Document of the Month, August 2017: Salvation for sale

Indulgence granted to John and Lucy Prince of Theydon Garnon by John Kendale, turcipelerius of Rhodes and Commissary of Pope Sixtus IV, 10 April 1480 (D/DCe Q2)

Our Document of the Month for August 2017 is a medieval indulgence – a certificate granted by the Catholic Church to absolve the bearer of sin, and reduce any punishment they would receive either in this life or in purgatory.

The document dates from 1480, but we have chosen to highlight it in 2017 because this year marks 500 years since Martin Luther’s publication of his Ninety-Five Theses, an event which is generally seen as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation in Europe. The Ninety-Five Theses is also known as the Disputation on the Power of Indulgences, and criticised the way the Catholic Church was granting these documents.

Indulgences had originally been intended to be a reward for piety and good deeds, but the system had become increasingly commercialised, with indulgences being sold. In 1517 Pope Leo X offered indulgences to those who contributed alms towards the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. In Germany a Dominican friar, Johann Tetzel, was prominent in selling indulgences and the saying ‘As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs’ is attributed to him.

Luther attacked the sale of indulgences not only for their commercialisation, but also because he contended that the Pope had no right to grant indulgences on God’s behalf. He also argued that the selling of indulgences discouraged people from truly repenting of their sins or performing acts of mercy.

This particular indulgence was granted to John and Lucy Prince, ‘in consideration of [their] devotion to the Roman Church and willingness to aid the sacred and necessary expedition against the perfidious Turk and for the defence of the Isle of Rhodes and the Catholic Faith’ [Suarum pro expeditione contra perfidos turchos christinai nominis hostes in defensionem insule Rhodi et fidei catholice facta].

The indulgence was granted by the Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem, at their English headquarters of St John’s Priory in Clerkenwell. The Knights Hospitallers were a religious and military order charged with defending the Holy Land. Having been based originally in Jerusalem, by this time they had bases across Europe and operated their military activity from the island of Rhodes.

In 1480, the year this indulgence was granted, the Ottomans under Sultan Mehmet II laid siege to Rhodes; granting indulgences was one of the ways the Knights Hospitallers raised money for its defence. Mehmet II had been waging a largely successful campaign against Christian forces since 1453 when he captured Constantinople (Istanbul). Rhodes did not fall until 1522 when it was captured by Suleiman the Magnificent, Mehmet’s great-grandson.

The indulgence gave the Princes the right to choose their own confessor with the power to absolve all sins, other than murder of a priest, violence against a bishop or disobedience towards the Pope. It also granted the right for a full remission and indulgence of sins once during their lifetime and once at the point of death.

The Protestant Reformation centred round the principle that salvation could be achieved by faith alone, not by faith and good works, as emphasised by the Catholic Church. In this Luther built on the works of humanists such as Erasmus. The subsequent emphasis on translating the Bible from Latin into the vernacular (i.e. English) was intended to make it more accessible to everybody.

These principles resonated across Europe in the 16th century, and we can find evidence of them in the ERO collections. In 1588, for example, John Brockise of Havering Green, Hornchurch, a painter, left a will (D/AEW 9/10) in which he bequeathed his most precious possessions. After bequests of furniture to his children, he left to Samuel Brockis the Paraphrase of Erasmus on the Four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles ‘in consideration that he shalbe good to my wife and to the reste of his bretherne and sister after my desese’ or his wife had the power to withhold the bequest. He left to his son Robert ‘one bybell’ translated by Miles Coverdale on the same basis. Miles Coverdale first translated the Bible into English in 1535.

So this one little document which is today looked after as part of the collections at ERO is a small part of a big story about a transforming world. We will not ever know what sin John and Lucy Prince felt they needed an indulgence for, but in the world of medieval Catholic belief it was better to be safe than sorry.

 The indulgence will be on display in the ERO Searchroom throughout August 2017.

