Henry VI




The Minority Council. The Council and the Church.

The Council and the Magnates.  Scottish Hostages.

King Henry’s Return to England.

The Duke of Gloucester, the Council, and the Household.

Parliament. A Blazing Star.

Cardinal Beaufort.

A Prospect of Peace. Peace Talks Resumed.

The General Council at Basel. 

The Duke of Brittany. Foreign Relations.

FRANCE.  The Duke of Bedford. The Siege of Lagny.

Death of Anne, Duchess of Bedford.

An Army for Normandy. Gascony.  

Henry VI and the Earl of Warwick. Bibliography. 



King Henry returned to England early in 1432 and the Minority Council resumed the business of government.

The Duke of Gloucester appointed a new Chancellor, Treasurer and Keeper of the Privy Seal and replaced key members of the royal household with men of his own choosing.

There was an exchange of Scottish hostages.

Parliament assembled in May and sat until July.

Cardinal Beaufort returned to England to defend himself in Parliament against charges laid by the Duke of Gloucester.

Peace talks were initiated but ended in failure. They resumed at the end of 1432.

The Minority Council agreed to send delegates to the General Council of the Church at Basel.

The Duke of Bedford suffered losses in France. A small army departed for France at the end of the summer.

The Earl of Warwick as the king’s governor, demanded extended powers to discipline King Henry and dismiss members of his household. The Council concurred.

Trouble was brewing in Calais by the end of the year.  

The Minority Council

The Proceedings record 37 meetings in 1432: two in February, two in March when the officers of state and the household personnel were changed (see below). Seven in May, four in June, nine in July, three in August, three in October, five in Novembers and two in December.

The Council resumed the business of government, domestic and foreign, from February 1432 following King Henry’s return to England (see below). The Council in Rouen continued to exist but was concerned solely with the administration of the Duchy of Normandy.

Schedule of authorised payments

A schedule of payments authorized by the Council on 21 July 1432 to various people referred to in other entries (see below) is itemised in the Proceedings and in the Foedera

(1) PPC IV, pp. 125-126 and Foedera X, p. 520 (schedule of payments).   


The price of staple foods dropped slightly at the end of 1432.  Wheat cost 13 pence (1s. 1d.) a bushel; a slight drop from 1428-29 when it stood at 1s. 8d. a bushel.  Wine was 4 pence, presumably for a gallon.

“And in his tyme betwene mighelmasse and cristemas whete whas at xiijd a busshell, and wyne i-now for iiijd.”         Chronicles of London, Cleopatra C IV, p. 135

Sorcery and Witchcraft

Rumours of sorcery and witchcraft always made the Council uneasy. Two cases were brought before them for judgement in May 1432:

John Colepeper and Robert Passemer, sergeant at arms, were ordered to arrest Thomas Northfelde a Dominican Friar suspected of unorthodox preaching in Worcester. They were to “search and seize all his books treating of sorcery or wickedness and bring him and them before the Council (1, 2).

Margery Jourdemayne, called ‘the Witch of Eye next Westminster,’ and John Ashwell, another friar, had been arrested in November 1430 and imprisoned in Windsor Castle on suspicion of practicing the black arts (3). Lord Hungerford, the Constable of Windsor, brought them and a clerk, John Virley, before the Council. 

Margery may have come to the attention of the Duke of Gloucester through his wife Duchess Eleanor, who availed herself of Margery’s services over several years. Among other dubious talents, Margery was believed to be able to forecast the future; she was later described in the Chronicon Angliae as an ancient pythoness (4). Nine years later, in 1441, Margery Jourdemayne would feature in a major witchcraft trial and give damming evidence against the Duchess of Gloucester.  

Virley and Ashwell were set free after giving surety for their future good behaviour while Margaery was released into her husband’s keeping on his security (5, 6). The fate of Thomas Northfelde is not recorded. 

(1) Foedera X, pp. 504-505 (Thomas Northfelde).

(2) CPR 1429-1436 p. 220 (Thomas Northfelde).

(3) J. Freeman, ‘Sorcery at Court and Manor: Margery Jourdemayne the Witch of Eye next Westminster,’ Journal of Medieval History 30 (4), (2004), pp. 343-357.

(4) Chronicon Angliae IV, p. 31 (antiqua Pythonissa).

(5) PPC IV, p. 114 (Jourdemayne, Virley and Ashwell).

(6) Foedera X, p. 505 (Jourdemayne, Virley and Ashwell).

Royal Heralds

The Council maintained regular communication with Bedford and the Grand Conseil in Paris as well as with the Council in Rouen. Two heralds or pursuivants were employed to cross the channel carrying news, letters, and messages from England to France and France to England.  One would remain in France while the other returned and vice versa (1, 2).

In July Beville Chivachier was paid £2 for bringing letters to the Council from France, possibly from the Parlement of Paris or the Grand Conseil (3). Master William Erard and Imbert des Champs coming from Paris were to be paid 40 marks. The Duke of Bedford’s envoys, Master William Duc and John Milet were also to receive 40 marks (4).

The Council set the wages for three royal heralds: Lancaster King at Arms would receive 20 marks a year, Windsor Herald £10, and Leopard Herald 2d a day (5, 6).  All three had served under Henry IV and Henry V.

Heralds are most often associated with battles, it was their job to count the dead and wounded, but they had many other functions. They organized tournaments and served as messengers and diplomats carrying letters and verbal communications, often secret, to European courts; heralds were respected and protected by their calling, they did not need safe conducts to travel, although this was not always respected in time of war. 

(1) PPC IV, p. 114 (heralds and pursuivants as messengers).

(2) Foedera X. p. 505 (heralds and pursuivants as messengers).

(3) PPC IV p. 121 (Beville Chivachier).

(4) PPC IV, 122 (envoys from Bedford).

(5) PPC IV, p. 115 (wages of three royal heralds).

(6) Foedera X, p. 505 (wages of three royal heralds).

John Burgh

In June the Council honoured John Burgh’s claim for 100 marks, a legacy from a servant of Henry V, and advanced him another 300 marks as a loan to help him pay his ransom, otherwise he would have had to surrender himself by the end of the month (1). Burgh is a common name; there are at least three John Burghs, an escheator in Surrey in 1424, the Duke of Gloucester’s treasurer in 1431, and this John who was a soldier in Normandy, he fought at Verneuil. Where and when he was captured is not identified, but as was customary he had been set free on parole to return to England to raise his ransom. He is listed as captain of Regnéville by March 1433 with three men-at-arms and nine archers (2).

(1) PPC IV, p.  117 (grant to Burgh).

(2) Marshal ‘English War Captains,’ p. 268 (Régneville).

Henry V’s Legacy

In May Lord Hungerford, Sir William Porter, Sir Robert Babthorp and John Leventhorpe as King Henry V’s executers, were authorised to receive from the Archbishop of Canterbury as a feoffee of King Henry V £200 in gold to be paid to the clerks of the royal chapel (1, 2).

Henry V had bequeathed £4,000 from enfeoffed Duchy of Lancaster estates to be distributed among the servants of his household, chamber, and wardrobe. A petition to Parliament in 1432 requested that this debt should be honoured (3).

In October 1432 Lord Hungerford, Sir William Phelip and Sir Robert Babthorp, formerly Henry V’s steward, chamberlain, and treasurer of the household, were instructed to provide a list of the names of Henry V’s esquires, clerks, valets, grooms, and pages so that each could receive what was due to him ‘and to apportion amongst [them] the £4,000 left to them in his will’ (4, 5, 6).  

(1) Foedera X, p. 506 (Hungerford and other executors to pay £200 to clerks).

(2) CPR 1429-1436, p. 205 (£200 to pay clerks).

(3) PROME XI, pp. 32-34 (blanket authorization for distribution of £4,000).

(4) PPC IV, p. 128 (executors to provide lists of Henry V’s household).

(5) Foedera X, p. 523 (order to distribute £4,000).

(6) CPR 1429-1436, p. 254 (order to distribute £4,000).


The Council and the Church

Two Council appointments in 1432 relating to ecclesiastical matters are obscure:

On 28 February the Council commissioned two abbots, Guillerm de Claraville and John de Theoloco to visit, inspect, and reform all the Cistercian monasteries in England, Wales, and Ireland (1).  It would have been a major undertaking. Only the Benedictines maintained more abbeys in England, Wales, and Ireland than the Cistercians, the White Monks. I have found no other reference to this visitation in the printed sources.

On 26 March the Council appointed Master John Milez (Miles?) as the king’s advocate at the curia in Rome.  He was to receive 50 marks a year (2).  Who was he?  He does not rate at mentioned in England, Rome and the Papacy, Margaret Harvey’s detailed account of England’s relationship with the papal court during Henry VI’s reign.

(1) Foedera X, pp. 501 (Cistercians).

(2) PPC IV, p. 111 (Milez to go to Rome).



At the beginning of May the Council issued a licence to Peter July and Henry Tremayne to convey twenty-four pilgrims aboard the Trinity of Falmouth on the annual pilgrimage to St James of Compostela in Galicia (1).  

See Year 1428  Pilgrimages.

(1) Foedera X, p. 504 (pilgrimage).



The Council and the Magnates

Ladies of the Garter

Only a few noble ladies, and the queens of England, were awarded robes of the Order of the Garter (1).  Apart from Queen Katherine and the Duchess of Bedford, who was not in England and did not receive garter robes, Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester, was the third lady of the land. She was publicly acknowledged for the first time as Gloucester’s wife in March 1432 when she received garter robes, undoubtedly at Gloucester’s instigation (2).

When Gloucester requested permission in December 1432 to impark 200 acres of land adjacent to Gloucester’s house at Greenwich, including seventeen acres which King Henry V had granted to his foundation of the convent at Sheen the Council granted the licence to the duke and duchess of Gloucester. (3)

In May 1432 Robert Rolleston, Keeper of the Great Wardrobe was instructed to deliver garter robes to Isabelle, Countess of Warwick, and Alice Countess of Suffolk ‘for the Feast of St George last past.’ (4).

Isabelle is no surprise, she was the second wife of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick King Henry’s governor. She had been with her husband in Rouen where the earl organized (and paid for) feasts and entertainments for the court and visiting dignitaries while King Henry was in residence.

Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick

The Earl of Warwick had played a major and costly part in King Henry’s coronation expedition, entertaining visiting dignitaries and members of Henry’s entourage in Rouen and conducting a military campaign. In July 1432 he requested a licence to send £350 to Calais to repay the merchants of the Staple who had loaned him the money while Henry was in Calais (5). In November the Council authorised payment to him of £1,580 13s 4d pus 16s 8d livres tournois for the 100 men-at-arms and 300 archers he had maintained from 1 November 1430 to 15 July 1431 to defend the town and marches of Meaux. He was also to receive his share of war profits (unspecified, and if any) (6).

Alice, Countess of Suffolk

Alice, Countess of Suffolk is more surprising. She had married William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk only in 1431. Suffolk was a Knight of the Garter, and it is tempting to see Alice’s admission to the Order as an early indication that Suffolk’s star was on the rise and that he had caught King Henry’s attention as early as 1432. Or it may be that Alice was recognised as the widow of the great Thomas Montague, Earl of Salisbury.

Humphrey, Earl of Stafford

The Earl of Stafford had accompanied King Henry to France with a large retinue and taken part in the military campaigns of 1430 and 1431. He was supposed to join John of Luxemburg to campaign in Upper Normandy at the end of 1431, but it is doubtful that he did so, he was in Paris to witness King Henry’s coronation in December. He was rewarded for his services with a grant of the County of Perche, held until his death at Louviers by Thomas Beaufort (see 1430 and 1431).

Stafford returned to England with King Henry and resumed his place on the Council. In October the Council agreed that he should receive the same wage for serving on the Council in Rouen as he would have received had he attended the Council in England (7). 

(1) J.L. Gillespie, ‘Ladies of the Fraternity of Saint George and the Society of the Garter’ Albion, vol. 17 (1985) p. 271.  

(2) Gillespie notes that Vickers, Humphrey’s biographer (p. 249) misread an early account and dated Eleanor’s admission to the Order to 1436.

