History of England, Part I For the use of Middle Forms of Schools

Tout, T. F. --Powell, F. York


CHAPTER II: Henry V of Monmouth 1413-1422

1. On taking up the rule of the nation, , who was crowned on Palm Sunday, April 9, , on a dark, cloudy, wet day, at once showed such zeal and earnestness that those who had looked on him as a selfish, reckless, and quarrelsome young man wondered at his wisdom. On the other hand, those who had hoped that he would dismiss his father's friends and show favour to the Lollards were not well pleased. Henry Beaufort, Bishop of , the new king's uncle, being made chancellor in Arundel's place, the archbishop busied himself with attacking the Wicliffites. [1]  He got Convocation to send up to the council the name of Sir , Lord Cobham, an old friend and fellow-soldier of 's, as one that sheltered heretics and spread evil teaching. The king himself spoke with Sir John, but could not get him to change his views, so the summons was issued for his trial. But paid no heed till he was taken by the king's officers and brought before Arundel. He then defended himself boldly, charging his judges and accusers with sin and crime. But he was sentenced to death, forty days' grace being given him wherein to repent if he would. Within two weeks, however, he broke out of the Tower, and in spite of the curse of the bishops and the high reward set on his head by the king, was kept in safe hiding. And now he and his Lollard friends made a plot to seize at Eltham, and force him to rule as they thought good, but he hurried to London before they could take him. Their next plan was to call a meeting of all their followers for the 12th January , at St. Giles's Fields. But, on the evening before, closed and guarded the gates of London, and rode out


with many knights to stop the gathering. Those already at the tryst were seized or killed, and the other bands taken or driven off as they came up one by one. took alarm and fled, but his friend, Sir Roger Acton, was tried for treason, found guilty, and put to death with some thirty more. It was said that these men, had they been successful, meant to set right both Church and State, choosing Captains for each shire to rule them under (who was to be Captain of England), doing away with serfdom, harsh land-laws, and heavy taxes, and taking the estates of the Church for the defence of the realm. Many in south England still clung to the hope of such changes, so this year the Parliament was held at Leicester, where it was made law-

(a) That constables and justices should not wait for the bishop's orders, but of their own accord send to the Church courts for trial all whom they believed to be Lollards. (b) That the lands of the alien priories, namely, the estates in England belonging to monasteries over sea, should be in the king's charge for ever, lest English wealth should be used against England. (c) That henceforward no law made on the request of the Commons should be entered on the rolls so as to change its meaning and intent. (d) John and Humfrey, the king's brothers, were made Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester, his cousin


, Earl of Cambridge, and Thomas Beaufort, his kinsman, confirmed as Earl of Dorset. (e) It was resolved to send and demand the king's rights from France, and, upon refusal, to enforce these rights by arms.

This last step was taken because the king wished to win a principality in France wherein to find help and refuge if he were ever driven from England, and because the nobles were eager for a chance of winning fame and riches, while the merchants looked to the gain that would flow from trade when Normandy and north France were in English hands, and the safety of the sea thereby secured. Most eager of all were the clergy, who hoped that a war would turn men's minds from the ideas spread by the Lollards. France was weak at this time. was still mad, and therefore helpless to curb the feuds of his selfish kinsmen, who were ruining their country; on one side the dauphin, the Duke of Orleans, and the southern lords; on the other, John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, who was favoured by Paris and the great towns. Knowing the danger, the French court offered 's ambassadors Aquitaine and the hand of the king's daughter Katherine, with a dower of 400,000 nobles. But this was not enough for him. So calling a fresh


Parliament, November , he got a large grant, and raising all the money he could, made ready for war. Bedford was made Lieutenant of the realm, and the noble houses that had quarrelled with the late king were pacified by the burial of at Westminster, and the promise of giving back to the young earls, March, , and Huntingdon, their rank and royal favour. An army was raised by contract, and a navy gathered to ship it over Channel. Rules were made for the sharing of the booty, and the ransom of the prisoners that might be taken. [2]  went down to Portsmouth to embark, when a plot formed against him by the Earl of Cambridge was revealed to him by that earl's brother-in-law, March. As soon as the king had sailed, March, now heir-by-blood to the crown, was to have been carried off to Wales and proclaimed king, if it were found for certain that was dead; the Scots were to be called in, and money was to be got from France. Cambridge and his fellows were at once tried, found guilty, and put to death, August 2 and 5.

