Henry VI


Minority Council. The Council and the Church.

Pope Martin V.  

Scotland. Calais. Gascony. London.

Parliament. Cardinal Beaufort. The Duke of Burgundy.

Joan of Arc burned. Campaigns, 1431.

Jack Sharp’s rising. The Duke of Gloucester.

The Duke of Bedford. 

King Henry’s Coronation in Paris.

Pope Martin V died in February. King Henry remained in Rouen throughout most of 1431. The Duke of Bedford ceased to be Regent while the king was in France. Joan of Arc was burned in Rouen as a heretic and a witch.

In England negotiations with Scotland continued after the signing of a seven-year truce at the end of 1430. The Council settled a dispute between John Reynwell and the Merchants of the Staple in Calais. Bayonne in Gascony was granted the right to coin its own money and to claim ships’ wreckage. Parliament met early in 1431, presided over by the Duke of Gloucester. Gloucester suppressed Jack Sharp’s Lollard rising in May. The new London prison at Newgate was completed. Cardinal Beaufort returned to England to raise a second army to continue the campaign to clear the route between Rouen and Paris to take King Henry to be crowned in the French capital.

Louviers, the town on the Seine blocking the route to Paris, fell to the English in late October and King Henry was escorted to Paris at the end of November. The Duke of Burgundy refused to attend the coronation and signed a general truce with King Charles VII only days before the ceremony. Henry VI was crowned King Henri II in December and left the capital to return to Rouen ten days later. He sailed from Calais to Dover in February 1432.

Minority Council

The Proceedings record twenty-eight meetings in 1431 while King Henry was in France: one in January, one in February, six in March, five in April, two in May, one in June, two in July, one in August, one in October and eight in November in anticipation of King Henry’s return.

Henry V’s Tomb

War in France, unrest in England, and an acute shortage of money did not stop work on the memorial to King Henry V. In January 1431 Roger Johnson, a master blacksmith of London, was ordered to impress as many ironworkers as he needed to complete the work on   tomb in Westminster Abbey (1).

(1) Foedera X, p. 490 (Henry V’s tomb).

William Phelip

The petition of Sir William Phelip dated in the Proceedings to 14 February 1431 is an error. It belongs in 9 Henry V when Phelip was treasurer of Henry V’s household from October 1421 to November 1422. John Hotoft was in France with Henry VI in February 1431 as treasurer of the king’s household (2, 3).

(2) PPC IV, p. 77 (William Phelip error).

(3) Curry, ‘Coronation Expedition,’ p. 32 n. 16 noted the error.


 The Council and the Magnates

Thomas, Lord Roos was killed in France in 1430 (see 1430). His son, also Thomas, was a minor and the Council confirmed the grants Lord Roos had made to the foresters on his estates. Confirmation of grants to a lord’s officers was standard practice in cases of unexpected death where the heir was a minor and his estates were in the king’s hands (1).

(1) PPC IV, p. 88 (Roos estates).

Richard, Duke of York was with King Henry in Rouen as part of the royal household under the Earl of Warwick governorship.  He was still a minor, but in August 1431 the Council agreed that he should be granted 600 marks from his own estates for his ‘labours and expenses in the king’s service for a year without reward’ (2).  York was not expected to indent for service with the king since he was not involved militarily in France, but he would have had personal expenses to maintain his status as a royal duke and the premier peer of England after the dukes of Bedford and Gloucester .

(2) PPC IV, p. 91 (payment to the Duke of York).

William, Lord Moleyns was killed at the siege of Orleans in 1429. It appears that his wife, Anne Whalesborough and his daughter Eleanor, born in 1426, had accompanied him to France. In October 1431 the Council awarded Eleanor’s wardship and marriage to Thomas Chaucer because he had sent a military escort as well as women servants to care for and bring Eleanor home safely (3).

(3) PPC IV, pp. 98–99 (grant to Thomas Chaucer).

 Joan Holand, Duchess of York, was a much-married lady. She was the second wife and widow of Edmund of Langley, Duke of York. She married Sir Henry Bromflete as her fourth husband. In November 1431 Bromflete claimed £761 11s 6d as arrears of the annuity of £94 8s 10d settled on Joan after Edmund, Duke of York’s death (4). She was not Richard Duke of York’s grandmother.

(4) PPC IV, p. 103 (Duchess Joan’s annuity claimed by Bromflete).

 Duchy of Lancaster

John Wodehouse, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster since 1413, died in January 1431and Walter Shirington was appointed to replace him. ‘The Duchy seal was delivered to him in Parliament on 16 February 1431’ (1).  In November, the Council agreed that the Chancellor and council of the Duchy of Lancaster should be permitted to appoint to Duchy offices and benefices worth less than £5 per annum or 2 pence a day (2).

(1) Somerville, Duchy of Lancaster, p. 389 (Shirington appointed).

(2) PPC IV, p. 105 (Chancellor to appoint to Duchy offices).

The Council and the Church

Pope Martin had nominated Simon Sydenham, Dean of Salisbury Cathedral to succeed John Rickingale as bishop of Chichester in 1429 (see 1429). Sydenham was not the Council’s choice and true to their policy of employing delaying tactics in disputes with the pope, Sydenham did not receive the temporalities of Chichester until January 1431 when ‘an ordinance made by the full council in Parliament’ restored the temporalities of the see, but only after Sydenham renounced certain clauses in the papal bull that the Council deemed prejudicial to the king’s rights. Sydenham was consecrated in February 1431 (1, 2).

(1) PPC IV, p. 76 (restitution and temporalities).

(2) CPR 1429-1436, p. 106 (temporalities).

John Clederowe succeeded William Barrow as Bishop of Bangor, one of the poorest sees in North Wales. Pope Martin had provided him to Bangor in 1423 (1) but the Council delayed accepting the appointment until 1425 and the temporalities were not restored to him until 1426 2). In 1431 he requested and received permission to visit Jerusalem (3).

(1) Papal Letters VII, p. 256 (papal provision).

(2) CPR 1422-1429, p. 330 (temporalities restored).

(3) Foedera X, p. 493 (permission to go to Jerusalem).


Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln died in January 1431 and the temporalities of the bishopric were in the king’s hands. The archdeaconry of Northampton was in the diocese of Lincoln (1).

Ardicinus or Hardesinus della Porta, Cardinal of Ss. Cosmas and Damian of Novara in Italy, became Archdeacon of Northampton at the instigation of the new Pope Eugenius IV (2, 3).  He was not the Cardinal of Navarre as in the Proceedings III and Foedera X. The Council had awarded him an annuity of 50 marks as the ‘Cardinal of Navarre’ in 1429 (4).  The collation of Hardesinus, still described as ‘Cardinal of Navarre,’ as archdeacon was confirmed on 4 August 1431. In 1432 he would be given permission to hold ecclesiastical benefices in England up to a yearly value of 400 marks (5, 6).

On the same day, 4 August 1431, the temporalities of the bishopric of London were ratified to Robert Fitzhugh who had been Archdeacon of Northampton, and William Grey, translated from London to Lincoln, received the temporalities of the bishopric of Lincoln (7).

(1) CPR 1429-1436, p. 107 (archdeaconry in the king’s gift).

(2) Foedera X, p. 494 (Hardesinus Archdeacon of Northampton).

(3) Papal Letters VIII, p. 359 (Hardesinus Archdeacon of Northampton).

(4) PPC III, p. 339 (50 marks, 1429).

(5) PPC IV p. 118 (benefices 1432).

(6) Foedera X, p. 509 (benefices 1432)).

(7) Foedera X, p. 495 (William Grey Bishop of Lincoln; Robert Fitzhugh Bishop of London).

Pope Martin V

Pope Martin V died on 20 February 1431. He had been Pope for fourteen years and his death aroused little interest in England.  He was succeeded by Pope Eugenius IV.

“And at the feast of St Juliana the Virgin next following [23 February] Pope Martin V died in his fifty fifth year and was succeeded by Pope Eugenius IV.” 

                                     Benet’s Chronicle, p.183

“Aboute þis tyme pope Martyn died & After him Eugeny þe Fourt was Pope, þat was pesably chosen in Rome by þe Cardinalles, and was very & vndoubted Pope”

                                    Brut Continuation G, p. 502

“And that yere in Lentyn deyde Pope (crossed out and “byschope” written in a later hand) Martyn.”             Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 171

Pope Martin’s relations with the Minority Council had been uneasy at best and hostile at worst. He failed to bully or coerce the Council into repealing the Statute of Provisors. He was bitterly disappointed when Cardinal Beaufort abandoned the crusade in Bohemia, but in his last years he paid lip service to the need for peace between France and England and made half-hearted attempts to bring the two sides together by appointing a cardinal to act as arbitrator.

Martin’s last act was to summons a General Council of the church to meet at Basel (see 1432).

“And in this same yere, anon after Cristmasse, the grete conuocacion and consayle of all the landes in Cristendom and also of all oþer seculer lordes and Clerkes þat is to say Bisshopes and other consayle began in the Cite of Basyle in Duchelande, for to make vnite and peas emong all Cristen peple and for to destroye heretikes and erresye þat then reigned emong the peple.”    Brut Continuation F, p. 466


The  truce with Scotland signed in December 1430 was publicly proclaimed in England on 19 January 1431 (1). The thorny question of King James’s ransom, a possible marriage for King Henry with a Scottish princess, and terms for a final peace were left in abeyance when the truce was signed (see 1430).

“And the same yere com enbassystourys from the Kyng of Scottys unto the Parlyment for to trete of pes bytwyne Ingelonde and Schotlonde.” Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 171

Scottish ambassadors, John Cameron the Chancellor, Douglas of Balvany, Seton of Gordon, John Forrester, and William Fowlis, came to London in March 1431 for further discussions but the outcome of their deliberations is not known (2, 3). Their expenses amounted to £49 6s 11½d for themselves, their retinue of 36 men and 42 horses in London between 2 and 14 March. The five ambassadors received gifts of three silver cups and two ewers valued at £35 18s 10¾d (4, 5, 6).

“Master William Forest, physician of the Queen of Scots, now in England to go with eight attendants to Hainault and thence to Scotland at pleasure,” received a safe conduct for one year (7).

King James’s ransom remined unpaid, and the unfortunate Scottish hostages remained in England. Safe conducts for the servants of David Stewart of Athol, one of the original hostages, and for Andrew Keith of Inverness, Robert Stewart of Lorne, and Thomas Hay of Yester, three of the exchange of hostages in 1425, were issued between February and July 1431 (8, 9).

With the truce in place, co-operation was the order of the day. Four Scots, Simon Logan, Thomas Paterson, William Lawson, and Patrick Henryson were accused by three English merchants, John Fernandie, Richard Aunger, and Richard Sneleham, of capturing two English ships and their cargoes in November 1428, valued at £1500 (10, 11).  King James enforced the 1429 agreement covering piracy and restitution.

See Year 1429, ScotlandBorder Law the agreement on piracy.

