Unknown Warriors: Sister Kate Luard’s letters, autumn-winter 1915-16

One of the stories we have been following over the course of the First World War centenary commemorations is that of Sister Kate Luard (read all our posts about her here). Kate was born in Aveley in 1872 and grew up in Birch near Colchester. On the outbreak of the war she volunteered to nurse on the Western Front, and remained there for the duration of the war.

During this time she wrote numerous letters, the majority of which are cared for at ERO. Her great niece, Caroline Stevens, has put together the following extracts from her letters written home at this time 100 years ago, when Kate was posted to No.6 Casualty Clearing Station.

Kate Luard letters

A few of the letters in the Kate Luard collection deposited at ERO

During the Great War of 1914-1918, Kate Luard served principally on ambulance trains, casualty clearing stations and a field ambulance, but was also posted at times to Stationary and General Hospitals in the base areas.

On 17 October 1915 she was sent up the line to take charge of No.6 Casualty Clearing Station at Lillers in France following four months at a base hospital, No.16 General Hospital. Her second book, Unknown Warriors, commences on this date and in this her letters home are a record of her times in various casualty clearing stations. This included time as Head Sister at No.32 CCS which became one of the most dangerous when the unit was relocated in late July 1917 to serve the push that was to become the Battle of Passchendaele, and where she had a staff of forty nurses and nearly 100 orderlies.

Tented nurse's quarters at a Casualty Clearing Station  (Courtesy of Sue Light)

Tented nurse’s quarters at a Casualty Clearing Station
(Courtesy of Sue Light)

A casualty clearing station was part of the evacuation chain of the wounded from the battle front starting with the regimental aid post just behind the front line, then an advanced dressing station and on to a field ambulance before transfer to a casualty clearing station. CCS’s were normally located near railway lines and waterways so that the wounded could be evacuated easily to the base hospitals. A CCS often had to move at short notice as the front line changed. Although some were located in temporary buildings, many consisted of large areas of tents and marquees and often several were near each other to enable flexibility.

The following are extracts from Unknown Warriors, which was republished in 2014 by the History Press. For more information about Kate Luard and her family see www.kateluard.co.uk

 

October18th

The sister has been showing me round and handing over her books and keys of office. The poor lads in their brown blankets and stretchers looked only too familiar. When there is a rush, the theatre Sister and I stay up at night as well. The CO [Commanding Officer], the Padre and myself are the only people allowed to do the censoring. I do it for the Sisters. I shall have to be very careful myself, not to mention names, numbers passing through, regiments, plans, or anything interesting.

 

Thursday, October 28th

The weather is beyond description vile, and the little cobbled streets are a Slough of Despond and a quagmire. The King has been about here yesterday and today, and was to have held a very sodden and damp Review a mile away, only he had an accident riding and had to be carried away instead: no one knows if it was much or not.

 

Saturday, October 30th

A boy came in at 6 p.m. with his right arm blown clean off in its sleeve at 2.p.m. He was very collapsed when he came in, but revived a little later. ‘Mustn’t make a fuss about trifles,’ he explained.

 

Sunday, October 31st

This afternoon we took a lot of lovely flowers to the Cemetery for our graves for All Saints’ Day. It took all afternoon doing them up with Union Jack ribbon, and finding the graves. There are hundreds. It was a swamp of sticky mud, and pouring with rain.

 

All Saints’ Day 1915, November 1st

A Scotch RAMC (Royal Army Medical Corps) officer, who was with his Regiment all through, was talking about the early morning of the 14th, after we had tried to take the Hohenzollern Redoubt on the 13th. Our dead and wounded were lying so thick on the ground, that he had to pick his way among them with a box of morphia tabloids, and give them to anyone who was alive: tie up what broken limbs he could with rifles for splints, and leave them there: there were no stretchers.

 

Wednesday, November 3rd

A lad had to have his leg off this morning for gas gangrene. He says he ‘feels all right’ and hasn’t had to have had any morphia all day. You’d think he’d merely had his boot taken off. Some of them are such infants to be fighting for their country. One has a bullet through his liver and tried to say through his tears ‘there’s some much worse than what I am.’

 

Friday, December 3rd

Captain D. is a scrap better to-day, able to emerge from bromides, and talk a little. He told me that when they were holding the Hohenzollern trenches in that worst weather, when they stood up waist-high in liquid mud, two of his men slipped under it when they were asleep and their bodies were dug out next day.

 

Sunday, January 16th

D.F. the boy with the head wound, has been peacefully dying all day; his hand closes less tightly over mine to-day, but his beautiful brown eyes look less inscrutable as he gets further from this crooked world.

_________________________________________________________________________

Unknown Warriors coverUnknown Warriors is available in the ERO library, or you can find out more about the book and Kate herself here.

Essex at Agincourt

Following Essex at Agincourt on Saturday 31 October 2015, archivist Katharine Schofield has written a summary of the involvement of Essex noblemen in this famous battle.

The Battle of Agincourt was fought on St. Crispin’s Day, 25 October 1415.  It was perhaps the most famous battle of the Hundred Years’ War, when the outnumbered English forces defeated the French, with the English longbow archers making a decisive contribution defeating the French cavalry.  The battle was immortalised in the 16th century by William Shakespeare in the play Henry V (written c.1599) and by Michael Drayton in his poem Fair stood the wind for France (c.1605).

As Prince of Wales Henry V had fought the Welsh and it was not long after he succeeded his father Henry IV I in 1413 that he sought to raise an army against the French and renew the claims of his great-grandfather Edward III to the French crown.  In December 1414 Parliament granted him a tax for war against the French.  Henry V and his army landed in northern France on 13 August 1415.

