Henry VI




Minority Council. King Henry VI.

The Council and the Papacy.

The War in France. An Army for Normandy.

The Fall of Paris. The Duke of Burgundy.

The Duke of York. The Earl of Mortain.

Burgundy’s Preparations. 

The Siege of Calais.

The Duke of Gloucester: Preparations and Army.

Gloucester and Calais. The Earl of Somerset

Scotland. The King of Portugal. Mantua. Louis of Bavaria.

Prussia and the Hanse. Weather.


King Henry would come of age and assume his personal rule at the end of 1437. The Council began to prepare him, and he attended council meetings fairly regularly throughout 1436, including a meeting at Canterbury where he used his personal signet and signed a warrant ‘Henry’ for the first time.

The Minority Council had promised to send a large army into France, but their preparations were far too slow. In the absence of higher authority John, Lord Talbot conducted military operations from Rouen, but he was unable to defend Paris. The capital of France opened its gates to the French in April and acknowledged King Charles VII. It would never be recovered.

An army under the command of the young and inexperienced Richard Duke of York finally sailed in May. But the most important event of 1436 was the Duke of Burgundy’s decision to lay siege to Calais.   The Earl of Mortain with a separate army was diverted to defend it and his sorites to attack Burgundy’s Flemish forces had the desired result: the duke had laid siege to Calais on 9 July, by the end of the month he was forced to raise the siege and retreat.

 The Duke of Gloucester spent two months gathering an army large enough to give battle to Burgundy but by the time he arrived at Calas in the first week of August, Burgundy was safely back in Lille.  Nothing dauted, Gloucester and his men rode through Flanders for less than two weeks, laying it waste with fire and sword before returning to Calais and sailing for home to report his triumph.

King James of Scotland refused to renew Anglo-Scottish truce. He laid siege to Roxburgh in August, but like Burgundy he was forced in a very short time to abandon his artillery and flee back across the border.

In search of other allies, the Council renewed England’s good relations with Portugal, agreed to pay an overdue annuity to Louis the Elector Palatine, and negotiated with the Grand Master of Prussia and the Hanseatic towns. An interesting sidelight is a licence granted to the bishop of Holar in Iceland for certain English merchants to evade the ban on trade with Iceland, provided they did not violate the trade treaty with King Eric of Denmark.

Minority Council

Star Chamber

The Proceedings record fifteen meetings for 1436, May being the most active month. Two in February and two in March, five in May with two more that could date to May, or to June and July. One in August, none in September or October, and three in November. Those present at a meeting on 22 November are recorded but not what they deliberated. A special meeting held in Canterbury in July with King Henry present, is not recorded in the Proceedings. 

Jacquetta of Luxembourg

Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Duchess of Bedford, was granted her dower lands in February five months after the Duke of Bedford’s death, making her a very wealthy widow. As the second lady in the land, she was required to swear an oath that she would not remarry without royal consent. At the end of the month Louis of Luxembourg, still the English Chancellor of France, and Lord Talbot, were instructed to take her oath (1). It was an honour for Talbot to be singled out and attests to the influence he had acquired in Rouen.

See Talbot, The War in France below.

(1) Foedera X, pp. 630-631 and 633 (grant to Jacquetta).

The Duke of Orleans

In May 1436 Charles, Duke of Orleans was transferred from the custody of the Earl of Suffolk to Sir Reginald Cobham. A safe conduct for a messenger from Jean, Earl of Armagnac to Orleans is dated 19 May, but with no year, and it may belong in 1437 when Orleans was trying desperately to raise money for his ransom (1). In November 1436 Cobham petitioned the Council for payment of Orleans’s upkeep at the same rates as Suffolk had received (2).

(1) Foedera X, p. 641-642 (safe conduct for a messenger).

(2) Foedera X, p. 658 (Cobham petition for payment).

John Stafford

Even the Chancellor had to wait his turn at the Exchequer to receive reimbursement for services rendered. In April 1436 John Stafford, Bishop of Bath and Wells, Chancellor of England, petitioned for payment of money owed to him for his journey to France during King Henry’s stay there (before he became chancellor), and for attending the king’s coronation in Paris in December 1431. The Council authorized a warrant for payment on 25 April (1).

(1) Foedera X, p. 639 (John Stafford).

Crown Debt

The Council became increasingly concerned, and with good reason, about the level of crown debt. They discussed repayment and passed a memorandum in May that preference at the Exchequer should go to those who held life annuities, granted either to themselves or by inheritance; then to those who had loaned money to the crown, and thirdly to annuities granted during Henry VI’s reign. The Chancellor was to issue writs to the treasurer to make payments as agreed (1).

On the following day, 12 May, the Council instructed the Barons of the Exchequer to investigate the true value of the wealth of everyone ranked as baron and baroness and above to ensure that the tax on them, granted by Parliament in 1435, had been collected (2).

See Year 1435: Parliament. Taxation.

The Treasurer and Barons of the Exchequer were also to approach anyone who held crown jewels as pledges for payment to make the best deal they could to recover them (3).

(1) PPC IV, pp. 339-340 (order of preference at the Exchequer).

(2) PPC IV, pp. 343 (taxes).

(3) PPC IV, p. 344 (crown jewels).

Thomas Franc

In July, while the Council was meeting at Canterbury, Thomas Franc, Master of Medicine, a native of Greece, petitioned for and was granted denization (1).

(1) Foedera X, p. 650 (Thomas Franc).

Judiciary in Bordeaux

Henry Cavier, Bishop of Bazas, and Ayquem du Vignau, prior of St James in Bordeaux, were appointed judges of civil cases in the superior court of Gascony. Bernard Angevin was appointed a judge of the criminal court in Gascony (1, 2).

Pey Berland

In August 1436 letters of protection for himself, his servants, his lands, his revenues and his possessions, were issued to Pey Berland, Archbishop of Bordeaux, a member of the Council in Bordeaux. The protection was for his good service to the king and because he often carried out negotiations on the king’s behalf (3, 4).

(1) Foedera X, p 651 (Judiciary in Bordeaux).

(2) Gascon Rolls, C61, /126 (Judiciary in Bordeaux).

(3) Foedera X, p. 654 (Pey Berland).

(4) Gascon Rolls,  C61, /126 (Pey Berland).

The entries in the Proceedings for three council meetings in November are brief and uninformative except for an interesting piece of advice to King Henry, and a grant by the king to the Duke of Gloucester (1). At lengthy meeting in the Star Chamber on 21 November, Archbishop Kemp, the Earl of Northumberland, Lord Hungerford, Lord Tiptoft, Robert Rolleston, Chancellor Stafford, Treasurer Cromwell and William Lyndwood Keeper of the Privy Seal, dealt with routine business. A meeting on 22 November with Archbishop Chichele, the Earl of Northumberland, Lord Hungerford, Chancellor Stafford and the Keeper of the Privy seal present is recorded, but there is no record of their deliberations.

(1) PPC V, pp. 3-4 (November meetings).


The constables of Wales were to ‘go home’ to their offices and the chamberlains (of Wales?) were to stay at home. Every lord was ‘to stay in his own county’ and hold their manorial courts on the same given day. These measures were probably intended to enforce royal authority and suppress unrest.

Royal Household

It was noted that grooms of the chamber, i.e., members of King Henry’s household, who had previously fought in France (during the Coronation Expedition?) had been paid 40 marks (one mark = 13s. 4d). They were now receiving £40 (with the Duke of York’s army?)

Crown Jewels

It was agreed that crown jewels should be offered as security again to raise loans, on the authority of Parliament. Chancellor Stafford, the Treasurer Lord Cromwell, John Kemp Archbishop of York, and Robert Whittingham would stand surety. Interestingly, three of the four, Cromwell, Kemp and Whittingham were executors of the Duke of Bedford’s will.

Safe Conducts

Robert Rolleston raised the question of safe conducts for Scots, and it was agreed that they should be issued for a three-month period. The Venetians were to receive safe conducts for one year. Rolleston was Keeper of the Great Wardrobe; he did not routinely attend council meetings. He was presumably concerned that the trade embargo on Flemish goods would affect the flow of cloth and other items essential for the royal household and recommended that merchants from other countries should be encouraged to visit England.

 The Earl of Salisbury

On 23 November, at the last recorded Council meeting for 1436, Chancellor Stafford presented a writ and return of rosencrans to the Council on behalf of the Earl of Salisbury, relieving him of his military duties in France. He may have stayed on in Rouen as a member of York’s council, but he was back in England in 1437 before York returned (1).

See The Duke of York below.

(1) PPC V, p. 5 (Salisbury).

King Henry VI

1436 was a year of transition for King Henry. Although he would not come of age and assume his personal rule until the end of 1437 when he was sixteen, the Council began, reluctantly, to prepare him. A gradual change took place between late 1435 and 1436. Henry was actively involved in council meetings throughout 1436.

Until the English failure to achieve peace at Arras and the death of the Duke of Bedford, the Minority Council had kept government authority firmly in their hands and discouraged the young king from meddling in what did not concern him. They wrote letters and issued orders in King Henry’s name. but by 1436 they had to accept that Henry would come of age in the not-too-distant future, and they began to expose him to some government business. Henry attended council meetings regularly in 1436 and in May the Earl of Warwick was discharged from his duties as the king’s governor ‘at his own request’ (1).

In November 1436, just before his fifteenth birthday on 6 December, the Council offered King Henry advice on how he should conduct himself. He should be governed in the disposal of offices by the rank of an individual, ‘not to high estates a small office, neither to low estate a great office’ (2, 3). This reflects a fundamental concept of the mid-fifteenth century: rank established status and should be rewarded accordingly.  Men of ‘low degree’ should not be promoted above their status. The Council may have been looking to their own future, appointment to council, grants of lands and offices, rested with the king. Was Henry already showing signs of a willingness to make grants to anyone who petitioned him?

(1) CPR 1429-1436, p. 589 (Warwick discharged).

(2) PPC V, p. 3 (advice to King Henry).

(3) Wolffe, Henry VI, p. 88

The Council and the Papacy

Pope Eugenius

Robert Gilbert

Robert Fitzhugh, Bishop of London died in January 1436. His successor was Robert Gilbert, Dean of York (1).  As Dean of the Royal Chapel Gilbert had accompanied King Henry V to France and he later had qualms of conscience about rejoicing, as a man of God, in Henry’s victories. He was absolved by Pope Eugenius in December 1435. He was given permission to travel to Rome to obtain confirmation as Bishop of London in March 1436, and was duly confirmed by the pope in June, although the Papal Letters do not state that he was in Rome (2).

(1) Foedera X, p. 636 (Bishop of London).

(2) Papal Letters VIII, pp. 532 and 613 (confirmation by the Pope).

Thomas Lisieux and Richard Wyot

In August Master Thomas Lisieux was granted the prebend in St Pauls church, London, which Thomas Daniet had lately held. Richard Wyot, dean of the chapel of the Duke of Gloucester, received the prebend in the chapel of St George, Windsor that Thomas Lisieux had lately held (1).

(1) PPC IV, p. 345 (grants of prebends).

 William Alnwick

In May the Council requested Pope Eugenius to translate William Alnwick, Bishop of Norwich, the king’s confessor, to the see of Lincoln (1).  Alnwick was a member of the original member Minority Council and Keeper of the Privy Seal from 1422 until he was dismissed by the Duke of Gloucester in the council shakeup of 1432. He became Bishop of Norwich in 1426. He was provided to the see of Lincoln in September 1436 and the temporalities were restored to him in February 1437.

(1) Foedera X, p. 643 (Alnwick).

John Bloxwich

John Bloxwich, a Carmelite friar, was appointed as Bishop of Holar (Olens) in Iceland by Pope Eugenius (1).  Iceland was inhospitable and rarely visited except by merchants evading the trading restrictions imposed by a treaty between England and King Eric of Denmark.

Bloxwich was a non-resident bishop, claiming to fear the risks of travelling to, and living in, Iceland. He evaded his duties but collected his income from the see by obtaining much sought after licences permitting English ships to visit Iceland.

In May 1436 a licence was issued to John May, master of the Katherine of London to sail to Iceland on the bishop’s behalf provided, as was customary, two other merchants, John Bristowe and Richard Weston, put up securities of £40 that there would be no illegal trading done contrary to the treaty with King Eric of Denmark (who was also king of Iceland) that all trade in his dominions must be conducted through his staple at Bergen in Norway (2, 3).

See Year 1429: Denmark

In November, a second licence to send a ship to Iceland and bring back merchandise was issued to Bloxwich as Bishop of Skalholt, (a previous appointment), with the same provision, not to violate the treaty with King Eric (4).

(1) Papal Letters VIII, p. 499 (Bloxwich appointed).

(2) Foedera X, p. 645-646 (licence to John May).

(3) Power and Postan, English Trade, p. 170 (Bloxwich).

(4) Foedera X, p. 659-660 (second licence).

Bishop of Urbino

A safe conduct for Antonine de Saint Vito, Bishop of Urbino to travel through England to Scotland was issued in November 1436. King James had requested Pope Eugenius to send a papal legate to assist him in reforming the church in Scotland, and the pope had selected the Bishop of Urbino. Eugenius wrote to King James and to Queen Joan urging them to give full assistance to his legate (1, 2). Presumably he also requested a safe conduct from King Henry for Urbino to travel through England.

(1) Foedera X, p. 660 (Bishop of Urbino).

(2) Papal Letters VIII, pp. 229-230 (Bishop of Urbino).

Simon Brekhault

In December 1436 Simon Brekhault was presented to the chapel of St Aychadrry (?) in the diocese of Coutances in Normandy following the death of Stephen Caripel (1).

(1) Foedera X, p. 660 (Brekahult).

Four deaths

“And this same yere deyed iiij bisshoppes in England þat is to say, the Bishop of Ely, the Bisshop of London, the Bisshop of Lincoln and the Bisshop of Bangore, and oþer mo prelat[es] of worthynesse and state, in dyuers partyes of the Reame of England.”        Brut Continuation F, p. 468

Philip Morgan, Bishop of Ely died in October 1435.

John Clederowe, Bishop of Bangor, died in December 1435.

Robert Fitzhugh, Bishop of London died in January 1436.

William Grey, Bishop of Lincoln died in February 1436.

