Henry VI




Minority Council, January – June.

Royal Household. Queen Katherine.

Death of the Duke of Bourbon.

The Duke of Bedford and the Duke of Gloucester.

The Duke of Bedford’s Requirements.

Cardinal Beaufort. The Duke of Bedford’s Departure.

The Duke of Brittany. The Duke of Orleans.

Sir Thomas Rempston’s Ransom.

Minority Council, July to December.

King Henry. Pestilence. Weather and Food.

General Council of the Church at Basel.

The Council and the Papacy. Pilgrimages.

Foreign Relations. Scotland. The Earl of Salisbury.

The War in France. The Duke of Bedford in France.




John, Duke of Bourbon died after eighteen years in captivity.

A Great Council met in the spring to debate financing the war in France. Cardinal Beaufort’s loans remained vital to the war effort.

The Duke of Gloucester proposed to lead a large army into France at a prohibitive cost.. This was rejected by the council as unrealistic and the Duke of Bedford’s more moderate proposals were provisionally accepted. The enmity between the two royal brothers remained despite King Henry’s order for them to reconcile. 

King Henry was growing up. He would be thirteen at the end of 1434 and he was beginning to take an interest in government. The Minority Council supressed the suggestion that he was as yet old enough to have a role to play.

Lord Cromwell, as Treasurer continued to tighten his grip on royal finances. English merchants complained of attempts by royal customs officials to value imports as highly as possible to increase the subsidies to be paid on them.

The Minority Council sent a second embassy to the General Council of the Church at Basel.

Negotiations with the Scots were as acrimonious as ever, with accusations of bad faith being made by both sides.

Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, Warden of the West March indented to become became Warden of both Marches for one year, replacing the Earl of Northumberland as Warden of the East March. 

The Duke of Bedford returned to France in July. Lawlessness had become a serios problem in the Duchy of Normandy.

The Earl of Arundel and Lord Talbot campaigned in France and recovered some of the towns lost to the French in 1429/1430.

Sir Thomas Rempston, a prisoner in France since the Battle of Patay in 1429, was ransomed.

The Duke of Brittany urged the Council to resume peace negotiations with the French.

A second attempt through the agency of the Duke of Orleans was made to persuade the French to negotiate but as with Orleans’s earlier attempt in 1433 nothing came of it.

Living conditions for most people in England and in France were bad throughout 1434 and into 1435. The winters were harsh, rainfall was abnormally high, ruining the crops, and there was widespread pestilence among people and animals.






Minority Council, January to June

The Proceedings record fifty meetings in 1434, a high number with the Duke of Bedford still in England but preparing to return to France. One at the end of January. Thirteen in February, none in March, three in April and four in May while the Great Council was in session. Fourteen in June, five in July, none in August, September or December which is unusual, three in October and six in November.

Sir Thomas Stanley and Ireland

Stanley became the king’s lieutenant in Ireland in January 1431. Lord Hungerford as Treasurer warned the Council that his wages had not been paid. By 1434 he was owed 5,000 marks and the Council ordered payment. But Lord Cromwell, now Treasurer, ‘declared that he dared not comply,’ there were too many more pressing debts to be met. The Council meekly agreed that only such assignment as Cromwell was prepared to authorize should be made to Stanley (1).

See Year 1431: Parliament, Crown Debts for Stanley.

(1) PPC IV, pp. 198-199 (Non-payment to Stanley in Ireland).

 Paul Count of Valaches

Paul of Valaches in Greece had been granted an annuity of 40 marks in 1427 when he came penniless to England. The Council authorized payment of 20 marks to him for half a year in May, while the Great Council was in session ‘notwithstanding any restrictions’ (1, 2).

(1) PPC IV, p. 216 (payment to Valaches).

(2) Foedera X, pp. 583-584 (payment to Valaches).


Lord Desgerville (?)

The Earl of Warwick was to be repaid the £40 that he had given to ‘Lord Desgervyle’ on the Duke of Bedford’s orders when ‘Desgervyle’ was last in England. I have been unable to identify Desgerville, or D’Esgerville, or why he came to England. Was he a Frenchman in Bedford’s employ? (1).            

(1) PPC IV, p. 222 (Desgerville).


Thomas, Lord Clifford

Thomas, Lord Clifford had been brought up in Lord Dacre’s household in the north. He was betrothed to Lord Dacre’s daughter while still a child.

See Year 1423: Wardships and Marriages for Clifford’s marriage.

In February 1434, when Clifford was twenty and about to come of age, Lord Dacre was ordered to send him to the Council ‘with all speed’ (1). The reason is not given. Thomas was heir to baronies in Westmorland and in the West Riding of Yorkshire and Clifford’s mother had married Ralph II, Earl of Westmorland as her second husband. By 1434 Westmorland was locked in a dispute with Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury over the Westmorland inheritance. It may have been in this connection that the Council ordered Thomas to be brought to London, but it could also have been the war in France. Thomas is in the list of the Duke of Bedford’s retinues ‘in the French wars’ without date; he was too young to have joined Bedford much before the summer of 1434 (2).

(1) PPC IV, p. 201 (Clifford to be sent to the Council).

(2) L&P II ii, p. 435 (Clifford with Bedford in France).


Sir John Radcliffe

The Council had assigned the profits from the counties of Caernarvon, Merrioneth, and Chirk in North Wales to Sir John Radcliffe in 1433 in an attempt to reduce the crown’s enormous debt to him of £7,029 13s 1d as seneschal of Gascony. 

See Year 1433: Gascony, Sir John Radcliffe.

In February 1434 they decided to appoint him Chamberlain of North Wales, even though Sir Richard Walkstede, an Oxfordshire knight, had been granted the position (1).  The Chamberlain held the king’s great seal for North Wales and through it collected and disbursed its revenues, so there was an obvious conflict of interest in granting the post to Radcliffe; he may have demanded it to ensure that he could collect what was due to him, but it was a poor bargain.

Radcliffe was to arrange with the Council ‘as to the manner in which he should dispose of and account for’ the income received. Under the terms of the agreement Radcliffe was not entitled to the chamberlain’s salary of £60 a year. The anticipated income from North Wales was assessed at £727 10s 2d.

Out of that, Radcliffe was to pay the fees of the auditor of North Wales and sundry other small charges. The crown was to receive £467 11s 8d. If there was a surplus it would be credited to Radcliffe, but if there was a loss then Radcliffe must bear it (2).  Radcliffe might expect to receive approximately £260 annually, which was not much to set against the £7,000 due to him, but at least he could deduct at source whatever sum was agreed to by the Council.  

(1) PPC IV, pp. 199-200 (Radcliffe appointed chamberlain).

(2) CPR 1429-1436, p. 338 (terms of the agreement).


Foreign merchants

The Parliament of 1433 had increased the subsidy paid by alien merchants on every sack of wool and woolfells from 43s 4d to 53s 4d for three years (1). In February 1434 Thomas Chalton and Hugh Dyke, customs collectors in the port of London, were excused in their accounts for collecting the lower amount during the period between the act of Parliament and the instructions to them to implement it (2).

Thomas Chalton and Hugh Dyke were members of the Mercers Company. Chalton was    sheriff of London in 1433-1434.

See Year 1433: Parliament, Taxation.

 Genoese Merchants

In May the customs officers in the ports of Sandwich and Southampton were reminded that they should levy duty only on the usual prices of merchandise being landed from six Genoese carracks (3). The large heavily laden carracks carried luxury goods from the Mediterranean and the near East. 

English Merchants

Trade and taxation were sufficiently important to demand the Council’s attention during their deliberations with the Duke of Bedford just before he left England at the end of June. The valuation imposed on the merchandise imported by the Genoese may have sparked further discontent among the English mercantile community.

English merchants had complained to the Council that the subsidy of three shillings the ton and twelve pence the pound on all imports and exports was high enough without customs officers estimating the value of the goods as high as they possibly could.

The Council decreed that merchandise for export must be valued at the price agreed between merchant and merchant (seller and purchaser) not by customs officials. The value set on imported goods was more complicated. Before the merchandise was landed and sent to the purchaser’s warehouse, he should be required to take an oath as to its current value (what he had paid for it) abroad. These were the prices on which the subsidies due to the king were to be collected. 

The decision was taken in the presence of Bedford, Gloucester, the two archbishops, the bishops of Ely and Lincoln, the Earls of Huntingdon, Northumberland, Suffolk, Lords Hungerford and Tiptoft as well as the three officers of state, Chancellor Stafford, William Lyndwood, Keeper of the privy Seal and the Treasurer, Lord Cromwell.  

Two copies of the decree survive; Nicolas printed them both because the council’s minute is shorter, and the second version contains an important variation (1):

The Chancellor asked the members for their opinion of the decree, and they all agreed, except for the Treasurer, Lord Cromwell who dissented. He demanded that the work he had done as Treasurer to protect the king’s interests in the collection of the subsidies should be acknowledged in the records of the council, which was done. 

Cromwell had called in the customs officers and their records shortly after he took office in 1433 and had presumably instructed them to charge as high a duty as they could get away with for the king’s benefit. Perhaps fearful of offending the English mercantile community, some of the lords in Council opined that the decree could be relaxed by the king’s grace, and certain merchants might be excused the oath, to avoid ‘great noise, losses and other inconveniences.’ They advised that the king’s clemency should be exercised in preference to a stringent application of the law. Did they expect resistance to the decree to lead to tax evasion, or even to illegal smuggling in some quarters? (4).

(1) PROME XI, p. 90 (tax grant).

(2) PPC IV, pp. 205-206 (Chalton and Dyke excused).

(3) Foedera X, p. 584 (Genoese imports).

(4) PPC IV, pp. 239-242 (two versions of the customs decree).

 A treasure chest?

The Council ordered Lord Cromwell and the Barons of the Exchequer to deliver ‘a certain chest’ to Sir William Bishopston (1). The chest had been seized by command of Lord Hungerford, who was Treasurer of England between 1426 to 1432. Hungerford had entrusted it to Robert Whittingham, a wealthy alderman of London, member of the Drapers Company and a client and retainer of the Duke of Bedford. Whitingham was respected as a loyal and influential member of the London oligarchy. He had been involved in settling the dispute between John Reynwell, the Mayor of London, and the merchants of the Calais Staple in 1431 (2). 

See Year 1431: Calais for Reynwell.

Sir William Bishopston was presumably the long serving war captain who had lost Chateau Gaillard to La Hire in 1430.  The Duke of Bedford was furious, and he punished Bishopston severely for his negligence. He had Bishopston imprisoned in Rouen and imposed a heavy financial penalty: Bishopston had to the wages of the garrison for three months, he was fined 2,000 livres tournois and he had to find the high ransom La Hire demanding for Bishopston’s son whom he held hostage (3). Did the chest which Lord Hungerford impounded contain bullion or other valuables which Bishopton had attempted to smuggle out of the country?  Was it returned to him in 1434 on compassionate grounds because he was going blind?

(1) PPC IV, pp. 206-207 (‘a certain chest’).

(2) historyofparliamentonline.org for Whittingham.

(3) Barker, Conquest, pp. 142-143 citing Rowe, ‘Discipline in the Norman Garrisons under Bedford 1422-1435, English Historical Review 46 (1931).


John of Vendôme, vidame of Chartres

When did John of Vendôme, vidame of Chartres, become Lord Hungerford’s prisoner? Was it at Agincourt, where Hungerford took eight men prisoner?  Hungerford was in France with King Henry V throughout Henry’s campaigns. Although more usually employed on diplomatic missions, he took part in the siege of Meaux in 1422, but there is no record that the vidame John of Vendôme was there. 

A safe conduct was issued at the end of 1433 for Sir John, Louis, and Reginald of Vendôme, Blanchet d’Estouteville, and John Thibaut, a servant of Vendôme, to come to England to arrange the ransom of John, vidame of Chartres.

Safe conducts were issued again in March 1434 to last for three months, and again at the end of April when John, vidame of Chartres, Reginald of Vendôme and John Thibaut received safe conducts for one year to return to France to raise the vidame’s ransom (1). 

A safe conduct for Sir John de Vendome and Blanchet d’Estouteville ‘going from Calais into the interior of France’ was issued on 9 October 1434 (2).   

It appears that they returned to England, perhaps bringing an instalment of the ransom, for in October 1435 safe conducts were issued again on pledges by Vendôme for himself and Blanchet d’Estouteville to allow them to go to France for three months (1).

Hungerford had set a high value on Vendôme. Two years later, in May 1437, King Charles VII gave Vendôme 1,000 livres, pour l’aider à payer sa racon (3).

(1) Foedera X, pp. 566 (December 1433), 574 (March 1434), 580 (April 1434), 624 (October 1435) (safe conducts for Vendôme).

(2) DKR xlviii, French Rolls, p. 302 (safe conduct October 1434).

(3) Beaucourt, Charles VII, vol. III, p. 141 n 3 (Charles VII’s contribution).


Thomas Clarence

On 22 June ‘It was agreed that on account of great defaults the Treasurer should charge the sheriff of Somerset with the gaol of Ilchester and disappoint Thomas Clarence thereof, who held an estate therein during the king’s pleasure’ (1).     

Thomas Clarence (identified as William Clarence in the Calendar of the Patent Rolls 1429-36) was to be dismissed as keeper of Ilchester gaol and replaced by the sheriff of Somerset. 

Gaol keepers were usually, although not always, appointed by the crown. (The Mayor and Common Council of London appointed the keepers of Newgate and Ludgate). Keeperships were lucrative posts, sought after because the keepers were permitted to charge prisoners for their maintenance as well as for favourable conditions of imprisonment, or for other services.

But the keepers were also held responsible for allowing prisoners to escape. “Keepers of gaols feared all escapes” (2). The usual penalty was a fine, but they could be imprisoned themselves if the escapee was important enough. They could also be held accountable for excessive mistreatment of prisoners although this was rare.

In this instance, since the Treasurer was involved, it seems probable that Thomas/William Clarence had been fined for negligence on several occasions but had failed to pay up.

(1)  PPC IV, p. 247 (Thomas Clarence).

(2) Bellamy, Crime and Public Order, p. 178 (gaol keeping).

Royal Household

William Fynbargh

The crown claimed a yearly tribute (unspecified) from the Priory of Lewes whenever the king was at war with France. Henry IV had granted William Fynbargh 100 shillings (one pound sterling) a year from this payment.  Henry IV was not often at war with France and the grant became invalid. Wages of royal servants were more often than not in arrears or not paid at all, which did not matter so much as long as they lived in the king’s household, but without an annuity or a corrody they could end up nearly destitute which is what apparently happened to William Fynbargh ‘after long service.’ On his petition in February 1434 the Council re-instated the 100 shillings drawn on Lewes Priory (1, 2).