The campaign started with the siege of Harfleur.  The town did not surrender until 22 September, by which time the summer, and the best conditions for military campaigns, was nearly over.  The English had also suffered casualties during the siege, notably to dysentery and other diseases.

The siege of Harfleur

The siege of Harfleur (BritishBattles.com)

Among those who died at Harfleur was Michael de la Pole, 2nd Earl of Suffolk and lord of the manors of Langham and Nether Hall in Gestingthorpe.  His son Michael, 3rd earl, was to die a month later at Agincourt.

Another man with Essex connections, Lewis John, was among those invalided home from Harfleur; he went on to serve as sheriff of Essex, 1416-1417 and 1420-1422.  He originated from Wales and had come to London, presumably to make his fortune.  By the time he died in 1442 Sir Lewis John owned land in a number of counties, including West Thurrock and East and West Horndon in Essex.

Having gained only one town for all the money spent raising an army, Henry V was reluctant to return to England and so set off to march to the English garrison at Calais, reasserting his hereditary claim to lands in northern France.  The French army that had been unable to save Harfleur was now ready to face the English.  Henry’s forces had been weakened by illness, had inadequate supplies of food and had marched 260 miles in two and a half weeks, but did not want to delay battle in case the French were able to bring up more reinforcements.

The two sides faced each other; as the French cavalry advanced they were trapped in muddy ground and caught in the deadly fire of the English archers and were unable to advance on the English forces.  Among the French casualties were the constable and admiral of France, the master of the royal household, and the Dukes of Brabant, Alençon and Bar.  Around 1500 noblemen were taken to England as prisoners, including Charles, Duke of Orleans, the Duke of Bourbon, Jean Le Maingre, Marshal of France and the Count of Eu.

The battle itself achieved very little immediately.  Henry continued his march on Calais and then returned in triumph to England.  However, the defeat and death or capture of so many of the French nobility meant that when Henry returned in 1417 he was able to capture towns and castles across northern France.

Catherine of Valois

Catherine of Valois

In 1420 the Treaty of Troyes was signed.  Henry married Katherine, daughter of Charles VI of France and was declared the regent and heir of the king.  Henry’s triumph was short-lived.  He died in 1422 leaving his nine month old son Henry VI as king.  He was crowned king of England in 1429 and king of France at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in 1431.  However, Charles VI’s son Charles VII was able to regain French territory, and by 1453 English possessions in France were reduced to Calais.  Henry VI was ultimately to lose his throne to Edward IV in the Wars of the Roses.

A number of Essex lords had raised men from their lands to form part of the king’s army.  It is likely that not only the lords, but some of the men in their retinues would have come from the county.  One of the great lords present was Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick depicted in the battle by Drayton as ‘Warwick in blood did wade’.  Although his lands were mostly elsewhere, he was lord of the manor of Walthamstow. 

Richard de Vere, 11th Earl of Oxford was almost the same age as the king, and they had both served Richard II as pages.  His grandfather John, the 7th earl, had fought at Crécy and Poitiers in the reign of Edward III.  He supplied 39 men-at-arms and 60 archers to the campaign.  He commanded the rear of the army as it marched from Harfleur, and took a prominent role in the battle, capturing Jean, Sire de Ligne.  Drayton wrote that ‘Oxford … cruel slaughter made’.  He was rewarded for his role in the battle by becoming a knight of the Garter in May 1416, in place of Edward, Duke of York, one of the notable English casualties of the day.  Oxford died in 1417 and was buried at Earls Colne.

Richard de Vere effigy

Effigy of Richard de Vere, 11th Earl of Oxford, 1385-1417, at Earls Colne

The Bourchier family originated from Halstead and Sible Hedingham and served against the French at various times during the Hundred Years’ War.  Sir William Bourchier, a justice of the peace in Essex, fought at Agincourt and also on the 1417 expedition.  He had inherited lands at Little Easton, Broxted and Aythorpe Roding from his mother Eleanor de Lovayne and was also lord of the manor of Wix.  In 1419 Henry V rewarded him with the title Count of Eu for his service in France.

Humphrey, 6th Lord FitzWalter died aged only 16 while on campaign.  His younger brother and successor William, baptised at Woodham Walter, also served on the campaign and was present at Agincourt.  He went on to campaign in France in later years and drowned returning to England in 1431.  He was buried in Little Dunmow.

As well as the great lords present at Agincourt, a number of Essex gentry also fought in the battle.  Sir Thomas Erpingham was in charge of the archers who had such a devastating effect on the course of the battle.  He is said to have launched the archers’ attack by throwing his baton into the air as a signal to fire and shouted ‘Now Strike’.  His lands were in Norfolk, although he did hold four Essex manors through his wife, including Little Oakley.  His retinue of 20 men at arms and 60 mounted archers included Sir Walter Goldyngham who was present at the battle.  The Goldynghams had first been granted a manor in Bulmer by Robert Malet, one of the tenants-in-chief listed in Domesday Book.  This manor came to be known as Goldingham Hall.

Sir Nicholas Thorley, lord of the manor of Bobbingworth fought in the retinue of Henry’s brother, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester.  He survived the battle and went on to serve as sheriff of Essex 1431-1432 and later married the earl of Oxford’s widow Alice without royal permission.  For this omission Thorley was imprisoned in the Tower for three years and his wife had to pay a fine of one year’s value of all her lands.

