The Minority Council.
Sir John Mortimer hanged. Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March
John Holand, Earl of Huntingdon.
Henry Beaufort, Chancellor of England.
The Council and the Papacy.
Administration. Judiciary. Exchequer
Henry VI’s Household. Henry V’s debts.
French Prisoners. English Prisoners
The War in France.
Le Crotoy. Guise. The Siege of Ivry.
The Battle of Verneuil.
The Duke of Gloucester and Jacqueline, Countess of Hainault.
Gloucester and Hainault. Gloucester in Hainault.
1424 was a year of consolidation for the Minority Council.
Parliament enacted a set of articles for conciliar government.
Henry Beaufort became Chancellor of England.
King James returned to Scotland. A truce for seven years with Scotland was signed.
Sir John Mortimer was hanged.
The Regent Bedford won the great Battle of Verneuil.
The Duke of Gloucester launched his ill-fated expedition to Hainault in pursuit of his wife heritage.
The Minority Council
Twenty-five Council meeting are recorded for 1424. Seven in January and twelve in February while Parliament was in session, one in May, one in June, five in July, one in October, three in November and two in December.
Parliament reconvened for its second session on 14 January 1424 and sat until 28 February.
Parliament had enacted a set of articles to clarify and define the extent of the Minority Council’s role in government (1). They are recorded in the Proceedings as ‘Provisions for ϸe good of ϸe gouvernance of this land . . .’ (2).
The articles required Council members to act collectively and not as individuals. No councillor, including the Duke of Gloucester, was to grant favours or answer petitions individually; all grants and petitions must be approved by a majority in Council. This was obviously intended to curb Gloucester’s assumption of special prerogatives as Protector. Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the younger brother of King Henry V became Protector of England and chief councillor following Henry V’s death in August 1422.
See Years 1422 and 1423 for Gloucester as Protector.
All bills submitted to the Council should be read by Wednesday and answered on the following Friday to speed up council business and prevent it getting bogged down in debate. Matters which could be dealt with in the law courts should be referred to the judges unless the answer to the case was obvious. (The editor notes that this clause has been added and does not occur on the Rolls of Parliament, but it is in PROME X, (p. 85) as the third article).
Where there was no clear majority in Council, a bill should not progress; the clerk of the council was to note who was present, who assented, and who did not. For important matters, especially matters of state, at least six (or four in PROME, crossed out in PPC) councillors must be present and they must all sign to attest their agreement.
Individual councillors must not correspond with foreign governments without the Council’s knowledge or consent. No member should ‘presume to doo it on peyne of shame and reprofe.’ Griffiths and Harriss suggest that this was a dig at Gloucester’s interest his wife’s county of Hainault, but if Gloucester was corresponding as Count of Hainault in right of his wife, it did not fall within the Council’s jurisdiction (3, 4). Henry Beaufort is just as likely a candidate; he was in touch with the Pope, and possibly with members of the General Council of the church.
The clerk of the council was to give priority to bills from poor suitors and have them read first; the crown’s lawyers were to give advice free of charge in these cases, provided it was acceptable to the Council. This is an unusually liberal concept; one wonders how far it was followed up in practice.
The judges were to be consulted on questions of the king’s prerogative pertaining to land ownership since the councillors were not well versed in the law. For all their authority, the Council was not above covering itself in legal matters that might involve them in disputes that could drag on for years, although Griffiths suggests that it was designed to ease the Council’s workload.
An eighth article was a new provision, added later, and not included on the Parliament Rolls. It was far wider in scope and encompassed all the lords of the land, not just members of the Council. In the interests of peace and tranquility ‘it is advised, assented, and assured by my Lord of Gloucester and by all my lords spiritual and temporal’ that any future disputes among them would be referred to Gloucester as Protector and to the Council for settlement; their decision would be binding on both parties. Gloucester did not sign the article, but he gave his word in Council that he would abide by it.
Considering its importance, it was signed by surprisingly few councillors. Archbishop Chichele and Bishops Beaufort, Morgan, and Wakering. Langley signed as Bishop of Durham, not as Chancellor. John Stafford as Treasurer, and William Alnwick as Keeper of the Privy Seal. The Earl of Norfolk was the only magnate present. Lord Cromwell, Sir Walter Hungerford, Sir John Tiptoft and John Lord Scrope, who had joined the Council in 28 February 1424 (5). Three other signatories were not council members: the young Humphrey Earl of Stafford, William Barrow the new Bishop of Carlisle, and John Langdon Bishop of Rochester.
(1) PROME X, p. 85, (the articles).
(2) PPC III, pp. 148-152 (the articles).
(3) Griffiths, Henry VI, p. 30.
(4) Harriss, Beaufort, p. 121.
(5) PPC III, p. 146 (Scrope councillor).
Sir John Mortimer
Sir John Mortimer, a prisoner in the Tower of London held on suspicion of treason, was brought before Parliament in February 1424 charged with attempting to escape. Mortimer’s antecedents are uncertain, he was identified as of Bishop’s Hatfield in Hertfordshire, and he claimed kinship with Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March.
Mortimer had been arrested in 1421 for declaring that Edmund Mortimer was the rightful heir to the throne. He escaped from the Tower in the company of Thomas Payne and others in 1422 but was recaptured by one Thomas Petit (1) and escorted back to the Tower by John Wintershull, sheriff of Sussex and Surrey, probably in November 1423 (2).
See Year 1422 Minority Council for Thomas Payne.
Mortimer was transferred to Pevensey Castle into the custody of Sir John Pelham who was allocated 27s 8d a week from 29 May 1422 to 30 June 1423 for his keep. Pelham received £20 in December 1422, £40 in November 1423, and £20 in February 1424 after Mortimer was returned to the Tower (3, 4).
William King, a servant of Robert Scott, the lieutenant of the Tower, testified under oath that Mortimer had offered him a substantial bribe to help him escape: £10 in cash, land to the same value annually, plus a habergeon (a sleeveless coat of mail armour) and a doublet. Six months after his escape he would knight William and given him lands equivalent to that of a baron.
The Great Chronicle and Julius B I date William’s testimony to 14 February, which adds to the difficulty of reconstructing the sequence of events as the record in the parliamentary roll gives 23 February. If, however, the chronicles’ date is accepted, the sequence becomes clearer.
William reported to Scott and Scott encouraged William to deceive Mortimer into believing that escape was possible. Mortimer tried it, and the trap was sprung. He was captured on Tower Wharf, where he was wounded (or beaten).
On 24 February, allowing time for Mortimer to recover from his wounds and for an indictment to be prepared, he was indicted before a London jury convened at the Guildhall in the presence of the Mayor, William Crowmer and three royal commissioners appointed by the Council (5). They found him guilty of treason and felonies. A record of their findings was drawn up by John Hals, the recently appointed justice of King’s Bench, and on 25 February Chancellor Langley presented it to Parliament on the Duke of Gloucester’s orders.
Robert Scott escorted Mortimer to Parliament on the following day to hear the testimony against him. William King’s evidence is recorded in the chronicles but is not on the parliamentary rolls. If it is true, then Mortimer was a fantasist with delusions of grandeur. William asserted that Mortimer claimed close kinship with Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March; he tried to get William to agree that Edmund was the rightful king of England.
William asked Mortimer where he planned to go after his escape and Mortimer said he would join Edmund in Wales and raise a rebellion to put Edmund on the throne. He would cut off the Duke of Gloucester’s head and that of Henry Beaufort, to get his hands on Beaufort’s wealth. Alternatively, he would appeal to the Dauphin Charles who would welcome him with open arms.
Mortimer called Edmund a ‘dawe’, a simpleton, but nevertheless the rightful king, and said that if Edmund would not go along with these grandiose plans, then he himself would claim the throne as the next heir (6, 7, 8). One wonder what Edmund, Earl of March, who had not yet left for Ireland and was presumably sitting among the lords in Parliament, made of this extraordinary story.
Parliament was the highest court in the land and for this very reason it could only condemn Mortimer under the laws of the land. Mortimer had been imprisoned on suspicion of treason, but the Statute of Treason of Edward III (1352) did not cover anyone imprisoned on suspicion of treason who subsequently escaped; it was a common occurrence (9).
The Commons petitioned that the statute should be amended for the term of the present parliament only, backdated to its assembly on 20 October 1423 making an attempt to escape by any man held on suspicion of treason synonymous with treason itself.
They then found the indictment of the Guildhall jury to be true and requested the Lords to confirm their judgment that Mortimer was a traitor (10). He was taken to Tyburn on 26 February, hanged, drawn, and quartered, with his head set on London Bridge.
“And in the seconde yere of Kynge Henry the vi ÷ Sir John Mortymere, knyght, brake pryson oute of the Toure of London, and was take ayen vpon the Toure-wharf; and there he was foule woundid and bete, and brought on the morow to Westeminster byforn the Kyngis Iusticis; and there for his treson Iuggid to byn brought ayen to the Toure of London, and there leide vpon an hurdull, and so drawe thoroughe the Cite to Tibourne, and there hongid, and his hed smeton of, and sette on London Brigge; and thus endid he his lif: on whos soule God haue merci!” Brut Continuation D, p. 431.
The proceedings against Mortimer were politically motivated and carried out with a speed which suggests a put-up job. Why should a relatively obscure knight rate so much attention at such a high level? The answer lies in the emotive name of Mortimer (11). The Council, especially the Duke of Gloucester, and in all probability Edmund Mortimer himself, were wary of attracting attention to the Mortimer claim to the throne. The possibility may have appalled Edmund, it certainly appalled the naturally suspicious Gloucester. Sir John Mortimer was an expensive nuisance rather than a serious threat, but it was not safe to release him. A ‘judicial’ execution, authorized by Parliament on the testimony of an informer, offered a simple solution.
Mortimer’s story is recorded by most of the chronicles in a muddled way. Gregory’s Chronicle (p. 157) calls him ‘Syr Thomas’, and Brut Continuation H, (p. 564), calls him ‘Sir Roger.’ His place of burial is uncertain. Gregory’s Chronicle says he was buried at the Priory of St John of Jerusalem at Clerkenwell, the headquarters of the Knights Hospitallers of Rhodes. Brut E, Appendix (p. 452) also says Clerkenwell and calls him a Knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.
The correct site, recorded in Brut H and corroborated by John Stow, appears to be the Grey Friars near Newgate. Brut E Appendix mentions that a Friar ‘Winchelsey’ petitioned for a licence to take the body for burial. Doctor Thomas Winchelsey contributed handsomely to the library at the Grey Friars, founded by Richard Whittington (12, 13).
Brut Appendix D (p. 441) does not mention Mortimer’s death but recounts that one ‘Shedeswik’ was hanged for treason.
“Thys yere was one hongyd, heddyd and qwarterde at Tyborne Segewyke.”
Thomas Seggeswyk, had been imprisoned in the Tower on suspicion of treason and had escaped at the same time as Mortimer in April 1422. He was not recaptured when Mortimer was apprehended (14).
(1) CPR 1422-29, p. 389 (Petit was not rewarded until 1427).
(2) Issues of Exchequer, p. 389 (£9 to Wintershull, dated to 1424).
(3) Issues of Exchequer, p. 377 (£20 for Mortimer).
(4) L&P I, pp. 397–98 (payment for Mortimer).