James ordered the arrest and seizure of the Scots and their goods, and the English Council authorized royal officers to impound the goods of Scottish merchants and mariners in all the ports in England, Flanders, Holland and Zeeland in compensation for Scottish piracy (12). Impounding goods in retaliation for piracy was standard practice under the laws of the sea.

(1) Foedera X pp. 487–488 (proclamation of truce).

(2) Documents Relating to Scotland IV, p. 215 (Scots embassy).

(3) Balfour-Melville, James I, pp. 191–193 (Scots embassy).

(4) PPC IV, p. 78 (expenses and gifts).

(5) Foedera X, p. 491 (expenses and gifts).

(6) Documents Relating to Scotland IV, p. 215-216 (expenses and gifts).

(7) Documents Relating to Scotland IV, p. 215 (William Forest).

(8) Foedera X, pp. 496-497 (servants of Scots hostages).

(9) Balfour-Melville, James I, pp. 293-294 (servants of hostages).

(10) Documents Relating to Scotland IV, p. 214 (James orders arrest of Scots).

(11) Foedera X, pp. 488-489 (James’s orders to arrest Scots).

(12) CPR 1429-1436, p. 105 (authority for English officials to seize Scottish goods).


An undated entry referring to Calais was included by Nicolas in the Proceedings for 1431. It is in English and could date to any year in which efforts were being made to cut the cost of maintaining the garrison at Calais.  It requested permission from the Council for the treasurer and victualler of Calais (Richard Buckland) to destroy the stores of vinegar, honey and ‘artre’ (?) which were kept in the town for its defence; keeping them was expensive but they were of no use, presumably because there was no actual fighting in or around Calais.

Vinegar had multiple uses for an army, dating back to Greek and Roman times. Vinegar mixed with water (which was usually unsafe to drink) was believed to quench thirst; it was called posca by the Romans. It could be used as a body wash and cleanser against disease or applied to wounds as a disinfectant.  Honey water was sometime drunk, but honey was expensive, and its principal use was to smear on open wounds before the wound was bandaged to aid healing.

The destruction was to be supervised by the captains of Calais and the towns of the marches (the Pale of Calais) ‘or ells (others)’ . . . [ a lacuna in the text].  The accounts for Calais should be credited at the Exchequer with the value of what had been destroyed so that it is not charged against the treasurer (1).

A report on the projected income of £1,355 4s 7¼d from the castles and lordships in the marches of Calais, from 4 February 1431 to 4 February 1432, may have been intended for presentation to Parliament. Fees and wages to baillis of the towns amounted to £72 18s 4d (2).

(1) PPC IV, pp. 97–98 (destruction of stores).

(2) Foedera X, p. 490 (schedule of income).

John Reynwell

John Reynwell was a wealthy Londoner, an entrepreneur and ship owner who dabbled in trade in a variety of commodities, including the export of wool.  He was Mayor of London in 1426-1427 and Mayor of the Calais Staple in 1428-1429 (3).

On 24 April 1431 Lord Cromwell reminded the Council of a quarrel between Reynwell and merchants of the staple which had previously been brought before the Council for resolution. The cause of the dispute is not known, but it is likely to have been a disagreement over the payment, non-payment, or manipulation of customs duties on wool.  It probably originated in 1429 during Reynwell’s tenure as mayor.

The Council had appointed Richard Woodville lieutenant of Calais, Robert Darcy, an attorney, and Robert Whittingham, son-in-law of Richard Buckland, the Treasurer of Calais, to adjudicate. These appointments cannot date to April 1431, the date of the entry in the Proceedings, as Woodville had just been ordered to join the Council in Rouen and was about depart for France.  April 1431 is the date of the resolution of the dispute.

On 28 April Reynwell appeared before the Council to offer a full apology. He declared that the adjudicators had ‘so truly laboured these matters that all manner [of] heaviness and grievance had been concluded to perfect rest and peace between the [Staplers] and me.’ He asked the Duke of Gloucester and the Council to forget ‘any of my bills, writing or other means’ and to ‘put it utterly out of your remembrance’ any complaints or criticisms he may have made. It had never been his intention to damage the merchants of the Staple. Reynwell ended by agreeing to pay the costs of the enquiry; he would leave the amount up to the Council and the Company of the Staple to decide (4).

(3) ‘John Reynwell in historyofparliamentonline.org

(4) PPC IV, pp. 85–86 (Reynwell).


Bayonne privileges

Bayonne, a port on the coast in the far south of the duchy, was the second largest city in Gascony after Bordeaux. Thomas Burton and the citizens of Bayonne had petitioned the Council for the right to coin gold and silver because ready money was in short supply and very little silver reached Bayonne from the mint at Bordeaux. Coinage from its near neighbours, Castile, Aragon, Portugal, and Navarre was in circulation in the city, undercutting the profits of the merchants of Bayonne as well returns to the king.

In December 1431 Gloucester and the Council granted Bayonne the right to appoint a proctor to oversee the establishment of a mint in the castle at Bayonne and to report to the exchequer at Bordeaux on its profits. The master of the mint in Bordeaux would be master of the mint in Bayonne. The building costs involved in establishing the mint must be borne by the citizens of Bayonne, and the profits were to be used for the defence of the city to lighten the costs to the crown.

The Mayor of Bayonne also petitioned for the right of salvage from wreckages of the sea along the coastline from Bayonne to Fuentarrabia on the border with Spain.  Unauthorized private individuals were profiting from shipwrecks, and income which should have gone to the officials at Bayonne and to the king, were being subverted. The Council granted the petition but stipulated that a proctor must be appointed to account to the Exchequer in Bordeaux for the expected profits (1, 2).

The Council favoured these requests because of their potential returns to the crown and because Bayonne was the designated city for meetings between English representatives and envoys from Aragon and Navarre (see 1430).

(1) Foedera X, p. 498 (grant of both petitions).

(2) Gascon Rolls, C61 124.

https://www.gasconrolls.org/edition/calendars/C61 124/document.html


London Citizens

John Leman, a citizen of London and a members of the Skinners Guild stood surety for Master Thomas Mireton with a recognizance in chancery for £100 claimed by Sir William Iver [Evere] a Yorkshire knight, who had captured Thomas Mireton and held him to ransom. Mireton was a Scot, on his way from Scotland to London carrying letters from King James to the Council.

The Council judged the case in April 1431 and awarded Iver £40 (1, 2). The reason for the payment by order of the Council is not given, perhaps it was their responsibility to protect a royal messenger.

Five London merchants John Gedney, John Wells, John Brockley and Robert Large, all former mayors of London and members of the Common Council, stood surety for a loan by Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury of £2,000 towards King Henry’s coronation expedition.  Repayment was assigned on the subsidy granted by Convocation in March to be collected at Martinmas (11 November) 1431 (3).

‘Job de Pruce de Mediolano Aromatorio’ (from Prussia trained in Milan) petitioned the Council that he and his son, John Baptista, should be recognised as citizens of London.  Job de Pruce, an otherwise unknown physician in the king’s household, reminded the Council that when he had agreed to stay on as physician to the king after the death of another physician, Master James of Milan, he had been promised that he would be provided for. He was too old and feeble to accompany the king to France and he wished to leave royal service and open a shop in London, presumably to trade in aromatic herbs and medicines. His petition was granted (4).

(1) PPC IV, p. 83 (council award to Iver).

(2) Issues of the Exchequer, p. 413 (Iver payment, November 1431).

(3) PPC IV, p. 89 (Chichele’s loan).

(4) PPC IV, p. 90 (Job de Pruce).


The rebuilding of Newgate prison, begun in 1423, was complete by early 1431.

See Year 1423, London  for Newgate

Newgate was designed to hold criminals (men and women) whose offences ranged from misdeeds to serious crimes. Prisoners fell into two main categories: ‘freemen,’ often citizens of London imprisoned for debt or other civilian infringements of the law, and convicted felons, or those awaiting trial on criminal offences.

The Mayor and Common Council of London issued an ordinance for the administration and maintenance of the new gaol in February 1431, and the transfer of prisoners from Ludgate to Newgate began in late March (1).

(1) Sharpe, Letter Book K, pp. 124-27 (ordinance for Newgate).

The keeper of Newgate, John Kingscote, persuaded the sheriffs of London to remove some ‘freemen’ from Newgate and confine them in the Counters, the two prisons in London under the direct authority of the sheriffs. The ‘freemen’ (probably debtors) were transferred manacled in broad daylight, much to the indignation of the chronicler of Brut F since chains were usually only used on felons.

“And in this same yere, on the Tuesday next after Palme Sonday, all the prisoners þat were in Ludgate were brought into Newgate prison by Waltere Chirtesey & Roberte Large, shirreffes of London; and the Friday the xiijth day of Aprell then next folowing, the same shirreffes fette oute of Newgate, by the false suggestion and compleynt of oon Iohn Kyngescote, Gaolere of Neugate, xviij presoners of fremen.  And the oon half of these xviij presoners were ledde to the oon Counter, and þat oþer half to þat other Compter, by malice and compleynt of þe seid Iohn Kyngescote. And these were ledde to the Compters, braced as though they had be felons and theves, openly in euery mannys sight.”      Brut Continuation F, pp. 456-457


In June 1431 Ludgate was declared a debtors’ prison, and the prisoners in the Counters were sent back to Ludgate. The Common Council of London appointed Henry Dene, a tailor, as its keeper and uniquely, Cleopatra C IV names Dene’s lieutenant, Richard Haver, and the porter, Richard Clye.

“And in this same yere, the xvj day of Iune, the preson of Ludgate was made, and opened ageyn for fremen þat be presoners for dette.  And the same day they entred in first ageyn by ordynaunce and comaundment of the Maire, alder men and comyners.  And Herry Dene, Tayloure, was made keper of Ludgate prison, by the Maire and all the communialte in the Guyldhall.”       Brut Continuation F, p. 457

“And in the same yere in the passion weke the presonerys of ludgate were led to newgate and to the counterys and ther they were tyll vij dayes tofore midsomer day, and than alle the ffreeman in the covnterys and in newgate were boode by the sherves that they schuld goo to ludgate; and the maister of the seyde gayole Herry Dene Tayllour his leftenant Richarde havyr and his porter Ric. Clye.”    

                                                             Chronicles of London, (Cleopatra C IV), p. 134

Chronicles: Chronicles of London, (Julius B II), p. 97. Great Chronicle, p. 156


The Tower of London

The postern gate entry to the Tower of London sank into the mud of the Thames to a depth of some seven feet in 1431, according to Gregory’s Chronicle.

“Ande the same yere in the monythe of Juylle, the xvij day the posterne be-syde the Towre sanke downe into the erthe vij fote and more.” Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 172

The gate was built in the reign of Edward I as a water gate under St Thomas’s Tower to give easy access to the royal apartments.  It became infamous as ‘Traitor’s Gate’ in Tudor times. John Stow describes the Tower’s large water gate and beyond it “a small Posterne with a draw bridge seldom letten downe but for the receipt of some great persons prisoners.” (1)

(1) Stow, Survey I, p, 49 (water gate).


