Henry VI



The Minority Council

Parliament passed a set of articles defining the extent of the Minority Council’s role in government. The Council established their own remuneration. [Lord Scrope?]


Routine grants and petitions were dealt with, including the denization of Anne of Burgundy, Duchess of Bedford. English Envoys were named to treat for a truce with King Alphonso V of Aragon. but nothing came of it.

The Exchequer

The Exchequer, presided over by the Treasurer, Chamberlains and Barons of the Exchequer was responsible for receiving, accounting for, and disbursing the crown’s income.

 The Judiciary

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

Henry VI’s Household 

The Council set a budget of 10,000 marks for King Henry’s Household.

Henry V’s debts

The Council continued to grapple with repayment of King Henry V’s debts.

Prisoners of War

And to meet the costs of French prisoners of war from Henry V’s wars. They helped English prisoners of war to raise their ransoms.

Sir John Mortimer hanged

Sir John Mortimer, a prisoner in the Tower, claimed that Edmund Mortimer Earl of March was the rightful king of Egland. He was hanged for treason.

Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March

Edmund Mortimer crossed to Ireland as the king’s lieutenant.

John Holand, Earl of Huntingdon

John Holand, a prisoner in France, was exchanged for Louis, Count of Vendôme, captured at Agincourt. 

Henry Beaufort, Chancellor of England

Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, King Henry VI’s great uncle became Chancellor of England.

The Council and the Papacy

The nominee to the archbishopric of York was dispute between the Council and Pope Martin V. Philip Morgan, Bishop of Worcester was the Council’s choice but Pope Martin preferred Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln.


The treaty for the release of King James I of Scotland was ratified by Parliament;  James married Joan Beaufort and returned to Scotland. A truce for seven years was signed in March.

The War in France

Parliament authorised raising a loan for the war in France and the Council recruited a small army. 

The Duke of Bedford’s Campaigns

Le Crotoy

The Duke of Bedford accepted the surrender of Le Crotoy as agreed with  its captainin 1423. .


The Duke of Bedford sent John of Luxembourg and Sir Thomas Rempston to lay siege to Guise in northeaster F


The Duke of Bedford sent the Earl of Suffolk to take the town of Ivry and joined him in person to prepare for an encounter with the large army recruited by the Dauphin Charles.  As with the siege of Meulan in 1423 the promised relief for Ivry did not arrive, and its captain surrendered to Bedford.  

The Battle of Verneuil

The Duke of Bedford’s victory at the battle of Verneuil against a combined French and Scots army ranked in the annals of the Hundred Years War second only to Henry V’s victory at the battle of Agincourt.

The County of Maine

Bedford planned to conquer the County of Maine and to distribute lands there to the men who fought at Verneuil.

 Jacqueline, Countess of Hainault

The Duke of Gloucester married Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut, Holland and Zeeland. 

The Duke of Gloucester and Hainault

The Duke of Gloucester launched his ill-fated expedition to Hainault to recover his wife’s patrimony.

The Duke of Gloucester in Hainault

Gloucester’s expedition to Hainault was not a success. He was not welcomed by the Hainaulters and he quarrelled violently with the Duke of Burgundy.

Bibliography 1424


The Minority Council                  

Twenty-five Council meeting are recorded in the Proceedings for 1424. Seven in January and twelve in February while Parliament was in session, one in May, one in June, five in July, one in October, three in November and two in December.

Parliament reconvened on 14 January and sat until 28 February 1424.

Parliament had enacted a set of articles, recorded in the to clarify and define the extent of the Minority Council’s role in government (1).  They are recorded in the Proceedings as ‘Provisions for ϸe good of ϸe gouvernance of this land . . .’ (2).

Council members were to act collectively and not as individuals. No councillor, including the Duke of Gloucester, could grant favours or answer petitions individually; all grants and petitions must be approved by a majority in Council. This was obviously intended to curb Gloucester’s assumption of special prerogatives as Protector.

See Years 1422 and 1423 for Gloucester as Protector

All bills submitted to the Council should be read by Wednesday and answered on the following Friday to prevent council business from getting bogged down in debate. Matters which could be dealt with in the law courts should be referred to the judges unless the answer to the case was obvious. (The editor notes that this clause has been added and does not occur on the Rolls of Parliament, but it is in PROME X, (p. 85) as the third article).

Where there was no clear majority, a bill should not progress; the clerk of the council would note who was present, who assented, and who did not. For important matters, especially matters of state, at least six (or four in PROME, crossed out in PPC) councillors must be present and they must all sign to attest their agreement.              

Individual councillors must not take it upon themselves to correspond with foreign governments without the Council’s knowledge and consent. No member should ‘presume to doo it on peyne of shame and reprofe.’ Griffiths and Harriss suggest that this was a dig at Gloucester’s interest his wife’s county of Hainault, but if Gloucester were corresponding as Count of Hainault in right of his wife, this did not fall within the Council’s jurisdiction (3, 4). Henry Beaufort is just as likely a candidate; he was in touch with the Pope, and possibly with members of the General Council of the Church. 

See The Duke of Gloucester and  Hainault below.

The clerk of the council should give priority to bills from poor suitors and have them read first; the crown’s lawyers were to give advice free of charge in these cases, provided the Council approved. This is an unusually liberal concept; one wonders how far it was followed up in practice.         

The judges were to be consulted on questions of the king’s prerogative pertaining to land ownership since most of the councillors were not well versed in the law. The Council was not above covering itself in legal matters that might involve disputes that could drag on for years, although Griffiths suggests that this was designed to ease the Council’s workload.

An eighth article was a new provision, added later, and not included on the Parliament Rolls. It was far wider in scope; it encompassed all the lords of the land, not just members of the Council. In the interests of peace and tranquillity ‘it is advised, assented, and assured by my Lord of Gloucester and by all my lords spiritual and temporal’ that any future disputes among them would be referred to Gloucester as Protector and to the Council for settlement; their decision would be binding on both parties.

Gloucester did not sign the article, but he gave his word in Council that he would abide by it. Considering its importance, it was signed by surprisingly few magnates. Archbishop Chichele, Bishops Beaufort, Morgan, and Wakering signed. John Stafford as Treasurer, and William Alnwick as Keeper of the Privy Seal. Thomas Langley signed as Bishop of Durham, not as Chancellor. Earl of Norfolk, Lord Cromwell, Sir Walter Hungerford, Sir John Tiptoft and John Lord Scrope, who joined the Council on 28 February 1424 (5).

Three other signatories were not council members: the young Humphrey Earl of Stafford, William Barrow the new Bishop of Carlisle, and John Langdon, Bishop of Rochester.


(1) PROME X, p. 85, (the articles).

(2) PPC III, pp. 148-152 (the articles).

(3) Griffiths, Henry VI, p. 30. 

(4) Harriss, Beaufort, p. 121.

(5) PPC III, p. 146 (Scrope councillor).


Councillors’ Wages

On 10 July, the Council issued an ordinance to establish remuneration for the councillors’ ‘labours and expenses,’ each according to his rank and length of service. Absentees would be fined a proportion of their wages.

Precedents had been sought in the records of the reigns of King Richard II and King Henry IV (but not Henry V). The total arrived at would amount to a heavy drain on the already overburdened Exchequer.

Henry Chichele Archbishop of Canterbury, and Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, (because Beaufort was the king’s kinsman) would receive 300 marks each annually. The other bishops, including Thomas Langley and the earls, would receive 200 marks each. Treasurer Stafford, 200 marks. The barons £100, the knights (and esquires) £40. John, Lord Scrope, Thomas Chaucer, and William Allington, appointees to the Council in 1424, would not be paid until they had served for a longer period (1).

Drawn up in July, authority for payment was not issued under the privy seal until 3 December 1424.

On 15 January 1425, the Exchequer was ordered to pay Walter Hungerford £100 of the £200 due to him. Similar payments were to be made to other councillors (2).


(1) PPC III, pp. 154-158 (wages). 

(2) Issues of Exchequer pp. 389-390 (Hungerford and others)



Anne, Duchess of Bedford

Henry Kays, clerk of the Hanaper (a department in Chancery) was instructed to waive the fee for the letters of denization granted under the Great Seal to Anne, Duchess of Bedford (1). It would not be appropriate to charge the wife of the heir to the throne to become an English citizen.

Anne, Countess of Stafford

Anne was summoned to appear before the council ‘for certain causes’ (unspecified) but excused attendance on 27 February 1424 (3). The certain causes may have been her dispute with Henry V over estates in the lordship of Brecon or her claim to the lordship of Holderness, held by the Duchess of Clarence.

See Year 1423: Wales, Brecon.

See Year 1426: Grants, Anne, Countess of Stafford. 


(1) L&P I, p. 399 (Anne of Burgundy denization).

(2) PPC III, p. 145. (Countess of Stafford, disputes).


The Earl of Northumberland

Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, a member of the Council, was Warden of the East March. At the end of November 1424, he indented to take custody for the next three years of the town and castle of Berwick, the great fortress guarding the East March against the Scots,

He was to receive £54 from the customs duties of Newcastle on Tyne, £1,550 from Hull, and £3,073 6s 8d from Boston, plus 2,000 marks from the ransom of King James of Scotland. He would not be required to repay his debt to the king for five years after that, and a bond for £1,000 he had given was to be returned to him. During the three years of the indenture the assignments agreed with him for payment of the wages of Berwick’s garrison were not to be reduced (1).

Percy’s debt to the king was the price of his freedom. In 1416 King Henry V had agreed to exchange him for Murdoch of Fife, the Duke of Albany’s son, a prisoner in England since the battle of Homildon Hill in 1402. Albany was Regent of Scotland and Henry V had set Murdoch’s ransom at £10,000. The young Henry Percy had been detained in Scotland by Albany. Percy, who had just come of age in 1416, undertook to repay the £10,000 from his estates over the next five years (2).

Northumberland referred to this debt in his 1423 petition to be allowed to enfeoff lands before he went abroad, to make provision for what he still owed the king. 

See Year 1423: Council of the Church at Pavia/Siena


(1) PPC III, pp. 162–163 (Northumberland’s indenture).

(2) Wylie & Waugh II, pp. 316-317 (Northumberland’s ransom).



William Prestwick, the clerk of Parliament, was granted an annuity of £40, to be paid from the Hanaper, until such time as a suitable benefice for him became available (1). A William Prestwick, who may or may not be the same man, had been made Dean of the Free Chapel of Hastings in 1423.   

Thomas Hoccleve, writer and poet, was a clerk in the Privy Seal Office for most of his life. His most famous work, De Regimine Principum, was written as advice for Henry V when he was Prince of Wales. Hoccleve was fifty-six in July 1424. He petitioned the Council for a corrody in the Prior of Southwick in which to end his days comfortably (2). He died at Southwick in May 1426.

Robert Fitzhugh was the younger son of Henry, Lord Fitzhugh, Henry V’s chamberlain. When Richard Holme, Warden of King’s Hall at Cambridge University, died in March 1424 Robert petitioned for the position. Its fee was eight marks a year for his robes, to be paid out of the issues of Cambridgeshire. Robert became Warden on 6 July 1424 (3).       


“Petition to the king from Demetrius de Cerno a physician, a native of Greece, who had for a long-time practiced medicine in this country, and had married an English woman, praying that he might in all things be deemed the king’s liege subject: which was granted, with a proviso that he should pay as an alien for all merchandises imported or exported by him.”  Proceedings Abstract                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

This is a transcription of a petition in French with numerous lacunae. Demetrius’s original appeal in April had been lost and was only dealt with by the Council in November. It appears from the badly broken text that Demetrius was requesting citizenship primarily so that he would not have to pay import duties on the medications he brought into the country to treat his patients (4). If this was his intention, he was disappointed. 


(1) PPC III, p. 142. (Prestwick).

(2) PPC III, p. 152 (Hoccleve).

(3) PPC III, p. 158 (Fitzhugh).

(4) PPC III, pp. 160–161 (Demetrius).



John Burgh was named as escheator in Surrey and Sussex during pleasure in February (1).

Thomas Banks was appointed a Baron of the Exchequer, replacing William Hesill in May (2).

In June the Council confirmed John Stafford’s right as Treasurer to make appointments and issue grants within the gift of his office, and, in certain instances, to grant warships and marriage licences (3). 

See Year 1423: The Exchequer.