(5) Sharpe, London, Letter Book K p. 25 (lists jurors at Guildhall inquisition).
(6) Great Chronicle, pp. 130–131 (William King’s testimony).
(7) Chronicles of London, (Julius B I ) pp. 281-283. (William King’s testimony).
NB: The Great Chronicle and Julius B I accounts that are almost identical. Kingsford’s notes in Julius B I (pp. 341-342) were paraphrased by Ramsay, Lancaster and York I, pp. 341-42. The identical page numbers are co-incidental!
(8) PROME X, Appendix pp. 202–03 (J.B. I in modern English).
(9) Bellamy, Law of Treason, pp. 172-173.
(10) PROME X, pp. 86–87 (judgement).
(11) Edward Powell: ‘The Strange death of Sir John Mortimer: Politics and the law of treason in Lancastrian England’ in Rulers and Ruled, ed. Archer.
(12) Stow, Survey I, p. 322 (burial).
(13) Stow, Survey I, p. 318. (The library was furnished with books to the value of £556 10s. Winchelsey’s contribution was £156 10s).
(14) CPR 1422-29, p. 186 (list of escapees).
Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March
A co-incidence of dates has led to conjecture that Edmund Mortimer’s appointment as the King’s Lieutenant in Ireland was linked to John Mortimer’s condemnation. Shipping for Edmund was commandeered on 14 February 1424 (1); Sir John Mortimer was executed on 26 February. But Edmund had been appointed nearly a year earlier and as he did not leave England until the autumn of 1424 a link between the two events is unlikely.
See Year 1423 for Mortimer’s appointment as Lieutenant of Ireland.
Edmund Mortimer claimed Parliament’s attention in 1424 for quite another reason. The Commons presented a petition on his behalf stating that the Mortimer estates and the title Earl of March had been restored to him by Henry V in 1415, and that he had applied to the king for permission to marry the lady of his choice (2).
Edmund’s chosen bride was Anne Stafford, the granddaughter of Eleanor de Bohn and Thomas of Woodstock, youngest son of King Edward III. It was not the wisest choice, Henry V was bound to be suspicious of Edmund’s wish to marry into the royal line, but presumably Edmund thought the risk was worth it.
Henry V granted permission, but only on payment of the enormous sum of 10,000 marks (equal to the annual income of the queen). Edmund was to pay the money to Henry’s creditors over several years to settle some of the king’s debts. Edmund grumbled, but he paid up (3).
Edmund stated in his petition to Parliament that he had paid all but £642 13 6d of the 10,000 marks. He claimed he was owed far more than this for his services in France and he requested to be excused payment of the final sum and that the Treasurer should be instructed not to claim it. He also requested confirmation of the permission to marry as no letters patent had been issued. (Henry V was apt to make verbal arrangements with his magnates without putting them on a strictly legal basis).
The Lords replied that the Exchequer would verify the payments Edmund claimed to have made, but he was not to be excused the £642 13s 6d. It was a petty decision. The Duke of Gloucester may not have been the only councillor to dislike, or distrust, the Earl of March.
See Year 1423: The King’s Lieutenant in Ireland
(1) Foedera X, p. 319 (shipping, February).
(2) PROME X pp. 107–108 (Edmund’s petition).
(3) Wylie & Waugh II, p. 526 n 1.
John Holand, Earl of Huntingdon
John Holand, Earl of Huntingdon, was captured at the Battle of Baugé in 1421 by a Scottish knight, Sir John Sibbald. Louis, Count of Vendôme, had been captured at the battle of Agincourt in 1415 by Sir John Cornwall. Vendôme received permission in late 1423 to return to France to raise his ransom. In February 1424 five of his servants were permitted to leave England and join him. (1).
See Year 1423 for Vendôme and Cornwall.
Vendôme bought Huntingdon from Sibbald. On the face of it, Huntingdon was not a good investment. He had few tangible assets and had not been able to make Sibbald an acceptable offer. After over two years with no payment Sibbald was content to accept what he could get.
Huntingdon was valuable not for what he owned but for who he was. His mother was Elizabeth of Lancaster, King Henry IV’s sister. His father, John Holand, Duke of Exeter lost his life and his title when he rebelled against Henry IV in 1400. Henry V restored the family title of Earl of Huntington to young John in 1416 for his bravery at Agincourt and his other military services, but the title Duke of Exeter went to Henry V’s half-brother Thomas Beaufort. John’s mother married Sir John Cornwall as her second husband and Vendôme hoped to obtain his freedom in exchange for Cornwall’s stepson (2).
With the prospect of his release in sight, Huntingdon appealed in absentia to Parliament. The Commons requested the Lords to arrange for his exchange with any French prisoner held in England or failing that, to give him whatever financial help they could. Huntingdon probably had Vendôme in mind for the exchange: they were of equal rank. Vendôme was a Bourbon, close kin to the Valois kings of France.
Huntingdon’s petition to Parliament itemised the crown’s debt to him: £8,157 14s 9d in unpaid wages for his war service under Henry V, plus the 2,000 marks left to him by the late king in his will, plus the £1,000 reward Henry V had promised him for his command of the fleet in the sea battle off Harfleur in 1417 in which Huntingdon defeated and captured Genoese carracks and so cleared the way for Henry’s second invasion of France..
The Lords allocated the ransoms of Jean de Estouteville and Raoul de Gaucourt, to Sir John Cornwall ‘to help with the delivery of the Earl of Huntingdon.’ In return the Lords, ever mindful of crown debt, stipulated that 3,500 marks would be deducted from Henry V’s debt to Huntingdon. Estouteville and Gaucourt must remain in England until the summer of 1425, but the crown would no longer be responsible for their keep once they were turned over to Cornwall (3). Gaucourt was allowed to return to France in July 1424 to raise their ransoms; he was to be back in England by Easter 1425 (4).
See Year 1422 for Estouteville and Gaucourt
Safe conducts were issued to Vendôme himself, John de Contes, of Mingnet, and William Bellier, to come into English territory ‘to treat for the liberation of the Earl of Huntingdon, and lords Estouteville and Gaucourt.’ Sir Charles de Manny and John de Trou would escort the Earl of Huntingdon, presumably across the border from Anjou where Huntingdon was being held (5). In August Vendôme’s servant Denis Rogier received a safe conduct, valid until December, to come into England ‘on the business of John, Earl of Huntingdon.’ (5).
In August Vendôme’s servant Denis Rogier received a safe conduct, valid until December, to come into England ‘on the business of John, Earl of Huntingdon.’ (6).
Despite these flurries of activity Huntingdon was still in France at the end of 1424.
(1) Foedera X, p. 321 (Vendome’s servants).
(2) M. Stansfield, ‘John Holland, Duke of Exeter and Earl of Huntingdon and the costs of the Hundred Years War,’ in M. Hicks, ed. Profit, Piety, and the Professions in later Medieval England, (1990).
(3) PROME X, pp. 172-173 (ransoms allocated to Cornwall).
(4) Foedera X, p. 339-40 (safe conduct Gaucourt).
(5) Foedera X, p. 339 (safe conducts Vendôme and others).
(6) Foedera X, p. 341 (Rogier).
Henry Beaufort, Chancellor of England
In July 1424 the Great Seal of England changed hands. The transfer of the Seal and the appointment of a chancellor, the highest office in the land, had to be made in the presence of the king.
On 16 July the Duke of Gloucester, Philip Morgan, Bishop of Worcester, Nicholas Bubwith, Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Earls of Warwick and Stafford, Lord Cromwell, Sir Louis Robessart, Sir Walter Hungerford, Sir John Tiptoft, John Stafford, the Treasurer and William Alnwick Keeper of the Privy Seal travelled to Queen Katherine’s castle at Hertford to witness the transfer
Thomas Langley, Bishop of Durham was sixty- one and he was tired; he had been Chancellor of England for eighteen years (1). He admitted that he had neglected his bishopric while serving the crown and he wanted to return to his pastoral duties. He resigned as chancellor and surrendered the white leather bag containing the Great Seal in the presence of King Henry. With the assent of the Council it was handed to Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester who took the Chancellor’s oath (2).
Beaufort was forty-nine; he had more experience of government than any other councillor. He was the young king’s great uncle and godfather. Educated at Cambridge and at Oxford, Beaufort became Bishop of Lincoln in 1398 at the early age of twenty-three. He began his public career under his half-brother, Henry IV who created him Bishop of Winchester in 1404. He had been Chancellor under Henry IV and Henry V, but he fell out of favour with the latter and was dismissed.
The choice of Beaufort to replace Langley was a foregone conclusion, but one for which he had carefully positioned himself. The Chancellor was traditionally a churchman and Beaufort’s wealth alone was enough to secure him the position. The crown was heavily in debt to him (see 1423) but he made it known that he would continue his loans, both as an individual and as the principle feoffee of Duchy of Lancaster lands under Henry V’s will. The crown needed him, and so did the Minority Council. The bishopric of Winchester was the richest see in England and Henry Beaufort was a financial wizard.
Beaufort was the Duke of Gloucester’s only rival for dominance of the Council In the years to come the Protector and the Chancellor would be at loggerheads and their rivalry threatened more than once to destabilise the Minority Council. It is difficult to be sure if Beaufort was just power hungry (which he was) or whether his dislike and opposition to Gloucester sprang from resentment that Gloucester was legitimate and second in line to the throne. Beaufort and his brother Thomas, Duke of Exeter were of the same royal blood, and legitimated, but were barred from the succession.
(1) PPC VI, pp. 346-347 (surrender of seal).
(2) Foedera X, pp. 340-341 (Beaufort Chancellor).
On 10 July, the Council issued an ordinance to establish remuneration for their ‘labours and expenses,’ each according to his rank and length of service. Absentees were to be fined a proportion of their wages.
Precedents had been sought in the records of the reigns of King Richard II and King Henry IV (but not Henry V). The total arrived at would amount to a heavy drain on the already overburdened Exchequer.
Henry Chichele Archbishop of Canterbury, and Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, (because Beaufort was the king’s kinsman) would receive 300 marks each annually. The other bishops, including Thomas Langley and the earls, would receive 200 marks each. Treasurer Stafford, 200 marks. The barons £100, the knights (and esquires) £40. John, Lord Scrope, Thomas Chaucer, and William Allington, appointees to the Council in 1424, would not be paid until they had served for a longer period (1).
Drawn up in July, authority for payment was not issued under the privy seal until 3 December 1424. On 15 January 1425, the Exchequer was ordered to pay Walter Hungerford £100 of the £200 due to him. Similar payments were to be made to other councillors (2).
(1) PPC III, pp. 154-158 (wages).
(2) Issues of Exchequer pp. 389-390 (Hungerford and others).
The Council and the Papacy
Henry Bowet, Archbishop of York, had died in October 1423. The Council nominated Philip Morgan, Bishop of Worcester, a member of the Minority Council and an experienced diplomat to succeed Bowet and they informed Pope Martin of their choice at the end of January 1424 (1). Martin rejected Morgan and provided his own nominee, Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln who had ingratiated himself with the Pope by supporting Martin’s position at the council at Pavia/Siena in 1423 (2).