Parliament had been summoned in November 1430 and it convened at Westminster on 12 January 1431. It was presided over by the Duke of Gloucester and sat until 20 March (1). The need for money was acute. The generous grant made by the Parliament of 1429-1430 had been spent or committed.

“Ande that same yere the xiij day of Janyver be-gan the Parlyment at Westmynster. . . . . . . .  And the xx day of the same monythe [March]  endyd the Parlyment above sayde”                         Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 171

Crown Debts

The treasurer, Lord Hungerford, reminded the Council and Parliament that despite his repeated requests payment had still not been made to the 400 men-at-arms who had served in the Earl of Salisbury’s retinue and remained in France after the earl’s death in 1428. The crown was also in debt to the Seneschal of Gascony (Sir John Radcliffe) and the King’s Lieutenant in Ireland (Sir Thomas Stanley) to the tune of some £16,385 11s. Stanley had been appointed in January 1431 for six years commencing 12 April, but difficulties over payment of his wages meant that he did not leave for Ireland until September 1431 (2). Hungerford had been ordered to give preference to maintaining the king in France over Stanley (3).

The Exchequer had been instructed to find £10,000 to be sent the treasurer of war in Rouen by Christmas 1430. On 1 March 1431 the Council ordered Thomas Gloucester and John Thornley, members of the king’s household, to transport £4,000 to John Hotoft, the treasurer of war. (4). In May the Council allocated a further £1,673 10s 1d to be sent to the king in France for the wages of 400 men-at-arms and 1,200 archers for one month (5).

John, Lord Tiptoft, steward of the royal household, came home from France to attend Parliament. He petitioned for 120 marks as the arrears of the 10 marks per annum owed to him from a grant made by Henry V in 1418.  He asked that this sum be paid from the Exchequer and not be charged against the sheriff of Huntingdon, as the 10 marks had been allocated on the £12 paid to the crown by the Priory of Huntingdon. His request was granted (6).


The Mayor and Calais Staplers had loaned 3,500 marks for the defence of Paris in 1430 and the Council had assigned repayment the on the subsidy voted by Convocation (see 1430). The debt was still outstanding, and in May 1431 the Council assigned £2,333 6s 8d on the tax grant made in this parliament that would be levied In November. The money was to be delivered to Sir John Lusshingborne (7).

 Authority to Treat for Peace

Lords and Commons alike, on whom the burden of taxation and loans would fall, were acutely aware that the current level of commitment to the war in France was too costly to be sustained. They commended the Council in Parliament for the recently signed truce with Scotland and suggested that the negotiations for a final peace should continue. They went further: peace with Spain and France was also desirable and they even suggested that Henry V’s Treaty of Troyes, which laid down that no peace talks should be entered into with the ‘recalcitrant’ French, might be interpreted more flexibly. Parliament would welcome any moves the king’s uncles might make for a truce with France, if the ‘dauphin’ was amendable, and provided English interests were protected (6). In the meanwhile, taxation alone would be insufficient to sustain the war in France and Parliament authorized raising loans up to £50,000 (8, 9).


On 20 March, the last day before it was dissolved, the Commons granted a fifteenth and a tenth to be levied in November 1431, plus an additional third of a fifteenth and a tenth, collectable by Easter 1432. Twenty shillings on knights’ fees, or on every £20 of annual income from land and a renewal of the trade subsides: tunnage and poundage until November 1432 and an extension of the wool subsidy to November 1434. Alien merchants would pay an additional six pence on all imported and exported merchandise worth over 20 shillings, over and above the twelve pence previously imposed on them (10).

“And after All Saints [1 November] a parliament was held in England at London in which the king received a fifteenth from the laity and a tenth from the clergy.” 

                                                    Benet’s Chronicle, p. 183

Hanseatic League

The German merchants of the Hanseatic League objected to the additional tax of six pence on their imports and exports. Mindful of the need to encourage foreign trade and the taxes (and loans) it brought in, the Council was reluctant to impose the subsidy. At a council meeting in May, comprising only the Chancellor, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and four bishops, it was agreed to suspend the additional tax temporarily although the German merchants were required to give security for payment at some future date, if required (11).

The question of whether Parliament had the right to impose taxes on Hanse merchants which contravened the special privileges granted to the Hanseatic League in previous reigns was an old one. In 1423 the Hanse merchants had refused to pay the impost on wine granted by Parliament in 1422 and the Council had hesitated to impose it until the judges found that it was lawful (see 1423).

(1) PROME X, p. 444 (Parliament).

(2) Otway-Ruthven, Medieval Ireland, p. 369 (Stanley lieutenant of Ireland).

(3) PPC IV pp. 79-80 (Hungerford’s report on crown debt).

(4) PPC IV, p. 78 (£4,000 to John Hotoft).

(5) PPC IV, p. 89 (Council’s allocation in May).

(6) PROME X, pp, 456-457 (Tiptoft’s petition).

(7) PPC IV, p. 88 (repayment of Staplers’ loan).

(8) PROME X, p. 453 (authority to treat for peace).

(9) PROME X, pp. 460-461 (authority to raise a loan).

(10) CPR 1429-1436, pp 124-127 (commissioners to raise a loan).

(11) PROME X, pp 447-449 (tax grant).

(12) PPC IV, pp. 86-87 (Hanse subsidy suspended).

Cardinal Beaufort

Cardinal Beaufort had highjacked the king’s coronation expedition to France, but it had not gone according to plan. His intention to personally crown Henry king of France was no nearer realisation at the end of 1430 than it had been in the previous April.

King Charles VII’s forces had a strangle hold on the route from Rouen to Paris, and to take Henry even further east to be crowned at Rheims was out of the question. The army accompanying Henry VI to France had proved insufficient to overcome French resistance; the king was stuck in Rouen and likely to remain there.

The lack of military progress frustrated Beaufort. He had taken over the administration of the Council in Rouen and estranged the Duke of Bedford with little to show for it. He decided that a second army under his financial control was what was needed, and in December 1430 he returned to England to attend Parliament and raise an army.

While Parliament was in session the Council arranged to repay the loans Beaufort had made to the king in Rouen: £2,815 13s 1½d in November 1430, and £666 13s 4d in February 1431. These payments were vital, despite the Exchequer’s inability to meet the crown’s other financial obligations. The Cardinal was expected to make a large contribution to the loan authorised by Parliament, although a sizeable chunk would come from his salary for services to the crown, a form of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Beaufort was to be paid £1,659 6s 9d as a councillor for his attendance in Normandy from 23 April (the day King Henry landed) to the end of December 1430 when he returned to England; and £666 13s. for attending the council in England from December 1430 to 23 April 1431 ‘next suing’: plus £2,000 in advance for his attendance ‘about the king’s person in France’ for the next half year (1).

(1) PPC IV, p. 79 (Beaufort’s loans and salary)

Beaufort’s army

Beauforts’ nephews, Thomas and Edmund Beaufort  returned to England with their uncle and in February 1431 they were appointed to lead the expeditionary force. They indented for six months service and contributed the largest contingent to the new army, 128-men-at arms and 460 archers each, paid for by the cardinal. (1).

Thomas Beaufort had only recently been ransomed (see 1430). In March the Council licenced him to export £3,000 in gold to pay part of his ransom. They also issued letters of authorization to his attorneys, Thomas Chambre and William Dales, to act in his name for one year (2, 3).

James Touchet, Lord Audley and Walter, Lord Fitzwalter, (Brut H, p. 659 misnames him as Lord Fitzhugh) indented to join the army in April. Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury another of Beaufort’s nephews, would follow in July with an additional 800 men (4).

“And at Eyster aftyrwarde the Erle of Perche [and] of Mortenne, the Lorde of Fewater and the Lorde of Audeley wente in to Fraunce with a new retenewe to the kyng; in the secunde day of May wente the Cardynalle of Wynchester in to Fraunce, the Byschoppe of Northewyche and the Lorde Cromwelle whythe a nothyr mayny; and the ij day of June aftyr went the Erle of Salysbury in to Fraunce whythe a fulle fayre mayny.                 Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 172

(1) Harriss, Beaufort, p. 204 (indentures and costs).

(2) CPR 1429-1436, p. 112 (Thomas Beaufort’s ransom).

(3) Foedera X, p. 491 (Thomas Beaufort’s attorneys).

(4) Foedera X, p. 493 (Audley, Fitzwalter and Salisbury).

Beaufort’s Retinue

 Cardinal Beaufort returned to France in May 1431 with a large retinue, civilian and military.  John Hunte, sergeant of arms and William Billington, clerk, had been ordered to requisition ships to be ready by 12 April (1). Wages for the army of just over 2,500 men amounted to £17,082, with an additional £5,584 for the Earl of Salisbury’s force. The total costs for wages and shipping came to £24,000, the bulk of the money being supplied by Beaufort.  “Thus during the six months following his return to France Beaufort lent almost precisely 20,000 marks ‘withoute the whiche loans . . . neither the siege of Louviers might have ben cundited to good conclusion neother the king have abiden to receive his crowne and sacre . . .  ne have returned agen to his Reaume of England” (2).

Beaufort was accompanied by William Alnwick, Bishop of Norwich, Keeper of the Privy Seal and Ralph, Lord Cromwell, a member of the original Minority Council. They would be on hand to witness King Henry’s coronation in Paris. Cromwell received 500 marks for six months attendance in Rouen (3) and he petitioned the Council to negate proceedings against him in the Exchequer touching certain of his inheritances until he returned to England because there was no time to plead his case before his departure. His request was granted by Gloucester, Cardinal Beaufort, and six bishops (4).

William Lyndwood and John Tyrell, Speaker in the 1431 Parliament were appointed to attend the Council in Rouen for six months. They were accompanied by Richard Woodville, Bedford’s lieutenant of Calais. They were each paid £100, with an additional £40 to Lyndwood as Deputy Keeper of the Privy Seal (5). For the rest of 1431 the Keeper and Deputy Keeper of the Privy Seal would be out of England.  As soon as he reached Rouen Tyrell replaced John Hotoft, who had resigned in February as treasurer of the household (6). Tyrell was knighted in Rouen in 1431.

John, Lord Tiptoft, was paid £200 plus 20 marks for his expenses in coming to England and returning to France (7, 8) with a further payments in April of £100 for attending the council in France for one-year (9) and for his indenture to contribute six men-at-arms, including himself, and eighteen archers to the army at four shillings a day for himself, one shilling for men-at-arms and six pence for archers, with the standard clauses of an indenture covering prisoners’ ransoms and booty (10). John Tyrell received payment for himself and two other men-at-arms and nine archers on the same terms as Lord Tiptoft (11).

(1) Foedera X, p. 491 (shipping).

(2) Harriss, Beaufort, p. 212 (citing SC 8/7180 for the quotation).

(3) PPC IV, p. 78 (Cromwell paid as councillor).

(4) PPC IV, pp.  80-81 (Cromwell’s petition).

(5) PPC IV, pp. 81-82 (payment to Woodville, Tyrell and Lyndwood).

(6) Griffiths, Henry VI, p. 58 (Tyrell as treasurer of the household).