The Fighting Essex Soldier – now launched

On Saturday 6 May we hosted the launch of The Fighting Essex Soldier: Recruitment, War and Society in the Fourteenth Century.

Three years in the making, this book has grown from a conference held at ERO in March 2014 looking at the contribution made by Essex to the fighting of the Hundred Years’ War.

IMG_3512 1080x720

Hot off the press, the related chapters in the The Fighting Essex Soldier add up to a wide-ranging survey, exploring military, social and economic history in fourteenth-century Essex.

The volume is a collection of papers based on those given at the conference back in 2014:

Introduction: crown, county and locality

Christopher Thornton and Jennifer Ward

Essex and the Hundred Years War: taxation, justice and county families

Jennifer Ward

The contribution of Essex gentry to the wars of Edward I and Edward II

David Simpkin

Organised crime in fourteenth-century Essex: Hugh de Badewe, Essex soldier and gang member

Gloria Harris

The fighting men of Essex: service relationships and the poll tax

Sam Gibbs

Shipping the troops and fighting at sea: Essex ports and mariners in England’s wars, 1337-89

Andrew Ayton and Craig Lambert

Military aspects of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381

Herbert Eiden

The editors and some of the contributors to The Fighting Essex Soldier, from left to right: Neil Wiffen, Gloria Harris, Dr Jennifer Ward, Dr Christopher Thornton, Dr Herbert Eiden.

The editors and some of the contributors to The Fighting Essex Soldier, from left to right: Neil Wiffen, Gloria Harris, Dr Jennifer Ward, Dr Christopher Thornton, Dr Herbert Eiden.

The original conference was the brainchild of Neil Wiffen, who is an ERO team member and one of the editors of the new book. His inspiration was reading Arms, Armies and Fortifications in the Hundred Years War, edited by Anne Curry and Michael Hughes, and wondering what part was played by Essex in all these upheavals.

Throughout the fourteenth century, the wars waged by English kings against France and Scotland resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of men involved in warfare, both on land and at sea. The new research published in this book seeks to identify these soldiers at all levels of society, focused within the historic county of Essex. Questions considered include how forces were raised to serve the king, and the impact on communities of the demands of taxation and the supply of ships and men for the war effort. Other chapters consider the effect of militarisation on men returning from the wars.

The book is now available to purchase from the University of Hertfordshire Press website.

The launch of the book was celebrated with plenty of cake (as all things in archives ideally are)

The launch of the book was celebrated with plenty of cake (as all things in archives ideally are)

Document of the Month, October 2016: ‘Barking Domesday’, c.1275

Katharine Schofield, Archivist

(D/DP M150)

We are publishing October’s Document of the Month a little early since we are excited about our conference Norman Essex: what did the Normans do for us? taking place this Saturday (1 October 2016). Despite the fact that it dates from about 200 years later, this document is named after that most famous of Norman documents – Domesday Book.

Compiled in 1086, Domesday Book records the lands in the possession of the king’s tenants-in-chief; Norman followers who were rewarded with land in return for military support.  By the end of the 12th century Domesday Book was held in sufficient respect to be kept with other important Exchequer documents and the Great Seal.  In c.1179 Henry II’s treasure Richard fitzNeal or fitzNigel described in his Dialogue of the Exchequer how it was known to the ‘native English’ as Domesday Book ‘not because it contains decisions on various difficult points, but because its decisions, like those of the Last Judgement, are unalterable.’img_1826-1080-watermarked

img_1831-1080-watermarkedOur Document of the Month follows in the footsteps of Domesday Book, and it is clearly headed with the words ‘domes daye’. It is the Ingatestone portion of the ‘Barking Domesday’, dating from  about 1275. Only two parts of the survey survive, a 15th century copy of the manor of Bulphan and this from the manor of Ingatestone which is stitched into a rental.  The survey names the tenants, gives a brief note of their landholdings and rent and then a much more detailed account of the labour services such as ploughing, hoeing, making hay, reaping and even gathering nuts that they owed to the lord of the manor and the times of year when they were due.