2. On the 13th August, brought up his fleet of 5000, and, landing, beset Harfleur with an army of 6000 men-at-arms, 24,000 archers, and a number of bombards or siege guns. The English suffered much from sickness caused by bad weather, unwholesome food, drunkenness, and dirt; but the great guns , , and breached the walls before any aid came from the French council, and Gaucourt, the governor, yielded in despair, September 22. repaired the walls, and put in an English garrison, under the Earl of Dorset, his uncle, sent the sick and wounded back to England, and before leaving the place, wrote a letter to the dauphin in which he offered to fight him man to man, to settle their quarrel without further bloodshed of their countrymen. But the dauphin made no answer, and, October 8, started for Calais, with 900 lancers and 5000 bowmen. His way was not easy; the country before him was laid bare by the peasants, some days his men got nothing but walnuts to eat, and the weather was rainy. The lower fords were stopped; but by swift marching and good luck they crossed the Bresle, the Somme, and the water of Swords, and reached Maisoncelles October 24. Here the way was barred by the Constable of France, at the head of 80,000 men. The English halted, watched all night under arms without food, within sight of the French camp-field, and within hearing of their boastful merriment. In the morning,


after service, they drew up in a field of fresh-sown corn, face to face with the French host, that stretched across the plain by the hamlet of .


[3]  The king, in full armour, with a jewelled crown glittering on his helmet, set his troops in order, and when all was ready, he prayed aloud for victory. Then turning to his men he bade them fight boldly, for God was on their side, promised them that England should never pay ransom for him, and warned them that the French had cruelly sworn to maim every archer they took, so that he should never shoot again. When he saw that the constable would not attack, he sent


forward two companies through the woods that fringed the plain, with orders to harass the French flank when the battle was joined. He then gave his cousin the vanguard to lead, and alighted from his horse, meaning to fight on foot in front of his royal banner in the old English fashion. he asked. said he; With a loud shout the English bowmen ran forward twenty paces; then halting, every man planted his five-foot stake which he carried firmly in the earth a pace from that of his comrade, so as to make a palisade which would stop horsemen, but allow footmen to pass through easily. This done they stepped out a few yards in front, and poured a shower of flight-arrows upon the first lines of French knights:

"And then these Frenchmen came pricking down, as they would have overridden all our company. But God and our archers made them soon to stumble, for our archers shot never arrow amiss, that did not pierce and bring to ground horse and man. And our stakes made them stop, and overturned them one upon another, so that they lay on heaps two spears high. And our king, with his company and his men-at-arms and archers thwacked on them so thick with arrows, and laid on with strokes. And our king fought like a man, with his own hands."

The second French line charged in vain. Our bowmen were stripped to the waist, that they might use their arms more freely, and had one foot bared to get firm foothold in the slippery, rain-sodden, fresh-ploughed ground; they could therefore move more nimbly than their heavy-armed foes. So, as the French approached, they stopped shooting, slung their bows at their backs, and fell on with sword and mall, axe and bill, doing great slaughter. But the French followed on so fast, and were so many, that the whole English army was soon engaged. Gloucester fell at his brother's feet wounded by a dagger-thrust, but strode across him and beat off his assailants. The Duke of Alencon and a band of knights, who had sworn to take or slay the English king, made their way to where he stood. Alencon felled with one blow, and cut the king's crown from his helmet with another, but was borne down and killed by 's Welsh squires. The fight had lasted an hour; and now the French knights, leaderless and broken, gave up their swords, so that the English soon made hundreds of prisoners, whom, wishing to save for ransom, they passed under