(7) PPC IV, p. 82   (Tiptoft expenses coming and going).

(8) Foedera X, p. 492 (Tiptoft expenses).

(9) PPC IV, p 84 (Tiptoft payment for attending council).

(10) PPC IV, pp. 83-84 (Tiptoft indenture).

(11) PPC IV, pp. 83-84 (payment to Tyrell).

The Duke of Burgundy

While Cardinal Beaufort was still in England, the Duke of Burgundy sent Quentin Menart the provost of Saint Omer to the Council to complain of the lack of English support, military and financial, for the Burgundian war effort (1).  Duke Philip cannot have expected a favourable reaction from his old adversary the Duke of Gloucester, but he may have hoped to obtain a promise of future assistance from the cardinal (2). There is no record of this embassy in the Proceedings or in Foedera but in June 1434 John Staunton, clothier of London received £16 for the purchased of ‘an entire cloth of scarlet’ given to Master  Quentin Menart, Reeve of Saint Omer, one of the ambassadors ‘lately sent’ by the duke to the king and council (3).

In May 1431 Burgundy sent Sir Philibert Audrenet and Jehan Abonnel, called Le Gros to the Council in Rouen to reiterate his complaints.  His grievances were the same as those he had expressed in November 1430. He claimed compensation for his losses especially of artillery in the abortive Compiègne campaign of the previous autumn. He referred to the 1,000 men under John of Luxembourg that he had deployed in November for two months to defend Picardy, and another 1,000 men under the Marshal of Burgundy in the county of Burgundy at his own cost. Burgundian territory was under attack on all sides by the French – Artois, Picardy, Namur, the county of Burgundy, Charolais, and Rethelois had suffered ‘by occasion of the wars’ (4).

The Council in Rouen delayed their answer until 28 May when Cardinal Beaufort had returned to France.  It was a disingenuous and vague response to keep Burgundy onside without further commitments. Beaufort may well have dictated it (5).

The Council’s letter averred that ‘King Henry’ was as displeased by the attacks on Burgundian territory as if the lands had been his own, but reminded Burgundy of the English contribution: the late Earl of Salisbury and other English war captains had campaigned for several years with some success to drive the enemy out of Burgundian territories and would continue to do so if at all possible.

‘King Henry’ thanked Burgundy for the troops he had committed and assured him that England would continue to honour its commitment to the war. The king had ordered that 600 men-at-arms and 1200 archers should remain in Picardy throughout July and August under John of Luxembourg’s command (a subtle reminder that he was in English pay). Combined with the 1,000 Burgundians, this force should be able to wage war effectively.

It would not be long now before the siege of Louviers ended and then reinforcements would be available for the Earl of Stafford to join John of Luxemburg and campaign in Upper Normandy with Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury (a part of the Cardinal’s army) who was due to arrive shortly.

As to reparations for Burgundy’s financial losses, the Council procrastinated: investigations were in hand and arrangements were being made at Bruges and in Calais for compensation payments. If Burgundy would send representatives, a settlement acceptable to the duke could be reached.

Burgundy was suspicious of the Emperor Sigismund’s envoys who were known to have visited Rouen. He suspected Sigismund of being about to ally with France against him. The Council assured Burgundy that no agreement with Sigismund or anyone else would be reached without Burgundy’s knowledge and advice, as required under the terms of the Treaty of Troyes. A smug reminder that the English would not break the treaty.

Burgundy also wanted to know what the representatives of Louis de Chalons, Prince of the County of Orange in the south of France, were doing in Rouen. Louis was supposedly a war captain in the Burgundian army, but his allegiance was shaky, and he had had dealing with Emperor Sigismund in the past. The Council’s reply was conciliatory if non-committal: they intended to ‘make the best arrangement’ they could with him.

On his way back from Germany in 1428 Cardinal Beaufort had discussed the Duke of Bourbon’s situation with the Duke of Burgundy and the possibility of exchanging Bourbon for the cardinal’s nephew, John Beaufort Earl of Somerset.

See Year 1427: The Duke of Bourbon and the Earl of Somerset.

Duke Philip was not interested in an exchange which would not benefit him, but he suggested that Bourbon could be released into his custody in lieu of the money owed to him by the Minority Council for supplying Burgundian artillery to the English war effort. Bourbon was not as closely related to King Charles VII as the Duke of Orleans, but he was still a prince of the blood. He could be invaluable as a bargaining chip in any future negotiations Duke Philip might initiate with King Charles. Charles would not bargain with the English for Bourbon’s release, but he might with the Duke of Burgundy. This did not interest Beaufort, and nothing came of it (5).

The Council’s letter professed ignorance of any steps the Council in England might have taken for the release of the Duke of Bourbon after Cardinal Beaufort left England in 1430. Amadeus VIII, Duke of Savoy had apparently been involved in Burgundy’s attempt to obtain Bourbon’s release in 1428. Beaufort admitted these discussions but claimed that Bourbon himself had rejected the terms offered him by the Minority Council.

See Years 1429 and 1430:  The Duke of Bourbon.

Beaufort addressed a personal letter to Burgundy hoping that his ‘most beloved nephew’ would be satisfied with the council’s reply and that Burgundy would be pleased with the verbal messages which Jehan Le Gros was to convey to him. Beaufort also made the obligatory offer to do anything in his power that the duke might require of him (6).

(1) Vaughan, Philip, p. 26 citing Plancher IV, no.75.

(2) L&P II, p. 90 and p.198 (Burgundian embassy to England).

(3) Issues of the Exchequer, pp. 424-425 (dated to  1435. Given the tardy payments by the Exchequer his may refer to the gift to Menart in 1431).

(4) L&P II, pp. 188-193 (Council in Rouen’s reply).

(5) L&P II, p. 173 (Burgundy’s offer for Bourbon).

(6) L&P II, pp. 194-195 (Beaufort’s letter to Burgundy).

Joan of Arc burned

After her capture in Compiègne in 1430 Joan of Arc remained in John of Luxembourg’s custody for seven months (see 1430) until she was purchased by the English and brought to Rouen (not to Paris, which was far too dangerous) for trial. She arrived in Rouen on Christmas Eve 1430.

Joan’s protracted ordeal began on 21 February 1431 with her trial which opened under the aegis of Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais. Just over three months later, on 30 May Joan La Puccelle, abandoned by her ‘gentle Dauphin,’ was burned in the marketplace as a heretic and a witch. King Henry was in Rouen but he did not witness Joan’s death. The suggestion that Joan was tried and executed in Rouen because King Henry’s presence would lend weight to the proceedings is fallacious. There was nowhere else in all of France that Joan could be safely put on trial.

Cardinal Beaufort, Lord Cromwell, and William Alnwick witnessed Joan’s execution as representatives of the Minority Council. The Duke of Bedford did not attend. Beaufort ordered her ashes to be carefully gathered and thrown into the Seine so they could not be disseminated as holy relics (1, 2).

Her fate did not interest the English chroniclers. Brut Continuation G (p. 501) is hostile; it mentions a trial, and records the erroneous propaganda that Joan claimed to be pregnant to delay her execution. Gregory’s Chronicle merely records that La Pucelle was burned at Rouen.

[Joan of Arc was] “brought to Roan; & þer she was put in prison & þer she was Iuged by þe law to be brent. And þen she said þat she was with childe, wherby she was respited A while; but in conclusion it was found þat she was not with childe & þen she was brent in Roane  . . .”     Brut Continuation H,  p.  569

“Ande the xxiij day of May the Pusylle was brent at Rone and that was a pon Corpus Crysty evyn.”              Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 172

(1) Harriss, Beaufort, p. 209-10 (Joan of Arc burned).

(2) Castor, Joan of Arc, Chapter 9, pp. 165-194 (Joan of Arc burned).

Campaigns of 1431

The army in Normandy

It was clear by 1431 that without Bedford’s controlling hand the Council in Rouen was losing its grip on military discipline. A mandate in Henry VI’s name dated 1 February condemned in the strongest possible terms the failure on the part of captains and lieutenants of garrisons to take and submit musters of the garrisons in Normandy and the pays de conquête. Muster rolls were basic bookkeeping, used to calculate and pay the soldiers’ wages and to gage the strength and whereabouts of English forces in France.

Thomas Blount had appointed commissioners to take the musters but his orders in King Henry’s name had been ignored. No muster rolls had been taken or submitted or for some time past, “wherefore we have not been able to know nor ascertain truly what number of men of war we can count nor if the said garrisons and strongholds are sufficiently guarded.”  In the middle of a war this was indeed a dangerous state of affairs.

The king’s mandate ordered that if the reason for the commissioners’ dereliction of duty was that the captains and lieutenants of the garrisons had refused their cooperation then they were not to be paid from the day on which the last muster rolls ended. The commissioners were to visit each garrison or stronghold individually and investigate. A day for them to report to the Council in Rouen with the required information was to be appointed and they must come prepared to answer any questions the council might have. Failure to obey would result in imprisonment or confiscation of goods. Baillis and sheriffs were to be apprised of these orders and were to arrest those who did not come to Rouen ‘if they can find them!’(1).  In other words, the administration in Rouen had been dysfunctional for some time.

(1) L&P II, pp. 182-187 (muster rolls). The commissioners are named in an appendix to king’s mandate:

Falaise garrison: Guillaume Lude, keeper of the granary and Jehan Sainte, vicomte (sheriff) of Falaise.

Vire garrison: Vicomte of Vire and Jehan Fauquet.

Bayeux garrison: Guillaume Bosquet and Jehan Vanville.

Caen garrison: Giraud Desquay and  Loys le Clire.

The Siege of Louviers

The town and castle of Louviers on the Seine eighteen miles south of Rouen had been in French hands since December 1429. It barred the route to Paris, and everyone agreed that it had to be recovered before King Henry could be moved to Paris for his coronation.

It had been under siege since 1430, but it was not until May 1431, after the arrival of Cardinal Beaufort’s reinforcements, that English military efforts centred on recapturing it. The cardinal’s nephews, Edmund Beaufort, Earl of Mortain, and Thomas Beaufort, created Earl of Perche after his release from captivity (see 1430), took charge of the siege (1).

In June the Estates of Normandy allocated a third of its tax grant to the recovery of Louviers and paid 20,000 livres tournois for 400 men-at-arms and 1200 archers drawn from garrisons all over Normandy (2).

The English had one stroke of luck. Etienne de Vignolles, La Hire, who had captured Louviers in 1429, was taken prisoner during the siege (3, 4).  But Thomas Beaufort died at Louviers on 3 October, only weeks before the town surrendered. Louviers was plundered and its walls and fortified defences dismantled.

“And in 1431 the town of Louviers surrendered to the king; it was plundered and destroyed after Christmas.”  Benet’s Chronicle, p. 183

“And in þat same yere was Louers geton & the walles beton doun and made an open village for all maner of pepill both Englisshe and Frensshe.”

                                                                    Brut Continuation H,  p. 569

(1) Jones, ‘Beaufort Family,’ pp. 82-85 (for Louviers).

