8-14 June 1415 – The Privy Seal and Loans by the Towns

By Dan Spencer


This week saw loans from Canterbury and Bury St. Edmunds and the delivery of jewels by the treasurer of the household to Bishop Courtenay of Norwich to be used as a substitute for wages of troops for the second three months of their intended year-long service.

The king’s need for ready cash as he made the final preparations for the expedition to France meant that he was reliant on loans. On 6 June £2,796 worth of loans was entered into the Receipt Rolls, of which £666.13.4 came from a group of Venetian merchants. But loans from towns are also found. The burgesses and citizens of these settlements, unsurprisingly, wanted to make sure that the people they lent would eventually be repaid by the crown.

It was for this reason that Henry allocated revenues from the custom duties this week, on 11 and 14 June, to repay loans given by the inhabitants of Canterbury and Bury St Edmund; the former giving £66 13s 4d and the latter £33 6s 8d.

These were wealthy places due to their importance as centres of pilgrimage. The cathedral at Canterbury, founded in the sixth century, was the premier pilgrimage centre in England because of Thomas Becket. Chaucer’s pilgrims were on their way to Canterbury to his shrine.

Bury St. Edmunds held the remains of Saint Edmund, an Anglo-Saxon king of East Anglia, who was killed by the Danes in the ninth century. Four banners with the arms of St Edmund were taken on the campaign, the same number as those bearing the arms of St Edward the Confessor.

Henry did not have enough ready cash to give wages for more than the first three months service but soldiers expected to have six months pay in advance. Therefore he distributed royal jewels and plat in lieu. On 13 June Roger Leche, treasurer of the household, delivered to Richard Courtenay, bishop of Norwich, several hundred pieces of lesser value – candlesticks, cups, pots, plates. The large value items had been handed over in the previous week.

Sir Roger Leche of Chatsworth and Nether Haddon (d. 1416), knighted in 1404, had close links with Henry as prince of Wales, and had fallen from royal grace in 1411 when the prince lost his place on the royal council. He had been rewarded for his support when Henry became king, and was named as a trustee of the king’s will which Henry made at Southampton on 22 July. Roger indented to serve on the campaign with 20 men-at-arms and 60 archers, with his son Philip with three men-at-arms and nine archers. Philip (d. 1420) was knighted on the eve of Henry V’s coronation.

This information came from the Calendar of the Patent Rolls 1413-1416, pp. 329, 331-2;; Edward Hasted, ‘History of the cathedral’, in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 11 (Canterbury, 1800), pp. 306-383 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-kent/vol11/pp306-383 [accessed 10 May 2015]; ‘Houses of Benedictine monks: Abbey of Bury St Edmunds’, in A History of the County of Suffolk: Volume 2, ed. William Page (London, 1975), pp. 56-72 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/suff/vol2/pp56-72 [accessed 9 May 2015]; J/ Stratford, ‘Par le special commandement du roy’. Jewels and Plate Pledged for the Agincourt campaign’, in Henry V. New Interpretations, ed. G. Dodd (Woodbridge, 2013); The History of Parliament. The House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark and C. Rawcliffe (Stroud, 1992), vol. 3.

Image is of Canterbury Cathedral taken from Wikipedia, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International, 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.  Author Hans Musil.