John Hampton was a king’s esquire by February 1434 when he was granted 50 marks, the fee for an esquire of the body, even though he had an income from earlier grants by Henry V (the office of ranger of the forest of Kinfare) and Henry VI (the office of water bailiff of Plymouth) to the value of £9 yearly, and the office of sheriff of the commote of Merrioneth in Wales (3).

Sir Philip Courtenay, a king’s knight, was steward of the county of Cornwall, during pleasure; the position had been surrendered by Sir John Arundel in Courtenay’s favour in February 1430. He was to receive 40 marks annually from the receiver general of Cornwall (4). At the end of October 1434 Courtenay was made Master of the King’s hunt and surveyor of all the parks in the county and duchy of Cornwall (5, 6). 

Philip Courtenay of Powderham in Devon was the eldest of the junior branch of the Courtenay family, Earls of Devon. He married Elizabeth Hungerford, daughter of Walter, Lord Hungerford, Treasurer of England.                       

(1) PPC IV, p. 190 (William Fynbargh).

(2) CPR 1429-1436, p. 45 (William Fynbargh).

(3) PPC IV, pp. 196-197 (John Hampton).

(4) CPR 1429-1436, p. 47 (Courtenay steward of Cornwall).

(5) PPC IV, p. 284 (Courtenay master of the hunt).

(6) CPR 1429-1436, p. 428 (Philip Courtenay).


Household finance

When Lord Cromwell became Treasurer of England in August 1433, he had announced that in managing the crown’s debts he would give priority to the costs of the royal household and the repair and maintenance of the king’s castles and manors. He set about investigating every detail of royal income and expenditure.

See Year 1433: Ralph, Lord Cromwell, Treasurer of England.

In February 1434 Cromwell ordered an inventory of crown jewels. John Merston, keeper of the king’s jewels was ordered to deliver all the jewels in his care to the treasury and to make a list of those remaining in his custody, presumably for King Henry’s immediate use. He was to ‘make a book’ of them to be delivered to the Treasurer for safe keeping (1).

In October 1,000 marks was allotted to John Merston for the petty expenses of the king’s chamber (2).  

The Council confirmed that Cromwell should decide what repair work needed to be done, and by whom so as to keep a tight control on household expenditure, and he was given the authority to direct the Keeper of the Privy Seal to issue the necessary orders to artisans and craftsmen (3).

In November £200 was delivered to William Clere of Gedlyng in the county of Nottingham for repairs at the king’s manor of Clipston (4).  

In May Sir John Stewart, Master of the King’s Horse, was granted 20 marks to buy four sumpter horses for King Henry’s use. Sumter horses were pack animals used to transfer the royal household’s goods during Henry’s moves from one royal residence to another (5).

John Tyrell

In July 1434 the treasurer of the household, Sir John Tyrell, and the cofferer of the household, Thomas Gloucester, John Darrell, a former under treasurer of England, and four tellers at the Exchequer, were all called before the council to settle a dispute dating back to May 1432 when Lord Scrope was Treasurer of England.

Tyrell claimed that he had not received the 500 marks assigned to him for the royal household; it recorded at the receipts of the Exchequer as being paid on 16 May 1432. Lord Scrope had ordered the payment to be made by John Olney and Thomas Walsingham customs officers in the port of London.

John Darrel said he had made a bill for the 500 marks to be delivered by Thomas Walsingham to John Tyrell through Thomas Gloucester. Walsingham said he had paid it, Tyrell and Gloucester denied receiving it.

Testimony was heard from all those involved the dispute and the entry in the Proceedings ends with the statement that so many arguments were introduced ‘that at this tyme to reherce or to declare were too longe’ (6).

The Council’s judgement is not recorded, John Tyrell kept his post as treasurer of the household, so presumably his word was accepted.

(1) PPC IV, p. 201 (inventory of jewels).

(2) PPC IV, p. 284 (1,000 marks to Merston).

(3) PPC IV, p. 206 (repairs to royal residences).

(4) PPC IV, p. 284 (William Clere to make repairs).

(5) PPC IV, p. 216 (purchase of pack horses).

(6) PPC IV, pp. 266-268 (investigation of the receipt of 500 marks).

Queen Katherine

King Henry’s mother, the Dowager Queen Katherine maintained her own household from her dower lands, which she was careful to protect and add to where possible. These included estates in Normandy granted to her by Henry V.

The ubiquitous Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Lisieux was her Chancellor and Jehan le Sac was her receiver general in Normandy in 1434.  In May le Sac travelled from his home in Vernon to Rouen to request Cauchon to provide him with money from the Norman estates on the queen’s orders (1).                                            

In October, writing from Hertford Castle, Katherine sent her butler (wine keeper) John Newburgh, to Le Sac with instructions to purchase wine and other necessities for her household: 60 pipes of red wine and six puncheons of white wine, they were to be of good quality, he was to select them himself, and to despatch them promptly.

The wine was to be shipped to England from Rouen in a safe vessel to be accompanied by Newburgh, but he has had no experience of how to manage such a transaction or how to provide for conveyance of the wines from Rouen to Harfleur. Le Sac was to appoint a trustworthy guard to accompany Newburgh to Harfleur who could approach the captains of other ships sailing in convey to allow Newburgh’s ship to join their company for safety.

Le Sac was to give Newburgh enough money for the costs of shipping the wine from Rouen to England and for his costs and expenses at Le Sac’s discretion. A certificate of what le Sac paid the wine merchants, and the financial arrangements between him and Newburgh was to be presented in his accounts to her auditors (2).  

In December Katherine sent her retainer Fulk Eyton to le Sac instructing him to deliver £30 to Eyton to make certain purchases on her behalf and to send the goods to her as soon as possible. Her secretary, William Gedney, had informed her that Le Sac had to borrow money to meet the cost of the wines she had ordered.  It appears that Eyton was to use the money to settle a debt, either for the wine or for other purchases, ‘so that as that the said things should [be] in no way retarded by default of payment.’ (Did the wine not arrive in time for Christmas?) (3).     

A letter from Queen Katherine in Letters and Papers dated by Stevenson to February 1435 probably belongs in 1434. Stevenson assumed it was 1435, but it is from Hertford Castle, dated  20 February 1434, which fits with Katherine’s other instructions for that year.

Jehan Le Sac was to pay £26 to a Paris goldsmith, Jehan Chienart, ‘that is to say 3 nobles for each pound of the said money [ 3 nobles = £1] the noble at the rate of 64 écus’ for a pair of silver flagons which the queen had ordered from Cheinart ‘together with our other affairs.’

Le Sac was also to obtain and send by Ralph Waller, marshal of the queen’s hall, ‘six pounds of sugared red wax.’ Her letter is Le Sac’s authority to spend the money (4).

(1) L&P II, pp. 265-266 (Jehan le Sac receiver general).

(2) L&P II, pp. 270-273 (instructions to buy and ship wine).

(3) L&P II, pp. 263-264 (This letter is without a year. Stevenson dated it to December 1433, but it makes more sense if the date is 1434).

(4) L&P II, pp. 275-276 (dated by Stevenson to 1435).

The Death of John, Duke of Bourbon

John, Duke of Bourbon died in England in January 1434. His death attracted little attention and less interest; only the Great Chronicle has a note, added in the margin:

“this yere died John duke off burbon whiche had byn prisoner yn England sythe battell of agyncort.    Great Chronicle, p. 171 

 In February a safe conduct was issued for Bourbon’s servant Pierre le Bolengier to carry the news of the duke’s death to Duchess Marie and the Count of Clermont, Bourbon’s eldest son. It was not a visit of condolence; the messenger was ordered to collect the money needed to pay the late duke’s debts.

Bourbon’s custodian, Sir Thomas Comberworth, was authorized to distribute Bourbon’s possessions among his servants and to pay for his burial (1, 2).  Comberworth, a Lincolnshire knight, was still owed  £173 10s 6d for Bourbon’s keep, In February 1435  the Council granted Comberworth the manor of Bond in Lincolnshire, which he had leased for £16 annually, rent free from Easter 1435 for seven years, plus £8 from the farm of the priory of Wyngall in Lincolnshire for seven years, making a total of £168, slightly less than Comberworth was owed, a common practice by the crown (3, 4).

(1) PPC IV, pp. 201-202 (Bourbon’s death and debts).

(2) Foedera X, p. 570 (Bourbon’s death and debts).

(3) Foedera X, 602 (grants to Comberworth.   

(4) CPR 1429-36 dated 8 February 1435, p. 461 (grants to Comberworth).


The Duke of Bourbon, a Summary

John was the son of Louis Duke of Bourbon, and Anne of Auvergne.

In 1400 John married his niece, Marie of Auvergne, the daughter of John, Duke of Berry. Marie had been married to Philip of Artois, Count of Eu, who died in 1397 and their son, Charles d’Artois, Count of Eu, also a prisoner in England, was Bourbon’s stepson.  

John became the second Duke of Bourbon in 1410 at the age of twenty-nine. As a young man he was a firm ally of Charles, Duke of Orleans and an active partisan of the Dauphin Charles and the Armagnac party. He fought in the civil war against John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy.

Bourbon was one of the hot heads who urged that the French army should engage Henry V in battle in 1415. He and the Duke of Orleans sent their heralds to issue a challenge to King Henry.  He was captured at Agincourt and claimed by Henry V as a royal prisoner. He was taken to England and kept in some comfort; a keen sportsman, he was allowed to send for his huntsmen, hawks, and hounds (but not his horses) and he enjoyed copious shipments of wine.

Bourbon attended the so-called peace conference in London in 1416 presided over by the Emperor Sigismund in a vain attempt to reconcile Henry V’s claims to France with what the council of King Charles VI was prepared to concede. Bourbon and the other French prisoners refused to acknowledge Henry V’s claim.

Bourbon’s first attempt to obtain his freedom came in 1417 with an offer to reconsider his position. He said that as he understood it, Henry V was willing to withdraw his claim to the French crown in return for being granted the provinces ceded to King Edward III in the Treaty of Brétigny in 1360, plus Harfleur and its surrounding districts, in full sovereignty.

He argued that if he and Raoul de Gaucourt, also a prisoner, were allowed to return to France on parole to put the proposal to King Charles VI’s council before Henry V launched his second invasion, he believed he could persuade some of the French nobles to agree. But if the French council refused, Bourbon promised to do homage for all his lands to Henry as King of France and to urge the others to do likewise.

He was prepared to pledge 200,000 écus to return to England and bring his two sons with him. Henry V’s council advised Henry to accept, provided the parole money was increased to 240,000 écus, but Bourbon was unable to raise the security he had offered (1).  

Henry V set the terms for Bourbon’s release in 1420. He must recognise the Treaty of Troyes and do homage to Henry as King of France and pay a ransom of 100,000 écus (crowns).

Unfortunately for Bourbon, King Henry died in 1422 and the Minority Council felt obliged to fulfil the late king’s instructions to the letter.  Over the next thirteen years efforts were made periodically by Bourbon himself, the Duchess of Bourbon (but not his son the Count of Clermont) the Duke of Bedford, the Duke of Burgundy and Cardinal Beaufort, each with their own agenda, to obtain Bourbon’s release. 

In desperation in 1430 Bourbon agreed to pay homage to Henry VI as King of France but the long-drawn-out negotiations for a prisoner exchange with John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset never came to fruition. The Council and Parliament were willing to release him, but only if he paid the balance of his ransom, which was all they were interested in. Bourbon was unable to do so, and he died in debt to his custodians in 1434.

See Years 1427, 1429 and 430: John, Duke of Bourbon.

(1) Sumption, Cursed Kings, p. 512 (John, Duke of Bourbon).

The Duke of Bedford and the Duke of Gloucester

Parliament had granted the Duke of Bedford virtually unlimited powers in December 1433 to persuade him to remain in England, although the members declined to vote extra taxes for Beford’s war effort. 

See Year 1433: The Duke of Bedford in Parliament.

That left open the question of how to defend Lancastrian France. Bedford summoned a Great Council in the hope that he could persuade its members to support him with men and money from their own pockets, much as Henry V had done. It convened at Westminster on Saturday, 24 April 1434 and was attended by Cardinal Beaufort, the Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of York, both archbishops, eight bishops, six earls, ten barons, and thirty-eight knights and esquires, some of whom were members of Parliament (1). 

The Duke of Gloucester was in a belligerent mood. If Bedford remained in England Gloucester’s status would be reduced to that of a mere councillor, and he had no intention of allowing his brother to upstage him. He cast himself in a new role. On Monday, 26 April, he submitted a memorandum to the Council criticising the conduct of the war in France and offering a unique solution to the problem: he would lead a large army into France and win a decisive victory. This would end the war by forcing ‘the adversary’ to make peace and no further taxation to finance the war would be needed.

Gloucester did not doubt his military abilities, or that he could do what he offered, provided the Council furnished him with enough men and money. The Council was not so sure. Gloucester had very little military experience. He had done well in Normandy under Henry V’s watchful eye, but the king still had to rescue him at Agincourt. And if Gloucester had not actually run away in Hainault in 1424/25, he had certainly avoided giving battle in person. Since then, he had not set foot in France.

See Year 1424: The Duke of Gloucester and Hainault.

One can imagine the men assembled at Westminster listening to Gloucester in appalled silence. Not only was he criticising the Duke of Bedford, whom they had entrusted with the government of the country, he was demanding to be given between £48,000 and £50,000 for his venture.

Gloucester was always sublimely indifferent to the cost of his schemes. Whatever he proposed to do he expected the crown to finance it. The sheer impossibility of the Council being able to raise such an enormous sum for one expedition bothered him not one whit. 

It took nearly ten days of indecision and deliberation during which time we do not know what was said or by whom. But eventually, on 5 May, the Council firmly rejected Gloucester’s offer and insisted that their reasons be recorded in the council minutes.

Gloucester had courted public support and he claimed that the people would welcome his proposal because his victory would end the war and the need for taxation. The Council was concerned that they might be blamed for refusing to accept a plan which promised such a desirable outcome; after all the Duke of Bedford had suggested, probably to persuade Parliament to vote a tax, that military success in France could reduce taxes.     

The Council did not deny that Gloucester’s proposal, had it been possible, would be of great benefit to the country; they averred that if Gloucester, or anyone else, could suggest how £50,000 could be raised when Parliament had refused to vote additional taxes and the attempt to raise loans for the king on the security of crown jewels had failed dismally, they would gladly consider it. They opined that the Chancellor should ask the Duke of Gloucester if he agreed that Parliament should be called to vote on his offer. The Chancellor asked if the question should be referred to the king.  Gloucester requested that his memorandum should be returned to him, exemplified under Great Seal, which was agreed.