Fleming accepted the archbishopric without seeking Council approval, which was a mistake, the Council stood firm. They threatened Fleming with condemnation and the loss of his bishopric under the Statute of Provisors, which forbade English ecclesiastics to accept appointment by the pope without royal consent and they forced Fleming to renounce the papal bull of provision. This resulted in an acrimonious dispute and a standoff that would take over a year to resolve (3, 4).
The Council had intended to appoint the Treasurer, John Stafford, as Bishop of Worcester after Philip Morgan became Archbishop of York, but Pope Martin made this impossible. Instead, following the death of Nicholas Bubwith in October, Stafford was provided to the bishopric of Bath and Wells with no objections from the pope.
The Council also did a deal with Fleming. By October 1424 the question of the legitimacy of the Duke of Gloucester’s marriage to Jacqueline of Hainault had become acute.
See The, Duke of Gloucester and Jacqueline of Hainault below.
Fleming was to urge the Pope to expedite the annulment of Jacqueline’s marriage to John of Brabant and to accept the Bishop of Worcester’s right to become Archbishop of York. In return the Council would ‘receive him into their favour as before.’ No action would be taken against him and they would obtain a pardon for him in the next parliament, so that he could be re-appointed as Bishop of Lincoln (5). It remained to be seen how Pope Martin would react.
(1) Foedera X, pp. 316-317 (Philip Morgan Council’s choice).
(2) Papal Letters VII, p. 345 (Papal provision of Fleming).
(3) Griffiths, Henry VI p. 70 (Fleming and the Council).
(4) Harvey, Papacy, p. 140 (Fleming, the Pope and the Council).
(5) PPC III, pp. 210-211 (terms offered to Fleming).
The Council decreed that that no fee should be charged for Anne, Duchess of Bedford’s letter of denization granted under the Great Seal. It would not be appropriate to charge the wife of the heir to the throne to become an English citizen! Henry Kays, clerk of the Hanaper (a department in Chancery) was instructed to waive the fee (1).
On 27 February, Anne, Dowager Countess of Stafford, who had been summoned to appear before the council ‘for certain causes’ (unspecified) was excused attendance (2). The certain causes may have been her dispute with Henry V over the Bohun estates in the Lordship of Brecon (see 1423), or her dispute with the Duchess of Clarence over the lordship of Holderness (see 1426).
The Council granted an annuity of £40 to William Prestwick, the clerk of Parliament, to be paid from the Hanaper until such time as a suitable benefice became available (3). A William Prestwick, who may or may not be the same man, had been made Dean of the Free Chapel of Hastings in 1423.
Thomas Hoccleve, writer and poet, was a clerk in the Privy Seal Office for most of his life. His most famous work, De Regimine Principum, was written as advice for Henry V when he was Prince of Wales. Hoccleve was fifty-six in July and he petitioned the Council for a corrody in the Priory of Southwick in which to end his days comfortably (4). He died at Southwick in May 1426.
Robert Fitzhugh was the younger son of Henry, Lord Fitzhugh, a member of the Minority Council. Richard Holme, Warden of King’s Hall, Cambridge University, died in March 1424 and Robert petitioned for the position. Its fee was eight marks a year for his robes, to be paid out of the issues of Cambridgeshire. Robert became Warden on 6 July 1424 (5).
Demetrius de Cerno, the transcription of a petition in French with numerous lacunae: “Petition to the king from Demetrius de Cerno a physician, a native of Greece, who had for a long-time practiced medicine in this country, and had married an English woman, praying that he might in all things be deemed the king’s liege subject: which was granted, with a proviso that he should pay as an alien for all merchandises imported or exported by him.” Proceedings Abstract
Demetrius’s original appeal in April had been lost and was only dealt with by the Council in November. It appears from the badly broken text that Demetrius was requesting citizenship primarily so that he would not have to pay import duties on the medications he brought into the country to treat his patients (6). If this was his intention he was disappointed.
The Earl of Northumberland
At the end of November Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland indented to take custody of the town and castle of Berwick for the next three years. During that time the assignments agreed with him for payment of the garrison were not to be reduced. He was to receive customs duties of £54 from Newcastle on Tyne, £1,550 from Hull, and £3,073 6s 8d from Boston for the term of his indenture plus 2,000 marks from the ransom of King James of Scotland. He would not be required to repay his debt to the king for five years after that, and a bond for £1,000 he had given was to be returned to him (7).
In 1416 King Henry V had agreed to exchange Murdoch of Fife, the Duke of Albany’s son, a prisoner in England since the battle of Homildon Hill in 1402, for Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland whom Albany had detained in Scotland. Albany was Regent of Scotland and Henry had set Murdoch’s ransom at £10,000. Northumberland, who had just achieved his majority, undertook to pay Henry V the £10,000 from his estates over the next five years (8). Northumberland referred to this debt in 1423 in his petition to be allowed to enfeoff lands valued at £300 a year before he went abroad, to make provision for what he still owed the king.
(1) L&P I, p. 399 (Anne of Burgundy).
(2) PPC III, p. 142. (Prestwick).
(3) PPC III, p. 145. (Countess of Stafford).
(4) PPC III, p. 152 (Hoccleve).
(5) PPC III, p. 158 (Fitzhugh).
(6) PPC III, pp. 160–161 (Demetrius).
(7) PPC III, pp. 162–163 (Northumberland’s indenture).
(8) Wylie & Waugh II, pp. 316-317 (Northumberland’s ransom).
William Cheyne was appointed Chief Justice of King’s Bench, and John Hals a justice of King’s Bench in January 1424 (1). Cheyne was awarded an additional 180 marks to maintain his status, plus two robes yearly from the Great Wardrobe, one at Christmas lined with fur and one with ‘a lining’ at Whitsuntide. Hals was awarded 110 marks and two robes (2).
In October, the Council referred a dispute between Thomas Prestbury, Abbot of Shrewsbury and the citizens of Shrewsbury to the court of Common Pleas (3). The citizens had refused to continue paying multure (a toll in kind, paid to a miller for grinding corn). This is one example among many of a growing resistance to the financial demands of the church for tithes and other traditional dues exacted by the clergy.
(1) PPC III, p. 132 (appointments).
(2) CPR 1422-1429, p. 177 (robes).
(3) PPC III, p. 159 (Shrewsbury).
In February, John Burgh was named as escheator in Surrey and Sussex during pleasure (1).
In May Thomas Banks was appointed a Baron of the Exchequer, replacing William Hesill (2).
In June the Council reaffirmed John Stafford’s right as Treasurer to make appointments and issue grants within the gift of his office (see 1423). Stafford’s authority as Treasurer to let to farm crown lands within his jurisdiction was reiterated and he was given the right, in certain instances, to grant warships and marriage licences (3).
(1) PPC III, p. 144 (Burgh).
(2) PPC III, p. 147 (Banks).
(3) PPC III, p. 147 (Stafford).
Wardships and marriages
Alice, the widowed Countess of Oxford had married Nicholas Thornley, a gentleman of Essex, without royal licence (1). Instead of the usual fine, Henry V had taken her dower lands into his hands (much more profitable). In December 1424, the couple paid £100 to the Hanaper for a pardon and restitution of her dower. The money was delivered to the Duke of Exeter who had been assigned this sum in 1423 for the custody of the heir of the Earl of Oxford (see 1423). Two years later, in 1426, not long before Exeter died, the Treasurer and Barons of the Exchequer were still ‘vexing the petitioners to pay the fine for a second time.’ (2). The couple petitioned for redress while Parliament was in session and received a pardon.
Margaret Neville and William Cressenere esquire were granted a pardon for marrying without licence on payment of £100 (3). Margaret was the daughter of Ralph, Earl of Westmorland by his first marriage and widow of Sir Richard Scrope of Bolton, who died in 1420. The fine and pardon is dated 8 December 1424 (anno iii) in the Proceedings, but 5 November 1427 (anno vi) in the Calendar of the Patent Rolls. Were they fined twice, like the Countess of Oxford, or did they not pay up until 1427? (4).
(1) PPC III, p. 144 (Countess of Oxford).
(2) CPR 1422-1429, p. 422 (1426).
(3) PPC III, p. 64 (Margaret Neville).
(4) CPR 1422-1429, pp. 444 and 457 (1427).
King Henry’s Household
In July, the Council set a budget of 10,000 marks (£6,666, 13s 4d) for the expenses of King Henry’s household and specified where the money was to come from:
from the chamberlains of North and South Wales, 1,000 marks
from wardships marriages and other causalities, 1,000 marks
from the Mint within the tower of London and York, 500 marks
from the tax on aliens of tunnage and poundage, 2,000 marks
from the subsidies on wool, 5,000 marks
The Exchequer was not to pay anything else from these sources until the Treasurer had received £10,000, not 10,000 marks, a considerable discrepancy (1, 2).
Joan Astley, who had probably been King Henry’s nurse from the time he was born, had been granted £20 annually for good service. She was paid £10 in November 1423. She petitioned for a raise, and in January 1424 the Council increased her annuity from £20 to £40 during pleasure, half to paid at Easter and half at Michaelmas (this was standard accounting procedure). In 1438, after he assumed his personal rule, King Henry converted the annuity to a grant for life, not just ‘during pleasure.’ (3, 4, 5). Henry appears to have been genuinely fond of Joan, but perhaps less so of Alice.
Dame Alice Botiller was transferred from Queen Katherine’s household in 1423 to become King Henry’s first nanny or preceptress and she remained in Henry’s household throughout the minority. She was to teach him ‘courtesy and nurture’ (good behaviour). The Council issued an indemnity order for her in February 1424, when Henry was still only two (it could be dangerous to discipline a king). Alice had permission to ‘chastise him reasonably’ if necessary without fear of reprisal (6, 7).
(1) PPC VI, Addenda, pp. 311-312 (allocation for household expenses).
(2) CPR 1422-1429, p. 227 (reason for allocation of household expenses).
(3) PPC III, p. 131 (Astley).
(4) Issues of Exchequer p. 384 (Joan Astley, 1423). The names of the women chamber servants in Henry VI’s household are also noted there: Margaret Brotherman, Agnes Jakeman, plus a laundress, and Matilda Fosbroke ‘the king’s daily nurse.’ They received £5 each annually.
(5) CPR 1422-1429, pp. 84 and 179 (Astley)..
(6) PPC III, p. 143. (Alice Botiller).
(7) Griffiths, Henry VI, pp. 52, 56, 57.
King Henry V’s debts
The Council received fewer claims against Henry V’s debts in 1424 than in the previous year, but repayment of the 2,000 marks loaned to him by the Common Council of London, ordered to be paid in October 1423, was authorized again in February 1424 (1).
In June the Council authorized the payment of £2,581 6s 4d to redeem a valuable gold collar pledged by Henry V to certain London merchants. This is not recorded in the Proceedings, it appears in Issues of the Exchequer. The merchants had been obliged to return the collar to Treasurer Stafford to be used to raise a loan for the 1424 expedition to France (2).
Joan, Countess of Westmorland had loaned two book to Henry V and the Council issued warrants for their return. Joan Beaufort, like her brothers, was well educated and a book collector. Books were as valuable as jewels and were often given as expensive gifts. The volumes were Chronicles of Jerusalem and The Voyage of Godfrey Bouillon.
Henry V had also borrowed the works of St Gregory, “toutz les libres faitz par Seynt Gregour le Pape en un volume” which Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury had bequeathed to the convent of Christchurch, Canterbury (3).