(3) PPC IV, p. 138 (Greenwich).

(4) PPC IV, p. 116 (Order of the Garter robes).

(5) PPC IV, p. 120 (Warwick’s repayment of a loan).

(6) PPC IV, p. 132 (Warwick paid for defending Meaux).

(7) PPC IV, p. 129 (Stafford).

Two Deaths

Anne Stafford, widow of Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, and wife of John Holand, Earl of Huntingdon, died in September 1432. Anne was the daughter, not the sister of Anne of Woodstock, the dowager Countess of Stafford. She was buried in the church of St Katherine beside the Tower of London, Huntingdon was Constable of the Tower. Her dower lands reverted to the Duke of York, heir to the Mortimer estates,  on payment of 1,000 marks to the crown (1).

“And about the Feast of St Michael the Countess of Huntingdon, sister (sic) of the Countess of Stafford and formerly Countess of March, died.”   

                                                                                                 Benet’s Chronicle, p 183

“And about the feast of All Saints the duke of Norfolk died.”  Benet ‘s Chronicle, p.183

John Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk and Earl Marshal of England died suddenly at Epworth on 19 October 1432 (his will is dated that day and is incomplete). He was buried in Axholme Priory in Lincolnshire. His heir, another John, was still a minor. The Duke of Gloucester was granted the Mowbray lands during the minority (2) with returns to the king (the crown’s cut) to be negotiated between the duke and the Treasurer of England, Lord Scrope, whom Gloucester had appointed (see below). The Earl of Huntington became Earl Marshal during John’s minority.

(1) PPC IV, pp. 130-131 (Mortimer lands reverted to the Duke of York).

(2) PPC IV, p. 132 (Mowbray lands to the Duke of Gloucester).

Scottish Hostages

An exchange of fifteen hostages, still languishing in the Tower of London and elsewhere for King James’s unpaid ransom, took place in June 1432.

The Earl of Huntingdon as Constable of the Tower was ordered to release those in his custody into the care of Thomas College, a sergeant at arms, who would escort them north to the Earl of Northumberland at Seamer, and to the Earl of Salisbury at Pontefract in preparation for the exchange (1).

Letters of safe conduct were issued for Duncan of Athol lord of Rannoch, but no exchange for him is listed. William Meldrom was released, but he is not named in the previous lists of hostages.

Andrew Keith of Inverrurie was exchanged for William Sterling, Lord of Cadder. He died before June 1434.

Thomas Hay of Yester was exchanged for William Jardine of Applegarth who died in the Tower in 1435.

Robert Stewart of Lorne was exchanged for Robert Colville of Oxenham who was released before 1441.

Alexander Ogilvy son of the sheriff of Angus, was exchanged for Duncan Wemyss of Reras and  John of Fenton. Wemyss was still in the Tower in 1438.

David, Lord of Lassell exchanged for William Baillie of Hoprig who was released between 1444 and 1451.

Henry Douglas of Lochleven was exchanged for Alexander Stratton of Lauriston, held at Pontefract until 1444.

John Kennedy of Blathan was exchanged for Henry Kinloch who died before May 1434.

Malcolm Fleming, heir of Cumbernauld and Alan of Cathcart, were exchanged for his son in 1446.

Patrick, Lord of Graham was exchanged for Malcolm, the heir of Colquhoun who may have died in England before 1439 and William Crawford of Hayning who died before May 1444.

Robert Logan of Restalrig was exchanged for Michael Scott of Balwearie, held at Pontefract until 1444.

Walter, Lord of Fenton was exchanged for Laurence Ramsay of Clatto and John Towres of Inverleith who was released before April 1439.

William Douglas of Drumlanrig was exchanged for Adam Conyngham of Caprington.

William Dishington was exchanged for Alan of Kenard who may have been dead by 1437.

William/John Wallace was exchanged for Alexander Erskine of Dun, released between 1444 and 1451 (2, 3).

In September 1432 safe conducts were issued for the servants of Duncan, Master of Athol, and Duncan de Wemyss to come to England, and to the servants of William Stirling of Cadder in the following July (4).   

The exchange of 1432 was the last before King James I’s death in 1437. But even this did not free the remaining hostages. King James II was a minor, and the hostages were probably kept as bargaining chips for negotiations with the ruling Scottish Counsel in the 1440s.

(1) Foedera X pp. 509-514 (details of exchange).

(2) Balfour-Melville, James I, pp. 201-202 and pp. 294-295 (lists of prisoners).

(3) PPC IV, p. 122. (College was paid £5 for escorting the hostages).

(4) Foedera X, p. 537 (safe conducts for servants of hostages).

King Henry’s Return to England

King Henry embarked from Calais for Dover where he landed on 9 February 1432.

He was feted at Dover by the barons of the Cinque Ports and he proceeded in a leisurely fashion via Canterbury, and then to Eltham, where he was allowed to rest for some days.

His formal entry into London was as carefully timed as his entry to Paris had been. On 21 February, the day on which his mother, Queen Katherine, had entered London in 1421, Henry rode from Eltham to Blackheath for the traditional welcome by the mayor, aldermen, city officials and all the crafts of London in their finest array. John Lydgate’s verses commemorating the event noted that even the weather rejoiced at his home-coming (1).

The city staged seven pageants for their ‘triumphant’ king, beginning at London Bridge and ended at St Pauls. Henry rode through Southwark to London Bridge where the city’s champion, a giant, guarded a shield displaying the arms of England and France. The shield was flanked by two antelopes; the antelope, like the swan, was a badge of the House of Lancaster through the Bohun inheritance, when Henry of Bolingbroke, later King Henry IV, married Mary de Bohun (2). The giant declared his readiness to encounter and slay all foreign enemies of the king.  Just so had Henry V been greeted when he returned in triumph after the battle of Agincourt in 1415. The myth that Henry VI, having ‘led’ two armies into France, had now returned victorious was maintained.

A tower stood at the centre of London Bridge where three ‘empresses,’ richly arrayed, bestowed their heavenly gifts on the king. Nature presented Henry with strength and might; Grace with knowledge and understanding; and Fortune gave him prosperity and riches. The empresses were attended by fourteen virgins, appearing as angels. Seven of them released white doves, symbolic of the seven pillars of wisdom: intelligence (prudence), knowledge, strength, cunning (understanding) council, pity (wisdom), dread (fear of God) and humility. The other seven virgins sang of the City’s welcome to the king. Their gifts recalled the ceremonial of his coronations: a crown of glory, a sceptre of meekness and pity, a sword of might and victory, a mantle of prudence, a shield of faith, a helm of health and a girdle of love and peace.

A Tabernacle of Wisdom in Cornhill was presided over by Dame Sapience and allegorical figures from antiquity: Priscian, Aristotle, Cicero, Boethius, Pythagoras, Euclid and Albunisar representing the seven sciences, the foundation of a classical education:  Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric, Music, Arithmetic, Geometry and Astronomy. They are not included in Brut Continuation F’s account. They are mentioned, but not listed, in Gregory’s Chronicle.  Dame Sapience reminded Henry that wisdom in a king, who sits in judgement on his people, will increase his renown.

At the Tun in Cornhill, the highest point in the City, a boy about the king’s age was seated on a high platform dressed in royal robes, echoing the lit de justice tableau at Henry’s coronation in Paris.  He was ‘governed’ by Mercy, Truth, and Clemency, the three attributes of a just king.  Two judges and eight sergeants at law (possibly actual people rather than representative figures?) stood as emblems of the king as a dispenser of justice and maintainer of law. “Mercy and right kepe every kyng.”

At the Great Conduit in Cheapside free wine was on offer from artificial wells as a subtle tribute to the mayor, John Wells, who was a great benefactor of the City. The wine of temperance, good government and consolation was drawn up in buckets by Mercy, Grace, and Pity. The praise of wine, and its superiority over water (Thetis) occurs only in Lydgate’s verses, as does the elaborate description of fruit trees surrounding the wells bearing exotic (imported) fruits, as well as home-grown varieties, depicting London as an earthly paradise, a city of abundance and prosperity. Two Old Testament figures Enoch, and Elijah (Elias), promised Henry heavenly protection. Both had been protected by God, Enoch being taken up into heaven without dying, and Elijah being rescued by a whirlwind.

The ancient stone cross in Cheapside was the setting for a castle of green jasper, with three trees. This important pageant displayed in words and pictures King Henry’s right to the dual monarchy through his descent from St Edward of England and St Louis of France, a progenitor of both his parents. The pictorial chart of this descent, and an accompanying poem, was a well-known piece of political propaganda. It had been commissioned in 1423 by the Regent Bedford, from Louis Calot, a royal secretary and displayed in Notre Dame cathedral. The French verses were translated by John Lydgate on orders from the Earl of Warwick in 1426 (3).  The Tree of Jesse was new. It associated Henry’s descent from St Edward and St Louis with Christ’s descent from King David, but the allegory was unorthodox and therefore risky.  Lydgate felt the need to excuse and justify its presence.

At the Little Conduit close to St Paul’s stood the Trinity, with attendant angels singing heavenly songs. They pronounced God’s promise: Henry as God’s representative on earth, will have angels to guard him; he will be blessed with a long life, faithful subjects, heirs of his body, fame throughout the world, and peace in both his realms united under one crown.

Henry was met at the entrance to St Paul’s by Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury, John Kemp, Archbishop of York, Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln, John Stafford, Bishop of Bath and Wells, Robert Neville, Bishop of Salisbury,  William Alnwick, Bishop of Norwich,  Philip Morgan, Bishop of Ely, and John Langdon Bishop of Rochester, with Reginald Kentwood,  Dean of St Pauls  and the canons of the cathedral. He made the traditional offering at the altar, before proceeding, still escorted by the mayor and civic dignitaries, to Westminster Abbey, where the bells rang out as the abbot, Richard Harweden, presented him with the sceptre of St Edward. Despite its weight, Henry carried it resting on his shoulder to the high altar where a Te Deum was sung.  He left the abbey for the palace, escorted this time by his lords, where, after a long and tiring day, he was allowed to rest (4). On the following day the mayor and representatives of the Common Council of London presented him with a hamper containing £1,000 in gold nobles, the same sum they had presented to King Henry V (5).

Lydgate’s verses end with a paean of praise for the City of London, the ‘newe Troye’ founded in the mists of antiquity by Brutus, the son of Aeneas. Londoners witnessing Henry’s procession saw a traditional show, one to which they were accustomed: it was exciting, colourful, and triumphant with easily identifiable figures representing simple, well-known concepts: royalty, peace, justice, wisdom, and grace (mercy/forgiveness). The pageants were a civic reception of the king who had been crowned in France, who was blessed by God because he would bring an end to the war and restore peace and prosperity to his realms. After a lengthy stay in ‘foreign’ lands he had returned to his capital, a city renowned throughout the world for its prosperity and riches, justifiably known as the ‘king’s chamber.’

Gordon Kipling’s tortuously detailed interpretation of the pageantry seriously distorts the religious symbolism of the pageants. Henry might be portrayed as coming like the Messiah, a Christ-like king, ushering in a new age, but not as the Messiah, which would have been blasphemy. The themes of Advent and Epiphany are not much in evidence. There are almost as many classical allusions in Lydgate’s verses as there are biblical: Thetis, Bacchus, Phoebus, Brutus, Julius Caesar, Scipio, and the figures of the seven sciences (6).

(1) Great Chronicle, pp. 156-170 (Lydgate’s verses).

(2)  Planche, ‘Badges of the House of Lancaster’, pp. 385-86 (antelope and swan).

(3) Rowe, ‘King Henry’s claim’ pp. 77-88 (dual monarchy).

(4) Wolffe, Henry VI, pp. 52-53 and 63-64. (pageants).

(5) Sharpe, Letter Book K, p. 138 (pageants).

(6) Kipling, Enter the King, pp. 143-47 and 152. (interpretation).