The Council assembled on 7 May in King Henry’s presence at the Bishop of Durham’s palace in London where the Council’s response was read out. The Chancellor asked the knights and squires representing their localities if they wished the king to summon Parliament. They replied that they did, provided the Lords of the Council agreed.          

The Duke of Bedford had taken Gloucester’s criticisms as a reflection on his honour, and he had demanded to be given a copy of Gloucester’s memorandum and time to study it before answering Gloucester’s accusations.

On 8 May, Bedford put his answer in writing, ‘for the salvation of his honour and estate.’  The Council’s minutes do not record what he said, but a month later at a meeting of the regular council, he recapitulated his defence: in the years following Henry V’s death, he, as Regent of France, with the help and support of other loyal servants of the crown, had continued the late king’s great work and conquered large parts of France, which he enumerated with pardonable exaggeration.

The war had gone well until 1428 when Thomas Montague, Earl of Salisbury laid siege to the city of Orleans, ‘taken in hand God knoweth by what avys.’  Bedford had never favoured this campaign; he had wanted to invade the Duchy of Anjou. The purpose and destination of Salisbury’s army had been discussed and agreed to by the Council, with Gloucester as Protector, before Salisbury left England, and Bedford’s reference to ‘by what advice’ may have been aimed at Gloucester.

See Year 1428: The Earl of Salisbury’s Army.

Bedford continued that after Salisbury was killed at the siege of Orleans English soldiers had lost heart with the death of their leader, and their courage had been undermined by defeat and the arrival of ‘the leman of the fiend called La Pucelle’ who employed ‘false enchantments and sorcery’ to achieve her victories. Towns and counties in France had been lost and Bedford had tried in vain to stem the tide of French successes. He had fought in person, and he would not have it said that the losses had been due to his negligence; his resources had been stretched too thin until Cardinal Beaufort’s army, intended for a campaign against the heretics in Bohemia, had been diverted to rescue France.

See Year 1427: Cardinal Beaufort’s Army.

Bedford appealed to English pride and patriotism. It would be a lasting disgrace to surrender France after the glorious efforts of King Henry V and others with him, many of whom had lost their lives or been wounded in the king’s service. As King Henry VI’s nearest relative and heir to the throne this touched him deeply and he would continue, as he had throughout his life, to serve his nephew just as he had served his brother, until King Henry came of age.

Bedford said he believed that the people under his rule in France were loyal to King Henry and to him, but that the impoverishment of the countryside through continual warfare, especially around Paris, had made them desperate: French depredations meant that the Parisians dared not till their fields and care for their vines, or even pursue trade. Only succour in the shape of men and money from England, to protect them and keep them safe to go about their business, could retrieve the situation and retain their loyalty.  It was for this reason that he had called a meeting in Calais with his brother and other councillors, and why he had come to England to put his case to Parliament, but sadly, he had failed to obtain their support (2). 

Gloucester then claimed that ‘certain things’ in Bedford’s statement impugned his honour, and he demanded a copy of it with the right of reply. A public quarrel between the royal brothers, the king’s uncles, would benefit no one. Gloucester was jealous of Bedford and Bedford did not trust Gloucester, as a brother or as chief councillor.

The twelve-year-old King Henry, possibly advised by Cardinal Beaufort, whom he had been taught to trust during his stay in France, put an end to the argument. He ordered Bedford and Gloucester to surrender their memoranda into his hands and he declared them null and void. Nothing more was to be said or written. In his judgement their honour had not been called into question and he held them both in equal esteem as his affectionate and faithful uncles. The Council hastily confirmed the king’s judgement and Henry required them to reconcile their differences (3).

Cardinal Beaufort then stepped into the fray. On 10 May, to ease the tension and solve the immediate problem of financing the war in France, he offered a loan of 10,000 marks. King Henry thanked him personally, not though the Chancellor, and promised that the £6,000 Beaufort had pledged in 1432 to recover his jewels impounded by the Duke of Gloucester would be repaid (4).  

See Year 1432: Cardinal Beaufort.

(1) PPC IV, pp. 212-213 (names of those attending).

(2) PPC IV, pp. 223-226.  (Bedford’s statement).

(3) PPC IV, pp. 213-216 (Henry VI ended the argument).

(4) PPC IV, pp. 238 (Henry VI and Cardinal Beaufort).

The Duke of Bedford’s Requirements

June was a busy month for Bedford and the Council as he prepared to return to Rouen after a year’s absence. 

The Duke of Gloucester had caused Bedford more trouble and anxiety than anyone else, in England or in France. His offer to lead an army into France, implying as it did that Bedford was no longer up to the task, completed the breach between them. Bedford made up his mind, fatefully, that he would govern England and France simultaneously through councils on each side of the Channel. This would give him control of royal finance and curb whatever ambitions Gloucester still cherished.

Bedford made his intentions known to the Council and asked what salary he might expect as the king’s chief councillor in England. He reminded them that Gloucester had received between 4,000 marks and 8,000 marks annually as Protector and chief councillor. The Council was temporarily stunned at what they took to be Bedford’s demand for parity, and they were unable to answer him, but Bedford shamed them, and Gloucester. He offered to stand by the reduction in his salary to 1,000 marks as he had promised in the previous November.

On 4 June they thanked him and awarded him £1,000 annually for attending the Council in England backdated to 18 June 1433, the day of his arrival in England. He would receive £500 for crossing from England to France and another £500 for crossing from France to England as agreed by Parliament and exemplified under the great seal on 12 February 1434 (1).   

With that important point settled, Bedford put his proposals as to how best to finance the war in France. The first and most contentious was to divert the income from Duchy of Lancaster lands in the hands of King Henry V’s feoffees to pay the late king’s bequests under his will. This income could be used to fund a permanent army for France: a yearly recruitment of 200 men-at-arms and the appropriate ratio of archers.  

Bedford’s second proposal was that the large garrison at Calais should be put under his direct command. He said that although he had acceded to King Henry’s and Parliament’s request to govern England, it would be necessary to sustain his past services by returning to France from time to time. To do this he would need an army for his own protection and to prosecute the war. The Calais garrison was ready made for the purpose, and if the resources of the Pale of Calais as a whole, with the exception of the Duke of Gloucester as Captain of Guines, were put under his command, he could use the income accruing to the crown from trade and taxes to pay the garrison’s wages and sustain them in the field wherever they might be needed. This would in effect give him a private army, independent of the English Exchequer.

If the Council agreed to his proposals, Bedford offered to match them by a generous donation of his own: the income from the estates in Normandy granted to him by the king would be used for two years to raise a second army of the same size as that raised from Duchy of Lancaster income (2).  An uncooperative Parliament would not have to be coaxed to vote additional taxes.

Bedford’s suggestion to divert the income from Duchy of Lancaster lands may not have originated with him, but with the Duke of Gloucester, perhaps maliciously, but possibly because Gloucester believed that Henry V would have approved.    

These lands were under the supervision of Henry V’s feoffees, with Cardinal Beaufort as the principal executor of Henry’s will.  On 26 April, the same day as Gloucester offered to lead an army into France, the Council agreed that a register relating to the immunities and privileges of the Duchy of Lancaster should be delivered to them by John Leventhorpe, Keeper of the Records of the Duchy, and an executor of Henry V’s will (3). 

Harriss’s argument that Gloucester proposed to finance his expedition by having Cardinal Beaufort prosecuted under the law prohibiting the export of bullion, and once again seizing Beaufort’s treasure, is problematic (4). There is no evidence that Gloucester contemplated this; by 1434 it was far too late. Gloucester’s reference to it in 1440, when he was again at loggerheads with Beaufort, was to what he believed should have been done in 1432, i.e., retain the treasure, not to what he believed could be done in 1434.

Initially, on 14 and 15 June, the Council agreed in principle to Bedford’s proposals after Cardinal Beaufort and Lord Hungerford, on behalf of the other feoffees, asked for a day to consider whether they could in conscience divert Duchy of Lancaster income to the war in France. Only five of the original sixteen feoffees were still alive: Cardinal Beaufort, Henry Chichele, archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Langley, Bishop of Durham, Lord Hungerford and the duchy official John Leventhorpe.  They temporized. If sufficient funds were assigned to them to enable them to meet their obligations under Henry V’s will by November 1434, and they were quit of any future liability, they would agree to the income being diverted to Normandy.

The Duchy’s books would be searched to establish the income in the hands of the feoffees, and indentures for the command of Calais should be signed between the crown and Bedford. They thanked Bedford for his offer to finance a second army (5).

Did Bedford expect Cardinal Beaufort to agree to divert Duchy of Lancaster income away from himself and the other feoffees? With Bedford in the debating chamber and making generous offers, they could not refuse his request outright. There was very little likelihood that their condition could be met, but in any case, Beaufort would never allow it to happen. His large personal loans to the crown ensured his position in and outside council, and loans from Duchy income under his control regularly contributed to the armies for France. He would not willingly surrender them to Bedford or anyone else. Duchy income was not taken out of the hands of Henry V’s feoffees until many years later, but for the moment, it was politic to acquiesce.

Bedford appeared to have been granted all he asked, but it is noticeable that Gloucester, Cardinal Beaufort, Henry Chichele the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Hungerford, all of whom except Gloucester were Henry V’s feoffees, did not sign the Council’s agreement to divert income from the Duchy of Lancaster. 

The Council agreed to send 5,000 marks to Louis of Luxembourg, Bedford’s chancellor in France, to pay the garrisons in France for the Easter term last past. Richard Caudray, the clerk of the council, and Jean Rinel would receive an additional 26 nobles over and above what had previously been paid to Rinel to escort the money to France (6, 7). 

(1) PPC IV, pp. 218-221 (Bedford’s salary and travel costs).

(2) PPC IV, pp. 226-229 (Bedford’s proposals).

(3) PPC IV, p. 207 (delivery of Duchy of Lancaster records).

(4) Harriss, Beaufort, p. 236 (Beaufort’s treasure).  

(5) PPC IV, pp. 230-232 (Council’s reply).

(6) PPC IV, p. 233 (5,000 marks to Louis of Luxembourg; payment to Rinel).

(7) Foedera X, pp. 590-591 (5,000 marks to Louis to Luxemburg; payment to Rinel).

Cardinal Beaufort

The crown was heavily in debt to Cardinal Henry Beaufort. He had loaned 10,000 marks in May 1433 at the Duke of Bedford’s request while he was attending a council meeting in Calais. Members of the Minority Council had stood surety for 5,000 marks, half of the loan, and repayment had been assigned on ‘the first money’ accruing from the tax granted by Parliament to be collected in November.

See Year 1433: A Council at Calais for Beaufort’s loan.

The Council had agreed as early as February 1434 to give priority to refunding the money pledged by members of the council as security for the 1433 loan, Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury John Stafford, Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Chancellor, Philip Morgan Bishop of Ely, William Grey, Bishop of Lincoln, the Earl of Suffolk and Lord Hungerford. The Exchequer refunded the 5,000 marks (£3,333 6s 8d) to them on 14 June 1434 just as council members were once again required to give security for the repayment of Cardinal Beaufort’s second loan of 10,000 marks (1, 2).

On 15 June, the same day as the Council approved Bedford’s proposals, Cardinal Beaufort submitted his terms for the repayment of his loans:

‘Here folowe demandes þat I, Henry Cardinal of Englond aske and desire to be granted me of my sovereign lord’ (3).

He asked to be informed as to what assignments would be made and when, to repay the £6,000 he had pledged in 1432 to recover his jewels; King Henry had promised at the Great Council that this would be refunded to him in return for a further loan of 10,000 marks. 

The loan was to be assigned on the lay and clerical subsidies due in 1435. This was risky, given the state of crown’s finances but Beaufort never made loans without adequate security. 

Beaufort stipulated that he should be repaid in gold; and that he could retain the crown jewels pledged to him to the value of 7,000 marks and bonds from the council for 3,000 marks until he received repayment in full. He was to be paid the wages still outstanding for his services in France. He insisted that all the assignments made to him, to which he had agreed were not to be altered or reassigned by anyone, including the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester.

He announced that he had made certain vows which he must fulfil and requested a renewal of the licence issued to him in 1432 when it was thought he would go the Council at Basel, to take £20,000 abroad with him. He wanted a licence to go wherever he pleased without disclosing where, ‘because it would be dangerous for him if the time of his departure and the places to which he was going should become known.’

Harriss suggested that Beaufort planned to visit the shrine of St James at Compostella, but there was no reason to keep this visit a secret. It is more likely that the Cardinal planned to visit Rome and Pope Eugenius. Rome was a dangerous destination politically. Did he go? Beaufort’s whereabouts in the months following the Duke of Bedford’s departure for France are unknown (4).

The Duke of Gloucester, Archbishop Chichele and Lord Hungerford, who had not signed the Duke of Bedford’s request for Duchy of Lancaster income to be diverted to Normandy, signed the Cardinal’s terms with the rest of the Council.

A lengthy warrant to the Treasurer and the Exchequer for the refund of the £6,000, was issued on 16 June. It recapitulated the entire history of the fate of Beaufort’s treasure, from its seizure at Sandwich by royal officers on the Duke of Gloucester’s orders in 1432 to its restoration to him by Parliament in 1433 on his pledge of £6,000, and the promise by King Henry at the Great Council in May that the money would be repaid to him (5).

See Year 1432: Cardinal Beaufort.

The Council had tried in vain to raise enough money to equip the Duke of Bedford with an army for his return to France. ‘At the special contemplation of my seid lord of Bedford’ they had asked Cardinal Beaufort to loan an additional 3,000 marks to enable the duke to cross to Calais with an army. Beaufort complied ‘on certain conditions.’ He took the opportunity to remind the Council of his outstanding loans, and to reiterate the terms on which those loans had been made as set out in his memorandum of 15 June and to request that every member of the Council, including the Duke of Bedford swear a personal oath to ensure that his conditions would be met (6).

Jewels to the value of the full 10,000 marks were assigned to him at the Exchequer on 10 June (7). It is not really surprising that on 23 June Beaufort was given permission to retain possession of the jewels pledged to him for the repayment of his 10,000 marks, and the 3,000 marks loan, and of the £6,000 promised to him by Henry VI, but he extracted an unusual concession: not only could he retain the jewels until his debts were repaid in full, he was given the right, if they were not redeemed, to sell them to recover his money (8, 9). Crown jewels were routinely used as pledges for loans and often redeemed at a lower price agreed to with the Treasurer, but they could not be sold.  

