number of men he was authorized to raise, to be paid for by the English, was increased from Henry V’s 1,000 to 1,500, at Foix’s request. Officials in Gascony and the Landes would be ordered to give Foix every assistance, and Foix was to commence hostilities within two months of the new arrangements being ratified, the original start date of 1 June 1422 having passed (9. 10, 11).

The responsibility for compiling and verifying the muster rolls, the basis on which the soldiers would be paid, and their captains’ wages calculated, was entrusted to Foix’s brother Gaston de Grailly, Captal de Buch, Count of Longueville, together with Sir John Radcliffe, Thomas Barneby the Constable of Bordeaux, and Pierre Guirault (12).

This appeared to be a safe bet. The Captal de Buch was an hereditary governorship within Gascony and Gaston de Grailly had entered Henry V’s service in 1419, before the signing of the Treaty of Troyes. He had been present at the taking of Pontoise and Henry V had bestowed the county of Longueville on him, one of only six lordships in France that Henry granted away from the crown, the other five were in Normandy and went to loyal Englishmen (13). 

The Duke of Bedford as Regent of France considered the recovery of French territories to be more properly his concern, or perhaps he felt the need to assert himself. In April  he issued commissions identical to those issued by the Council in Henry VI’s name. One to Jean de Foix as governor of Languedoc and one to Gaston de Foix to take the musters. Foix’s army, although paid for by the English, would be raised from his own retainers and allies, there would be no drain on the manpower from England that Bedford needed to continue the war in the north (14, 15).

So much preparation for so few results. Bedford and the Council failed to realise that Jean de Foix had no intention of swearing featly to Henry VI as King of France; nor would he fight against his real overlord, the Dauphin Charles.

Foix did nothing to keep his side of the bargain and by October it was too late, Charles simply offered him a better deal: Foix would become the French lieutenant general in Languedoc and in Gascony as far as the River Dordogne with a pension of 2,000 francs a month, a personal retinue of 125 men-at-arms during truce and an army of 1,000 men at arms and archers in time of war. Foix did not need to conquer Languedoc in order to possess it, it was handed to him on a plate and at a handsome profit (16).

(1) www.gasconrolls.org C 61 119 for Jean de Foix.

(2) Sumption, pp. 623–625, 680 and 760 (background to Foix).      

(3) Wylie & Waugh III, p. 372–373 (Henry V and Jean de Foix).

(4) PPC III, p. 11 (£20 to ambassadors).

(5) Foedera X, pp. 271–273 (confirmation of Henry V’s agreement).

(6) Foedera X, p. 275 (commission to Foix to receive the oaths of allegiance).

(7) PPC III, p. 55 (payment to envoys).

(8) Foedera X, pp. 276–277 (Guirault).

(9) Foedera X, pp. 273-274 (Foix’s terms accepted).

(10) Foedera X, p. 279 (seneschals to assist Foix).

(11) Foedera X, pp. 276 (Foix to begin the war immediately).

(12) Foedera X, pp. 278 (commission to Gaston de Foix).

(13) Sumption, Cursed Kings, pp. 609 and 645 (for Gaston de Grailly).

(14) L&P I, pp. 1–10 (Bedford’s commissions to Jean and Gaston de Foix at Amiens).

(15) Ferguson, Diplomacy, pp. 4–7 and pp. 240–243 (Bedford’s instructions, dated by Ferguson to circa January 1423).

(16) Vale, Gascony, pp. 95–96 (Foix and Charles VII).

Margaret Wade LaBarge, Gascony, England’s First Colony, 1204-1453, Frontispiece

Margaret Wade LaBarge, Gascony, England’s First Colony, 1204-1453



The Siege of Meulan

The Dauphin Charles made his first move as ‘King of France’ in January 1423. He sent a force of about 500 men under John de Graville, master of the crossbows, to attack the English garrison at Meulan, a strategic bridgehead on the Seine, twenty-five miles north of Paris.