Chancellor Langley had requested permission to retain ‘the large tabernacle of gold’ which he held as security of a loan to Henry V (see 1423). Part payment had been received by the end of February 1424 and the Council ordered Langley to deliver it to Treasurer Stafford who would pay the balance ‘as soon as convenient.’ (4).
Sir Thomas Strickland had carried the banner of St George at the battle of Agincourt and. Henry V had pledged (silver) plate worth £14 4s 10½d to for his services in France. In February he was granted £14 4s 10½d ‘pledged to him by the king and broken’ (5).
Alicia, Countess of Kent, the widow of Thomas, Earl of Kent had received four casks of wine annually from Henry V. Their son, Edmund Holand Earl of Kent, married Lucia Visconti in January 1407 and died in 1408. Alicia died in 1416 and Henry V transferred the grant to Lucia in March 1422. It was confirmed by letters patent in July 1423 and again on 10 January 1424. She died in April 1424 (6). Her heir is given in the Foedera as her brother, but she left extensive bequests to others in her will.
“Inquisitions held at Plumptree on 22 May 1424, by Hugh Willoughby, escheator for Nottingham, and at Icklingham, co, Suffolk and Barking concerning the estates of Lucia Countess of Kent, who died on 14 April 1424. She held no lands in chief but died seized of her dower lands.” Foedera X, pp. 315-16
In 1423 John Tyrell, member of Parliament for Essex, and Catherine Spencer, whom he had married, as executors of John Spencer, claimed a debt owed to Spencer by Henry V. Spencer had been Keeper of the Great Wardrobe. A year later, in January 1424, the Council instructed the administrators of King Henry’s will to give preference to the payment of the considerable sum of £2,700 to Tyrell and Catherine (7).
In December 1424 Tyrell claimed that 1,000 marks (£666) was still outstanding. The Council decreed that the 1,000 marks should be paid to Tyrell and Catherine by the Exchequer in half yearly instalments of 100 marks (so over five years) from the tallies issued to the Earl of Northumberland as arrears of his wage as Warden of the East March under King Henry V. Tyrell was given the right to appeal to the Council if the payments were not made (8).
1) PPC III, p. 142 (London Council).
(2) Issues of Exchequer, pp. 387-388
(3) Foedera X, pp. 317–18 (books).
(4) PPC III, p. 145 (Langley).
(5) Foedera X, pp. 318–19 (Strickland).
(6) Helen Bradley, ‘Lucia Visconti, Countess of Kent’ in Caroline M. Barron and Anne F. Sutton Medieval London Widows 1300-1500 (1994), pp. 77-84.
(7) PPC III, p. 131 (administrators to pay Tyrell and Spencer).
(8) CPR 1422-29, pp. 267–268 (payment by instalments to Tyrell and Spencer).
Prisoners of war were expensive to keep, especially the French magnates captured at Agincourt in 1415, who had to be housed in some comfort. The Council decreed that from Easter 1424, the Duke of Orleans and the Duke of Bourbon must pay their own way and that their custodians should be informed (1). This edict was never enforced. The Exchequer continued to make payments to their custodians for their maintenance, although their retainers were permitted to bring money and other goods to them from France.
In March, letters of safe conduct were issued for four months for John de Moncy (who had carried safe conducts to Orleans’s servants in France in 1423) and William Barronier to come to England bringing money and other goods to the Duke of Orleans. Peter Sauvage, Orleans’s councillor, also received a safe conduct (2).
Sir Thomas Comberworth requested payment of 26s 8d ‘besides his daily wage for the expense of bringing the Duke of Orleans to London’ in 1423 which had been assigned to him in the previous November but not paid (3).
Sir Thomas Burton petitioned in January for £178 10s 10d as arrears for the maintenance of Charles d’Artois Count of Eu, Arthur de Richemont, and Marshal Bouccicault who had been in his custody from 1417 to 1420. (4).
See Year 1423: French Prisoners.
(1) PPC III, p. 133 (Dukes to pay their own expenses).
(2) Foedera X, pp. 320-321 (Orleans servants).
(3) PPC III p. 134 (Comberworth).
(4) PPC III p. 132 (Burton).
Less valuable prisoners were ransomed to pay for their keep while in prison, or to pay off Henry V’s debts. Their ransoms were assigned to their gaolers, – if they could be collected.
An undated petition to the Duke of Gloucester from seven poor prisoners taken at the siege of Harfleur in 1415 prayed for a pardon and release as they were too poor to pay their ransoms (1).
Robert Scott, lieutenant of the Tower of London, had petitioned the Duke of Gloucester in 1423 to allow twenty-four prisoners ‘who had been assigned to him for surety of his payment,’ to go abroad for three months to raise their ransoms. The endorsement contains the names of the prisoners (2).
The Council ordered payment of £100 to Robert Scott in May 1423 for the custody of his prisoners (3), but it was insufficient to meet his costs. Scot petitioned again in February and in July 1424 to be allowed to release the prisoners (4).
(1) PPC III, Appendix, pp. 352–353 (French prisoners petition for release).
(2) PPC III, p. 11 (Scot’s petition, twenty-four prisoners 1423).
(3) PPC III, p. 99 (payment to Scott).
(4) PPC III, pp. 137 and 153 (Scot’s petitions 1424).
In May 1423 the Council had instructed Robert Scott, to ‘deliver’ fifty prisoners held in the Tower to Christopher Preston in full payment of the £850 owed him by King Henry V. Presumably Preston expected to recoup this from the prisoners’ ransoms (1).
In February 1424 Preston petitioned the Duke of Gloucester to instruct the Chancellor to issue letters of safe conduct for three months to nine prisoners still in his custody, who had stood surety for payment by the other prisoners, to allow them to go to France (with two valets each) to raise their ransoms and return to England (2, 3).
(1) PPC III, p. 78 (prisoners delivered to Preston).
(2) PPC III, P. 78 (Preston’s petition misdated to 1423)
(3) PPC III, p. 135-137 (authority by the Council to issue safe conducts).
Imprisonment and ransom were facts of life for many of the men and their families caught up in Henry V’s wars in France. Ransom negotiations were complex, confusing and usually protected but often profitable since they could be readily bought and sold. Some men made their fortunes in this way and retired to a comfortable old age, most did not. Some families were ruined and took years to recover, some ransoms were never paid.
Walter, Lord Fitzwalter was captured at the Battle of Baugé in 1421. He was granted livery of his lands on proof of age in July 1423 but his homage and fealty were respited to Midsummer 1424 as he was still a prisoner (1). The Council’s order to the chancery to issue a writ of covenant (usually a claim for damages or restitution) to Fitzwalter in November 1424 without payment of a fee, to help out with his ransom.
Fitzwalter enfeoffed his inherited lands through his attorneys but granted his manor of Reyburn in Essex to Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester for life, presumably to raise his ransom (2). He issued quitclaims to his feoffees when returned to England 1425 (3).
Sir Brian Stapleton had fought in France under Henry V and been a prisoner for five years. To raise his ransom of 3,000 marks he had enfeoffed some of his lands and raised sureties which had to be repaid, to the great impoverishment of his estates.
In November 1424 the Chancellor was instructed to issue letters patent permitting him to settle three manors in Wiltshire, held in chief, on his son and heir Miles and Elizabeth, Miles’s wife, and to allow Miles to enfeoff them without payment of the customary fee, which Brian could ill afford. His petition was granted, provided he did fealty for other lands he still held in chief (4).
Imprisonment and ransom was a way of life for many of the men and their families caught up in Henry V’s wars in France. Ransom negotiations were complex, confusing and usually protected, they were often profitable since they could be readily bought and sold. Some men made their fortunes in this way and retired to a comfortable old age, most did not. Some families were ruined and took years to recover, some ransoms were never paid.
(1) Close Rolls 1422-1429, p. 36, 258, 260-61, 266, 268 (Fitzwalter livery of lands).
(2) CPR 1429-1436, p. 447 (grant to Beaufort).
(3) PPC III, p.163 (Fitzwalter).
(4) PPC III, pp. 161-162 (Stapleton).
The treaty for King James’s marriage and release, signed in December 1423, was ratified in Parliament on 28 January (1).
James married Joan Beaufort in February (the exact date is uncertain). King Henry’s gift to the groom was a piece of silk cloth of gold worth £24. The queen’s uncle, Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, performed the ceremony at St Mary Overy in Southwick and paid for the wedding reception at the bishop’s palace (2, 3). On 13 February, the Council confirmed that (as agreed) 10,000 marks of James’s ransom would be remitted as dower for Joan Beaufort, Queen of Scotland (4).
The poem The Kingis Quair, attributed to King James, describes his love for and courtship of an unnamed lady. ’s biographer suggests that James met Joan Beaufort at Windsor in 1423 and that it was a love-match, but James in fact had no choice, the marriage was the price of his freedom. It was politically motivated, promoted and arranged by Joan’s uncles Henry and Thomas Beaufort, to enhance their status (see 1423) (5).
See Year 1423 Scotland for the treaty to release King James.
“Also in the Monethe of Feverere sir James Styward kyng of Scotland wedded dame Johane the Duchesses doughter of Clarence of hire first husbonde the Erle of Somersette atte seint Marie Overe. And grete solempntye and feste was holden in the Bysshops Inne of Wynchestre,” Great Chronicle p. 130.
After the ceremony King James and his bride travelled to Brancepeth Castle, five miles from Durham, a seat of the Earl of Westmorland, where his ‘host’ was Westmorland’s son, Sir Richard Neville. Neville was reimbursed in June 1425 for the cost of keeping 160 servants for over seven weeks, the money coming from the estates of the late Lucia, Countess of Kent, and the deceased Elizabeth Neville, one of the Earl of Kent’s daughters (see 1423) (6),
(1) PROME X, pp. 105–107 (ratification).
(2) PPC III, p. 133 ; Foedera X, p 321 (king’s gift).
(3) Foedera X, pp. 321, 322-323 (marriage and dowry).
(4) Foedera X, pp. 322-323 (ransom remitted as dowry).
(5) Balfour-Melville, James I, pp. 83, 90, 94, and 99–100.
(6) Issues of Exchequer, p. 393 (Richard Neville at Brancepeth).
William Lauder, Chancellor of Scotland, had been invited to come to York with a delegation to resume negotiations for a truce, but as Durham was more convenient for King James and for the Scots the negotiations took place there (7).
On 9 February John Kemp, Bishop of London, was granted £80 to take part in the negotiations (8). The next day Kemp, Thomas Langley, Bishop of Durham, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, Ralph Neville, the Earl of Westmorland, his son Richard Neville as Warden of the West March, William Alnwick, Keeper of the Privy Seal, and the northern lords Thomas, Lord Dacre, John, Lord Greystoke, and Sir Robert Umfraville received a commission to be at Durham by 1 March.
Their instructions were to ensure that every clause in the treaty for James’s release was implemented to the letter. They were to explore the possibility of a permanent peace but since the difficulty of reaching agreement while Henry VI was still too young to give his assent (a gloss on the near impossibility of any peace terms being adhered to by either side) a truce would be acceptable (9).
The terms of reference and previous agreements were confirmed by both sides on 15 March (10). James, as King of Scotland, confirmed under his privy seal the oath he had sworn at St Pauls to pay his ransom. The first instalment of 1,000 marks was due within six months from the day of his return to Scotland and 10,000 marks would be paid annually for the next four years. (11).