Beaufort indented with the Treasurer Lord Cromwell on 27 June for delivery of certain crown jewels as security. They presumably formed part of the collection which John Merston as keeper of the king’s jewels had been ordered by Cromwell to turn over to him at the Exchequer in February 1434:

The king’s rich collar of gold studded with gems; the great ouche of the arms of St George; a gold sword called the sword of Spain; a gold tablet made in the shape of a book depicting the passion of Christ; a tabernacle of gold set with an image of Our Lady. two great golden candlesticks, set with gems; a pair of gold basins decorated with royal coats of arms. A model of a ship called the Tiger set with rubies and pearls; a pair of gold censors.

Beaufort may also have got his hands on “the crown Harry” valued at £6,000 which Henry V had pledged to his brother Thomas Duke of Clarence. It had been retained by Thomas’s widow, Margaret Duchess of Clarence until it was redeemed by the then Treasurer Lord Hungerford in 1430. (10). 

See 1430 John, Duke of Bourbon for ‘the crown Harry.’

In some ways Bedford was as naïve as Gloucester when it came to royal finances. He too assumed that the Council could, would, and should approve his plans and find the money to pay for them. But even Bedford’s expenses could not be met by Exchequer! Was he aware of the irony that although he might be heir to the throne, the king’s chief councillor, and Regent of France, the money to pay for his return to France had to be borrowed from the cardinal.

The crown of England was mortgaged to the Cardinal of England (11). Unlike Shylock, Beaufort did not demand his pound of flesh, but he did drain the crown’s life blood. The crown’s debt to him was never cleared, before or after King Henry came of age.

(1) PPC IV, pp. 202-203 and 242-243 (agreement to repay the security for the loan).

(2) Issues of the Exchequer, pp. 425-426 (repayment made).

(3) PPC IV, pp. 232-236 (Beaufort’s terms).

(4) Harriss, Beaufort, p. 242 (Beaufort’s destination).

(5) PPC IV, pp. 236-239 (warrant to repay £6,000).

(6) PPC IV, pp. 244-246 (loan for Bedford’s army and Council oath).

(7) Issues of the Exchequer, p. 425 (jewels worth the full 10,000 marks were delivered to him on 10 June).

(8) CPR 1429-14306, p. 414 (to retain the crown jewels).

(9) Foedera X, p. 593 (retain jewels).

(10) PPC IV, pp. 247-250 (list of jewels).

(11) Harriss, Beaufort, Appendix I, pp 401-406 (Beaufort’s loans).

The Duke of Bedford’s Departure

The Duke of Bedford attended his last council meeting in the Star Chamber at Westminster on 20 June. He reminded the members of the powers bestowed on him by Parliament, with which they had concurred, and required them to swear an oath ‘by the faith of their bodies’ that they would not make any attempt to undermine him in his absence by voting to alter or amend any of them (1). 

Bedford tried to recoup some of the loss of income he would sustain by his offer to finance an army from his revenues in Normandy. It was the only request that the Council ever refused him, albeit apologetically: a grant ‘to him and his heirs of the town, barony, and castle of Espar [Lesparre] together with the castles etc, thereto belonging in the Isle (sic) of Medoc in Bordeaux, the castles and lordships of Rozan [Rauzan]  and Pouios [Pujols] in the seneschally of Baxards [Bazas?] and the castle, castellany and town of Gensac’ (2).

Bedford was singularly ill informed about the status of lands in the Duchy of Gascony unless he expected his request to override all previous grants.

All the castles and lordships formerly belonging to Bernard de Lesparre ‘which the king ought to possess’ had been granted to the Duke of Gloucester in 1433 when it was discovered that they were in the hands of  Gaston de Foix, Count of Longueville, ‘lest the king’s right therein should be lost,’

The Médoc lordships of Pons, Lord of Castillon had been granted to the Duke of Gloucester when they escheated to the crown on Pons’s death in 1430. Gloucester was to hold them on a temporary basis as custodian, but in 1433 they had been granted to him and his heirs in full possession.

See Year 1433: Gascony for the grants to Gloucester.

The strategically important lordship of Lesparre in the Médoc had been acquired by King Henry V when Bernard de Lesparre, Lord of LaBarde, died in 1417. There were two claimants to the Lesparre inheritance and Henry granted William, Lord Clifford, then Constable of Bordeaux, special powers to annex the Lesparre lands and compensate both claimants with other grants (3).

Regretfully the Lords in Council informed Bedford that these lands had been purchased by Henry V at great expense, and that the revenues from Lesparre, Rauzan and Pujols, valued at 3,000 francs bordeaux annually, had been assigned to Lord Tiptoft in 1426 for debts due to him from the late king while he was Seneschal of Gascony. Bedford had been in England at the time this grant was made.

See Year 1426: the grant to Tiptoft.

The castles and lordships of Rozan [Rauzan] and Pouios [Pujols] in Baxards [Bazas?] also situated along the Gironde, had been recovered for the crown by Sir John Radcliffe in 1425.

The Lordship of Gensac had been granted only a month earlier, in May 1434, to the Gascon Johan de Lavergne for his and his family’s lifelong services to the crown in the war in Gascony for which he, and they, had receive no payment (4).

The Council said they did not dare to alienate the king’s inheritance or break his letters patent, and they prayed Bedford to hold them excused. If he wanted any other lands in Gascony which might escheat to the crown or through forfeit or rebellion, they would willingly grant them to him. They added naïvely that when King Henry came of age in 1437 they would advise him to reward Bedford’s eminent services by granting him the lands he requested. 

Bedford was to embark at Gravesend and the Council held their last meetings with him there, although Cardinal Beaufort and the Duke of Gloucester did not attend. Bedford’s presence in council is noted for the last time 30 June when he signed the letter to the Duke of Brittany (see below).

On 18 June the Council had awarded Jean de Courcelles 100 marks. Courcelles was a member of Bedford’s Grand Conseil in Paris who had formerly served King Charles VI but had lost most of his inheritance by remaining loyal the Bedford (5). He may have accompanied Bedford to England or have been sent by the Grand Conseil to urge Bedford to return France. The Exchequer records the payment to him of £666 13 4d on 6 July (6, 7).

On 30 June, the Council awarded 20 marks to James Lunayn one of the king’s secretaries in France whom Louis of Luxembourg had sent as a messenger to England, probably to find out when Bedford would arrive in France (8).  

(1) PPC IV, pp. 243-244 (Bedford’s reminder to council). 

(2) PPC IV, pp, 246-247 (Bedford’s request for lands in Gascony)

(3) https://www.gasconrolls.org/edition/calendars/C61_117/document.html

(4) https://www.gasconrolls.org/edition/calendars/C61_125/document.html

(5) Rowe, ‘The Grand Conseil, p. 212 (Courcelles).

(6) PPC IV, p. 242 (reward to Courcelles).

(7) Issues of the Exchequer, p. 426 (payment to Courcelles).

(8) PPC IV, p. 259 (payment to Lunayn. This is the only reference to him in the Proceedings).     

The Duke of Brittany

Duke John of Brittany sent three ambassadors, Jean de Malestroit, Bishop of Nantes and Chancellor, who had led previous embassies to England, Thiebault de la Claretiere, and Aloyan Caynon to England in June 1434 to urge King Henry to make peace with King Charles VII, referred to in King Henry’s reply as ‘son adversaire le Dauphin.’

It seems probable that Jean de Malestroit also requested that Giles of Brittany, the Duke of Brittany’s younger son who had been resident in the royal household as a companion for King Henry since 1432, should return to Brittany with them.

See Year 1432 The Duke of Brittany.

On 6 July the Council gave permission for Giles to join his father, who was reported to be anxious to see him and wished him to be reunited with Duke John’s other children (1).  A short personal letter from King Henry acknowledged Brittany’s letters and assured his tres cher uncle that he was in good health; he expressed his pleasure at learning that the duke was in good health too.

A formal reply to the Duke of Brittany in King Henry’s name was drafted on 30 June at Gravesend and signed by the Duke of Bedford just before he left England and other members of the council.

The letter reiterated the by now standard English response to those who urged the king to make peace with France, that he had done all he could: he had had the captive French lords brought to Dover and kept there for six weeks in 1433, but the French had failed to come to Calais. This unaccountable behaviour had made it far too dangerous in time of war, and too expensive, for him to consider having the prisoners conducted as far as Caen, as had been suggested.

See Year 1433: The Council at Calais.

Duke John was reminded that Henry had initially refused the Council at Basel’s offer to take over the peace negotiations, because he did not think it right to jeopardise Cardinal Albergati’s efforts; but in 1433, after Albergati failed, he had sent ambassadors to Basel, and requested Brittany to do likewise, for the good of the church and to assist the English and Burgundian delegates to negotiate a peace. The English delegation had been specifically instructed to contact the Breton embassy with this in mind.

See Year 1433 The Duke of Brittany

(1) PPC IV, p. 278 (Giles of Brittany).

(2) PPC IV, pp. 254-250 (formal reply to the Duke of Brittany; King Henry’s personal letter).

Charles, Duke of Orleans

The Duke of Orleans had been a prisoner in England since his capture at Agincourt in 1415. In 1433 Orleans’s had offered to broker a peace accord with the French in order to obtain his release (1). His initiative failed; King Charles VII was not interested, and Orleans faith in support for him among the French nobility was misplaced.

See Year 1433: The Duke of Orleans.

On 1 July 1434 the councillors still at Gravesend resolved to make use of the Duke of Orleans once again. The only council members noted in the Proceedings, other than Bedford, as being at Gravesend were John Kemp, Archbishop of York and three other bishops, Humphrey Earl of Stafford was there on business of his own, the Earl of Suffolk who may have promoted the scheme, Lord Hungerford the ex-treasurer, and Lord Cromwell the current treasurer  They were the hard core of the Council who hoped to ease the burden of financing the war, but they were not representative of the Council as a whole, and certainly not of the Great Council. On the question of war or peace the Council was divided.

Despite all the evidence, the crowning of the Dauphin Charles as King of France at Rheims in 1429 with all his nobility present, the crowning of King Henry in Paris in 1431 after a two year delay, with no French lord, not even the Duke of Burgundy, present, the belief persisted in England that the ‘Dauphin’ whom the English war captains had long derided, was of no account, and that the princes of France would be willing to set him aside and reach an accommodation with the English on the advice of the Duke of Orleans who was next in line for the throne after King Charles’s onlyson the Dauphin Louis.

Orleans had claimed that if he could meet representatives of the French nobility freely he could persuade them to follow his lead and recognise Henry VI as King of France as the basis for a negotiated peace.  Factions at the French court had opposed King Charles and his favourites on more than one occasion, but no one in England, including Orleans, had yet grasped the vital point that the French nobility, whatever their differences with their king, would never recognise Henry VI as King of France.

The Earl of Suffolk was instructed to relay the Council’s offer to the duke (1):

If the French princes of the blood would come to Calais at Orleans’s request, or send their proctors, which they had previously refused to do until they could speak with Orleans in person, the Duke of Bedford, the Duke of Gloucester and Cardinal Beaufort would meet them there, and Orleans would be brought to Calais, but only after the French had arrived. This may have been the excuse used by the French in 1433 for not coming to Calais when Bedford was there, since Orleans was to be brought no further than Dover.

If the French lords did not come in person but sent their ambassadors, Orleans would still be brought to Calais after his safe passage was assured and he would be kept in safe custody while he was there.

If Orleans failed to secure a treaty or a truce, he would be required to pay the expenses of the embassy King Henry would send with him, as well as his own. He must give security for this before being allowed to leave England, and even then, the consent of the rest of the Council (those not at Gravesend?) would have to be obtained; Orleans could not be allowed his liberty on the responsibility of one man alone (the Earl of Suffolk?)

The Council seemed as anxious that the Duke of Orleans should pay his own expenses as they were that a meeting in Calais should take place. Some of them may have doubted that this second try would be any more successful than that of a year earlier and they did not wish to look foolish. 

At the end of 1433 the Council had issued safe conducts for two servants of Dunois, Bastard of Orleans ‘coming to England for the ransom of the Earl of Suffolk’ (2). On 15 July safe conducts were again issued to Dunois’s servants (3). Suffolk was steward of the royal household, but he had been Dunois’s prisoner, and Dunois expected Suffolk to keep his promise to do all he could to obtain Orleans’s release in return for a reduction of his ransom.

 (1) PPC IV, pp. 259-261 (Council’s proposal to the Duke of Orleans).

(2) Foedera X, p. 566 (Dunois’s servants to England).

(3) Foedera X, p. 590 (safe conducts).

Sir Thomas Rempston’s Ransom

Sir Thomas Rempston  was captured by Tanneguy du Chastel the Prévot of Paris at the Battle of Patay in 1429. His ransom was set at 18,000 écus; of this 6,000 écus had been paid by 1433; another three thousand would be paid when Rempston was released. The balance was to be covered by the transfer to Tanneguy of William Le Bouteiller (1).

Le Bouteiller was one of six hostages who, together with John, Count of Angoulême, had been held in England since 1412 (2). Bouteiller’s servant, John Wanebier, had received a safe conduct to visit him in 1427 (3).

The background to Le Bouteiller’s captivity, and the conditions for his release in exchange for Rempston are complicated; they stretch back over twenty years and involve a number of important people.

Thomas, Duke of Clarence, King Henry V’s brother, had led an army into France in 1412 to aid the Armagnac (Orleanist) faction against John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy. By the time Clarence arrived a fragile peace had been patched up, and Clarence’s presence was an embarrassment, but Clarence refused to leave.

He demanded compensation for his expenses, or he would ravage the Duke of Orleans’s lands. The Armagnacs had to buy him off. By the Treaty of Buzançais in November 1412, the Duke of Orleans and the Dukes of Berry and Bourbon, agreed to pay Clarence 150,000 gold écus to take his army out of France. Clarence extracted the promise of another 60,000 écus before he would do so, a total of 210,00 écus (£40,000 to £42,000) (4).

Orleans callously pledged his younger brother John of Angoulême and six other hostages for payment, knowing full well it was beyond his means. Clarence returned to England taking Angoulême and the other hostages with him: four from Orleans’s household including William Le Bouteiller, and two from Angoulême’s household.

The 178,600 écus promised by Orleans was never fully paid. Although most of the money went to Clarence, his war captains also had a claim: Edward, Duke of York, Richard Earl of Cambridge and Thomas Beaufort, Earl of Dorset, later Duke of Exeter, were to share 12,000 écus, but by 1434 they were dead. “That wily knight Sir John Cornwall exacted no less than 21,375 écus for himself and his household with the additional proviso that after all payments to Clarence had been made, the hostages surrendered to ensure the terms of the treaty should remain in Cornwall’s household until he had received the whole sum due to him.”

