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. Read below how we explored week-by-week during this exciting year the preparations, campaign and aftermath.



A few articles to whet your appetite:

15-21 December 1414: Pardons for Lollards

By Dan Spencer This week saw pardons granted to religious dissidents known as Lollards. On 16 and 17 December ten men were given pardons, including: Nicholas Selby, an ironmonger from Leicester; Richard Sprotford, a carpenter from Buckinghamshire; Thomas Gray, a clerk from Northamptonshire; Thomas Blake, a weaver from Chester; and John Garthorpe, a scholar from Oxford. These men were followers of theological ideas which had been disseminated by the scholar John Wycliffe (c. 1330-1384). Wycliffe’s beliefs clashed with those of the traditional church, including the denial of the sanctity of...
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8-14 December 1414: Auditors for South Wales, a commission for the purchase of guns and a purchase by Winchester College

By Dan Spencer This week in 1414 saw the appointment of auditors for the accounts of royal officials in South Wales, a commission for the construction of guns and the purchase of the priory of Andover by Winchester College. On 8 December 1414, a commission was given to John Everdon and William Hesill, auditors of accounts of the Exchequer, to audit all accounts of chamberlains, receivers, bailiffs and provosts and other ministers of the king in South Wales (these were the lands of the principality of Wales which Henry still...
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1-7 December 1414: Construction work on the king’s ships and the Lordship of Ireland

By Dan Spencer This week in 1414 saw activities associated with work on the king’s ships and the Lordship of Ireland. On 2 December 1414, William Catton, Keeper of the King’s Ships, was given £40 for the wages of carpenters working on the construction of the ship the Trinity Royal at Greenwich.  The same day a further sum of £137 2s 5 ½d was given to Catton for unspecified reasons, most likely for the same purpose.   Construction work had started on the vessel the previous year and it was to...
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24-30 November 1414: Royal Grants to the Towns

By Dan Spencer This week in 1414 saw a number of royal grants to towns in England. On 24 November the king confirmed charters granted to Bath by letters patent. Bath’s original charter dated back to Richard I’s grant of 1189 which gave freedom from tolls and liberties for the Merchant Guild. However upon the accession of a new monarch, towns often felt the need to send delegates to the king to ensure that they kept their freedoms and were prepared to spend sizeable sums of money to do so....
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19 November 1414: the announcement of plans to invade France

By Dan Spencer It was at the parliament held at Westminster between 19 November and 7 December 1414 that plans to invade France were first made public. Parliaments in this period always began with an opening speech which set the tone and explained why the king had summoned a parliament. On 19 November 1414 Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor of England, in the Painted Chamber of Westminster Palace, addressed the assembled lords and commons in the presence of the king.  A summary of what he said is recorded...
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What the Papers Say: Excavations at Agincourt, 1818

By Dr Adam Chapman Reported in The Caledonian Mercury, Edinburgh, Monday, May 25, 1818 It was sometime ago mentioned, in one of the English newspapers, that some of the officers attached to the British Staff of the Army of Occupation had been employing themselves in searching for reliques on the field on which the famous battle of Agincourt was fought on the 25th of October, in the year 1415 – We are very happy to learn that their labours have been crowned with success far beyond their expectation, and the...
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Early battlefield tourism

By Professor Anne Curry In 1475 King Edward IV visited the site of the battle of Agincourt fought sixty years earlier. We know this thanks to a letter written by a John Albon to Thomas Palmer, esquire, of Holt in Leicestershire. We even know the exact day Edward and his lords, including the king’s friend and chamberlain William, Lord Hastings, were at the battle site – 27 July. Three days earlier a group of French captains had been at Agincourt. Albon was optimistic that some of them would transfer their...
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Calais remembers Agincourt

By Professor Anne Curry In a text written in the 1530s or 40s Henry VIII was urged to stage annual triumphs as anti-papal propaganda. One of the examples of good practice which the author mentioned was the yearly celebration at Calais of the English victory at Agincourt. Commemoration of battles is nothing new. But Calais, the last part of the English conquests of the Hundred Years War, was lost within the next twenty years. “For the victory that God gave to your most valiant predecessor, King Henry the Fifth, with...
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A most uninteresting collection of farmers

By Dr Adam Chapman Other entries on this blog have discussed some early nineteenth century perspectives on the site of the battle with reference to the years immediately after the Battle of Waterloo, for the award of campaign medals and some early archaeological investigations. This account comes from John Gordon Smith (1792-1833), a Scottish surgeon attached to the 12th Lancers in 1815, was among those who was awarded his medals at Azincourt. His description of the topography of the area of the battlefield both provides some interesting detail but does...
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