Other Essex gentry present at the battle were Sir John Tyrell of Heron Hall in East Horndon who was also part of the Duke of Gloucester’s retinue.  Having survived the battle he went on to serve as sheriff of Essex and Hertfordshire in 1423, speaker of the House of Commons and was treasurer to Henry VI’s household.  He married Alice de Coggeshall, daughter and co-heiress of Sir William de Coggeshall of Little Coggeshall. 

The Waldegrave family acquired the manor of Navestock in the 16th century.  Sir Richard Waldegrave, present at Agincourt, held the manor of Wormingford by service of 10d. ward penny (a sum paid for watching a castle) per annum. Others who served included Robert Helyon of Helions Bumpstead with six esquires and three mounted archers and Sir William Mountneney of Mountnessing. Sir John Hevenyngham, lord of the manors of Little Totham, Eastwood, Fleet Hall in Sutton and Goldhanger fought in the retinue of the Earl of Norfolk. 

Seals of Richard de Waldegrave

Seals attached to D/DAy T1/13, from left to right: monogram, RW; an ermin’s tail in a crescent moon: legend, Solu[m] deo honor [et] gloria; arms and crest of Waldegrave: legend, S’ Ricardi de Waldegrave

We hope you have enjoyed our mini series on the connections between Essex and the Hundred Years’ War and the Battle of Agincourt – a small display of documents dating from 1415 will remain in the Searchroom until Christmas.

Fighting the Hundred Years’ War: war indentures

In this next installment in our mini series marking the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, Katharine Schofield investigates some of the documents we hold which show medieval kings raised their armies to fight the Hundred Years’ War. Find out more about Agincourt and the Essex gentry who took part at Essex at Agincourt, a one-day conference on Saturday 31 October 2015. This is a joint event with the Essex branch of the Historical Association, and all the details can be found here.

After the Norman Conquest society and most importantly land-holding was arranged on a feudal basis.  William the Conqueror divided the English lands between his supporters, the tenants-in-chief named in the Domesday Book.  They held their lands directly from the king in return for military service, generally considered to be a maximum of 40 days a year.  In turn they rewarded their military supporters with land.  This process called subinfeudation continued down through the landholding classes to the knight at the bottom.  A knight’s fee was sufficient land to support a single knight.  This would include the knight, his family and servants, as well as providing him with the means to provide horses and armour to perform his military service.

When a knight died without a male heir his lands could be divided between heiresses (and their husbands).  The knight’s fee would be split into parts called moieties which owed fractions of a knight’s service.  Since it is difficult to provide a fraction of a knight (at least before a battle), it gradually became customary for payment of scutage (literally shield money) to be made in place of military service.  In some cases a payment would be made because the land was too divided, in others the landowner might be too old or too young to fight.  The money would then be used to hire mercenaries to fight in wars.

Scutage roll from Layer-de-la-Haye, 1240-1360 (D/DR M25)

Scutage roll from Layer-de-la-Haye, 1240-1360 (D/DR M25)

By the early 14th century the feudal system had been replaced by contracts between the king and an individual lord.  These contracts or indentures of war were agreements whereby the king agreed to pay the lord a sum and in return the lord was bound to supply a fixed number of men.

The agreement was written out twice on one piece of parchment and then divided with a wavy or indented line (hence the name) so that in the event of a dispute the two parts could be proved to have once been together.  The king’s copies are held at the National Archives in the records of the Exchequer.

Two of the indentures which would have been given to the lord survive in the Essex Record Office.  They are both written in Anglo-Norman French.  In the medieval period Latin was the language of record, used in the courts and official and legal documents.  However, French was the language of the king and his court until the 15th century and some documents including correspondence and agreements were written in French rather than Latin.

The earlier document dates from 1384 and is an agreement made between Richard II and his half-brother Thomas Holland, Earl of Kent (D/DRg 1/62).  The earl was the governor of the castle and town of Cherbourg and was given £4,000 to provide a sufficient garrison and artillery to defend it.  The earl’s seal shows a hind or white hart.  Richard II also used the white hart as his personal badge.  It is thought that it may have derived from the arms of Joan ‘The Fair Maid of Kent’, the mother of both Richard II and Thomas Holland.

D/DRg 1/62

Seal of Richard II

Seal of Thomas Holland, Earl of Kent

The second (D/DL F15) is dated 8 February 1417 and is an agreement for Henry V’s second campaign in France, following the siege of Harfleur and the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.  This campaign was one of successful conquest resulting in the Treaty of Troyes which made Henry V heir to the French throne, and arranged his marriage to Catherine de Valois, daughter of Charles VI of France.  It is an agreement made between the king and Sir Roger Fienes of Herstmonceux in Sussex.  Sir Roger was to supply 10 men-at-arms and 30 archers, 20 of whom had to be mounted.  The online medieval soldier database www.medievalsoldier.org lists the names of the men-at-arms archers in Sir Roger’s retinue.

D/DL F15

‘War Charter’ between King Henry V and Sir Roger Fynes concerning an excursion into France, 1417. Includes detailed instructions regarding Sir Roger’s liabilities while on active service. It was this second campaign of Henry V which ended with the Treaty of Troyes in 1420. (D/DL F15)

The indenture specifies all the terms and conditions, including the daily wages to be paid – 2s. for Sir Roger, 12d. for the men-at-arms and 6d. for the archers.  It also agreed further payment, depending on the length of the campaign, the division of prisoners (the ransoms would bring reward) and other prizes that might be gained from the campaign.  Sir Roger was bound ‘to be with his said retinue well mounted armed and arrayed according to their estate at the port of the town of Southampton’ on 1 May 1417.  It is likely that a knight such as Sir Roger would have had at least six different types of horses, including a war-horse for battle as well as pack-horses to carry his equipment, the men-at-arms four and the mounted archers one.  They would then be shipped overseas at the expense of the king.