(2 Barker, Conquest, p. 169 (Estates grant).

(3) Bourgeois, p. 264 (La Hire captured).

(4) Chartier, Chronique I, p. 163 (La Hire captured).

The Earl of Warwick

The Earl of Warwick, despite his duties in the royal household as King Henry’s governor, took the field during the summer of 1431.

The town of Beauvais housed a sizeable French garrison and a force led by the Marshal de Boussac (Jean de Brosse) and Poton de Xaintrailles left the town on a marauding (or foraging) expedition. They were caught in the open (or ambushed) by the Earl of Warwick (1).

“And the same yere the xj day of Auguste the Erle of Warwyke [and] the Erle Stafforde slowe and toke a grete nombyr of pepylle be-syde Bevys; and ther was take on Potyn and a scheparde that was namyd le Bergere and he namyd hym sylfe hooly and a saynte, for the Fraynysche men hadde a be-leve on hym that yf he hadde layde hys honde on a castelle walle that hyt shulde have fallyn downe by the power of hys holynys.”                       Gregory’s Chronicle, pp. 172-173

Poton de Xaintrailles was captured by Warwick. As one of Charles VII’s most experienced and successful war captains he was a valuable prize. He had captured John, Lord Talbot at the Battle of Patay in 1429.  The importance of Xaintrailles to the French war effort is reflected in the willingness of King Charles VII to exchange him for John Talbot, equally important to the English war effort.

Chartier mistakenly says the Earl of Arundel captured Xaintrailles (2) and marginal note added to The Great Chronicle also credits the Earl of Arundel with capturing Xaintrailles.

Insert: “This yere therle off Arundell disconfityd ye marshall off France callyd bonsac beside beauvays wt A grett puissance & toke prisoner poynton off Xaintrailles. A valiant capitayne whiche was eschangid for ye lord talbott taken prisoner before att ye battayle off Patay.”    Great Chronicle, p. 156

Guillaume le Berger (William the Shepherd) from the Auvergne was a would-be successor to Joan to of Arc. He was with the French force, possibly for their spiritual protection, and he too was captured. (4).

Le Berger claimed to have the stigmata, the five wounds of Christ, imprinted on his body like St Francis, and he said he had been sent by God, but he did not inspire the trust and veneration given to the Maid. I have been unable to trace a source for Gregory’s statement that he was believed to be able to reduce castle walls by the laying on of hands.

The Bourgeois of Paris called him ‘a bad man.’ Chartier says many people thought he was mad, but he was a prize of sorts. The deluded young man was kept in strict confinement until the day of Henry VI’s processional entry into Paris in December when he was paraded in chains as a thief. After that, he disappeared (5).

(1) Monstrelet I, pp. 585-86 (Warwick captured Xaintrailles).

(2) Chartier, Chronique I, pp. 132-33 (Arundel captured Xaintrailles).

(3) Barker, Conquest, p. 168 (holy shepherd).

(4) Bourgeois, pp. 266 and 269 (fate of Le Berger).

The Death of Lord Fitzwalter

Thomas Beaufort was not the only unlucky captain in Cardinal Beaufort’s army. Walter, Lord Fitzwalter, died in November 1431. An English Chronicle (misdated to 1434) has the story that he was drowned while attempting to cross the channel from Dieppe to England during a storm on St Katherine’s eve, 24 November. An insert in The Great Chronicle (p. 170) says he drowned in the Thames.

“And this same yeer, on saint Katerine[s] eve, the lord Fitz Watier wolde haue come fro Normandie in to Englond, and ayens the wille and counsel of the shipmenne wente heddily to ship at Dope ; and whanne he was in the se, ther fil on him a greet tempest, and drounde him with moche othir peple.”  

                                                                           English Chronicle, p. 54

“And that same yere on Syn Katheryn ys eve was the Lorde Fewater drownyd and moche pepylle whythe hym. And moche harme done in the see of loste of schyppys that were lade whythe wyne fro Bordowys by the grete tempasse in the see.”    Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 175

Fitzwalter had indented to serve for six months, so he may have returned to England at the end of his indenture and died shortly thereafter. According to The Complete Peerage he died on 25 November 1431. His will is dated 10 April 1431 and he was buried at Dunmow Priory, so it is unlikely that he drowned at sea. His widow, Elizabeth, had livery of his lands on 5 June 1432 (1).

(1) Cokayne, Complete Peerage V, p. 483 (Fitzwalter).

Jack Sharp’s Rising


A brief uprising in England in May has been dubbed ‘the Lollard spring.’

Lollardy was an heretical sect based on the teaching of the fourteenth century preacher John Wyclif.  Suppression of Lollardy had been the responsibility of bishops in their dioceses until the rebellion of the Lollard Sir John Oldcastle in 1414. It was suppressed almost before it began but Oldcastle and his followers were hunted down and executed mercilessly not primarily for their heresy but because they had dared to rebel against Henry V. After 1414 Lollardy was associated with treason.

Thomas Bagley, an Essex priest, suffered the penalty for a convicted heretic, he was burned in Smithfield on St Gregory’s Day (12 March) in 1431 (1).

“And about midlente Sir Thomas Baggely, preest & vicar of Mauen in Est-sexe beside Walden was disgraded and dampned for an heritike & brent in Smythfeld.”

                                                            Brut Continuation H, p. 569                     

“And in this same yere, on Seint Gregoryes day a preste of Essex was brought to London afore the clergye of Seint Paules, and there he was conuicte in heresy and false Lollardy, þat he mayntened and helde ayenst holy chirche; and so he was brent in Smythfeld for his heresy.”              Brut Continuation F, p. 456

Bagley’s death roused the anti-clerical feelings that simmered just below the surface of society throughout the fifteenth century. ‘Bills’ appeared in public places in London and elsewhere condemning the wealth of the church and suggesting its radical redistribution. The chronicles record the emotive story that the rebels intended to have (or sell) three priests’ heads for a penny (2). A central tenet of Wyclif’s teaching was the incompatibility of the wealth of the church with the life of Christ.


 Jack Sharp

A man calling himself ‘Jack Sharp of Wigmoresland’ gathered a following at Abingdon in Oxfordshire. Sharp’s real name is uncertain. He is identified in the chronicles as William Mandeville, bailiff of Abingdon and a weaver by trade or as William Perkins (6, 7) . The name Jack Sharp was probably intended as a link with the memory of ‘Jack Straw’ a leader of the Peasants Revolt of 1381 (8).


‘Sharp’ issued a manifesto (9). Pace the hysteria of the chroniclers, who are not independent witnesses, it did not advocate the wholesale destruction of the lords of the land: quite the opposite. It is in Middle English, with a suspiciously misleading heading in Latin: ‘The most evil petition stirred up by John Sharpe to lord Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, protector of the realm for the subversion of the church.’  The name Jack Sharp does not appear in the text which opens with a petition addressed not to Gloucester but to the king and the lords in Parliament, demanding that they resume the temporalities of the higher clergy and put them to better use.

The detailed analysis in the manifesto of ecclesiastical incomes, from the Archbishop of Canterbury down to assorted abbots, is unlikely to have been the work of a weaver from Abingdon, even if he were a bailiff. It claimed that the specific sum of 332,000 marks [£221,333 13s. 4d.] could be raised by stripping bishops, priors, and abbots of their wealth. This would finance the creation of 15 additional earls, 1500 knights, and 6,200 esquires (gentlemen) by endowing them according to their rank: the earls would be granted 1,000 marks a year and the esquires £20 plus allocations of land. One hundred additional alms houses would get 100 marks a year and “a thousand priests and profitable clerks to preach the word of God” would replace the existing clergy, who neglected their duties. All this would still leave a surplus for the crown!

The petition strongly resembles an earlier parliamentary bill of Henry IV’s reign, recorded in the chronicles, calling for church disestablishment, even to the exact sum of £20,000 which, according to both petitions, was to come to the crown (10). It is a figment of over-heated imaginations, but what did it amount to? It was a ‘pamphlet war’; if it really constituted a carefully laid plot, the plotters were singularly inept.

Sharp’s ‘rising’ did not last long. His followers were quickly dispersed, without doing much damage. Sharp went into hiding in Oxford. He was betrayed by William Warbelton, who identified him as William Perkins and he was arrested by the Chancellor of Oxford in Whitsun week. Warbelton later claimed that as soon as he learned Perkins’s whereabouts, he informed the Chancellor of Oxford and the bailiffs of the town arrested Perkins that same night, 17 May (11, 12).

“Ande that yere was on namyd hym selfe Jacke Sharpe that wolde have made a rysynge in the cytte of London for he wolde have take owte the temperalteys of Hooly Chryche; but the xix day of May he was take at Oxforde and v moo of [his] secte, and whythe yn fewe dayes he was drawyd hangyde and quarteryde, and hys hede sete on London Brygge and hys quarterys i-sent to dyvers townys of Ingelonde, as to Oxforde, Abyngdon, and to moo othyr.  And sum of  [hisinserted in a later hand] felowys were takyn at Covyntre, and there they were drawe, hangyd and quarteryd; and a woman be-heddyd at the galous.”                                    Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 172

In May the Council issued a proclamation prohibited the posting of ‘bills’ and the sheriffs were ordered to arrest anyone suspected of writing, disseminating, or even reading them.  A reward of £20 was offered for the arrest of anyone involved in distributing them (3).

Richard Gatone, the Mayor of Salisbury claimed the reward in November for apprehending one John Keteridge who had admitted receiving ‘seditious writings’ possibly disseminated by ‘Jack Sharp’ (4, 5).

John Russell, a wool packer like Richard Hundon, who had been burned on Tower Hill as a heretic in 1430, was hanged in July.

“And in þis same yere, the xiij day of Iuyll, John Russell, wollepakkere, was dampned at Westmynstre, and brought to the Kynges Benche, and leyde on a hirdell, and drawen thurgh the Cite to Tybourne, and quartered; and his quarters set ypon dyuers gates of London, and his hede set vpon London Brigge.”  Brut Continuation F, p. 457

“In the same yere the xiij day of July ande that whas on the translacion of Seynt Mildred [12 July], Russell, a Wollman whas drawen and hongid his hede smytten of and his body quartered ffor diuerse causis and suggestions that were putt vpon him; whos soule Almyghtie Jhesu fforyeve, and hym to the blysse.  Amen!”  Chronicles of London, Cleopatra C IV,  p. 134

Jack Sharp and John Russell were hanged, not burnt as heretics. The sporadic nature of the risings of 1431 somewhat grandly dubbed “the Lollard spring” sound more like attempts by ‘have nots’ with delusions of grandeur to lay hands on church property than to an outbreak of widespread religious fervour.

‘Jack Sharp’s rising’ has received more attention than it deserves because of its extensive, albeit duplicated, coverage in the chronicles deriving from the same source. The chroniclers were the news gathers of their time, and while sharing the fear of disorder they were naturally interested in sensational events such as rebellions and men burned as heretics or hanged for treason. Historians have been quick to accept contemporary accounts, which were certainly in part, and probably wholly, politically inspired.