(1) PPC III, p. 144 (Burgh)

(2) PPC III, p. 147 (Banks)

(3) PPC III, p. 147 (Stafford).


Wardships and marriages

Alice, the widowed Countess of Oxford had married Nicholas Thornley, a gentleman of Essex, without royal licence (1). Instead of the usual fine, Henry V had taken her dower lands into his hands (much more profitable). 

In December 1424, the couple paid £100 in the hanaper for a pardon and restitution of her dower. The money was delivered to the Duke of Exeter who had been assigned this sum in 1423 for the custody of the heir of the Earl of Oxford.

See Year 1423: An Army for France, the Duke of Exeter.

Two years later, in 1426, not long before Exeter died, the Treasurer and Barons of the Exchequer were still ‘vexing the petitioners to pay the fine for a second time’ (2). The couple petitioned for redress while Parliament was in session and received their pardon.

Margaret Neville and William Cressenere were granted a pardon for marrying without licence on payment of £100 (3). Margaret was the daughter of Ralph, Earl of Westmorland by his first marriage and widow of Sir Richard Scrope of Bolton, who died in 1420. The fine and pardon is dated 8 December 1424 (anno iii) in the Proceedings, but 5 November 1427 (anno vi) in the Calendar of the Patent Rolls. Were they fined twice, like the Countess of Oxford, or did they not pay up until 1427? (4).


(1) PPC III, p. 144 (Countess of Oxford).

(2) CPR 1422-1429, p. 422 (1426).

(3) PPC III, p. 64 (Margaret Neville).

 (4) CPR 1422-1429, pp. 444 and 457 (1427).



William Cheyne was appointed Chief Justice of King’s Bench, and John Hals a justice of King’s Bench in January 1424 (1).

Cheyne was awarded an additional 180 marks to maintain his status, plus two robes yearly from the Great Wardrobe, one at Christmas lined with fur and one with ‘a lining’ at Whitsuntide. Hals was awarded 110 marks and two robes (2).

In October, the Council referred a dispute between Thomas Prestbury, Abbot of Shrewsbury and the citizens of Shrewsbury to the court of Common Pleas (3). The citizens had refused to continue paying multure (a toll in kind, paid to a miller for grinding corn). This is one example among many of a growing resistance to the financial demands of the church for tithes and other traditional dues exacted by the clergy. 


(1) PPC III, p. 132 (appointments).

(2) CPR 1422-1429, p. 177 (robes).

(3) PPC III, p. 159 (Shrewsbury).


King Henry’s Household            

In July, the Council set a budget of 10,000 marks (£6,666, 13s 4d) for the expenses of King Henry’s household and specified where the money was to come from:

from the chamberlains of North and south Wales,                             1,000 marks

from wardships marriages and other causalities,                                £1,000 

from the Mint within the tower of London and York,                            500 marks

from the tax on aliens of tunnage and poundage,                                   2,000 marks

from the subsidies on wool,                                                                    5,000 marks

The Exchequer was not to pay anything else from these sources until the Treasurer had received the 10,000 marks. In the final sentence the amount allocated is £10,000 a considerable discrepancy (1, 2).    

Joan Astley, who was probably King Henry’s nurse from the time he was born, had been granted £20 annually for good service. She was paid £10 in November 1423. She petitioned for a raise, and in January 1424 the Council increased her annuity from £20 to £40 during pleasure, half to paid at Easter and half at Michaelmas (3, 4, 5). This was standard accounting procedure.  

Dame Alice Botiller was transferred from Queen Katherine’s household in 1423 to become King Henry’s first nanny or preceptress and she remained in Henry’s household throughout the minority. She was to teach him ‘courtesy and nurture’ (good behaviour).  The Council issued an indemnity order for her in February 1424, when Henry was still only two (it could be dangerous to discipline a king). Alice had permission to ‘chastise him reasonably’ if necessary, without fear of reprisal (6).


(1) PPC VI, Addenda, pp. 311-312 (allocation for household expenses).

(2) CPR 1422-1429, p. 227 (reason for allocation of household expenses).

(3) PPC III, p. 131 (Astley)

(4) Issues of Exchequer p. 384 (Astley, 1423). 

NB: The names of the women chamber servants in Henry VI’s household are also noted: Margaret Brotherman, Agnes Jakeman, plus a laundress, and Matilda Fosbroke ‘the king’s daily nurse.’ They received £5 each annually. 

(5) CPR 1422-1429, pp. 84 and 179 (Astley, 1423 and 1424).

(6) PPC III, p. 143. (Alice Botiller).


Henry V’s debts         

The Council received fewer claims against Henry V’s debts in 1424 than in the previous year. Repayment of the 2,000 marks loaned to him by the Common Council of London, ordered to be paid in October 1423, was authorised again in February 1424 (1). 

In June the Council authorised a payment of £2,581 6s 4d to redeem a valuable gold collar pledged by Henry V to certain London merchants. This is not recorded in the Proceedings; it appears in Issues of the Exchequer. The merchants had been obliged to return the collar to Treasurer Stafford to be used to raise loans for the expedition to France (2). 

See The War in France below.    


(1) PPC III, p. 142 (London Council).

(2) Issues of Exchequer, pp. 387-388


Henry V appears to have made a habit of borrowing books and not returning them. Books were as valuable as jewels and were often given as expensive gifts. Nor did he always honour his promises of rewards.

Joan, Countess of Westmorland had loaned two books to Henry V, and the Council issued warrants for their return. The volumes were Chronicles of Jerusalem and The Voyage of Godfrey Bouillon.

Henry V also borrowed the works of St Gregory, toutz les libres faitz par Seynt Gregour le Pape en un volume which had been bequeathed by Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury to the convent of Christchurch, Canterbury (1).

Sir Thomas Strickland had carried the banner of St George at the battle of Agincourt and Henry V had pledged (silver) plate worth £14 4s 10½d to him for his services in France. In February Strickland was granted the £14 4s 10½d ‘pledged to him by the king and broken’ (2). 


(1) Foedera X, pp 317-318 (books).

(2) Foedera X, pp. 318–19 (Strickland).


Alicia, Countess of Kent, the widow of Thomas, Earl of Kent died in 1416. She had received four casks of wine annually from Henry V. Henry transferred the grant to Lucia Visconti in March 1422. Lucia was the widow of Alicia’s son Edmund Holand Earl of Kent, who died in 1408. Letters patent in July 1423, and again on 10 January 1424, confirmed the grant. Lucia died in April 1424 (1).

“Inquisitions held at Plumptree on 22 May 1424, by Hugh Willoughby, escheator for Nottingham, and at Icklingham, co, Suffolk and Barking concerning the estates of Lucia Countess of Kent, who died on 14 April 1424. She held no lands in chief but died seized of her dower lands.”                                  Foedera X, pp. 315-16

Her heir is given in the Foedera as her brother, but she left extensive bequests to others in her will.     

(1) Helen Bradley, ‘Lucia Visconti, Countess of Kent’ in Caroline M. Barron and Anne F. Sutton Medieval London Widows 1300-1500 (1994), pp. 77-84.

In 1423 John Tyrell and Catherine Spencer, as executors of John Spencer, former Keeper of the Great Wardrobe, had claimed a debt owed to Spencer as Keeper by Henry V. A year later, in January 1424, the Council instructed the administrators of King Henry’s will to give preference to the payment of the considerable sum of £2,700 (the amount is not given in the 1423 claim) to Tyrell and Catherine (1).

In December 1424 Tyrell claimed that 1,000 marks (£666) were still outstanding and what should have been a simple transaction became complicated. The Earl of Northumberland had pledged to pay £10,000 to Henry V for obtaining his release from captivity.

See Administration, the Earl of Northumberland above.

£3,000 of the £10,000 had been allocated to the administrators of Henry V’s will to help pay off his debts.  Tallies for Northumberland’s unpaid wages as Warden of the East March had been assigned to him at the Exchequer.  Under pressure from the Council Northumberland and Tyrell agreed that the 1,000 marks owed to Tyrell and Catherine should be paid from this assignment in half yearly instalments of 100 marks (so over five years, and presumably credited against Northumberland’s debt). Tyrell was given the right, if he did not receive payment in full, to appeal to the Council or to the administrators of Henry V’s will and claim the money from the 40,000 marks assigned by Parliament to discharge the king’s debts (2).


(1) PPC III, p. 131 (administrators to pay Tyrell and Catherine).

(2) CPR 1422-29, pp. 267–268 (payment by instalments to Tyrell and Catherine).


French Prisoners                

Henry V’s prisoners of war were expensive to keep, especially the French magnates captured at Agincourt in 1415 who had to be housed in some comfort. The Council decreed that from Easter 1424, the Duke of Orleans and the Duke of Bourbon must pay their own way and that their custodians should be informed of this (1). This edict was never enforced.

See Year 1423: French Prisoners.

The Exchequer continued to make payments for their maintenance, although their retainers were permitted to bring money and other goods to them from France.

Sir Thomas Comberworth requested payment of 26s 8d ‘besides his daily wage for the expense of bringing the Duke of Orleans to London’ in 1423 which had been assigned to him in the previous November but not paid (2).

Sir Thomas Burton petitioned in January for £178 10s 10d as arrears for the maintenance of Charles d’Artois Count of Eu, Arthur de Richemont, and Marshal Bouccicault who had been in his custody from 1417 to 1420 (3).

In March, letters of safe conduct were issued for four months for John de Moncy, who had carried safe conducts to Orleans’s servants in France in 1423, and William Barronier to come to England bringing money and goods to the Duke of Orleans. Peter Sauvage, Orleans’s councillor, also received a safe conduct (4). 


(1) PPC III, p. 133 (Dukes to pay their own expenses).

(2) PPC III p. 134 (Comberworth).

(3) PPC III p. 132 (Burton).

(4) Foedera X, pp. 320-321 (Orleans servants).


Less valuable prisoners were ransomed to pay off Henry V’s debts, or to pay for their keep.  Their ransoms were assigned to their gaolers, – if they could be collected.

In May 1423 the Council had instructed Robert Scott, lieutenant of the Tower of London, to ‘deliver’ fifty prisoners held in the Tower to Christopher Preston in full payment of the £850 owed him by King Henry V. Presumably Preston expected to recoup this from the prisoners’ ransoms (1).

In February 1424 Preston petitioned the Duke of Gloucester to instruct the Chancellor to issue letters of safe conduct for three months to nine prisoners still in his custody, who had stood surety for payment by the other prisoners, to allow them to go to France (with two valets each) to raise their ransoms and return to England (2, 3).


(1) PPC III, p. 78 (prisoners delivered to Preston). 

(2) PPC III, P. 78 (Preston’s petition misdated to 1423)

(3) PPC III, p. 135-137 (authority by the Council to issue safe conducts).


Robert Scott had petitioned the Duke of Gloucester in 1423 to allow twenty-four prisoners ‘who had been assigned to him for surety of his payment,’ to go abroad for three months to raise their ransoms. The endorsement contains the names of the prisoners (1).

The Council had ordered payment of £100 to Robert Scott in May 1423 for the custody of his prisoners (2), but it was insufficient to meet his costs. Scot petitioned again in February and in July 1424 to be allowed to release the prisoners (3). 

An undated petition to the Duke of Gloucester from seven poor prisoners taken at the siege of Harfleur in 1415 prayed for a pardon and release as they were too poor to pay their ransoms (4).


(1) PPC III, p. 11 (Scot’s petition, twenty-four prisoners 1423).

(2) PPC III, p. 99 (payment to Scott).

(3) PPC III, pp. 137 and 153 (Scott’s petitions 1424).

(4) PPC III, Appendix, pp. 352–353 (French prisoners petition for release).


English Prisoners                         

Imprisonment and ransom were facts of life for many of the men and their families caught up in Henry V’s wars in France.  Ransom negotiations were complex, confusing and protracted but profitable since they could be readily bought and sold. Some men made their fortunes in this way and retired to a comfortable old age, most did not. Some families were ruined and took years to recover, some ransoms were never paid.

John Holand, Earl of Huntingdon

Louis, Count of Vendôme was a Bourbon, a cousin of the Valois kings of France. He had been captured at the battle of Agincourt in 1415 by Sir John Cornwall. Vendôme received permission in late 1423 to return to France to raise his ransom. In February 1424 five of his servants were permitted to leave England and join him. (1). 