Waging war in this way was an expensive business.  The need to finance the campaigns of the Hundred Years’ War meant that Edward III and his successors had to summon Parliament more frequently to grant taxes to pay for the war.  The tax usually levied was called a fifteenth and tenth and was first introduced by King John and continued to the 17th century.  This was levied on movable goods and was at the rate of one fifteenth for rural areas and one tenth for urban areas and royal land.  In the 47th year of Edward III’s reign (1373-1374), William Reyne, one of the bailiffs of the borough of Colchester proposed a means by which the burden of the tax on the burgesses could be reduced.  All men, both burgesses and ‘foreigners’ [forinceci] (from outside the town) would pay the tenth.  In addition all ‘foreigners’ outside the borough who traded within the town would also be assessed to pay the tenth, instead of the rural rate of the fifteenth.  This forced people of fairly modest means such as farmers, dealers and fishermen to pay at a higher rate than they might otherwise have expected.  It was obviously successful as they chose to use the same method the following year.

In addition the king also had the right of purveyance, which derived from feudalism.  This was the right to requisition goods and services for royal use, and was particularly used to feed and supply armies and garrisons.  It was a system that was open to abuse by the royal officers and was unpopular.  Both Edward III and Henry V used purveyance to equip their armies for France.  Despite these taxes, the kings had to turn to moneylenders, including Italian bankers, for extra finance.  In 1338 wool was shipped from Harwich to pay the Bardi (Florentine) financiers who had lent the king money.

To find out more about the Battle of Agincourt from expert speakers, join us on 31 October 2015 for Essex at Agincourt; all the details of the day are here.

Essex and the Hundred Years’ War

2015 marks the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, Henry V’s famous victory against the French on 25 October 1415. To mark this milestone, we are hosting Essex at Agincourt, a one-day conference on Saturday 31 October 2015 looking at the contribution made by our county to Henry’s campaign. This is a joint event with the Essex branch of the Historical Association, and all the details can be found here.

In this blog post, ERO’s medieval specialist Katharine Schofield takes a broader look at the context of the Hundred Years’ War and the part that Essex played in some of its campaigns. Read on for a quick crash course in this century-spanning medieval conflict.

 

What was the Hundred Years’ War?

The Hundred Years’ War lasted from 1337 to 1453 (116 years).  Instead of a continuous war, it was a series of campaigns and battles, sometimes interrupted by periods of peace, between England and France for control over the French kingdom.  Apart from the main English campaigns, smaller forces were sometimes sent to support English allies in France.

The Battle of Agincourt, from Chroniques d’Enguerrand de Monstrelet (early 15th century) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In 1316 King Louis X of France died, leaving a daughter and no son.  At a time when power was derived largely from military might, an heir who was a daughter or an under-age son was considered to be disastrous.  The king’s younger brother successfully claimed that women could not succeed to the French throne and followed his brother as Philip V.  He in turn left daughters and was succeeded by another brother Charles IV in 1322.  When Charles IV died in 1328 he again left a daughter and no son.  The closest male relative was his nephew Edward III, son of his sister Isabella, ‘the She-Wolf of France’.  Edward’s claim was disputed as it was through his mother and instead Charles’ cousin Philip, Count of Valois became Philip VI of France.

After gaining control of his kingdom from his mother and her reputed lover Roger Mortimer in 1330, Edward III initially waged war against Scotland.  Philip VI of France supported his allies the Scots against the English, threatening the remaining English lands in Gascony (the area to the south and east of Bordeaux).  This interference was one of the reasons which led Edward III to claim the French throne for himself.  In 1340 Edward III began to call himself king of England and France, a title held by every successor until it was abandoned by George III in 1800.  He also added the French arms of the fleur-de-lys to the royal arms.

Edward III described as King of England, Lord of Ireland and Duke of Aquitaine in the Maldon Borough charter of 1330 (Eduardus dei Gra[cia[ Rex Angl[orum] Dommus Hibernie Duc Aquit[ane]) (D/B 3/13/3)

Edward III described as King of England, Lord of Ireland and Duke of Aquitaine in the top line of the Maldon Borough charter of 1330 (Eduardus dei Gra[cia[ Rex Angl[ie] Dominus Hibernie Duc Aquit[ane]) (D/B 3/13/3)

Henry VI described as King of England and France and Lord of Ireland on the Maldon Borough charter of 1454 (D/B 3/13/8)

Henry VI described as King of England and France and Lord of Ireland on the Maldon Borough charter of 1454 (Henricus dei gracie Rex Anglie France Dominus Hibernie) (D/B 3/13/8)

The Battle of Sluys

The first English victory of the war was the naval Battle of Sluys on 22 June 1340 which led to the almost complete destruction of the French fleet and resulted in English control over the Channel, removing the threat of invasion.  Edward III sailed to the battle on La Cogge Thomas from Harwich, with 200 ships.   A further eleven ships were left behind under the command of the town’s bailiff, John But, to act as reinforcements.

 

Essex and the supply chain

The start of the Hundred Years’ War brought importance and prosperity to the port of Harwich.  The town had only been established by the Bigod family in their manor of Dovercourt in the mid-13th century.  Edward III used it as an important base in his war against the French.  In 1338 he granted murage (the right to build walls) to the town.  It was at Harwich that Edward III first sent out letters signing himself King of France in 1340.  In 1347 the town supplied 14 ships and 283 seamen for the Siege of Calais in 1347.