Only Thomson sounds a note of scepticism: “Although the motive force behind the 1431 rising is described as Lollardy in both narrative and record sources, it should be noted that it was very much a political kind of Lollardy . . . . it is not impossible that the attribution of the revolt to the Lollards may have been the action of the government . . . . whereas in fact the anticlericalism of these need have had no doctrinal basis.” (13).

The serious rising of the Lollards in 1431 should be taken with a large grain of salt. Social disorder and unrest were major concerns, not only to the government but to all responsible citizens, who magnified any disturbance as a threat to property and a step towards anarchy. It was easier to blame sedition on the Lollards as heretics rather than on social or economic discontent. (William Wawe, a violent criminal, was called a Lollard in 1428).

(1) Chronicles of London (Cleopatra C IV (p. 134) mistakenly says St George’s day. A Chronicle of London (Harley 565), p. 118 ; Great Chronicle, p. 155;  Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 171 (Bagley’s execution).

(2) Chronicles for Jack Sharp: Chronicle of London (Harley 565), pp. 118-119 ; Chronicles of London (Julius B I, pp. 96-97) and (Cleopatra C IV) pp. 134 ; Great Chronicle, pp. 155-156 ; Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 172. Brut F pp. 456-457 ; Brut G, p. 501 ; Brut H, p. 569 ; Annales (pseudo-Worcester) p. 760 ; English Chronicle, p. 59.

(3) CCLR 1429-35, p. 123–124 (orders to sheriffs).

(4) PPC IV, pp. 99-100 (Mayor of Salisbury claimed reward).

(5) Issues of the Exchequer, pp. 416-417 (Gatone paid £20 in February 1432).

(6) Chronicon Angliae, p. 13 (claims that Sharp attacked Abingdon Abbey, and names him as Perkins and Mandeville).

(7) Amundesham’s Annales I, p. 63 cites all three names.

(8) Chronicles of London (Cleopatra C IV p. 134 (The copyist originally wrote ‘Jack Straw,’ which was crossed out, and Jack Sharp substituted by a later corrector. The error also occurs in The Chronicle of the Grey Friars).

(9) BL Harleian MS 3775. (Sharp’s manifesto. It was printed by H.T. Riley in Amundesham, Annales I, Appendix, pp. 453-55 (1870).  PROME X, Appendix, p. 480, for a version in modern English).

(10) Kingsford, notes, pp. 295-296, in Chronicles of London (analyses the manifesto and comparison with the 1410 version, including the numbers estimates).

(11) PPC IV, pp 107-108 (Warbelton claimed the £20 reward in November 1431).

(12) Issues of the Exchequer, pp. 415-416 (Warbelton paid in February 1432).

(13) J.A.F. Thomson, Later Lollards, p. 61.

Gloucester and Jack Sharp

The Duke of Gloucester reacted swiftly to Jack Sharp’s rising. Like all members of the House of Lancaster Gloucester was strictly orthodox in his beliefs: heresy, if unchecked, would threaten men’s souls as well as public order and holy church. And he undoubtedly remembered the fear engendered by Sir John Oldcastle’s Lollard rising and Henry V’s savage suppression of it.

Gloucester personally supervised the execution of Jack Sharp and a few of his followers at Abingdon. The Council voted him 500 marks for his expenses in subduing and punishing heretics and rebels who would have raised rebellion throughout the realm (1).

Gloucester dispatched John Hals, a justice of King’s Bench, to Kenilworth to try and execute insurgents, Lollards, and traitors, in and around Coventry (2). A panel of the king’s justices went to Coventry in June to seek out troublemakers in the Midlands. Accusations of involvement in risings in Coventry and elsewhere resulted in men, and at least one woman, being executed on Gloucester’s orders.

“And sum of (hisinserted in a later hand) felowys were takyn at Covyntre, and there they were drawe, hangyd and quarteryd; and a woman be-heddyd at the galous.”   Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 172

Gloucester followed this up by a personal visitation. An additional 100 marks was awarded to him in July as about to proceed into the Midlands to seek out and punish heretics and rebels (3).

Whatever the motivation or the seriousness of the risings they did Gloucester’s reputation no end of good. He seized the opportunity to demonstrate that he could maintain royal authority even when the king and most of the other magnates were out of the country. His prompt action earned him the gratitude of a nervous council and they rewarded him with a pay rise for “the apprehension and execution of the horrible and wicked traitor to God and the king the heretic who called himself Jack Sharp and other heretics his accomplices.” (4).

It has been suggested that the pseudonym ‘Jack Sharp of Wigmoresland’ connected the rising in Gloucester’s mind with the Mortimer claims to the throne. The Mortimer estates were the inheritance of Richard, Duke of York but custody of the Mortimer lands had been granted to Gloucester in 1425 until Richard came of age (5).

Wigmore, on the border between Herefordshire and Wales, was a Mortimer patrimony. This is tenuous indeed. There was no Mortimer claimant to the throne in 1431; the association may be a modern hindsight. Jack Cade, the instigator of the far more serious rebellion in 1450, called himself John Mortimer. ‘Wigmoresland’ was associative. As Griffiths points out, “the Welsh borderland was a noted refuge of Lollards.” (6).

Did Jack Sharp’s demand for church reform spread as far as the West Country? In August 1431 Gloucester ordered the mayor and sheriff of Bristol, and one Robert Russell, to arrest all ‘rebellious’ Friars Minor before a meeting of their general chapter (7). The Friars Minor, the Grey Friars, had long been known as champions of popular movements for greater social equality and they had supported the Peasants Revolt. They preached the doctrine of Christ’s absolute poverty, and like the Lollards they questioned the riches of the orthodox church.

(1) PPC IV, p. 88 (award for pursing heretics).

(2) PPC IV, p. 89 (John Hals was paid 5 marks).

(3) PPC IV, p. 91 (Gloucester visited the Midlands).

(4) CPR 1429-36, pp. 184–85 (Gloucester’s pay rise).

(5) PPC III, p. 169. (Mortimer lands granted to Gloucester).

(6) Griffiths, Henry VI, p. 151 n. 71.

(7) Foedera X, p. 496 (Friars Minor in Bristol).

The Duke of Gloucester

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester had never wanted or valued the title ‘Protector.’ He much preferred Custos as the king’s lieutenant in England while Henry was in France. He presided over the Parliament of 1431 and over the Feast of the Order of the Garter at Windsor for which he made lavish preparations. Eleven purveyors to the royal household were ordered to provide meat, poultry, and other victuals for the feast on St George’s day, but not, of course, at Gloucester’s expense. The Council instructed the Exchequer to reimburse John Burdet, Gloucester’s treasurer, for the costs involved at the discretion of the Treasurer. (1, 2).

Gloucester’s knew that his unchallenged position as the king’s lieutenant would end when King Henry and Cardinal Beaufort returned to England, and he laid his plans accordingly. He intended to strip Beaufort of his bishopric and his wealth under the provisions of the Statute of Praemunire because Beaufort had accepted a cardinal’s hat.

Gloucester convened a special council meeting on 6 November 1431 even before King Henry had left Rouen for Paris. He had instructed the king’s sergeants-at-law and royal attorneys to prepare precedents and he invited them to present their findings to the Council: Robert Kylwardby was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1272 to 1278. When he was created a cardinal by Pope Nicholas III in 1278, he resigned as archbishop. Simon Langham was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1366 to 1368. When he was made a cardinal by Pope Urban V in 1368, he resigned as archbishop (3).

Gloucester himself questioned Thomas Polton, Bishop of Worcester, who had been King Henry V’s proctor in Rome in 1417 when Beaufort had accepted a cardinal’s hat for the first time and had sought exemption for himself and his diocese from the jurisdiction of Henry Chichele the Archbishop of Canterbury before Henry V forbade him to accept it. Polton was a protégé of Beaufort, and he was reluctant to answer, but he admitted that John Catterick, the late Bishop of Lichfield, who had also been a proctor in Rome, had told him that he bought the exemption on Beaufort’s behalf and that Beaufort had repaid him.

The legality of Henry Beaufort remaining Bishop of Winchester after he became a cardinal in 1427 had been raised in 1429 when no less than thirteen bishops and eleven lords had reminded Beaufort that under English law he should not be both cardinal and bishop, especially as it was the Pope not the king who had granted him permission to remain Bishop of Winchester. But no action had been taken against him at that time (see 1429).

The council was attended by Archbishop Henry Chichele, John Kemp, Archbishop of York, the Chancellor, and ten other bishops plus the Abbots of Westminster and Glastonbury, not all of them regular members of the Council.  Of the lay magnates the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Huntingdon and the Earl of Suffolk had recently returned from France. Lord Hungerford was Treasurer and Lord Scrope was a regular council member but the Earl of Oxford and Lord Poynings were there by invitation.

Chancellor Kemp asked each council member individually to give their opinion, and as they had in 1429 the members prevaricated. They agreed that the king’s rights must be protected and that the law of the land must be upheld, but as in 1429 there was a major stumbling block to demanding Beaufort’s resignation: money.

Their collective opinion was that Beaufort’s services to the crown (i.e. his loans) and his kinship with the king must be taken into account and it would be better not to proceed until King Henry was once again in England. In the meanwhile, further precedents should be sought, and the judges should be consulted. Marmaduke Lumley, Bishop of Carlisle, dissented: nothing further should be done until Cardinal Beaufort returned and Beaufort’s Vicar General, the Abbot of Chertsey, pointed out that Beaufort was not there to defend himself because he had gone abroad at the Council’s request.

Gloucester did not receive the endorsement he expected, and he summoned another meeting for 28 November in the Green Chamber at Westminster. Four lords who were not council members and had not been present on 6 November were invited to attend: William, Lord Harrington had been with Gloucester in France in 1415. William, Lord Botreaux had fought in France under Henry V. William, Lord Lovell and Reginald West, Lord de la War, had been with Henry VI’s coronation expedition. Gloucester presented the writs of praemunire facias against Cardinal Beaufort that he had had prepared and sealed.  The Council cravenly endorsed the writs but decreed that they be suspended until King Henry returned to England (4).

In the middle of this debate, on 16 November, the Council confirmed the Duke of Norfolk’s wage of 300 marks as a councillor, to date from the time he had been created a duke (see 1425 and 1427) with deductions for the six months he had served in France as Earl of Norfolk, and another six months when he had been in France as a duke. For his attendance from 1422 to 1425 as Earl Marshal he would receive the 200 marks per annum that had been agreed in December 1427 (5).

Perhaps to mollify Gloucester the Council discussed increasing his salary as the king’s lieutenant from 4,000 to 6,000 marks per annum. The Treasurer, Lord Hungerford, said he would agree, but only for as long as King Henry remained in France. After that Gloucester would no longer be the king’s lieutenant and his salary should revert to its original 2,000 marks as the king’s chief councillor. The four additional lords endorsed the Treasurer’s opinion.

Lord Scrope proposed that Gloucester’s salary should be increased to 5,000 marks per annum after King Henry returned; in the meanwhile, Gloucester should receive 6,000 marks as lieutenant of England. Chancellor Kemp and Marmaduke Lumley dissented strongly.