According to the chronicler Wavrin, Graville and his men put the garrison defending Meulan to death. This enraged the Regent Bedford, and he sent his most experienced war captain, Thomas Montague, Earl of Salisbury, to relieve Meulan. Bedford himself brought up reinforcements, including artillery, and Meulan capitulated on 1/2 March 1423.

The French chroniclers claim Graville tore down the French banner in a rage and surrendered when he learned that the commanders of the relieving army he had been promised, the Count of Aumâle and the Scottish John, Earl of Buchan, had quarrelled and turned aside before they reached Meulan (1, 2). This may be a gloss to explain Graville’s actions. He subsequently swore allegiance to Henry VI under the terms of the surrender.

The Bourgeois of Paris, who disliked the Armagnacs, the adherents of the Dauphin, almost as much as he disliked the English, has a slightly different account. John, Earl of Buchan in command of a Scottish force, waited for Tanneguy du Châstel, Grand Master of France and a favourite of the Dauphin, to join him with a French army before marching on Meulan.  Tanneguy failed to come up, Buchan retreated, and quarrelled violently with Tanneguy. The defenders in Meulan realising that they had been betrayed surrendered unconditionally. Bedford pardoned them because ‘most of them were of gentle birth’ but as soon as they were set free ‘they broke every promise they had made’ and went on to commit more atrocities (3).  

The Earl of Salisbury, Sir John Fastolf, Richard Woodville, Bedford’s chamberlain, the war captain Sir Nicholas Burdet, and a councillor of the Duke of Burgundy signed the surrender in the Duke of Bedford’s name.   

“Also, the secounde day of March Powntmelayne was yolden to the gode Erle of Salysbury.”             Short English Chronicle p. 57

“And the for sayde secunde day of Marche wasse made the trety of the delyveraunce of Pounte Mylanke, that was take and longe tyme holdyn by the party callyde the Armonackys, and delyveryd as hyt in maner aftyr folowyþe:” 

                                                                                    Gregory’s Chronicle pp. 149-153

“And the forsaid first day of Marche the same yere was made the treate of delyveraunce of Pount Melanc which was taken and longe holden by the partie called Armennakkes and delivered in maner as after foloweth:”           Great Chronicle p. 123-126

Terms for surrender

Bedford promised to spare the lives of the defenders because they surrendered in the holy time of Lent. There were exceptions: any defender who was not French; any man who had previously sworn allegiance to Henry V or Henry VI; any man who had been implicated in the murder of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy in 1419. These were to abide by Bedford’s judgement.

The stores, military equipment, ordnance, victuals, valuables, and horses in Meulan were to be abandoned and not damaged, destroyed or hidden before the surrender was complete.  No one was to enter or leave Meulan without express permission from the Regent.  

No ransom would be levied on any man who agreed, upon sureties, to change his allegiance and fight for Henry VI as King of England and France.

Any defender who held the lordship of a town or fortress not in allegiance to Henry VI was to forfeit it.  All prisoners, regardless of nationality, being held therein were to be set free without ransom.

John de Graville signed the surrender and swore allegiance to the English. The French marched out, but according to the Bourgeois of Paris they broke their oath as soon as they were set free (2).

While Salisbury was conducting the siege of Meulan the Minority Council authorized a ship ‘laden with victuals, goods, and other things purchased for the use of Richard Earl of Salisbury to sail for France without paying customs duties or subsidies. This is interesting, because Richard Neville married Salisbury’s daughter and became earl in her right only after Earl Thomas’s death in 1428. It indicates that some at least of the Proceedings as we have them were copied, perhaps more than once, at a much later date (6).


(1) Monstrelet I, pp. 492-494 (siege of Meulan).

(2) Wavrin III, pp. 6–11 (surrender terms and signatories).

(3) Bourgeois, pp. 185–186 (different version of French army).

(4) Great Chronicle, pp. 123-126 (full text of surrender of Meulan).

(5) Gregory’s Chronicle, pp. 149-153 (full text of surrender of Meulan).

(6) PPC III, pp. 20–21 (Salisbury misnamed).