 Chronicles: Brut Continuation F (pp. 461-464) and Gregory’s Chronicle (pp. 173-175) derive from the same source and are almost identical. The other chronicles record the event but with few details:

Benet’s Chronicle p. 183; Great Chronicle, p. 156; Three Fifteenth Century Chronicles (Short English Chronicle) p.  61; A Chronicle of London (Harley 565), p. 119; Chronicles of London (Cleopatra C IV) p.134); Annales (pseudo-Worcester) 760; Brut Continuation G p. 502 and Brut Continuation H, p. 569.

The Duke of Gloucester, the Council, and the Household

The Council

As soon as the pageants to welcome King Henry were over, Gloucester made a bid to hold on to his power and pre-eminence. Only the king could require the resignation of the Chancellor of England. In the Council Chamber at Westminster on 25 February, John Kemp, Archbishop of York, Bedford’s choice as Chancellor, resigned his office. King Henry accepted the Great Seals of gold and silver in their white leather bags and handed them to Gloucester, undoubtedly as Gloucester had instructed him.

Two days later in a chamber in the king’s private apartments in Westminster Palace in the presence of the Council, King Henry delivered the seals to the new chancellor, John Stafford, Bishop of Bath and Welles and former Treasurer of England (1, 2). Writs to summon Parliament to meet in May were issued on the same day. 

John Kemp as Chancellor had demonstrated his distrust of Gloucester in so far as he could (see 1431).  He anticipated that Gloucester would assert his authority over the young king, and he preferred to stand down as Chancellor rather than take part in any future proceedings against Cardinal Beaufort orchestrated by Gloucester. 

After Kemp’s resignation it was easy for Gloucester to reshuffle the Council. Lord Scrope replaced Lord Hungerford as Treasurer of England and William Lyndwood replaced William Alnwick as Keeper of the Privy Seal (3). In June the three newly appointed officers of state were given the same powers as their predecessors, to grant letters of safe conducts to servants visiting foreign prisoners being held in England (4).   

In November the Exchequer was ordered to allow £26 5s 4d to John Stopingdon, Keeper of the Hanaper, because of the increase in the price of cloth and fur for the robes given to the ex-chancellor and the new chancellor at Christmas and Pentecost (5).


Duchy of Lancaster

The Council ordered that a book containing Duchy of Lancaster records held in the Treasury should be turned over to the Duke of Gloucester (6). This may be the same ‘great book containing the records of the Duchy of Lancaster’ that John Stafford the outgoing Treasurer had handed to the incoming Treasurer, Lord Hungerford in 1427 (see 1427).

Income from Duchy of Lancaster lands enfeoffed under King Henry V’s will went to his feoffees, not into the king’s treasury, and ‘the feoffees were sensitive [to any] implied suggestion that they had misappropriated the revenues of the Duchy’ (7). Cardinal Beaufort was the principal feoffee and Gloucester was amassing all the evidence he could find against Beaufort. An accusation of mishandling Henry V’s legacy might prove useful. 

(1) PPC VI, p. 349 (surrender of the Great Seals).

(2) Foedera X, pp 500-501 (resignation and replacement of the Chancellor).

(3) Handbook of British Chronology, p. 102 (Treasurer, misnamed Henry Scrope) and p. 92 (Privy Seal).

(4) PPC IV, pp. 117-118 (powers to grant safe conducts to prisoners’ servants).

(5) Foedera X, p. 523 (chancellors’ robes).

(6)  PPC IV, p. 110 (Duchy of Lancaster records).

(7) Somerville, Duchy of Lancaster, p. 205 (Duchy feoffees).


The Royal Household

Sweeping changes to the royal household followed Gloucester’s reorganisation of the Council.  Gloucester tried to put the clock back by reinstating Henry V’s officers to important positions: the chamberlain and steward of the household were in daily contact with the king.

Lord Cromwell was replaced as chamberlain by Sir William Phelip, who had been treasurer of Henry V’s household (1). Phelip became a member of the Council; he would receive £100 a year for attending (2).   

Lord Tiptoft was replaced as steward of the household by Sir Robert Babthorp who had been Henry V’s comptroller.  Babthorp was instructed to take over as steward immediately and present himself to Gloucester without delay (3). He was also to inform Lord Cromwell of his dismissal. Letters of privy seal were to be sent to those discharged to inform them of the new appointments

Richard Praty was appointed Dean of the Royal Chapel in place of Robert Gilbert and Robert Felton replaced John de la Bere as the king’s almoner (4). In May royal officers were ordered to assist Felton to resume levying deodands (5). John Lowe became the king’s confessor.

William Hayton had been appointed as the king’s secretary and keeper of the king’s signet when Henry crossed to France in 1430 (6). He was discharged. The Duke of Gloucester sealed the king’s signet into a purse to be turned over to the Treasury for safe keeping. Gloucester was taking no chance of anyone persuading Henry to show initiative and issue counter measures under his signet. (7, 8, 9).  

The wages of the household were, as usual, in arrears. In July John Hotoft, former treasurer of the household, and Sir John Tyrell, the present treasurer, were instructed to compile lists of household servants, knights, esquires, valets, officers and other servants to be delivered to the Treasurer of England for the payment of ‘wages of war and accustomed rewards’ (10).

In October the Council recognised that King Henry’s knights of the body (the king’s carvers), Robert Roos, Edmund Hungerford, William Beauchamp, and John Beauchamp, ‘who had long been in the king’s service without fee or reward’ should be paid £40 annually.  They had to wait for their money until the following year: in May 1433 they were each paid £20 for a half years’ service from 20 October 1432 (11, 12).

Robert Rolleston, Keeper of the Great Wardrobe was commanded to deliver furred vestments for summer and winter to Master John Somerset, Henry’s physician, the same livery as John Middleton had under King Richard II (13).  Throughout his long career in Henry’s service Master John Somerset was assiduous in claiming his clothing allowances. One wonders if he based his claim on Richard II’s physician because that king had been more generous in the matter of clothing than either Henry IV or Henry V?

The redemption of crown jewels was on-going.  John Merston, keeper of the king’s jewels, was instructed to redeem jewels held in pledge by the Abbot of Westminster. He t was to be give the abbot a gold crown in exchange for the jewels held as security for a loan. The gold crown was probably of lesser value than the jewels as the Exchequer recovered previously pledged crown jewels at a discount whenever possible; they were always needed as security to raise new loans. Merston was also to recover an almsdish of gold called ‘the Tiger’(14). 

(1) PPC IV, p. 110 (Cromwell and Phelip).

(2) PPC IV, p. 113 (Phelip’s salary).

(3) Foedera X, p. 503 (Babthorp to report to Gloucester).

(4)  PPC IV, p. 110 (changes in household personnel).

(5) Foedera X, p. 508. 

(6) Otway-Ruthven, The King’s Secretary and the Signet Office, p. 154 (William Hayton). 

(7) Foedera X, p. 502 (household officers replaced). 

(8) Griffiths, Henry VI, pp. 58-59 (changes in household personnel).

(9) Wolffe, Henry VI, pp. 66-67 (changes in household personnel).

(10) PPC IV, pp. 121-122 (royal household wages).

(11) PPC IV, p. 128 (£40 awarded to kings’ carvers).

(12) Issues of the Exchequer, p. 421 (£20 paid to kings’ carvers May 1433).

(13) PPC IV, p. 131 (a physician’s livery).

(14) PPC IV, p. 115 (crown jewels).


Parliament convened on 12 May 1432 and was in session until 17 July. 

“And þen anon after Ester next folowyng, the Kyng held his parlement at Westminster and it lasted till seint Jametyde þe Appostell.”  Brut Continuation F, p. 465

“Ande the xij day of May beganne the Parlement at Westemyster, and that duryd unto the xvj day of Juylle nexte followynge.”        Gregory’s Chronicle p. 174

The Duke of Gloucester informed the Commons that the lords spiritual and temporal were in complete accord, with him and with one another, and that as the king’s chief councillor he would never do anything without the assent of the Lords (‘or at least the majority of them’!). This was far from the truth (1).

Five days earlier, on 7 May, writs had been issued to seven members of the Council, the Duke of Norfolk, the Earls of Suffolk, Huntingdon, Stafford, Northumberland and Salisbury, and Lord Cromwell, commanding them to come to Westminster accompanied by no more than the customary number of  retainers (1). These writs were signed by Gloucester, the Archbishop of Canterbury and two other bishops and can only have been issued on Gloucester’s orders.  Did Gloucester anticipate a challenge in Parliament to his authority now that King Henry was back in England?


(1) PROME XI, p. 10 (Gloucester’s speech on the second day of Parliament).

(2) PPC IV, pp. 112-113 (instructions to the magnates attending Parliament).



Benet’s Chronicle records the tax grant of 1432; it was for a half tenth and fifteenth with no relief (1). The chronicler confused this parliament with that of 1433, which met on 8 July (St Thomas’s Day is 7 July) when a tax of a fifteenth and tenth was granted with a relief of £4,000 for ‘poor cities, towns and boroughs which are desolate.’ (2).

[Latin] “And in 1432 the king held a parliament at London in which the king was granted a fifteenth.  And in this parliament, about the feast of St Thomas the Martyr, the king remitted to the laity £6,000 (sic) of the fifteenth throughout England.”     Benet’s Chronicle, p. 183

(1) PROME XI, p. 11 (half tenth and fifteenth 1432).

(2) PROME XI, p. 88 (tax and relief, 1433).


Sir John Cornwall

On 17 July 1432 the last day of Parliament, Sir John Cornwall was elevated by the Lords to the peerage as Baron Fanhope, although the exemplification of his barony was not enrolled until November1432 (1, 2).

Cornwall had been one of Henry V’s most successful war captains, he had fought at Agincourt where he captured the Count of Vendôme; he had been at the siege of Rouen, but he returned to England after he was wounded, and his only son was killed at the siege of Meaux in 1420 (3). 

His services to the crown were praised by Parliament in general terms, his marriage to Elizabeth of Lancaster was noted, as well as ‘the noble deeds which he had performed and which he now performs with great distinction,’ but the entry reads like a payoff. Cornwall was to be side lined; the custody of the Duke of Orleans was taken from him and transferred to William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk. Nearly a year later in March 1433, the Council ordered that the £40 still due to him for keeping Orleans should be paid (4). 


(1) PROME XI, p. 35 (Cornwall created Lord Fanhope).

(2) Foedera X, p. 524 (12 November for exemplification of Fanhope).

(3) Sumption, Cursed kings p. 747 (death of Cornwall’s son).

(4) PPC IV, p. 156 (Orleans’s keep).


A Blazing Star

A bright star appeared in the south-eastern sky in the middle of the afternoon in May in 1432 or 1433.  Waltham Annals dates it to Tuesday, 20 May, which was a Tuesday in 1432. Brut K dates it to Wednesday, 20 May; Wednesday was 20 May in 1433. Brief Notes says it was visible for fifteen days and associates it, loosely, with the Council of Basel which could be either 1432 or 1433 (see 1433 where the chronicles place it in the southwest).

“In 1432, in the month of May on a Tuesday, from the hour of twelve (noon) until three in the afternoon a whirling blazing star appeared in the sky towards the east, close to the sun.”                       English Historical Literature, Waltham Annals, p. 351

“And in þe yer aftyr þat, on þe xxti day of Maij, on a Weddenysday, fro þe oure of None to iij. on þe clok at aftyrnoon, ther aperyd a Blasyng sterre in þe firmament, toward þe est, fast be þe Mone.”             Brut Continuation K p. 599

“A general council [met] at Basel, and a star with a bright tail (stella comata) was visible for fifteen days.”   Three Fifteenth Century Chronicles, Brief Notes, p. 149

The Great Chronicle, Gregory’s Chronicle, and Cleopatra C IV record a ‘stella commata’ as their last entries for Year 1432-33, but place it in the south-west, not the south-east where it was reported to have appeared in May. Cleopatra dates it to October 1432, so there may have been two appearances in that year.

“And this yere there appeared a sterre in the South west which was right like Stella commata And therefore it is called the ijde stelle commata.”  Great Chronicle, p. 171

“Ande that same yere apperyde stella comata, othyr wyse namyde a blasynge starre yn the sowthe weste, etc.”       Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 177

“And the same yere in the month of Ottobre apperid the stella commata in the south west.”                                   Cleopatra C IV, p. 136


Cardinal Beaufort

Cardinal Beaufort did not accompany King Henry to England. He had requested and received royal licence to travel to Rome for consultations with Pope Eugenius IV. The writs of praemunire facias to strip him of his bishopric that the Duke of Gloucester had forced through the Council at the end of 1431 were hanging over his head, but they would only be issued if he returned to England (see 1431).