Although the words Domesday look as though they have been written in a different hand we do know that on 28 October 1322 the manorial court required the that the ‘Domesdaye de Berkyng’ be produced to answer a question about succession dues owed to the manor.

To find out more about what the original Domesdaye survey tells us about Essex, join us for Norman Essex this Saturday (1 October), and do have a look at the Barking Domesday if you visit the Searchroom during the coming month.

Latin in the Archives

It’s a scenario many of us can relate to. A catalogue entry looks promising for your research, but there is a note that it is in Latin. Our new Latin translation service at ERO may be able to help you – read on to find out more.

Latin was the official language for all legal documents up to the 18th century, including title deeds, Quarter Sessions, manorial and ecclesiastical records, and can also be found in wills, maps, letters and parish registers.

Latin documents can prove a tricky stumbling block in your research, but we can help by translating them for you

Latin documents can prove a tricky stumbling block in your research, but we can help by translating them for you

Latin was temporarily banished from legal records during the Interregnum of 1649-60. Finally, on 25 March 1733 it was enacted by an Act of Parliament (4 George II, c.26, 1731) that English should henceforth be used in all legal documents. The change to English, back to Latin, and then English forevermore can be seen in, for example, the Borough of Colchester’s Monday Court books. English replaced Latin from 21 April 1651, on 27 August 1660 Latin resumed again, but was abandoned in favour of English on 12 June 1733 (D/B5 Cb1/14, 16, 27).

Colchester Monday Court book - last Latin entry

In 1651, during the Interregnum, the Colchester Monday Court began recording its meetings in English rather than Latin. Here we see the last Latin entries made on 21 April 1651…

Colchester Monday Court book - first English entry

…and the first English entries on 21 April 1651 (D/B5 Cb1/14). When the monarchy was restored to the throne in 1660 the use of Latin resumed until English was adopted permanently in 1733.

It is commonly said that documentary Latin is easier to read than Classical Latin. Certainly the syntax (word order) is generally more akin to English and therefore simpler to follow. Moreover, as you would expect from legal documents, the information is set out in a standard way and formulaic phrases are used. Common phrases you might find in wills, for example, include  ‘compos mentis licet eger in corpore’ (of sound mind though sick in body); and ‘lego animam meam Deo omnipotenti, beate Marie virgini et omnibus sanctis eius’ (I leave my soul to God Almighty, to the Blessed Virgin Mary and all His Saints).

Latin will of John Cotelere

A Latin will dating from 1449, belonging to John Cotelere, who left his property to his wife Sara and daughter Agnes (D/Dba T3/2)

English words were often used where there wasn’t a satisfactory Latin equivalent. In a late 13th century grant of land in Little Waltham there appears the words ‘sterlingorum’ (of silver pennies). The word may derive from the Anglo-Saxon ‘steorra’ (star) which was often depicted on the pennies. The English word ‘croft’ which was Latinized into ‘croftam’ is also used in this deed (D/P 220/25/1).

The third word on the fourth line down is 'croftam', a Latinised version of the English word 'croft'. You can see the shape of an 'a' at the end of the word, and the downward stroke joined to it is a contraction to indicate an 'm'

The third word on the fourth line down is ‘croftam’, a Latinised version of the English word ‘croft’. You can see the shape of an ‘a’ at the end of the word, and the downward stroke joined to it is a contraction to indicate an ‘m’

However, even with a familiarity with Latin grammar, many documents can still be very tricky. Ecclesiastical documents, especially those produced by the papal see, may have complex sentence structures and obscure vocabulary. Many words are abbreviated, either by superscript marks or letters (to save time and space on a manuscript). This was a system of standard abbreviations and rules so, once the scribe knew the rules, he could easily read and apply them.