The Treaty of Amiens

The Treaty of Amiens was signed by the Dukes of Bedford, Burgundy, and Brittany on 17 April 1423.  It was initiated by John, Duke of Bedford as Regent of France. He knew that John, Duke of Brittany had accepted the Treaty of Troyes, recognising King Henry V heir to the French throne, only reluctantly. The independent Duchy of Brittany bordered Normandy to the west, and its duke was timid and indecisive; he preferred to stay out of politics whenever possible.   

But his alliance and recognition of the dual monarchy was important to Bedford, and in February 1423 he sent a summons and a safe conduct to Duke John to meet him in Paris, or any other convenient city. The meeting took place at Amiens in Burgundian territory. The Duke of Burgundy also sent Brittany a safe conduct (4).

Bedford’s councillor Sir Raoul Le Sage received 164 livres tournois from Pierre Surreau, Receiver General of Normandy to go to Amiens and make the arrangements (5).

The Treaty of Amiens was a defensive agreement between three individuals, not between three states, a personal bond to last for the duration of their lives.

They undertook to support each other to a limited extent. They would report any rumours or slander (i.e., false accusations) that came to their attention but would not give them credence.

They repeated the traditionally pious but hypocritical lip service to the plight of the poor and they pledged to alleviate the misery caused by war and to maintain peace as the way to prosperity. Implicit in their undertakings, however, was the understanding that war for mastery of France would continue (1, 2, 3).

The treaty was witnessed by Arthur de Richemont the Duke of Brittany’s brother, and Jean de Malestroit Bishop of Nantes. The Burgundians Jean de Harcourt Bishop of Amiens, and Jean de Thoisy, Bishop of Tournai. Joseph II Patriarch of Constantinople, and members of Bedford’s Grand Conseil in Paris: Jean de la Rochetaillée Bishop of Paris, Louis of Luxembourg Bishop of Thérouanne, Pierre Cauchon Bishop of Beauvais, ‘and many others’ (6).

(1) L&P I, pp. 1–6 (safe conducts).

(2) L&P I, pp. 6–7 (Le Sage).

(3) Wavrin III, pp. 16–19 (text of treaty).

(4) Great Chronicle, pp. 126–128 (text of the treaty, attested by Jean de Rinel).

(5) Foedera X, p. 280 (transcript of the treaty, attested by Robert le Jeune, Lord of Forest, bailiff of Amiens).

(6) L&P I, p. 7 (those present at Amiens).


The pact at Amiens was strengthened by dynastic ties. The Duke of Brittany’s brother, Arthur de Richemont, would marry the Duke of Burgundy’s elder sister, Margaret, while Bedford offered for the hand of Burgundy’s younger sister Anne.

Margaret of Burgundy was the widow of the Dauphin Louis of Guyenne King Charles VI’s eldest son who had died in 1415. She was reluctant to marry a mere count and a younger son, and she continued to style herself Dauphine of France. The marriage did not take place until October.

Bedford and Anne of Burgundy, Duke Philip’s youngest and favourite sister, were married by proxy in April just before the Treaty of Amiens was signed, and then in person at Troyes in June (1, 2, 3).  Robert Jolivet, Abbot of Mont Saint Michel, Bedford’s Keeper of the Privy Seal, made three journeys in Bedford’s company in April and May.  [The third journey] “from Paris to Troyes [was] for the marriage of my said lord on which we were employed for the space of xxv days beginning on the iiij day of May.” (4)

In October the Council issued, and Parliament confirmed, letters of denization (naturalization) for the Duchess of Bedford (5, 6).

Anne acted as peace maker between her brother and her husband for the next ten years, until her death in 1432. Duke Philip’s wedding gift to Bedford was 50,000 crowns and a promise of the county of Artois should Philip die without a direct heir (7).

(1) Wavrin III, p. 20 (Bedford’s marriage).