Twenty-four hours later on 29 November, after much discussion (and some pressure?), Lord Hungerford and the four additional council members changed their minds. They opined that in view of the expenses Gloucester had sustained as lieutenant of England against rebels and traitors and especially for apprehending and executing ‘Jack Sharp’ and other heretics, he should receive 6,000 marks yearly during the king’s absence and 5,000 marks yearly thereafter, with the proviso that if Gloucester was again called on personally to subdue rebellions, he was not to receive any addition to the 5,000 marks (6, 7).

The Council then ordered that 10,000 marks should be entrusted to William Leventhorp and William Burgh, tellers of the Exchequer, to be taken to France for King Henry’s ‘retinue,’ presumably for his coronation.  They were allowed 400 marks for their journey.  Ships with armed men aboard were to be impressed at Winchelsea. These arrangements were confirmed on 30 November; the money was to be shipped to Dieppe with all measures taken to convey it safely. (8).

William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, was confirmed as a member of the Council on 30 November, the last council meeting of the year. Chancellor Kemp and Treasurer Hungerford were both absent. Kemp was ill and Hungerford had gone to Waltham to visit Queen Katherine (9). Was their absence tactical in anticipation of further moves by Gloucester?

The Council meetings of 28/29 November as recorded in the Proceeding dealt with two separate but important issues and raise some interesting questions. Why were the four lords who were not council members invited to attend on 28/29 November? Did Gloucester summon them to boost his support? As the text in the Proceedings stands, they voted on Gloucester’s salary but not on the writs of praemunire. Nicolas in his introduction, argued that the Council was split in two and that only the regular members voted on the praemunire question (10) but is this likely when the other four had been ordered to attend and were present in the Council chamber?

(1) Foedera X, p. 492 (supplies for Garter Feast).

(2) PPC IV, p, 89 (payment for supplies).

(3) PPC IV, pp. 100-101 (council meeting and precedents).

(4) PPC IV, pp.104-105 (writs of praemunire to be suspended).

(5) PPC IV, pp. 101-103 (Norfolk’s wage as councillor).

(6) PPC IV, pp. 105-106 (Gloucester’s salary increased).

(7) Issues of the Exchequer, pp. 414–415 (payment to Gloucester dated 18 January 1432).

(8) PPC IV, pp. 103-104 and pp. 108-109 (money sent to Henry VI).

(9) PPC IV, p. 108 (Earl of Suffolk joined the Council).

(10) PPC IV, preface, pp. xxxiv-xxxvi (Nicolas).

The Duke of Bedford

The Duke of Bedford had accepted the Council’s decree that there could be no Regent in France for as long as King Henry was on French soil, but he did not at first realise that the consequences of this piece of personal hubris, engineered by Cardinal Beaufort, would be dire. All administrative decisions and the vital payments to the army, formerly in Bedford’s hands, now had to be approved by the king’s council in Rouen, made up of the English councillors who crossed to France and a smattering of Norman and French members of the Grand Conseil (1).

Bedford was widely respected, if not loved, throughout France even by his enemies; but the English councillors, including Cardinal Beaufort, knew little of conditions in Lancastrian France and cared less.

Bedford remained in Rouen but held aloof from Council meetings and there is very little evidence that he was involved in the campaigns of the coronation expedition’s army. As soon as the Christmas/New Year festivities of 1430/1431were over Bedford returned to Paris.

Paris was in English hands but the countryside around it was lawless. Bands of French robbers ranged unchecked, looting and plundering and effectively blocking all but a meagre trickle of food into the city. The Bourgeois of Paris noted that “nothing that was in any way useful to the human body could get to Paris without encountering their power” (2).

In January 1431 Bedford assembled a fleet of barges at Pont de l’Arche with ships and soldiers to escort them, carrying sorely needed food supplies to relieve the famine that threatened the Parisians. Thomas Blount, treasurer in Rouen, instructed Pierre Surreau, Receiver General of Normandy, to advance the wages of 100 men-at-arms and archers on horseback to accompany the slow-moving barges along the Seine.

The Earl of Huntingdon received 744 livres tournois for 50 men-at-arms and 150 mounted archers for two weeks to accompany Bedford. The need was so urgent that there was no time to take the musters of Huntingdon’s retinue, this would have to be done during the journey (3).  The Bourgeois of Paris estimated that the fleet consisted of fifty-six boats and twelve barges and that “not for four hundred years had so many goods come in at once” through atrocious winter conditions; the wind had raged for three weeks without a break, rain fell continuously, and the tides in the river were very high. The convoy reached Paris safely. Pockets of Armagnacs stationed along the route did not dare to attack even though they were more numerous than Bedford’s force, such was his reputation (4).

By the end of October 1431 Cardinal Beaufort and the Council in Rouen were giving serious thought to the future: King Henry would return to England as soon as possible after he had been crowned, and then what would happen? The Duke of Bedford would be needed as regent once again. The English Council had agreed that Bedford should be urged to resume the regency once King Henry left France (see 1430) and this was still the intention, but with one important difference which Cardinal Beaufort was determined to impose.

On 12 October 1431 at a Grand Conseil meeting in Rouen letters patent were issued commissioning Bedford to resume the government of Lancastrian France when King Henry returned to England. The commission conferred on him le gouvernement de nostre royume de France  but Bedford objected that he was Regent of France by right of birth and as heir presumptive to the throne, and he questioned the Grand Conseil’s authority to issue such a  commission.

A second document in King Henry’s name stated that no derogation of Bedford’s status was intended by the commission (5). Bedford accepted it under protest. He recognised it for what it was, Cardinal’s Beaufort’s attempt to clip his wings, but his strong sense of duty and identity would not allow him to refuse. He was Regent of France by right whatever a piece of parchment implied. In the end Bedford and Beaufort each got their way: the commission stood, but Bedford resumed the regency and his title in 1432 and governed exactly as he had since 1423.

The ‘evidence’ that there was a bitter quarrel between the Cardinal and the Duke rests on a later interpretation of two not very reliable chronicles.  John Hardying merely says that Bedford was ‘wroth with the cardinall his vncle for asmuche as the kynge was there presente; therefore there shulde bee no regente’ (6).

The Tudor historian Edward Hall, writing with hindsight long after 1431, dates the quarrel to King Henry’s coronation at the end of December, rather than in the middle of October.

“Yet this high and ioyous feast [the coronation] was not without a spotte of displeasure for the Cardinall of Wynchester whiche at this tyme would haue no man to hym egall commaunded the duke of Bedforde to leue of the name of Regent duryng the tyme that the kyng was in Fruance, affirmyng the chief ruler being in prese[n]ce the authoritie of the subsitiute was clerely derogate . . . . The duke of Bedford toke suche secret displeasure with this dooyng that he neuer after fauored the Cardinall but repugned and disdained at al thynges he did and deuised.”             Hall’s Chronicle, pp. 161-162.

If Bedford kept his displeasure secret, then there was no quarrel. Nor is there any evidence that he subsequently maintained it; he simply could not afford a breach with Beaufort. He knew better than most that the war in France could not continue, let alone be won, without the Cardinal’s loans. Their subsequent disagreement in 1433 on whether to pursue truce talks with the French may form the kernel of the quarrel story.

(1) Rowe, ‘The Grand Conseil under the Duke of Bedford,’ pp. 224–225.

(2) Bourgeois, p. 255 (food situation in Paris).

(3) L&P II, ii, pp. 424-426 (Bedford and Huntingdon).

(4) Bourgeois, p. 256 (Bedford’s convoy reached Paris).

(5) Rowe, ‘Bedford and the Grand Conseil’  pp. 226-227 cites two documents in Collection Dupuy in the Bibliothèque Nationale. They are letters patent under the Great Seal of France dated 12 October 1431, Par le Roy à la relacion du Grand Conseil.

(6) John Hardying, Chronicle, p. 394

King Henry’s Coronation in Paris

After the fall of Louviers the way was clear to take King Henry to Paris for his coronation. He was brought to Saint Denis, six miles from Paris, under heavy escort at the end of November 1431. The kings of France were buried, not crowned, at St Denis. Henry spent two nights there before making his entry into the capital of France on Advent Sunday, 2 December. The date was significant: his father, Henry V, had entered Paris in triumph on Advent Sunday in 1420.

Representatives of the merchant guilds, members of the Parlement of Paris, the captain of the guard, and exchequer officials in their ceremonial robes, led by Simon Morhier the Provost of Paris, came out to meet and welcome him.

Twenty-five heralds and twenty-five trumpeters proclaimed Henry’s arrival. The crowds lining the narrow streets shouted the traditional greeting of “Noel.” The weather was bitterly cold, with frost on the cobbles where straw had been scattered to make footing easier for the horses.

Pageants lined Henry’s route through the city (1).  Their theme was loyalty to, and acceptance of, King Henry VI of England as the rightful King Henri II of France. But as a sign of things to come it was Cardinal Beaufort not the Duke of Bedford who rode before the king, accompanied by Louis of Luxembourg, Bishop of Thérouanne, Bedford’s Chancellor of France, Jacques du Chatillier Bishop of Paris, and Jean de Mailly, Bishop of Noyen, Bedford’s appointees as bishops (2).

At the Porte Saint Denis a silver ship and its crew displayed three ‘blode rede’ hearts, with inscriptions declaring that the Parisians welcomed the king with all their hearts.  The hearts opened to release doves and other small birds. An azure canopy spangled with gold fleur de lys, the symbol of majesty, supported on spear shafts and carried by four men with garlands on their heads was held over King Henry and he was received by the nine worthies, a staple royal pageantry; less usually, they were accompanied by nine female worthies.

Mermaids swimming in a pond with fountains spouting hippocras, red wine, and ‘mylk’ attracted the young king’s attention.  Men and women dressed as savages staged a mock fight and stag hunt in a mock wood but when the stag threw itself at the king’s feet its was spared.  The nativity and childhood of Christ was depicted in dumb show on a high platform; the actors stood like statutes, not moving a muscle, which mightily impressed the onlookers. There was also a tableau of the life and death – by beheading – of St Denis, a somewhat macabre touch.

The most significant display was at the Chatelet, where a lit de justice was staged to illustrate the dual monarchy and the justice that Henry as King of France would bring to both his peoples. It was paid for by the English administration, and not, like the other pageants, by the civic and ecclesiastical authorities of Paris (3). A boy dressed in royal robes to represent the king was enthroned on a high dais draped with cloth of gold and tapestries.  Over his head two crowns were suspended from a canopy with a backdrop of a tapestry embroidered with the arms of England and France. To his right stood men dressed to represent the (absent) nobility of France: the Dukes of Burgundy, Alençon, Berry, and Nevers displaying a shield with the arms of France. On his left the Duke of Bedford, the Earls of Warwick and Salisbury displaying their arms (Montague or Neville?) and a shield with the arms of England. Brut Continuation F includes the Duke of Gloucester and Cardinal Beaufort.