In 1433 the Council had requested Sir John Cornwall, now Lord Fanhope, and the Duke of Orleans’s former custodian, to expedite Rempston’s release ‘that long hath abided and yet abideth among the king’s enemies in hard prison in France’ by agreeing to allow Le Bouteiller to be exchanged for Rempston, even though the Duke of Orleans had undertaken that none of the hostages he had given for his debt to the Duke of Clarence in 1412 should leave England until the debt had been paid.

Cornwall agreed to release Le Bouteiller provided the Council permitted Orleans, as royal prisoner, to pay him 2,000 écus (£410). The duke promised ‘on the word of a prince’ to pay Cornwall by 1 November 1433. The Chancellor was instructed to issue a licence under the Great Seal authorising the agreement, and a safe conduct was to be issued for William Le Bouteiller to return to France (5, 6). The Duke of Orleans reneged on his promise, as he was apt to do, and Le Bouteiller remained in England.

Sir Thomas Rempston’s plight was raised again in Council on 8 July 1434, possibly by the Earl of Suffolk who had been engaged in the early negotiations for his release.  Sir John Cornwall again agreed to allow Le Bouteiller to return to France on the same conditions as before, provided he could be assured that Orleans’s promise that the other hostages in Sir John’s custody would not be allowed to leave England until he had received all that was due to him (7, 8). “Green Cornwall was never one to let a single penny slip through his fingers.”

A safe conduct for Le Bouteiller to return to France was issued on 13 July 1434 and two days later safe conducts were issued to William Bourgoing (or LeBourgoing) and Benedict de Vaux ‘going to France to treat with Tanneguy de Chastel for the liberation of Thomas Rempston.’ The same safe conduct for LeBourgoing ‘and others, servants of the Duke of Orleans,’ was issued again on 4 November (9). The negotiations failed and Rempston remained in France.

A petition on his behalf was submitted to Parliament in 1435 ‘considering that the said suppliant is unable to have his release in any other way than by the release of the said Guillaume’ (10). The petition requested that Le Bouteiller be placed in Rempston’s mother’s custody and that of her associates. She had had raised the first half of his ransom from her own resources by borrowing, and by coming to an arrangement through the Earl of Suffolk with the Duke of Exeter’s executors over any claim they might make on the 9,000 écus of Rempston’s exchange for Le Bouteiller.

See Year 1427: The Council and the Magnates ‘The Duke of Exeter.

The king assented, provided that it did not set a precent for the release of Angoulême or the other hostages,’ and provided that Margaret, Duchess of Clarence, gave her consent. When Clarence was killed at the Battle of Baugé in 1421 custody of Angoulême passed to his widow, the Duchess of Clarence (11). Like Cornwall Duchess Margaret never let money slip through her fingers if she could help it, and she refused her consent. If Cornwall had been one of the impediments to this hostage exchange, the other was the Duchess of Clarence.

Thomas Rempston was back in England by the end of 1435 or early 1436, but not through an exchange with Le Bouteiller. After the Duchess of Clarence refused permission for the exchange, Rempston, or more probably his mother and the Earl of Suffolk, arranged to borrow the second half of ransom from a consortium London merchants which Rempston undertook to repay in a complicated, confused, and indeed mysterious series of financial agreements.

 Le Bouteiller remained in England until 1440 when a payment of 10,000 écus towards the Count of Angoulême’s ransom secured his release. Safe conducts were issued to him and to his servant Ralph Vaguet on 20 June 1440 ‘going from England to France for the liberation of William Le Bouteiller (12).


(1) J.L. Bolton, ‘How Sir Thomas Rempston paid his ransom’, in L. Clark (ed.) Conflict Consequences and the Crown in the later Middle Ages (2007), pp. 101- 118; pp. 104 and 109 for the quotations. Bolton (p. 110, n. 25) cites G. Dupont-Ferrier ‘La Captivité de Jean d’Orléans, Comte d’Angoulême (1415-1455), Revue Historique, lxii (1892) pp. 67-68 for Bouteiller’s release.

(2) Jones, ‘Beaufort Family,’ p. 24 (Bouteiller a hostage).

(3) Foedera X, p. 374 (Bouteiller’s servant safe conduct).

(4) Sumption, Cursed Kings, pp. 326-328 (Orleans and Clarence).

(5) PPC IV, pp. 164-165 (agreement of May 1433).         

(6) Foedera X, pp. 551-552 (agreement of May 1433).

(7) PPC IV, pp. 278-279 (agreement of July 1434).

NB: The agreement to release Le Bouteiller is followed in the Proceedings IV (pp. 279-280) by a recapitulation of the authority granted by Parliament in 1431 for peace negotiations be opened with France provided the conditions were favourable conditions. This was presumably a reminder, in the context of a prisoner exchange, that negotiations with the French could legally be undertaken at any time.

(8) Foedera X, p.  595 (agreement of July 1434).

(9) DKR xlviii, French Rolls, pp.  299 and 301 (safe conducts)

(10) PROME XI. pp. 179-180 (petition for Rempston’s release).

(11) M. Jones, ‘Henry VII, Lady Margaret Beaufort and the Orleans Ransom,’ in Kings and Nobles in the Later Middle Ages, ed. R.A. Griffiths and J. Sherborne, pp. 254–257.

(12) DKR xlviii, French Rolls, pp. 334 and 336 (Le Bouteiller’s release).



The Minority Council, July to December

The Council met five times in the first week of July after the Duke of Bedford left England.

On 2 July they agreed that the Treasurer, Lord Cromwell, should inform the captains and lieutenants of the castles in the Pale of Calais that they were now under the command of the Duke of Bedford. Cromwell was to negotiate with them (at his own suggestion?) for the lowest rate of pay that they would accept, ‘to bring them to as little a sum as he may,’ for themselves and their retinues, to be paid within two years (1).

A long preamble in the Proceedings for 2 July 1434 recites the precedent set in 1424 for councillors’ wages and the amounts individual members were to be paid according to their rank and length of service.

See Year 1424: The Minority Council, Wages.

Humphrey, Earl of Stafford had become a council member in March 1426 at a salary of 200 marks a year. He was called on to account for the wages he has received because the record of his presence at and absence from council meetings after that date were incomplete (he had been in France with King Henry from 1430). He was required to account at the Exchequer for the money he had received from the Treasurer charged against him as ‘apprests,’ and when he had received it, to set the record straight (2). 

Writs of ‘liberate’ (a writ issued by the Chancery for the payment of a pension or other royal allowance) were issued to everyone holding long standing annuities and those granted by the king, to park keepers, constables, and the like (3). This may have been to reassure people that Bedford was still in control of the government, and that no changes in the status quo would occur while he was out of the country. 

William Goodrede was appointed as a justice of the King’s Bench.  He had served on assorted royal commissions from 1429. He was a justice of the peace for the town of Cambridge in 1429-1430 and for the county of Norfolk in 1430-1431. He was appointed a justice of assize in June 1434, and as a justice of the King’s Bench during pleasure on 3 July. In addition to his salary, he was granted 110 marks a year and robes at Christmas and Whitsuntide, ‘in order that he may honourably maintain his estate’ (4, 5).

 Ralph Radcliff and Robert Longley, esquires of the county of Lancaster, had been bound by the justices in that county to appear before the council to account for certain riots committed by them in the said county.  They appeared on 12 November 1434 (6).  Both men had taken the oath administered throughout the counties of England in May 1434 to keep the peace and ‘not to maintain peace breakers’ (7).

(1) PPC IV, p. 261 (wages of Calais garrisons).

(2) PPC IV, pp. 262-265 (Earl of Stafford to account for his salary).

(3) PPC IV, p. 261 (writs of liberate).

(4) PPC IV, p. 265 (Goodrede appointed justice).

(5) CPR 1429-1436, pp. 345 and 437 (Goodrede appointed justice).

(6) PPC IV, pp. 287-89 (two men accused of riots in Lancaster).

(7) CPR 1429-1436, p. 379 (oath to keep the peace).

John of Luxembourg, Count of Ligny, was granted 1,000 marks in July for his recent services to King Henry in the Marches of Picardy. The money was to be raised from the fee for the marriage of Henry Grey from his lordship of Powis and from certain obligations still owed by the late Henry, Lord Scrope, when the money should come to hand (1).

Henry Grey was the son of Sir John Grey of Heton, whom Henry V had created Count of Tancarville, who was killed at the Battle of Baugé in 1421, and Joan, Lady of Powis, who died in 1425.  Her lands and Henry Grey’s wardship had been granted to the Duke of Bedford in 1425.

See Year 1425: The Minority Council, John Duke of Bedford.

King Henry had knighted Henry Grey at Leicester in 1426. On 26 October 1434 the Council confirmed a warrant under the privy seal dated 20 September granting Henry Grey £40 yearly during his minority, his lands being in the king’s hands (2). Was the grant made at the request of the king and needed the council’s confirmation? Henry Grey married Antigone, the natural daughter of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester.

(1) PPC IV, pp. 261-262 (payment to John of Luxembourg).

(2) PPC IV, p. 280 (Grant of income to Henry Grey).

King Henry

King Henry was in London during the Great Council meeting in May; he moved to the royal palace at Kenilworth in June and remained in the West Country throughout the winter of 1434-1435.   

“And in 1434, about the Feast of St John the Baptist, [24 June] the king went to Kenilworth, and stayed in the west of England until Easter [17 April 1435]” 

                                                            Benet’s Chronicle, p. 184

On 1 July the Council authorized the Earl of Warwick, as the king’s governor, and the Earl of Suffolk as steward of the household, to ‘remove’ the king ‘for an evident cause or other necessity’ (1). Since Warwick had been granted authority in 1428 to move the royal household whenever and wherever he saw fit or if there was a threat of plague or pestilence, this directive appears to be unnecessary.

Was the Council concerned, as they had been in 1428, that it was still too easy to gain unauthorized access to the king?

See Year 1428: The Earl of Warwick as Henry’s governor.

King Henry would be thirteen on 6 December 1434. He was in residence at St Mary’s Abbey in Cirencester as the guest of Abbot William Wotton on 12 November when he received a visit from members of the Council with a remonstrance and a plea signed by Cardinal Beaufort, the Dukes of York and Norfolk, the bishops of Durham, Ely, Bath, Lincoln, and Norwich. The Earls of Warwick, Stafford, Suffolk, and Northumberland. Lords Beaumont, Welles, Cromwell, Hungerford, Tiptoft, William Lyndwood, Keeper of the Privy Seal (who brought it with him to Cirencester) and Sir William Phelip. The signatories were not all members of the Minority Council, and that the Council sought their endorsement suggests that it was seriously concerned; the one notable omission is the Duke of Gloucester.

Chancellor Stafford, Bishop of Bath and Wells, had the task of reading the remonstrance to the king:

It had come to the Council’s attention that King Henry was being encouraged to take a more active part in government and possibly to change the membership of the council and that this dangerous advice might be repeated. They declared that while they would never accroach on the royal prerogative or the freedom and power of the king, and they acknowledged that Henry was as intelligent and well informed as any prince of his age could be, nevertheless he was not yet sufficiently mature or experienced in government to be able to make decisions in matters of state: ‘matters of great weight and difficulty.’ 

They respectfully requested that Henry should not listen to any advice given to him without the Council’s knowledge. They had governed the country well and faithfully on his behalf since he came to the throne, and he should trust them to continue to do so. He should not consider taking any action whatsoever without first consulting them (2, 3).

The culprit in attempting to lead the king astray was probably the Duke of Gloucester, the Council undoubtedly thought so. The council minutes record only that King Henry accepted the rebuke. Granted that Gloucester may have tried to influence Henry for his own ends, Henry himself may well have thought that he was old enough to be allowed some say in government. He had taken an active part in the Great Council in May and had been used by the Council to silence both Bedford and Gloucester at that time. The king’s advisors had once again taken steps to protect their interests,  and the young king’s natural inclination was sacrificed in the name of good government. Henry’s compliant nature made him accept what his father, even at the age of thirteen, would not have tolerated. 

(1) PPC IV, p. 261 (Warwick authorised to ‘remove’ the king).

(2) PPC IV, pp. 287-289 (Council’s rebuke to King Henry).

(3) Rot. Parl V, p. 438 (Council’s rebuke to King Henry).


At the end of October 1434, the Chancellor was directed to issue writs to the justices and law officers that as the king’s sergeants and attorneys had withdrawn from London because of plague the law courts were to be suspended from November 1434 to January 1435, and the sheriffs were to retain custody of all returnable writs during this period (1).

(1) PPC IV, pp. 282-283 (law courts closure).

There were outbreaks of plague in 1433 and 1434/35, especially in London and other populous towns. The bad weather and food shortages may have been a contributing factor to the high death rate.

“And in þis same yere was a grete pestilence in London, bothe of men, women and children; and namely of worthy men, as aldermen and oþer worthi communiers; and also thrugh England þe peple deyed sore, bothe pore and riche which was grete hevynesse to all peple.”                          Brut Continuation F, p. 467

Brief Notes in Three Fifteenth Century Chronicles (p. 149) records a great frost and a great pestilence.

Weather and Food

The winters in 1433/34 and 1434/35 were harsh.  That of 1434 to 1435 was particularly severe, a ‘great frost’ brought freezing temperatures from the end of November to the middle of February.  An English Chronicle called it the worst winter in living memory.  The Thames froze over so that horses and carts could cross it on the ice.  Imported wine which would normally have been transported upriver had to be brought into the city by road from Gravesend over the very steep Shooters Hill near Greenwich.

