6-12 July 1415 – Things start hotting up. Negotiations fail and troops start arriving


By Dan Spencer

The failure of negotiations at Wolvesey Castle meant that the French ambassadors left Winchester at the beginning of this week. They then headed back to France and had reached Calais by 14 July.

Henry V also left Wolvesey Castle and by 10 July was at Titchfield Abbey (located roughly halfway between Southampton and Portsmouth) by 10 July, where he stayed till about 17 July.

Titchfield was a wealthy Premonstratensian house, founded by Henry III in the thirteenth century: an inventory from 1420 shows that the canons possessed a large number of silver gilt cups, plates and a library, which contained four cases of books. It is easy to see, therefore, why Henry would have wanted to spend time at Titchfield with other members of his privy council, whilst awaiting the arrival of his army. Whilst he was there he ordered to be transcribed copies of the treaty of London which the Armagnac lords had made with Henry IV in May 1412 and in which they had accepted his claim to the duchy of Aquitaine in full sovereignty. He sent these copies to the Emperor Sigismund and other European rulers as well as to the church council at Constance, to show how the French had gone back on their word. All of this was a propaganda war to justify Henry’s forthcoming  invasion of France.

In March 1416 Henry V decided that the official start date for the campaign should be 8 July 1415. We know that a good number of soldiers had arrived at the muster points by that time, and many received their second instalment of pay on 6 July.

One of the first musters of soldiers took place in Hampshire on 6 July. This was for the retinue of Richard de Vere, earl of Oxford. The earl was about 30 years old at this point and was related to the king by marriage: his wife was the daughter of Elizabeth, sister of Henry IV.

With such large numbers of troops, the king was keen to distribute them around the county to avoid difficulties for the local population. The earl’s troops had been ordered to gather and were mustered at what the documents call ‘Wallopforth’ which we must take to be the villages of Over and Middle Wallop). The earl had indented to serve with forty men-at-arms, including himself, and 60 archers: unlike most other retinues he did not have a ratio of one man-at-arms to three archers. Although nine men-at-arms and 32 archers were invalided home, this does not appear to have affected the military strength of the earl’s retinue which is recorded at its full strength at Agincourt (possibly as his retinue was reinforced with replacements).  Two men-at-arms appear to have died at the battle, with the remaining 37 men-at-arms, each with a page, 100 archers and 126 horses were subsequently shipped back to England.

On 12 Henry pledged a piece of jewellery called the Crown Henry to his brother, Thomas, duke of Clarence, as surety for the wages of his retinue. As the king’s next eldest brother it was expected that he would raise a sizeable number of men, hence why he was given a valuable item.  Indeed, he provided the largest retinue for the expedition of 960 men – 240 men-at-arms and 720 archers. Clarence’s company mustered at St Catherine’s Hill (probably Christchurch) although we cannot be sure precisely when.

This information came from The National Archives, E 101/45/4; E101/45/5; 5; E 101/46/36; E 101/45/5 m.3; ‘Rymer’s Foedera with Syllabus: July 1415’, in Rymer’s Foedera Volume 9, ed. Thomas Rymer (London, 1739-1745), pp. 283-298 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/rymer-foedera/vol9/pp283-298 [accessed 18 June 2015]; ‘Parishes: Titchfield’, in A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3, ed. William Page (London, 1908), pp. 220-233 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/hants/vol3/pp220-233 [accessed 6 February 2015]; Graham, R and Rigold, S E 1954. ‘Titchfield Abbey, Hampshire’, HMSO: London Minns, G W 1898. ‘Titchfield Abbey and Place House’, Hampshire Field Club 3(iii): 317- 338 St John Hope, W H 1906. ‘The making of Place House at Titchfield near Southampton, in 1538’, Archaeological Journal 63: 231-243. Watts, G (ed) 1982. ‘Titchfield: a history’, Titchfield History Society: Titchfield. Watts, G. and Wade, R. 1989 Titchfield: a place in history. Titchfield History Society. Southampton: Ensign; Gesta Henrici Quinti, ed. F. Taylor and J. Roskell (Oxford, 1975).

Image of Titchfield Abbey taken from Wikipedia, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license, author Adam Greenough