The provosts and commonalty of Dundee, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Perth had signed a guarantee signed on 20 February that the 50,000 marks would be met, and this was confirmed under the truce (12).
Within four days of reaching Scotland James was to take the oath to abide by the terms of the treaty for a second time, and to ratify the truce. Three English commissioners, Sir William Bowes, William Doncaster, and William Park were to witness the oath (13). The Minority Council appears to have believed that James’s ransom was sufficient compensation for the loss of the King of Scotland as a bargaining chip in any future negotiations. And so it might have been had James honoured his oath, but he did not.
A truce for seven years by land and sea was drawn up at Durham, with each side pledging not to give aid or comfort to the enemies of the other, (i.e. no Scots were to fight in France). Penalty clauses and conservators were specified. The truce was signed by King James and his nobles, and by the Council in King Henry’s name on 28 March (13, 14, 15). The terms were much the same as those in the treaty for James’s release.
The Earl of Northumberland, Sir Robert Ogle, and Sir William Heron escorted James and his queen across the border to Melrose. On 5 April James sent William Scot to deliver his ratification of the truce to Bishop Langley or his representative, and to receive ‘Henry VI’s’ ratification (17).
(7) Foedera X, pp, 321-322 (Lauder invited to York).
(8) PPC III, p. 137 (Kemp paid £80 for an estimated six-week journey).
(9) PPC III, pp. 139-142 (English delegation and their instructions).
(10) Foedera X, pp. 325-326 and 328-329 (recapitulation of terms of the treaty).
(11) Foedera X, pp. 326-327 (James’s oath to pay ransom)
(12) Foedera X, pp. 324-325, confirmed pp. 327-328 (Dundee, Aberdeen, Perth, Edinburgh).
(13) Foedera X, pp. 332-333 (James conducted to Scotland, commissioners to witness his oath).
(14) Foedera X, pp. 328-332 (terms of truce, truce signed).
(15) CClR 1422-1429, p. 143 (summary of proceedings).
(16) Balfour-Melville, James I, pp. 102-105.
(17) Foedera X, pp. 343 (misdated to 1425).
King James’s main preoccupation was to persuade the men who must be sent to England as hostages to agree to stand surety for him. Their numbers were increased from the original twenty-one to twenty-seven. Their names and ‘value’ were set out in a schedule of their wealth and status (1, 2). They had to swear a collective oath that they would abide by the conditions of their ‘captivity:’ to live at their own cost and be attended by more English than Scots servants (3).
Walter, Earl of Athol, Andrew Gray of Foulis, John Lyon of Glamis, and William of Hay, Constable of Scotland, gave a written guarantee that they would surrender their heirs (David, Andrew, Patrick and Gilbert) as hostages. It was a bitter pill to swallow.
Robert Hilton, sheriff of York took the hostages into custody. Richard Hastings, Constable of Knaresborough kept Sir Robert Erskine and James Dunbar at Knaresborough. Robert Waterton, Constable of Pontefract, escorted one group to the Tower of London where Robert Scott, lieutenant of the Tower, was ordered to receive them (4). Thomas Burton, Constable of Fotheringhay, took another group to Godfrey Lowther, the Constable of Dover.
It was not until July, three months after they had been escorted south, that the hostages fully understood what they had let themselves in for. They petitioned for letters of safe conduct for their own servants to join them in England (5).
Three servants of ‘the King and Queen of Scotland’ received safe conducts to travel via England to Flanders in October. The Council may have believed that they were going to raise James’s ransom money (6).
King James was twenty-nine when he regained his freedom and his throne. He was not destined to be a popular king. He ignored the natural resentment of the families of the men he sent into exile as hostages even though his first act as king was to impose heavy taxation to pay his ransom, which would have rescued them; instead, he used the money for his private expenses.
The original reason for seeking a truce with Scotland was to prevent Scots from serving in the armies of France. This too proved illusory: while negotiations were in progress at Durham a large Scottish army, led by Archibald, Earl of Douglas landed in France. These men were not included in the terms of the truce which forbade James’s subjects to fight against the English. One wonders if James and the Scots delayed the final signing of truce to give Douglas and his army time to get clear.
In the end it was the Duke of Bedford’s victory at the Battle of Verneuil (see Verneuil below) in August which decimated the Scottish ranks and put paid to Scotland’s further participation in the war, not the empty promise made by King James.
(1) Foedera X, pp. 327-328 (value of the hostages).
(2) Balfour-Melville, James I, Appendix p. 293 (list of hostages differs slightly from the Foedera).
(3) Foedera X, pp. 333- 335 (Scots’ oaths).
(4) Foedera X, pp. 336-337 (distribution of the hostages).
(5) Foedera X, pp 337-338 and 340. “We Ostage, being withynne the Tur of London, asken Conducts for oure Servaunts, whoys names ben underwreten.”
(6) Foedera X, p. 341 (servants of the king and queen).
Henry V had been negotiating for an alliance with King Alfonso V of Aragon and Alfonso’s representative had come to England in 1423. The Duke of Bedford sent envoys to Alfonso and to the neighbouring King Carlos of Navarre announcing himself as Regent of France for King Henry VI. He advised them that it was in their best interests to acknowledge the Treaty of Troyes, to form alliances with England, and by implication with him, against the Dauphin Charles (1).
On 1 March 1424 William Salbury, Abbot of Beaulieu, Sir Walter de la Pole, whom Henry V had employed extensively as an ambassador, and the lawyer Doctor John Blodwell received full powers from the Council to continue negotiating with Alfonso (2). Nothing came of it, and it is not certain if the envoys met with Alfonso or his representatives.
(1) Fergusson, Diplomacy, p. 43 and Appendix II pp. 221-223 and 229-240 (Bedford’s instructions).
(2) Foedera X, pp. 319-20.
The War in France
The Duke of Bedford was systematically clearing out pockets of Armagnac resistance in fortress towns on the eastern borders of Normandy before extending Lancastrian conquest south into the County of Maine and the Duchy of Anjou.
Bedford was at Abbeville in February 1424 to receive the surrender of the castle and town of Le Crotoy in accordance with Jacques de Harcourt’s the agreement of October 1423 that he would surrender if the Dauphin did not send a relieving force (see 1423) (1).
Henry Beaufort and Thomas Langley as feoffees of the Duchy of Lancaster agreed to loan £1,000 to ‘rescue the town and castle of Crotoy.’ (2)
Shipping was arranged for Lord Talbot, Lord Clinton, and Lord Poynings to cross to Picardy but there no evidence that they went (3).
Talbot ‘refused to proceed to the rescue of the town of Crotoy’ unless he was paid for his captaincy of Montgomery Castle in Wales. He had been captain of Montgomery under Henry IV in 1407. On 14 February, the Council ordered that the £224 3s 4d due to him as arrears of wages should be paid, but he received only £144 3 4d. The balance of £100 was paid to him in February 1425 (4). Talbot did not go to France in 1424 or take part in the Battle of Verneuil as is sometimes claimed. He accompanied Edmund Mortimer to Ireland in September (5, 6).
Ralph Botiller who had conducted the siege and arranged the surrender (7). Le Crotoy remained in English hands until 1449.
(1) Wavrin III, p. 61 (surrender of Le Crotoy).
(2) PPC III, p. 135 (feoffee loan).
(3) Issues of Exchequer p. 391 (shipping, February, misdated to 1425).
(4) PPC III, p. 138 and 391 (payment to Talbot).
(5) CPR 1422-29, p. 263 (Talbot to Ireland).
(6) Otway-Ruthven, Medieval Ireland, p. 364 (Talbot to Ireland).
(7) Marshall, ‘War captains,’ p. 243 n. 1. (Botiller).
In 1424 Parliament authorized raising a loan of up to £5,000 for the war in France, to be repaid between February and September. Henry Beaufort loaned 14,000 marks at the end of February ‘for the king’s use,’ and the Council ordered crown jewels valued at £6,000 to be delivered to him as security, with letters patent authorizing him to collect customs revenues of 8,000 marks from London and Hull. Two days later they revised their estimate and instructed the Exchequer to deliver only 4,000 marks in jewels (1).
Mindful of who was the most reliable creditor, Parliament decreed that all loans past, present, and future, made by Beaufort must be repaid, although the Council and the Treasurer were not to be held liable for any claim that he or his executors might make against them (2).
The Council undertook to indent with war captains for 400 men-at-arms and 100 archers for a period of six months from May 1424 (3). Lord Willoughby, Lord Poynings, Sir William Oldhall, Sir Geoffrey Fitzhugh, Sir John Clitheroe and fifteen esquires indented to serve, and in June £80 was paid to mariners in Dover for ships to carry Lord Poynings ‘and other of the king’s retinues’ to Calais. The ships made the crossing several times (4).
Robert, Lord Willoughby was granted 500 marks as a reward for good services performed and about to be performed in France (5). At the end of May the Earl of Warwick received £403 7s 3½d in advance for the wages of one knight, twenty-nine men at arms, and ninety archers retained by Warwick to serve in Bedford’s army for six months (6).
(1) PPC III, pp. 144 and 146 (Beaufort’s loan).
(2) PROME X, 104-105 (loan and repayment).
(3) PPC III, p. 135 (appointment of war captains).
(4) Issues of Exchequer, p. 387 (shipping).
(5) PPC III, p. 145 (payment to Willoughby).
(6) Issues of Exchequer, pp. 386-387 (payment to Warwick).
John of Luxembourg, Count of Ligny, the ablest of the Duke of Burgundy’s war captains, had a claim to the small county of Guise in northern France; he had been campaigning there on and off for over a year. After the surrender of Le Crotoy Bedford sent a mixed force of Burgundians and Picards under Luxembourg and Sir Thomas Rempston, a soldier of fortune of proven military abilities who had fought under Henry V, to lay siege to the town of Guise. Bedford authorized Luxembourg to take the muster of Rempston’s force of about 400 men, to weed out any men deemed unfit to fight (and therefore not worth paying), and to retain the rest. Luxembourg instructed his lieutenant Jacques de Leuyn, to take the musters in early August. (1). But Guise was well garrisoned and proved a tougher nut to crack than Bedford had anticipated and the siege dragged on into 1425 (2).
(1) L&P II, pp. 28-31 (musters).
(2) Wavrin III, pp. 64-65 and pp. 117-118 (siege of Guise and surrender).
Siege of Ivry
The Dauphin Charles had sent John Stewart, Earl of Buchan whom he made Constable of France, to recruit an army in Scotland estimated to be 6,500 strong (1). Led by Archibald, Earl of Douglas the Scots landed at La Rochelle in March. Charles welcomed them warmly, going so far as to create Douglas Duke of Touraine (2).
Whether Charles would be able to pay them was a delicate question best ignored. At the end of April, in a memorandum detailing the shipping costs of importing the Scots, Charles admitted that although he had promised prompt payment to the captains of sixteen ships, they would have to wait until the end of September for their money (3). Charles intended to bring the English to battle and he called out his feudal levies and consulted with his nobles on what to do next.
The Duke of Bedford welcomed the prospect of battle. He stripped garrisons all over Normandy of war captains and their retinues (an unusual and risky move) to raise as large an army as possible. A public proclamation required all fief holders and able-bodied men in Normandy to make ready to take the field.