He sent instructions to his agents in England that some of his enormous collection of plate, jewels and coin should be shipped to him at Calais: “four coffers, or standards, besides quantities of plate, twenty ewers of gold, ninety-nine cups of gold, divers gold chalices, candlesticks, salvers, cruets . . . . and a great coffer full of small parcels of gold; it must have included in coin at least £20,000” (1).

This was neither as sinister nor as suspicious as the Duke of Gloucester subsequently made it sound. The Cardinal of England could not go empty handed to Rome, possibly the most expensive and venal city in all of Europe. An opulent display of conspicuous wealth would be expected of him if he was to have any influence at all in the Roman Curia. 

The Duke of Gloucester was at Dover, waiting to welcome King Henry when he learned that a ship berthed at Sandwich was to be loaded with Cardinal Beaufort’s treasure on the night of 6 February. Gloucester knew that the Council had not issued a licence to export such valuables. Beaufort probably assumed that his special status, and the king’s permission to travel to Rome covered him, but legally it did not. Gloucester wasted no time in sending royal officers to impound the cargo and deliver it to the Exchequer for safekeeping.  

In his excitement at the prospect of ruining the Cardinal, Gloucester did not stop to consider the consequences of his action. The seizure of Beaufort’s treasure not only put paid to Beaufort’s plans to travel to Rome it ensured his return to England. Without money he would be almost invisible, merely one cardinal among many with no influence at all. In mid-February while he was in Flanders as a guest of the Duke of Burgundy, Beaufort requested the Chancellor, John Kemp, to appoint attorneys to prepare a defence against the charges under the Statute of Praemunire that he knew Gloucester would bring against him as soon as he set foot in England (see 1431)  (2).

 On 1 March 1432, the same day as Gloucester’s changes to the Council and household took effect, and despite the questions hanging over Cardinal Beaufort’s future, the Council authorized repayment of Beaufort’s most recent loans, amounting to £1,083 6s 8d and £140, and a smaller one  for £593, 6s 8d that he made to Sir John Tyrell, treasurer of the household, for the king’s household expenses in France, against a pledge of the ‘King of Spain’s’ sword and other jewels (3, 4), an indication, perhaps, that the Council was no longer prepared to censure Beaufort and risk him refusing future loans.

Beaufort was not summoned to Parliament, admittedly he was still abroad at the time the writs were issued. In April he wrote to the Mayor and Common Council of London to announce that he would return to England to attend Parliament (5).  He had successfully defended himself against Gloucester in Parliament in 1426 and he was prepared to do so again.

“And at the begynnyng of the parlement, the Cardynall, the Bisshop of Wynchestre, come ouer the see into England, and so to London to þe Kyng to excuse hym of the offence[s] and blames þat were put vpon hym for thinges doon in Fraunce, by the compleynt of certeyn lordes; wherof he hath worthely excused hym to the Kyng and to his consayle; and so he was fully excused and the parties at oon.”                                        Brut Continuation F, p. 465

Exactly when Beaufort arrived in England is not known. The business of parliament was well underway when he rose in his seat in the Lords, probably in July, to throw his bombshell. He made no reference to the Statute of Praemunire. Instead, he announced that he had forgone his visit to Rome, despite urgent invitations from the Pope, because he had been informed that certain persons in England had accused him of treason. He demanded, in the presence of King Henry the Duke of Gloucester and the assembled Lords, that his accusers name themselves and produce their accusations and evidence. He was ready to defend himself against anyone, even the highest in the land (6).

Had an accusation of treason been made, or did Beaufort invent it? There is no evidence other than Beaufort’s dramatic statement. The Statutes of Provisors and Praemunire carried heavy penalties but flouting them was not treason. It was illegal to ship gold or jewels out of the country without a royal licence, but it was not treason.

King Henry commanded the Lords, with Gloucester’s concurrence, to answer that no one had, or would, accuse Beaufort of treason. Beaufort’s past services and loyalty to the crown were beyond question. Beaufort magnanimously accepted their exoneration but he demanded that it be entered on the parliament rolls (7, 8).

He claimed not to understand why his jewels and money had been impounded, but he said he did understand that the country needed relief from the heavy burden of taxation and it behoved loyal citizens to make what contribution they could (which incidentally the Duke of Gloucester never did). To this end he had negotiated with Gloucester and the Council for the suit against him in chancery to be dropped. In exchange he promised to make a conditional gift of £6,000 to the crown. When King Henry came of age the details of the seizure of the treasure would be fully explained to him and it would be up to the king to decide if the £6,000 should be repaid. It appears from the wording of the parliamentary rolls that Gloucester had made some sort of claim on a percentage of this sum.

Beaufort then offered to loan a further £6,000 to the crown and agreed to defer payment of it, and of the 13,000 marks which he was still owed, until receipts from future taxes granted by Parliament should be available, provided his jewels, plate, and money were returned to him. (9). The Commons moved that the writs of praemunire be suspended and declared void for evermore.

Cardinal Beaufort had bought his way out of trouble: £12,000 was a small price to pay to recover his fortune and resume his place, and his influence, in Council.  He had spiked Gloucester’s guns; to bring an action of any kind against Beaufort after Parliament had exonerated him could only have ended in humiliation for the duke. Beaufort had outsmarted his rival.

As insurance against the embarrassment of a repetition of Gloucester’s seizure of the Cardinal’s treasure, the Council decreed that John, Duke of Bedford was entitled to take as much bullion, plate and as many jewels out of England as he wished for as long as he remained the king’s regent in France (10).

(1) Harriss, Beaufort, pp. 215-216 (Cardinal Beaufort’s treasure).

(2) Foedera X, p. 500 (Kemp to appoint attorneys).

(3) PPC IV, pp. 109-110 (repayment of Beaufort’s loans).

(4) Foedera X, p. 502 (repayment of Beaufort’s loans).

(5) Sharpe, London III, pp. 374-75 (Beaufort’s letter to London).

(6) PROME XI, pp. 13-14. (Beaufort in Parliament).

(7) Foedera X, pp. 5165-519 (full pardon to Beaufort at the Commons request).

(8) PROME XI, pp. 16-17 (Praemunire lifted).

(9) PROME XI, p. 15 (Beaufort’s offer of loans).

(10) PPC IV, pp. 118-119 (Bedford licence to export valuables).


A Prospect of Peace

The Parliament of 1431 had suggested that ‘the king’s uncles’ Bedford and Gloucester should consider exploratory peace talks with ‘the Dauphin’ and the groundwork had been laid while King Henry was in Rouen. Pope Eugenius IV confirmed Pope Martin’s nominee, Nicolo Albergati, Cardinal of Saint Croix, in his role as papal legate and peacemaker. Albergati began his mission in July 1431. He visited the Duke of Burgundy, King Charles VII, and then King Henry and the Council in Rouen (1, 2).

Cardinal Beaufort assured Albergati that King Henry naturally favoured peace and was willing to consider ‘all good, amiable, and reasonable means’ that might lead either to peace or a truce (3).

King Charles had agreed to name delegates to a peace conference with Burgundy (with whom he had just signed a limited truce) which could include the English. While King Henry was in Paris for his coronation the Council, probably at Cardinal Beaufort’s urging, sent a letter in the king’s name to Albergati confirming that an English delegation would attend a peace conference to be held on 1 March 1432 at Cambrai, provided the Duke of Burgundy agreed (4, 5).

On 22 February, the first recoded meeting of the council in England for 1432, three low level delegates were appointed to proceed to France to attend a peace conference: John Langdon, Bishop of Rochester would be paid 5 marks (66s 8d), Sir Henry Bromflete 40 shillings, and Master Thomas Beckington, Doctor of Laws, of 20 shillings per diem (6, 7).    

Albergati met the Regent Bedford at Corbeil early in 1432 but the projected meeting in March was postponed because Cardinal Albergati fell ill. The conference was rescheduled for July at Auxerre in Burgundian territory. Langdon, Bromflete and Beckington were commissioned again at the end of June, but they did not leave England (8, 9).  The reason for their non-appearance is by no means clear. Beaucourt suggests that the safe conducts which should have been issued by the Duke of Burgundy arrived too late (10).  Harriss and Williams (Bedford’s biographer) suggest that Charles VII insisted on Nevers or Auxerre as the only acceptable meeting place, but that the Duke of Bedford strongly opposed Auxerre (11, 12).

This is based on a passage in a letter from Henry VI to the Duke of Burgundy in 1433 which refers to the roads to Auxerre being difficult and dangerous for the English, but the reference is to the meeting attended by the English in November despite the roads being dangerous (13). The more probable explanation is that John Langdon’s commission to proceed to France was superseded in July by the authorization for him to attend the Council at Basel.     

Cardinal Albergati tried to persuade the French and Burgundians to negotiate a unilateral peace since the English had chosen not to come to Auxerre. Charles VII was not interested. He hoped that a deadlock in tripartite talks would encourage Burgundy to renounce his English alliance, but Burgundy was bound by his declaration that he would never forgive his father’s murder. He was signatory to the Truce of Troyes recognising Henry V and his heirs as the rightful kings of France. He had signed a treaty of friendship with Bedford at Amiens in 1423, and until he or his advisors could find an honourable excuse to break these agreements Burgundy would negotiate truces with King Charles, but he would not make peace without English concurrence. Albergati accepted the impasse, but he did not give up. He adjourned the meeting to November 1432. 

The prospect of peace encouraged the Minority Council to investigate precedents. Thomas Langley, Bishop of Durham, who still attended council meetings occasionally, had retained copies of records of earlier peace negotiations from his time as Chancellor. In July Langley was instructed to entrust these documents to the safe keeping of the Earl of Warwick who would bring them to London and turn them over to the Treasurer, Lord Scrope. They were examined by the Council in August.

The most pertinent was between King Charles VI and King Henry V but earlier agreements between England and Scotland were more numerous: King Richard II’s restitution of Berwick and Roxburgh to King William of Scotland and the liberties King William had enjoyed to come to the English court under King Edward III. Even earlier, a letter from King Edward I to the Abbey of St Mary at York, and the ‘articles presented by the King of Scotland to the King of England with the answers thereto’ after King Edward I asserted his right to rule Scotland (14).

(1) Harvey, England and Papacy, pp. 150-151 (peace conference).

(2) Dickinson, Congress of Arras, pp. 82-83 (Albergati).

(3) L&P II, p. 251 (Council in Rouen agreed to peace talks).

(4) Beaucourt, Charles VII vol. II, p. 441 (letter in December, English delegates to be sent peace talks).

(5) Harriss, Beaufort, p. 211 (letter in December).

(6) PPC IV, p 109 (English delegates named, February).

(7) Foedera X, p. 500 (English delates named, February).

(8) PPC IV, p. 119 (delegates named again, June).

(9) Foedera X, p. 504 (delegates named again, June).

(10) Beaucourt, Charles VII, vol II, p. 447 (English fail to arrive).

(11) Harriss, Beaufort, p. 225 (Bedford’s opposition to Auxerre).

(12) Williams, Bedford, p 225 (Bedford’s opposition; pages numbers are coincidental).

(13) L&P II, p. 252 (reasons for objecting to Auxerre).

(14) PPC IV, pp. 127-128 (records of earlier negotiations as precedents).

Peace Talks Resumed

The Duke of Burgundy actively promoted a resumption of the peace talks. Peace between France and England would benefit him enormously: he would not be obliged to break either his oath to his English allies or his truce with the King of France; both sides would owe him a debt of gratitude if a settlement could be reached, and he looked to be suitably rewarded. He had his eye on the county of Champagne.

Cardinal Albergati reconvened the peace talks at Auxerre in November 1432 (1). John Langdon, Bishop of Rochester, Sir John Fastolf, and Master Thomas Beckington were commissioned on 1 December 1432 to treat with ‘Charles of Valois’ (2). 