These deaths are also recorded in Chronicon Angliae (p. 15) which adds that Louis of Luxembourg became Bishop of Ely in succession to Morgan.

NB: The entry in Foedera X, p. 640 is misdated. Thomas Bourchier became Bishop of Worcester in 1435.

An Army for Normandy

After the death of the Duke of Bedford in September 1435, military discipline in Normandy broke down. A rebellion in the pays de Caux, led by French war captains, resulted in Dieppe, Harfleur, and other towns in Normandy being captured by the French.

See Year 1435: Rising in the Caux.

Without Bedford, the Chancellor, Louis of Luxembourg and the Council in Rouen had no idea what to do. They had reported the rebellion and the losses to the Minority Council and appealed for immediate assistance, as had the Estates of Normandy, but months passed and it was not until the end January 1436 that they received a reply, feebly excusing the delay and promising that a relieving army would soon be sent (1).

Ineffectual attempts to raise an army in England began in December 1435. Sir Henry Norbury with twenty-nine men-at-arms and four hundred archers, and Richard Wasteness with thirty- nine men-at-arms and five hundred archers mustered at Portsmouth at the end of December (2).

Envoys from Rouen, among them the faithful Jean de Rinel, had come to England in 1435 to report the disasters in Normandy and to plead for help. Norbury was to escort them back to Rouen (2). They were still waiting at Portsmouth on 25 January when they wrote to the Duke of Gloucester to complain of the lack of action. Where, they demanded, was the army that King Henry had promised? So far only six small ships had assembled (3). There was insufficient shipping to transport them all, and on 16 January 1436 Norbury was ordered to cross first, to be followed by Wasteness. Norbury was to land wherever it was most convenient and march directly to the pays de Caux to help suppress the risings there. He arrived in Normandy in early February and joined the garrison at Rouen.

“And in that same monyth ther com ow[gh]t of Englond in to Normandy Sir herry Norbery knyght and [Hamo] belknap and wessenes, squyers, with iiijc men of werre; and thei were put into Rooen for to strenght the tovne of Rooen for ther whas so moch treson walkyng that men wist not what to do.” 

                  Chronicles of London (Cleopatra C IV) p. 140

Commissions of array were issued to all English counties on 18 January (4). A rambling and somewhat confused draft of a letter dated 21 January appealed to thirteen men of the West Country, beginning with the Earl of Devon, for their support. The letter is in English; it stressed the recent losses in Normandy and warned that more towns, especially the great port of Cherbourg, would fall to the enemy unless help was sent immediately.

The letter refers to King Henry’s promise to send an army to Normandy, and by means of its presence to establish peace. Henry was sure that his loyal subjects must regret, as he did, the threat posed by ‘the enemy’ who had stirred up the people in Lower Normandy to rebel against him. He suggested that this should be of particular concern to the recipients of the letter because the coast of Normandy was not far from West Country coasts! Henry asked them to muster able bodied men in their counties and send them, well-armed, to his relief. Obscurely, the letter also refers to King Henry’s tender age and his ‘grete necessitie’ and to the loyalty and love that the people of Normandy had shown to his father Henry V when the Duke of Gloucester took Cherbourg in 1418 (5). The letter is not in the Council’s usual style. Was it dictated by King Henry himself, possibly directed by Gloucester?

To reassure the Council in Rouen that they had not been forgotten an apologetic letter was addressed to the Chancellor, Louis of Luxemburg at the end of January informing him that the warnings of the dire conditions in France and the appeals for help, including one sent through the Earl of Suffolk, had not been ignored.

King Henry expressed regret that the Council in Rouen had concluded that Normandy was to be abandoned because they had not received a reply, or any information to the contrary. He assured them that this was not so; letters had been sent and arrangements were being made, but the bad state of the roads in winter, the storms at sea ‘and some other causes’ prevented letters or messengers from getting through ‘at which we are displeased.’ The Council in Rouen should have patience, trust in God, and encourage Henry’s subjects not to give way to disloyal thoughts.

Despite all setbacks the king will send an army into France larger than any yet sent and it will remain there until ‘our adversaries’ have been defeated. Further details will be supplied by the envoys from Rouen who are about to return to Normandy. The king thanked the chancellor, the council, and his loyal subjects for all they had done; their burden would soon be lifted. In the mean while they should announce these tidings publicly and keep the Council in England informed of any developments on the war front (6).

Fine words and fine promises, not all of them true. Sending an unprecedently large army was one thing, paying for it was quite another. As usual there was insufficient money coming into the Exchequer, and the tax grant of 1435 had yet to be collected so loans had to be solicited.

On 14 February a country wide appeal for substantial loans was drawn up by the Council for an army to be commanded by Richard, Duke of York, and others. It would be sent to France in April. The list of those expected to contribute to its costs included just about everyone, beginning with the Duke of Gloucester, Cardinal Beaufort, Archbishops Chichele and Kemp, four bishops, four earls, three lords and the Keeper of the Privy Seal as members of the Council.

The Duke of York, four earls, sixteen barons, six bishops, twenty-four abbots, six priors, nine deans, two archdeacons, the Master of Saint Anthony and the Master of Maidstone. Thirty-five named individuals, most of them crown employees of one sort or another.

The cities and towns were allocated specific sums, with a long list of mixed lay and ecclesiastical names beginning with the Archbishop of Canterbury: £2,000. The magnates who would go to France were not included as they were to pay for their own retinues (7). Despite King Henry’s appeal it must be doubted if the money was loaned willingly. The demand, for such it was, did nothing to convince most men that the war in France was worth continuing.

(1) CPR 1429-1436, pp. 525-526 (advance army to muster).

(2) L&P I, pp. 508-509 (Norbury’s instructions misdated by Stevenson to 1450 because an English army crossed to France in April 1450).

(3) Beaurepaire, “États de Normandie, pp. 55-57 (envoys from Rouen in England).

(4) CPR 1429-1436, pp. 519-524 (commission of array).

(5) L&P I, pp. 510-512 (Henry’s letter of 21 January misdated by Stevenson to 1450).

(6) L&P I, pp. 424-429 (letter to Louis of Luxembourg).

(7) PPC IV, pp. 316-329 (requests for loans).

The War in France

John, Lord Talbot 

While the Council in England dithered over who to send and how to raise money for the army (1), Lord Talbot took matters into his own hands. In the absence of higher authority Talbot appointed himself lieutenant of the castle in Rouen. Cleopatra C IV claims Talbot named Richard Curzon as his lieutenant, but Curzon was already there. He was the Earl of Warwick’s man, and he had become lieutenant of the town under Warwick in 1430 (2).

Lord Talbot, Lord Scales the Seneschal of Normandy, Sir Thomas Kyriell, and possibly Sir Thomas Hoo (named only in Cleopatra C IV) vented their fury on the unfortunate inhabitants of the pays de Caux as rebels and traitors.

Talbot’s men devastated the towns and countryside for miles around. Cleopatra C IV estimates that more than 1,000 men were killed, 800 in Lillebonne alone. It and other market towns were sacked, provisions and livestock were stolen and brought back to Rouen. According to the chronicler the beasts were sold off cheaply for immediate profit: a sheep for one penny, a cow for a shilling (3).

Talbot’s action may or may not have saved Rouen, but he did not defeat the insurgents, he merely made it impossible for them to sustain themselves in the field: the price of his success was the impoverishment of the Caux, and the Norman subjects of King Henry VI. The excuse that after the Duke of Bedford’s death ‘the land was full of treason’ and Rouen itself was in danger may have been true, but Talbot’s strategy would never have been countenanced by the Duke of Bedford.

(1) L&P I, pp. 424-429 (letter from Henry VI to Council in Rouen acknowledging their plea for assistance and promising and army).

(2) Marshall ‘English War Captains,’ p. 279 (Richard Curzon).

(3) Chronicles of London (Cleopatra C IV) p. 140 (devastation in Normandy).


In February the indefatigable French war captains La Hire and Xaintrailles, expecting help from within the city, planned a surprise attack on Rouen with about 600 men. Lord Scales, and Sir Thomas Kyriell turned the tables on them. Accompanied by about 1,000 men they took the French by surprise at the village of Rys ten miles east of Rouen. Some were killed, and the rest fled, La Hire who was wounded, among them (1, 2).

Lord Scales captured their war horses, most of their baggage, and nine war captains: Regnault, Lord de Fontaines who had helped to capture the Earl of Arundel at Gerberoy in 1435, Alain Geron, Alardin de Monssay, whom Lord Scales ransomed for 20,000 saluts, Jean de Bordes, and Garnarde, about sixty men in all. Cleopatra C IV (p. 140) adds “the captan of the Scotts, Geffery la hire, the Bastard of Seint Terre and the Bastard of Seint Basile and the bastard of Dawne, the wiche was a traytor and whas juged to be drawe, hangid and quartered, and behedid; and so he whas at the tovne of Roon.”

“And within the xij day [ …. ] the sayd tovne.  And than the lorde Talbot with the lorde Scalys cam theder with xviijc men and resceved þe seyd tovne [Rouen?]; and ther were slayn vn to a iiijc man and moo. And poton and lahire ffled vnton bovys (Beauvais). And þe tovne of Gesors whas rescevyd at that tyme and þe castell both, and ther whas moch good gotyn therin.        

                                                    Chronicles of London (Cleopatra C IV),  p. 141

Cleopatra C IV confused the attack at Rys with an attack on Gisors which was in England hands. Talbot had reinforced Gisors in January with 100 men under Sir Thomas Hoo (3). Xaintrailles and La Hire fled back to the strongly held town of Beauvais after being routed at Rys.

Talbot wrote to the English Council in April recounting their success. He sent his letter through William Gloucester, master of the ordnance in Rouen, who was about to cross to England, with ‘certain articles’ probably requesting immediate military reinforcements and supplies. King Henry replied in May informing Talbot that the Earl of Suffolk (who was preparing to cross to France with the Duke of York), and William Gloucester would bring Talbot the latest news of what was being done.

A second letter from the king to Robert Curzon lieutenant of Rouen, and John Salvain bailli of Rouen, thanked them for their part in the defence of Rouen and made a vague promise that help would be sent. The king told them, as he had Talbot, to await the arrival of William Gloucester and the Earl of Suffolk to learn more (4).

(1) Pollard, Talbot, pp. 22-23 (notes that this incident is told three times in Monstrelet and twice in Wavrin on differing dates, 1436 and 1437).

(2) Monstrelet II, pp.  24-25 (Monstrelet has “Le Bois” in 1436 but Rys in 1437 (p. 49); he credits Sir Thomas Kyriell with leading the attack).

(3) Pollard, Talbot, p. 23 n. 47 citing BL Add Chs 6875,94 for Gisors.

(4) L&P I, pp. 496-497 (Talbot’s letter and King Henry’s reply, misdated by Stevenson to 1449) and pp. 498-499 (letter to Curzon and Salvain).

The Duke of Burgundy

The Duke of Burgundy was angry. The English Council had rejected his best efforts at the Congress of Arras in 1435 to end a war he was sure they could not win; in the autumn they had repulsed his overtures to resume peace negotiations. They had approached the princes of Germany, and even the Emperor Sigismund, to form a coalition against him; worse still, they had attempted to suborn or coerce his subjects in the Netherlands.

See Year 1435: Foreign Relations

The future of Anglo/Burgundian relations was at the forefront of the minds of both the English and Burgundian councils, but opinions were divided.  In February Burgundy addressed a stern letter to King Henry rebuking him for English bad faith and double dealing (1). The Council resented Burgundy’s accusations and were not prepared to concede that he had any right, or any grounds, to criticise the King of England’s policies. But in view of their commitment to a large army for Normandy, they were hesitant to declare war on Burgundy.

A defensive draft in reply to the duke, signed by the Duke of Gloucester, Cardinal Beaufort, and other council members, is preceded by a statement that the most important and valuable thing any man can possess is his honour, and this is doubly true of a king. Burgundy had impugned King Henry’s honour by failing to address him as King of France (2).

The Council informed Burgundy that King Henry had not encouraged his subjects to make war on the Flemings, quite the contrary; ever since Burgundy’s ‘strange behaviour’ at Arras, he had gone out of his way to maintain good relations with them and had issued proclamations to protect those residing in England.

King Henry had written to Holland and Zeeland to suggest that in the altered political alignments after Arras they should consider their longstanding and friendly trading relationship with England and continue it even in the face of Burgundy’s displeasure   but as to Burgundy’s complaint that England proposed to ally with the Emperor Sigismund, this was not new or reprehensible. Sigismund had been an ally of Henry V and of Henry VI and was a member of the Order of the Garter (unlike Burgundy). Henry and his father and grandfather before him had entered into alliances with foreign princes whenever it suited them without reference to the Dukes of Burgundy, and Henry would continue to do so.

The kings of England had always raised armies without reference to anyone. They did not pose a threat, except to the king’s enemies. Burgundy’s accusation that the English had attempted to capture Ardres in Artois, a few miles south of Calais, was not true; Burgundy had made the allegation in the hope of turning King Henry’s subjects against him. (A reminder to Burgundy that Henry was King of France).

That the Council wrote to Holland and Zeeland in 1435 hoping for their support or at least their neutrality should England go to war with Burgundy is not surprising (3,4). That they also wrote to Jacqueline, Countess of Hainault is more puzzling.  A letter to her at the end of March 1436 refers to a previous correspondence in which the Council reminded her of the long friendship and trade relations between her ancestors the counts of Hainault, and the kings of England (5).  Did the Council, and the Duke of Gloucester, still cling to the belief that Jacqueline could influence policy in Holland and Zeeland independently of the Duke of Burgundy?

The Council issued a proclamation at the end of March stating that although the Duke of Burgundy had seduced many Flemings from their allegiance to King Henry, they were still Henry’s subjects and those who chose to remain in England and renew their oath of allegiance to the king would receive full protection. The sheriffs were ordered to pronounce publicly throughout all the counties in England that those choosing to do so were not to be molested in anyway (6).  This made sound political and economic sense. These men were for the most part merchants, artisans and craftsmen, making a valuable contribution the English economy.

In April the oath of allegiance was administered to seventy-three men from the Netherlands, not all of them Flemings (7, 8).