However, it may be that a combination of Latin legalese, challenging handwriting, copious abbreviations and a faded or damaged manuscript are too much of a challenge. If so, you may like to enquire about ERO’s new Latin translation and transcription service. We have recently welcomed to the team Dr Stacey Harmer, who has a diploma in Classical Latin as well as over 10 years’ experience as an Archivist working with Latin documents in local government record offices. Dr Harmer did her PhD on book production and ownership in late medieval Yorkshire, for which she read 1200 original wills (a large proportion of which were in Latin) looking for bequests of books. We offer this translation service not just for documents held at ERO, but also any other Latin manuscripts, as long as you can provide a high-quality digital copy or photocopy. Any type of document will be considered; but we may decline the work if the Latin is too obscure or if the document is in a poor condition.

To find out more, please contact us at ero.enquiry@essex.gov.uk

Document of the Month, April 2016: A new ruling class

By Katharine Schofield, Archivist

Deeds, c.1140-1144 (D/DBa T2/1, 3)

2016 marks the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings (which we are marking with a conference on 1 October – find out more on our events pages).

The two documents we have chosen to highlight this month date from nearly 80 years after the Norman Conquest, and they show how securely the Norman ruling elite had established themselves in England.

The success of the Norman Conquest produced a dramatic change in land ownership as William the Conqueror rewarded his supporters with English land, displacing the 1066 landowners.  In 1086 Domesday Book illustrated the process of land redistribution in each county, listing the manors held by each of the king’s tenants-in-chief.  These two deeds were issued by Geoffrey de Mandeville, 1st Earl of Essex, a grandson of two of the Essex tenants-in-chief.  They date from the early 1140s, and record grants of land to Eustace and Humphrey de Barentun, ancestors of the Barrington family of Barrington Hall, Hatfield Broad Oak.

The deeds are not dated but this one must date from before the second half of 1140, before Geoffrey was made Earl of Essex, as he is named only as G de Mand[eville]. In this deed de Mandeville grants the land of Alan de Scheperitha to Eustace and Humphrey de Barentun.  (D/DBa T2/1)

The deeds are not dated but this one must date from before the second half of 1140, before Geoffrey was made Earl of Essex, as he is named only as G de Mand[eville]. In this deed de Mandeville grants the land of Alan de Scheperitha to Eustace and Humphrey de Barentun. (D/DBa T2/1)

In this second deed Geoffrey he is described as Gaufr[ido] Comes Essexe (Geoffrey, Earl of Essex). In this document he confirms a grant of lands in Hatfield [Broad Oak] and Writtle to Humphrey de Barentun. (D/Dba T2/3)

In this second deed Geoffrey he is described as Gaufr[ido] Comes Essexe (Geoffrey, Earl of Essex). In this document he confirms a grant of lands in Hatfield [Broad Oak] and Writtle to Humphrey de Barentun. (D/Dba T2/3)

Geoffrey was the grandson of two of the Domesday tenants-in-chief, Geoffrey de Mandeville (or Magna Villa) and Eudo Dapifer (dapifer is the Latin word for steward), and Eudo served as steward to William the Conqueror and his sons William II and Henry I.  Eudo was sometimes described as Eudo son of Hubert [de Rie/Ryes].  Hubert had been a prominent supporter of the Conqueror in Normandy and Eudo’s brothers William, Ralph, Hubert and Adam also benefited from the Conquest.  Ralph became constable of Nottingham Castle and Hubert constable of Norwich Castle and all four held land in England.

Geoffrey de Mandeville, one of the richest of the king’s barons, was rewarded with extensive lands, mostly in Essex, but also in ten other counties, as well as being appointed constable of the Tower of London.

Eudo Dapifer also held lands in Essex and nine other counties. He was responsible for the building of Colchester Castle, the largest Norman keep in England, becoming its first constable. In 1096/7 he founded St. John’s Abbey in the town and was buried there in 1120.