Langdon had received a payment of 200 marks on 12 November ‘as about to go to France on embassy to the Dauphin’ (3). He was also named as an envoy to the Council at Basel, but he was still in England on 29 November when he attended a council meeting (4). Sir John Fastolf ‘in the retinue of the Duke of Bedford’ was already in France. Protection letters for him were issued on 20 November (5). Thomas Beckington may have been Duke of Gloucester’s representative; in February 1433 he claimed expenses for his attendance at Auxerre (6).

King Charles’s representatives, headed by Regnault de Chartres, Chancellor of France, arrived at the end of November. Gilles de Clamecy, Prévôt of Paris, a member of the Grand Conseil, Jean du Chastellier Archbishop of Paris, Gilles de Duremont, Abbot of Fécamp, and members of the University of Paris represented Lancastrian France. The large Burgundian contingent was led by the Chancellor, Nicholas Rolin. Four Breton envoys also attended (7).

The meeting was a charade. King Charles VII was not interested in making peace. He would never make peace while English soldiers were on French soil. He hoped to use the failure of the peace talks to persuade the Duke of Burgundy to repudiate the Anglo-Burgundian alliance. His envoys stated bluntly that they would not even begin to negotiate for peace until Henry VI surrendered his claim to the French throne, and they would not negotiate a truce unless the French prisoners of war, the Duke of Orleans, the Duke of Bourbon, and the Count of Eu were brought over from England to attend (8).

It is probable that the demand for the French prisoners to be brought to France, first made in 1429, was known well in advance of the meeting at Auxerre.  Safe conducts for the Duke of Orleans’s retainers, for Dunois’s servants, and those of the Duke of Bourbon had been issued in June and July 1432 (9). Safe conducts were issued again in September for Dunois’s retainers, (although the number, eighty, seems excessive unless Dunois intended to come to Auxerre himself); for the Duke of Orleans’s treasurer, secretary, and servants, and for a councillor of the Duke of Bourbon in December (10).

The Duke of Orleans had been transferred from the custody of Sir John Cornwall into the custody of William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk in July. Suffolk was to ‘treat with the Treasurer’ for the cost of maintaining the duke (11, 12). The reason for the transfer is not known, but Suffolk was a member of the Council, and he may have requested it.

Orleans’s half-brother, Dunois, Bastard of Orleans, had captured Suffolk at the Battle of Patay in 1429, they had formed a friendship and Dunois had released Suffolk in 1430 before his ransom was fully paid, probably in exchange for a promise that Suffolk would do all he could to ease the conditions of the Duke of Orleans’s captivity and facilitate his release.

We do not know how far the English delegation’s ‘power to treat’ went, or what their instructions were, but they obviously could not discuss, let alone accept, King Charles’s terms. They might agree to involve the Duke of Orleans and the other French prisoners, but King Henry’s right and title as King of France was non-negotiable until Henry came of age. Wearily and angrily Cardinal Albergati postponed the conference yet again to meet in March 1433.

The people of Paris were bitterly disappointed; they had pinned their hopes on, at the very least, a truce with Charles VII to spare their city further suffering. The Bourgeois of Paris records that when it became known that nothing had been settled, several of the returning delegates had to be imprisoned for their own protection (13). 

It is difficult to be sure what the English hoped gain at Auxerre. The Regent Bedford may have wanted a truce of at least a year to give him a breathing space to repair the losses of 1432 and build up his military resources. It is doubtful if the Duke of Gloucester wanted even that. The Council may have feared that without English representatives present Cardinal Albergati would be able to broker a peace between France and Burgundy, leaving England to continue the war without her principal ally.


(1) L&P II, p 252-253 (Henry VI’s letter to the Duke of Burgundy of March 1433 establishes the presence of English representatives, and refers to French recalcitrance).

(2) Foedera X, pp. 530-531 (English delegates powers to treat dated 1 December).

(3) PPC IV p 130 (200 marks to Langdon to go to France 12 November).

(4) PPC IV, p. 137 (Langdon is one of the five bishops listed as present on 29 November)

(5) Foedera X p 525 (Fastolf protection).

(6) PPC IV, pp. 140-141 (Beckington claimed expenses in 1433).

(7) (Beaucourt II, p. 451 n. 3 (names of Parisian, Burgundian, and Breton delegates)

(8) L&P II, pp. 252-253 (French prisoners to be brought to France).

(9) Foedera X p. 522 (safe conducts for French retainers).

(10) Foedera X, p. 537 (safe conducts for 1432-1433).

(11) PPC IV, p. 124 (transfer of Orleans custody).

(12) Foedera X, p. 520 (transfer of Orleans custody).

(13) Bourgeois, pp. 282-283 (Parisians disgusted).



The General Council of the Church at Basel

Pope Martin V had summoned a General Council of the Church to meet at Pavia in 1423 and again at Basel in 1431 as required by the decree of ‘Frequens’ passed by the Council of Constance in 1417 which stipulated that General Councils must meet at regular intervals for the well-being of Holy Church and to curb papal independence. No pope ever wished to summon a church council. The dispute between popes and councils over ecclesiastical authority was not new, but it had never been resolved. Where did supreme authority lie, with the Pope or with a General Council?

Initially attendance at Basel was low as it had been at Pavia, and at the end of 1431 Pope Martin’s successor, Eugenius IV, attempted to dissolve it. The Council under the presidency of Cardinal Cessarini, refused to be dissolved. The cardinals summoned Eugenius to come to Basel, and threatened to depose him if he failed to conform to its edicts, but Eugenius refused to recognise the council’s authority.  

Brut Continuation G’s brief biography of Eugenius IV in 1431 is one of numerous indications that the chronicle was compiled long after the events it recounts:

“& after him [Martin V], Eugeny þe Fourt was Pope, þat was pesably chosen in Rome by þe Cardinalles, and was very & vndoubted Pope; but shortly after he was put out & expulsed fro Rome in suche wise þat he was fayn to flee naked. In þis same tyme was þe Counsel of Basile, to which Counsel he was cited to come; And because he come nat, they deposed hym; but he forsed nat, ner sett þerby but gat þe Cite of Rome & Abode Pope stil xvij yere.”                           Brut Continuation G, p. 502

Eugenius was elected by the College of Cardinals in Rome in May 1431 but incessant military conflicts in Italy involving the papacy forced Eugenius to flee from Rome in 1434. The Council at Basel finally suspended him in 1438 and deposed him in 1439 but Eugenius continued to resist conciliar authority. He returned to Rome in 1443 and died in 1447.

The struggle between the General Council and the Pope formed the backdrop to Basel, but a major aim of the Council was to reconcile the heretical sect of the Hussites in Bohemia, followers of the martyred John Hus, who had repudiated the authority of the papacy and broken away from adherence to the Emperor Sigismund to set up an independent Bohemia.  Pope Martin had declared a crusade against them, and Hussite forces had inflicted several crushing and humiliating defeats on the armies of the German princes, including the one in 1427 when Cardinal Beaufort was in Bohemia as papal legate (see 1427).  

The President of the General Council, Cardinal Cesarini, had been present at the most recent defeat, the battle of Taus in August 1431 when the Hussites once again scattered an army under Frederick of Brandenburg. As the Hussites could not be exterminated or ignored, Cesarini was not alone in his opinion that negotiating with their leaders was the only way to end the schism and the war. In October the General Council formally invited Hussite leaders to come to Basel under safe conduct and strict conditions for their safety. This infuriated Pope Eugenius and was one of his reasons for attempting to dissolve the Council (1, 2). 

English attention throughout 1431 had centred on efforts to crown Henry VI as king of France and there had been little interest in a General Council, but in 1432 the Minority Council agreed to receive a delegation from Basel: ‘£40 should be paid to a bishop, 40 marks to a knight, and £20 to a doctor of theology who had come on an embassy from the General Council at Basel’ (3).

Peter de Mera, Pope Eugenius’s representative, was in England lobbying for the English to boycott Basel as Eugenius wished. The Council awarded Mera 50 marks and a licence to leave England with his property, £1,000 in gold coins and jewels, his personal baggage, and harness and horses for himself and his servants, but little else (4, 5). 

Gerardo Landriani, Bishop of Lodi, came to England in June 1432 and was granted an audience with King Henry, at which Cardinal Beaufort and the Duke of Gloucester were present.

Landriani urged the king to send delegates to Basel as soon as possible. The Emperor Sigismund, King Charles VII, and the Duke of Burgundy had all recognised the General Council’s authority. Landriani’s assurance that the Council at Basel would take whatever steps were necessary to suppress or reconcile the Hussite heretics appealed to Cardinal Beaufort and the Duke of Gloucester.  The former because he had a score to settle with them, the latter because he was opposed to heresy in any form.  Landriani also hinted that conciliar authority might facilitate peace negotiations between England and France.  But the real reason for Lanriani’s visit was to persuade the English Council to send delegates to support the General Council in its battle for dominance over Pope Eugenius (6).

The Duke of Gloucester used his influence to promote English participation at Basel partly because he got on well with Landriani (or so Landriani claimed) partly because he genuinely believed that heresy was a danger to the state and must be suppressed (as Landriani had been careful to point out), and partly because it was another opportunity to get Cardinal Beaufort out of England.

On 19 July, in response to Landriani’s persuasions, the Council commissioned John Holand, Earl of Huntingdon, John Langdon, Bishop of Rochester, and Doctor Thomas Brouns, Dean of Salisbury to go to Basel. The standard protections for going on the king’s business were issued to them on the following day. They were to be paid for six months, Huntingdon at 5 marks a day (£3 6s 8d) plus £200 from the Exchequer; Langdon was to £100 over and above a sum granted to him by Convocation; an unnamed baron was to receive £2 a day, and Doctor Thomas Brouns was to receive a £1 a day (7). They did not leave England.

John Langdon, Bishop of Rochester, had been commissioned in June to attend the peace conference with Cardinal Albergati at Auxerre. On 12 November he was awarded 200 marks as about to proceed to France ‘on embassy to the Dauphin,’ (8) but on 28 November protection was issued for him to go to Basel and on 1 December he was licenced to take £1,000 with him (9).  On 9 December, a protection was issued to Thomas Haltoft (Hotoft?), Robert Burton, John Beaumaris, and Thomas Selater, going to Basel in the retinue of the Bishop of Rochester (10).

But also on 1 December, Langdon, Sir John Fastolf, and Thomas Beckington were given powers to treat for peace with ‘Charles of Valois’ (11).  The Council may have originally intended Langdon to meet Cardinal Albergati and French representatives at Auxerre and then go on to Basel, but Langdon is not listed in Schofield’s detailed and definitive account of Basel in 1433, although he was there in 1434.

The Minority Council, especially the bishops, were divided in their opinion of the value of church councils and their enthusiasm for participation was lukewarm, but Convocation approved the attendance of the clergy.

 More delegates were named in November and December 1432. Safe conducts, protection letters, payments to delegates, permission for them to take money and jewels out of the country, and in some cases to leave Basel if their wages were not paid, were issued by the Council, creating confusion and duplication over exactly who was to go, and when. This may reflect of the Council’s ambivalence or disinterest and the distraction of peace talks with France.

Cardinal Beaufort ever conscious of his status, was keen to go. Did he looked forward to playing a dominant part on the international stage and see himself a mediator between the General Council and the Pope? He was licenced to take the enormous sum of £10,000 in coin and jewels worth 5,000 marks to Basel. He did not go.

John Kemp, Archbishop of York was granted protection for going to Basel and was to receive 1,000 marks a year while he was there. He was also granted the customary wages of an archbishop going on embassy for the king.  He did not go (see 1433).

Sir John Colville was licensed on 26 November to take £500 in money, plate, and jewels as an ambassador (12). 

Thomas Polton, Bishop of Worcester was an obvious choice. As Bishop of Chichester he had been the royal proctor at the Roman curia until 1425. He was licenced to take £1,000 with him and to receive 500 marks a year for his maintenance; he could leave the council if this was not paid. After its dissolution he could, if he wished, visit the ‘home of the apostles’ (Jerusalem?) (13)

NB: John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset ‘in France’ is included the plethora of protections for Basel, dated 20 October but with no year (14). John Beaufort was still a prisoner in 1432 and not under Henry VI’s direct protection, it probably belongs in a later year during negotiations for his release.