The Duke of Burgundy had referred to an attack in the previous November on five Portuguese merchant ships sailing to Bruges. They been captured by English vessels and taken into Falmouth. This had been done without the knowledge of Henry’s government, and the king had been seriously displeased; far from profiting from it, the Duke of Gloucester had ordered the arrest of those responsible and the restoration of their goods to the rightful owners. This was undoubtedly true, Portugal was one of the very few allies England had left; an attack on Portuguese shipping would have resulted in immediate punishment, and an offer to compensate the burgomasters of Bruges for any losses (9).

(1) Thielemans, Bourgogne et Angleterre I, p. 81 and III, pp. 437- 438 (for Burgundy’s letter).

(2) PPC IV, pp. 329-334 (reply to Burgundy).

(3) Monstrelet II, p. 24-25 (letter to Zuiderzee).

(4) L&P II, Preface p. x (list of fifteen towns to which Henry’s letter was sent).

(5) PPC IV, pp. 334-335 (letter to Jacqueline).

(6) Foedera X, pp. 636-637 (proclamation of protection).

(7) Foedera X, pp. 637-639 (oath of allegiance).

(8) CPR 1429-36, pp. 541-588 (a complete list of all those from the Netherlands and Germany who took the oath).

(9) CPR 1429-1436, p. 527 (five ships from Portugal).

The Fall of Paris

In April 1436, before the main body of the English army set foot in France, Paris fell to the French.

Arthur de Richemont the Constable of France took the field in the autumn of 1435 to clear the way to Paris. Corbeil to the east and Saint-Germaine en Laye to the west of the capital fell to his forces in December. The Bois de Vincennes, only four miles from Paris where Henry V had died and Henry VI had stayed before his coronation, was betrayed by a Scottish member of the watch and captured in February.

[Insert in MS] thys yere ye capitayne off corbuell callyd Ferries sold ye castell to ye duke of burbon & lyke wise did other capitaynes off dyvers places for mony also a scott yt kept ye wech att boys de vyncennes let yn ye frenchemen & toke hyt.                 Great Chronicle, p. 172

The citizens of the strategic city of Pontoise rose against the English occupiers and forced them to surrender. They invited the Burgundian L’Isle Adam, who had changed sides with his master the Duke of Burgundy, to become captain of Pontoise for King Charles VII (1, 2).

Paris was now encircled. Louis of Luxembourg left Rouen and returned to the capital in March to shore up its defences, but it was a hopeless task. Luxembourg convened the Grand Conseil, including Lord Willoughby who had become the military governor of Paris after he captured Saint Denis in 1435 (with L’Isle Adam then in his ranks).  Citizens and soldiers alike were ordered to wear the red cross of St George to confirm their loyalty to Henry VI.  Anyone failing to do so would be forced to leave the city (3).

In April L’Isle Adam and Arthur de Richemont gathered their forces at Pontoise. They received word from dissidents within Paris to be ready by 13 April. According to Wavrin, L’Isle Adam persuaded the leading citizens of Paris to agree to admit the French before their army appeared at the gates (4). Dunois Bastard of Orleans, Richemont, and L’Isle Adam, arrived at the Port Saint-Jacques with an army of 6,000 men according to Monstrelet (5).  L’Isle Adam climbed a scaling ladder and set King Charles’s banner over the gate.  He declared that the city was now under the control of the Duke of Burgundy. This was a clever psychological move; the Parisians favoured Burgundy and distrusted ‘the Armagnacs.’

Richemont came well prepared. He carried letters from Charles VII promising an amnesty, the king recognised the citizens as his loyal subjects, and there would be no reprisals: “My good friends, the good King Charles gives you a hundred thousand thanks, as I do, for having so peaceably returned the chief city of his kingdom to him. If anyone of any rank, present or absent, has done any wrong to our lord the king, it is entirely forgiven him” (6).

Lord Willoughby rallied his forces in the Rue Saint Antoine but was forced to retreat to the Bastille. He had no hope of holding the city or of repulsing the French. He and Louis of Luxembourg negotiated with Richemont to be allowed to leave (7). As they marched out of the capital with their few remaining troops on 17 April, they were taunted by the Parisians according to the Bourgeois, but Chartier says they did not pass through Paris for fear of causing a disturbance (i.e., being attacked?). They were escorted directly to ships on the Seine to take them back to Rouen (8).

The loss of Paris is briefly noted in only two London chronicles:

“And the [    ] day of Aprill than next suyng they wan ayen Parys.”     Great Chronicle, p. 172

“And that same yere the Fraynsche party in the monythe of Aprylle wane a-gayne Parys.”      Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 178

(1) Barker, Conquest, pp. 239-240 (Pontoise).

(2) Pollard, Talbot, p. 24 (Pontoise).

(3) Guy L. Thompson, Paris and its People Under English Rule, pp. 233-237 (Louis of Luxembourg).

(4) Wavrin IV pp. 141-145 (recovery of Paris).

(5) Monstrelet II, pp. 28-29 (recovery of Paris).

(6) Bourgeois, pp. 302-307 (for a graphic and biased account of the recovery of Paris).

(7) Gruel, Chronique d’Arthur de Richemont, pp. 118-123 (recovery of Paris).

(8) Chartier, Chronique I, pp. 223-228 (recovery of Paris).

The Duke of York

King Henry’s promise to send a large army to Normandy by the beginning of 1436 ‘to achieve peace’ was a revival of the Duke of Gloucester’s proposal of 1434, peace could only be achieved by defeating the French but the decision to place a large army under the command of Richard, Duke of York is somewhat surprising. The Estates of Normandy had requested a captain of royal blood and the Duke of Gloucester was the obvious choice, he had succeeded the Duke of Bedford as Captain of Calais, but Gloucester was not interested. With Bedford dead he was free to consolidate his dominance of the Council in England and to pursue his own expansionist plans.

Gloucester may have suggested, and he certainly endorsed, the Duke of York who was only twenty-five and as yet untried in war or politics. He might be expected to look to Gloucester for guidance. Added to that, York was wealthy; he had inherited vast estates when he came of age in 1432 and he was the highest-ranking peer after Gloucester himself. York was ‘royal,’ he could claim descent from King Edward III on his father’s and his mother’s side, Lionel Duke of Clarence, King Edward’s second son, and through Edmund, Duke of York, King Edward’s fourth son.

The fall of Paris in April changed the military and political landscape. The Minority Council appears to have accepted that it could not be recovered, and the emphasis now was on the defence of Normandy. The dual monarchy was dead before King Henry came of age, but Minority Council clung stubbornly to his right to be the King of France. A decision as to who should become the king’s lieutenant in France could not be put off much longer. Cleopatra C IV and Gregory’s Chronicle claim that the decision to send the Duke of York was made in Parliament, but this is not on the Parliamentary rolls.

“And at the parlement of beforn [1435] whas ordyened for the Reame of ffraunce.”                                   Chronicles of London (Cleopatra C IV), p. 141

And at the Parlyment be-fore hyt was ordaynyde that the Duke of Yorke shulde in to Fraunce with certayne lordys with hym in stede of the Regaunt.  And whythe hym went the Erle of Salysbury.                             Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 178

And it was ordeyned by the said parlement that the duke of yorke sholde into Fraunce with certeyn lordes with hym And he passed into Fraunce a litell tofore Mydsomer. And therle of Salesbury and the lorde Fawcombrigge with hym.  Great Chronicle, p. 172

To a certain extent York was seen as a replacement for the Duke of Bedford since he was to take charge of the council in Rouen. More in hope than in expectation, the Council gave York, Louis of Luxembourg, Salisbury and Suffolk, and Bedford’s councillors Sir John Fastolf and Ralph Le Sage the power to treat for a truce with France (1. 2).  The Council appointed him as the king’s lieutenant with limited powers for one year only, from May 1436 to May 1437 (3).

York’s Army

York had indented in February to muster a force by May.  He was accompanied by the Earls of Salisbury and Suffolk. He had 500 men-at-arms and 2,200 archers; Salisbury 260 men-at-arms and 400 archers and Suffolk had 40 men at arms and 160 archers (4).  In the end the ‘largest army ever seen’ was reduced to 4,560 men.

Shipping was requisitioned from fourteen ports in March to assemble at Winchelsea to transport the Duke of York and the Earl of Mortain to France (5).

(1) DKR, French Rolls, p. 313 (powers to treat).

(2) Foedera X, pp. 642-443 (powers to treat).

(3) Johnson, York, p. 28-29 (York king’s lieutenant).

(4) CPR 1429-1436, pp. 535-536, (York, Salisbury, Suffolk musters).

(5) CPR 1429-1436, p. 533 (shipping).

NB: There is a contradiction in the sources: on 4 March 1436 a protection was issued for Roger Legh of London, Clarencieux Herald, alias Roger Gloucester of Newington, Surrey, going to France in the retinue of Richard, Duke of York (1).

There is also a ‘commission to Roger Liegh alias Clarencieux king of arms to provide himself with horses required to take him to and from Scotland on the king’s business” (2).

Roger Legh was created Clarencieux King of Arms in May 1435.  He had previously been Gloucester Herald.

(1) Foedera X p. 635 (Legh protection going to France).

(2) CPR 1429-1436 dated 10 March 143, p. 535 (Legh protection going to Scotland).

Lord Fauconberg

William Neville, Lord Fauconberg, the Earl of Salisbury’s brother, had married Joan Fauconberg and became Lord Fauconberg in right of her inheritance. He petitioned for permission to enfeoff Marske in Cleveland, in the North Riding of Yorkshire and the wapentake of Langberg, to his and his wife’s use, with the remainder (inheritance) to their heirs (1).  In view of the great costs to himself of what might be an extended period of service, he asked that the usual fee to the Hanaper be waived. Which was granted.

Fauconberg’s mother Joan, Countess of Westmorland was a formidable woman. Before she would agree to allow either of her sons, the Earl of Salisbury or Fauconberg to serve in the Duke of York’s army she demanded confirmation of a bond from her stepson, Ralph, second Earl of Westmorland, that he would not attempt to repossess any of the Westmorland estates willed by her late husband to herself and her sons while they were fighting in France. She got it: ‘the king will never release the said earl [Westmorland] his heirs or executors from the said bond’ (2).

“And in this same yere, the iiijth day of Maye, the Erle of Salesbury and his broder the Lord Faukonberge, went ouer the see into Normandy with a fayre company of knyghtes and squyers, with men of armes and archers, in defence of þe Kyng and of þe Reame of England, for to destroye oure enemys.”             Brut Continuation F, p. 469

 Sir John Popham

Popham had served in France under King Henry V and the Duke of Bedford. He was an ambassador to the Congress at Arras. He indented to serve under the Duke of York but not before the Council had granted his petition to be discharged of a debt claimed against him in the Exchequer from the time he had served on the Council in Rouen while King Henry was in France. He also requested that tallies be issued for £38 7s 6d for his expenses at Arras and going on to Rouen in 1435.

Tallies totalling £265 had been issued for his annuity of 100 marks; he requested to have them reassigned, to be paid by the receiver of the tin mines in Cornwall (which had been held by the Duke of Bedford) for better security. In the meanwhile, he hoped for immediate payment of his annuity for the current year. He wanted confirmation that the town and castle of Thorigny and other lands in Normandy granted to him by Henry V would be secured to himself and heirs in fee simple (i.e., not just to a male heir).

Popham also requested that an indenture on the same terms be made for one John Straiton with two archers.  His petition was granted, and a week later, on 11 May, he indented to serve the king in France or in the duchy of Normandy for six months at 4s a day for himself, with a personal retinue four men-at-arms at 12 pence a day and twelve archers at 6 pence a day, although he requested to be excused from serving on the Council in Rouen. Thirty men at arms and a commensurate number of archers should be assigned to him in Normandy and permission given for him to return home after the expiry of his indentures (3). Popham’s petition is probably typical of the requests and conditions made by the men agreeing to serve with the Duke of York. The crown was already indebted to most of them in one way or another.

(1) PPC IV, p. 336 (Fauconberg enfeoffment).

(2) CPR 1429-1436, pp. 595-596 (Westmorland bond).

(3) PPC IV, pp. 337-339 and 342-343 (Popham).

York in Normandy

York landed at Honfleur on 7 June and went to Rouen. The Earl of Salisbury recovered Chambrois not far from Falaise. York’s forces retook the towns surrounding Rouen that had fallen to the French, but he engaged in no major encounter outside Normandy. He had been appointed the king’s lieutenant in France, but there was no France; after the fall of Paris English land holdings were confined to the Duchy of Normandy and parts of the county of Maine.

“And whan that the Duke of York was landid at humflewe (Honfleur) with all his ost, the erll of Salisbury leyd sege vnto a castell called Schambroys (Chambrois) and whas won with a composicion. And than the Duke com in to the tovne of Rooen and ther he lay vnto mielmas (Michaelmas) and than he leyd sege vnto the abbey of ffescham (Fécamp) and whan it; and did no more in all his tyme &c.”                  

                                    Chronicles of London (Cleopatra C IV) p. 141

And in this same yere, in the Moneth of Maye, the Duke of York and þerle of Suffolk, with oþer lordes, knyghtes and squyers men of arms and archers and all oþer stuff and necessaryes þat perteyneth to were, went ouer the see into Normandy and Fraunce as lieftenaunt vnder the Kynge of England forto gouerne and kepe þe landes of Fraunce and Normandy ageyns the Kynges enemys and in saluacion of the Kynges people.                                                                                                    Brut Continuation F. p.  469.

Benet’s Chronicle, (p. 185) says he crossed to Normandy after Whitsuntide [27 May] 12,000 men. (Benet consistently inflates the size of English armies).

Annales (pseudo-Worcester p. 761) says 8,000 men.

Edmund Beaufort, Earl of Mortain

Cardinal Beaufort made the largest contribution to the loans needed to send the army to France: £12,666 13s 4d in February and a further £4,000 through the feoffees of the Duchy of Lancaster. He accepted York’s appointment, but he had plans of his own. He wanted a command in Normandy for his nephew, Edmund Beaufort Earl of Mortain, partly in the hope of expediting the release of his eldest nephew, John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset still a captive in France, and partly to advance Edmund’s military career.  He financed a second army of 2,000 men, independent of York, under Edmund Beauforts’ command: ‘the addition of Mortain’s force and the terms of his separate command were the price exacted by the Cardinal for financing the army to Normandy’ (1).