See Year 1423 French Prisoners, Louis Count of Vendôme.

John Holand, Earl of Huntingdon, was captured at the Battle of Baugé in 1421 by a Scottish knight, Sir John Sibbald. After over two years with no payment Sibbald was content to accept what he could get. Vendôme bought Huntingdon from Sibbald, which on the face of it was not a good investment. Huntingdon had few tangible assets; he had not been able to make Sibbald an acceptable offer.

Huntingdon was valuable not for what he owned but for who he was. His mother was Elizabeth of Lancaster, King Henry IV’s sister. His father, John Holand, Duke of Exeter had rebelled against Henry IV in 1400 but Henry V restored the family title of Earl of Huntington to young John in 1416 for his bravery at Agincourt and his other military services. John’s mother married Sir John Cornwall as her second husband and Vendôme hoped to obtain his freedom and reduce his ransom in exchange for Cornwall’s stepson (2).

With the prospect of his release in sight, Huntingdon appealed to Parliament in absentia.

His petition made Parliament aware of the crown’s debt to him: £8,157 14s 9d in unpaid wages for his war service under Henry V, plus the 2,000 marks left to him by the late king in his will, plus the £1,000 reward Henry V had promised him for his command of the fleet in the sea battle off Harfleur in 1417 in which Huntingdon defeated and captured Genoese carracks and so cleared the way for Henry’s second invasion of France.

The Commons requested the Lords to arrange for Huntingdons’s exchange with any French prisoner held in England or failing that, to give him whatever financial help they could.

The Lords allocated the ransoms of Jean de Estouteville and Raoul de Gaucourt, to Sir John Cornwall ‘to help with the delivery of the Earl of Huntingdon.’ In return the Lords, ever mindful of crown debt, stipulated that 3,500 marks would be deducted from Henry V’s debt to Huntingdon. Estouteville and Gaucourt must remain in England until the summer of 1425, but the crown would no longer be responsible for their keep once they were turned over to Cornwall (3). Gaucourt was allowed to return to France in July 1424 to raise their ransoms; he was to be back in England by Easter 1425 (4).

See Year 1422: French Prisoners for Estouteville and Gaucourt.

Safe conducts were issued to Vendôme himself and two of his advisors, to come into English territory ‘to treat for the liberation of the Earl of Huntingdon, and lords Estouteville and Gaucourt.’ Sir Charles de Manny and John de Trou would escort Huntingdon, presumably across the border from Anjou where Huntingdon was being held (5). In August Vendôme’s servant Denis Rogier received a safe conduct, valid until December, to come into England ‘on the business of John, Earl of Huntingdon’ (6).

Despite these flurries of activity Huntingdon was still in France at the end of 1424. 


(1) Foedera X, p. 321 (Vendome’s servants).

(2) M. Stansfield, ‘John Holland, Duke of Exeter and Earl of Huntingdon and the costs of the Hundred Years War’ in M. Hicks, ed. Profit, Piety, and the Professions in later Medieval England, (1990).

(3) PROME X, pp. 172-173 (ransoms allocated to Cornwall).

(4) Foedera X, p.  339-40 (safe conduct Gaucourt).

(5) Foedera X, p. 339 (safe conducts Vendôme and others).

(6) Foedera X, p. 341 (Rogier).


Walter, Lord Fitzwalter was also captured at the Battle of Baugé.. He was granted livery of his lands on proof of age in July 1423, but his homage and fealty were respited to midsummer 1424 as he was still a prisoner (1).  The Council ordered the chancery to issue a writ of covenant (usually a claim for damages or restitution) to Fitzwalter in November 1424 without payment of a fee, to help him with his ransom. 

Fitzwalter enfeoffed his estates through his attorneys; he issued quit claims to them when he returned to England 1425. He granted his manor of Reyburn in Essex to Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester for life, presumably for ready money (2, 3).

Sir Brian Stapleton fought in France under Henry V and had been a prisoner for five years by 1424. To raise his ransom of 3,000 marks he had enfeoffed some of his lands and raised sureties on others which had to be repaid, which greatly impoverished him.

Stapleton petitioned to be allowed settle three manors in Wiltshire, held in chief, on his son and daughter-in-law, Miles and Elzabeth, and to allow Miles to enfeoff them without payment of the customary fee, which Brian could ill afford. In November 1424 the Chancellor was instructed to issue letters patent giving Stapleton permission, provided he did fealty for other lands he still held in chief (4).


(1) Close Rolls 1422-1429, p. 36, 258, 260-61, 266, 268  (Fitzwalter lands).

(2) CPR 1429-1436, p. 447 (grant to Beaufort).

(3) PPC III, p. 163  (Fitzwalter).   

(4) PPC III, pp. 161-162 (Stapleton).


Sir John Mortimer

Sir John Mortimer, a prisoner in the Tower of London held on suspicion of treason, was brought before Parliament in February 1424 charged with attempting to escape. Mortimer’s antecedents are uncertain, he was identified as of Bishop’s Hatfield in Hertfordshire, and he claimed kinship with Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March.

 Mortimer had been arrested in 1421 for declaring that Edmund Mortimer was the rightful heir to the throne. He escaped from the Tower in the company of Thomas Payne and others in 1422 but was recaptured by one Thomas Petit (1) and escorted back to the Tower by John Wintershull, sheriff of Sussex and Surrey, probably in November 1423 (2).  

See Year 1422 Minority Council for Thomas Payne.

Mortimer was transferred to Pevensey Castle into the custody of Sir John Pelham who was allocated 27s 8d a week from 29 May 1422 to 30 June 1423 for his keep. Pelham received £20 in December 1422, £40 in November 1423, and £20 in February 1424 after Mortimer was returned to the Tower (3, 4). 

William King, a servant of Robert Scott, the lieutenant of the Tower, testified under oath that Mortimer had offered him a substantial bribe to help him escape: £10 in cash, land to the same value annually, plus a habergeon (a sleeveless coat of mail armour) and a doublet. Six months after his escape he would knight William and given him lands equivalent to that of a baron.

The Great Chronicle and Julius B I date William’s testimony to 14 February, which adds to the difficulty of reconstructing the sequence of events as the record in the parliamentary roll gives 23 February. If, however, the chronicles’ date is accepted, the sequence becomes clearer.

William reported to Scott and Scott encouraged William to deceive Mortimer into believing that escape was possible. Mortimer tried it, and the trap was sprung. He was captured on Tower Wharf, where he was wounded (or beaten).

On 24 February, allowing time for Mortimer to recover from his wounds and for an indictment to be prepared, he was indicted before a London jury convened at the Guildhall in the presence of the Mayor, William Crowmer and three royal commissioners appointed by the Council (5). They found him guilty of treason and felonies. A record of their findings was drawn up by John Hals, the recently appointed justice of King’s Bench, and on 25 February Chancellor Langley presented it to Parliament on the Duke of Gloucester’s orders. 

Robert Scott escorted Mortimer to Parliament on the following day to hear the testimony against him. William King’s evidence is recorded in the chronicles but is not on the parliamentary rolls. If it is true, then Mortimer was a fantasist with delusions of grandeur. William asserted that Mortimer claimed close kinship with Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March; he tried to get William to agree that Edmund was the rightful king of England.

William asked Mortimer where he planned to go after his escape and Mortimer said he would join Edmund in Wales and raise a rebellion to put Edmund on the throne. He would cut off the Duke of Gloucester’s head and that of Henry Beaufort, to get his hands on Beaufort’s wealth. Alternatively, he would appeal to the Dauphin Charles who would welcome him with open arms.

Mortimer called Edmund a ‘dawe’, a simpleton, but nevertheless the rightful king, and said that if Edmund would not go along with these grandiose plans, then he himself would claim the throne as the next heir (6, 7, 8). One wonder what Edmund, Earl of March, who had not yet left for Ireland and was presumably sitting among the lords in Parliament, made of this extraordinary story.

Parliament was the highest court in the land and for this very reason it could only condemn Mortimer under the laws of the land. Mortimer had been imprisoned on suspicion of treason, but the Statute of Treason of Edward III (1352) did not cover anyone imprisoned on suspicion of treason who subsequently escaped; it was a common occurrence (9).

The Commons petitioned that the statute should be amended for the term of the present parliament only, backdated to its assembly on 20 October 1423 making an attempt to escape by any man held on suspicion of treason synonymous with treason itself. 

They then found the indictment of the Guildhall jury to be true and requested the Lords to confirm their judgment that Mortimer was a traitor (10). He was taken to Tyburn on 26 February, hanged, drawn, and quartered, with his head set on London Bridge.

“And in the seconde yere of Kynge Henry the vi ÷ Sir John Mortymere, knyght, brake pryson oute of the Toure of London, and was take ayen vpon the Toure-wharf; and there he was foule woundid and bete, and brought on the morow to Westeminster byforn the Kyngis Iusticis; and there for his treson Iuggid to byn brought ayen to the Toure of London, and there leide vpon an hurdull, and so drawe thoroughe the Cite to Tibourne, and there hongid, and his hed smeton of, and sette on London Brigge; and thus endid he his lif: on whos soule God haue merci!”                 Brut Continuation D, p. 431.

The proceedings against Mortimer were politically motivated and carried out with a speed which suggests a put-up job. Why should a relatively obscure knight rate so much attention at such a high level? The answer lies in the emotive name of Mortimer (11). The Council, especially the Duke of Gloucester, and in all probability Edmund Mortimer himself, were wary of attracting attention to the Mortimer claim to the throne. The possibility may have appalled Edmund, it certainly appalled the naturally suspicious Gloucester. Sir John Mortimer was an expensive nuisance rather than a serious threat, but it was not safe to release him. A ‘judicial’ execution, authorized by Parliament on the testimony of an informer, offered a simple solution. 

Mortimer’s story is recorded by most of the chronicles in a muddled way. 


Gregory’s Chronicle (p. 157) calls him ‘Syr Thomas’, and Brut Continuation H, (p. 564), calls him ‘Sir Roger.’ His place of burial is uncertain. Gregory’s Chronicle says he was buried at the Priory of St John of Jerusalem at Clerkenwell, the headquarters of the Knights Hospitallers of Rhodes.

Brut E, Appendix (p. 452) also says Clerkenwell and calls him a Knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. But the chronicle also states that a Friar ‘Winchelsey’ petitioned for a licence to take the body for burial. Doctor Thomas Winchelsey contributed handsomely to the library at the Grey Friars, founded by Richard Whittington (12).

Brut Continuation H, (p. 564), calls him ‘Sir Roger.’ (Roger Mortimer was Edmund Mortimer’s brother), but gives the burial site, corroborated by John Stow, as the Grey Friars near Newgate (13).

Brut Appendix D (p. 441) does not mention Mortimer’s death but recounts that one ‘Segewyke’ was hanged for treason.

 “Thys yere was one hongyd, heddyd and qwarterde at Tyborne Segewyke.”  

Thomas Seggeswyk, had been imprisoned in the Tower on suspicion of treason and had escaped at the same time as Mortimer, but was not recaptured until later (14).


(1) CPR 1422-29, p. 389 (Petit was not rewarded until 1427). 

(2) Issues of Exchequer, p. 389 (£9 to Wintershull, dated to 1424).

(3) Issues of Exchequer, p. 377 (£20 for Mortimer).

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

(5) Sharpe, London, Letter Book K p. 25 (lists jurors at Guildhall inquisition).

(6) Great Chronicle, pp. 130–131 (William King’s testimony).

(7) Chronicles of London, (Julius B I ), pp. 281-283. (William King’s testimony).

NB: The Great Chronicle and Julius B I accounts are almost identical. Kingsford’s notes in Julius B I (pp. 341-342) were paraphrased by Ramsay, Lancaster and York I, pp. 341-42. The identical page numbers are co-incidental!

(8) PROME X, Appendix pp. 202–03 (J.B. I in modern English).

(9) Bellamy, Law of Treason, pp. 172-173.

(10) PROME X, pp. 86–87 (judgement).

(11) Edward Powell: ‘The Strange death of Sir John Mortimer: Politics and the law of treason in Lancastrian England’ in Rulers and Ruled, ed. Archer.  

(12) Stow, Survey I, p. 318. (The library was furnished with books to the value of £556 10s. Winchelsey’s contribution was £156 10s).

(13) Stow, Survey I, p. 322 (burial).