NB 2: The protection for John Ansty ‘in the retinue of the Duke of Gloucester’ dated 13 February but with no year, belongs in 1433 (15).

In November 1432 safe conducts were issued for a Scottish embassy to Basel to travel through England: John Fogo, Abbot of Melrose, Sir Walter Ogilvy and Alexander Lauder with a retinue of thirty people. Andrew Meldrum with six attendants, and John Cameron, Bishop of Glasgow who was on his way to Rome (16).

(1) The New Cambridge Medieval History, VII,  C. Allmand (1998), pp. 69-71 (Basel).

(2) The Cambridge Medieval History, VIII, ed. C.W, Previté-Orton (1936) pp. 24-25. (Basel. The interests, and therefore the emphases, of the two volumes are quite different).

(3) PPC IV, p. 121 and Foedera X, p. 551 (payments to unnamed envoys from Basel).

(4) Harvey, England and Papacy, p. 153 (Peter de Mera).

(5) PPC IV, p. 120 and Foedera X, pp. 514-515 (permission for Mera to leave England).

(6) A.N.E.D. Schofield, ‘First English Delegation to the Council of Basel,’ Journal of Ecclesiastical History, vol 12 (1961), pp. 170-173 (Landriani).

(7) PPC IV, pp. 123-124 and Foedera X, p. 519 (Huntingdon, Langdon and Brouns named in July for peace talks).

(8)  PPC IV, p. 130 and Foedera X, pp. 524-525 (Langdon to go to France).

(9) Foedera X, pp. 528 and 529 (Langdon going to Basel)

(10) Foedera X, p. 531 (Langdon’s retinue to Basel).

(11) Foedera X, p. 530 (Langdon, Fastolf and Beckington to treat with France).

(12) Foedera X, pp. 525-526 (Beaufort, Kemp, Colville).

(13) Foedera X, pp. 527-528 (Polton).

(14) Foedera X, p. 525 (Somerset’s protection probably misdated).

(15) Foedera X, p. 525 (Anstey’s protection misdated).

(16) Foedera X, p. 537 (Scottish envoys).

Foreign Relations

Brut Continuation F records visits by ambassadors from France, Spain and ‘other lands’ in the summer of 1432 while Parliament was in session. The other lands included the General Council at Basel, the Papacy, the Kingdom of Denmark, and the Duchy of Brittany.

“And also to this parlement come Frenssh lordes, bothe spirituall and temporall and ambassadtours of Spayne and oþer diuers lordes of dyuers landes to trete for peas and other certyn maters.”       Brut Continuation F, p. 465 


There is no record of envoys from Spain coming to England in 1432, but diplomatic discussions between English representatives and envoys from Aragon and Navarre in Bayonne, broken off at the end of 1430 (see 1430) and resumed in 1431, continued in 1432.

In February Bernard de Planche, Bishop of Dax, Thomas Burton, the mayor of Bayonne, one of the negotiators in 1430, and Pierre Arnaudeu Vescomatu, Dean of Saint Seurin, were commissioned to continue the negotiations (1, 2).

The possibility of an Anglo-Aragonese treaty for mutual military assistance and a marriage for King Henry with a princess of Navarre had been discussed, but English and Aragonese interests were incompatible. The Aragonese even wondered if it was legal for proctors of an underage king to negotiate an international treaty!

Mutual assistance was out of the question and flatly rejected by both sides. King Alfonso wanted an ally against Castile, but he was not prepared to be drawn into a war with King Charles VII. The overstretched English war effort meant that the Minority Council could not afford to commit even a limited number of men to fight for Aragon against Castile (with whom they had a truce). No marriage for King Henry could be arranged until he came of age. There was no real hope of the talks reaching a satisfactory conclusion: as Ferguson put it “both countries wanted something for nothing” (3). 

(1) Foedera X, pp. 499-500 (Aragonese in Bayonne).

(2) Gascon Rolls, C61/124,79 (powers to treat).

(3) Ferguson, Diplomacy, pp. 50-53 and pp. 248-250 Appendix (King Alfonso’s instructions).


King Eric of Denmark complained in 1432, as he had in 1429, that English merchants were still flouting the trade regulations requiring them to trade only through his staple at Bergen.

See Year 1429 Foreign Relations, Denmark

The Council re-issued the proclamation and prohibition of 1429 (1), but this time the English merchants fought back.

They submitted a petition to Parliament in 1432 requesting that letters of Privy Seal be sent to King Eric demanding reparation for their losses. They claimed that merchants from York and Hull had lost goods worth £5,000 in one year alone, and that other merchants’ losses amounted to £20,000 (2). Allowing for pardonable exaggeration, English merchants had obviously been trading through ports other than Bergen.

King Eric had ignored their claims for compensation, and they had no means of recovery, because his subjects had no comparable goods that could be seized (3).

Dr William Sprever had been England’s envoy to King Eric and had only returned from his mission at the end of 1431. The Council decided that it would be advisable to send another embassy to Denmark (4). They commissioner William Sprever and Sir Robert Shottesbrook who set out in September 1432 with powers to treat for a settlement (5). They met with the Bishop of Roskilde, the Bishop of Bergen, and other Danish commissioners. 

The Danes complaints of English depredations were so numerous, and presumably at least partially verified, that Sprever signed an agreement on Christmas Eve. The English promised “to pay for the damages they had caused in Norwegian territory, to return the people they had abducted, and to forbid all trade with Iceland except the Bergen staple.” (6). Had English merchants been indulging in raiding, kidnapping, and the slave trade?        

(1) Foedera X, p. 503 (reissue of proclamation).

(2) PROME X, p. 39 (petition for redress).

(3) Power and Postan, English Trade, pp. 166-167.

(4) PPC IV p. 124 (agreement to send envoys). 

(5) Foedera X, pp. 520-521 (power to treat).

(6) Ferguson, Diplomacy, pp. 92-93 (terms of agreement).


The Duke of Brittany  

An embassy from John, Duke of Brittany led by John de Malestroit Bishop of Nantes, who had been Chancellor of Brittany for twenty-four years, came to England in the summer of 1432 bringing with them the duke’s younger son Giles. Malestroit was  given a gold cup worth 50 marks, and three other Breton representatives received 40 marks (1). The gift of a palfrey was probably intended for Giles (2).   

“And the xxvj day of Juyn come the Dukes son of Bretayn ouer the see into England, and so to London to the Kyng; and with hym come a Bishop of that lande, and certeyn knyghtes and Squyers and theire meny.”           Brut Continuation F. p. 465

John of Brittany feared for the vulnerability of his duchy if England and France were reconciled, and he was determined not be excluded from any settlement that might be reached. Malestroit may have sought an undertaking that Brittany would be included in Cardinal Albergati’s next peace conference since Breton representatives were at Auxerre in November 1432.

See Peace Conference Resumed below.

But the principal reason for his embassy was probably piracy. Malestroit promised that Brittany would send commissioners to treat with their English counterparts for the redress of robberies at sea by English and Breton pirates.

See Year 1433 The Duke of Brittany.

Malestroit and the envoys had apparently been on a shopping spree, they were licenced to leave England in mid-July and to export “serges, beds, chamber furniture, robes, tin vessels, certain pieces of woollen cloth, ewers, and other household utensils, together with 100 bows and 100 sheaves of arrows’ (3, 4).

Giles remained in England. It was an astute move to introduce him to the English court, probably suggested by his mother. Giles and King Henry were first cousins.  Jeanne, Duchess of Brittany, was Queen Katherine’s sister. Giles  was also the grandson of the dowager Queen Joan, widow of King Henry IV, living in retirement in England. Giles was almost the same age as King Henry and a friendship between them could benefit Brittany in the future.

Giles was ‘invited’ to join the royal household and in August 1432 he was granted £20 for his private expenses (5, 6), but he was also a hostage for his father’s good behaviour and continuing alliance with England. Duke John had the dubious distinction of not being trusted by the English or the French, he was prone to changing sides. Giles spent two years in England, before being returned to Brittany at his father’s request in 1434 (7).

See Year 1434 The Duke of Brittany

It is perhaps not coincidental that while his envoys were in England the Duke of Brittany offered a gift of salt to help pay Lord Talbot’s ransom. It might win the future good will of the Council, the Earl of Warwick, and of Talbot.

The Council licenced Talbot to import into England the 2,000 mewes of salt contributed by the Duke of Brittany, free of customs duties (8).  ‘Licence for John, Lord Talbot export whither he will free from custom, the salt which John, Duke of Brittany, the king’s uncle, has given to relieve him from the unbearable charges of his ransom’ (9).

See Poton de Xaintrailles and Lord Talbot below.

The duke and his mother Queen Joan also contributed to the ransom of Sir Walter Hungerford who had been captured by a Breton at the Battle of Patay in 1429. Duke John was doing all he could to affirm his commitment to his English alliance.

See An Army for Normandy below.

(1) PPC IV, pp. 120 and 122 (gifts to ambassadors).

(2) Foedera X, p. 515 (gifts to ambassadors).

(3) PPC IV, pp. 122-23 (licence to leave England).

(4) Foedera X, p. 516 (licence to leave England).

(5) PPC IV, p. 128 (Giles granted £20).

(6) Foedera X, p. 522 (Giles granted £20).

(7) PPC IV, p. 278 (Brittany’s request for Giles’s return).

(8) Foedera X, pp. 514-515 (licence to sell salt).

(9) CPR 1429-1436, p. 211 (licence to sell salt).


Poton de Xaintrailles and Lord Talbot

John, Lord Talbot had been a prisoner in France since his capture by Poton de Xaintrailles at the Battle of Patay in 1429. King Charles VII had purchased Talbot from Xaintrailles in March 1431 for £2,100. The Earl of Warwick captured Xaintrailles in August.

At the end of May 1432, safe conducts were issued, possibly at Warwick’s request, for three of Xaintrailles’s retainers, Bernon de Genestelle, John de Bouzy and Reginald du Conay, to visit Xaintrailles in the strategic fortress of Chateau Thierry on the Marne (1).  Talbot was the Earl of Warwick’s son-in-law, and the visit probably related to negotiations for Talbot’s release. Terms for an exchange of prisoners were discussed, but the details are unknown, and nothing came of them until 1433 (2).   

The importance of Xaintrailles to the French war effort is reflected in King Charles’s willingness to exchange him for Talbot.

(1) Foedera X, p. 507 (Xaintrailles’s retainers).

(2) Pollard, Talbot, pp. 17-18 (negotiations for an exchange).


The Duke of Bedford   

Bedford was once again Regent and Governor of France, but 1432 was a year of disappointment and disillusionment for him. The Duke of Burgundy had withdrawn from active participation in the war, and the burden of the success or failure of English arms fell on Bedford’s shoulders. The near loss of Rouen was followed by defeats in the field. 


Bedford was in Paris in February 1432 re-establishing control over the administration of Lancastrian France after King Henry returned to England, when he received appalling news. Jean de Brosse, Marshal Boussac, and the three other Armagnac captains commanding 600 men had marched from Beauvais to launch a surprise attack on Rouen.

On the night of 13 February, 120 men led by Guillaume de Ricarville gained entry to the castle. Pierre Audebeuf, a Swiss member of the garrison, had turned traitor and opened a gate to admit them (that he threw scaling ladders over the walls, as in one version, seems unlikely).  

The twenty-four-year-old John, Earl of Arundel and the garrison of the castle in Rouen were asleep and they were taken completely by surprise. Some of the men were killed but Arundel and the others escaped by descending on ropes down the castle’s walls. There is a probably apocryphal story, not confirmed by the chronicler Monstrelet, that Arundel was let down in a basket. He and other members of the garrison sought refuge in the town, and by daybreak he had rallied his men; with the help of the citizens in Rouen, he prepared to recapture the castle. 