Although both deeds relate to land in Essex and are dated 80 years after the Norman Conquest, Geoffrey de Mandeville begins by greeting all his men French and English in the first deed (om[n]ib[us] hominib[us] suis franc[ie] et anglic[e]) and all his Barons and clerks and lay men French and English in the second (Om[n]ib[us] Baronib[us] et hominib[us] suis clericis et Laicis franc[ie] et angl[ice]).

The Geoffrey de Mandeville named in these documents (the grandson of the first Geoffrey and Eudo Dapifer) founded Walden Abbey (which after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s became what is today Audley End), and built the castle at Saffron Walden.  He was prominent in the civil war in King Stephen’s reign when a contemporary chronicler wrote that ‘men said openly that Christ and his saints slept’.  As a reward for his support for King Stephen he was made Earl of Essex.

After Stephen’s capture in 1141 Geoffrey changed sides to support Stephen’s cousin and rival the Empress Matilda and she appointed him constable of the Tower, forgave him debts owed to the Crown, granted him lands in Normandy and appointed him sheriff of Essex, Hertfordshire, Middlesex and London.  He died in 1144 from an arrow wound while in rebellion against the king.

The documents will be on display in the Searchroom throughout April 2016.

 

 

 

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.

The essentials of archery

Today’s post from our medieval specialist Katharine Schofield is all about the importance of archery in medieval England. Join us to find out more with the English Warbow Society at Essex at Agincourt 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.

The use of longbows by the English archers was perhaps one of the most significant developments of the Hundred Years’ War and indeed of medieval warfare.  The longbow had a decisive and devastating effect in the English victories at the Battles of Sluys in 1340, Crécy in 1346, Poitiers in 1356 and Agincourt in 1415.

Ian Coote English Warbow Society

Ian Coote of the English Warbow Society using a traditional English warbow. See replicas of period bows and arrows and hear more about how significant their role was in the Hundred Years’ War at Essex at Agincourt
Photo: Chris Morris

The longbow originated in Wales and was used against the English in the 12th and 13th century invasions.  A 12th century chronicler Gerald of Wales described how an Englishman was struck by a Welsh archer:

It went right through his thigh, high up, where it was protected inside and outside the leg by his iron cuirasses and then through the seat of his leather tunic; next it penetrated … the saddle … seat; and finally it lodged in his horse, driving so deep that it killed the animal.

The deadly effect of the longbow meant that it was soon incorporated into English forces.  Longbows ranged in size from 5 to 7 feet [1.5 – 2.1 metres] and were usually made from yew, but wood from ash, elm and other trees could also be used.  An archer could shoot over half a mile and could knock a knight off his horse.  Archers could fire up to 12 arrows a minute, but would usually average about six arrows.  The arrows were around 3 feet long with a tip designed to break through chain mail.

Archery was a necessary skill for all Englishmen from the 13th to the 16th century, when it was gradually superseded by more modern weapons of war.  In 1181 the Assize of Arms did not mention bows and arrows, although a law of Henry I (1100-1135) stated that if a man was accidentally killed by an archer at practice then the archer could not be prosecuted for murder or manslaughter.

Archery practice remained a source of potential danger.  The Essex Assizes held in August 1579 recorded the indictment of John Pollyn of Little Oakley who on 28 June with other young men at the butts in the parish had shot Thomas Downes, aged 16, in the left eye leaving him with a wound 3 inches deep of which he died the following day.  In 1581 an inquest at Barking on Henry Fawcett, aged 19 recorded that a fisherman John Redforde accidentally shot Fawcett on the right side of his head to the depth of an inch while he was standing near the butts.  Fawcett died from the wound a week later.  The cause of death was recorded as ‘By misfortune’ [misadventure].

In 1252 another Assize of Arms was issued and this required every able-bodied man aged 15-60 to equip themselves with bows and arrows.  This was not formally repealed until 1623/4.  A declaration of 1363 acknowledged the successes that the longbow had brought:

Whereas the people of our realm, rich and poor alike, were accustomed formerly in their games to practise archery – whence by God’s help, it is well known that high honour and profit came to our realm, and no small advantage to ourselves in our warlike enterprises … that every man in the same country, if he be able-bodied, shall, upon holidays, make use, in his games, of bows and arrows … and so learn and practise archery.