(14) CPR 1422-29, p. 186 (Seggeswyk).


Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March

A co-incidence of dates has led to conjecture that Edmund Mortimer’s appointment as the King’s Lieutenant in Ireland was linked to John Mortimer’s condemnation. Shipping for Edmund was commandeered on 14 February 1424 (1); Sir John Mortimer was executed on 26 February. But Edmund had been appointed nearly a year earlier and as he did not leave England until the autumn of 1424 a link between the two events is unlikely. 

See Year 1423: The King’s Lieutenant in Ireland 

Before he left for Ireland Edmund petitioned Parliament to be excused payment of the balance of the enormous sum of £10,000 (equal to the annual income of the queen) that Henry V had imposed on him for permission to marry Anne Stafford, a great granddaughter of King Edward III.

Edmund claimed he had paid all but £642 13s 6d of the fine, and that as he was owed more than this for his services in France, he requested that the Treasurer be instructed to waive the balance due. He also requested confirmation of the permission to marry as no letters patent had been issued (2). (Henry V was apt to make verbal arrangements with his magnates without putting them on a strictly legal basis).

The Lords refused. It was a petty decision, but the shadow of a claim to the throne still hung over the Mortimer name. Despite appointing him as lieutenant in Ireland because of his heritage, the Council was not convinced that Edmund was the right man for the job. They appointed the experienced Richard Talbot, Archbishop of Dublin as Chancellor of Ireland in 1423 (3, 4), and on 4 July 1424 Hugh Bavant, clerk of the hanaper in Ireland, was appointed as Treasurer of Ireland (5, 6).  Thus, two key posts were filled by the Council before Edmund even set foot in Ireland.


(1) Foedera X, p. 319 (shipping, February).

(2) PROME X pp. 107–108 (Edmund’s petition).

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

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

(5) PPC III, p. 148 (Bavant).

(6) CPR 1422-1429, p 205 (Bavant).


Henry Beaufort, Chancellor of England 

The Great Seal of England was held by the Chancellor of England. Its transfer to a new chancellor had to be made in the presence of the king.

Thomas Langley, Bishop of Durham was sixty- one, and he was tired; he had been Chancellor of England for eighteen years (1). He admitted that he had neglected his diocese while serving the crown and he wanted to return to his pastoral duties. He resigned as chancellor in July 1424.

On 16 July 1424 the Duke of Gloucester, Philip Morgan, Bishop of Worcester, Nicholas Bubwith, Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Earls of Warwick and Stafford, Lord Cromwell, Sir Lewis Robessart, Sir Walter Hungerford, Sir John Tiptoft, John Stafford, the Treasurer, and William Alnwick Keeper of the Privy Seal travelled to Queen Katherine’s castle at Hertford to witness the transfer. Langley surrendered the white leather bag containing the Great Seal in King Henry’s presence. With the assent of the Council, it was handed to Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester who took the Chancellor’s oath (2).  

Henry Beaufort, the young king’s great uncle and godfather was forty-nine. He had more experience of government than any other councillor. Educated at Cambridge and at Oxford, Beaufort became Bishop of Lincoln in 1398 at the early age of twenty-three and began his public career under his half-brother, Henry IV who created him Bishop of Winchester in 1404. He was Chancellor under Henry IV and Henry V, but he fell out of favour with the latter and was dismissed.

The choice of Beaufort to replace Langley was a foregone conclusion but one for which he had carefully planned. The Chancellor was traditionally a churchman and Beaufort’s wealth combined with his kinship to the king was enough to secure him the position. The see of Winchester was the richest see in England and Henry Beaufort was a financial wizard. The crown needed him, and so did the Minority Council.

He made it known that he would continue to make loans to the crown both as an individual and as the principle feoffee of Duchy of Lancaster lands under Henry V’s will,

Henry Beaufort was the Duke of Gloucester’s only rival for dominance of the Council. In the years to come the Protector and the Chancellor would be at loggerheads and their rivalry threatened more than once to destabilise the Minority Council. It is difficult to be sure if Beaufort was just power hungry (which he was) or whether his dislike of, and opposition to, Gloucester sprang from resentment that Gloucester was legitimate and second in line to the throne while Beaufort and his brother Thomas, Duke of Exeter were of the same royal blood, and legitimated, but were barred from the succession.


(1) PPC VI, pp. 346-347 (surrender of seal).

(2) Foedera X, pp. 340-341 (Beaufort Chancellor).


 The Council and the Papacy

The Archbishop of York ranked second only to the Archbishop of Canterbury, in the hierarchy of the church in England.  

Henry Bowet, Archbishop of York died in October 1423 and the Council nominated Philip Morgan, Bishop of Worcester, a member of the Council, to succeed Bowet (1). Licence to elect was issued on 16 November (2).

Pope Martin V was informed at the end of January 1424 (1). He promptly rejected Morgan and named Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln who had ingratiated himself with the pope by supporting Martin’s position at the General Council of the Church at Pavia/Siena in 1423 (3).  The result was an acrimonious dispute between the Council and the pontiff in a standoff that would take over a year to resolve (4, 5).

Fleming accepted the pope’s nomination without seeking Council approval, which was a mistake. The Council stood firm. They threatened Fleming him with condemnation and the loss of his bishopric under the Statute of Provisors, which forbade English ecclesiastics to accept appointment by the pope without royal consent. Fleming was forced to renounce the papal bull of provision.

The Council then bribed Fleming to conform. They would ‘receive him into their favour as before’ provided he accepted Philip Morgan as Archbishop of York, and a pardon would be obtained for him in the next parliament so that he could be reinstated as Bishop of Lincoln. The Duke of Gloucester was seeking an annulment by Pope Martin of Jacqueline of Hainault’s marriage to John of Brabant and Fleming was instructed to use his influence at the curia in Rome to expedite it (6).   

See The Duke of Gloucester and Hainault below

The temporalities (income) of the rich see of York were added to the king’s coffers. Lord Cromwell, an expert in financial affairs who would later become Treasurer of England, Sir Walter Beauchamp, Sir William Harrington, Roger Rolleston and Robert Rolleston, Keeper of the Great Wardrobe, Thomas Chaworth, Thomas Mayn, William Woodhorne Prior of Hexham, and William Carnaby bailiff of Hexham, were to administer the income, estimated to be worth 2,000 marks annually in 1425, for the king’s use (7).

Thomas Langley, bishop of Durham was Henry Bowet’s executor. Henry V had borrowed £983 6s 8d from Bowet, from Langley himself, from the prior of Durham, and three other men in 1415. The king pledged a large gold tabernacle as surety, and Langley wished to retain it, but Treasurer Stafford insisted on its return, promising that he would repay what was still outstanding on the original loan. Part payment was made in February 1424 and the Council had ordered Langley to deliver it to Treasurer Stafford who would pay the balance ‘as soon as convenient’ (8). 

Langley was not convinced, he petitioned Parliament to be allowed to retain the ‘the large tabernacle of gold’ unless Parliament gave assurances that Stafford would indeed redeem the debt. His petition was granted (9).


(1) Foedera X, pp. 316-317. (Philip Morgan, Council’s choice).

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

(3) Papal Letters VII, p. 345 (Papal provision of Fleming).

(4) Griffiths, Henry VI, p. 70 (Fleming and the Council).

(5) Harvey, England and Papacy, p. 140 (Fleming, the Pope, and the Council).

(6) PPC III, pp. 210-211 (terms offered to Fleming).

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

(8) PPC III, p. 145 (Langley as executor).

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



The treaty for King James’s marriage and release, signed in December 1423, was ratified in Parliament on 28 January 1424. In February, the Council confirmed that (as agreed) 10,000 marks of James’s ransom would be remitted as dower for Joan Beaufort (1, 2).  

James married Joan Beaufort in February.  King Henry’s gift to the groom was a piece of silk cloth of gold worth £24 (3, 4).

Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, the queen’s uncle, performed the ceremony at St Mary Overy in Southwick and paid for the wedding reception at the bishop’s palace.

The poem The Kingis Quair, attributed to King James, describes his love for and courtship of an unnamed lady. James’s biographer suggests that James met Joan Beaufort at Windsor in 1423 and that it was a love-match, but James in fact had no choice, the marriage was the price of his freedom. It was politically motivated and promoted by Joan’s uncles Henry and Thomas Beaufort to enhance their status (5).

See Year 1423 Scotland, Ransom and Treaty.

“Also in the Monethe of Feverere sir James Styward kyng of Scotland wedded dame Johane the Duchesses doughter of Clarence of hire first husbonde the Erle of Somersette atte seint Marie Overe.  And grete solempntye and feste was holden in the Bysshops Inne of Wynchestre,”             Great  Chronicle  p. 130. 

After the ceremony King James and his bride travelled to Brancepeth Castle, five miles from Durham, a seat of the Earl of Westmorland, where his ‘host’ was Westmorland’s son, Sir Richard Neville. Neville was reimbursed in June 1425 for the cost of keeping 160 servants for over seven weeks, the money coming from the estates of the late Lucia, Countess of Kent, and the deceased Elizabeth Neville, one of the Earl of Kent’s daughters (6).


(1) PROME X, pp. 105–107 (ratification of treaty with King James).

(2) Foedera X, pp. 322-323 (marriage and dowry)

(3) PPC III, p. 133 (king’s gift).

(4) Foedera X, pp. 321 (king’s gift).

(5) Balfour-Melville, James I, pp. 83, 90, 94, and 99–100. 

(6) Issues of Exchequer, p 393 (Richard Neville at Brancepeth).


 A Seven Year Truce                 

William Lauder, Chancellor of Scotland, was invited to come to York with a delegation to negotiate for a truce, but Durham was more convenient for King James and the Scots, and the negotiations took place there (1).

John Kemp, Bishop of London, Thomas Langley, Bishop of Durham, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, Ralph Neville, the Earl of Westmorland, his son Richard Neville as Warden of the West March, William Alnwick, Keeper of the Privy Seal, and the northern lords Thomas, Lord Dacre, John, Lord Greystoke, and Sir Robert Umfraville were commissioned to be at Durham by 1 March to ensure that every clause in the treaty for James’s release was implemented to the letter.

They were to explore the possibility of a permanent peace, but since the difficulty of reaching agreement while Henry VI was still too young to give his assent (a gloss on the near impossibility of any peace terms being adhered to by either side) a truce would be acceptable (2, 3). 

The terms of reference and previous agreements were confirmed by both sides on 15 March. James, as King of Scotland, confirmed under his privy seal the oath he had sworn at St Pauls to pay his ransom. The first instalment of 1,000 marks was due within six months from the day of his return to Scotland and 10,000 marks would be paid annually for the next four years. 

The provosts and commonalty of Dundee, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Perth had signed a guarantee on 20 February that James’s ransom of 50,000 marks would be met, and this was confirmed under the truce (4).   

Within four days of reaching Scotland James was to take the oath to abide by the terms of the treaty for a second time, and to ratify the truce. Three English commissioners, Sir William Bowes, William Doncaster, and William Park were to witness the oath (5). 

A truce for seven years by land and sea was signed by King James and his nobles, and by the Council in King Henry’s name, on 28 March 1424. The terms were much the same as those in the treaty for James’s release.  Each side pledged not to give aid or comfort to the enemies of the other (i.e., no Scots were to fight in France). Penalty clauses and conservators were specified (6, 7).

The Earl of Northumberland, Sir Robert Ogle, and Sir William Heron escorted James and his queen across the border to Melrose where on 5 April (as a free man) James confirmed the treaty for his release and sent William Scot to deliver the document to Bishop Langley or his representative, and to receive ‘Henry VI’s’ ratification (8).

The Minority Council appears to have believed that James’s ransom was sufficient compensation for the loss of the King of Scotland as a bargaining chip in any future negotiations.  And so it might have been had James honoured his oath, but he did not.


(1) Foedera X pp, 321-322 (Lauder invited to York).

(2) PPC III, pp. 139-142 (English delegation and their instructions).

(3) PPC III, p. 37 (Kemp was granted £80 for an estimated six-week journey on 9 February).

(4) Foedera X, pp. 325-328 (terms of the truce and confirmation).

(5) Foedera X pp. 332-333 (James conducted to Scotland, commissioners to witness his oath).

(6) Foedera X pp. 328-332 (terms of truce, truce signed).

(7) CClR 1422-1429, p. 143 (summary of proceedings).