Ricarville had no hope of holding the castle without re-enforcements, and in the morning he returned to the wood outside Rouen where the rest of the raiders lay hidden, to urge Boussac to come to his aid.  Boussac hesitated. According to Monstrelet the French captains had fallen out among themselves over the distribution of the booty they expected to win, but this is a standard charge levelled against the Armagnacs at this time.

It is more probable that Boussac expected Ricarville to bring news that the citizens of Rouen had risen against the English and that the town was in French hands, but, either through fear of reprisals for accepting English rule, or from fear of reprisals by the English for aiding the French, the citizens remained loyal. Boussac abandoned Ricarville’s small force and fled back to Beauvais. Ricarville and his men withdrew into the great tower which was well stocked with supplies. Arundel’s artillery pounded the tower’s walls for twelve days before the embattled French were forced to surrender (1, 2).

The Duke of Bedford was so alarmed by near loss of the capital of Normandy that he abandoned his usual policy of reconciliation, and angrily gave orders for the surviving Armagnacs to the executed (3). Ricarville apparently escaped the fate of his men, he is recorded as being in the French ranks at the siege of Dieppe in 1443 when it was captured by the French (4). Pierre Audebeuf was beheaded, quartered, with his head set on the gates of Rouen.

Bedford also ordered the governor of Vernon to ship 100 cannon balls of a specific size to fit Rouen’s cannon, left over from the siege of Louviers, to be shipped to Rouen. If they were not part of the royal artillery, then the governor of Vernon was to purchase them; Bedford gave his word that the price would be met and repaid (5).  

Bedford rewarded Arundel for defending Rouen, making him captain of Rouen, and he became a Knight of the Garter in April 1432 probably on Bedford’s recommendation (6, 7).

The threat to Rouen is not, of course, recorded in the English chronicles, although there is an oblique and inaccurate reference to it in a marginal note in The Great Chronicle (p. 156):  “this yere the Frenche men toke by stelth ye towne off montarges & ye castell off Rouen butt thenglishemen shortly recoveryd them.”

(1) Monstrelet I, pp. 599-600 (Rouen).

(2) Wavrin IV, pp. 12-17 (Rouen).

(3) Williams, Bedford, pp. 211-212 (Rouen).

(4) Chartier, Chronique II, p. 38 (Ricarville at Dieppe).

(5) L&P II, pp. 202-203 (cannon balls).

(6) Marshal, ‘English War Captains,’ p. 279 (Arundel made captain of Rouen).

(7) Collins, Garter, pp. 128 and 294.


The next shock was the city of Chartres on the Loire, fifty miles south-west of Paris.  Chartres had been in English hands since 1417 and the Earl of Salisbury had boasted in 1428 that he had captured all the towns and villages around Chartres, a major source of the food supply for Paris. In April 1432 Chartres was betrayed by a trick, a mini-Trojan horse.  Carts containing foodstuffs but concealing well-armed men appeared before the gates early in the day. The porters, who knew the carts’ drivers, opened the gate and once the carts were inside an Armagnac army, led by Dunois, Raoul de Gaucourt, and La Hire, estimated by Monstrelet at 4,000 strong, stormed in and took the city (1, 2). 

As had happened in Rouen, the citizens of Chartres attempted to defend their city and drive the French force out, but it was too late. William de Villeneuve, the captain of the garrison fled, taking most of the garrison with him. Giles de Aubespine, governor of the city for the English was captured, and Jean de Festigny, the Burgundian bishop of Chartres, was killed. Some prominent citizens were put to death and Dunois became captain of Chartres.

(1) Chartier I, pp. 141-143 (Chartres).

(2) Monstrelet I, pp. 602-603 (Chartres).

Lord Willoughby and Saint Cénéry

Then it was Lord Willoughby’s turn to suffer a reverse. Willoughby, with John, Bastard of Salisbury and the veteran captain Matthew Gough, laid siege to the town of Saint Cénéry on the River Sarthe eight miles from Alençon with between 800 and 1,000 men. When Ambroise de Loré, the Duke of Alençon’s marshal, learned of Willoughby’s presence he appealed for help to Jean de Bueil, Admiral of France, and other French captains in the vicinity. In six weeks, they assembled a force of about 1,400 men and bivouacked them between two villages, Beaumont-sur-Vicomte and Vivoin on opposite sides of the river about fifteen miles from Saint Cénéry. 

Matthew Gough led a detachment of Willoughby’s army under cover of darkness to launch an attack at daybreak on Vivoin, the smaller of the two French encampments. Surprise gave Gough the victory and he overwhelmed Vivion, but his success was temporary.

The noise of the encounter alerted the larger army at Beaumont-sur-Vicomte; Loré led a small force of a few hundred men to engage the English giving the main body of the army time to cross the only bridge over the river.  After several hours of fighting the superior numbers from Beaumont won the day; and Matthew Gough was captured, but so was Ambroise de Loré, who had been wounded.

His men, believing Loré had been killed, slaughtered many of their English prisoners in revenge, against the laws of war.  Lord Willoughby, who had not taken part in the fighting, was so dismayed by the heavy losses in the English ranks that he hastily raised the siege and retreated to Alençon, leaving his artillery behind. (1, 2, 3).

This encounter appears only as a marginal note in The Great Chronicle which does not, of course, record the English defeat:

“thys yere the lord wylloghby & other layd sege to a towne callyd sent sceleryn yn Anjou & after dyvers assautes & many scrmyschys made upon them by yer  ennymes for lacke of artilerie & Vitayle they departyd to Alanson wtowt domage.”  Great Chronicle, p. 156

(1)  Chartier I, pp. 134-141 (Saint St Célerin in Chartier).

(2) Monstrelet I, pp. 630-631 (Saint Cénéry. English translation St Severin, misdated to 1434).

(3) Barker, Conquest, pp. 184-185 (Saint Cénéry).       

The Siege of Lagny

The Duke of Bedford had tried and failed to take the town and fortress of Lagny in March 1431. He planned to go onto the offensive again in May 1432 by returning to Lagny. He requested John Stanlowe, treasurer of finance, and Pierre Surreau, receiver general of Normandy, to initiate the immediate collection of the third instalment of the tax voted by the Estates of Normandy in 1431for the express purpose of defending the inhabitants of the Duchy and the recovery of towns along Normandy’s border with Maine, lost to the French in 1429.  

In addition, Bedford demanded the imposition of a tax of 30,000 livres tournois to pay the 300 men-at-arms and 900 archers under the command of Lord Willoughby who had been kept under arms at the request of the Estates of Normandy. Bedford claimed they had been in the field for five months and could no longer be maintained unless they were paid (1) but he did not inform his tax collectors that Willoughby had in fact retreated.

Bedford’s imposition of taxation was harsh. Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais and a member of the Grand Conseil was permitted to reduce the levy on the Convent of the Holy Trinity in Caen, Normandy’s second largest and wealthiest city, by one half because the convent was seriously impoverished (2).

The fortress of Lagny situated on the river Marne a mere sixteen miles east of Paris was, like Louviers on the Seine, a constant threat to Paris. The Armagnac garrison continually harassed shipping and interrupted the flow of food and other vital supplies into Paris. They also raided the countryside up the gates of Paris making it dangerous for Parisians to venture outside the capital, even to bring in the harvest.

Bedford gathered an army and marched on Lagny. He was joined by Lord Willoughby, but there was no captain of the calibre of the Earl of Salisbury in Bedford’s ranks. His second in command appears to have been the Burgundian Jean de Villiers, L’Isle Adam. The Duke of Burgundy, despite his truce with King Charles, had not forbidden individual Burgundians to serve in English armies, provided the English paid them.  

Monstrelet and Wavrin put Bedford’s numbers at about 6,000, but half that is more likely. Willoughby is said to have lost 400 of his 1200 men at Saint Cénéry and Bedford probably had between one and two thousand, he would not have taken 6,000 men to a siege.

Bedford camped to the east of Lagny a short distance upriver from the town and maintained the siege throughout the summer of 1432.  But the Regent was weary, he was forty-three years old, and he was not the fighting force he had once been.

In July he sent for his two most trusted councillors, Robert Jolivet, and Raoul Le Sage, to join him at Lagny, urging them to be with him by the end of the month without fail. They could command an armed escort, for which he would pay, if they feared to make the short journey. Bedford wished to discuss ‘certain great matters touching the good of the realm’ (3).  He may have intended to instruct them on administrative matters while he was away from Rouen and Paris, but it is far more likely he intended to send them on diplomatic missions to raise money from local taxes or additional loans.

By the beginning of August, the Armagnac garrison holding out in Lagny, estimated to be between 800 and 1,000 strong, was running dangerously short of food. It had been Bedford’s intention to starve them into submission. A relieving army under Dunois, Bastard of Orleans, Raoul de Gaucourt, and the Castilian mercenary captain Roderigo de Villandros marched on Lagny from the southwest. Bedford had expected any reliving force to come from the east.

Monstrelet and Wavrin, but not Chartier, record that when Dunois and the French army appeared before Lagny Bedford offered them a set piece battle, a journée to decide possession of the town (4, 5, 6). Dunois declined: he had not come to engage Bedford in battle, but to bring relief supplies to Lagny. King Charles would not thank him if the French army suffered defeat in a pitched battle with the formidable Duke of Bedford, and why should he choose to fight for a town that was already in French hands?

Dunois divided his forces into three divisions. Two, under his command, engaged the English fighting under Bedford and L’Isle Adam. Raoul de Gaucourt and the third division fought their way towards the protective bulwark occupied by English opposite the Porte Vacheresse, the western gate into the town. The men of the garrison, elated that help had reached them in time, opened the gate and entered the fray. A convoy of cattle, carts of grain, and other food stuffs made its way slowly over the drawbridge and through the open gate. Lagny had been relieved, but the siege had not been raised.  

In a fierce encounter on 10 August, a day of intense heat, on a narrow strip of land outside the town at least 300 of Bedford’s men lost their lives. By the late afternoon both sides were exhausted, and Bedford ordered a retreat. He regrouped and again offered battle, but Dunois was a master tactician, and he had a better idea for raising the siege. He withdrew his troops and crossed the Marne, giving Bedford the impression that he was planning to march on Paris (7, 8). 

Bedford fell into the trap. He gathered his army and abandoned Lagny in a headlong dash to put himself between Dunois and the capital. But the French were not heading for Paris, they had done what they set out to do. The time for the King of France to recover his capital was not yet, but it was coming closer.

The failure of the English at Lagny seriously undermined Bedford’s prestige. The Lagny garrison, as well as brigands in the countryside, continued their depredations, depriving Paris of food, firewood, and other essentials. The Parisians blamed the English for the money they had contributed to the siege being wasted. 

Bedford received no help, financial or military, from England. Payments that the Council ordered to be sent to him were delayed from March to May and then to July and possibly longer.

On 1 March the Council had ordered that £2,500 should be sent to him ‘at the king’s risk to pay the army in France for May and June 1432.  

In May they instructed Robert Whitegreve and William Leventhorp, who would receive £100 (more or less) for their expenses, to convey the £2,500 to Dieppe.

On 21 July the Council ordered that the money should entrusted to Walter Hungerford, William Baron, and Roger Winter, to be carried to France, and that letters should be sent to Bedford to collect the money at Dieppe (9).

On 7 August the Exchequer was ordered in all haste to purchase 1,000 bows, 2,000 sheaves of arrows and three score gross of bowstrings to be conveyed to Bedford by Stephen Flaxmere for the defence of the realm of France (10).

(1) L&P II, pp. 205-213 (Bedford’s mandate to collect taxes).

(2) L&P II, pp. 115-116 (Reduction of levy at Caen).

(3) L&P II pp. 148-149 (Bedford’s summons to his councillors is misdated to July 1430 by Stevenson.  Bedford was not at Lagny in July 1430, and in his summons of 1432, he used the title ‘gouvernant et regent de France’ which he only assumed after the title of Regent had been restored to him in late 1431).

(4) Monstrelet I, pp. 605-606 (Lagny).

(5) Wavrin IV, pp. 26-30 (Lagny).

(6) Chartier I, pp. 143-147 (Lagny).

(7) Williams, Bedford, pp. 214-217 (Lagny).