guard to the rear of their army. But in the lull before the looked-for onslaught of the third French line, news was brought that an attack was being made upon Maisoncelles behind him. Fearing lest his rearguard, cumbered with prisoners, should fall into disorder, he ordered every man to cut down his prisoner without more ado. So, before it was found out that it was but a mob of French peasants who had come to steal the baggage and the horses, but were driven off in a few minutes, most of the prisoners had been butchered. Meanwhile, the English from the woods burst out upon the flank of the third French line, which, save a few who still followed their leaders to death, turned and fled. The day was 's; 300 French lords, amongst them the Constable and Admiral of France, and the Dukes of Alencon, Bar, and Brabant, with 8000 knights and squires, and 2000 men-at-arms, lay dead. The Dukes of Bourbon and Orleans were prisoners. On the English side, the Duke of and the Earl of Suffolk and men only had fallen. The thanksgiving service was held at once on the field by 's orders, and the English dead and the French arms that could not be taken away, burnt in two large barns. Next morning the conquerors started for Calais, killing the French wounded whom they found alive as they crossed the field of battle. On November 17, he passed over to England on such a rough day that two ships sank, and the French prisoners said they would rather fight another battle than go to sea again in a gale. was received with great joy; the townsfolk rushing waist-high into the surf to carry him ashore on their shoulders. There were processions of welcome, and feasts and merry-making at every town he passed through on his way to London; and there the streets were decked, the bells ringing, shows and songs of welcome at every turn, as , clad in a dark purple gown, rode with a grave face to give thanks for his victory at S. Paul's Cathedral, and then went in his barge to the Abbey Church of St. Peter's, Westminster.

3. The between the rival popes at Rome and Avignon had caused great grief to all who wished for the good of the Church, which was torn asunder by their quarrels. In a general Council of clergy, held at , had put down the Roman pope Gregory XII. and the French pope , and set up in their place. But John led a bad life, and the unseated popes would not yield to the Council's decrees. So things


were worse than before. [4]  Pope John was forced to call another Council at Constance to stop the schism, put down heresy, and reform the Church. There, in , 18,000 clergymen gathered. They voted in five groups-German, Italian, French, English, and Spanish. The English were much looked up to because of their king's power and success, and their own zeal and shrewd speeches; but they quarrelled with the French clergy, who were also eager for reforms, and little was done, save the trial and burning of John Hus, a learned and much-loved Bohemian professor, who had studied Wiclif's writings, and set forth many of his views. Sigismund, the emperor-elect, who had spared no pains to get the Council together, therefore went to France, and thence to England, hoping to get and to make peace, and join him in forwarding real Church reform. welcomed him with honour, made him a Knight of the Garter, and went with him to Calais in company with another foreign visitor, William, Duke of Holland, to meet Burgundy. Here a league was sealed between the five powers; but Sigismund could not patch up a peace between England and France. However, the upshot of his journey was that the Bishop of London, backed by the German clergy, got the Council of Constance to choose as pope, in place of John and , whom they deposed, while Gregory resigned, so closing the schism for ever.

went home to prepare for a second campaign, for the crown of France now seemed to be within his reach. He got ample supplies from two parliaments, whose anger was roused by the raids and piracy of the French privateers. He pawned the profits of the custom-duties to the chancellor, and his crown to the city of London for large sums; built a fleet to keep the English seas, gathered ships from the Low Countries to carry his host of 30,000 men across Channel, and hired galleys from the King of Portugal, who was his ally, because the King of Castile helped the French.

The Harfleur garrison had not been left in peace. In , on a raid into the country, Dorset and his men were surrounded by the army of the new French constable, the Earl of Armagnac, who summoned them:


answered Dorset, and his little band cut their way through the French, and reached Harfleur with scant loss. Then the constable sent for foreign ships, and beset the town by land and water. Once it was relieved by Bedford, when he sank the Black Hulk of Flanders, and once by Huntingdon, after sharp sea-fights. And only three days before landed in , Huntingdon relieved it a third time, breaking through the blockade and taking several big Genoese carracks, huge broad-built vessels which towered a spear's-length over our little 100-ton ships. On September 4, stormed the town of Cæn, and when the strong castle fell, September 20, he set up his head-quarters there, as Duke of Normandy. Town after town yielded, and by the middle of , save Rouen, the duchy was his. As he conquered it he set to work to make needful reforms in its government. He gave the estates, earldoms, and baronies thereof to his own nobles and knights. And thus Salisbury, Talbot, Beaufort, Bedford, and Furnival, got the French earldoms of Perche, Mortain, Maine and Harcourt, Aumale, and others. He also set new officers in place of those who were greedy or oppressive; lightened the taxes; took off the salt-duty, and gave equal rights to all inhabitants, English or French. In the meantime Burgundy had been doing his best for himself on his side. He won over Isabel of Bavaria, Charles the Mad's queen, and by the consent of the townsfolk was received into Paris, where the guild-brethren of his party and the mob rose and butchered the constable and chief lords and ladies of the Armagnacs. The little dauphin, 's youngest son, was only saved by the faithfulness of Tannegui du Chastel, who bore him off secretly to Melun, whither the Armagnac partisans now rallied, proclaiming the dauphin Regent of France. Both sides made vain offers to , who went steadily on with his task of winning the land bit by bit. [5]  Rouen garrison was 20,000 strong, and on 's summons, July , Sir Guy le Butler, the governor, made ready for a long siege. No less than ten churches and abbeys, near the walls, were pulled down, and all trees and houses within many yards cleared away, that they might not cover the besiegers' attacks. The ditch was cleaned, deepened, dug into narrow pitfalls every two feet, and set as thick with [iron spikes linked so that one point will always stand upward] as meshes in a net; the walls were strengthened by earthen mounds, as broad as a cartway, thrown up against them from inside;


the five main gates, the twenty towers, and the keep were manned and armed, three cannon being mounted on each tower, and nine on each strip of wall, besides engines for beam-hurling and stone-casting. On July 30 King and his army beset the place; with him were the Dukes of Clarence, Gloucester, and (for Dorset had won the honour of this dukedom by his gallantry), the earl marshal, and the Earls of Salisbury, Suffolk, Kyme, Mortain, and Ormond, and Janicot the Gascon captain. To prevent any help from landward, a hedge and ditch, with barriers and stout gates, were drawn round the English host that begirt the city. The river was guarded against French relief by iron chains stretched across it, and by a fleet of Portuguese galleys. So strong a place could not be stormed, and sorties were easily repulsed, so the siege settled into a blockade. By Christmas food began to fail the townsfolk, who had 200,000 souls to feed. Bran and vinegar took the place of corn and wine, and when meat and kale were gone they ate the flesh of dogs and cats and mice and rats, and dug up grass and weeds to season it. Yet the price of this wretched food rose so high that many poor died of hunger. Still the townsfolk looked for help from France or Burgundy, and rather than give in they chose to get rid of all who were too weak to serve in the defence, that the rest might have food for a few days longer. Twelve thousand starving wretches were thrust out at the gates, but , angry at the sturdy faithfulness of the garrison, would not let them pass through his lines. So, though the English soldiers in pity shared their rations with them, more than half of them perished in the ditch for lack of food and shelter. On New Year's day the garrison at last begged for terms, and the parley went on for a fortnight, when Sir Guy, finding 's demands too hard, broke off the treaty, and proposed that the town should be fired, part of the wall suddenly thrown down, and that all who could carry arms should sally through this breach to cut their way through the English lines or die. But the townsfolk forced Sir Guy to treat again, and, by the archbishop's help, it was settled that if no succour came in eight days' space the city should be given up to . The garrison were to march off unhurt, but three of the townsfolk were to suffer for their resistance, the vicar-general, the chief cannoneer, and the captain of the commons; the town must pay a 50,0000 fine, and build a new castle at their own cost within eighteen months. The old rights and


freedom of the city were to be confirmed by the king. Accordingly, on January 19, Sir Guy gave up the keys; the brave Alan Blanchard, captain of the commons, was put to death, and next day , clothed in black damask, mounted on a black horse, with a squire behind him bearing a fox-brush on a spear for a banner, rode to the minster to give thanks for his victory. Of the townsfolk, one-fourth of whom had perished, an eye-witness, John Page, says-

Of the people, to tell the truth, It was a sight of mickle ruth [much pity]. Much of the folk that was therein, They were but bones and the bare skin, With hollow eyes and face a-peak, They scarce had strength to breathe or speak, With colour wan as is the lead, Not like live men, but like the dead, Fitter models could be none From which to paint a skeleton. In every street were folk lying dead, And others helpless crying for bread; Faster they died for many a day Than carts could carry them away."