On 26 June, Jean Salvain, bailli of Rouen ordered the sheriff (vicomte) of Pont de l’Arche in King Henry’s name to be at Rouen with men-at-arms by 1 July, to join Bedford at his assembly point at Vernon on 3 July (4). It would boost the morale of Bedford’s troops and discourage the enemy to see Normans fighting for Henry VI alongside Englishmen.
Bedford’s first objective was the strategic town of Ivry on the River Eure thirty miles west of Paris and he sent William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk to lay siege to it. Suffolk took the town, but the castle held out. Its captain, Gerard de Paillières, agreed to surrender if a French army did not reach him by the Assumption of the Virgin, 15 August.
Paillières had good reason to expect relief. Bedford received confirmation, either from his spies or more probably from a challenge issued by the French nobles themselves, that they would give battle at Ivry. Bedford joined Suffolk at Ivry in August with a sizeable army, including the troops brought over from England by Lord Willoughby and Lord Poynings. Bedford also sent for the Earl of Salisbury, who was campaigning in Champagne, and the Burgundian captain L’Isle Adam, who was besieging Nesle (5).
At the last-minute just before the battle, Bedford changed his mind and sent L’Isle Adam back to Nesle. It was a gamble, but one Bedford believed was well worth taking. He did not rate Burgundian troops highly, and he did not want the Duke of Burgundy to claim any credit for the first major battle fought under Bedford’s command.
Bedford marshalled his men in battle array on 14 August. His scouts had reported that the French were not far off and he expected them to appear before Ivry early on the following day. But the French scouts advised against giving battle: Bedford was well entrenched in a good defensive position from where he might win. The Franco/Scottish army turned aside towards the English held town of Verneuil.
Verneuil was the patrimony of the young Duke of Alençon, nominally, because of his rank, in command of the French army. Bedford anticipated that its recovery would be a major objective of the French army, The Council in Rouen had written to the town’s governor to remind him that maintenance of its fortifications had been neglected and instructing him to have them repaired immediately (6).
Gerard de Paillières was disgusted when the French failed to come to his rescue as they had promised. He rode out and surrendered the keys of Ivry to Bedford, indignantly showing him the seals of the French magnates who had promised to meet the English on 15 August in a journée, a traditional battle to decide the ownership (and loyalty) of a town.
Almost immediately came disquieting news: the French had taken Verneuil. Some Norman knights and esquires in Bedford’s ranks had changed sides. Their loyalties may have wavered, although Wavrin attributes their desertion to their fear of defeat by the far larger French army (7). He names the Lord of Torcy, son of Colart d’Estouteville who had been killed at Agincourt and nephew of Jean D’Estouteville, still a prisoner of war in England, and Charles de Longueval, Lord of Augmont.
The French appeared at the gates of Verneuil claiming that a battle had been fought, that the English had been defeated, and that Bedford himself was a fugitive. According to the Bourgeois of Paris, the Scots who could speak English posed as English prisoners with this hands tied behind their backs and shouted that they had been captured (8). The truth of the French story was vouched for by none other than the Lord of Torcy. This caused panic in the town, the gates were thrown open, and the French and Scots occupied Verneuil (9).
“In the second yere of þe reyne of Kyng Henry the vjte abouesaid, John, Duyk of Bedford and Regent of Fraunce, & the Erle of Salisbery; Mountegu, the Erle of Arundell, the Lord Scales, the Lord Poynynges, with þe nombre of xij M1 of Englisshe men, laid seege to Ivory in Normandy. And whiles they lay att that seege, the Duyk of Launson gadert a gret host of Frensshmen, and Scottes and lumbardes, þe nombre of lij M1, to rescowe Ivory, and to give bataile to þe said Duyke of Bedford. But when they herd that þe Duyk of Bedforde had with hym xij M1 men, thay lafte Ivory, and come to Vernill in Perche, which was þat tyme in þe handes of Englishe-men. And the Lord Scales therof beyng capteyn, and was att þe said seege of Ivory. Then þe Frensshe men chargit þe Englisshe men to delyuer þe toun of Vernill vp to hem, And the said Duyke of Bedford and all his power were ouerthrawe and slayn before Ivory. And they of the toun of Vernill wend it had ben trewe, And gave vp þe toune to þe Frenschmen. And þus by this trayn Vernill was lost,” Brut Continuation H, p. 564.
(1) L&P II, pp. 15-16, n 2 (accounts of Hermon Raguier, Treasurer of the Wars, Scot numbers).
(2) Beaucourt, Charles VII vol. II, pp. 63-64 (Scots at French court).
(3) L&P II, pp. 15-24 (Charles’s letter, sixteen ships).
(4) Newhall, English Conquest of Normandy, 1416-1424, p. 314, n 14: “Suffolk had 69 men-at-arms and 204 archers (Bib. Nat., fr 4485 p 292. Salisbury sent 19 men-at-arms and 67 archers (ibid p. 177). The bailli of Evreux had 26 men-at-arms and 78 archers, the garrison of Cherbourg sent 15 men at arms and 45 archers (Bib. Nat., fr. 26047, no 295. The captain of Dreux brought 17 men at arms and 54 archers (ibid fr. 4485, p. 207).
(5) L&P II, pp. 24-28 (summons of Normandy levies).
(6) L&P II, p. 53 (fortifications at Verneuil). Misdated by Stevenson to 1425
(7) Wavrin III, pp. 66-71 (his chronology is muddled, he was not an eyewitness until the actual battle of Verneuil but he is still the best for details).
(8) Bourgeois, Parisian Journal, pp. 194–196 (Ivry and treachery at Verneuil).
(9) J. Chartier, Chronique de Charles VII, roi de France I, pp. 40–42. (Ivry to Verneuil).
The Battle of Verneuil
Bedford was furious when he learned of the trick the French had played at Verneuil. He rode out in front of his troops in a blue velvet mantle embroidered with the red cross of England superimposed on the white cross of France, symbolic of the dual monarchy. He exhorted his army to show courage and do their utmost against a worthless and perfidious enemy who had broken their word, shamed their honour, and disgraced the code of chivalry. He vowed by St George that he would bring them to battle come what may and he ordered an immediate march on Verneuil (1).
Bedford won his greatest victory at the Battle of Verneuil on 17 August 1424. (2, 3). The Anglo-Norman army deployed on a wide-open plain in front of the town and formed a battle line to fight on foot, with archers stationed on the wings. The horses and baggage wagons were tethered in the rear, with a small contingent of archers to guard them. The Earl of Suffolk, Lord Willoughby, Lord Scales, Lord Poynings, Sir William Oldhall, Sir John Fastolf, and the captains of garrisons from throughout Normandy were in Bedford’s ranks.
Jean de Harcourt, Count of Aumâle, lieutenant and captain general of Normandy, commanded the French battle line. He hoped that by winning the battle he could recover his lands in Normandy. He convinced the Dauphin that with a large enough army he could defeat the English and clear the way for Charles to be crowned King of France at Rheims. The Scots were led by Archibald, Earl of Douglas, and John Stewart, Earl of Buchan, Constable of France and Douglas’s son-in-law.
As well as the Scots the Dauphin had recruited a contingent of Lombard cavalry from the Visconti Duke of Milan. The Lombards and their horses were protected by heavy armour, Milan was famous for producing the finest armour in Europe. Did Aumâle recognise their potential as a deadly weapon, or did they demand the right to form their line in front of the French main battle and launch the first charge?
The English had never faced Lombard cavalry. Their onslaught was totally unexpected, French cavalry usually fought on the wings. Bedford’s line broke and opened its ranks to let the charging horsemen through. A few men fled in panic, believing that the battle was lost. Reports that the English had suffered a defeat spread to Evreux and as far as Pont Audemar causing panic and unrest.
The Lombards killed the archers stationed in the rear and plundered the baggage wagons. Fortunately for the English they considered that having broken the English line they had played their part and they did not immediately wheel back into the fray. The French and Scots advanced, with the Viscount of Narbonne’s troops slightly ahead of the Scots under Archibald Douglas which lessened their impact; had they moved more quickly and more cohesively at that point the battle could have been theirs.
Bedford and Salisbury recovered from the shock of the Lombard’s charge and, showing great courage, they rallied their men and reorganised their line to check the French advance before the Lombards could return. Bedford’s weapon was a pole axe, a heavy double-sided axe that he wielded with great skill owing to his large stature and strength. The archers on the wings gave their traditional ‘great shout,’ partly in defiance but also to advertise their new position to their comrades as they moved towards the centre to cover the restored front line.
Jean de Wavrin was in the thick of it, fighting under Salisbury’s banner:
“I the author know truly that that day the Earl of Salisbury sustained the greatest brunt, notwithstanding that he wavered greatly . . . and certainly if it had not been for [his ] skill and great valour . . . there is no doubt that the matter, which was in great uncertainty, would have gone very badly for the English. Elsewhere the Duke of Bedford, as I hear related, for I could not see or comprehend the whole since I was sufficiently occupied in defending myself . . . . killed many a man with a [pole]axe which he held in two hands . . . . . since he was large in body and stout in limb and brave in arms . . . . but he was very greatly harassed by the Scots, especially the Earl of Douglas.” Wavrin III, p. 77
Aumâle himself, the Comte de Ventadour, who had fought at the Battle of Baugé and lost an eye at the Battle of Cravant, the Comte de Tonnere, and the Viscount of Narbonne were killed. The Duke of Alençon was captured along with the Bastard of Alençon who died of his wounds a few days later. Bedford had Narbonne’s corpse strung up by his heels because of his complicity in the murder of John the Fearless, the Duke of Burgundy’s father (5).
French losses were severe, but the Scots were decimated. Archibald, Earl of Douglas, his younger son James, and John Stewart, Earl of Buchan, Constable of France and Douglas’s son-in-law were killed. The French line broke and French and Scots alike fled back to Verneuil. But this time the gates remained firmly shut and they were slaughtered in the ditches surrounding the town. As Bedford put it laconically in his report of the battle, ‘very few Scots were left who were not dead.’ (6, 7).
The chronicler Thomas Basin, writing much later, claimed that the Scots had declared before the battle that they would take no prisoners and this accounted for the ferocity of the English (8). Michael Jones suggests that it was the English who issued a challenge to fight to the death in revenge for the English defeat by the Scots at the battle of Baugé in 1421, and for Douglas’s perfidy in breaking his oath of allegiance to Henry V by fighting for the French (8). It is more likely that neither is true. The battle was hard fought and hard won, blood lust, not honour, motived the victors. Many men in the English ranks hated the Scots more than they did the French, and the French themselves did not like or trust their ally.
The French army was virtually destroyed; it would take time and money to rebuild it as fighting forces. Although individual Scots continued in Charles’s service, after Verneuil no large Scottish army was sent to fight in France. Bedford’s victory maintained the English reputation for invincibility in battle, and considerably enhanced his own. At Agincourt Henry V was forced to fight against superior odds, at Verneuil Bedford chose to. His victory opened the way for the English conquest of Maine, just as he intended.
(1) Wavrin III, pp. 72-79.
(2) A. Burne, The Agincourt War, pp. 196-215.