(2) L&P II, p. 9, and II, ii, p 524. Stevenson’s note: “The exact date [of the marriage] is somewhat uncertain. The Benedictines ascribe it, erroneously, to 13 April (Art de Vérif. Les Dates, xi, 82). Dugdale (Baronage, I, 201) is silent. We know from Plancher (iv. 71) that Anne arrived at Troyes on 14 June; the marriage probably took place immediately afterwards.”

(3) Williams, Bedford, p. 102, dates it to May.

NB: Benet’s Chronicle p. 180 misdates the marriage to 1424, after the battle of Verneuil.

(4) L&P I, pp. 7–9. (Robert Jolivet’s journey).

(5) PROME  X, pp. 162-164 (denization).     

(6) Foedera X, p. 311 (denization).

(7) Vaughan, Philip, pp. 9–10 (marriages and gift).

An Army for Normandy

The Duke of Bedford expected the Minority Council to send an army to support his efforts to safeguard Normandy and extend Henry V’s conquests in France. The first intimation that recruiting was underway in a desultory fashion came in January when the Council agreed to issue letters of protection (an undertaking that the crown would protect the families and property of any man serving abroad in the king’s armies) to as many men as the king’s esquire William FitzHenry could raise to take into France (1).

Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter was to lead the army, and in February Sir Walter Hungerford undertook to accompany Exeter provided the Council discharged him from his duty under Henry V’s will to live continuously in Henry VI’s household. The Council agreed and promised that at the end of his service he would be given leave to fulfil certain religious vows that he had made, probably pilgrimages (2).

Hungerford was licenced to safeguard his estates by appointing feoffees (3). This was not an unusual arrangement for magnates planning to go abroad, it was a way of protecting their inheritance from escheating to the crown in the event of their death.

John Kemp

The Council decided that John Kemp, Bishop of London, Henry V’s last Chancellor of Normandy, should accompany the army and join the council in Rouen to strengthen Bedford’s administration. In February Kemp was granted £200 for his first three months and promised another £200 for the next three, to be paid from the exchequer in Rouen. If payment was not forthcoming, he would be recompensed by the English Exchequer on his return (4). In May the Council repeated the undertaking that the Exchequer would guarantee payment of the full £400 to Kemp, and he was awarded 100 marks for his expenses (5).

In April William Lyndwood, Doctor of Laws and Master John Escourt were appointed to go with Kemp. Lyndwood was awarded £50, Escourt 50 marks (6).

 The Earl of Norfolk

In March Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester agreed to advance the wages for an additional army under John Mowbray, Earl of Norfolk, Earl Marshal of England.  Beaufort would obtain reimbursement from the estates allocated by Henry V for the payment of his debts which, as the chief supervisor of the will, Beaufort was well able to do (7).

Norfolk indented to serve for six months from 30 April with, a baron (Lord Willoughby) four knights, 120 men-at-arms numerous esquires, and 360 archers (8).

At the end of April letters of protection were issued for Exeter, Kemp, Norfolk, Willougby and Hungerford (9). The Council had agreed earlier that if any man died on active service while his heir was a minor, the heir would not become the king’s ward. He would be entrusted to his mother, or to executors, or to any other responsible person (10).

On 14 May John Kemp, John Escourt, and Thomas Chamber were ordered to take the muster of Norfolk and Exeter’s armies. Norfolk would then cross to Picardy (11). Evidentially he was expected to join the siege of Le Crotoy.

See The Siege of Le Crotoy below.

On 15 May a letter in King Henry’s name thanked the Duke of Bedford for his services and informed him that Kemp, Norfolk, and Lord Willoughby were on their way but that the Duke of Exeter who had been ‘grievously ill’ and was now recovering would not be with them. He would join the army in France as soon as he could (12).

Letters were also sent to the field commanders, the Earl of Salisbury and the Earl of Suffolk announcing the imminent arrival of the army under the Earl of Norfolk (13). 


(1) PPC III, p. 21 (letters of protection).

(2) PPC III, pp. 25–26 (Hungerford).

(3) PPC III, p. 37 (enfeoffments).

(4) PPC III, pp. 41, 70 and 71 (Kemp’s wage).

(5) PPC III, pp. 70 and 72 (guarantee).