The chronicles all record ‘the great frost’ and its consequences:

“And the winter was bitter, for God did not lift the frost from the land between the feast of St Katherine and the feast of St Scholastica. Many Londoners crossed over the Thames on the ice.”  Benet’s Chronicle, p.  184

“In the xiijthe  yere of the regne of Kyng Henry the vjte was the grettest froste that was in many a day before for it began vpon Saynt Kateryn even and lasttit to þe iiijte day of Marche the space of xvj wekes. And Temmes þat tyme was so sore frosen             that the vintage of Burseux went ouer Shoters Hill: for þe shippis with wyne might come nonerre then Sandewiche and þat froste þat tyme distroyet oisters, and muskelles and fresshe-water fish through þe moost party of Englond.”    Brut Continuation H, p. 571

“Ao xiij.  In this year was a grete frost that enduryd from seint Katerines day unto seint Valentynes day after wherfore the vyntage myght not come to London but by carte over Shoters hille frome Gravesende, Northflete, Greneheth, and other places both on Kent side and Essex.  A Chronicle of London, J B I, pp. 171-172

“In this same yere began a grete frost that began on Seynt Andrrewys day and duryd vnto seynt Valentyn, and grete snowe with all, that grete multitude of Byrdes and fowlys dyed ffor honger.” Chronicles of London, Cleopatra C IV, p. 137

“And in this yere, and in pe yere of grace M.ccc.xxxiv, þe xxij day of Nouember, the grete and hard frost bygan; and it endured vnto the fest of Candelmasse next, which destroyed þe olde peple, bothe men and women, and also yong children. And also in that same tyme deyed many bay trees, and rosemary, sauge, tyme and many oþer herbes.”  Brut Continuation F, p. 467

“And in this yere was a passing grete winter and a colde frost Which began on seynt kateryns eve and dured into the xth day of the Moneth of Feverere than next suyng.  It was so stronge that no ship might saile. Wherefore the wynes of the vyntage came by londe to London in Cartes from the downes through Kente and ovyr sheters hille. Which seldom hath be seen or nevyr.  Great Chronicle, pp. 171-172

Weather in the Chronicles: English Chronicle, p. 60; Short English Chronicle, p. 61; Chronicle of London (Harley 565) p. 120; Brut Continuation G, p. 503; Annales (pseudo Worcester), p. 761; English Historical Literature (Waltham Annals)  pp. 351-352.

General Council of the Church at Basel             

The second English delegation to the Council at Basel probably left England at about the same time as the Duke of Bedford sailed for France. They arrived in Basel on 5 August 1434, but the Minority Council had been preparing since February to send new representatives with a different set of instructions, to join the few members of the first delegation who were still there.

See Year 1433: General Council of the Church at Basel.

Robert Fitzhugh, Bishop of London and John Langdon, Bishop of Rochester were to head the new delegation. Fitzhugh was already in Basel. In May the Council confirmed that he would not be required to go elsewhere, and he could return to England in a year’s time; but should he be sent somewhere else other than Basel he would be paid the usual wages of a bishop on a diplomatic mission. In the meanwhile, he could export 2,000 marks, and be free of prosecution by royal officials for as long he remained abroad (1).

John Langdon was to have gone to Basel in 1433 but he was side tracked to attend Cardinal Albergati’s peace conferences. Langdon never got a chance to take part in the deliberations at Basel, he arrived in August and died there in September 1434 (2).

“Ande that same yere at the Counselle of Basyle dedye the Byschoppe of Rochester.     Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 177.

William Worstede, Prior of Holy Trinity, Norwich, and Thomas Brouns, Dean of Salisbury, were still in Basel. Worstede received protection for one year in January 1434, presumably because he was expected to remain where he was (3).

Thomas Brouns was caught up in the dispute between Pope Eugenius and the Minority Council over the appointment of a successor to Thomas Polton, Bishop of Worcester who had died at Basel in 1433. Brouns was ordered to stay put and on 26 April 1434 he was awarded £180 for his stay in Basel for six months (4).

See below The Council and the Papacy for Thomas Brouns.

Bernard de la Planche, Bishop of Dax, was named in February. He was authorised to take books, plate, jewels, and gold and silver coin, to maintain himself and his servants, to the value of 400 marks (5). Walter Colles, the Constable of Bordeaux was ordered to pay him 100 marks for his expenses, and the bishop petitioned that it might be paid to him in England (6).

Theobald Dages, the Dean of Bordeaux, was also authorised to export books, plate, jewels, and gold and silver coin, provided he went to Basel (7).  Apparently, he did not go, or at least not officially; he is not listed among the ten delegates accredited to the General Council. Planche and Dages were Gascons, and it may be that the English bureaucracy became confused as to which of them was to go, since the same permission to export goods and coin was issued to both.

William Wells, Abbot of York and Nicholas Frome, Abbot of Glastonbury who was already at Basel, were to represent Convocation. Wells was licenced to export 1,000 marks and issued a protection from prosecution (8). 

John Ripon, Abbot of Fountains was licenced in May to take 1,000 marks with him as an ambassador for Convocation (9, 10) but he is not listed in the official authorisation with Wells and Frome. He may have been too ill to make the journey, he died in 1434.

Sir Thomas Launcelewee turcopolier of Rhodes was a late appointment, on 10 June. He was licenced to take 500 marks to Basel (11). ‘Turcoplier’ was a rank in the army of the Hospitallers, the Order of St John of Jerusalem at Rhodes, in command of mounted archers.  Launcelewee may have been visiting the headquarters of the Order of St John in England at Clerkenwell in 1434.

Edmund Beaufort, Earl of Mortain, Cardinal Beaufort’s nephew, was to take 3,000 marks with him (12, 13). Sir Henry Brounflete was authorised in February to take £2,000 with him (14, 15). Sir John Colville who was in Basel, completed the delegation (16).

A blanket protection for the delegates going to Basel and those accompanying them for one year was issued on 14 April 1434 and three letters of attorney were issued for Nicholas Frome, Abbot of Glastonbury (17). Protection for Thomas Caldecote of Hawich, William Auderby of London. and Louis Rede, a clerk, accompanying the Earl of Mortain was issued in June  (18).

(1) PPC IV, p. 582 (Fitzhugh).

(2) Langdon’s death is noted in Chronicles of London (Cleopatra C IV, (p. 136) and Great Chronicle (p. 171).

(3) Foedera X, p. 567 (Worstede).

(4) PPC IV, pp. 207-208 (Brouns).

(5) Foedera X, p. 572 (Planche).

(6) PPC IV, p. 153 (Planche, misdated to 1433).

(7) PPC IV, p. 204 (Dages).

(8) Foedera X, p. 586 (Wells) ; p. 587 (Frome).

(9) Foedera X, p. 586 (Abbot of Fountains).

(10) CPR 1429-1436 dated 13 May 1434, p. 341 (Abbot of Fountains).

(11) Foedera X, pp. 588-589 (Launcelewee).

(12) Foedera X, pp. 570 and 571 (Earl of Mortain).

(13) CPR 1429-1436, p. 340 (Earl of Mortain).

14) Foedera X, p. 574 (Brounflete £2,000).

(15) CPR 1429-1436, p. 339 (Brounflete).

(16) CPR 1429-1436, p. 342 (lay delegates named).

(17) Foedera X, p. 576 (protections and letters of attorney).

(18) Foedera X, p. 592 (Earl of Mortain’s retinue).


In April the Council decided it would be worthwhile to buy a little goodwill. John Merston, keeper of the king’s jewels, was given £100 in cash to purchase ninety collars, six of gold, fourteen of silver gilt and seventy ‘other collars of silver,’ to be delivered to the Treasurer and sent to the Emperor Sigismund for distribution to knights, esquires, and the inhabitants of Basel as the Emperor and the English delegation saw fit (1, 2, 3).

At the end of May 400 ducats were allocated to the delegates ‘to be expended in retaining advocates on the king’s behalf’ (4).  And in June John Langdon Bishop of Rochester, received 100 marks for the same purpose.  Langdon was given special instructions to handle possible truce negotiations with French delegates, and he may have expected to hire legal experts to argue his case (5).

In July the Council sent Master John Stokes, Doctor of Laws on a special embassy to the Emperor Sigismund, probably in connection with English participation at Basel. He was to be paid 20 shilling (£1) a day for his expenses (6, 7).

Stokes had previous experience of dealing with Sigismund: King Henry V had sent him and Walter de la Pole to negotiate with Sigismund in the summer of 1421 (8). Stokes may have visited Sigismund in 1423 when on embassy with William Grey, Bishop of London, to the papal court at Rome.

See Year 1423: Foreign Relations for Stokes as an envoy to Rome.

(1) PPC IV, p. 207 (purchase of collars).

(2) Issues of the Exchequer, p. 424 (purchase of collars).

(3) Foedera X, p. 576 (purchase of collars).

(4) PPC IV, p. 217 (retaining advocates).

(5) PPC IV, p. 221 (Langdon to retain advocates).

(6) Foedera X, p. 594 (Stokes to Sigismund).

(7) PPC IV, p. 265 (Stokes to Sigismund).

(8) Foedera X, p. 144; Wylie and Waugh III, p 359 (Stokes envoy of Henry V).

Instructions to Delegates

Formal instructions under the Great and Privy Seals signed by the regular members of the Council, but not by the Duke of Bedford, were issued on 31 May to the ten delegates being sent to Basel. (1, 2). Their names were confirmed in a letter of credence dated 3 June 1434 (3).

The delegates were instructed to behave impartially and not out of self-interest, to act in unison with discretion and dignity, while keeping their deliberations and instructions a secret. They were to delay their formal incorporation as recognised members of the Council at Basel for as long as possible while they learned the Council’s views on important issues, presumably the quarrel with Pope Eugenius and to seek the support of the Emperor Sigismund and other ‘influential persons.’ They were not to take the oath of incorporation until concessions on its wording had been made to them.  In this, and only this, they were successful. 

Their instruction vis à vis Pope Eugenius was ambiguous. They were to urge the Council to avoid schism but to use their judgement as to how far they might legitimately support the Church Fathers in their bid to curb papal authority. But they were to protest against any specific measures the Council proposed to take against the Pope.

Archbishops Chichele and Kemp, and possibly other members of Convocation, apparently feared that the cardinals might act on their threat to depose the pope. If the delegates learned before reaching Basel, that the cardinals had proceeded against the pope they were to do their best on arrival to negate any measures detrimental to the good of the Church as a whole. This included the election of a new pope to replace Eugenius; if this happened, they were not to proceed to Basel at all but stay wherever they were, send word back to England, and await further instructions.  The English Council had their differences with Pope Eugenius, but to depose him was going too far. To discipline a pope was one thing, to remove him was quite another.

There were several points of ecclesiastical jurisdiction which the General Council was competent to pronounce on, and the delegates were instructed to reject them:  any attempt to interfere with the ecclesiastical statutes and ordinances of the English Church was to be firmly resisted.  The delegates were to protest that they could not debate such an important question, it had not been raised by the General Council’s letters and envoys to the king, and they had no powers to deal with it.

The legality of the crown’s appropriation of alien priories, begun by Henry V and continued under Henry VI was justified because the income had been used only for religious purposes, as was entirely proper (if not strictly true). If any of the Norman clergy who had been deprived of their benefices by Henry V complained to the Council their complaints were to be rejected. 

The delegates were to confer with the envoys of the Dukes of Burgundy and Brittany as England’s allies as to the status of the churches in France under English jurisdiction and to demand the same privileges for churches in Gascony as was permitted to those in France. 

They were to insist that voting on all matters should be by nation and not by groups of individuals. The Council of Constance had required the consent of the nation as a whole for any edicts affecting that nation and this precedent should be followed. At the same time, they were to insist that King Henry’s French delegates be given seats on the council with the English since his title as King of France was not to be questioned. 

The English were in fact attempting to have their cake and eat it too. On the one hand they insisted on the right to vote as a nation, and on the other they demanded that the General Council accept the dual monarchy and recognise Henry VI’s French/Norman delegates.  They achieved neither.

Although mentioned in their letters of credence, the possibility of peace negotiations comes well down the list of instructions. Offers by the cardinals at Basel to act as mediators in negotiations with the French were to be declined. The delegates were to repeat the standard line, adopted in King Henry’s name in correspondence with the Dukes of Burgundy and Brittany since 1432:  King Henry wanted peace, and he had done all he could to accommodate ‘his adversary of France’ in this matter, but the French had twice refused the opportunity offered them to come to Calais and negotiate.

If, however, an impartial mediator was appointed, the English would consider meeting French envoys on neutral ground, at Cambrai, in Hainault, or in Brabant, significantly Burgundian territory.  Their preference would be to negotiate for a truce to last for several years.  The bishop of Rochester had been given special instructions on this point, and it may have been his death that prevented any agreement. None of the other delegates to Basel were competent to handle negotiations with the French.

Robert Fitzhugh, Bishop of London, presented his credentials to Cardinal Cesarini on 17 August, and in his speech, he referred to Henry VI as King of France. This elicited an objection from the Bishop of Lyons and an altercation between Fitzhugh and the Archbishop of Tours.

The English delegates, with the exception of the Bishop of Rochester, but including Sir Thomas Launcelewee the turcopolier of Rhodes, accepted incorporation on 22 October. They swore only a partial oath:  to deal faithfully with the General Council and give impartial advice. They did not swear to accept or uphold conciliar decisions as the full oath required. This brought protests from the King of Castile’s ambassadors and from French envoys representing King Charles VII. The Norman/ French delegates representing Henry VI as King of France were excluded.

The Minority Council was always at least one step behind events whatever their intentions in sending delegates to Basel. On 17 November, just as the Earl of Mortain and Thomas Brouns were leaving Basel, the Council ordered that letters of exchange valued at 1,000 marks should be sent to ‘the king’s ambassadors’ at Basel to be distributed ‘according to their discretion for the king’s honour and advantage’ (4).

Perhaps Robert Fitzhugh, Bishop of London, Bernard de la Planche, Bishop of Dax and William Worstede who stayed on into 1435 to hold a watching brief for English interests made good use of the money.

Apart from the concession of a modified oath, which was of very little practical use, the English accomplished nothing at Basel. In less than a month after incorporation the Earl of Mortain and Thomas Brouns left Basel with the same empty fanfare with which Mortain had arrived, escorted by his retinue of knights and musicians, and his ships flying the English flag. Brouns may have preferred to absent himself until the controversy over the bishopric of Worcester was resolved (see below The Council and the Papacy). Sir John Colville had already left (5).

(1) Beckington, Correspondence II, pp. 260-269 (instructions).

(2) Schofield, ‘Second English Delegation to the Council of Basel,’ pp. 36-38 (instructions).

 (3) Foedera X, p. 589 (delegates’ names). 

(4) PPC IV, p. 289 (1,000 marks to be distributed at Basel).

(5) Schofield, ‘Second English Delegation to the Council of Basel,’ passim.


There is no mention of the Hussites ‘the Lollards of Prague’ in the instructions to the second delegation. This was no longer necessary.

See Year 1433: The General Council of the Church at Basel for the Hussites.

The Hussites destroyed themselves in 1434. After their return to Prague from Basel in 1433 doctrinal and political disputes between moderates (Ultraquists) and extremist (Taborites) sects escalated, and since their method of defending their beliefs was the use of force, they fell to fighting among themselves.

