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:

23 February-1 March 1415: The Safeguard of the Sea, the Construction of Bows and the Defence of Calais, Gascony and the North of England

By Dan Spencer This week saw numerous payments made for the safeguard of the sea, the construction of bows, as well as for the defence of Calais, Gascony and the north of England. On 26 February 1415, a payment of £66 13s 4d was issued to Sir Robert Umfraville, Keeper of Roxburgh Castle, for the wages of soldiers stationed there. Roxburgh was a one of three places permanently garrisoned by the English on the Scottish border, the others being Carlisle and Berwick-upon-Tweed. It was therefore an important location which was...
Read More

16-22 February 1415: The Custody of the King of Scotland, Expenses for Gascony and a Grant to a King’s Knight

By Dan Spencer On 16 February 1415, an instruction was issued for the payment of the outstanding expenses of the king’s uncle, Thomas Beaufort, Earl of Dorset (later made Duke of Exeter in 1416), which he had incurred on the king’s service in Gascony. This was to be carried out in four instalments over eighteen months which were to total £5397 6s 4 ½d for the wages of 240 men-at-arms and 1200 archers who had served under him in the duchy since 6 April 1413. Beaufort had been appointed as...
Read More

9-15 February 1415: Shrovetide and the Commissioning of Crews for Royal Ships

By Dan Spencer On 9 February 1415, a commission was given to seven masters of royal ships to recruit sailors for the king’s service. This consisted of William Hore, of the Thomas of the Tower, John Kyngiston, of the Trinity of the Tower, Richard Walsh of the Mary of the Tower, Robert Schedde, of the Philip of the Tower, John Merssh, of the Katherine of the Tower, John Arnold, of the Gabriel of the Tower, and Nicholas Neel, of the Paul of the Tower. All of these ships were relatively...
Read More

2-8 February 1415: Council Meeting for the Defence of England and Revocation of a Letter of Protection

By Dan Spencer At about this time there was a meeting at the London house of the Dominican friars (also known as Blackfriars) of the king’s council. Councillors at the meeting included some of the closest advisors to the king, such as Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor of England, Henry Chichely, Archbishop of Canterbury, Edward, Duke of York, Henry, Lord Scrope, and Sir Thomas Erpingham, Steward of the Royal Household. The outcome of this gathering was a series of measures designed to protect England during the absence of...
Read More

26 January-1 February 1415: Commission for Ships Crews and a Muster of Soldiers going to Ireland

By Dan Spencer This week commissions were granted to the masters of ships and for the muster of soldiers going to Ireland. On 26 January 1415, a commission was given to John Melksop, master of the Cok John, (owned by Richard Cliderowe), as well as to Nicholas Dalton, master of the Trinity of London, and to Perin de Gargh, master of the Petre de Bayon (a small vessel known as a balinger), to take sailors for the king’s service. In this period the number of royal ships owned by the...
Read More

19-25 January 1415: Gerard Sprong and Ships at Hull

By Dan Spencer This week saw a petition made by the king’s esquire, Gerard Sprong, and the arresting of ships at Hull. On 20 January 1415, Roger Salvayn was appointed to take two or three ships for the king’s service in the port of Kingston-upon-Hull and other places. Hull was the main port in the north of England and served as the ‘outport’ for Beverley and York. Ships from Hull traded widely across Western Europe from Iceland in the north to Portugal in the south. One of the major markets...
Read More

12-18 January 1415: Guns, Shipbuilding, Calais and the North of England

By Dan Spencer This week saw multiple payments relating to guns, shipbuilding, victuals for Calais and the defence of the north of England given out on 17 January. Work continued apace on the royal artillery for the expedition, with Master William Gunner paid £14 13s 4d for constructing a gun. It is likely that the piece constructed by William was a large iron gun, later known as a bombard, which would have been used to fire heavy gunstones to break down walls. These types of weapons were used at the...
Read More

5-11 January 1415: Twelfth Night and the Convocation of the Clergy

By Dan Spencer The twelve days of Christmas ended on 6 January with the feast of the Epiphany. Religious services would have been held marking the recognition of Christ by the Three Kings. The day also saw the most sumptuous celebrations of the year. An account from later on in the fifteenth century in 1486, shows that Henry VII celebrated the Twelfth Day with a banquet before going on procession to Westminster Hall to watch a play, then a pageant on St George and the dragon, followed by a performance...
Read More

29 December-4 January 1415: New Year

By Dan Spencer The first of January was an important day of celebrations despite the fact that the New Year did not officially begin until the feast of the Annunciation on 25 March in the Middle Ages. Unlike the modern custom of giving presents on Christmas, gifts would have been exchanged on New Year’s Day, with the king giving to his household officials and senior members of the clergy. The previous year, 1413, Henry V had, as a New Year’s present, restored to the abbot of St Peter’s church in...
Read More

22-28 December 1414: Christmas

By Dan Spencer This week the business of government stopped for the celebration of Christmas. The king and court spent Christmas day at the Palace of Westminster, which is likely to have been richly decorated with holly and ivy (Christmas decorations of a sort already existed in the fifteenth century!). A poem dating from the fifteenth century (of unclear date, quoted from Hutton’s The Rise and Fall of Merry England) states: Nay, ivy, nay, it shall not be, I wys, Let holly have the master as the manner is, Holly...
Read More