A much later view of the port of Harwich (I/Mb 170/1/3)

A much later view of the port of Harwich (I/Mb 170/1/3)

The records of the Exchequer at the National Archives record the expenses of the sheriff of Essex, William de Wauton in 1340 for the ‘divers provisions for the use of the King for his passage beyond the seas’.  All the Essex hundreds had to send material and food to Maldon or Manningtree, from where they were shipped to Harwich.

Goods such as canvas supplied from London and rope bought in Suffolk , together with money for wages sent from London were all transported to Harwich.  The accounts record that Essex supplied four gangways (pontes) 30 feet long and 5 feet wide.  The county also provided stabling for the horses on the ships, with 418 hurdles 9 feet long and 6 feet wide ‘roughened and close woven’ to prevent the chargers’ hooves penetrating and 116 long racks, 24 feet long.

Places throughout the county supplied goods – hurdles came from Purleigh, Totham, Terling and Hatfield Peverel, racks from Heybridge and 864 boards arrived from (among other places) Broomfield, Feering, Messing, Coggeshall and Colchester.

In the 1340s the English and French were involved in a war in Brittany over the succession to the duchy, each supporting a different side and ally in the conflict.   In 1342 the sheriff of Essex was required to supply 1,098 sheaves of arrows and 1,000 bowstrings which were sent to the Tower.  In that same year 10 ships from Harwich, five from Colchester, four from Brightlingsea and three from Maldon formed part of a fleet to take the English commander Sir Walter de Manny to Brittany.

In July 1346 Edward led a land campaign against the French.  Essex again played its part in the campaign.  The county sent 200 archers, 160 bows and 400 sheaves of arrows and the county’s towns were required to supply armed foot-soldiers, 20 from Colchester (later retained for the town’s defence), 6 from Saffron Walden and 4 each from Chelmsford, Braintree and Waltham Holy Cross.  At the beginning of the year the sheriff had been required to supply another 1,000 hurdles, 24 gangways, 2,000 boards and 200 empty tuns for water.

 

The Battle of Crecy, from a illuminated manuscript of Jean Froissart’s Chronicles

The Battle of Crécy

On 26 August 1346 the English archers demonstrated the power of the longbow winning the decisive Battle of Crécy.  In October Essex was required to supply another 30 archers and in February 1347 an additional 200.  After Crécy the English forces went on to besiege Calais, which after a year surrendered in 1347.  It was to remain in English hands until 1558.

 

The Plague

Following these victories, Europe was devastated by the Black Death.  The bubonic plague moved across the continent, killing an estimated third of the population of England alone.

 

The Black Prince

It was not until 1356 that Edward’s eldest son Edward, Prince of Wales (the Black Prince) led the next major campaign in France, this time not in the north, but closer to the English lands of Aquitaine.  The second major English victory, again with the aid of the longbow, came at the Battle of Poitiers on 13 September 1356.  Among the French prisoners captured was John II, King of France.  Edward III’s final invasion of France followed the battle but John II’s son, the future Charles V, forced the king to negotiate the Treaty of Brétigny in 1360 which allowed the return of John II to France in return for hostages and a ransom of 3 million crowns.

 

Richard II, Henry IV

Edward III died in 1377 and he was succeeded by his ten year old grandson Richard II, the son of the Black Prince who had died in 1376.  In 1380 Charles V of France died and was succeeded by his eleven year old son Charles VI (the Mad). There were no further land campaigns by the English in France until Henry V succeeded his father Henry IV in 1413.

 

Henry V

Henry V reasserted his hereditary claims in France and in August 1415 sailed from England to besiege the town of Harfleur.  Following the town’s surrender Henry V’s army met a much larger French force at the Battle of Agincourt on 25 October 1415.  Despite being heavily outnumbered, the longbow was again of great importance in the victory of the English forces.  Civil war followed in France and when Henry returned for another campaign in 1417 he was able to force concessions on the French.  In 1420 the Treaty of Troyes recognised him as the regent of France and heir to Charles VI and in that same year he married Charles’ daughter Catherine de Valois.

Marriage of Henry V of England to Catherine of Valois British Library, Miniature of the marriage of Henry V and Catharine de Valois: Jean Chartier, Chronique de Charles VII, France (Calais), 1490, and England, before 1494, Royal 20 E. vi, f. 9v,

Henry VI

In 1422 Henry V died leaving a nine month old son Henry VI.  A month after his father’s death he became king of France when Charles VI died and was crowned king of France in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in 1431.

Henry V left his younger brother John, Duke of Bedford as his regent in France.  The English victory at the Battle of Verneuil on 17 August 1424 again saw the pre-eminence of English archers as a weapon of war and marked the end of the great English successes in France.

In 1428 the English laid siege to Orléans but the French were successful in their resistance, inspired by Joan of Arc and went on to defeat the English elsewhere.  Joan of Arc was captured in 1430 and burned at the stake in 1431.  However, this failed to improve the fortunes of the English army, who continued to suffer defeats.

 

Coastal raids on Essex

In between the major land campaigns, there were minor skirmishes and raids on the coastal towns of each country.  In 1451 the Harwich court roll records a raid by the French in which nine people were killed.  John Sexteyn, John Hervy, Peter Coylour and Richard Smyth were charged at the borough court that having sworn to watch the town of Harwich [villam derwych] faithfully during the night, the town was spoiled and destroyed.  The court promised further enquiry into this matter.