The Cardinal received crown jewels valued at 8,000 marks as security for repayment of an earlier loan, and permission to sell them if the loan was not repaid by the specified dates. He was again authorized, as he had been in 1435, to sue for repayment of his loan of 10,000 marks if necessary (2, 3).

At the same time, he was licenced to merge the hospital of Sandon in Surrey with the larger hospital of St Thomas’s in Southwark in his diocese of Winchester. St Thomas’s hospital was run by the Augustinian canons to house the poor. It was not unusual for a small house such as Sandon to be dissolved and its assets transferred to a larger house, to the benefit of both (4).

The Earl of Mortain’s army of 2,000 men mustered in April, earlier than that of the Duke of York.  His captains were Roger, Lord Camoys, Sir William Ashton and Sir Geoffrey Warburton. Before they set sail for Normandy alarming news reached the Council that the Duke of Burgundy was assembling an army to lay siege to Calais. There was no time to waste and the Duke of Gloucester in the king’s name ordered Mortain to divert his force to defend Calais (5). Mortain sailed in mid-April.

There was no sign of the Duke of Burgundy or his army when Mortain landed in Calais, and Mortain launched a series of raids into Burgundian territory, first against Boulogne and then at Gravelines on the border of the Pale of Calais and West Flanders. The relief felt in England was palpable, the situation was under control, and damage had been inflicted on the enemy. Monstrelet voiced the general consensus: ‘King Henry and all England would just as soon have lost their thirty years conquests in France as the single town of Calais, as I have been creditably informed’ (6)

In gratitude for these morale booting exploits, King Henry rewarded Mortain with the Order of the Garter, probably at Cardinal Beaufort’s instigation, (7, 8).

“This yere was A gret noyse thrugh all Englond, how þe Duke of Burgoyn wolde come & besegie Caleys.  Wherfore þerle of Mortayn with his Army þat he had for to haue gone with in-to Fraunce, was contermaunded & charged þat he shold go to Caleys which was at þat tyme wel vitailed & manned;”   Brut Continuation G, p. 504

“And sone vpon the erll of Mortayn went into the tovne of Caleys and the lord Camuse (Camoys).  And ther he whas besegid by the Duke of Borgoyn. And ther was a grete multitude of peple with him to the nomber of xl m1 men with a riall ordinaunce of gones ande of engines and of schott of grete crosse-bowys. And ther he made strong Bulwerkes and Bastiles rounde abowte the tovne &c. Cleopatra C IV, p. 141  

 “And the Erle of Mortayne went to Calys sone aftyr Estyr.  And the xiiij day aftyr he made a roode in to Flaunders. and he slowe and tok xv, C. of Flemmyngys, and many bestys; the nombyr ys more thenne I canne certaynely reherse.”                                         Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 178

Chronicles: English Chronicle, p. 55; Great Chronicle, p. 172; Brut Continuation F, p. 468.

(1) Harriss, Beaufort, p. 258 (Cardinal’s loans).

(2) Foedera X, p. 632 (security and repayment for Beaufort’s loans).

(3) CPR 1429-1436 p. 602 (repayment of Beaufort’s loans).

(4) Foedera X, p. 633 (Sandon and St Thomas’s hospitals).

(5) Chronicon Angliae, pp. 15-16 (the only chronicle to note the grant to Mortain in December 1435 of the County of Harcourt in Eastern Normandy, previously held by the Duke of Bedford).

(6) Monstrelet II, p. 37 (English would not lose Calais).

(7) Foedera X, p. 640 (Mortain awarded the Order of the Garter).

(8) Jones,‘Beaufort Family,’ pp. 91-95.

The Duke of Burgundy’s Preparations

The Duke of Burgundy had visited Ghent in March and bargained with the Four Members of Flanders ((the towns of Ghent, Bruges, the castellany of Bruges, and Ypres, the richest towns in the Low Countries) for their military support to besiege Calais.

The men of Ghent were reluctant, and they drove a hard bargain: they agreed only after Burgundy promised them five substantial concessions, one of which was that when Calais was captured, all the wool in the Calais Staple would be parcelled out between the towns of Flanders, and to no one else. Another was that the duke would place a total ban on the sale of English woollen cloth throughout his lands. Philip promised, and in return the Flemings agreed to supply him with 60,000 men and 400 ships. They were led to believe that Calais was poorly defended and would be an easy prey (1).

Burgundy also recruited men from Picardy. The Picards under their captain Robert de Saveuses operated separately from the men of Ghent and Bruges and proved to be the better soldiers. Most of Burgundy’s initial success appears to have been due to the Picards.

Assembling an army of men who were not professional solders took time. They mustered at the end of June near Gravelines, on the estuary of the River Aa to the east of Calais just over the West Flanders border, between Calais and Dunkirk.

“And þe ix day of Iuyll þe Duke of Burgoyn with al þe power of Flaundres & moche other peple come before Caleys & sett his siege About þe town; & euery town of Flaundres had þer tenttes bi þame self. And þis Siege endured thre wekes.”                                                  Brut Continuation G, p. 504

Burgundy sent the Picards to reduce the ring of castles around Calais, while the Flemings prepared to lay siege to Calais itself. The Earl of Mortain, although he led raiding parties into Burgundian territory, did little to defend the castles in Pale of Calais.

Oye surrendered without resistance (2). Marck held out for six days then sued for a truce, agreeing to surrender on the promise that the defenders would not be hanged. Balingham fell, Sangatte was betrayed by treachery, but Guines resisted. The Picards pounded its walls with heavy artillery, including the great bronze gun called ‘Dygeon.’  The town fell, but William Picton the lieutenant of Guines and the garrison withdrew into the castle and held out.

(1) Vaughan, Philip, pp. 75-76 (Burgundy’s army).

(2) Monstrelet II, pp. 36-38 (claims Oye was taken by the men of Ghent and razed to the ground).

The Siege of Calais

The most detailed, and probably the most accurate source for the Duke of Burgundy’s siege of Calais in English is printed in The Brut, Continuation H, from the MS Harley 53, and Continuation I from LMS Lambeth 6. Although Brut H is much shorter than the accounts in the Burgundian chroniclers it is presumably a translation of the lost source used by Wavrin and Monstrelet since it records some of the same incidents to be found in them (1, 2, 3).

(1) Monstrelet II, pp. 35-42 (‘The Flemings march to the siege of Calais and march back again’).

(2) Wavrin IV, pp. 157-199 (long entry on the siege).

(3) L. Visser-Fuchs, History as Pastime, pp. 470-474 (Wavrin’s account of the siege).


Brut Continuation H, pages 573-580 in modern English.

Page 573

In the fourteenth year of the reign of Henry VI [1435-1436] Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester Protector and Defender of England became Captain of Calais; he was already Captain of Guines and so he became captain of both Calais and Guines (1).

Gloucester made Sir John Radcliffe his lieutenant in Calais and sent him there. Radcliffe was a worthy knight; he was well loved by the soldiers in Calais for he kept open house and welcomed anyone who came to dine (2).

Rumours that Calais was to be besieged increased daily.

Sir John Radcliffe, lieutenant of Calais, the Mayor, Robert Clidrowe, and Thomas Thirland lieutenant of the Staple and all the inhabitants, soldiers, merchants, burgesses and the people constructed three large bulwarks of packed earth and clay, one beside the outer wall of the castle, a second at the Bulleyn [Boulogne] gate, and a third at the gate beside the Prince’s Inn on the south side of the town with.

Richard Woodville the previous lieutenant of Calais, had constructed another bulwark at the Milkgate made of brick before he was discharged. The walls, the towers, and the dikes of the town were heavily fortified; emplacements of cannon, set to fire high and low, were mounted in the embrasures of the town’s walls.

The six fortresses within the Pale of Calais occupied by the English: Guines, Balingham, Hammes, Sangatte, Mark, and Oye were strongly fortified.

Page 574

Sir John Radcliffe instructed everyone living within the Pale of Calais to come and take shelter within Calais. They were to strip their homes of all valuables and goods and burn the houses down to deprive the enemy of shelter or sustenance. Some people did so, but others did not; they preferred to slip away to the comparative safely of Picardy or Flanders. Those remaining were required to renew their oath of allegiance to King Henry at the town hall. Men who would not take the oath could leave with their belongings and go wherever they wished. Some stayed and some went.

On 23 April, St George’s Day. Radcliffe ordered the Day Watch to ring the alarm bell without first warning the soldiers in the town. There was panic as soldiers and citizens alike ran to arm themselves. People rushed to bring all the livestock inside the walls for fear that the enemy would take them, but it was a false alarm. Radcliffe did it for fun because it was Saint Georges Day and because he wanted to see how quickly his men would react to an unexpected call to arms.

Not long after this Edmund Beaufort, Earl of Mortain, Roger, Lord Camoys, Sir William Ashton, and Sir Geoffrey Warburton arrived in Calais with an army numbering 3,000 men-of- arms and archers. They should have shipped from Winchelsea to defend Normandy, but the rumours that the Duke of Burgundy was about to lay siege to Calais were so widely believed that King Henry and the Duke of Gloucester ordered Mortain to divert to Calais and remain there until reinforcements could arrive.

Then Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. Protector and Defender of England, and Captain of Calais and Guines summoned all the lords in England, spiritual and temporal, and all his personal retainers to join him in an effort to rescue Calais. The lords, bishops, abbots, and priors all agreed to contribute to raise an army to serve under Gloucester’s personal command. He retainers responded to his call, and he thanked them all.

Page 575

Shipping was requisitioned from English ports; all seaworthy vessels were to assemble at Sandwich by a certain day. And more than two hundred ships assembled.

While the Duke of Burgundy made his preparations, the Flemings took some English merchants prisoner as they left Flanders for Calais, especially merchants from Dunkirk.

When the Earl of Mortain reached Calais, as before said, he attacked Bulleyn [Boulogne] twenty miles from Calais. He burned the suburbs and he and his men returned to Calais on the following day having encountered no resistance, bringing the livestock and booty that they had captured.

Mortain led a second foray into West Flanders to a place called Lawe.  His men plundered the countryside and stole all the cattle and came to Gravelines to rendezvous with the earl.              

And while the earl and his men were driving the cattle along the sands between Gravelines and the sea the men in Gravelines came out bravely from their town and fought with them, but they were defeated and over 400 of them were killed. They fled back into the town and the English pursued them and took many prisoners.

A mounted English spearman chased the Graveliners right up to the gates of the town and could not check his horse so that he rode into the town without meaning to; he was captured but later ransomed. 

The Earl and his men drove their cattle past Gravelines along the sands at low tide despite the Flemings and brought the cattle and their prisoners into Calais without losing a man. And they brought so many cows with them that a prize milch cow could be bought of one shilling (3)

King Henry rewarded Mortain with the Order of the Garter as soon as the news of his exploits reached England.

Lord Camoys, William Ashton and Geoffrey Warburton with men from the garrisons of Calais and Guines made three forays with mounted men and footmen. They rode to the town of Arde and plundered the countryside around it

Page 576

And in the mean while Sir Robert Savois, captain of  Fynes, gathered an army of 4,000 men and hid them in ambush in a grove of trees not far from the fortress of Balingham.

As Lord Camoys and his men were crossing the open country near the trees, the Picards loosed three hares in front of them; straight away the men broke ranks and chased the hares and failed to see the Picards hiding in the trees. They left their hiding place and charged through the disordered English ranks taking them surprise and killing many of the men on foot. Those on horseback left the field and rode for the safety of Balingham, but Lord Camoys and two other knights rallied the footmen to their standard and some of the mounted men too.

They counter attacked and defeated the Picards and killed many of them and drove the rest to the gates of Ardres where a squire named Lucas rode past the outer walls and was killed. He was much mourned, but thanked be God, Lord Camoys had the victory over the Picards in a field called Golden Dale beside Balingham, He and his soldiers returned safely to Calais with their booty.

When the Duke of Burgundy was ready, he came to Gravelines with his artillery and with his Flemish militia to the number of 150,000 men and twelve carts, each with a cock to crow to the host.

The Flemings constructed a bridge over the water at Gravelines to a place called Hoke belonging to the duke. They crossed over and assembled in front of the castle at Oye and sent a herald to Nicholas Horton the captain of Oye to surrender. Horton sent back word that he took no heed of them, and nor would he surrender.  But later by a false agreement they lured him out of the castle to speak with the Duke of Burgundy.

And castle was taken because an iron gate was left open in the buttery, a great gun emplacement, while the soldiers in the hall above were treating with the duke’s herald for a meeting.

Page 577

And suddenly the Flemings rushed in and captured those in the hall. They hanged sixty-two of them under the castle walls without any pity and killed those remaining except Nicholas Horton Captain of Oye, and William Bullion the Constable, and his cousin.  Horton was finally ransomed and came home to England long afterwards and the constable died in prison for sorrow. His cousin William Bullion was well known to and well-liked by the Picards and they let him go free provided he went first to Calais as a spy to inform them when the Duke of Gloucester arrived from Sandwich with his navy.

Everyone in Calais was amazed that William Bullion had been released without ransom; the Earl of Mortain was suspicious and prepared to arrest him as a spy. Bullion admitted that he had been set free became he promised to send word of the Duke of Gloucester’s coming, but he swore he never had any intention of doing so. Nevertheless, he was brought to the pillory in the marketplace and beheaded but many grieved at this, for he was a good archer.

The Flemings won the fortress of Oye on St Peter’s eve in June, [29 June] as before said, by betrayal. They smashed the interior of the hall and the towers and burned every stick of wood. They weakened the walls and the towers and set wooden supports under them which they then set on fire so that the walls collapsed into the dikes.

On 2 July the Flemings laid siege to the castle at Marck adjacent to the castle at Oye and the Earl of Mortain sent Christopher Barton with a troop to reinforce the castle.

Page 578

The Flemings pounded the foundations and the walls of Marck with their cannon and made several strong assaults, but the defenders repulsed them and shored up the walls with timber and dung and whatever materials they had to hand. They held out for six days but when no help arrived, they surrendered and were made prisoners.