(3) M.K. Jones, ‘The battle of Verneuil, 17 August 1424: towards a history of courage,’ in War in History, 9 (2000) pp. 375-411. (Convincingly refutes the interpretation by Burne but is contradicted by the Bourgeois of Paris.)
(4) Bourgeois, Parisian Journal, pp. 196-200 (a different account of the Lombards in the battle from that of Jones).
(5) J. Chartier, Chronique de Charles VII, roi de France I, pp. 42-43.
(6) R.A. Newhall, The English Conquest of Normandy 1416-1424 (1924), pp. 319–320 (The Duke of Bedford’s report of the battle, listing the dead).
(7) L&P II, pp. 394-95 (lists of participants, English and French, the dead and the captured) ‘and dyvers others, as well Frenche as Scottes unto the nomber of ix m1 (9,000) men by accompte of Montjoy , kinge of armes which was one of the parties of the adversaries.’
(8) T. Basin, Histoire de Charles VII, vol I, ed. C. Samaran, pp. 91-97.
English chronicle accounts concentrate on the death toll at Verneuil, especially of the Scots.
Brut Continuation H (pp. 565-567) has the longest account, with a list of the dead. It identifies the English captain who fled the field with five hundred of his men as one ‘Yong.’ It implies that the English were indeed fighting to avenge their defeat by the Scots at the Battle of Baugé. The English shouted: “A Clarens, A clarens!” for cause þe Scottes before that tyme [ferede] þe Duyk of Clarens.” The chronicler may be implying that the Scots got their just deserts at Verneuil in revenge for Baugé. Brut H is the only chronicle to list John d’Arundel (later Earl of Arundel) as being in the English ranks, but this is unsubstantiated. It also includes the detail (taken from Wavrin) that Bedford dismissed the Burgundian troops that joined him at Ivry (whereas Brut Continuation G includes them).
Brut Continuation G (pp. 497-498) wrongly names the Earl of Salisbury instead of the Earl of Suffolk as laying siege to Ivry. It includes John, Lord Talbot (later Earl of Shrewsbury) among those who fought at Verneuil, but Talbot was not in France (see Le Crotoy above) and recounts the insult supposedly offered to Bedford by the Earl of Douglas before the battle, calling him: “Iohn with þe leden swerd,” i.e. a braggart, words without deeds.
An English Chronicle gleefully reports the slaughter of the ‘proud’ Scots and lists Alexander Stewart, Earl of Mar and Thomas Dunbar, Earl of Murray (Moray) as among the dead, but, as the editor (Marx) noted (p. 135) this is a copying error. Mar survived to 1435 and Murray (Moray), who was not at Verneuil, died in 1429. Sir Thomas Murray and Sir Andrew Murray, listed in Benet’s Chronicle and Brut Continuation G and were among the dead.
Benet’s Chronicle (pp. 179-180) begins the account of Henry VI’s reign with the battle of Verneuil. His list of the dead closely resembles the list in Brut H.
The Latin Brut (English Historical Literature, p. 321) is the only chronicle to include a ‘count of Naverne. ’ Kingsford identified him as the Count of Nevers, but Philip, Count of Nevers, was killed at Agincourt, and his heir, Charles, was still a minor in 1424.
Brief Latin Chronicle in Three Short Chronicles (p. 164) is almost identical with the Latin Brut.
Chronicles of London, (Julius B II) and (Cleopatra C IV) (pp. 75 and 129) and A Chronicle of London (Harley 565, p. 112) are short and almost identical.
Bedford celebrated his victory in Rouen and in Paris. He announced a proposal to reward men of all ranks who had fought at Verneuil for their courage and loyalty by granting them lands in the County of Maine. He ordered an evaluation of lands in Maine and the estimate amounted to 60,000 livres tournois or £10,000. Grants totaling 56,200 livres tournois were to be made (1).
It was an ideal arrangement from Bedford’s point of view. It appeared to be a magnanimous gesture by a caring overlord and would continue Henry V’s policy of settling Englishmen, especially English soldiers, in the conquered lands and be on hand to defend them should the need arise. The drawback for the recipients in this case, however, was that Maine had not yet been conquered. The lucky recipients would still have to fight for their reward (2).
Bedford summoned the Estates General of France and Normandy to meet in Paris on 13 September. Robert Jolivet, the exiled Abbot of Mont Saint Michel received 354 livres tournois for attending and pleading the case for more money (3). The Norman Estates [voted 60,000 livres tournois, the same amount as they had voted in July 1423 and Bedford was not slow in ordering its collection. A writ in Henry VI’s name to Hamon de Belknap, Treasurer and Receiver General of France, was issued on 12 October instructing him somewhat optimistically to arrange for the collection of the ‘aid,’ to be delivered to Pierre Sureau, Receiver General of Normandy by 1 November.
The writ explained that Bedford had been forced to recruit more men than he had expected, and he needed the money to settle the wages still owed to the soldiers who taken part in previous sieges: Gaillon, Ivry, Mont Saint Michel, Norgent-le-Rotrou, Senonces, and Beaumont-sur-Sarthe in Alençon, as well as the men who had fought at Verneuil. Mont Saint Michel had not been captured and the siege had to be maintained. Urgent repairs were needed to the port towns of Harfleur and Honfleur, and the cost of future campaigns to consolidate and extend these victories would have to be met (4).
Bedford’s next campaign was the conquest of the county of Maine. He entrusted the opening phase to Sir John Fastolf, his Grand Master of the Household, who had fought at Verneuil and somewhat optimistically designated him as lieutenant of Maine. Fastolf was enroute for Le Mans, the capital of Maine, when he learned that French troops were occupying Montfort sur Gesnois about twelve miles east of Le Mans. They would have to be cleared out before Le Mans could be safely invested.
Bedford sent orders in King Henry’s name to Jehan Salvain bailli of Rouen, and to Thomas Maistresson, bailli of Caux, as well as to the town of Evreux to summon men from the garrisons and other places, although not so many as to weaken the garrisons, to join Fastolf at the town of Alençon just over the Normandy border, thirty miles north of Le Mans to relieve Montfort (5).
Fastolf returned to Paris and indented with Bedford on 27 November 1424 to furnish 80 mounted men-at-arms and 240 archers for a year from the previous September to assist in the conquest Maine. The backdating, which is unusual, may have been to cover Fastolf’s contribution to the initial incursion in September. The terms and conditions are spelt out, Fastolf was always careful where money was concerned, he had the mind of an accountant (6).
Enguerrand de Monstrelet
In November 1424 a pardon was issued in Paris in King Henry’s name to one Enguerrand de Monstrelet. He cannot have been the Burgundian chronicler who, copying Jean de Wavrin, is nevertheless a primary source for the events of these years. The interest of this otherwise trivial incident lies in the name Monstrelet (and may be the reason why Stevenson chose to include the account in his Letters and Papers).
The Enguerrand being pardoned was a soldier, the Captain of Freneuch Castle, held by the Counts of St Pol, who were clients of the Duke of Burgundy. The chronicler was a civil servant at the Burgundian court who never took up arms, although he was fascinated by battles.
In 1422 Enguerrand the soldier had robbed a group of travellers believing them to ‘Armagnacs’ i.e. partisans of the Dauphin and therefore fair game. He soon discovered his mistake, the men were merchants of Abbeville, going about their lawful business. He was summoned to a judicial hearing in Paris in 1424, not for the robbery but because the merchants were not Armagnacs.
Enguerrand pleaded ignorance, he had been misled. He stated his case at tedious length and promised to make restitution and to capture the man who had falsely informed him that the merchants were the enemy, although in the end he failed to find the true culprit. The chronicler and the captain were both men of Picardy, they must surely have been related, but exactly how is unknown (1).
(1) L&P I, p. 10.
The Duke of Gloucester and Jacqueline, Countess of Hainault
Jacqueline, Countess of Hainault, Holland and Zeeland, was the only child of William, Count of Hainault. She was sixteen when Count William died in 1417. John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy immediately arranged for her to marry to his nephew, John, Duke of Brabant. The couple were married in 1418 but the marriage proved unsatisfactory from the start. Chastellain described Jacqueline as plain, but vivacious and fearless (1).
Brabant treated his wife shamefully. He failed to defend Holland against the incursion of Jacqueline’s forceful and ambitious uncle John of Bavaria, who claimed the right to rule Holland as her guardian. John of Brabant mortgaged Holland and Zeeland to him. It was all too much for the proud and high-spirited Jacqueline who loathed her inadequate husband.
Jacqueline had convinced herself with some justification that her marriage with John of Brabant was invalid: under canon law a woman could not be forced into marriage against her will as Jacqueline claimed she had been. She and Brabant were first cousins and so prohibited from marrying. Pope Martin V had issued a dispensation for consanguinity in 1417, then rescinded it in 1418, only to reconfirm it in 1419.
In 1421 Jacqueline fled from Brussels in the company of her mother and sought the protection of King Henry V. With his permission she crossed to England where she was warmly welcomed by Henry’s brother the Duke of Gloucester on King Henry’s orders (2). Jacqueline would not have dared to flee without Henry’s explicit encouragement. Significantly, when he returned to France for the last time, Henry left Jacqueline under the protection of the Duke of Gloucester. Jacqueline later claimed that Henry had not only arranged her escape he had promised to secure her divorce from John of Brabant and to marry her to Gloucester. Had Henry lived he would probably have caried out both these promises (3).
But Henry was no knight errant, he never did anything without a sound political or military reason. Philip, Duke of Burgundy coveted Jacqueline’s inheritance and he was not pleased that Henry V had offered her asylum. Henry did not underestimate the importance of his alliance with Burgundy but in 1421 Henry expected to become King of France in the not-too-distant future which would put his relationship with Burgundy on a completely different footing. English domination of counties in the Netherlands would give Henry political leverage against a potentially over mighty vassal.
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester had married Jacqueline of Hainault in January 1423 believing that this was what Henry V had intended. In this he was no different from the other English magnates all of whom were carrying out what they believed to be Henry’s last wishes. The marriage was performed in secret, possibly at Hadleigh, the home of the Dowager Queen Joan, Gloucester’s step-mother of whom he was fond. It created little stir at the time. Only Brut Continuation H noted it; Brut Continuation G (p. 498) dated it to 1424.
“And þat same yere þe Duches of Holand was weddit to Humfrey, Duyk of Gloucestre.” Brut Continuation H p. 564
Wavrin’s comment on Gloucester’s marriage to Jacqueline ‘at which marriage many people were much dismayed’ is hindsight (4). Bedford and Philip of Burgundy were informed of it as soon as it was contracted. Burgundy did not care; with Jacqueline safely out of the way he could pursue his plans to unite the Low Countries under his rule. The Minority Council raised no objection, Jacqueline was granted letters of denization as an English citizen in October 1423 and Gloucester assumed the title Count of Hainault.
The Duke of Bedford and the Duke of Burgundy were informed of it, but in 1423 Bedford had more pressing problems as Regent of France, and now that Henry V was dead and Jacqueline was safely out of the way in England, Burgundy felt free to pursue his plans to unite the Low Countries, including Jacqueline’s patrimony, under his rule. He may have assumed that Gloucester as Protector of England would have no time for Hainault.