The jurors present that John Sexteyn, John Hervy, Peter Coylour and Richard Smyth were charged and sworn to watch the town of Harwich [villam derwych] faithfully during the night when it happened that the town was spoiled and destroyed [expoliairi et destrui] by our enemies and our neighbours to the number of nine were slaughtered; whether in this default or not at present they do not know’; therefore they have to inquire and make their verdict at the next court (St. Barnabas 29 Henry VI 1451)

The jurors present that John Sexteyn, John Hervy, Peter Coylour and Richard Smyth were charged and sworn to watch the town of Harwich [villam derwych] faithfully during the night when it happened that the town was spoiled and destroyed [expoliairi et destrui] by our enemies and our neighbours to the number of nine were slaughtered; whether in this default or not at present they do not know’; therefore they have to inquire and make their verdict at the next court (St. Barnabas 29 Henry VI 1451)

Only the year before John Sexteyn and John Norys had been 3d. each for entertaining [hospitare] the watchmen [vigilatores] of the town when they ought to be watching.

IMG_8030

John Norys and John Sexteyn amerced 3d. each for entertaining [hospitare] the watchment [vigilatores] of the town when they ought to be watching and ? [? Guarding] for the good of the town (St. Barnabas 28 Henry VI 1450).

It is likely that there were further raids as in 1456 the court rolls records that Adam Palmere was presented at court for having shown our French enemies [inimici nostris franc] the very secret way of our port of Orwell leading their ships in safety to the grave damage of the town and against the ordinance and statute of England.

Adam Palmere showed to our French enemies [inimici nostris franc] the very secret way of our port of Orwell leading their ships in safety to the grave damage of the town and against the ordinance and statute of England (St. Barnabas 34 Henry VI [1456])

Adam Palmere showed to our French enemies [inimici nostris franc] the very secret way of our port of Orwell leading their ships in safety to the grave damage of the town and against the ordinance and statute of England (St. Barnabas 34 Henry VI [1456])

The end of the War

The Battle of Castillon on 17 July 1453 is generally held to be the end of the war.  By the 1450s English attention moved away from France to civil war in England (the Wars of the Roses) between the Lancastrians represented by Henry VI’s supporters and the rival claim of the house of York.

 

Essex men who took part

As well as the money and goods contributed to the military campaigns of the Hundred Years’ War, Essex also supplied men to fight in the armies that went to France.  In addition to the sailors from Harwich, Colchester and Maldon, men from the county would have fought in the retinues of the knights and lords who took part in overseas expeditions.

John de Vere, 7th Earl of Oxford fought at the Battles of Crécy and Poitiers and at the siege of Calais.  He died in France while on campaign in 1360.  His grandson Richard de Vere, 11th Earl of Oxford was one of the commanders at the Battle of Agincourt.

William de Bohun, 6th Earl of Hereford, 5th Earl of Essex and 1st Earl of Northampton held the lands in the county originally held by the de Mandeville family, mostly in the north and west of the county.  He fought at Sluys, Crécy and Calais and was buried at (Saffron) Walden Abbey in 1360.

Robert, 1st Lord Bourchier fought in Brittany and at Crécy and was buried in Halstead church.  The Bourchiers were lords of the manors of Abels and Stanstead Hall in Halstead and later Prayers in Sible Hedingham and Little Easton.  They inherited the manor of Little Easton through marriage from Sir John de Lovayne who was killed at the siege of Calais.  Robert Bourchier’s eldest son John, his grandson William, Count of Eu and his great-grandson Henry, Earl of Essex all fought in campaigns in France, William at Agincourt.

John de Coggeshall was among those killed at the siege of Calais, having fought at Crécy.  He was the eldest son of Sir John de Coggeshall, lord of a number of manors including Little Coggeshall and sheriff of Essex for a number of years.

Other Essex men killed in the siege of Calais included Sir William de Wauton, who fought in the retinue of the earl of Oxford and was buried at Tilty Abbey and Sir Robert de Lacy, lord of the manor of Newnham Hall in Ashdon.

Knights and landed families of the county were represented in the retinues of the great landowners.  John, son of Henry Helyoun of [Helions] Bumpstead was in the retinue of the Black Prince in 1346.  Sir Baldwin de Botetourt was master of the Black Prince’s horses and a member of his bodyguard at Poitiers.  He was rewarded by the grant of the Crown’s manor of Newport in return for a rose rent.  Sir Richard Waldegrave whose family held the manor of Wormingford fought in the retinue of earl Humphrey de Bohun in the early 1370s.

________________________________________________________________________

Essex at Agincourt

A joint event with the Essex branch of the Historical Association to mark the 600thanniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, Henry V’s famous 1415 victory against the French. Join us for talks from Professor Anne Curry, internationally-renowned expert on the Hundred Years War, Dr James Ross, an expert on the medieval nobility of East Anglia, and the English Warbow Society.

Saturday 31 October, 11.00am for 11.30am-3.30pm

Advance booking essential

Tickets: £15 for non-HA members; £7 for HA members, including refreshments and lunch

Non-HA members: please book through the ERO on 033301 32500

HA members: please book through the Essex branch of the Historical Association on clem.moir@btinternet.com or 01245 440007

Part of the Chelmsford Ideas Festival

Magna Carta: Essex Connections – 1203 charter and letters patent of King John

Ahead of Magna Carta: Essex Connections on Saturday 23 May, thought we would take a look at two ERO documents from the reign of the infamous King John (1199-1216).

These two documents are featured on the University of East Anglia’s Magna Carta Project website which brings together all of the charters of King John’s reign.  Professor Nicholas Vincent, an expert on Magna Carta, leads this project and he will be speaking about Magna Carta at the Essex Record Office’s mini conference on 23 May.