The Flemings plundered the castle, smashed up the interior and burned the roof of the hall.  They undermined the walls and towers and set supports under them and then burned them so that the walls and towers fell into the dike just as they had done at Oye.

Then on 9 July 1436 the Duke of Burgundy came to Calais with his Flemings and laid siege to Calais by land; he pitched his tents before the town on the plain of Saint Peter a mile beyond the town.

The duke lay at a short distance from Newname Bridge; the men of Ghent lay beside him, and the men of Bruges and the Flemings lay beside Saint Peter’s church. But the duke left after only two days and the men of Ghent followed him to the east side of the town and there pitched their tents. Burgundy abandoned the west side of the town because a cannon shot passed through his tent.

The men of Ghent constructed a strong bulwark of pipes and timber on a high hill in the sand dunes between their encampment and Calais and fired cannon at the town but for the most part they overshot the town, and their guns never did any harm, thanked be God and the Holy Virgin Saint Barbara (4).

While the Duke of Burgundy lay at the siege with the Flemings, Sir Robert Savois with 4,000 Picards approached the castle at Balingham. Richard Sellyng was lieutenant of Balingham under its captain Richard Buckland. Sellyng surrendered Balingham shamefully without offering any resistance in return for his men being allowed to march out to Guines with their equipment; they left behind their possessions and the supplies in the castle; Balingham was the best supplied place in all the Marches.

When Sellyng reached Guines William Picton, lieutenant of Guines for Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, put him in prison.   And the Picards plundered Balingham and destroyed the interior, broke down the timbers, and burned the place. They undermined the walls and towers and let them fall into the dike just as the Flemings had done with Oye and Marck (5).

Page 579

Then the Picards laid siege to Guines and brought up the bronze gun called ‘Dogeon’ with three barrels, and two other great guns of iron called bombards. They laid the bronze gun in a cellar in the town on the dike side of the castle and trained it on a ward next to the Fane Tower and broke it down into the ditch. William Picton and the garrison held Guines cleverly and manfully, and fortified its walls where they were damaged with timber and dung.

Another force of Picards approached the castle at Sandgate and ordered it to surrender because all the other castles in the Pale of Calais had surrendered. Sir Thomas Knevet had been made lieutenant of Sandgate by the king and sent to reinforce it. Knevet could not decide what to do, but he was advised to surrender by Thomas Heneley, a priest and a traitor. Knevet surrendered Sandgate shamefully and cowardly without resistance and he and all those within were made prisoners except the false priest who was allowed to go free; he escaped to France, but no one knew where. And when the Picards took the castle, they hacked down and set fire to everything and undermined the walls. But the dungeon was so strong that they could not take it and so they left it and let it stand. 

The Duke of Burgundy and the Flemings maintained the siege of Calais. The men of the garrison opened the floodgates, and the sea flooded the countryside.  There were daily skirmishes between the garrison and the Flemings for fourteen days.

Burgundy ordered twenty ships from Flanders, six of which were hulks. These were filled with stones, calk, mortar and broken pits of masonry.  At high tide they scuttled some of them at the mouth of the harbour and some inside the harbour to prevent any ships from entering. But they did not dare to stay, they were afraid of being fired on by the guns inside Calais. On the following day at low tide the men of Calais came out with axes and broke up the sunken ships, bringing everything they salvaged into the town for distribution to poor people and gave the masonry to rebuild St Mary’s church.

Page 580

About a thousand of the Flemish troops watched from a vantage point high up in the sand dunes. They were both grieved and ashamed by what they saw because they had been told that no English ships would be allowed to enter the harbour.

Not long afterward the men of Bruges encamped on the plain of Saint Peter came before the Bullen [Boulogne] Gate, in great force, some armed with spears and some with crossbows, a large number, but spread out. The men in Calais stationed men-at-arms on horseback in hiding at the Bullen Gate bulwark and sent out footmen to engage the Brugeois. The horsemen bided their time until they saw their advantage and then they charged. The Flemings broke ranks and fled to their tents, but before they could escape, they were caught and thirty-six were taken prisoners; the rest, with those in their encampment, thought a great force had come against them; they abandoned their position and they fled from the east side of Calais.

This happened on a Thursday and the Flemings named it ‘Black Thursday.’  After this defeat, the men of Flanders of Bruges and of Ghent who remained with the duke at the east end of the town laughed them to scorn. This caused dissention among Burgundy’s men and thereafter they refused to serve with or aid each other.

And on Saturday, seven nights and two days afterwards, the English left Calais in the afternoon on foot and on horseback and made for the bulwark on the high hill in the dunes.  They took it and killed the defenders who were inside and dismantled the bulwark. Those remaining alive were taken back to Calais as prisoners.

The Earl of Mortain met the returning troops and intended to kill all the prisoners because an Englishman man- at-arms named Watkyn Ruskin had been killed during the taking of the bulwark (6)


(1) The Duke of Gloucester became Captain of Calais in November 1435 after the Duke of Bedford’s death. He had been Captain of Guines since 1423. Gloucester replaced Richard Woodville, Bedford’s lieutenant of Calais, with Sir John Radcliffe, the experienced Seneschal of Gascony. The date of Radcliffe’s appointment is not recorded; was it the threat to Calais that induced Gloucester to send Radcliffe there? Gloucester obviously trusted him to do what was needed, and a vignette in Brut H adds a personal touch: he was loved by the men who served under him because he was open handed and welcomed their company.

(2) Radcliffe strengthened Calais’s fortifications by ordering strategic bulwarks to be built near the Boulogne Gate and the Princes Inn which lay on the south side of the town, with the castle to the northwest. The Milkgate opened through the eastern wall.

(3) The story of the Earl of Mortain returning to Calais with large numbers of cattle so that a cow sold for one shilling is the same as that told in Cleopatra C IV (p. 140) about Lord Talbot earlier: after he returned to Rouen with a large number of livestock from a raid into the pays de Caux a cow sold for one shilling.

(4) The chronicler thanked God and Saint Barbara for the poor aim of the Ghent artillery. Saint Barbara was the patron saint of artillerymen, was she believed to be misdirecting the guns?

(5) The chronicler used the generic term ‘the Flemings,’ indiscriminately for the men of Ghent, the men of Bruges and the Picards.  According to Wavrin and Monstrelet the Picards gave a good account of themselves but there was no love lost between them. In the skirmishes around Calais and specially during the last few days of July when they suffered defeat at the hands of the Earl of Mortain’s men, the Gantois and the Brugeois poured scorn on each other’s military ineptitude and laughed at each other’s defeat. It did not make for harmony in the Burgundian ranks.

(6) The chronicle’s report that Mortain intended to execute all the prisoners in revenge for Watkyn Ruskin who was killed in the fighting seems an excessive reaction to the death of one man. The explanation may be that Ruskin was already a prisoner and killing him was against the laws off war.

Unfortunately, Brut H breaks off before Burgundy was forced to lift the siege. The Brut Continuation I records the arrival of Lord Welles with the advance party of the Duke of Gloucester’s army, and very briefly, the lifting of the siege:

“Phelip, Duk of Burgonge & the Flemmynges departed from Calais and þe Pycardes from þe Castel of Guysnes with gret shame & gret diswurship & with gret losse,”

                                    Brut Continuation I, p. 582



It was not until 9 July, four months after Burgundy made his intentions known, that he laid siege to Calais (1).

“And in this same yere aboute Midsomer, the Duke of Burgoyne with all his pusance of peple bothe of Fraunce and of Flaundres and of oþer dyuers contreys come and byseged þe towne of Caleys and þe garrysons þat belongen þerto.  And þere they destroyed both Mark and Oye and of þe Kynges peple many oon. And þey come thider with so grete strenght and ordynaunce of werre þat it was impossible [for] any creatures to conquere theym, sauf þe grace of God oonly;”           Brut Continuation F. p.  469

Burgundy had planned to blockade Calais by sea as well as by land, but he was let down by his navy. The admiral, Jan van Hoorn, failed to muster anything like the number of ships promised; the towns along the coast of the Netherlands had claimed they needed their ships for self-defence, and in any case, they had already made their contribution to the Duke of Burgundy’s army.

When Van Hoorn finally arrived off Calais on 25 July, his ships stood off. They would not enter the harbour for fear of Calais’s guns. Van Hoorn ordered six old hulks to be weighed down with stones and broken bits of masonry and had them scuttled at high tide to block the mouth of the harbour. But he was unfamiliar with Calais’s tides. At low water on the following day the men and women of Calais came out with axes, broke up the ships and hauled everything worth salvaging ashore.

            “Remembre how ye drowned att full see for þe nones,

            With shippes, Calais hauen, masoned with stones,

            How that þe Calisers hem brake the next day,

            When it was lawe water, and bare lxiii clene away,

            Euery stikke & stone and lafte not ther one log.”  Brut Continuation I, p. 583

After only two days Van Hoorn ordered his ships to withdraw (2). The Flemings never forgave Von Hoorn. They did not blame the Duke of Burgundy, their anger settled on his advisors, among them Von Hoorn. He was murdered by the Flemings later in the year. (3).

Only Brut Continuation F, records that Spanish (i.e., Castilian) ships were with Von Hoorn’s fleet and that it was the appearance of the Earl of Devon’s ships (Devon is listed as accompanying Gloucester’s army) that forced the Burgundian ships to withdraw. The Earl of Devon may be an error for the Earl of Huntington, the Admiral of England, and the appearance of English ships off Calais may well have induced Van Hoorn to hoist sail. A Short English Chronicle (p. 62) notes the presence of English ships off the coast of Flanders.

“And then come the Navy of Spayne with oþer dyuers shippes, which were grete vessels and stronge and well-manned and byseged þe towne of Caleys by water. Then come þe Earl of Devenshire with his Navye out of the west costes and with oþer dyuers shippes of England well-manned; and they herd of his commyng and they voided, and went theire wey thens, and wold no lenger abide.”

                                                    Brut Continuation F. p.  469

(1) Thielemans, Bourgogne et Angleterre, pp. 90-102 (detailed account of the siege)

(2) Vaughan, Philip, p. 79 (Flemish fleet).

(3) Monstrelet II, pp. 39-40 (Flemish fleet) and p. 45 (murder of Van Hoorn).

The action, or rather inaction, at sea was watched by the Flemings gathered on the hills overlooking the town. After their ships disappeared over the horizon the end came swiftly. Wavrin, who was at Gravelines, gave it as his opinion that without a blockade at sea Burgundy’s enterprise was doomed from the start.

Early in the siege the Duke of Burgundy had shifted himself and a large part of his army from the west side of Calais to the safer east side, because a gun shot from the castle, situated at the northwest end of the town, tore through his tent. The Earl of Mortain made a surprise sortie from the Boulogne Gate on the east side and attacked the men of Bruges bivouacked on Saint Peter’s Plain.

Bastille Burned

Two days later Mortain and Lord Camoys set fire to the wooden bastille erected by the men of Ghent on the sand dunes overlooking Calais from where they had trained their artillery on the town, although their heavy guns overshot Calais owing to the poor aim of their gunners. The bastille was occupied by 300 to 400 men. Some of them were killed and the rest were taken prisoner.

Gregory’s Chronicle (p. 178) and The Great Chronicle (p. 172) date the attack on the bastille to 12 July, but the Brut Continuation H, which does not name Mortain or Camoys, dates it to 28 July. This is more likely as the Duke of Burgundy withdrew from the siege not long afterwards. The destruction of the bastille was the decisive encounter that caused the Flemings to desert.

“And then the Erle of Morteyner and þe Lorde Camoys with a certeyn of theire peple issued oute of Caleys and brake the sege þat the Duke of Burgogyne had ordeyned ayenst the towne of Caleys and come to þe Bastyle of strength and slewe þe most party þat were þerin and destroyed moche peple and toke his ordynaunce, and the remenaunt fledde away.  And this was doon ere the Duke of Gloucestre come ouer the see to Caleys with his Navye and people.           Brut Continuation F, pp. 469-470

“Also this yere was openly knowen that the duke of Burgoyne was falsely forsworne to the crowne of England; for he laied sege to Caleis and did make a strong bastille; to the which bastel Englisshemen made strong assaute iij tymes and the iijd tyme thei gate it, and token certeyn persons, and slough alle the remenaunt and brent the bastille;

                                    Chronicles of London (J. B. I ) p. 172

Mortain’s action was commemorated in one of several ballads composed in England lampooning the Flemings:

“Remembres on þat wurship ye wann the first day

When the Erle of Mortein come passing with his pray

Before youre toune of Grauenyng , where ye, ass men bold

Come rennyng on hyn fersli, as lyons of Cotteswold, . . . .

Ye laid vpon þeenglisshmen so mightily with your hands,

Til of you iij hundred lay strechid on the sandes.

Ye Fled þen -in-to Grauenyng and wold no lenger bide

And gaue þe Erle keue to passe ouer that same tyde,

In saafte with his prisoners, & lost neuer a man:

This was þe first worship of Caleys that ye wan.”  Brut Continuation I, p. 582

Advance Party

On the same night, 28/29 July Lord Welles arrived with the advance party of the Duke Gloucester’s army and landed at the Rysbank Tower. They deliberately made so much noise and such a disturbance that the Flemings, and possibly Burgundy himself, thought the whole English army had disembarked.

Their arrival following immediately after the loss of the bastille completely demoralized the Flemings. On 29 July the men of Ghent mutinied and prepared to go home despite desperate pleas from the Duke of Burgundy that he had summoned reinforcements who would arrive at any moment, and that to run away rather than face an English army would be a disgrace to him and to them.

The Gantois would not listen. They broke camp and marched in a disorderly fashion back across the border to Gravelines leaving their provisions and their artillery behind. The men of Bruges followed them. Burgundy’s promises to them had been broken, and they felt betrayed.

Monstrelet tried to save face for the duke by claiming that he gave them permission to go and offered to protect their rear during their retreat which meant that he had to follow them, but the fact remained that the siege of Calais was lifted and the fortresses in the Pale of Calais were abandoned on the duke’s orders. His own army forced Burgundy to raise the siege.

