Tales from the Battlefield

On 19 November 1414 it was announced in parliament that Henry V intended to invade France as the rightful claimant to the French throne. On 23 November 1415 he returned to London in triumph. Come with us as we explore week-by-week during this exciting year the preparations, campaign and aftermath.




A few articles to whet your appetite:

13-19 July 1415: The Army Continues to Gather

By Dan Spencer The mustering of retinues for the campaign continued in the region around Southampton.  On 14 July the muster of several retinues took place at Swanwick Heath in Hampshire, carried out by Hugh Mortimer esquire and Robert Castel esquire. These included the retinues of John, earl of Huntingdon (for whom at twenty years old, this was his first military expedition), William, lord Botreaux, John Grey, son of Lord Grey of Ruthin, Sir Roland Lenthale and much of the royal household contingent including William Kynwolmersh, the cofferer, and several...
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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...
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29 June – 5 July 1415 – Diplomacy with France

By Dan Spencer This week witnessed a meeting between Henry V and a French embassy at Wolsevey palace in Winchester. Central to Henry V’s pretext for war in 1415 was his claim of pursuing a just war against the French in support of his rights in France. In the parliament of November 1414, Henry had been advised to send an embassy to France. This was duly sent and arrived in Paris in February 1415, but although the French were prepared to make territorial concessions, the English delegates felt that they...
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22-28 June 1415 – The King stays in Winchester

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...
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15-21 June 1415 – Loans for the Expedition and Sir John Tiptoft

By Dan Spencer As preparations for the expedition continued apace the need for cash to fund these activities became ever pressing, as did the need to reassure creditors that their loans would one day be repaid. It was for this reason that Henry ordered Thomas, earl of Arundel, treasurer of England, on 16 June, to allocate the revenues from the taxation of wool at the port of Boston, to repay loans totalling £500, which had been given by the bishops of Hereford and Lincoln to fund the war effort. The...
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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...
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1-7 June 1415: Artificers for the War with France

By Dan Spencer This week saw further efforts to prepare for the expedition to France, with large numbers of artificers hired for the king’s ordnance. The first of these was given on 4 June, when Nicholas Mynot, fletcher, was appointed to take twelve workers for the construction of arrows, together with timber, bolts, feathers, silk, wax and other necessary items. As three quarters of the army being raised for the expedition were archers, it is clear to see why large quantities of arrows were required by the king. Two days...
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25-31 May 1415: The Royal Household, Bamburgh Castle, the Defence of the Realm and Royal Jewellery

By Dan Spencer This week saw further preparations for the forthcoming expedition and the defence of the realm. The raising of a large army required substantial quantities of food and other supplies to feed the soldiers. This was anticipated by the king and his council, who therefore ordered the sheriffs of Kent, Oxford and Southampton, on 26 May, to gather oxen to be sent to the mustering places for the expedition, at Alresford, Beaulieu, Fareham, Lymington and Romsey in Hampshire. On 28 May commissions were given out to yeomen ushers...
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18-24 May 1415: Royal Patronage

By Dan Spencer This week saw two grants by the king to men who later served on the Agincourt campaign. Patronage not only rewarded previous loyal service but encouraged men to try to gain further rewards by pleasing the king. In 1415 many of the retinue leaders for the expedition were in receipt of royal annuities or other grants from the king. On 20 May, Henry Bromley, one of the king’s serjeants of arms, was granted a daily income of 12d for good service and for his wages of office....
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11-17 May 1415: The King’s Horses

By Dan Spencer On 25 May 1415, Stephen Ferrour, the king’s farrier was ordered to take iron and horse nails for shoeing the horses of the king’s stable for the expedition. This was because the horse was an important animal for the transportation of goods and people by land in the Middle Ages.  All medieval English kings (including Henry V) had their own stables of horses for the use of their immediate household and themselves. These horses were looked after by an official called the Master of the King’s Horses,...
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