King John issued several thousand charters during his reign. The Magna Carta Project site explains that:

‘The word ‘charter’ covers a multitude of possibilities, but in essence defines a single sheet of parchment on which were recorded commands, requests or most often grants by one party to another… [charters] are often our best, and sometimes our only means of access to the realities of power, of landholding and of administration.’

The Magna Carta Project has been tracking down all the surviving charters of King John’s reign, which can be found in archives around the country (including here at ERO) and bringing digital versions of them together online

The two ERO documents which have been included in the project date from 1203. One is a charter, and the other a letters patent.

The oldest Essex royal charter in the Record Office was granted by King John on 2 May 1203 (D/DB T1437/1).  The charter confirmed the judgement made by the king’s justiciar Geoffrey FitzPeter (‘fil Petri’ son of Peter) in the royal court (more on him in another post coming soon).  The judgement was that Constance Furre should inherit the lands in Heydon (‘Heyden’) and London of her father Robert Furre, having been judged to be the rightful heir in the court.

D-DT T1437-1

This charter was granted while the king was at ‘Auriualla’, the modern Roche d’Orival near Rouen in Normandy.  At a time when royal justice was only dispensed by the king or his chief officer, and the ability to defend land through military might was essential, the inheritances of women were particularly vulnerable to counter-claims by others.

This document begins in the conventional way:

‘Joh[anne]s d[e]I gr[ati]a Rex Angl[orum] Dominus Hyb[ern]ie, Dux Norm[annie] et Aquit[annie] Com[es] And[egavie] archiepi[scopi]s epi[scopi]s abb[ati]b[u]s com[itibus] bar[onibus] justice[ariis] vic[ecomitibus] prepo[si]tis minist[ri]s et omnib[u]s ball[ivi]s et fidelib[u]s suis sal[u]t[em]’

(John by the Grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of Anjou to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, sheriffs, reeves, officers and all bailiffs and subjects greetings.)

This is almost identical with the opening of Magna Carta, which included foresters between the justices and the sheriffs.  John was the first English monarch to describe himself as Lord of Ireland, a title he held before he became king.

The Great Seal affixed to the charter confirmed the king’s approval of the contents and would have been used to signify his agreement to Magna Carta.  Seals were made of wax and the royal seal was produced using a double-sided metal mould (matrix).  It is conventional for royal seals to show the monarch seated on one side holding the orb and sceptre, ready to dispense justice which comes down from the crown.  On the other side it is customary to show the monarch on a horse ready to defend the country. The seal here has survived remarkable well considering it is over 800 years old, and it is still possible to make out traces of the royal images impressed into it.

D-DB T1437-1-01 D-DB T1437-1-02

The charter was accompanied by a royal grant by letters patent of 2 April 1203 (D/DB T1437/2).  This document confirms that the lands had been delivered to Constance and in turn she declared (quitclaimed) that she had no further claim to the lands, having been paid 15 marks by Thomas de Heydene (the lord of the manor) when she married.  Constance kept 1 virgate (approximately 30 acres) of land for herself.  A mark was valued at 13s. 4d. and it is estimated that today 13 marks would be worth around £5,000.  These letters patent were given at ‘Mullinell’ (Moulineux) in France.  The green wax on this seal was used because it was a grant by letters patent (open letter).

D-DB T1437-2 watermarked

Two of the men named as witnesses in this document – Geoffrey FitzPeter and Hugh de Neville – both have interesting stories and Essex connections which we will explore in forthcoming posts.

In the meantime, get in touch on 033301 32500 to book your ticket for Magna Carta: Essex Connections.

Magna Carta: Essex Connections

To explore the significance and legacy of this famous document, both nationally and for Essex, join us for talks from:

  • Nicholas Vincent, Professor of Medieval History at the University of East Anglia, who has been leading a major project researching the background to Magna Carta
  • Katharine Schofield, ERO Archivist, on Essex connections with Magna Carta and the impact it had on the medieval county

Saturday 23 May, 1.15pm for 1.30am-4.15pm

Tickets: £8, including tea, coffee and cake

Please book in advance on 033301 32500

ERO is stronger with Friends: purchase of the Saulez collection

The Friends of Historic Essex are a charity which supports the ERO. Throughout the centenary of the First World War, the Friends and ERO are working together on the Essex Great War Archive Project, which aims to preserve documentary evidence of the period for educational study, family history research and community histories. The project includes looking out for documents relating to Essex people and places during the War, and where possible acquiring them for our collection.

If you would like to help, would you consider making a donation or becoming a member of the Friends? Details are available on the Friends’ website.

Here, Archive Assistant Sarah Ensor shares details of the most significant purchase made as part of the project to date – the Saulez family collection. (A version of this article first appeared the Autumn 2014 edition of the Essex Journal.)

The Friends of Historic Essex have recently acquired a family collection which has since been deposited at the Essex Record Office (Accession A14026).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

DP-511-28-1 Robert Travers Saulez crop

Rev. Robert Travers Saulez (D/P 511/28/1)

A large part of the collection consists of letters and telegrams from and relating to the sons of the Reverend Robert Travers Saulez (right). Robert was born in India in 1849 where his father, George Alfred Frederick Saulez, was an assistant chaplain at Nainee Tal. After gaining his degree from Trinity College Cambridge Robert served as curate in Lancashire, Hampshire and London before moving to Essex in 1886. According to Crockford’s Clerical Directory he was vicar of Belchamp St. Paul from 1886 to 1901 and rural dean of Yeldham from 1899 to 1901, vicar of St. John, Moulsham from 1901 to 1906 and rector of Willingale Doe with Shellow Bowels from 1906 to 1927. He retired to Twinstead where he died in 1933.