[Latin] And after the Feast of St John the Baptist [24 June] the Duke of Burgundy besieged the town of Calais by land, with 100,000 men and large and powerful ordnance. On the Feast of St Sampson [28 July] he ignominiously fled from the siege and then destroyed the fortifications of Mark, Oye and Sangatte [Sandgate].   

                                                   Benet’s Chronicle, p. 185

“Also this same yere the ix of Jule, the duke of Burgoyn with a ryall power leyde a sege to the town of Calys and continued unto the xxix day of the same monthe; and that day blessyd be Almyghty God his male writhed, for a strong bastyll that he hadde mad upon the water syde was taken and distroied and all that were withinne sclayn unto the moumbre of V c men oughttake iij persones, that is fur to sey a knight, a prest, a frere, the whiche knight seyde that the duke of Burgoyn was nought thre men from hym in the same bastill that tyme that he was taken; And thane a morwe erly also the oost sette there tentes a fyre, and wente there wey with sorowe, leyynge gret stuff behynden them bothe of vitailes and of other thynges also. ”

                        Chronicle of London (Harley 565) pp. 121-122

“Also this yere was openly knowen that the duke of Burgoyne was falsely forsworne to the crowne of England; for he laied sege to Caleis and did make a strong bastelle; to the which bastel Englisshemen made strong assaute ij tymes and the iijd tyme thei gate it, and token certeyn persons, and slough alle the remenaunt and brent the bastille.”

                        Chronicle of London (J.B. 1) p. 172

Chronicles: Chronicles of London (Cleopatra C IV) pp. 141-142); Gregory’s Chronicle, pp. 78-179; Great Chronicle, p. 172; Short English Chronicle, p 61; English Chronicle, p. 55. Benet’s Chronicle p. 185 (reverses the order of events).

 Burgundy’s Letter

Burgundy put his own spin on the fiasco in a letter to his brother-in-law the Duke of Bourbon to whom he sent for assistance:

He began by stating that Calais was part of his inheritance, and he had every right to recover it, but from the start he had doubted the loyalty of the men of Ghent. (Burgundy’s officials were constantly at loggerheads with the powerful and independently minded oligarchy in Ghent). There had been no siege, he had not summoned Calais to surrender.

The men of Ghent and Bruges had chosen to pitch their tents in two separate encampments which were not suited to a siege.  It was only when he received a challenge from the Duke of Gloucester, carried by Pembroke Herald, to do battle that he realised he would have to face a large English army. He had ordered the men of Ghent to withdraw to a more suitable position, but they, disregarding his honour and theirs, refused. Instead, they retreated to Gravelines and induced the men of Bruges to follow them.

What was left of the army was far too small to give battle to the English and left him with no option but to withdraw and follow them to Gravelines.  Burgundy ended his letter by informing Bourbon that the Duke of Gloucester had arrived in Calais. He had called on men from all his lands to join him to resist the English and he hoped that Bourbon would come to his aid with as many men as possible for the honour of King Charles and France (1).

(1) Vaughan, Philip, pp. 80- 82 (Burgundy’s letter).

The Duke of Gloucester’s Preparations

The Duke of Gloucester had demanded the captaincy of Calais in 1435 and its defence was his responsibility, but he had not intended to go there in person, he had sent Sir John Radcliffe in his stead. At first he was not overly concerned for the safety of Calais. The Earl of Mortain’s army of two thousand men, plus the Calais garrison of six hundred men under Sir John Radcliffe’s command, and with the sea lanes open, meant that Calais, despite popular belief fostered by Gloucester himself, was in no immediate danger.

Belatedly Gloucester realized that the Duke of Burgundy’s rash action created an opportunity for him to step into his dead brother’s shoes. If he could defeat his old enemy, and conquer Burgundian territory, it would give him the right, at least in his own mind, to replace Bedford as governor of England and Regent of France.

But first he had to raise an army far larger than would be needed for the defence of Calais. He began his preparations in June. Burgundy’s unpopularity was at its height in England after his ‘betrayal’ at Arras. Anti-Flemish feelings, fostered at times by Gloucester, had been prevalent in England for years. That Burgundy intended to lay siege to Calais with a predominantly Flemish army added insult to injury.

Gloucester appealed to the county, not for a loan, but for each town, abbey, priory, knight, squire, and hundred to raise and arm able bodied men to join him in the shortest time possible.

Commissioners who would know best how to approach local inhabitants were appointed to spread the word that King Henry and the council had learned that ‘his adversaries’ (Burgundy?) with their friends and allies (the French?) will besiege Calais and Guines, by sea with an outrageous number of ships, and by land with all the ordnance they can gather.

The wording of the commission is not unlike King Henry’s letter to the men of the West Country in January, it expressed his confidence in their love and loyalty to him and to the country which he was sure would make them share his and the council’s sense of urgency to defend Calais.

The value of Calais was inestimable for its profits from trade. It was a bulwark of England’s defence; so much blood had been shed to capture it; it had cost the country £300,000 to take and keep it. To lose it Calais would be the greatest dishonour, rebuke, slander, and shame to the king and to his subjects.

It was well known that when Calais was not in the king’s keeping the enemy had invaded and enslaved parts of the country along the English coasts which had required an army to defeat them. This presumably harks back to the time, over a century ago, before King Edward III captured Calais, when the French had indeed invaded England.

Nothing could be worse than losing Calais or putting it in jeopardy from want of adequate protection. The Council would contribute and the lords in Parliament had promised to raise an army for six weeks at their own cost and to serve in their own person. This is not on the rolls of parliament, but in November 1435, when Parliament was in session and war with Burgundy was being discussed, the Council named the Duke of Gloucester as the king’s lieutenant in Picardy, Artois, and Flanders, probably at Gloucester’s instigation to annoy Burgundy, and the lords may have given an undertaking at that time to support him if required.

See Year 1435 Parliament

The commissioners were to use these arguments and any others they thought might work. They were to report what each town, abbey, priory, knight, squire, and hundred was willing to contribute, to be ready to assemble within fifteen days of a summons by the king. Henry would remember and thank them all for their services (1).

“And the xxvij day of Juyll with the substaunce of all the lordes of Englond shipped at Sandewyche with the noumbre of xl M1 peple of all the Cuntrees of Englond ygadered to gedir to susteyne the kynges right. For every Citee Toune and Burgh founde certeyn persones as they myght with diverse livereyes according to the bagges of the toune that they come oute of. And so did all the Abbeyes and Priories in England also.”              Great Chronicle, p. 172 and Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 179

(1) PPC IV, pp. 352b-352d (instructions to commissioners).

The Duke of Gloucester’s Army

On 18 June the sheriffs of London were ordered to proclaim in numerous places throughout the City and in ten southern counties that all men who were prepared to accompany the Earl of Huntingdon as Admiral of England  ‘against he who calls himself Duke of Burgundy and Count of Flanders’ would be provided with free passage and all other necessities, ‘and license to retain all they take from the Flemings’ (1, 2).

Recruiting went on throughout July. On 3 July, the sheriffs in seventeen counties were ordered to issue a summons to all men willing to serve the Duke of Gloucester and defend Calais. They should assemble at Sandwich by 22 July. The muster date was then delayed by a week to 26 July (3, 4).

On 5 and 6 July the sheriffs proclaimed that merchants in London, Kent, Essex, Surrey and Sussex, and Norfolk and Suffolk, were to send victuals and food to Calais to support the Duke of Gloucester. Makers of armour, and those who sold armour, must do so at reasonable prices, while bow and arrow makers were not to put too high a price on their labour (5, 6, 7).

Gloucester’s army was paid for partly by loans raised by the king’s appeal to the country, but once again Cardinal Beaufort made the largest loan, 9,000 marks [£6,000] with repayment assigned on the Southampton customs (8, 9, 10).

The City of London loaned 10,000 marks and raised men-at-arms and archers. Its merchants contributed food stuffs and weapons of war. William Cantelowe as victualler of Calais coordinated the war effort. He received £13 from Ralph Ingoldesby ‘by virtue of his office’ (11).

“And anon, in the begynnyng of Lent next folowyng, þe King, with his conseyle, borowed a somme of gold þurghout the Reame of temporall peple, þat amounted a c. M1 marc of money, to sende his peple ouer the see; to kepe, mayntene and gouerne his landes byyonde the See. Of which somme, the peple of London lent x M1 marc in olde and in newe, þat is to sey, iiij M1 vc marc of olde and iiij M1 vc marc of newe prest.

So these ij sommes drawen x M1 marc and more ouer the good peple of þe Cite of London, þat is to sey, certeyn craftes found both men of armes and archers to Caleys forto kepe the towne in saufgarde from oure enemys, þat is to sey the Duke of Burgoyne and his strenght. And also the Cite of London sent stuff to Caleys as Gonnes, Gonnepouder with other commoditees for the werre to kepe þat place sauf, to þe worship of oure Kyng and of þe Reame and to þe welfare and profite of all England.”

                                    Brut Continuation F, p. 468   

“And the xxvij day of Jule the duke of Gloucestre with all the sustaunce of lordys of this lande schipped at Sandewiche and at Douer with a x m1; ffor euery cite, tovne and Borow ffounde certayn men with her leuerays of þe osages of the tovne and so did abbayes, prioris thorow all Englond.” 

                        Chronicles of London (Cleopatra C IV), p. 142

“and then my lordes the dukes of Gloucestre, and of Northfolke, therle of Huntyngdon, the erle of Stafford, and therele of Warwik, with many other lordes and barons, knyghts and squiers were appointed for to gone over and fight with the seid duke of Burgoyne but the sege was broken er thei came there;

for at that time alle the shyppes of England were arrested and went a werr fare half a yere for er these lordes went over the see; and thei did moche harme to our enymys; for thei toke Spaynardes, Britons, Flemyngs, Scotts and other nacions of diverse contreis, and a galey charged with diverse merchandise.

And then they were countermandid to diverse havons of England for to have over the seid lordes; and at that tyme every lord found a certen of men of their owne cost and every feed man went with his lord; and every abbeie and house of religion founde certen men to gone over the see.”   Chronicle of London (J. B. I) pp. 172

The chronicles include John Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, he is not in the list of Gloucester’s army. He did not come of age until September 1436, so he would have been in Gloucester’s retinue without contributing a force of his own.

Chronicles: Great Chronicle, p. 172; Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 178; Short English Chronicle p. 61-62; Brut Continuation G, p. 504.

(1) Foedera X, p. 646 (call to serve with Huntingdon).

(2) Letter Book K p. 205 (call to serve with Huntingdon).

(3) Foedera X, p. 647-648 (muster dates).

(4) Letter Book K, pp. 206-207 (muster dates).

(5) Foedera X, p. 648 (price restrictions on food stuffs).

(6) Letter Book K, pp. 205- 206 (supplies for the army).

(7) Foedera X, p. 649 (supplies for the army).

(8) Foedera X, pp. 649-650 (Beaufort’s loan).

(9) CPR 1429-36, p. 604 (Beaufort’s loan).

(10) Harriss, Beaufort, p. 263 (Beaufort’s loan).

(11) L&P II, Appendix to Preface, p. liv (Cantelowe).


Gloucester’s Army

The Earl of Mortain had been sent to defend Calais with 2,000 men; the Duke of York to defend the whole of Normandy with 4,500 men. The Duke of Gloucester’s army totalled nearly 8,000 men. Gloucester’s retinue alone comprised 4,497 men. Not all of them would have mustered, there were always desertions just before sailing. Nevertheless, Gloucester required an army almost twice that of the Duke of York. His soldiers’ wages amounted to £6,084 for one month’s service (1).

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester          £3,594  14s

Richard, Earl of Warwick                   £626 10s

Humphrey, Earl of Stafford                £474 16s 8d

Thomas, Earl of Devon                      £388 14s 8d

Walter, Lord Hungerford                    £320 12s

Lionel, Lord Welles                             £50 8s

John, Lord Beaumont                         £95 4s

Richard, (sic) Lord Cromwell              £142 4s

John, Lord Tiptoft                                £70 14s

Philip Coureteney                                 £78 8s

John Denham                                      £71 8s

John Stourton                                     £86 2s

Robert Whitingham                             £24 10s

Richard Woodville and William Hauce  £21

Gilbert Parr                                          £16 2 s

Sampson Mombrone and Bydawe de Vyle  56s

John Watford                                       56s

Robert Passemere                                70s

Sir Thomas Comberworthe                 £9 2s.

John Pulforde and other yeomen of the crown £4 4s



John Hexham was in charge of shipping. He and Ralph Ingoldsby received several payments from Robert Burton, Richard Rowe, Walter Heymane (for ordnance) and Thomas Gille to procure ships at a the total cost of  £1,186 (2, 3, 4).

(1) L&P II, Appendix to the Preface, pp. xlix-lv

(2) L&P II, Appendix to the Preface, pp. liii-liv (shipping).

(3) CPR 1429-1436, p. 611 (shipping).

(4) C. F. Richmond ‘The Keeping of the Seas during the Hundred Years War 1422-1440,’ History 49 (October 1964), pp. 292-294.

The Council at Canterbury

The Council convened Canterbury on 22 July, to put the finishing touches to Gloucester’s expedition. The Duke of Burgundy was deemed to be a traitor to the king, his lands were forfeit, and his possessions were up for grabs.

“Ande on Marie Mavdeleyns day [22 July] the kyng held his counsell in Caunterbury with his lordis.” 

            Cleopatra C IV, p. 141; Great Chronicle, p. 172; Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 178

On 27 July the Duke of Gloucester was appointed lieutenant general of the king’s army going to Calais (1).  On the same day the young Lord Beaumont, who was to accompany Gloucester, petitioned for and was granted the county of Boulogne (2).

On 28 July King Henry used his personal sign manual for the first time and signed a warrant ‘Henry’ granting the manor of Canford and the town of Poole in Dorset, formerly held by the Duke of Bedford, to Cardinal Beaufort ‘without rendering anything therefor’ (3, 4).

He balanced this on 30 July by granting the county of Flanders to Gloucester, undoubtedly at Gloucester’s request to provoke the Duke of Burgundy (5). It was probably at this time that Gloucester sent Pembroke Herald to deliver a challenge to Burgundy to meet him in battle (6).

King Henry was at Sandwich to watch the fleet sail. William Ederiche was paid 13s. 4 d for the ‘logemanage’ of the king from London to Sandwich (7).

