By Dan Spencer
Henry V spent much of this week in the Hampshire city of Winchester, which meant that the king was in a central location relative to many of the intended mustering points for the army in southern England.
From there the king dealt with routine matters of business, such as the grant of an annuity to Ralph Pudsey, esquire, on 25 June, for having captured Murdach, earl of Fife. The following day he issued a command to the constable of the Tower of London to transport John Mathewe, canon of Carmarthen, to the custody of the abbot of Waltham. Henry even had time to order the sheriff of Cambridge to ensure peace was kept in the town since the students were ‘making riots and unlawful assemblies.’
Winchester, although it had at one time been the capital of England and an important part of the wool trade, was in the decline by the middle of the fourteenth century. As a result of the Black Death the mortality rate was very high and the population was reduced by about a third; from its pre-plague height of 11,000 circa 1300.
It appears that the provisioning of the army brought a temporary economic boost to the fortunes of the town, as can be seen by a reference in the Pipe Rolls of the Bishops of Winchester in 1414-1415 to a cart hired for eighteen days to take victuals to the king from the city. It was also one of the places where the sheriff of Hampshire had been commanded, by an order of 27 May 1415, to proclaim that bakers and brewers should work under the direction of the under-sheriff to prepare for the arrival of the army.
In the early fifteenth century the city was governed by a mayor who was supported by twenty-four advisers. Other officials included aldermen who were responsible for different wards of the city and a chamberlain who managed the financial affairs of the Corporation.
On 24 June the king ordered the sheriff of Hampshire to have a hundred head of cattle purveyed within his county and brought to Lymington, Romsey, Alresford, and Fareham to feed the lords and others in the area, a sign that troops were beginning to assemble for the campaign.
This information came from Derek Keene, Survey of Medieval Winchester, I, Part 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985); ‘Rymer’s Foedera with Syllabus: June 1415’, in Rymer’s Foedera Volume 9, ed. Thomas Rymer (London, 1739-1745), pp. 251-2, 258-283 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/rymer-foedera/vol9/pp258-283 [accessed 10 May 2015]:
Image is of Winchester Cathedral taken from Wikipedia, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License, author Antony McCallum, Wydrlight.com