(8) Barker, Conquest, pp. 185-186 (Lagny).

(9) PPC IV, pp. 109, 112, 125, 126 (£2,500 for the Duke of Bedford).

(10) PPC IV, p. 126 (bows and arrows for Bedford).

Anne, Duchess of Bedford died

The final blow to John of Bedford came at the end of 1432. He was in Paris and his wife, the Duchess Anne,  joined him there. Paris was not a healthy place to be. Food was scarce and there was widespread pestilence; Anne contracted a fever and died on 14 November when she was only twenty-eight. She was the youngest and best loved sister of Duke Philip of Burgundy and she had kept the peace between her husband and her brother, two naturally autocratic men, for nearly ten years.

The Bourgeois of Paris described her as “the most delightful of all the great ladies then in France for she was good and beautiful . . . the Parisians loved her.” (1).  Anne was buried in the Church of the Celestine Monastery in Paris and a full funeral service, complete with coffin and hearse, was held for her at St Paul’s in London in 1433 (2).

“And that same yere beforne the fest of all halowen died the Duches of Bedford at paris; sche is buryed in the Clestins at paris.”  Chronicles of London, Cleopatra C IV, p. 135

Brut Continuation H laments her death as the cause of Burgundy’s eventual defection from the Anglo-Burgundian alliance.  A later insertion in the Great Chronicle repeats this.

“And in the xj yere of his regne, the Duches of Bedford, þat was that tyme clepit Madame Regent, and suster to the Duyk of Burgoyn dyet att Roan whos deth turnett Englissh men aftirward to much trouble; for al þe whiles þat she was on lyue hir brothir, Duyk of Burgoyn, was euer holdyng vppon the Englisshe party; but sone after þat she was ded his hert was cast clene away from Englisshe men and turnet to þe Frensshe party, and become enmy to Engelond as ye shall here aftirward.”           Brut Continuation H, pp. 569–570

“And this yere the Duchesses of Bedford [sister to philipp duke off Burgoyne] passed to god Whoos tereament was solempnely holde at powles in london [which was a grett lose off alliance]”                 Great Chronicle, p. 170             

“And in þis same yere the Kyng let intere the Duchesse of Bedford, which deyed in Fraunce, at Seint Paules in London, with moche royalte and solemnpnite as myght be doon in holy Chirche.”         Brut Continuation F, p.  465

(1) Bourgeois, p. 282 (description of Anne of Bedford).

(2) Issues of the Exchequer, pp. 419–420 (funeral expenses in England).

An Army for Normandy

An expeditionary force of about 1500 men, to be financed from the loans offered by Cardinal Beaufort in Parliament was assembled in July 1432 but did not sail until August, too late to reinforce Bedford at Lagny (1). It was commanded by Roger Camoys and Walter Hungerford. Camoys began his military career in 1427 when he accompanied the Duke of Bedford from England back to France.

‘Walter Hungerford, knight’ contributed ‘50 men-at-arms in armour and 250 archers’ (2) but was this Walter, Lord Hungerford, or his son, Sir Walter?  Lord Hungerford was fifty-five and had been Treasurer of England until he was dismissed from his post, but not from the Council, by the Duke of Gloucester in February 1432. The army sailed in August; Lord Hungerford was in England in October 1433 (3).

Brut Continuation F records that it was Lord Hungerford’s son, Sir Walter, who accompanied Camoys.  

“And this same yere, the Lord Camoys, Sir Waltere Hungerford son, went ouer the see into Normandy with knyghtes, squyers, men of arme[s] and archers, to the Nombre of xvc peple and mo, by ordynaunce of the kyng and his Consayle of the Reame, in strengthing and helpyng of the Duke of Bedford Regent in tho partie[s] and of all the Kynges liege peple and for the keping of the Kynges title and right.

                                                Brut Continuation F, p. 465

Sir Walter had been captured at the battle of Patay in 1429 by a Breton knight, Lord Beaumanoir. He was ransomed by his father for 12,000 crowns (£3,000) but Lord Hungerford was unable to raise the full amount himself, he contributed 3,000 crowns. Hungerford’s credit as Treasurer of England was good and he borrowed the balance of 9,000 crowns from Lords Scales, Cromwell and Tiptoft. Sir Walter’s ransom was paid in full, but unknown to Lord Hungerford, his son had promised his captor a further 6,000 crowns (to obtain his early release?).

 Lord Scales and other lords stood surety for this, and Lord Hungerford borrowed 4,000 crowns from (London?) merchants.  The Duke of Brittany, possibly embarrassed by one of his subjects fighting for the French against his English ally, contributed another 1,000 crowns. This left 1,000 crowns which the duke’s mother, Joan of Brittany, the Dowager Queen of England, promised to pay out of her Breton estates (4).

It was customary to free prisoners of war on promise of payment, and Sir Walter was probably free by 1432 at the latest. He may well have joined the expedition to France in 1432 hoping to repair the family fortunes either with booty or ransom from a successful campaign and died there. He was dead by February 1433, but where he died is not known.

(1) Harriss, Beaufort, p. 221 (Beaufort’s loans).

(2) CPR 1429-1436, p. 218 (Hungerford’s retinue).

(3) PPC IV, p. 128 (Lord Hungerford in England in October).

(4) PPC IV, pp. 149-150 (terms for Walter Hungerford’s ransom).



Sir Bernard [Bérat] de Montferrand was a Gascon knight. In 1432 he was granted for his services to King Henry V and Henry VI king ‘all the houses, rents &c in Gascony’ forfeited by another Gascon, Amonion Béguey, to the value of £40, with any surplus to be returned to the king, ‘provided they have not been granted to anyone else’ (1, 2).The Béguey estates had been held in the king’s name by Sir John Radcliffe as Seneschal of Gascony ‘during pleasure.’ Radcliffe lost the income from them by the Council’s decree.

Montferrand’s name appears in a 1435-1436 list as ‘chamberlain to the Regent and captain of Charmesville’ [Charlesville?] having served the Regent Bedford in the French wars, so he may have fought in Normandy. He was paid 300 livres tournois in another undated list, possibly 1436 (2).

(1) PPC IV, p. 115 (Montferrand).

(2) Gascon Rolls C61/124, 33, 82, 120 (grant to Montferrand).

(2) L&P II, ii, pp. 434, 437, 557 (payment to Montferrand, Worcester’s Collections).


A French attack on two towns in Gascony?

Jean, Count of Foix, was King Charles VII’s lieutenant in Languedoc (see 1423). 

In 1432 Foix ordered one Jehan Brunet to assemble (take the musters of or carry messages to?) local lords ordering them to prepare to march against the towns of Chateauneuf-sur-Charente and Ratières which were held by the English. 

The Three Estates of Languedoc met at Beziers in July 1432 and voted a tax of a tenth. Guillaume de Champeaux, Bishop of Laon, a king’s councillor, and Charles VII’s president of the chamber of accounts in Languedoc, authorised his secretary and receiver general, Guillaume Favert, who had supervised the collection of the tax, to pay Brunet twenty five moutons d’or out of the clerical grant for his services. The mouton d’or was a gold coin, so called because it depicted the Lamb of God (1).  

Brunet was paid in November 1432 so the attack, if it took place, could have been at any time in the first six months of 1432 or, given the lapse of time customary between services and payment, it may have been even earlier. I have found no other reference to it.

(1) L&P II, pp. 214-218 (attack on English towns in Gascony?)

Henry VI and the Earl of Warwick

King Henry was growing up. He would celebrate his eleventh birthday on 6 December 1432. He had grown ‘in conceyte and knoweleche of his hiegh and royale auctoritee and estate’ and he was beginning to resent being reproved or criticised.

Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick had been Henry’s governor for four years (see 1428). On 29 November 1432 Warwick submitted a nine-point repetitive memorandum to the Council itemising his concern for his future as governor of the young king and the royal household (1). 

Warwick expressed his reluctance to continue his charge unless he could be sure of the full backing of the Council in everything he did for Henry’s education and well-being. He had heard rumours that ‘malicious and untrewe men’ were reporting untruths to the Council about him and he demanded to be informed of them immediately and allowed to defend his good name. He even inserted an insurance clause: if he fell ill, or for any other serious reason, he was to be permitted to tender his resignation and be absolved of any blame or wrongdoing whatsoever.

Warwick was worried that Henry was being influenced by members of his household, as well as outsiders, and that he was being told of things that it would be better for him not to know: “he hath be sturred by some frome his lerynng and spoken to of divers matiers not behovefull.” One wonders what, or whom, Warwick was afraid of. He wanted to restrict access to Henry, and he requested that in future he and at least one knight of the body or other responsible person should be present at all interviews with the king, except for the royal uncles and the steward and chamberlain of the household who could not be denied access.

Warwick was not alone in his determination to retain control over King Henry. The Duke of Gloucester and the Council agreed that Henry should be told only what was considered suitable; he was not to be allowed to do anything, or talk with anyone, of whom Warwick disapproved.

Warwick claimed the right to dismiss any member of the household he considered unsuitable, but the Council insisted that Henry’s four knights of the body and his esquires could not be dismissed without permission, and Warwick could not appoint any additional knights or esquires without consultation. Warwick’s right to remove and relocate the royal household at any time to any place he thought fit had been granted to him in 1428 and it was confirmed by the Council.

Warwick’s principal concern was that when Henry grew up and assumed his personal rule Henry might hold a grudge against him for the way Warwick had treated him. Warwick insisted that his position and authority should be clearly explained to Henry by the Duke of Gloucester and the Chancellor and Treasurer (to make an impression on the young king?). In other words, although Henry had been old enough to be crowned King of England and King of France, he was to submit to Warwick’s censure, but he must not blame Warwick. The Council undertook that Henry would be informed of what was required of him the next time he was in London.

It is not surprising that Henry VI grew up to rely on the opinions of others with little will of his own. His attempt to stand up for himself at the age eleven was to be firmly suppressed, in effect he was to do as he was told. For the most part Henry was biddable and willing to take advice, but throughout life he resented and resisted any attempt to coerce him.

Unless the reports of the foreign diplomats whom Henry received in person in 1432 and 1433 are deliberately mendacious, King Henry knew how to behave. Cardinal Landriani was  “charmed by the bearing and elegance of manner of the ten year old king” (2) and the experienced Burgundian Hugh de Lannoy reported to Duke Philip that Henry “asked very graciously and in the French language how you were  . . . . and after some gracious conversation which we had with him he caused us to retire.” (3)

(1) PPC IV, pp. 133-137 (Warwick’s authority over King Henry).

(2) Schofield, ‘First English Delegation,’ p. 171 (Landriani on Henry VI).

(3) L&P II, p. 225 (Lannoy on Henry VI).


1432 Bibliography 

Primary Sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Handbook of British Chronology, ed. F. M. Powicke and E.B. Fryde (1961)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Secondary Sources

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

Barker, J., Conquest (2009)

Beaucourt, G. du Fresne de, Histoire de Charles VII, 6 vols, (Paris, 1881-1891)

Dickinson, J.G., The Congress of Arras 1435 (1972)

Ferguson, J., English Diplomacy 1422-1461 (1972)

Freeman, J., ‘Sorcery at Court and Manor: Margery Jourdemayne the Witch of Eye next Westminster,’ Journal of Medieval History 30 (4), (2004),

Gillespie, J.L., ‘Ladies of the Fraternity of Saint George and the Society of the Garter’ Albion, vol. 17 (1985)

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

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

Harvey, M., England, Rome, and the Papacy 1417-1464 (1993)

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

Otway-Ruthvin, A.J.  The King’s Secretary and the Signet Office in the XV Century (1939)

Planche, J. R. ‘On the badges of the House of Lancaster,’ British Archaeological Assoc., Journal 6 (1851)

Pollard, A.J., John Talbot and the War in France 1427-1453 (2005)

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

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

Schofield A.N.E.D, ‘First English Delegation to the Council of Basel,’ Journal of Ecclesiastical History, vol 12 (1961)

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

Sumption, J., Cursed Kings (2015)

Williams, E. Carleton, My Lord of Bedford, (1963)

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



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