In 1388 an Act required that all servants and labourers were to have bows and practice on Sundays and holidays.

By the 15th century archery was still considered to be of such importance that legislation was introduced to ensure that the equipment was readily available.  An Act of 1472 required every merchant importing goods to bring in four bowstaves for every ton; in 1483-1484 ten ‘good’ bowstaves had to be imported for every butt of wine.  Customs duty was removed from bow staves longer than 6 feet in 1503.  Maximum prices for bows made of yew were fixed at 3s. 4d. in 1482/3.

In 1542 an Act of Parliament laid down rules for regular practice.  It established a minimum distance of 220 yards (more than 200 metres) that men over 24 should be able to hit the target.  It also prohibited houses for ‘unlawful games’ which prevented practice and the Quarter Sessions rolls for Essex record many prosecutions.

In 1574 the records of Colchester Borough contain a copy of an order to the bailiffs by Thomas Worrell, fletcher, and John Gamage, bowyer, who had been appointed as deputies by the Essex Commissioners.  Lists were required of every householder, children and manservant aged 7-60 and they were required to muster before Worrell and Gamage on 5 May 1574 ‘with such bows and arrows as they ought to use’.  Colchester’s records notes the letter ‘was not received until 10 p.m. on 3 May and therefore the muster was not carried out’ (D/B 5 R7 f.183r. – 184r.].

Mark Stretton of the English Warbow Society making arrow heads

Mark Stretton of the English Warbow Society making arrow heads

Every town and village would have had archery butts for practice.  Butt Lane in Colchester is said to take its name from the fact that it led to the town’s butts.  In Chelmsford the butts were located in Butt Field off Duke Street in the area covered today by Townfield Street and the railway station.  As late as 1622 the chamberlains’ accounts for Maldon record the expenses in making new butts for the borough in Butt Lane (D/B 3/3/292).

Extract from John Walker's 1591 map of Chelmsford showing Butt Field (D/DM P1)

Extract from John Walker’s 1591 map of Chelmsford showing Butt Field (D/DM P1)

Extract from John Walker's map of Moulsham, 1591, showing Moulsham Butt Field (D/DM P2)

Extract from John Walker’s map of Moulsham, 1591, showing Moulsham Butt Field (D/DM P2)

Maldon chamberlains' accounts D/B 3/3/292

Extract from chamberlains’ accounts for Maldon recording the expenses of making new butts for the borough in Butt Lane, 1622 (D/B 3/3/292)

The records of Quarter Sessions for Essex have many examples in the 1560s, 1570s and 1580s of parishes throughout the county being reported for the butts being out of repair.  Widford was reported at the Michaelmas 1572, Easter 1574, Epiphany and Midsummer 1575 and Easter 1584 Sessions, on the last occasion they had until Midsummer to repair them or pay a 5s. fine.  Little Waltham was reported in 1572 and 1577 and Willingale Spain in 1574, 1575 and 1580.  The lord of the manor and tenants of Grays Thurrock were presented in 1580 for ‘lack of butts in a convenient place’.

It was quite common for parishes to be given until the next Sessions (three months) to repair the butts or face a fine.  Aveley faced a fine of 13s. 4d. in 1566, North Ockendon a fine of 6s. 8d. in 1576 and Little Canfield 12d. in 1580.  In Danbury in 1574 it was reported that the butts were in decay and that Ambrose Madson had taken down one for his gaming there.  While failure to maintain and repair the butts was commonly the issue, it was reported to the Michaelmas Sessions of 1568 by the jury for the Hinckford Hundred in the north of Essex that ‘our buttes be in good reprassyons’ (Q/SR 27/16)

Given the requirements of the law, it is not surprising that there are a number of wills with bequests of bows and arrows.  In 1529 John Archare of Maldon, currier bequeathed his best, second and third bows (D/ABW 1/5); and in 1588, the year of the Spanish Armada, George Ardlye of Weeley, husbandman left his bow and arrows to his son Robert.  As late as 1612 Richard Crowe, a miller of Springfield left his bow and arrows to John Gibbs of Great Baddow.