The Ultraquists 0moderates), allied with the Catholic nobles of Bohemia, were victorious at the Battle of Lipany fought on 30 in May 1434. The Taborite (extremist) Procopius the Greater (Prokop the Bald) was killed (1). It was reported in England that the Englishman Peter Payne had been killed or captured, but both reports were incorrect (2). Payne survived; he was captured in 1439 and ransomed by his co-religionists. He died in 1455. I have been unable to identify the two other Hussites named in Brut G’s account, Saplico and Lupus the presbyter.

See Year 1433: The General Council of the Church at Basel.

“This same yere aboughte Whitsondtyd the lollardes of Prage were distroyd for at too jorneys there were sclayn of them mo thanne xxti m1 with there cheveteynes; that is for to sey, P’copins, Shaphoo and Lupus, P’sbit; and there also was taken onlyve Maister Piers clerk of Engelond, and an Englyssh heretyk and enemye to all Holy Chirche.”                           A Chronicle of London, Harley 565, p. 120.

“This yere, About Witsontide þe heretikes of Praghe wer destroied; for at two Iourneys wer destroyed of þame mo þan xxij M1, with þer Capitayns, þat is to say Procapius, Saplico & Lupus presbiter.  Also there was taken on lyve maister Piers, clerk, and Englisshman & heretike.     Brut Continuation G, pp. 502-503.

(1) Cambridge Medieval History VIII, ed. C.W. Previté-Orton, pp. 82 and 655 (Battle of Lipany).

(2) Giles, Chronicon, p. 14 (repots Payne’s death).

The Council and the Papacy

Thomas Polton, Bishop of Worcester had died at Basel in August 1433. In November the Council, including the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester, and Cardinal Beaufort, recommended Thomas Bourchier to the prior and canons of Worcester as their next bishop (1). Their letter stated that Bourchier was Parliament’s choice as bishop, ‘considering the closeness to us in blood,’ but this is not recorded on the parliamentary rolls. 

Thomas Bourchier, a great grandson of King Edward III, was the youngest and most precocious of the three Bourchier brothers. He was born in 1410/1411 and was too young to be consecrated as a bishop in 1433. Pope Eugenius rejected Bourchier and conferred the bishopric of Worcester on Thomas Brouns, Dean of Salisbury cathedral, who was at Basel. The Council refused its consent (2). 

In November 1434, just as Brouns was leaving Basel, the Council wrote to forbid him to accept the papal provision. Pope Eugenius had appointed Brouns against the king’s wishes, and he was to inform the pope at once of his “full and utterest disposition in this matter” to refuse (3).

John Langdon, Bishop of Rochester died in Basel in September 1434. On 14 November the Council wrote to Pope Eugenius to insist that Thomas Bourchier be appointed to the see of Worcester and to suggest a face-saving measure, the Pope should appoint Thomas Brouns to replace Langdon as Bishop of Rochester (4).

(1) PPC IV, pp. 183-184 (Bourchier nominated as Bishop of Worcester).

(2) Papal Letters VIII, pp. 213-214 (Pope Eugenius’s letters).

(3) PPC IV, p. 285   Brouns instructed to refuse the bishopric).

(4) PPC IV, p. 286 (Brouns to be Bishop of Rochester).


The Council issued an exceptional number of licenses to ships’ masters in January and February and again in April 1434 to transport pilgrims to the shrine of St James of Compostella in Galicia. 

If St James’s Day, 25 July, fell on a Sunday, as it did in 1428 and 1434, that year was proclaimed a Jubilee Year for the shrine which meant a considerable increase in the number of pilgrims. 

See Year 1428: Pilgrimage.

No less that twenty-four ships, varying in size, set out mainly from West Country ports in 1434. One ship, the Marie of Southampton was permitted to carry one hundred pilgrims. The rest varied between 60, 50, 40 and 30, with 24 as the lowest number of passengers (1, 2).

(1) Foedera X, pp. 567-569 and 572 (pilgrims).

(2) French Rolls DKR xlviii, p 296 (ships).

Foreign relations


King Eric of Denmark and Norway continued to complain, as he had in 1429, in 1432, and possibly in 1433, that English merchants were still disobeying the Council and Parliament’s edicts to trade only through the royal staple at Bergen in Norway.

In April 1434 a warrant was issued to the king’s officers in the busy port of Chepstow recapitulating the edicts of 1429 and instructing royal officers to proclaim them publicly and to arrest anyone who failed to abide by them. The warrant set out at length the agreements between King Eric and King Henry (1). 

See Years 1429, 1430 and 1432: Foreign Relations, Denmark

(1) Foedera X, pp. 578-579 (Denmark, Baltic trade).

(2) PPC IV, pp. 208-210 (Denmark, Baltic trade).

The King of Portugal

Duarte I (Edward in English) became King of Portugal in August 1433 at the age of forty-two. His father had reigned for forty-eight years. Durate was the son of King Joâo I of Portugal and Philippa of Lancaster, a daughter of John of Gaunt. Their union had consolidated a diplomatic and trade alliance between England and Portugal that remained unbroken for centuries.

In 1434 Durate’s younger brother Ferdinand, sent a messenger, John Rodericus, with letters to King Henry and the Council informing them of his brother’s coronation ‘and other affairs.’  Rodericus received 100 crowns as a gift from the Council who apparently, had not heard previously of King Joao’s death (1, 2).  Letters of condolence from King Henry to Durate and to Ferdinand, acknowledging the arrival of Rodericus, were signed by ten members of the Council in November 1434 (3).

(1) PPC IV, p. 284 (report of Duarte coronation, reward to Rodericus).

(2) Issues of the Exchequer, p. 426 (payment to Rodericus).

(3) Foedera X, pp 598-599 (letters of condolence).


King James was dissatisfied with the outcome of the visit by Stephen Wilton and the Earl of Mortain in 1433. He felt that he had conceded more than he had gained.

In January 1434 he sent Dragon pursuivant to London to complain that the English had not kept their promise to offer redress for English raids on Hilton and Paxton, and therefore redress for Scottish raids in Glenvale would be deferred.

James claimed that despite his repeated protests to the Earl of Northumberland, the men of Berwick continually abused the temporary privileges he had granted them at the request of the Earl of Mortain.

See Year 1433: Scotland for Wilton and the Earl of Mortain’s embassy.

James demanded that the inhabitants of Berwick and Roxburgh should be restrained, or he would no longer restrict his own people; as King of Scotland, he could allow the favour he showed to the inhabitants of Berwick to be exploited, he would not allow the English to rob and pillage as they pleased.

A March Day had been scheduled for 2 March 1434 to tackle the accusations of truce violations made in 1433. English claims were to be lodged with the Prior of Coldingham and those of the Scots with the Mayor of Berwick. James alleged that he had dealt with the complaints lodged against the Scots with the Prior of Coldingham but the English Council had done nothing about the Scots complaints lodged with the Mayor of Berwick.

He ended by pointing out that his earlier request, made through Thomas Roulle, for an exchange of hostages and for safe conducts for his representatives to come to England and go to the Council at Basel had been ignored (1, 2).

The Council instructed William, Lord Fitzhugh and the other commissioners for the truce on the issues they should raise with the Scots at the next March Day. These dealt first with the methods of punishment and compensation for robberies at sea in accordance with the sixth article of the truce of 1430, and second with settling the boundary disputes around Berwick and Roxburgh.  

The English envoys should not agree to make good the damages inflicted on Scottish soil unless the Scots offered redress for the injuries inflicted by the Scots within Berwick and Roxburgh’s boundaries; nor would they offer compensation for piracy at sea from the time of the signing of the truce of Durham in December 1430, unless the Scots did the same (3).

See Year 1430: Scotland for the truce.

The English commissioners’ authority to negotiate with the Scots was renewed in 1434, and Sir John Bertram was awarded £10 to travel to the Marches to treat for breaches of the truce (4). 

Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland as a conservator of the truce and Warden of the East March, routinely attended March Days and other meetings with King James’s representatives. In February 1434 in preparation for a fresh round of talks and ‘in consideration of the great labour and expenses which he had sustained,’ the Council awarded Northumberland £50 by payment or assignment, probably the latter, as Lord Cromwell strictly controlled cash payments by the Exchequer (5).

King James also renewed the offer he had made four year earlier in 1430 for a peace treaty to be sealed by the marriage of King Henry to one of James’s daughters.

See Years 1429, 1430 Scotland for the marriage proposal.

The possibility of a peace treaty had been mooted off and on in general terms ever since James returned to Scotland in 1424 but there was no more likelihood of it being kept in 1434 than it had been ten years earlier. James had the most to gain. A Scottish princess on the English throne would make it almost impossible for the Council to implement its threat of war if James chose to ally himself with France.  As part of the negotiations he could hope for a serious reduction in his ransom, and bargain for the release of the Scottish hostages.

The Duke of Bedford favoured peace with Scotland; it would prevent James from sending military aid to France; it might also mean a reduction in the number, and therefore the cost, of soldiers required to garrison Berwick and Roxburgh. But neither Bedford nor any other member of the Council would seriously consider James’s meagre offer, involving as it did one of his younger daughters, since the eldest, Margaret, was now betrothed to the Dauphin Louis.  A Scottish princess, even with an English mother, was not acceptable as Queen of England.

In February 1434 Doctor Stephen Wilton, who had been with the Earl of Mortain as envoys to James in 1433, was paid £40 to return to Scotland by the king’s order to treat for peace ‘and other business’ with King James. He was to request James to name a day agreeable to him for a meeting to which the Council would send a ‘notable numbers’ of commissioners. 

Wilton’s letters of credence informed James that the Council had discussed his peace proposal several times, but the councillors were reluctant to give an opinion on the matter of a marriage which intimately concerned King Henry: ‘how nygh it toucheth the kingyis owne persone.’ The proposal would be put to the Great Council due to meet after Easter and an answer would then be sent to James ‘in all reasonable and goodly haste’ (6).

This was diplomatic speak for a polite refusal. Bedford and the Council could not be seen to refuse to negotiate for peace either with Scotland or with France, they had been urged to do so by Parliament in 1431. But they could refuse to accept the terms on offer.

In May Wilton was granted £40 to travel north again, but it was not until 12 July that the Council issued the by now standard commission to Wilton, Marmaduke Lumley, Bishop of Carlisle, and Sir William Ever, to negotiate with James for peace or to prolong the existing truce, to demand payment of his ransom and that he send  hostages to England to replace those who had died, and make reparations for Scottish violations of the truce. A marriage for Henry VI was not among the terms of reference (7, 8).

A series of meeting to prolong the truce probably took place during the autumn of 1434 although no record of them survives. In November King James, in Edinburgh, instructed Snowdon Herald to proclaim a prorogation of the 1430-1431 truce with England (9).

(1) Balfour Melville, James I, pp. 211-213 (James’s articles).

(2) PPC IV, pp. 350-352a (James’s articles).

(3) PPC IV, pp. 193-196 (Instructions to English commissioners).

(4) PPC IV, p. 197 (Bertram).

(5) PPC IV, p. 203 (Northumberland).

(6) PPC IV, pp. 191-193 (Wilton’s letters of credence).

(7) PPC IV, p. 217 (authority to Wilton in May).

(8) Foedera X, pp. 596-597 (Commission to treat for peace or a truce).

(9) Foedera X, pp. 599-600 (prorogation of truce).

Border Defences

Despite this flurry of diplomatic activity, the Council did not trust King James. English defences along the border were strengthened throughout the year. In February the crown indented with Sir Robert Ogle for the safe keeping of the town and castle of Berwick and with his father, another Robert Ogle, for the custody of Roxburgh Castle who was paid £10 to lay in stocks of food (1).

In May £100 was allotted to the repair of Roxburgh and for the purchase of artillery, bombards, and powder (2). On 1 June the Earl of Northumberland and the burgesses of Alnwick were given a licence to build a wall round Alnwick because the town had recently been burned by the Scots (3).

The Earl of Northumberland was to retain £1,000 in tallies to pay the wages of the garrison at Berwick (4). 

(1) PPC IV, p. 204 (indentures with both Robert Ogles).

(2) PPC IV, p. 217 (Roxburgh).

(3) PPC IV, pp. 217-218 (Alnwick).

(4) PPC IV, p. 218 (Berwick).

Safe Conducts

A number of safe conducts for Scots to travel through England were issued throughout 1434. In January and February and again in May safe conducts were issued to the servants of William Jardine, Duncan Wemyss, William of Stirling and Davis of Athol to come to England (1).  The first three were part of the exchange of hostages in 1432; David of Athol was one of the original hostages of 1425, he died in the Tower (2).

Also in February, a safe conduct was issued to John Fitz Adam, a Scot who was in England, to travel to Bruges with his goods and return to Scotland via England (3).

 Twelve unnamed Scots, travelling to Basel, received safe conducts in February (4).  

Columbe Dunbar, Bishop of Moray, had received a safe conduct in December 1433 to travel through England on his way to visit Pope Eugenius, probably in connection with the Council at Basel (5).  In May 1434 Columbe, Walter, Abbot of Arbroath, and Ingleram Lyndsey, a servant of Pope Eugenius, received safe conducts going to the Council at Basel (6). 

(1) Foedera X, p. 590 (Scottish hostages).

(2) Balfour Melville, James I, pp. 293-295 (Scottish hostages).

(3) PPC IV, p. 204 (safe conduct for John Fitz Adam).

(4) Foedera X, p. 572 (Scots safe conducts).

(5) PPC IV, p. 565 (December 1433).

(6) Foedera X, p. 584 (May 1434).    


Andrew Meldrum

In November 1433 Robert Mallore, Prior of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem in England requested the Council to issue a safe conduct to Sir Andrew Meldrum, a Scot who was then in Flanders on his way back to Scotland on business for the Grand Master of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem at Rhodes.

A safe conduct was issued in February 1434 for Andrew Meldrum to pass through England to Scotland and return. In May he was issued a safe conduct to attend the chapter of the knights convened at Clerkenwell by Robert Mallore (1).

Brother Andrew Meldrum was the principal administrative officer for the Knights Hospitallers in Scotland. He had been summoned to Rhodes in 1432 and was on his way back to Scotland in 1433 (2).

(1) Foedera X, pp. 564 and 585 (Meldrum).

(2) ‘Knights of St John of Jerusalem in Scotland,’ Scottish History Society Publications, Series 4, Vol 19 (1983), p. xlii (Meldrum).

Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury

Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland had been Warden of the East March since 1417. In July 1434 he was replaced by Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, Warden of the West March, whom the Council made warden of both marches.

The reason for Salisbury’s appointment to the East March, traditionally held by the Percy Earls of Northumberland, is not known. Perhaps he was a better negotiator than the Earl of Northumberland and more acceptable to the Scots.