(8) Foedera X, pp. 343 (James’s confirmation of the treaty at Melrose, misdated to 1425)


Scottish Hostages                   

King James’s main preoccupation was to persuade the men who must be sent to England as hostages to agree to stand surety for him. Their numbers were increased from the original twenty-one to twenty-seven. Their names and ‘value’ were set out in a schedule of their wealth and status (1, 2). They had to swear a collective oath to abide by the conditions of their ‘captivity:’ to live at their own cost and be attended by more English than Scots servants (3).

Walter, Earl of Athol, Andrew Gray of Foulis, John Lyon of Glamis, and William of Hay, Constable of Scotland, gave a written guarantee to surrender their heirs (David, Andrew, Patrick and Gilbert) as hostages.  It was a bitter pill to swallow.

Robert Hilton, sheriff of York, took the hostages into custody. Richard Hastings, Constable of Knaresborough kept Sir Robert Erskine and James Dunbar at Knaresborough. Robert Waterton, Constable of Pontefract, escorted one group to the Tower of London where Robert Scott, lieutenant of the Tower, was ordered to receive them (4). Thomas Burton, Constable of Fotheringhay, took another group to Godfrey Lauther, the Constable of Dover.   

It was not until July, three months after they had been escorted south, that the hostages fully understood what they had let themselves in for. They requested letters of safe conduct for their own servants to join them in England: “We Ostage, being withynne the Tur of London, asken Conducts for oure Servaunts, whoys names ben underwreten” (5).

Three servants of ‘the King and Queen of Scotland’ received safe conducts in October to travel via England to Flanders. The Council may have believed that they were going to raise James’s ransom money (6).


(1) Foedera X, pp. 327-328 (value of the hostages).

(2) Balfour-Melville, Appendix p. 293 (list of hostages, differs slightly from the Foedera)

(3) Foedera X, pp. 333–335  (Scots’ oaths).

(4) Foedera X, pp. 336–337 (distribution of the hostages).

(5) Foedera X pp 337-338 and 340 (requests for safe conducts).

(6) Foedera X, p. 341 (servants of the king and queen).



King James was twenty-nine when he regained his freedom and his throne. He was not destined to be a popular king. He ignored the natural resentment of the families of the men he sent into exile as hostages; his first act as king was to impose heavy taxation to pay his ransom, which would have rescued them; instead, he used the money for his private expenses. Although some of the hostages were exchanged over the years, others remained in captivity throughout King James’s lifetime.

The Minority Council’s original reason for seeking a truce with Scotland was to prevent Scots from serving in the armies of France. This too proved illusory: while negotiations were in progress at Durham a large Scottish army, led by Archibald, Earl of Douglas landed in France. His men were not included in the terms of the truce which forbade James’s subjects to fight against the English. Did James and the Scots delayed the final signing of truce to give Douglas and his army time to get clear?

In the end it was the Duke of Bedford’s victory at the Battle of Verneuil in August which decimated the Scottish ranks and put paid to Scotland’s further participation in the war, not the empty promise made by King James.

See The Battle of Verneuil below.


Henry V had been negotiating for an alliance with King Alfonso V of Aragon, and in 1423 the Duke of Bedford sent envoys to Alfonso and to the neighbouring King Carlos of Navarre announcing himself as Regent of France for King Henry VI. He advised them that it was in their best interests to acknowledge the Treaty of Troyes, to form alliances with England, and so, by implication against the Dauphin Charles (1).

On 1 March 1424 William Salbury, Abbot of Beaulieu, Sir Walter de la Pole, whom Henry V had employed extensively as an ambassador, and the lawyer Doctor John Blodwell received full powers to treat with Alfonso (2). Nothing came of it; according to Ferguson the English delegates left Rome before the Aragonese representatives arrived (3).


(1) Fergusson, Diplomacy, Appendix II pp.  221-223 and 229-240 (Bedford’s instructions).

(2) Foedera X, pp. 319-20 (powers to treat).

(3) Fergusson, Diplomacy, p. 43.


 The War in France

Parliament authorised raising loans of up to £5,000 to continue the war in France, to be repaid between February and September 1424.

Henry Beaufort loaned 14,000 marks ‘for the king’s use,’ at the end of February and the Council ordered crown jewels valued at £6,000 to be delivered to him as security.’ Two days later they revised their estimate and instructed the Exchequer to deliver only 4,000 marks in jewels. Letters patent were issued authorizing him to collect 8,000 marks from the customs revenues of London and Hull (1).

Mindful that Beaufort was the largest and most reliable creditor, Parliament decreed that all Beaufort’s loans past, present, and future, must be repaid, although the Council and the Treasurer were not to be held liable for any claim that he or his executors might make against them (2).


(1) PPC III, pp. 144 and 146 (Beaufort’s loan).

(2) PROME X, pp. 104-105 (loan and repayment). 


 An Army for France

The Council undertook to indent with war captains for 400 men-at-arms and 100 archers to serve in France for six months from May 1424 (1). Lord Willoughby, Lord Poynings, Sir William Oldhall, Sir Geoffrey Fitzhugh, Sir John Clitheroe and fifteen esquires indented to serve.

Robert, Lord Willoughby was granted 500 marks as a reward for the good services he had performed and was about to be perform in France (2).

At the end of May the Earl of Warwick received £403 7s 3½d in advance for the wages of one knight, twenty-nine men-at arms, and ninety archers to serve in France for six months (3).

In June mariners in Dover received £80 for ships to carry Lord Poynings ‘and other of the king’s retinues’ to Calais. The ships made the crossing several times (4).    


(1) PPC III p. 135 (appointment of war captains). 

(2) PPC III, p. 145 (payment to Willoughby).

(3) Issues of Exchequer, pp. 386-387 (payment to Warwick).

(4) Issues of Exchequer, p. 387 (shipping).


The Duke of Bedford’s Campaigns 

The Duke of Bedford was systematically clearing out pockets of Armagnac resistance in fortress towns on the eastern borders of Normandy as a prelude to extending Lancastrian conquest south into the County of Maine and the Duchy of Anjou.

Le Crotoy

Bedford was at Abbeville in February 1424 ready to receive the surrender of the castle and town of Le Crotoy in accordance with Jacques de Harcourt’s agreement of October1423 that he would surrender in March 1424 if the Dauphin did not send a relieving force.

Le Crotoy surrendered as agreed on 3 March 1424 (1, 2) and Bedford gave its captaincy to Sir Ralph Butler who had conducted the siege and arranged the surrender (3).

See Year 1423: The Siege of Le Crotoy.

Bedford had requested reinforcements from England to ensure a smooth handover. Henry Beaufort and Thomas Langley, as feoffees of the Duchy of Lancaster estates under King Henry V’s will, agreed to a loan of £1,000 from duchy estates to ‘rescue the town and castle of Crotoy’ (4).   

Shipping was arranged for the war captains, John, Lord Talbot, William, Lord Clinton, and Robert, Lord Poynings to cross to Picardy to ‘recover’ Le Crotoy (5). Talbot ‘refused to proceed ‘to the rescue of the town of Crotoy’ unless he was paid for his captaincy of Montgomery Castle in Wales. He had been captain of Montgomery under Henry IV in 1407.  On 14 February, the Council ordered that the £224 3s 4d due to him as arrears of wages should be paid, but he received only £144 3s 4d (3). The balance of £100 was paid to him in February 1425 (6, 7).

Talbot did not go to France in 1424 and he was not at the Battle of Verneuil as is sometimes claimed. Instead, he accompanied Edmund Mortimer to Ireland in September (8).

See Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March above.


(1) Wavrin III, p. 61 (surrender of Le Crotoy).

(2) Monstrelet I, p, 506 (surrender of Le Crotoy).

(3) Marshall, ‘War captains’, p. 243 n. 1. (Butler).

(4) PPC III p 135 (feoffee loan).  5 Feb

(5) Issues of Exchequer p. 391 (shipping).

(6) PPC III p. 138 (payment to Talbot)

(7) Issues of the Exchequer, p. 391 (payment to Talbot).

(8) CPR 1422-29, p. 263 (Talbot to Ireland).



After the surrender of Le Crotoy Bedford sent a mixed force of Burgundians and Picards under John of Luxembourg, the ablest of the Duke of Burgundy’s war captains, to capture the town and castle of Guise on the River Oise.

Luxembourg laid siege to Guise in April, but Guise was well stocked and defended, and it held out longer than Bedford expected.  In August he sent reinforcements of about 400 men commanded by Sir Thomas Rempston, a soldier of fortune of proven military abilities who had fought under Henry V to join Luxembourg. Jacques de Leuyn, Luxembourg’s lieutenant, was ordered to take the musters to weed out any man deemed unfit to fight (and therefore not worth paying) and to retain the rest (1).

The arrival of Rempston’s force did the trick. In September Guise agreed to surrender unless, the usual proviso, the Dauphin sent a relief force before the end of February 1425. Jean de Proisy, the captain and governor of Guise surrendered to John of Luxembourg (2).


(1)  L&P II, pp. 28-31 (musters).

(2) Wavrin III, pp. 64-65 and pp 117-118 (siege of Guise and surrender).


Siege of Ivry

While John of Luxembourg was besieging Guise, Bedford sent William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk to lay siege to the strategic town of Ivry on the River Eure thirty miles west of Paris. Suffolk took the town, but the castle held out. Ivry’s captain, Gerard de Paillières had good reason to expect relief.  He knew that the Dauphin Charles was assembling a large army, so he agreed to surrender if relief did not reach him by the Assumption of the Virgin, 15 August. 

A Scottish force, estimated to be 6,500 strong, recruited by John Stewart, Earl of Buchan, Constable of France, and led by Archibald, Earl of Douglas had arrived at La Rochelle in March aboard sixteen ships (1). In a memorandum detailing the shipping costs of importing the Scots, Charles admitted that although he had promised prompt payment to the ships’ captains, whose names are listed, they would have to wait until the end of September for their money (2).

Charles intended to bring the English to battle, but where and when was still to be decided. Charles welcomed Archibald Douglas to Tours and in recognition of services yet to be performed created him Duke of Touraine. Charles called out his feudal levies and consulted with his nobles (3). The delay in taking the field may have been due to the difficulty of assembling the ill-assorted army, French recruits from Anjou and Maine under the Duke of Alençon, Scots under the command of Buchan and Douglas, and a contingent of Lombard heavy cavalry hired from the Duke of Milan. And the distance between Tours and Ivry was considerable.

The Duke of Bedford knew of the arrival of the Scottish army, and as soon as he received reliable information that the French were moving towards Ivry he stripped men from garrisons all over Normandy (an unusual and risky move) to raise as large an army as possible (4).

A public proclamation required all fief holders and able-bodied men in Normandy to make ready to take the field. It would boost the morale of Bedford’s troops and discourage the enemy to see Normans fighting for Henry VI alongside Englishmen.

On 26 June, Jean Salvain, bailli of Rouen ordered the sheriff (vicomte) of Pont de l’Arche in King Henry’s name to be at Rouen with men-at-arms by 1 July. Bedford’s assembly point was at Vernon on 3 July (5). 

Bedford received confirmation, either from his spies or more probably from a challenge issued by the French nobles themselves, that they would give battle at Ivry. He joined Suffolk in August with a sizeable army, including the troops brought over from England by Lord Willoughby and Lord Poynings.

See: An Army for France above

He also sent for the Earl of Salisbury, who was campaigning in Champagne, and the Burgundian captain L’Isle Adam, who was besieging Nesle (6). But at the last-minute Bedford sent L’Isle Adam back to Nesle. It was a gamble, but one Bedford believed was well worth taking. He did not rate Burgundian troops highly, and he did not want the Duke of Burgundy to claim any credit for the first major battle fought under Bedford’s command. Bedford intended to win with an Anglo-Norman army.

He marshalled his men in battle array on 14 August, the day before Ivry was to surrender. His scouts had reported that the French were not far off, and he expected them to appear before Ivry early on the following day. But French scouts had explored the terrain, and they advised against giving battle: Bedford was well entrenched in a good defensive position from where he might win.

The Dauphin’s army turned aside and made instead for the English held town of Verneuil, the patrimony of the young Duke of Alençon.  Bedford had anticipated that the recovery of Verneuil would be a major objective and the Council in Rouen had written to the town’s governor to remind him that maintenance of its fortifications had been neglected and instructing him to have them repaired (7).