“And at þe Chastelet þere was made a stately ordynaounce of scaffoldes, hanged with clothes of golde and with arras, with the Kinges armes of England and of Fraunce; and a man lykened to þe Kyng sittyng in a sete, kepyng a state in scarled with a furred hode and with ij buylhons made with the armes of England and of Fraunce;

and vpon the right hande, knelyng, my Lord of Bedford, my Lord of Gloucestre, my Lord Cardynall and many oþer lordes of England, iche man after his degre, armed with his cote of armes vpon hym; and then the Duke of Burgoyne, knelyng on the lifte hande, offeryng vp the armes of Fraunce and alle the other lordes of Fraunce in theire degree, knelyng and offeryng up their armes; and dyuers scriptures  made þat all they requyre the kyng of rightwisnesse.”     

                                                                     Brut Continuation F, p. 460

The clergy assembled along the route displayed their holy relics, including the arm of St George, which Henry kissed. He progressed to Hotel des Tournelles, the Duke of Bedford’s town house, where he was received by Duchess Anne and her ladies (4).

Henry’s grandmother, the almost forgotten Isabelle, queen of France watched the procession from the windows of the Hotel de St Pol (5). The romantic version of their meeting in Brut F is fiction, but her presence was important, it indicated her acceptance of her grandson, not her son, as the true king of France.

“And so vpon the morowe the Kyng went to speke with his grandmoder, þe Quene of Fraunce.  And there she made hym chere, and welcomed hym with all the dalyaunce, countenaunce and chere þat she coude or myght; and seid þat ‘she was neuer so gladde as she was then, with she sawe þe Kynge of Fraunce in good plyte.”  

                                                               Brut Continuation F, p. 460

Henry spent several days resting at Vincennes, where his father had died, while the finishing touches were put to preparations for his coronation. He returned to the Palais on 15 December, and on 16 December he went on foot to Notre Dame. French accounts all stress the Englishness of the coronation.  Elements of the English coronation ceremony were introduced, including the four great shouts of acclamation, which were foreign to French usage (6). Henry was crowned king of France not by the Bishop of Paris, but by Cardinal Beaufort, who also sang the mass, employing the Sarum Use, the English version of the service.  The Duke of Bedford, the Earls of Warwick, Stafford, Salisbury, Arundel, and Mortain (Edmund Beaufort), Lords Cromwell and Tiptoft, and Sir Ralph Botiller witnessed the ceremony. Among other insults, English officers were allowed to carry off the silver flagon, the property of the canons of the cathedral, in which the king had made his offering of wine.

The coronation banquet was a shambles. The food was cold and stale, the seating arrangements had not been finalized, and protection for those invited proved inadequate.  A Paris mob forced its way into the Palais and fought with those present. They carried off all the food they could lay their hands on. The following day was no better.  Only one small tournament was staged, but what was much worse, the largesse, for which the crowds had been waiting, was not distributed, and the customary remission of taxes and the merciful release of prisoners, expected of a ‘good king,’ failed to materialise. (7).

Brut Continuation H’s (p. 569) assertion that “where-as was hold as riall a fest as euer was had of eny kyng,” could not be further from the truth.

Cardinal Beaufort could hardly have made more of a mess or have left a poorer lasting impression of the English and their king in the capital of France. Unlike the Duke Bedford, who sought to win the good will of the Parisians, and whose government had indeed made Henry’s coronation possible, Beaufort showed only contempt for the people of Paris who had remained loyal. It should be remembered that in 1430 when Joan of Arc reached Paris with her army, the city, under Bedford’s protection, refused to open its gates to the Maid.

The princes and magnates of France were conspicuous by their absence. The Duke of Burgundy had refused to come to Paris for the coronation despite being England’s principal ally and a signatory to the Treaty of Troyes; and he was up to his old tricks. On 12 December, four days before the coronation, he wrote from Lille to give King Henry formal notice that he was withdrawing from the war. He had agreed to a general truce and abstinence of war with King Charles VII.

Burgundy defended his decision with the excuse that despite his numerous requests and complaints he had received no aid from the English, and he could no longer afford to sustain the war. He had been forced by sheer necessity ‘by default of your said succour and in order to [avoid] the destruction of my said countries and subjects’ to agree to receive and negotiate with Charles VII’s representatives. He said the people in the counties that had been under attack for so long had petitioned him to make peace before they were quite ruined. At the same time Burgundy assured King Henry that this did not mean the end of the Anglo-Burgundian alliance: he had not, or course, and would not, ally himself with France against England (8).

Henry remained in Paris for ten days. He attended a session of the Parlement of Paris on 21 December and received the oaths of fealty from its members. A single French source alleges he spoke only in English, with the Earl of Warwick deputising for him in French (9). This claim is not substantiated by the Bourgeois of Paris: “The king was present in royal state and all the parlement was there . . .  when the mass was over they made him several reasonable requests, which he granted, and they swore certain oaths asked of them . . . .”  (10)

The coronation expedition was an expensive failure. Apart from his youth, King Henry made no impression whatsoever on his French ‘subjects’ who never accepted him, and it is impossible to know now what impression or what lasting effects, if any, his protracted stay in Rouen and his coronation had on him.

Did the Duke of Bedford regret having insisted that King Henry must be crowned in France? He could have put the money wasted on it to much better use. He was left in Rouen to pick up the pieces and continue the war as best he could with whatever money he could wring out of the Estates of Normandy and the Council in England.

On 26 December 1431 just after his tenth birthday, King Henry left Paris for Rouen, accompanied by Cardinal Beaufort and the Earl of Warwick. After a short stay in Rouen, he was escorted to Calais during the first week of January 1432 where he was well received, Calais was English soil.  Henry returned to England early in February.  He never visited France again.

“And after his coronacion at Parys the Kyng come down to þe Cite of Roan. And so, by candelmasse next, the Kyng came to Caleys.  And the Marchauntes of the Staple, with the peple of the towne welcomed hym with all reuerence and honoure, and presented hym with giftes.”    Brut Continuation F, p. 461

Henry’s coronation as King of France did not interest the London chroniclers. Most of them dismiss it in one sentence, with a passing reference to Cardinal Beaufort’s presence.

Brut Continuation F provides full details of the pageants and the crowning ceremony, but the chroniclers either did not know or could not bring themselves to believe the reports of English parsimony and the absence of the French nobility; they recorded what they thought had should have occurred:

“and there set to mete with all delicacye of metes and drynkes þat myght be ordeyned, and open fest to all men þat wold com, bothe pore and riche.” 

                                                                                                                 Brut Continuation F, p. 461

“This same yere þe vjte day of Decembre Kyng Henry þe Sext was crowned King of Fraunce at Paris, in þe chirch of our Lady, with gret solempnite þer beyng present þe Cardinal of Englond þe Duke of Bedford & many oþer lordes of Englond & of Fraunce.  And after þis coronacion a gret fest holden at Paris the King returned from thens to Roan & so toward Caleys.”   

                                                                                                              Brut Continuation G,  pp. 501-502

1431 Bibliography

Primary Sources

Amundesham, J., Annales monasterii S. Albani I, ed. H.T. Riley (1870)

Annales (pseudo-Worcester) in Letters and Papers Illustrative of the Wars of the English in France during the reign of Henry VI, ed. J. Stevenson, Rolls Series, 2 vols in 3 (1861-1864)

Benet’s Chronicle. John Benet’s Chronicle for the years 1400-1460, ed. G.L.& M.A. Harriss, Camden Miscellany XXIV, (Camden Soc., 4th ser. IX, 1972)

Bourgeois of Paris, A Parisian Journal, trans. J. Shirley (1968)

The Brut, or the Chronicles of England II, ed. F.W.D. Brie,  (Early English Text Society, 1908)

CCLR. Calendar of the Close Rolls 1429-1435

CPR. Calendar of the Patent Rolls 1422-1429, 1429-1436

Chartier, J., Chronique de Charles VII, roi de France,  3 vols, ed. A. Vallet de Viriville, (Paris, 1858)

A Chronicle of London, ed. N.H. Nicolas & E. Tyrell (1827)

Chronicles of London, ed. C. L. Kingsford (1905)

Chronicon Angliae, ed. J.A. Giles (1848)

Documents Relating to Scotland 1357-1509, vol. IV, ed. J. Bain, (1888)

An English Chronicle of the reigns of Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V and Henry VI, ed. J.S. Davies (1856).

An English Chronicle, ed. W. Marx (2003)

Foedera, conventiones, literae……  20 vols., ed. T. Rymer, (1704-35)

The Great Chronicle of London, ed. A.H. Thomas & I.D. Thornley, (1938)

Gregory’s Chronicle in The Historical Collections of a Citizen of London in the Fifteenth  Century, ed. J. Gairdner, (Camden Society XVII, 1876)

Hardyng, John, The Chronicle of John Hardyng, ed. H. Ellis (1812)

Issues of the Exchequer, ed. F. Devon (1837)

L&P: Letters and Papers Illustrative of the Wars of the English in France during the reign of Henry VI, ed. J. Stevenson, Rolls Series, 2 vols in 3 (1861-1864)

Monstrelet. The Chronicles of Enguerrand de Monstrelet trans. T. Johnes, 2 vols., (1877)

Papal Letters. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland, vols VII and VIII, (1906 and 1909).

PROME. The Parliament Rolls of Medieval England, vol. X, ed. A. Curry (2005)

PPC IV, Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council of England, 6 vols., (Record Commission, (1834-37)

Sharpe, R,R., ed., Calendar of  Letter Books, preserved among the archives of the Corporation of the City of London at the Guildhall: Letter Book K (1911)

Stow, J, A Survey of London, 2 vols, ed. C.L. Kingsford, (1908)


Secondary Sources


Balfour-Melville, E.W.M.,  James I, King of Scots 1406-1437 (1936)

Barker, J., Conquest (2009)

Castor, H., Joan of Arc (2014)

Cokayne, G.E., The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, . . . 12 vols. Ed. V. Gibbs (1910-1959)

Curry, A., ‘The Coronation Expedition and Henry VI’s Court in France 1430 to 1432,’ in The Lancastrian Court, ed. J. Stratford (2003)

Griffiths, R.A., The Reign of King Henry VI (1981)

Harriss, G.L., Cardinal Beaufort, (1988)

Kipling, G., Enter the King, (1998)

Otway-Ruthvin, A.J. A History of Medieval Ireland (1968)

Plancher, U., Histoire générale et particulière de Bourgogne, 4 vols. (Dijon, 1739-1741)

Rowe, B.J.H., ‘The Grand Conseil under the Duke of Bedford 1422-35,’ in Oxford Essays in Medieval History presented to Herbert Edward Salter (1434)

Somerville, R. History of the Duchy of Lancaster 1265-1603 (1953)

Thomson, J.A.F., The Later Lollards 1414-1520 (1965)

Vaughan, R., Philip the Good, (1970)

Wolffe, B.P., Henry VI, (1981)



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Marshall, A., ‘The Role of English War Captains in England and Normandy, 1436-1461, M.A. dissertation, University College, Swansea, (1974)