(6) PPC III, p. 66 (Lyndwood and Escourt).

(7) PPC III, pp. 60 (Beaufort’s loan, Norfolk’s wages).

(8) PPC III, p. 66 (Norfolk indented).

(9) PPC III, p. 67 (protection letters).

(10) PPC III, p. 37 (protection for heirs).

(11) CPR 1422-1429, p. 121 (army musters).

(12) PPC III, pp. 86–87 (Henry VI’s letters).

(13) Original Letters Illustrative of English History . . . .  ed. H. Ellis, pp 99-100 (Henry VI’s letters).



The Duke of Exeter

Exeter remined in England. On 19 May he was awarded £100 a year for the expenses of John de Vere, Earl of Oxford whose father had died in 1417 when John was only nine and his wardship was granted to Exeter by Henry V (1).  

Exeter attended the council meeting on 28 May that authorized payment to Sir John Skidmore of 12 marks for taking the muster of Norfolk’s army at Dover and Exeter’s in London (2). Although he did not go himself, Exeter contributed a contingent to the army.

On 10 June, Treasurer Stafford was instructed to ‘account’ with Exeter concerning an indenture with Henry V for one year’s service from 8 July 1415 just before the siege of Harfleur. Exeter had been promised money for his first quarter’s service and given jewels for his second quarter. Exeter retained the jewels which he considered to be his, not a pledge of repayment by the king. Stafford was authorized to reach a ‘reasonable agreement’ with Exeter for their return (3).  

Exeter’s whereabout after this is something of a mystery for a high-ranking magnate and King Henry’s guardian. He remained in England, but ill health may have caused him to retire from active duty. He was forty-six in 1423; his elder brother John, Earl of Somerset, had died at the age of forty-seven, and Exeter himself would die three years later, in 1426.


(1) PPC III, p. 93 (Oxford wardship).  

(2) PPC III, pp. 100-101 (Skidmore).    

(3) PPC III, pp. 101–102 (Henry V’s jewels).


The Estates General of Normandy

In preparation for the coming campaign the Duke of Bedford summoned the Estates General of Normandy to meet at Vernon in February to vote a tax ‘to safe guard Normandy.’ They met again in July and December (1).

Robert Jolivet, Abbot of Mont Saint Michel pleaded for money to rescue ‘his’ abbey (which proved impossible) and other strategic towns and castles. The Estates voted 500,000 livres tournois (2).

The Abbey of Mont Saint Michel sat high above the sea on an outcrop of granite rock accessible only at low tide by a narrow causeway through quick sands. It was guarded by a small garrison of about 100 men, but it was virtually impregnable and was one of the few places that, try as they might, the English never managed to conquer.

 Ironically, it was Abbot Jolivet who had repaired its defences and strengthened its fortifications to resist Henry V. He laid in supplies of food and had a water cistern constructed. Jolivet might have remained a loyal Frenchman but for the stupidity (and possibly the avarice) of the Dauphin Charles who appointed Jean de Harcourt, Count of Aumâle, as captain of the garrison at Mont Saint Michael. Harcourt raided the abbey’s treasures for the Dauphin, and this was more than Jolivet could tolerate.

In 1420, after the Treaty of Troyes make Henry V Regent of France, Jolivet switched sides. He remained loyal in theory to King Charles VI, but he offered his considerable administrative expertise first to Henry V and then to the Duke of Bedford. He became Bedford’s Keeper of the Privy Seal and an important member of Bedford’s Grand Conseil in Paris as well as the council at Rouen (3).

Beford appealed to the Estates for further aid in July, and they voted 60,000 livres tournois, but the tax was resented. A letter in King Henry’s name had to be sent from Westminster expressing his confidence in the loyalty of the inhabitants of Amiens who had refused to pay the tax, reminding them of their duty to Henry as King of France.

In November, the Receiver General of Rouen sent his clerk, Milet de Bray, to Amiens to collect 2,000 livres tournois, of the 3,000 levied on them which the citizens agreed to pay. Bray received eight livre tournois for his five-week journey (4).