Will of George Ardlye of Weeley (D/ABW 2/75)

Extract from will of George Ardlye of Weeley, leaving his bow and arrows to his son Robert, 1588 (D/ABW 2/75)

By the end of the 16th century, although Quarter Sessions records have many examples of parishes and manors being prosecuted for their failure to maintain their butts, the longbow was gradually being replaced with firearms.

To find out more about medieval archery from the English Warbow Society, join us on 31 October 2015 for Essex at Agincourt; all the details of the day are here.

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.

Poaching, fraud and trespass: October 1415 in Essex

And gentlemen in England now a-bed

Shall think themselves accursed they were not here

Henry V, Act IV, Scene 3 

These lines from Shakespeare’s Henry V suggest that every Englishman had wished he could have taken part in the Battle of Agincourt, 600 years ago on 25 October 1415. But just what was on the minds of those ‘gentlemen in England now a-bed’? Documents such as this one can give us some clues.

This court roll from the manor of Earls Colne records the proceedings of the court which met on Friday 4 October 1415 (D/DPr 67). (You can find out more about manorial courts and the records they produced here.)

Earls Colne manorial court record 1415

The manor of Earls Colne (in this document referred to as Colne Comitis – Comitis being Latin for ‘count’, the continental version of the Anglo-Saxon ‘earl’) was part of the lands of the Earl of Oxford.  Richard de Vere, the 11th earl, played a prominent part in the Battle of Agincourt, having supplied 39 men-at-arms and 60 archers to the campaign.  He was rewarded for his part by being made Knight of the Garter in May 1416. He died the following year and was buried at Colne Priory.

Manorial court roll, Earls Colne, 1415

In the top left corner of the document are the words ‘Colne Comts’ – an abbreviation for ‘Colne Comitis’, the Latin version of Earl’s Colne (‘comitis’ being the Latin for ‘count’, the continental equivalent of the Anglo-Saxon title ‘earl’

Effigy of Richard de Vere

The effigy of Richard de Vere, 11th Earl of Oxford, at Earls Colne

This court, held only three weeks before the Battle of Agincourt, records the usual business of a manor court.  Entries include Richard Hosyer fined 6d. for being a common poacher [venator] within the lord’s warren and fishgarth.   Nine women were fined a total of 23d. for breaking the assize of ale and Christina and Rose Mason were fined 3d. each for breaking the assize of white bread.  The assize regulated the price, weight and quality what was produced.  Ralph Preston was fined 2s. 4d. for trespass and cutting down two oaks and an ash tree on Heyhous, the lord’s land.

Land transactions were an important part of manorial business and those recorded include the surrender by John Turner of land called Berecroft (later Windmill Field) and the admission of Thomas Kelet, Robert Sebryght, John Bonjoon and Alice his wife on payment of a fine of 12d.  John Dunstale was granted (for a fine of 6d.) the rent of a croft called Litelreycroft (later Rycroft) opposite the Hallegardyn for ten years at an annual rent of 7s.  Robert Mathew was fined 68s. 6d. and lost his cattle for having claimed lands that did not belong to him by right of a false charter or deed of the Earl of Oxford.  This was continued from the previous court held on 4 June where it was found that the deed dated from the reign of Edward III but the red wax seal was less than one year old (we feel this one needs some further investigation…).

The roll will be on display in the Searchroom alongside two other Essex documents dating from 1415 as we prepare for Essex at Agincourt on Saturday 31 October 2015. Join us for talks from experts on one of the most famous battles in British history – 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