It is usually inferred that Northumberland was dissatisfied with the crown’s failure to honour its financial obligations to him.  By his indentures of 1424 he should have received £2,500 in peace time and £5,000 in time of war as Warden of the East March.  These payments were, like those of most royal officers, seriously in arrears. But there may be another explanation. Northumberland may have wished to resign as Warden.  He was a member of the Council, and he spent more time in the south, where he had estates, than he did in the north. 

On 6 July 1434 Salisbury  indented to become custodian of the castle and town of Berwick and the Wardenship of the East March commencing on 25 July for one year, receiving the same wage as the Earl of Northumberland, £2,500 in peace and £5,000 in time of war; and the custody of the of the castle and town of Carlisle and the West March for one year at a wage of £2,500 in time of truce, commencing on 12 September 1434.

Salisbury had the good sense to demand better security than Northumberland had. He set out the terms for his indenture in a list of ‘items’ to the Council to be recorded and confirmed under the privy seal.

“The desires of the Erle of Salisbury . . . . if he shul take upon hym the kepyng of the towne and castell of Berwyk and of the estmarches with the westmarches” (1).

The castle and town of Berwick were his principal concern: the castle was to be adequately victualled and fortified by the following June. The burgesses of Berwick had reported that the defences of the town were in a dilapidated state, and these, together with the castle, must be repaired to make them defensible.

The Earl of Northumberland was to turn over to Salisbury all the records of the East March: ‘all the books of the wardein courts . . .  conceryning the estmarches’ and all the ‘stuff’ in Berwick castle. Ships to carry victuals for the relief of Berwick must be provided if required.

Salisbury wanted £1,000 in ready money in part payment for the keeping of the March, and to pay the garrisons wages. He should be paid, or have assignments, for the money due to him as keeper of Carlisle in the West March. Customs officials in the northern ports should be instructed to pay the customs duties assigned for the purpose, to him direct, and he was to be paid for having attended two March Days with the Scots.

On the same day as his indentures, 6 July 1434, Salisbury was awarded 600 marks from the customs of the port of Kingston upon Hull, 400 marks for attending two March Days held at Lochmabenstane with the Earl of Douglas and other Scottish commissioners for reparations of violations of the truce along the West March, and 200 marks and for his costs in keeping some Scottish hostages (2).

He would have the authority to negotiate local truces with the Scots, to grant safe conducts along the Marches, was as well as to Scots travelling through England to Jerusalem or Basel. If an exchange of Scottish hostages was arranged, a list of their names must be made and recorded in letters of the privy seal.

The Council accepted most of Salisbury’s demands (3).

‘Reasonable’ repairs, i.e., what could be afforded, would be made to Berwick by the following September. Eight small guns, twelve culverins (small cannon) twenty-four arbalesters, (crossbows), forty-eight pounds of thread for (bow) strings and twelve cases with quarrels (quivers with arrows).  would be delivered to Berwick and paid for by the crown, but Salisbury must pay for bows and arrows. If this ordnance for war was not supplied by November 1434, Salisbury would not take responsibility for the defence of Berwick, and he could resign his bond.

As for Salisbury’s monetary requirement, he would receive 500 marks ‘in cloth,’ (assignment) £500 in cash and another £500 drawn on the estates of the late Duchess of York; if money from this source proved to be inadequate, the Treasurer would make up the difference, but if it came to more than the £500, he could keep it!  He would also receive an additional 700 marks by Michaelmas 1434.

His wage as Warden of the West March would be assigned on ports to be agreed between him and the Treasurer.

If for whatever reason Salisbury wished to resign, he was to give four months’ notice to the king and Council before the date of the expiry of his indenture for Berwick and the East March.  He could also resign the keeping of the West March and  Carlisle.

Salisbury’s indenture, drawn up in great detail, is recorded in the minutes of the Proceedings as he requested. Letters were issued under the Privy Seal to command the Chancellor to enrol the agreement under the Great Seal (4).

(1) PPC IV, pp. 269-271 (Salisbury’s requests).

(2) Foedera X, pp. 594-595 (600 marks for attending March Days).

(3) PPC IV, pp. 271-273 (Council’s reply).

(4) PPC IV, pp. 273-279 (Salisbury’s indentures).

The War in France

John, Lord Talbot

Lord Talbot had returned to England in 1433 after his release from captivity. He indented early in 1434 to go back to France. In April a safe conduct was issued for Arnold Savage going to France in the retinue of John Talbot (1).

“Ande the x daye of Marche the Lord Talbot wente in too Fraunce whythe a goodely meyne.”  Gregory’s Chronicle, p. 177

“And the x day of Marche, my lorde Talbot went into Fraunce with a goodly meyne [& wan the towne off Crayle]”                  Great Chronicle,  p 171

The Council treated Talbot as a special case: he was promised that if he or any of his retinue inherited lands while they were in France, they would not be required to do homage for them to the king until their indentures expired (2).

The Council also agreed to pay Talbot £1,000 ‘in consideration of the services rendered by him in France and Ireland’ (Talbot had been the king’s lieutenant in Ireland under Henry V). He and his retinue of twenty-four lances and the proportionate number of archers, had served in France for eighteen months until his capture in 1429 without wages or rewards.  £1,000 was a large sum given the near bankruptcy of the Exchequer and Talbot promised to make no further demands provided this was paid (3). He received 1,000 marks from the Exchequer, and 500 marks ‘by the hand of Richard Leget’ (4).

Talbot campaigned along the river Oise and captured Pont Sainte Maxence. He marched on the castle of Beaumont-sur Oise which had been refortified by Amadeo (Maddok) de Vignolles, La Hire’s brother. At Talbot’s approach Vignolles decamped hastily to the more heavily fortified town of Creil. Maddok was killed in the skirmishing outside Creil and the town surrendered on 20 June. 

“and than the lorde Talbot wan pont seynt messans (Pont Saint Maxence) and Bermond-sur-oyse (Beaumont-sur-Oise) and many other placys.”

“And þe x day of marche the lorde Talbot went in to ffraunce with an viijc men of werre and went and leyd sege vnto a full riall tovne and with a full ryall castell, the wich tovne is Crail-Sur-Oyse, and wan it with a composicion and ther whas maddok la hire capteyn therof with vic men of armys with him; at the se[ge] the seyd maddok whas slayn with an arowe; and sone aftyr the tovne whas sett vpon a day of Rescevys; but yef to were that they were reskevyd be a certeyn day, they for to yold vp the tovne, and thus it whas won.”  Chronicles of London, Cleopatra C IV, p. 136

The Bourgeois’s account is dismissive: “Early in May1434 the Earl of Arundel and an English knight called Talbot retook Beaumont by assault . . . Then they went and sat down before the castle of Creil in the Beauvais, then they came away again without doing anything” (5).

The Earl of Arundel had linked up with Talbot as soon as the latter arrived in France. Talbot took Clermont and he and Arundel contemplated an assault on Beauvais but abandoned the idea; Beauvais was too strongly garrisoned for an assault to succeed (6). 

(1) Foedera X, p. 577 (safe conduct for Arnold Savage).

(2) PPC IV, pp. 197-198 (inherited lands).

(3) PPC IV, p. 202 (£1,000 to Talbot).

(4) Issues of the Exchequer, pp. 423-424 (payment to Talbot).

(5) Bourgeois, p. 290 (Creil).    

(6) Pollard, Talbot, pp. 18-19 (Talbot in France).


John, Earl of Arundel

Arundel had been campaigning in France since 1430. Early in 1434 he had laid siege to town of Sillé le Guillaume. An army under the Duke of Alençon marched to its relief, but the French commanders were wary of engaging Arundel in the field and Arundel was not keen to fight a pitched battle. Instead, he agreed to the French demand that the hostages he was holding for the town’s promise to surrender if no relief came should be set free, since relief had come to the town. Their honour satisfied, the French retired. Arundel did not. He proceeded to take Sillé le Guillaume by assault (1, 2, 3). 

Arundel also took the town of Crépy en Valois. Monstrelet does not mention Arundel, he credits Lord Talbot with taking Crépy, but Crépy lies further east than Talbot’s main area of operations, so it seems probable that Arundel detached troops to take Crépy (4). 

“And then was the tovne of crepy in Valeis [Crépy en Valois] with the castell whas wonne by assaute of the Erll of Arondell.” 

                                             Chronicles of London, Cleopatra C IV, p. 136

(1) Chartier, Chronique I, pp. 160, 164-69 (Sillé dated to 1432 or 1433 new style).

(2) Barker, Conquest, p. 201 (Sillé dated to 1433). 

(3) Ramsay I, pp. 462-463, citing numerous sources, dates Sillé to 1434. Since Arundel linked up with Talbot a date of early 1434, as in Cleopatra CIV, seems more likely.

(4) Monstrelet I, pp. 627-628 (Crépy).

The Duke of Bedford in France

The Duke and Duchess of Bedford returned to France at the beginning of July 1434 and went straight to Rouen.

“And that same yere the regent cam ow[gh]t of Englond in to ffraunce with vic men with him; and so he cam vnto Rooen and put his men into garnisons.” 

                        Chronicles of London, Cleopatra C IV, p. 137

“And in this same yere, in the yere of grace M+ ccccxxxiiijty, þe viij. Day of Iuyn, Iohn, Duke of Bedford and his lady þe Duchesse went ageyn ouer þe see to Caleys and so into Normandy and Fraunce with a grete nombre of peple in strengthing and mayntenyng of oure Kynges right in Fraunce and Normandy.”   Brut Continuation F, p. 467

Lawlessness was on the rise throughout the Duchy of Normandy, the heart Lancastrian France. Lack of pay and Bedford’s absence in England had contributed to the ill-discipline among the troops garrisoning Norman towns and had added to a sense of insecurity among the understrength garrisons. While wages went unpaid desertion was high.  Many of the soldiers became free-booters, foraging and pillaging the lands and people they were there to protect.

Richard Venables 

One such was Richard Venables who had volunteered for service in France with a contingent of his own. He appears to have been a good soldier, with leadership abilities, for he enticed a large number of men to follow him. They occupied the fortified abbey of Savigny-le-Vieux on the Norman/Breton border and supported themselves by pillaging the countryside for miles around, but they also fought the Armagnacs wherever they encountered them (1).

A strict disciplinarian, Bedford had prohibited pillaging and he could not allow Venables to go unpunished. In August, not long after his return to Rouen, he sent Jean de Rinel and other royal officers to Savigny with an armed escort to apprehend Venables. Thomas Turingham was credited with capturing Venables himself and was rewarded by Bedford with 1,000 saluts (2).

“and anon aftyr whas Venables taken and brought vnto my lorde the regent; and he was jugged be the duke of bedford that he schulde be hangid, draw and quarteryd and behedid; ffor he made a riseng in the lond of Normandy of the comens ayenst the kyng and the lordys, my lorde being that tyme in parys.”  Cleopatra C IV, p. 137

Venables was a deserter who had incited others to follow his example. He was tried and sentenced to death as a thief and a traitor. His actions, and those of other free booters like him undoubtedly contributed to the subsequent rebellions in Normandy, but he not guilty of massacre (3).

At about the same time as Venables was being apprehended, soldiers from the garrisons at Falaise and/or Lisieux, and possibly both, were engaged in pillaging and stealing from the local inhabitants. Some two thousand local men, armed with whatever weapons they could afford, banded together to defend themselves. They attacked the marauding soldiers, who would have been better armed but inferior in numbers and drove them back to the safety of their garrisons, killing some and wounding others.   The citizen army then broke up and the men began to return to their homes, but the soldiers ambushed them and exacted a terrible revenge. Caught unawares in the villages of St Pierre-sur-Dives and Vicques between Falaise and Lisieux some 1200 of them were massacred (4, 5). Word of the atrocity was soon carried to the authorities in Paris. The Bourgeois of Paris dates the outrage to 2 August 1434 (6). 

“And all this tyme were chorlys of Normandy were wepond, and born harness.”     Chronciles of London, Cleopatra C IV, p. 136

The acidulous chronicler Thomas Basin, writing many years later, is the only chronicler to conflate Richard Venables’s plundering with this massacre, and he put his own anti-English spin on it: the English had encouraged the Normans to arm themselves so that they could be incited to rebel and could then be cut down! (7). Chartier was bemused by the English condemning one of their own when he was known to be fighting the enemy. He attributed it to English envy: Venables had waged war successfully but on his own initiative. As a Frenchman Chartier would have had no sympathy for Venables had he been responsible for the massacre of Norman citizens.

(1) Chartier, Chronique I, p. 175 and 177

(2) Luce, Chronique de Mont Saint Michel II, pp. 41-42

(3) Barker, Conquest, p. 212 and n. 9 (Basin mistaken).

(4) Monstrelet I, p 632 (does not mention Venables).

(5) Wavrin IV p 50-51 (does not mention Venables).

(6) Bourgeois, p. 290

(7) Basin I, Charles VII, ed. Samaran, pp. 199-203


The Estates of Normandy

The Duke of Bedford summoned the Estates of Normandy to meet at Vernon on 20 September 1434 (1). They proved more amendable, or more generous, than the English parliament: at his urgent request, or threat, they voted him 344,000 livres tournois, the largest single sum Bedford had ever demanded, to pay for manning the frontier garrisons (2). Lawlessness was on the rise throughout the duchy, and the Estates looked to Bedford and his garrisons as the only means to suppress it. 

Bedford’s officials prepared for the meeting of the Estates. Stevenson printed two of the writs issued on 2 September, instructing Clement Bourse, the lieutenant of the bailli of Caux to be present, and to the Vicomte of Arques, who was to arrange for the election of ‘one or two knights or esquires’ as representatives (3).

(1) Beaurepaire, Les États de Normandie, pp. 46-47 (grant of 344,000 livres).

(2) Allmand, Lancastrian Normandy, p. 177. (Estates of Normandy summoned).

(3) L&P II, pp. 266-269 (writs to attend Estates).


The safe conduct in the Foedera dated 18 May but without a year issued to four servants of King James of Sicily is a mystery unless it is seriously misdated (1).  King James II of Aragon was also known as King James I of Sicily, but he died in 1327. There was no King James of Sicily in 1434 (1).   

A receipt by Gilles de Duremont, abbot of Fécamp, was seriously misdated to 3 November 1434 by Stevenson. It is for 150 livres tournois paid to Duremont going on embassy to the Duke of Gloucester.  It is clearly dated lannee cccc xxiiij and belongs to 1424 (2).

See Year 1424: The Duke of Gloucester and Hainault.

(1) Foedera X, p. 588 (King James of Sicily).

(2) L&P ii, pp. 273-274 (Gilles de Duremont).

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