By Dan Spencer
In 1414, Richard de Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, was appointed captain of Calais.
His indenture specified that the garrison of the town in peacetime should consist of 40 mounted men-at-arms and 40 mounted archers, together with 200 men-at-arms and 200 archers on foot. In wartime these numbers were expected to expand to 160 mounted men-at-arms and 160 mounted archers, with 100 men-at-arms and 184 archers on foot. The garrison also included ‘scourers’ (mounted scouts), carpenters, masons and men to operate the artillery. The outlying castles of the Marches of Calais had their own garrisons; for instance the Castle of Marck in wartime had 10 mounted men-at-arms, with 10 men-at-arms and 10 archers on foot.
There were also considerable quantities of military equipment kept at Calais. At the end of the reign of Henry IV, the arsenal included 122 guns, 466 gunstones, 550 bows and 1,992 quarrels for springalds (mechanical artillery). The defences of Calais were also strengthened as part of Henry V’s preparations for his invasion. On 21 October 1413, Richard Chrell, victualler of Calais, bought 1,500 bowstaves from merchants of London. In the following year he purchased 30 tons of wine from merchants of Portugal and provisions from North Wales. In June and July additional payments were made for 300 bows, 20 large cords, 500 garbs of arrows and 300 lance shafts. In 1415, the stores for the artillery were increased by purchases of gunstones, and a Hans Gunner was retained by the king, most likely to construct additional gunpowder weapons. These measures ensured that the English army had a safe location to aim for after the march through hostile French territory. This means that if the English had not possessed Calais, then the battle of Agincourt is unlikely to have ever happened.
This information came from British Library Additional Manuscript 4600, and from The National Archives E101/187/6; E365/46; E403/614, 617, 619.
Photograph of the Église Notre-Dame cathedral in Calais was taken from Wikipedia, Wikipedia Commons Licence