Robert and his wife Margaret Jane had three sons and a daughter between 1882 and 1887. Their sons, Robert George Rendall, Arthur Travers and Alfred Gordon were all educated at Felsted School and later served in the army. The letters deposited appear to date from towards the end of the Boer War through the Great War and beyond.

Robert George Rendall Saulez answered the call to serve in the South African Constabulary from 1902 to 1904 so is likely to be the author of the earliest letters in the collection. He volunteered soon after the outbreak of the Great War and served with the Army Service Corps in Egypt and Palestine. He was a good horseman and was recognised during the war for his share in providing an efficient transport service by ‘Horse, Camel or Motor’. After the war he served in the Supply and Transport Corps in the Indian Army until about 1922 after which it is believed he settled in the country.

IMG_4287 edit

Bundles of letters fill the boxes

On leaving school Arthur Travers Saulez attended the Royal Military Academy before joining the Royal Garrison Artillery. He was posted to India in 1907 but returned to England prior to 1914 and was sent to France in May 1915. He achieved the rank of Major and having survived the Battle of the Somme was killed on 22 April 1917. The pencil in his diary which is amongst the collection is lodged in the page of the week of his death. A window was erected in the church at Willingale Doe in memory of Arthur Travers Saulez by the officers, NCOs and men of his battery.

IMG_4296 edit

The diary of Arthur Travers Saulez, with the pencil still marking the spot where he made his last diary entry before being killed in April 1917

 

Hart’s Annual Army List for 1908 shows that the youngest of the brothers, Alfred Gordon Saulez, had joined the Army Service Corps in 1906 and when war broke out he was sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force in 1914. Like his brother Arthur he rose to the rank of Major but unlike his brother he survived the war; however nothing is known of his service throughout the conflict so hopefully some of his letters are in the family collection and will reveal more. Following the Armistice he was posted to Mesopotamia where he died in 1921 apparently as a result of the ‘excessive heat’; he left a wife and two children.

IMG_4307 edit

One of the more unusual items within the collection – a remedy for poisonous gas

Robert and Margaret’s daughter Margaret Hilda embraced the opportunity that the Great War gave women to be involved. She served with the Scottish Churches Huts which, like the YMCA, provided support behind the lines in France. Following the war she married Wilberforce Onslow Times at St. Christopher’s in Willingale Doe with her father conducting the service.

D-P 388-1-11 image 95

Marriage of Margaret Hilda Saulez, with her father as minister (D/P 338/1/11, image 95)

Until this collection of over 300 letters and other items can be sorted and catalogued the full story of this family’s experiences serving their country remains untold. It is hoped that funding can be raised to expedite the cataloguing and storage of the collection and the provision of an educational resource for students and people of all ages. If you as an individual, group or institution are interested in helping fund this project then please contact the Friends of Historic Essex by e-mail or by writing to them care of Essex Record Office, Wharf Road, Chelmsford, CM2 6YT.

You can also help to support the Essex Great War Archive Project by coming to a fundraising quiz organised by the Friends on Friday 17 April 2015 at Galleywood Heritage Centre – full details, including how to book, can be found here.

Medieval Mercenary: Sir John Hawkwood

There’s not long to wait now until the forthcoming ERO Conference, The Fighting Essex Soldier: Recruitment, War and Remembrance in the Fourteenth Century.

While there will be talks on the participation of Essex men in the running of the county, the king’s wars in Scotland, France and Ireland, along with on the seas and mention of the Peasants’ Revolt, we just do not have the time to talk about those men who fought on after peace was declared.

Many of the soldiers who had fought for Edward III, perhaps over the course of many years in successive campaigns, did not necessarily find the idea of going home an attractive proposition. Skills honed on the battlefields and in the garrisons of the first part of the Hundred Years War might not be welcomed back home in Essex, while the opportunities for rape and plunder at home were much more limited than on the continent.

For those willing to take a chance and stay on in Europe there were openings for continuing to fight on in various countries, not least France and Italy. One of these men – and perhaps the most famous of them – was Sir John Hawkwood (d. 1394) of Sible Hedingham. He almost certainly took part in the wars of Edward III up to 1360 but in what capacity is unclear. Possibly he may have fought at Crécy (1346) and Poitiers (1356) but he came to prominence later as the most famous condottiere (a professional military leader or captain) in Italy of his day. Sir John is even commemorated by a fresco in Florence Cathedral.

Funerary Monument to Sir John Hawkwood by Paolo Uccello (1436)

While we do not have time for a paper on him during our day, the ERO has published a book by Dr Christopher Starr about him. This richly illustrated book places Hawkwood in an Essex context, showing his descent from villain ancestors, his network of gentry and aristocratic connections and the eventual dispersal of his accumulated estates. The intriguing history of Hawkwood’s mysterious tomb at Sible Hedingham is also uncovered for the first time.

 

Medieval Mercenary-1

Available in person from the ERO Searchroom for £9.99, or remotely for £13.49 (including p&p within the UK cheques made payable to ‘Essex County Council’ or by credit/debit card over the phone – 01245 244644), this is a wonderful introduction to a remarkable Essex character. Why not treat yourself to a copy?

 

The Fighting Essex Soldier: War Recruitment and Remembrance in the Fourteenth Century

Saturday 8 March 2014, 9.30am-4.15pm

More details here

One of our speakers, Dr Jennifer Ward, has also curated a display of fourteenth-century documents from our collections to accompany the conference which will be in the Searchroom from January-March.