Almost immediately came disquieting news: the French had taken Verneuil. Some Norman knights and esquires in Bedford’s ranks changed sides. Their loyalties may have wavered at the last minute, although Wavrin attributes their desertion to their fear of defeat by the far larger French army (8).  He named the Lord of Torcy, son of Colart d’Estouteville who had been killed at Agincourt and nephew of Jean D’Estouteville, still a prisoner of war in England, and Charles de Longueval, Lord of Augmont.

Gerard de Paillières was disgusted when the French failed to come to his rescue.  He rode out and surrendered the keys of Ivry to Bedford, indignantly showing him the seals of the French magnates who had promised him that they would meet the English in a journée, a traditional battle to decide the ownership (and loyalty) of a town.

The French appeared at the gates of Verneuil; they sent word to the town that a battle had been fought, that the English had been defeated, and that Bedford himself was a fugitive. According to the Bourgeois of Paris, Scots who could speak English posed as English prisoners with their hands tied behind their backs and shouted that they had been captured. The truth of the French story was vouched for by none other than the Lord of Torcy (8). This caused panic in the town, the gates were thrown open, and the French and Scots occupied Verneuil (9).

“In the second yere of þe reyne of Kyng Henry the vjte abouesaid, John, Duyk of Bedford and Regent of Fraunce, & the Erle of Salisbery; Mountegu, the Erle of Arundell, the Lord Scales, the Lord Poynynges, with þe nombre of xij M1 of Englisshe men, laid seege to Ivory in Normandy. 

And whiles they lay att that seege, the Duyk of Launson gadert a gret host of Frensshmen, and Scottes and lumbardes, þe nombre of lij M1, to rescowe Ivory, and to give bataile to þe said Duyke of Bedford.  But when they herd that þe Duyk of Bedforde had with hym xij M1 men, thay lafte Ivory, and come to Vernill in Perche, which was þat tyme in þe handes of Englishe-men.  And the Lord Scales therof beyng capteyn, and was att þe said seege of Ivory. 

Then þe Frensshe men chargit þe Englisshe men to delyuer þe toun of Vernill vp to hem, And the said Duyke of Bedford and all his power were ouerthrawe and slayn before Ivory.  And they of the toun of Vernill wend it had ben trewe, And gave vp þe toune to þe Frenschmen.  And þus by this trayn Vernill was lost,”      Brut Continuation H, p. 564.


(1) L&P II, pp. 15-16, n 2 (accounts of Hermon Raguier, Treasurer of the Wars, Scottish numbers).

(2) L&P II, pp. 17-24 (sixteen ships).

(3) Beaucourt, Charles VII  vol. II, pp. 63-64 (Scots at French court).

(4) L&P II, pp. 24-28 (summons of Normandy levies).

(5) Newhall, English Conquest of Normandy, 1416-1424, p. 314, n 14: “Suffolk had 69 men-at-arms and 204 archers (Bib. Nat., fr 4485 p 292). Salisbury sent 19 men-at-arms and 67 archers (ibid p. 177). The bailli of Evreux had 26 men-at-arms and 78 archers, the garrison of Cherbourg sent 15 men at arms and 45 archers (Bib. Nat., fr. 26047, no 295. The captain of Dreux brought 17 men-at-arms and 54 archers (ibid fr. 4485, p. 207).

(6) L&P II, p. 53-55 (fortifications at Verneuil). Misdated by Stevenson to 1425

(7) Wavrin III, pp. 66-71 (Ivry. His chronology is muddled, he was not an eyewitness until the actual battle of Verneuil, but he is still the best for details).

(8)  Bourgeois, Parisian Journal, pp. 194–196 (Ivry and treachery at Verneuil).

(9) J. Chartier, Chronique de Charles VII, roi de France I, pp. 40–42 (Ivry to Verneuil).


The Battle of Verneuil 

Bedford was furious when he learned of the trick the French had played at Verneuil.

He rode out in front of his army in a blue velvet mantle embroidered with the red cross of England superimposed on the white cross of France, symbolic of the dual monarchy. He exhorted his troops to show courage against a worthless and perfidious enemy who had broken their word, shamed their honour, and disgraced the code of chivalry. He vowed by St George that he would bring them to battle come what may and he ordered an immediate march on Verneuil (1).

The Battle of Verneuil on the border between Maine and Normandy, was fought on 17 August 1424. Bedford and the earl of Salisbury commanded the English forces. They deployed the army on a wide-open plain in front of Verneuil and formed a battle line to fight on foot, with archers stationed on the wings.  The horses and baggage wagons were tethered in the rear, with a small contingent of archers to guard them. The Earl of Suffolk, Lord Willoughby, Lord Scales, Lord Poynings, Sir William Oldhall, Sir John Fastolf, and the captains of garrisons from throughout Normandy were in Bedford’s ranks (2, 3).

Jean de Harcourt, Count of Aumâle, lieutenant and captain general of Normandy was in overall command of the French battle line. He had convinced the Dauphin that with a large enough army he could defeat the English and clear the way for Charles to be crowned King of France at Rheims.

The battle opened with a cavalry charge by the Lombards protected by their heavy armour and mounted on their powerful armoured horses. Did Aumâle recognise their potential as a deadly weapon, or did they demand the right to form their line in front of the French main battle and charge first?  The English had never faced Lombard cavalry, French cavalry usually fought on the wings. Their onslaught was totally unexpected and Bedford’s front line broke and opened its ranks to let the horsemen through. A few men fled in panic, believing that the battle was lost. They spread reports that the English had suffered a defeat as far as Pont Audemar, causing panic and unrest.

The Lombards killed the archers stationed in the rear and plundered the baggage wagons.  Fortunately, they considered that having broken the English line they had played their part, and they did not immediately wheel back into the fray (4).

The Viscount of Narbonne’s French troops advanced slightly ahead of the Scots under Archibald Douglas, a tactical error that lessened their impact; had they moved more quickly and more cohesively the battle could have been theirs.  

Bedford and Salisbury recovered from the shock of the Lombard’s charge and showing great courage they rallied their men and reorganised their line to check the French advance before the Lombards could return. Bedford’s weapon was a pole axe, a heavy double-sided axe that he wielded with great skill owing to his large stature and strength. The archers on the wings gave their traditional ‘great shout,’ partly in defiance but also to advertise their new position to their comrades as they moved towards the centre to cover the restored front line.

The chronicler Jean de Wavrin was in the thick of it, fighting under Salisbury’s banner:

“I the author know truly that that day the Earl of Salisbury sustained the greatest brunt, notwithstanding that he wavered greatly . . . and certainly if it had not been for [his ] skill and great valour . . . there is no doubt that the matter, which was in great uncertainty, would have gone very badly for the English. Elsewhere the Duke of Bedford, as I hear related, for I could not see or comprehend the whole since I was sufficiently occupied in defending myself . . . . killed many a man with a [pole]axe which he held in two hands . . . . . since he was large in body and stout in limb and brave in arms . . . . but he was very greatly harassed by the Scots, especially the Earl of Douglas.”         Wavrin III, p. 77

The French line broke and French and Scots alike fled back to Verneuil. But this time the gates remained firmly shut and they were slaughtered in the ditches surround the town.

Aumâle himself, the Comte de Ventadour, who had fought at the Battle of Baugé and at the Battle of Cravant, the Comte de Tonnere, and the Viscount of Narbonne were killed. Bedford had Narbonne’s corpse strung up by his heels because of his complicity in the murder of John the Fearless, the Duke of Burgundy’s father whose corpse was strung up after the battle because of his complicity in the murder of John the Fearless, duke of Burgundy. The Duke of Alençon was captured along with the Bastard of Alençon who died of his wounds a few days later (5, 6).

French losses were severe, but the Scots were decimated. As Bedford put it laconically in his report of the battle, ‘very few Scots were left who were not dead.’ Archibald, Earl of Douglas, his younger son James, and John Stewart, Earl of Buchan, Constable of France and Douglas’s son-in-law  were killed (7, 8).

The chronicler Thomas Basin, writing much later, claimed that the Scots had declared before the battle that they would take no prisoners, and this accounted for the ferocity of the English (9). Michael Jones suggests that it was the English who issued a challenge to fight to the death in revenge for the English defeat by the Scots at the Battle of Bauge in 1421, and for Douglas’s perfidy in breaking his oath of allegiance to Henry V by fighting for the French. 

It is more likely that neither is true. The battle was hard fought and hard won, blood lust, not honour, motived the victors. Many men in the English ranks that day hated the Scots more than they hated the French, and the French did not like or trust their ally.

The French army was destroyed as a fighting force; it would take time and money to rebuild it. After Verneuil, although individual Scots continued in Charles’s service, no large Scottish army was sent to fight in France. Verneuil was Bedford’s greatest victory. It maintained the English reputation for invincibility in battle, and considerably enhanced his own.  At Agincourt Henry V was forced to fight against superior odds, at Verneuil Bedford chose to. Contemporaries compared Verneuil with Agincourt.


(1) Wavrin III, pp. 72-79 (Bedford before Verneuil).   

(2) A. Burne, The Agincourt War, pp. 196–215.

(3) M.K. Jones, ‘The battle of Verneuil (17 August 1424) : towards a history of courage,’ in War in History, 9 (2000) pp. 375-411.  (Convincingly refutes the interpretation by Burne but is contradicted by the Bourgeois of Paris).

(4) Bourgeois, pp. 196-200 (a different account of the Lombards in the battle from that of Jones).  

(5) J. Chartier, Chronique de Charles VII, roi de France I, pp. 42-43.

(6)  Monstrelet I, p. 511.

(7) R.A. Newhall, The English Conquest of Normandy 1416-1424 (1924), pp. 319–320 (the Duke of Bedford’s report of the battle, listing the dead).

(8) L&P II, pp. 394–95 (lists of participants, English and French, the dead and the captured, ‘and dyvers others, as well Frenche as Scottes unto the nomber of ix m  (9,000) men by accompte of Montjoy, kinge of armes which was one of the parties of the adversaries.’

(9) T. Basin, Histoire de Charles VII, vol I, ed. C. Samarin, pp.  91-97.


English chronicle accounts concentrate on the death toll at Verneuil, especially of the Scots. 

Brut Continuation H  (pp. 565-567)  has the longest account, with a list of the dead. It identifies the English captain who fled the field with five hundred of his men as one ‘Yong.’  It implies that the English were indeed fighting to avenge their defeat by the Scots at the Battle of Baugé. The English shouted: “A Clarens, A clarens!” for cause þe Scottes before that tyme [ferede] þe Duyk of Clarens.” The chronicler may be implying that the Scots got their just deserts at Verneuil in revenge for Baugé.  Brut H is the only chronicle to list John d’Arundel (later Earl of Arundel) as being in the English ranks, but this is unsubstantiated. It also includes the detail (taken from Wavrin) that Bedford dismissed the Burgundian troops that joined him at Ivry (whereas Brut Continuation G includes them).

Brut Continuation G (pp. 497-498) wrongly names the Earl of Salisbury instead of the Earl of Suffolk as laying siege to Ivry. It includes John, Lord Talbot (later Earl of Shrewsbury) among those who fought at Verneuil, but Talbot was not in France (see Le Crotoy above) and recounts the insult supposedly offered to Bedford by the Earl of Douglas before the battle, calling him: “Iohn with þe leden swerd,” i.e. a braggart, words without deeds.

An English Chronicle  gleefully reports the slaughter of the ‘proud’ Scots and lists Alexander Stewart, Earl of Mar and Thomas Dunbar, Earl of Murray (Moray) as among the dead, but, as the editor (Marx) noted (p. 135) this is a copying error. Mar survived to 1435 and Murray (Moray), who was not at Verneuil, died in 1429. Sir Thomas Murray and Sir Andrew Murray, listed in Benet’s Chronicle and Brut Continuation G and were among the dead.

Benet’s Chronicle (pp. 179-180) begins the account of Henry VI’s reign with the battle of Verneuil. His list of the dead closely resembles the list in Brut H.

The Latin Brut (English Historical Literature, p. 321) is the only chronicle to include a ‘count of Naverne. ’ Kingsford identified him as the Count of Nevers, but Philip, Count of Nevers, was killed at Agincourt, and his heir, Charles, was still a minor in 1424.