Gloucester and Hainault
The Duke of Burgundy was mistaken. By the beginning of 1424 Gloucester was bored. He attended council meetings assiduously, but his voice was no more than one among many, and he was denied the right to act independently even in the restricted role of Protector. His brother was established as Regent of France, what was left for Gloucester to do? In the spring he rashly decided to assert his right to be recognized as Count of Hainault and to recover Jacqueline’s inheritance by force rather than by negotiation.
And what of Jacqueline? She was Duchess of Gloucester, the second lady in the land after Queen Katherine. She received robes as a lady of the Garter for the Garter Feast of 1423. She was King Henry VI’s godmother. Was the decision to return to Hainault her idea or Gloucester’s? Since most historians condemned him for betraying his brother and putting the Anglo-Burgundian alliance at risk, an explanation for his conduct had to be found. Jacqueline, as a woman was a natural scapegoat. Of course it was Jacqueline who urged the excitable and pliable Gloucester to undertake so rash an enterprise. If she did, she lived to regret it.
Gloucester had no claim to Hainault unless Jacqueline was his lawful wife but her marriage to John of Brabant had not been annulled by Pope Martin V. The validity of the marriage was now a major issue. Pope Martin had promised to review Jacqueline’s request for an annulment, but he was reluctant to anger the Duke of Burgundy and he expressed his doubts that Jacqueline’s marriage to Brabant was in fact invalid invalid. This elicited a letter of protest from Gloucester. He wrote that he was surprised by the Pope’s attitude; there was ample documentation to demonstrate Jacqueline’s invidious position, and he suggested that the pope should reconsider his pronouncement (5).
There is a story that Jacqueline obtained an annulment from Martin’s rival, the anti-Pope Benedict XIII, but this is unlikely (6). Benedict was not recognised by church authorities so any decree he issued would not be valid. Such a move was more likely to provoke Pope Martin to find in favour of Brabant. Gloucester wrote a second letter requesting Martin to expedite the annulment (7).
Gloucester then began to recruit an army and enlisted the support of John Mowbray, Earl of Norfolk. By midsummer alarm bells were ringing in Paris. The Duke of Bedford was preparing for a major encounter with the French. He was stretched to the limit militarily and short of money. The last thing he wanted was for Gloucester to divert English resources to an unnecessary and subsidiary campaign. The Duke of Burgundy was wooing the Dukes of Brabant and Bavaria with some success. John of Brabant had not enjoyed his marriage to Jacqueline any more than she had and all he wanted was to be left alone. In April the childless Duke of Bavaria made Philip his heir (8).
It was in both Bedford and Burgundy’s interests to find a diplomatic solution to Gloucester’s potentially disastrous intervention in the Low Countries. They convened a commission to review the validity of Gloucester’s versus John of Brabant’s claims to Hainault and they offered to act as joint arbitrators. Brabant accepted the offer but Gloucester did not. He was convinced, as he always was, that what he wanted to do was right and he saw no need for arbitration. He pressed ahead with his plans.
Gloucester and Jacqueline crossed to Calais on 18 October 1424. Five days later the Council ordered Richard Fleming to redeem himself for accepting Pope Martin’s nomination to become Archbishop of York without the Council’s consent, by using his utmost endeavours to expedite the cause of the Duke of Gloucester in the Court of Rome’ (9).
See The Council and the Papacy above.
Gloucester wrote to Pope Martin from Calais urging him to receive and listen to ambassadors who were being sent from England to inform him of the underhand stratagems (unspecified) being employed by those who opposed Gloucester (10). Martin was in no hurry to comply. He held the whip hand and he elected to reserve his judgement until he could be sure where his best interests lay.
(1) Chastellain, Oeuvres I, pp. 210-211 (description of Jacqueline).
(2) Wylie & Waugh III, pp. 290-292 (Jacqueline’s flight).
(3) K.H. Vickers, Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, pp. 125-147 (for details of what follows, but not necessarily his interpretation).
(4) Wavrin III, p. 13 (comment on the marriage).
(5) L&P II, ii, pp. 407-409 (letter to the Pope). Written from London. Stevenson dates it to 1425 but by that time Gloucester had repudiated his marriage and would not have requested the Pope to endorse it (see 1425).
(6) Vickers, p. 127 doubts it, Vaughan, Philip, p. 34 accepts it.
(7) L&P II, ii, p. 388. One of five letters in Latin printed by Stevenson relating to Gloucester’s marriage. They are without date or signature. Inexplicably and unjustifiably Stevenson assigned this one to the Duke of Bedford when it is far more likely to have been written by Gloucester. No other source confirms that Bedford favoured Gloucester’s marriage, or that he would have urged Pope Martin to annul the Brabant marriage. Quite the reverse.
(8) Vaughan, Philip, p. 35 (Burgundy heir to Bavaria).
(9) PPC III. pp. 210-211 (instructions to Fleming).
(10) L&P II, ii, pp. 392-393 (Gloucester to the pope from Calais).
Gloucester in Hainault
Gloucester and Jacqueline remained in Calais for several weeks awaiting the arrival of the Earl of Norfolk and the rest of their army. They received visits from numerous interested parties (1). Representatives from the Four Members of Flanders (the towns of Ghent, Bruges, the castellany of Bruges, and Ypres, the richest towns in the Low Countries) politely requested them not to allow an English army to cross Flanders.
The Burgundian Ghillebert de Lannoy, suggested that there was no need for Gloucester to pass through Artois while efforts to settle his difference with Brabant were under discussion, but in a gesture of good will, food and other necessities could be supplied from Artois to sustain his troops.
The Duke of Bedford sent word that John of Brabant had taken fright. His envoys were in Paris demanding protection from Bedford and Burgundy since he had accepted them as arbitrators. In a conciliatory gesture Bedford offered to come to any convenient town Gloucester chose for a personal meeting, but Gloucester ignored him.
Bedford and Burgundy in consultation with their councillors (the Estates of France were in session in Paris) drew up a proposed settlement. and sent to both parties. The Earl of Suffolk, Sir Ralph Botiller and Gilles de Duremont Abbot of Fécamp conveyed the proposals to Gloucester (2, 3). Unfortunately no record of the terms on offer has survived and it is difficult to imagine what Gloucester would have accepted, other than the immediate cession to him of all of Jacqueline’s inheritance, which Brabant might have agreed to, but the Duke of Burgundy assuredly would not.
Gloucester’s recalcitrance caused the Duke of Burgundy to lose his temper, He could not allow Gloucester to establish himself in Hainault or risk the possibility that Jacqueline might have a son by Gloucester. He roundly informed Bedford that he would support Brabant. This is not surprising, Burgundy had never been a disinterested arbitrator. He had good reason to hope that he could add the Duchy of Brabant, as well as Jacqueline’s patrimony, to his Burgundian territories. John of Brabant was unlikely to produce any heirs. He was estranged from his wife and was probably homosexual, although the chronicles are naturally coy on the subject. If he died without issue his younger brother, Philip, Count of St Pol would inherit Brabant, and he too had no children. After the Brabant brothers Philip of Burgundy was the next heir.
The Earl of Norfolk arrived at Calais on 2 November, bringing additional troops. Gloucester moved army to Guines to await the final contingent, their crossing whose crossing had been delayed by a storm. An English army crossed the frontier into Artois in the last weeks of November. Gloucester had to pass through Burgundian territory to reach Hainault, but he made sure that his men were well disciplined, there was no pillaging, and no local resistance (4).
Gloucester and Jacqueline established themselves in Mons, the capital of Hainault, and Gloucester garrisoned key towns with English troops. The Hainaulters were not overjoyed at the return of their countess.
Hainault reluctantly welcomed Gloucester, but only as Jacqueline’s consort, which did not go down well with the proud duke (5). A letter, probably from the Estates of Hainault, was sent to the pope in the hope that the annulment of Jacqueline’s marriage to Brabant and recognition of Gloucester as Count of Hainault might avoid a war that no one wanted (6). The nobility were divided in their allegiance. Holland and Zeeland remained loyal to Jacqueline’s uncle, John of Bavaria, they had prospered under his rule.
Gloucester informed Pope Martin that he had taken possession of Jaqueline’s inheritance and urged him to endorse the status quo by issuing a papal bull annulling the Brabant marriage. He told the Pope that his brother and the Duke of Burgundy were with him in wishing to maintain the peace, and papal endorsement was all that was needed to avoid bloodshed. Something of a spin on the truth, but perhaps Gloucester believed that he said (7).
The English soldiers were unruly and Gloucester was unable to prevent their looting. A tax to maintain them did nothing to improve Gloucester’s popularity, but Gloucester’s fatal mistake was to allow the Earl of Norfolk to cross the border into the Duchy of Brabant at the beginning of December 1424.
Burgundy could hardly declare war on Gloucester just because he had married Jacqueline, or even for arriving with Jacqueline in Hainault, but the Duchy of Brabant was not part of Jacqueline’s inheritance and the presence in the duchy of an English army was an act of war. Norfolk’s troops ravaged the Brabant countryside almost as far as Brussels (8, 9). It was exactly what the Duke of Burgundy had been waiting for. He called out his feudal levies in Picardy, Artois and elsewhere to be ready to march into Hainault in the New Year (10).
John of Brabant remained passive; it was rumoured that he had died! But John’s brother, Philip Count of St Pol was made of sterner stuff. Supported by the nobility of Brabant and a contingent of Burgundian troops, St Pol prepared to defend his brother’s duchy and his own inheritance.
Bedford was still hoping that war between his brother and his ally could be averted. He sent Thomas Mautaint to warn Gloucester of Burgundy’s preparations, and probably to advise him to withdraw his troops from Brabant territory at once (11). If war came Bedford would be under intense pressure from England to aid his brother. Gloucester was popular in London; Philip of Burgundy was not. Nor was Burgundy well-liked by Bedford’s war captains and he mortally offended the most important of them, Thomas Montague, Earl of Salisbury, by paying unwanted attentions to Salisbury’s new wife, Alice Chaucer, during the Christmas festivities in Paris in 1424.
(1) L&P II, ii, pp. 397–400 (an account by a man in Gloucester’s retinue covering the period 16 October when Gloucester landed at Calais to 18 November. It was sent to at least three bishops, probably members of the Minority Council, although none of them are named. Stevenson assumed it was addressed first to Henry Beaufort, but the heading Ad cardinalem Wintoniae was added at a later date, Beaufort was not a cardinal in 1424).
(2) L&P II, pp. 273-274. (The abbot of Fécamp was paid 150 livres tournois in November 1424 for his embassy to Gloucester. Stevenson inexplicably dated the receipt to 1434).
(3) Wavrin III, pp. 86-87 (embassy to Gloucester).
(4) Wavrin III, p. 90 (army passed through Artois).
(5) Wavrin III, pp. 90–91 (Hainaulters loyalties).
(6) L& P II, ii, pp. 390-391 (Hainault’s letter to Pope).
(7 ) L&P II, ii, pp. 401-404. (Gloucester to the Pope from Mons).
(8) Wavrin III, pp. 91-92 (fighting in Hainault).
(9) L&P II, ii, pp. 410-411 (Letter to Henry Beaufort reporting on Brabant).
(10) Vaughan, Philip, pp. 35-36. (Burgundy’s reaction).
(11) L&P II, ii, p. 405 (Mautaint, was paid 66 livres tournois for twenty-one days at 10 sols a day on 25 December).
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