The Estates again in Caen in December and voted another 200,000 livres tournois for the war and for the suppression of brigandage which was rift throughout Normandy (5).

Bedford ordered Hamon de Bleknap, treasurer general, and Pierre Surreau, receiver general, of Normandy to collect 40,000 livres tournois by 15 January 1424 to pay the soldiers’ wages (6, 7).


(1) Allmand, Lancastrian Normandy, p. 175 (three meetings of Estates).

(2) Barker, Conquest, p. 62 (February meeting).

(3) Barker, Conquest, pp., 59–60 (Jolivet).

(4) L&P I, pp. 395–396 (Amiens).

(5) Barker, Conquest, p. 65 (third meeting)

(6) L&P II, pp. 10–14 (December order)

(7) Chronique du Mont-Saint-Michel, 1343-1468, vol. I, ed. S. Luce, p. 132 (to collect 40,000 of the 80,000 livres tournois).



The Siege of Le Crotoy

Noyelle-sur-Mer, Rue, and Le Crotoy, a cluster of towns at the mouth of the River Somme in Picardy, half-way between Dieppe and Calais, were held for the Dauphin Charles. by Jacques de Harcourt (cousin of Jean de Harcourt). Harcourt frequently raided into eastern Normandy, pillaging for food and, to Bedford’s intense annoyance, financing his resistance by taking prisoners for ransom (1).

The great fortress port of Le Crotoy was a haven for Breton pirates and a thorn in Bedford side. It was too strong to be taken by assault, it had to be starved into submission. Bedford ordered William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, Admiral of Normandy, to prepare ships for a blockade, and Suffolk imposed levies on the coastal regions to meet the costs, but this took time (2).

In May ships’ crews began to muster and troops were drawn from garrisons across Normandy. They assembled under the command of Sir Ralph Botiller, the bailli of Caux. Botiller captured Noyelle sur Mer, and Harcourt, realising that Le Crotoy was his real objective, hastily recalled the French garrison at Rue. They abandoned the town and fell back on Le Crotoy to strengthen its defences. Botiller promptly occupied Rue as a base of operations.

A siege was laid to Le Crotoy by land and sea on 24 June 1423 and was expected to last for three months (3). The castle at Le Crotoy was strongly fortified and well stocked and after four months of almost continual fighting neither side could gain the upper hand. Harcourt sent messengers to plead with the Dauphin for a relieving force but to no avail. The chronicler Waurin excuses this by saying that Charles had sent his army to besiege Cravant (4).

See The Battle of Cravant below.

Harcourt despaired of receiving assistance, his men had suffered heavy casualties and his supplies were running low. In October 1423 he approached Botiller and called for a truce. Harcourt agreed to surrender the town to the Duke of Bedford in March 1424, provided Bedford accepted the surrender in person and met certain conditions. In the interim the siege would be lifted, and the fighting would cease; besieged and besiegers alike could move freely in and out of Le Crotoy (5).


(1) Barker, Conquest, pp. 62–63. (Jacques de Harcourt).

(2) Newhall, English Conquest of Normandy 1416-1424,  pp. 297–298 and notes 171–174 (orders to Suffolk and Botiller).

(3) Williams, Bedford, p. 107 (Bedford’s orders).

(4) Wavrin III, pp. 24–27 (detailed account of Le Crotoy).

(5) Wavrin, pp. 51-54 (terms of surrender).


 The Battle of Cravant

The Dauphin Charles assembled a mixed French and Scots army led by Sir John Stewart of Darnley, Constable of the Scottish army in France, and Jacques, Count of Ventadour. They crossed the Loire in July 1423 and laid siege to the town of Cravant on the bank of the River Yonne near Auxerre in Burgundian territory.

The Dowager Duchess of Burgundy called out Burgundian levies and appealed to the Regent Bedford for support. Bedford ordered Thomas Montague, Earl of Salisbury, who was besieging the town of Montaiguillon in Champagne, to go to the relief of Cravant.