Brief Latin Chronicle in Three Short Chronicles (p. 164) is almost identical with the Latin Brut.

Chronicles of London, (Julius B II)  and (Cleopatra C IV)  (pp. 75 and 129) and A Chronicle of London (Harley 565, p. 112) are short and almost identical.


Bedford celebrated his victory in Rouen and in Paris and lost no time in taking advantage of the general rejoicing. The battle had been won but it still had to be paid for.

He summoned the Estates General of France and Normandy to meet in Paris on 13 September (1). The Norman Estates voted 60,000 livres tournois, the same amount as they had voted in July 1423 (1, 2).

A writ in Henry VI’s name to Hamon de Belknap, Treasurer and Receiver General of France, was issued on 12 October instructing him to arrange for the collection of the ‘aid,’ to be delivered to Pierre Sureau, Receiver General of Normandy, by 1 November. 

The writ explained that Bedford had been forced to recruit more men than he had expected, and he needed the money to settle the wages still owed to the soldiers who taken part in previous sieges: Gaillon, Ivry, Mont St Michel, Norgent-le-Rotrou, Senonces, and Beaumont-sur-Sarthe in Alençon, as well as the men who had fought at Verneuil.

Mont St Michel had not been captured and the siege had to be maintained. Urgent repairs were needed to the port towns of Harfleur and Honfleur, and the cost of future campaigns to consolidate and extend these victories would have to be met (3). 


(1) L&P II, p. 51 (Estates General summoned. Robert Jolivet, the exiled Abbot of Mont St Michel received 354 livres tournois for attending and pleading the case for more money).

(2) Beaurepaire, Les États de Normandie,  pp. 24-25 (Estates grant).

(3) L&P II, pp 32-37 (collection and reasons for summons).


The County of Maine

Victory at Verneuil opened up the way to an English conquest of the county of Maine, just as Bedford always intended. He appropriated the title Duke of Maine and Anjou in anticipation.

Bedford announced a proposal to reward men of all ranks who had fought at Verneuil for their courage and loyalty by granting them lands in Maine. He ordered an evaluation of lands in Maine and the estimate amounted to 60,000 livres tournois.  Grants totalling 56,200 livres tournois were to be made (1).

It was an ideal arrangement from Bedford’s point of view. It appeared to be a magnanimous gesture by a caring overlord to continue Henry V’s policy of settling Englishmen, especially English soldiers, in the conquered lands, to be on hand to defend them should the need arise. The drawback for the recipients in this case, however, was that Maine had not yet been conquered. They would still have to fight for their reward (2).

Bedford entrusted the opening phase of the campaign to Sir John Fastolf, his Grand Master of the Household, who had fought at Verneuil. Fastolf was somewhat optimistically designated as lieutenant of Maine.

Fastolf set out in the autumn of 1424 to invest Le Mans, the capital of Maine, but first he had to clear out pockets of resistance in castles and towns around Le Mans. He was held up by the unexpected presence of French troops occupying Montfort sur Gesnois about twelve miles east of Le Mans. the town of Alençon, just over the Normandy border, thirty miles north of Le Mans (3).  Fastolf was a cautious commander, he demanded reifrcements.

Bedford ordered Jehan Salvain bailli of Rouen, Thomas Maistresson, bailli of Caux, as well as to the town of Evreux to summon men from their garrisons and other places, although not so many as to weaken the garrisons’ defences, to join Fastolf at Montfort.  By the time he finally captured Montfort the winter was well advanced and Fastolf returned to Paris.

He indented with Bedford on 27 November to furnish 80 mounted men-at-arms and 240 archers for a year from the previous September to assist in the conquest Maine. The backdating is unusual, it may have been to cover Fastolf’s contribution to the initial incursion in September. The terms and conditions are spelt out, Fastolf was always careful where money was concerned, he had the mind of an accountant (4).  


(1) L&P II, ii pp. 550-51. Chronological Abstracts p. 527. (The memorandum is not dated; Stevenson assigned it to 17 August, two days after Verneuil, without giving a reason).

(2) C. Allmand, ‘The Lancastrian Land Settlement in Normandy, 1417-50,’ Economic History Review, Vol XXI. No. 3 (1968).

(3) L&P II, pp. 38–42 (reinforcements for Fastolf).

(4) L&P II, pp. 44–50 (Fastolf’s indenture).


Enguerrand de Monstrelet

A Footnote to 1424.

In November 1424 a pardon was issued in Paris in King Henry’s name to one Enguerrand de Monstrelet. The interest of this otherwise unimportant pardon lies in the name Monstrelet and may be the reason why Stevenson chose to include the account in his Letters and Papers.

The Enguerrand being pardoned cannot have been the Burgundian chronicler who is a primary source for the events of these years. He was a civil servant at the Burgundian court who never took up arms, although he was fascinated by battles.

The Enguerrand of the pardon was a soldier, the Captain of Freneuch Castle, held by the Counts of St Pol, who were clients of the Duke of Burgundy.  In 1422 he had robbed a group of travellers believing them to ‘Armagnacs’ i.e., partisans of the Dauphin and therefore fair game. He soon discovered his mistake, the men were merchants of Abbeville, subjects of the Duke of Burgundy, going about their lawful business. The summons to a judicial hearing in Paris in 1424 was not for the robbery but because the merchants were not Armagnacs.

Enguerrand pleaded ignorance, he had been misled. He stated his case at tedious length and promised to make restitution. He undertook to capture the man who had falsely informed him that the merchants were the enemy, although in the end he failed to find the culprit. The chronicler and the captain were both men of Picardy, they must surely have been related, but exactly how is unknown (1). 

(1) L&P I, p. 10 (Enguerrand de Monstrelet).

Jacqueline, Countess of Hainault 

Jacqueline, Countess of Hainault, Holland and Zeeland, the only child of William, Count of Hainault, was sixteen when Count William died in 1417. John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, who hoped to acquire her territories, arranged for her to marry to his nephew, John, Duke of Brabant. The couple were married in 1418 and the marriage proved unsatisfactory from the start.

Bullied by Jacqueline’s forceful and ambitious uncle John, Duke of Bavaria-Straubing who claimed the right to rule her lands as her guardian, Brabant mortgaged Holland and Zeeland to him.  It was too much for the proud and high-spirited Jacqueline. She loathed her inadequate husband. Chastellain described her as plain, but vivacious and fearless (1).

In 1421 Jacqueline fled from Brussels in the company of her mother, Margaret of Burgundy, and sought the protection of King Henry V. With his permission she crossed to England where she was warmly welcomed by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester on King Henry’s orders (2).

Jacqueline would not have dared to flee without Henry’s explicit encouragement. She later claimed that Henry had not only arranged her escape, he had also promised to secure her divorce from John of Brabant and marry her to the Duke of Gloucester. Had Henry lived he would probably have caried out both these promises. Significantly, on his return to France for the last time, Henry left Jacqueline under Gloucester’s protection.

There is an interesting document in Henry VI’s name dated 2 October 1422, ‘given under our Privy Seal at Westminster,’ instructing the Exchequer to renew the grant of £100 a month made by Henry V to Jacqueline. Henry VI did not yet have a privy seal, so Henry V’s seal had to be used, and the order can only have been issued by the Duke of Gloucester. It is an indication that he contemplated marriage with Jacqueline some months before he actually married her (3). 

Philip, now Duke of Burgundy following his father’s assassination in 1419 was not pleased that Henry V had offered Jacqueline asylum. Henry did not underestimate the importance of the Anglo-Burgundian alliance, but a foothold in the Netherlands could give him political leverage against a potentially over mighty vassal. Henry V was no knight errant; he never did anything without a sound political or military reason, and in 1421 Henry expected to become King of France.


(1) Chastellain, Oeuvres I, pp. 210-211 (description of Jacqueline).

(2) Wylie & Waugh III, pp. 290-292 (Jacqueline’s flight).

(3) PPC III, p. 11 (grant to Jacqueline).


The Duke of Gloucester and Hainault

Gloucester married Jacqueline in 1423 to further his political ambitions without seeking either he Duke of Bedford’s or the Minority Council’s approval. The ceremony was performed privately, possibly at Hadleigh, the home of the Dowager Queen Joan, Gloucester’s stepmother, of whom he was fond. Only Brut Continuation H noted it; Brut Continuation G (p. 498) dated it to 1424.

“And þat same yere þe Duches of Holand was weddit to Humfrey, Duyk of Gloucestre.”       Brut Continuation H p. 564

Gloucester was frustrated. He had been denied the right to act independently as Protector. His brother Bedford was established as Regent of France, what was left for Gloucester to do?  He rashly decided to recover Jacqueline’s inheritance and assert his rights as Count of Hainault (1).

Jacqueline convinced herself with some justification that her marriage to John of Brabant was invalid: they were first cousins and so prohibited from marrying. Under canon law a woman could not be forced into marriage against her will as Jacqueline claimed she had been. Pope Martin V had issued a dispensation for consanguinity in 1417, then rescinded it in 1418, only to reconfirm it in 1419.

Did Jacqueline marry Gloucester for personal or political reasons? She was King Henry VI’s godmother, although this alone did not secure her place at court. But as Duchess of Gloucester, she was the wife of the king’s uncle, and the second lady in the land after Queen Katherine. Jacqueline was granted denization October 1423 at the same time as Anne of Burgundy, the Duke of Bedford’s wife.

Or did Jacqueline wish to return to Hainault to reclaim her patrimony? Gloucester has been condemned by historians for betraying his brother by imperilling the Anglo-Burgundian alliance. Jacqueline, as a woman, was a natural scapegoat. Of course she urged the excitable and pliable Gloucester to undertake so rash an enterprise. If she did, she lived to regret it.

Gloucester had no claim to Hainault unless Jacqueline was his lawful wife but her marriage to John of Brabant had not been annulled and its validity was now a major issue. Only Pope Martin could annul a marriage; he had promised to review Jacqueline’s request for an annulment, but he was reluctant to anger the Duke of Burgundy and he had expressed his doubts that Jacqueline’s marriage to Brabant was in fact invalid. This elicited a letter of protest from Gloucester: he was surprised by the Pope’s attitude, there was ample documentation to demonstrate Jacqueline’s invidious position, and he suggested that the pope should reconsider his pronouncement (2). 

There is a story that the intrepid Jacqueline obtained an annulment from Martin’s rival, the anti-Pope Benedict XIII, but this is unlikely (3). Benedict was not recognised by the church authorities, so any decree he issued would not be valid. Such a move was more likely to provoke Pope Martin to find in favour of Brabant.


By midsummer 1423 alarm bells were ringing in Paris.

The Duke of Burgundy was furious. He had his eye on Jacqueline’s inheritance. Now that Henry V was dead, and Jacqueline was safely out of the way in England, Burgundy intended to unite the Low Countries under his rule.  He was wooing John of Brabant and John of Bavaria with some success.

The Duke of Bedford was concerned by the damage Gloucester could do to the Anglo-Burgundian alliance. He attempted to defuse the situation, but he needed the acquiescence not only of the protagonists but also of the Duke of Burgundy.  He invited Duke Philip to join him as arbitrator, and Burgundy accepted. It was in both their interests to find a diplomatic solution to avert a war in the Low Countries. They met in Parris to review Gloucester’s versus John of Brabant’s claims to Hainault.

John of Brabant had not enjoyed his marriage to Jacqueline any more than she had, and he certainly did not want her back. But as was only to be expected he took exception to the marriage which he rightly perceived as a threat. 

On 16 June 1423 Brabant signed a defensive agreement with Burgundy (4). Burgundy promised on oath that he would not endorse any settlement without first consulting Brabant (which sounds remarkably like collusion) and if Gloucester refused the settlement he would side with Brabant against Gloucester, provided Brabant promised not to make peace with Gloucester without his consent (perhaps neither of them trusted the other).

It fell to Bedford to persuade Gloucester, and it took some doing. But finally, on 15 February 1424 in London, Gloucester accepted Bedford and Burgundy as arbitrators, provided they settled the matter by the end of March (5). Jacquline agreed to submit to arbitration in May and Glouceser prolonged his obligation of 15 February to the end of June (6).

Gloucester sent representatives to Paris to state his case, complaining that he had already sent envoys to Bruges, but that Brabant had not. His justification, in Latin, is long and repetitive, a statement of Jacqueline’s situation, and a reminder that although Brabant had given an undertaking not to alienate Jacqueline’s territories and he had in fact done so (7). 