(1) Foedera X, pp. 651-652 (Gloucester to command the army).

(2) Foedera X, pp. 649 and 652 (grant to Beaumont).

(3) CPR 1429-36, p. 601 (grant to Cardinal).

(4) Harris, Beaufort, pp. 275 (grant to Cardinal).

(5) Foedera X, p. 652 (Gloucester as Count of Flanders).

(6) Wavrin IV, p. 173 (Gloucester’s challenge to Burgundy).

(7)  L&P II, Appendix to Preface p. lv (King Henry’s expenses).

Gloucester and Calais

The Duke of Gloucester and his army arrived in Calais on 2/3August. The Duke of Burgundy had raised the siege and the show was over before Gloucester appeared on the stage. Hoping to catch the duke at Gravelines, Gloucester moved on to Oye and Marck but Burgundy was safely in Lille. Thwarted, Gloucester crossed into West Flanders and ravaged the countryside.

He marched through Mardyke and Bailleul (Bell in the chronicles). At Poperinge, he declared himself to be Count of Flanders and then allowed the town to be burnt as punishment for the insult offered to the Earl of Huntingdon by the men of Poperinge a year earlier when on Huntingdon was on his way home from Arras.

See Year 1435: The Earl of Huntingdon.

Brut Continuation K confused Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter (who died in 1426 and was not Gloucester’s brother) with John Holand, Earl of Huntingdon who later became Duke of Exeter.  The chronicle condemned the action as an evil deed, punished by God with crop failure in England.

“Humfray, Duke of Gloucestre & Sir Thomas Bewfourde, Duke of Exeter, his brothyr, with oþer lordes, made a great power and yede ayeb in-to Flaundrys & destroyed moche peple, and brent meny tounnys & dyd moche harme;  & the Duke of Burgoyne fled with his peple.                             

And the Duke of Exetyr yede & brent vp Popryng & meny mo tounnys þere aboute & dyd moche harme, ynsomuche þat they brent whete & crone þat grewe in þe feelde: & þat was an evyl deeede, ffor sen þat tyme hydyrward, our whete & corn haue be brent in Engelond yn on place or in othyr, as it growth in þe feelde be  þe hande of God; whiche brennyng men callyth ‘Ablastid or seynte”  Brut Continuation K, p. 599

Annales (pseudo-Worcester, p. 761) also names Exeter not Huntingdon. The Brief Latin Chronicle (p. 165) also records that it was the Earl of Huntingdon who burned Poperinge and destroyed many other villages.  Ubi etiam Comes Huntingdon et sui villam de Pioering cremaverunt ac plurimos peremerunt.

“And at þe last, þe Duke of Burgoyne was fayne to mede þe Duke of Gloucestre & oure lordis, & [they] gave them a myty thing of good to turne ayen & seese theer warre, & do no more harme. & than þey turny[d] ayen in-to Engelond.”  Brut Continuation K, p. 600

Several of the chronicles record that John Holand, Earl Huntingdon was with Gloucester, although his name is not in the list of Gloucester’s army. In June Huntingdon was recruiting separately as Admiral of England, but this does not necessarily mean he was at sea, just that his was an independent command.  Monstrelet records that the ships sailing off the coast were not manned, they were the transport vessels (1).

Wavrin, and the English chronicles, note that Gloucester lost very few men.  Wavrin who was at Gravelines and saw the English army advance as far as St Omer, praised the army’s discipline: there were no stragglers to be picked off (2). Gloucester could only afford to keep the field for a month, and he had made poor provision for the size of his army, they ran out of food, and he was forced to turn back ‘on account of sickness in the army occasioned from want of bread’ (3). He was back in Calais by 24 August and returned immediately to England to celebrate his triumph and claim the relief of Calais as his own.

(1) Monstrelet II pp. 43-44 (Gloucester’s expedition).

(2) Wavrin IV,  pp. 200-206 (Gloucester’s expedition).

(3) Vickers, Humphrey, pp. 249-254 (for a partisan account of Gloucester’s motivation).


Chronicle Accounts

“And whan they were landyd att Caleys the lordis helde ther a counsell ffryday and Satterday and Sonday; and on the Monday thei toke ther journay in to fflaundrys ward and did moche harme in the contrey of fflaunderis ffor thei brent þe tovne of popering and many moo good tovnys and stately villagis.  And so thei were in that contre till þt they myght have no vetaill for the ost.  And the contre whas appatesed vn to the lordis, wher fore they cam sone home ayen within a vj wekisday vnto Caleys withoute eny lettyng of eny man.”                                       Cleopatra C IV, p. 142

“And the seconde day of August nest folwynge the duke of Gloucestre, with the duke of Norfolk, the earle of Warewyk, the erle of Stafford, the erle of Hunt’ the earle of Oxenford, the erle of Denenschire, the erle of Morteyn, and the erle of Uwe with manye othere lorde, barons and knyghtes, squyers and yemen unto the noumbre of l1 men and mo, passyd over the see with v hundred seyles and mo, and londed at the forseid toun of Caleys;                                                       

And the iiij day after, they passyd forth over the water of Gravelyne and comen into Flaundres where they brenden and sclewe all that they might come to xj days durynge in to gret harm of that cuntre, and pryncypally to the toun of Poperynge and of Belle, where Haukyns drank by note withoughte cuppe; and thane they turned ageyn and comen hom sauf and sounde blessyd by God of his soude.” 

            Chronicle of London (Harley 565) pp. 121-122

And my lord of Gloucestre took his ship at Wynchelsee, and many other lordes with hym, and went furth to Caleis with alle his hoste and the shippes aweytyng upon the hoste by the costes of Flaundres, the Munday next after seint Laurence day, in the yere of our lord m1 iiijc xxxvij and lay that night in the felde at a place called Sparkes place, bisides Oye; and upon the morowe he passid the water of Gravenyng at x of the belle with l men nombrid a myle byneth the towne; and there he made knyghtys and passid to a village called Meerdike; and that their brent and alle the townes as thei went. And also thei brent a good open towne called Popryng and many other villages and a town was called Belle and so furth, West Flaundres; and our shippes brent an ile called Cagent.     Chronicle of London (Julius B 1) p. 172   

“And þe ij day of August the said Duke of Gloucestre Arriued at Caleys with al his Army & vc shippes and moo. And þe Duke of Burgoyn & al his ooste þat lay in þe Siegie As sone as þei espied þe Sayles in þe See Before þei Approched Caleys haven, soddenly in A morning departed fro þe Siege levyng behind þame moche stuffe & Vitailes & fled in-to Flaundres & Pycardy.

And þen when þe Duke of Gloucestre was Arryved with all his oost, he went into Flaundres & was þerin xi dayes & did but litel harme; except þat he brent ij fair villagies Popering & Belle & oþer houses þat wer of no strenght & so he returned home Ageyn.”       Brut Continuation G, p. 505

Chronicles: Benet’s Chronicle, p. 185; Great Chron, p. 72; Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 179.

Brut Continuation F, pp. 469-470 (includes the Duke of Norfolk, Henry Bourchier, Earl of Eu, and Lord Fanhope who are not in the list of Gloucester’s army).

Trade ban

In September the Council imposed a trade ban on Flanders: ‘None of the king’s lieges were to trade with the Duke of Burgundy’s lieges without a special licence (which would have to be paid for!). The prohibition is addressed to the Constable of Dover and the Cinque Ports, the sheriffs of London, and nine other ports (1). It was short sighted policy pandering to public hostility towards the Flemings, and a reaction to the threat to Calais, but trade embargos profited it no one and it did not last long. ‘The siege of Calais marked only a brief interruption in Anglo Flemish commercial relations and inflicted only superficial damage on Anglo Dutch trade’ (2).

On 23 November the Duke of Gloucester petitioned that his annuity of 500 marks assigned on income from Wales and Cornwall should be replaced by a grant to him of the Channel Islands, formerly held by the Duke of Bedford. Gloucester was still intent on stepping into his dead brother shoes.  His petition was endorsed by King Henry: ‘R. H. nous avons graunte,’ although it was not formalized until April 1437 (3).

(1) Foedera X, pp. 654-655 (trade embargo)

(2) Vaughan, Philip, p. 107 (little damage).

(3) DKR French Rolls, p. 317 (grant to Gloucester).

The siege of Calais is the best documented non-event of 1436. The Duke of Burgundy did not capture Calais and the Duke of Gloucester did not rescue it. Most of the chronicles credit the Earl of Mortain with destroying the bastille outside Calais and forcing the Duke of Burgundy to flee, but his accomplishment is overshadowed by the praise heaped on the Duke of Gloucester for devasting Flanders – Gloucester saw to that. He commissioned the Italian humanist Tito Livio Frulovisi to write the Humphroidos, a poem in Latin lauding his achievements. Composed in 1437 ‘the siege of Calais and Gloucester’s expedition in August occupy about half the poem’ (1). Gloucester arranged letters of denization for Frulovisi described as ‘poet and orator of the Duke of Gloucester” in 1437 (2).

The Chronicon Angliae (p. 16) is scathing: Gloucester’s force was reduced by as much as three companies (through inadequate provisioning?) without ever meeting any opposition and then he came home.  Brut G (p. 505) notes that Gloucester ‘did but litel harme.’

Waltham Annals (p. 352) credits Sir John Radcliffe: destructa est obsidio Burgundiae apud Calesian per dominum Johannem Ratlyffe tunc tempora capitaneum ville Calisie:  (Sir John Radcliffe, captain of Calais at that time, destroyed the Burgundian bastille at Calais). The anti-Lancastrian and therefore anti-Beaufort, English Chronicle (p. 55) also credited Radcliffe.

The relief of Calais and the ‘defeat’ of the Duke of Burgundy was celebrated in England in song and story. English balladeers mocked Burgundy and the Flemings (3, 4).

(1) G. A. Holmes, ‘The Libel of English Policy,’ English Historical Review CCXCIX, (April 1961), p. 213 (Humphroidos).

(2) Foedera X, p. 661 (denization).

(3) J.A. Doig, ‘Propaganda, Public Opinion and the Siege of Calais in 1436,’ in R. Archer, Crown, Government and People in the Fifteenth Century (1995).

(4) R.H. Robbins: Historical Poems of the XIVth and XVth Century:  ‘The Siege of Calais, pp. 78-83 : ‘Mockery of the Flemings,’ pp. 84-86 : ‘Scorn of the Duke of Burgundy,’  pp. 86-89.

It is difficult at this distance in time to understand the Duke of Burgundy. What was he thinking? Had his success at the Congress of Arras gone to his head? Did he expect that the English would abandon Calais? It had taken King Edward III nine months of blockade by land and sea, which Burgundy could never hope to emulate, to capture Calais.

Burgundy was a seasoned campaigner and yet he convinced himself that he could take Calais quickly and easily by employing an army cheaply. The men of Ghent and Bruges, and the Picards, disliked and distrusted each other. They were not mercenaries, nor were they professional soldiers, they paid for their equipment and supplies themselves. Burgundy lured them into an enterprise for which they were not fitted for by promising them what he could not perform. He put an army together on the cheap, and he paid the price.

The Earl of Somerset

John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset, Cardinal Beaufort’s nephew, had been captured at the Battle of Baugé in 1421 and was still a prisoner in France in 1436. Somerset was the highest ranking and most valuable English nobleman in French hands.

By 1435 Charles of Artois, Count of Eu, captured at Agincourt, was the last French magnate, except for the Duke of Orleans, still in English custody. Like Orleans, Henry V had ordered that Artois should not be released until Henry VI came of age.

Artois was the Duchess of Bourbon’s son by her first marriage to Philip, Count of Eu.   Somerset was in the Duchess of Bourbon’s custody. Charles, Duke of Bourbon, formerly the Count of Clermont, was Artois’s half-brother.

The Council, and possibly King Henry himself, influenced by Cardinal Beaufort, considered exchanging Artois for Somerset, and Artois was transferred from the Tower into the custody of Somerset’s brother, Edmund Beaufort, Count of Mortain.

See Year 1435: The Count of Eu

In 1436 Cardinal Beaufort renewed his efforts to obtain his nephew’s release (1). He persuaded King Henry, and probably the Council too since a large sum of money was involved, to allow Somerset, through his attorneys, to purchase Artois from the crown for £12,000 and effect an exchange (2).  In October Somerset petitioned the Council for a safe conduct for Gilbert Motier de la Fayette, a marshall of France, nominated by the Duke of Bourbon, to meet English negotiators in Paris or any convent city in Normandy (3).

Bourbon may have had a sense of irony. Gilbert de la Fayette a marshal of France since 1420 and a loyal member of King Charles VII’ s council was a seasoned campaigner. He had fought at the Battle of Baugé when Somerset was captured.

(1) Harriss, Beaufort, p. 280 (Cardinal’s efforts to obtain Somerset’s release).

(2) Jones, ‘Beaufort Family,’ p. 41 (purchase of Artois by the crown).

(3) Foedera X pp. 655-656 (Somerset’s petition).


The search for allies now that the Duke of Burgundy was the enemy, induced the Council to send envoys to King James of Scotland yet again to resume negotiations for an extension of the Anglo/Scottish truce which was due to expire. The five year truce from 1 May 1431 to 1 May 1436, had been signed on 14 December 1430 and proclaimed on 19 January 1431.

See Year 1430: Scotland.

In February 1436 Thomas Langley, Bishop of Durham, Marmaduke Lumley, Bishop of Carlisle, and  William, Lord Fitzhugh were commissioned to take up where they had left off in the previous summer. There is considerable confusion in the Proceedings and the Foedera as to the make-up of the commission. William Alnwick, Bishop of Norwich and Lord Fitzhugh are listed in the former but not in the latter. Numerous additional names, which Nicolas believed were added later, appear at the head the of instructions in the Proceedings: Lord Greystoke, Robert Umfraville, John Bertram, Christopher Colwen, Master Richard Leyot, William Felter Doctor of Laws, and Thomas Uldale, clerk (1). These men are also named in the Foedera with the exception of Lord Greystoke (2).