The army from England under the command of the Earl of Norfolk and Lord Willoughby had just arrived in France and Bedford sent Willoughby to reinforce Salisbury. Salisbury joined forces with the Burgundians under their commander Antoine de Toulongeon, the Marshal of Burgundy at Auxerre.

Salisbury drew up an order of battle to combine the Anglo-Burgundian army into a single unit and laid down strict conditions for the behaviour of the soldiers as they marched on Cravant.

The French besieging Cravant were deployed on the far bank of the river and the two armies faced each other for some time before Salisbury gave the order to advance and rode into the water. Lord Willoughby on his right flank took possession of the bridge over the river. The Burgundians inside the town sallied out to aid their compatriots.

The battle of Cravant was fought on 31 July on the riverbank under the walls of the town (1). Salisbury won a decisive victory. The Scots suffered heavy losses: John Stewart of Darnley lost an eye and was captured along with the French captain Jacques de Ventadour.

The English chronicles do not mention Cravant. Several of the Scottish commanders who were killed at Verneuil in 1424 had fought at Cravant and it seems probable that fragmented accounts of the battles in France at this time confused Cravant with the much better-known battle of Verneuil.



(1) Burne, Agincourt War, p. 184–194 (Cravant).

(2) L&P II, ii, pp. 385–86 (names of combatants at Cravant).

(3) Wavrin III, pp. 41-46 (Cravant)

(3) Monstrelet I, pp. 499-501 (Cravant)


NB: David Grummitt, Henry VI, p. 68, is mistaken in stating that John, Earl of Buchan and Louis, Count of Vendôme commanded the French and were captured at Cravant. This is a misreading of Wavrin’s ‘the Constable of Scotland’ (Darnley) for ‘the Constable of France’ (Buchan) and the Count of Vendôme for the Count of Ventadour.  Louis, Count of Vendôme was still a prisoner in England when Cravant was fought.

Henry VI, a pious king

Parliament was in session for nearly a month when, on 13 November, Queen Katherine and the two-year-old King Henry set out from Windsor for Westminster. They spent the night at Staines but were unable to continue their journey on the following day, a Sunday, because the child threw a tantrum and refused to be lifted into the carriage. He quietened down when he was taken back indoors. On Monday he raised no objection and the royal party proceeded peacefully to Kingston.

Henry VI’s well-known refusal as an adult to travel on Sundays is encapsulated in this apocryphal story, unique to the London Chronicles, establishing that his piety began at a very young age (1, 2, 3).

“And the kyng and the quene his moder upon the saturday the xiij day of Novembre removed toward london from Wyndesore. And atte nyght was logged atte Stanes. And upon the morowe that was sonday he was borne toward his moder chare and he cryed and shrilled and wold not be caried firther. Wherfore he was borne ageyn into his Innes and there abode the sonday all day. And on the monday he was borne to the Chare and was thanne blythe and gladde and atte even comen to kyngeston and there restyd all nyght. And upon tuysday they comyn to kenyngton.

And upon the Wednesday with a gladde chere sat in his moder lappe in chare and rode thrugh the Citee to Westmynster the xvij day of Novembre the yere of oure lord M1CCCCxxiij. And there was brought into the parliament.”                                              Great Chronicle,  pp. 128-130

King Henry was driven through the City in an open carriage to Westminster sitting on his mother’s lap to display him to the Londoners. He was presented to Parliament on 18 November and the Speaker, John Russell, greeted him in a long, laudatory address which is recorded in the chronicles although neither the king’s presence nor the Speaker’s address is entered on the parliamentary roll (4, 5).


(1) Chronicle of London (Harley 565), pp. 111–112 (same as Great Chronicle).

(2) Short English Chronicle, p. 58 (26 November for Henry to Parliament).

(3) Chronicles of London (Julius B I ), pp. 280–281 (Same as Great Chronicle).

(4) PROME X. Appendix, p. 202 (the Speaker’s address in modern English).

(5) Roskell, Speakers, pp. 182–183 (Russell as Speaker).



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