Brabant issued his formal acceptance of Bedford and Burgundy as arbitrators in October 1423, but stipulated that his commitment was provisional, the Duke of Gloucester must agree likewise, otherwise he would hold himself absolved from whatever promises he might make (8). 

He did not dispute the alienation of Jacqueline’s estates of Holland and Zeeland, these might be restored to Gloucester, but if they were it must be on condition that Gloucester would confirm all the official appointments already made. Brabant did not mention Hainault but declared that he would no longer be liable for Jacqueline’s dower or for any debts incurred in the dispute, including appeals to the Pope (9).

In an ominous move, on 6 April 1424, John of Bavaria, no longer a young man and with no legitimate children, recognised Philip of Burgundy as his heir (10).

After a year of meetings, deliberations, claims and counter claims, Bedford and Burgundy simply opted out. They had been playing for time in the hope that Gloucester could either be dissuaded or deterred. On 19 June 1424 they declared the evidence from both sides was insufficient and that an appeal must be made to the Court of Rome, the only authority qualified to pass judgement on the marriage and on the territories. If both parties agreed, they would request Pope Martin to settle matter, by 1 August 1424 (11). 

An undated letter to Pope Martin V urged him act quickly to annual the marriage between Jacqueline and Brabant. Stevenson attributed it to the Duke of Bedford by, but nothing in the text confirms this except a reference to Jacqueline as ‘well-loved kinswoman’ (12). She was kin to Gloucester as well as Bedford, and it is far more likely to have been written by Gloucester who needed papal approval. For Bedford to address the Pope at this time would show bias and could only further antagonise the Duke of Burgundy.

The Duke of Bedford strongly disapproved of his brother’s action; he would not endanger the Anglo-Burgundian alliance by supporting Gloucester against an implacable Burgundy.   But he knew that Gloucester commanded considerable loyalty and support in England, especially from the xenophobic Londoners; to find in favour of Brabant would be unwise.

A decision in favour of Gloucester would have been rejected by the Duke of Burgundy. He claimed to be Jacqueline’s overlord and she had defied him by marrying Gloucester; more importantly Burgundy would not concede that Gloucester had any rights whatsoever in the Low Countries.

It was probably at this time that a letter to the Minority Council warned them of the danger to the peace of Europe and a rupture in the Anglo-Burgundian alliance if Gloucester went ahead with his plans to invade Hainault (13).


(1) K.H. Vickers. Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, pp. 130-136 (for details of what follows, but not necessarily his interpretation. Vickers argued that Gloucester justified his position while Brabant did not).

(2) L&P II, ii, pp. 407-409 (Letter to the Pope, written from London. Stevenson dates it to 1425 but by that time Gloucester had repudiated his marriage and would not have requested the Pope to endorse it.

(3) Vickers. Humphrey, p. 127 doubts it, Vaughan, Philip, p. 34 accepts it (Jacqueline’s appeal to Pope Benedict).

(4) Devillers, L., Cartulaire des Comtes de Hainaut IV, pp. 340- 341 (Brabant’s agreement with Burgundy).

(5) Cartulaire  IV, p. 368   (Gloucester’s acceptance of arbitration).

(6) Cartulaire IV, pp. 380-381 (Jacqueline’s acceptance).

(7) Cartulaire IV, pp 386-388 (Gloucester’s justification)

(8) Cartulaire IV, pp. 354-356 (Brabant’s acceptance of arbitration)

(9) Cartulaire IV, pp. 384-386 (Brabant’s conditions)

(10) Cartulaire IV, 373- 374 (John of Bavaria made Philip of Burgundy his heir) 

(11) Cartulaire IV, pp. 391-392.  Sentence des ducs de Bedford de Bourgogne sur le differend entre les ducs de Gloceser et de Brabant dated 19 June 1424

(12) L&P II, ii, p. 388 (Letter to Pope Martin re annulment).

(13) L&P II, ii, pp. 386-387 (Stevenson suggested that the letter to the Council was written by  Henry Beaufort. Vickers suggested that it was addressed to Beaufort. Was it in fact prompted by Bedford?)


The Duke of Gloucester to Hainault

Gloucester took the inability of the arbitrators to reach a decision as his justification. He was convinced, as he always was, that what he wanted to do was right and he pressed ahead with preparations to invade Hainault (1). He recruited an army with the support of John Mowbray, Earl of Norfolk. He urged Pope Martin to receive and listen to ambassadors who were being sent from England on his behalf to inform the pope of the underhand stratagems (unspecified) being employed by those who defamed him (2).

The Minority Council did not offer Gloucester financial support, but they ordered Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln and the pope’s protegee to use ‘his utmost endeavours to expedite the cause of the Duke of Gloucester in the Court of Rome.’ 

See The Council and the Papacy above.

Pope Martin was in no hurry to accommodate Gloucester; he held the whip hand. He would wait on events and reserve judgement until he could be sure where his best interests lay, with the Duke of Burgundy or with the Duke of Gloucester.

Gloucester and Jacqueline crossed to Calais on 18 October 1424 (3). They remained in Calais for several weeks awaiting the arrival of the Earl of Norfolk and the rest of their army. While in Calais they received visits from numerous representatives of interested parties. Envoys from the Four Members of Flanders (the towns of Ghent, Bruges, the castellany of Bruges, and Ypres, the richest towns in the Low Countries) politely requested them not to allow an English army to cross through Flanders.  

The Burgundian Ghillebert de Lannoy, came to suggest that there was no need for Gloucester to pass through Artois while efforts to settle his difference with Brabant were under discussion; as a gesture of good will, if he would remain in Calais, food and other necessities would be supplied from Artois to sustain his troops.

It was one thing to adopt a neutral and conciliatory stance while Gloucester and Jacqueline were still in England, but quite another now that Gloucester had landed in Calais with an army at his back. Steps must be taken to check him. The Duke of Brabant informed the citizens of Mons that he was prepared to resist Jacqueline’s return and he expected their support (4).

The Duke of Bedford sent word to Gloucester that Brabant’s envoys were in Paris demanding protection from Bedford and Burgundy since he had accepted them as arbitrators. In a conciliatory gesture Bedford offered to come to any convenient town Gloucester chose for a personal meeting, but Gloucester ignored him. 

The Duke of Burgundy came to Paris in October. Bedford and Burgundy consulted their councillors (the Estates of France were in session in Paris) and drew up a proposed settlement. Unfortunately, no record of the terms on offer has survived. The Earl of Suffolk, Sir Ralph Butler, and Gilles de Duremont Abbot of Fécamp hastened to Calais to present the proposals to Gloucester (5).  John of Brabant had accepted them, but Gloucester did not (6, 7). He was about to launch his campaign, and the time for negotiation was past. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine what Gloucester would have accepted, other than the immediate cession to him of all of Jacqueline’s inheritance. Brabant might have agreed to this, but the Duke of Burgundy assuredly would not.

Gloucester’s recalcitrance caused Burgundy to lose his temper and he roundly informed Bedford that he would support Brabant in any future conflict. This is not surprising; Burgundy had never been a disinterested arbitrator. He had good reason to hope that he could add the Duchy of Brabant, as well as Jacqueline’s patrimony, to his Burgundian territories.

John of Brabant was unlikely to produce an heir. He was estranged from his wife and was probably homosexual, although the chronicles are naturally coy on the subject. If he died without issue his younger brother, Philip, Count of St Pol would inherit Brabant, and he too had no children. After the Brabant brothers Philip of Burgundy was the next heir. He could not allow Gloucester to establish himself in Hainault or risk the possibility that Jacqueline might have a son by Gloucester.


(1) K.H. Vickers. Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, pp. 136-141

(2) L&P II, ii, pp. 392-93 (Gloucester’s letter to the pope).

(3) L&P II, ii, pp. 397–400 (an account by a man in Gloucester’s retinue covering the period 16 October when Gloucester laned at Calais to 18 November. It was sent to at least three bishops, probably members of the Minority Council, although none of them are named. Stevenson assumed it was addressed first to Henry Beaufort, but the heading Ad cardinalem Wintoniae was added at a later date, Beaufort was not a cardinal in 1424).

(4) Cartulaire IV, pp. 413-414 (Brabant prepares to defend Hainault).

(5) L&P II, pp. 273-274. (The abbot of Fécamp was paid 150 livres tournois in November 1424 for his embassy to Gloucester. Stevenson inexplicably dated the receipt to 1434).

(6) Wavrin III, pp. 90-92

(7) Monstrelet I, pp. 514-516


The Duke of Gloucester in Hainault

The Earl of Norfolk arrived at Calais on 2 November, bringing th rest of the army.   Gloucester moved Guines to await the final contingent; their crossing had been delayed by a storm. On 18 November Gloucester marched through Artois. He had to cross Burgundian territory to reach Hainault, but he made sure that his men were well disciplined, there was no pillaging, and he met no local resistance (1). 

Gloucester and Jacqueline appeared outside Mons, the capital of Hainault, at the end of November. The Hainaulters were not overjoyed at the return of their countess (2). The nobles were divided in their allegiance and the mercantile towns of Holland and Zeeland remained loyal to John of Bavaria; they had prospered under his rule.

Hainault welcomed Gloucester reluctantly, but only as Jacqueline’s consort. They were permitted to enter Mons with an escort of 300 horse, but the army had to remain outside the city (3). Bowing to the inevitable, the Hainualters renounced their allegiance to the Duke of Brabant in the hope of keeping the peace. The Estates wrote to Pope Martin requesting him to annul Jacqueline’s marriage to Brabant and recognise Gloucester as Count of Hainault in order to avoid a war (4).

Gloucester informed Pope Martin that he had taken possession of Jaqueline’s inheritance and urged him to endorse the status quo by issuing a papal bull to annul the Brabant marriage. He told the pope that his brother Bedford and the Duke of Burgundy were with him in wishing to maintain the peace, and papal endorsement was all that was needed to avoid bloodshed. Something of a spin on the truth, but perhaps Gloucester believed what he said (5).

Gloucester was unpopular from the start. His lukewarm reception did not go down well with the proud duke. He garrisoned key towns with English troops which inevitably presaged conflict. The English army was undisciplined, and Gloucester took no steps to curb their looting. He summoned the Estates of Hainault in December and imposed a tax of 40,000 gold crowns for the expenses of his army. His demand did nothing to improve his popularity (6).               

But Gloucester’s fatal mistake was to allow, or perhaps he could not prevent, the Earl of Norfolk crossing the border into the Duchy of Brabant. Norfolk’s troops ravaged the countryside almost as far as Brussels (7). It was exactly what the Duke of Burgundy had been waiting for.

Burgundy could hardly declare war on Gloucester just because he had married Jacqueline, or even for arriving with Jacqueline in Hainault, but the Duchy of Brabant was not part of Jacqueline’s inheritance and the presence an English army in Brabant was an act of war. 

Duke Philip called out his feudal levies in Picardy, Artois and elsewhere to be ready to march into Hainault in the New Year (8). John of Brabant remained passive but John’s brother, Philip, Count of St Pol was made of sterner stuff. With the support of the nobility of Brabant and a contingent of Burgundian troops St Pol prepared to defend his brother’s duchy (and his own inheritance). Bedford sent Thomas Mautaint to warn Gloucester of Burgundy’s preparations and probably to advise him to withdraw his troops from Brabant territory at once (9).

If war came Bedford come under intense pressure to aid his brother. Gloucester was popular in London; Philip of Burgundy was not. 


(1) K.H. Vickers. Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, pp. 141-151

(2) Cartulaire, p. 420  (Gloucester’s reception in Mons).

(3) Cartulaire pp. 422-425 (Estates renounced their allegiance to Brabant).

(4) L& P II, ii, pp. 390-391 (Hainault’s letter to Pope). 

(5) L&P II, ii, pp. 401-404.  (Gloucester to the Pope from Mons).

(6) Cartulaire IV,  pp. 437-38 (Gloucester  imposed tax).

(7) L&P II, ii, pp. 410-411 (letter reporting the campaign in Brabant).

(8) Vaughan, Philip, pp. 35-36. (Burgundy’s reaction).

(9) L&P II, ii, p. 405 (Mautaint, was paid 66 livres tournois for twenty-one days at 10 sols a day on 25 December).



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