The commissioners had the power to deal with violations of the truce and to promise reparations, provided King James agreed to do likewise. If this question was settled satisfactorily, they could offer a truce for five years. If not, they were to suggest prolonging the existing truce for a year or more until agreement could be reached. They were to be guided by the instructions formerly issued to Stephen Wilton.

See Year 1434: Scotland.

A meeting apparently never took place; perhaps the commissioners never set out.  A letter from King Henry to King James of 8 March 1436 refers to the appointment of an English commission ‘of the whiche, as we understand, noon effect is followed.’

Henry suggested a new meeting date and requested letters of safe conduct for Richard Leyot and Lewis John (not named in the original commission) to go to Scotland with power to treat, but if, as seemed likely, agreement could not be reached without further consultation with the Council, King Henry would willingly grant safe conducts for Scottish representatives to come to him (3).

This dilatory attitude failed to impress King James and he allowed the truce to expire. The balance of war had tipped in favour of France and James was once again negotiating, as he had in 1428, for a Franco-Scottish alliance and the marriage of his daughter Margaret to the Dauphin.

See Year 1429 Scotland for Margaret’s betrothal.

The fourteen-year-old Margaret sailed for France at the end of March 1436 and was married to the Dauphin at Tours in June (4). The Franco-Scottish alliance was now a reality.

(1) PPC IV, pp. 308 (commissioners) and pp. 313-315 (instructions).

(2) Foedera X, p. 629-630 (commissioners).

(3) Foedera X, p. 635 (Henry VI’s letter, March).

(4) Beaucourt, Charles VII, vol. III, p. 35 (Margaret’s marriage).


With the truce in abeyance and with two English armies under the Dukes of York and Gloucester committed to Normandy and Calais, King James decided to indulge his fascination with heavy cannon, and he laid siege to Roxburgh Castle, which he claimed was his. He summoned his subjects to arms and, relying on artillery to do the job, he invested Roxburgh at the beginning of August (1).  James had not reckoned on resistance from the Warden of the March.

The garrison at Roxburgh held out while its recently appointed captain, Sir Ralph Grey, raised the alarm. The Earl of Northumberland, reinforced by the Earl of Westmorland and the other northern lords, rode north to the rescue.  James had seen King Henry V in action at sieges in France, but he had no experience of directing a siege himself and it was not as easy of he thought. As soon as he heard of Northumberland’s approach, after only twelve days of ineffectual bombardment, James panicked. He abandoned his army and his siege engines and ignominiously recrossed the border. ‘The expedition was militarily an inglorious failure.’ (2)

[Latin] About the Feast of St Lawrence [10 August] the King of the Scots with 40,000 men (sic) besieged the fortress of Roxburgh for twelve days. But then, without having inflicted any damage on the castle, he fled back to Scotland.  Benet’s Chronicle, p. 185

“And in þis same yere, whils all this doyng was at Caleys and in Flaundre[s] the Kyng of Scottes come with an huge powere of peple and ordynaunce and biseged þe towne of Berwik, and after, the Castell of Rokesburgh, and did moche harme þere as he come.

And þen come þe Erle of Northumberland and þe Erle of Westmerland, with lordes and peple of the Cuntrees, and distroyed and brake his seges; and he fledde with his peple, and turned ageyn into Scotland.”             Brut Continuation F, p. 470           

“Also ϸis same yere ϸe King of Scotland beseged Rokesburgh with myche peple; but Sir Rauf Gray departed from þe Castell & ordeyned for rescouse; but as sone as þe Kyng vnderstode his departyng he soddenly brak his siege & went his way levyng moche ordynnance behinde him; wher he gat no worsshipe.” Brut Continuation G, p. 505

“And this same yeer a moneth aftir that the said duke of Burgoyne was fled from Caleis, Jame[s] kyng of Scottis besegid the castel of Rokesburgh in Northumbirlond with CXL.M men as it was said; but thay withynne the castel kept it with iiijxx menne of arme[s] ayens the kyng of Scottis, and all his ost. And whanne the said kynge herde telle that certayn lordis of the Northcuntre wolde come and breke the sege, he fledde in Scotland ayenne.”                              English Chronicle, pp. 55-56

“Also the same yere the xiij day of August the king of Scottes and his wyf lyenge at the sege of the castel of Rokysburgh with a gret power of Scottes and a gret ordinaunce brak up the sege and wente his way shamfully, and lefte his ordinaunce and his stuff behynden hym as a coward. And mo thane vij score of his galuentires schlayn and taken at the same sege; and so myghte he wel say thainthe crook of the mone com he thedirward and in the wylde wanyande went homeward” 

                          Chronicle of London (Harley 565) pp. 121-122

The phrase the ‘crook of the mone .  . .’ indicated a decisive defeat, especially of the Scots; the chronicles used it to describe the plight of the Scots after the Battle of Verneuil in 1424.

Chronicles: Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 179; Brut Continuation F, p. 470.

(1) Balfour Melville pp 228-230 (Roxburgh siege).

(2) Nicholson, Scotland, pp. 292 and 323.

The King of Portugal

Duarte I (Edward in English) became King of Portugal in August 1433 at the age of forty-two in succession to his father King Joâo I of Portugal and Philippa of Lancaster, a daughter of John of Gaunt; their marriage in 1387 had sealed the Anglo-Portuguese alliance. The Treaty of Tagilde had been signed by Joâo’s father King Ferdinand and John of Gaunt in 1372.

The Council wrote to King Durate in 1435 and he had confirmed that he would honour the treaties his father had made with England.

In February 1436 Durate and Henry VI signed an agreement that the trade treaties negotiated under King Richard II and King Henry IV remained valid and would be adhered to (1).

Durate was made a Knight of the Garter in May 1436, and Robert Rolleston, the keeper of the great wardrobe, was ordered to arrange for Garter robes to be sent to him, and to his brother Prince Pedro, Duke of Coimbra, who had been installed as a Knight of the Garter in 1428 (2).  Garter King of Arms was paid £40 to travel to Portugal (3).

John Merston, Keeper of the king’s jewels was instructed to give Dazam, a knight of Portugal, a gold collar and a gold ornament garnished with a ruby, a diamond, and a great pearl.  Dazam’s nephews received three silver collars (3). Dazam may have carried a copy of Durate’s confirmation of the treaty to England (4).

In October the king’s officers was forbidden to search any Portugal ships, or to molest Portuguese subjects in any way (5).

(1) Foedera X, pp. 625-26 (November 1435) and pp. 631-632 (February 1436).

(2) Foedera X, pp. 639-640 (Durate Knight of the Garter).

(3) Foedera X, p. 641 (Garter paid to carry robes to Portugal).

(4) Foedera X, p. 641 (jewels to Dazam).

(5) Foedera X, p 656 (protection for the Portuguese).


John, Lord Scrope of Masham was appointed ambassador in 1435 to Anton Flavian de Ripa, Grand Master of the Order St John, the Knights Hospitaller of Rhodes. He was granted a licence to travel with a retinue for two years from 1 March 435. (1). He set out to visit the Holy Land, as well as Rhodes, and on his way home in 1436 he was well received by Gianfrancesco Gonzaga the Marquess of Mantua. In October King Henry thanked Gonzaga for his courtesy to Scrope and gave Gonzaga permission to bestow the Lancastrian collar of SS on fifty of his servants (2, 3).

(1) Foedera X, pp. 600-601 (Scrope ambassador).

(2) Foedera X p. 655 (Lancastrian collars).

(3) CPR 1436-41 dated 19 October 1436, p. 27 (Lancastrian collars).

Louis of Bavaria, Elector Palatine

The 1,000 marks annuity granted by King Henry V to Louis III, Elector Palatine, was paid in 1435. John Stokes had negotiated a delay for future payments, and in March 1436 King Henry thanked Louis for agreeing to delay the  payment due at Easter, until 24 June (1). Letters of obligation to pay 1200 marks in June 1436 were issued to Louis’s agent, Johannes van Wypernotd alias Rosencrans of Cologne (2).

The obligation was not met. The payment of 1200 marks was not made until November 1436 when five servants of merchants of Cologne, with English sounding names, John Stockede, Conrad Roiss, William Ketwich, Roger Rynck and John Berensrass, who looked after Louis’s financial interests in London were authorized to collect the 1200 marks due to Louis, Count Palatine of the Rhine, always referred to as the Duke of Bavaria (3).

They acknowledged receipt on 21 November, plus a payment of 5,000 nobles, the last instalment of Blanche of Lancaster dowry of 40,000 nobles, dating back to her marriage with Louis in 1402. Blanche died in 1406 but first Henry IV and then Henry V failed to pay off her dowry (4).  On 23 November the Council agreed that an act should be made for the ‘Duke of Bavaria’, presumably on how and when future payments would be made (5).

See Year 1423: Louis, Count Palatine of the Rhine.

Louis died in December 1436 and no payments were made to his heir, Louis IV, for the next four years.

(1) Foedera X, p. 633-634 (Henry VI to Louis).

(2) Foedera X, p. 634 (obligation to pay 1200 marks).

(3) Foedera X, pp 658- 659 (November, receipt for payment by Bavarians).

(4) Ferguson, Diplomacy, pp. 72-73

(5) PPC V, p. 4 (an act for Bavaria).

Prussia and the Hanse

In November 1436 ambassadors from Paul von Rusdorf Grand Master of Prussia, and from the Hanse towns were in England. A safe conduct for one year was issued to Henry Vorrath, proconsul of Danzig and four ambassadors, John Clingenbergh, Proconsul of Lubeck, Vicke Von Houe, Proconsul of Hamburg, Master Francke Keddeken, and Master John Hertze, Protonotary of Lubeck, to resume negotiations for a trade treaty with the Hanseatic Towns of Germany (1). Trade with Flanders had been cut off by the Council’s embargo on Flemish imports, making trading relations with the Hanse even more important.

Power to treat with the ambassadors was issued on 6 November to William Alnwick bishop of Norwich, Lord Cromwell and Lord Tiptoft, William Lyndwood, Keeper of the Privy Seal, Henry Frowyk, alderman of London, and John Stokes and William Sprever, doctors of laws (2). Their deliberations continued into the spring of 1437.

On 23 November the Council wrote von Rusdorf requesting clarification, or possibly agreement, on importing merchandise and corn (3)

(1) Foedera X, p. 656 (safe conducts).

(2) Foedera X, p. 657 (power to treat).

(3) PPC V, p. 4 (letter to Von Rusdorf).

Weather and Food

The harsh weather of the 1430s continued. The winter of 1436-1437 was bitterly cold with hard frosts setting in early in December and lasting well into February, with deaths from cold and malnutrition.

“And in this same yere, and the yere of grace M CCCC, xxxvti the grete, hard, bityng frost bygan the vij day of Decembre and endured vnto þe xxij day of Feuerere next, which greved þe peple wonder sore; and moche pepel deyed in þat tyme, for colde and for skarcite of wode and cole.  And tender herbes were slayne with þis frost, þat is to say, Rosemary, sauge, tyme, and many oþer herbes.”  Brut Continuation F, p. 470

[Latin] This year there was a great frost with snow by day and night which lasted from St Andrews day to St Valentine’s Day and many birds perished.

Annales (pseudo-Worcester) pp. 760 and 761 (misdated to 1433 and repeated as 1434).

“This yere was another grete frost enduring xj weks.”  Chronicle of London (J.B. I), p. 162.

1436 Bibliography 

Primary Sources

Annales (pseudo-Worcester) in Letters and Papers Illustrative of the Wars of the English in France during the reign of Henry VI.  Volume 2, Part 2 (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)

 Brief Latin Chronicle in Three Fifteenth Chronicles, ed. J. Gairdner (1880)

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

Calendar of Letter Books of the City of London, Letter Book K, ed. R.R. Sharpe (1911)

CPR. Calendar of the Patent Rolls 1429-1436

CPR. Calendar of the Patent Rolls 1436-1441

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)

Chronique de Mont Saint Michel, 2 vols, ed. S. Luce (1879, 1883)

DKR, Forty-Eighth Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records (1887)

Documents Relating to Scotland IV

An English Chronicle, ed. J.S, Davies (1856)

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)

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 VIII (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)

Robbins, R.H., ed. Historical Poems of the XIVth and XVth Centuries (1959)

Saint Rémy, Jean le Fèvre, Chronique II (1881)

A Short English Chronicle in in Three Fifteenth Chronicles, ed. J. Gairdner (1880)

Waltham Annals in English Historical Literature, ed. C.L. Kingsford (1913)

Wavrin, J de, Recueil des croniques et anchiennes istories de la Grant Bretaigne, a present nomme Engleterre, eds., W. & E.L.C.P. Hardy, 5 vols., (1864-91).


Secondary Sources

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

Beaurepaire, Ch. de, États de Normandie sous le Domination Anglaise (1859)

Brown, M., James I (1994)

Barker, J.  Conquest (2009)

Beaucourt, G. du Fresne de, Histoire de Charles VII, vol II, (Paris, 1881-1891)

Doig, J.A., ‘Propaganda, Public Opinion and the Siege of Calais in 1436,’ in R. Archer, Crown, Government and People in the Fifteenth Century (1995)

Ferguson, J., English Diplomacy, (1972)

Gruel, G., Chronique d’Arthur de Richemont, Constable de France, Duc de Bretagne 1393-1458, (1890)

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

Harvey, M., England, Rome and the Papacy1417-1464 (1993)

Holmes, G.A., ‘The Libel of English Policy,’ English Historical Review CCXCIX, (April 1961)

Johnson, P.A., Duke Richard of York 1411-1460 (1988)

Nicholson, R., Scotland, the Later Middle Ages (1974)

Pollard, A.J., John Talbot and the War in France 1427-1453 (1983)

Power, E., & Postan, M. M., Studies in English Trade in the Fifteenth Century (1933)

Richmond C. F., ‘The Keeping of the Seas during the Hundred Years War 1422-1440,’ History 49 (October 1964)

Thielemans, M-R., Bourgogne et Angleterre 1435-1467 (Brussels, 1966)

Thompson, G.L.  Paris and its People Under English Rule (1991)

Vaughan, R., Philip the Good (1970)

Vickers, K.H., Humphrey Duke of Gloucester (1907)

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


Jones, M. ‘The Beaufort Family and the War in France, 1421-1450, University of Bristol PhD Thesis (1982)

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

Online sources