4 [6] Burgundy now feared the English power, and brought about a meeting between and the French king and queen at Meulant-on-Seine, July , which however led to nothing, for the duke himself was all the while treating secretly with the dauphin, with whom, at Melun, July 11, he made an alliance against the English. But the Armagnac party had not forgiven Burgundy for Orleans' death and the butchery of Paris, so they lured him to a meeting on the bridge of Montereau, August 12, where Tannegui smote him down with an axe as he knelt to the dauphin, whose courtiers instantly killed him. This murder threw all into 's hands again, for the young duke, Philip the Good, at once joined the English, and did what he could to bring about an alliance with the king and queen of France against the dauphin's party. Paris followed his lead, with other French towns. On May 21, , the treaty of was signed. By it was to marry Katherine, and to be regent and heir of France ( keeping the royal title during his life); but France was to be ruled according to its own laws, rights, and customs, with a French council. The treaty was approved by the States-General; the marriage took place, and the murderers of Burgundy were declared traitors and outlaws. After spending the Christmas at


Paris, and holding a meeting of the Estates at Rouen, came home, February 1, , and held Katherine's coronation feast at Westminster, with such splendour as had never yet been seen in England.

As before, Bedford had been Lieutenant of the Realm in his brother's absence. In the Scots were called in by and his friends, who looked for better success, now that the

" prince of priests, the Lollards' utter enemy "

was away, and Albany, the Regent of Scotland, beset Berwick, but the attack was but a for he marched home on Bedford's approach. , who had come to S. Albans, to try and rouse his London friends, fled back to Wales. There, in , he was surprised by the servants of the Lord of Powys. Being a strong man, he defended himself to the dismay of his assailants, till an old woman caught up a stool and broke his leg with a blow of it, when he was overpowered and brought to London to be judged in Parliament. He would not plead for his life, but declared himself King 's man, and said that his king was alive in Scotland. So the Commons prayed that he might be executed, and he was drawn to the gallows, December 14. Bedford stood by, and he stayed the hangman for a space, and called to the prisoner, But Sir John answered, So he was hanged in iron chains, and burnt, gallows and all; but there were many who looked on him as a saint long after.

In the queen-dowager, Joan of Navarre, who had never loved , and whose son had fought against him at Azincourt, was accused in Parliament of trying to take the king's life by witchcraft, and sent a prisoner to Leeds Castle in .

5. and his wife were making a progress through England, when news came of the defeat of Beauge, March 22, . The King of Castile had made a treaty with the dauphin, and sent out a fleet which had beaten the English squadron off Guienne, and threatened to invade England. It had gone on to Scotland, in , and thence brought back some 5000 soldiers under the Earl of Buchan and Lord Stewart of Darnley. For the Scots were glad to help the French in their need, and held England as their greatest


foe. Clarence, the Lieutenant of Normandy, fell in with them in Anjou, and without waiting for his archers, who were stopped by a river for a while, rode upon them with his horsemen. [7]  But the Scots were too strong for him, and before the archers could reach the field the Earls of , Lords Ros and Grey, and 1200 Englishmen had fallen, and the Earls of Somerset, Huntingdon, and 1300 surrendered, while Clarence himself had been killed in a hand-to-hand fight
with Buchan. This success put heart into the French, who made Buchan Constable of France. It was needful for to go back at once if he wished to complete his work. Parliament gave him money and the power to borrow more, the Bishop of lent him £14,000 more, loans were got from most of the richer lords and merchants, and the Bohun heritage was divided between the king and the co-heiress, so that his third voyage was well provided for. In order to check the Scots, he agreed with the young king James, who was still a prisoner in


England, that if he would come with him, he should be set free within three months of the end of the campaign. Earl Douglas also promised to raise a small army of Scots to serve with him for an annual pension of 2000. Having the Scottish king in his camp, believed that the Scots in the French service might be cajoled or frightened into going home. After landing at Calais with 4000 lancers and 24,000 archers, sent his troops under against the dauphin, who was driven into Bourges, while the King of Scots beset and took Dreux. After a visit to Paris, himself set about the siege of Meaux ; this place had a fine keep called the Market, which was thought to be too strong to be stormed or battered down. It was held by a fierce Armagnac partisan, the Bastard of Vaurus, who plundered the land for miles, and hanged on a lofty elm all prisoners who would not pay the ransom he wished for, so that the Paris merchants who had lost by his forays were glad when, after nearly eight months, the Bastard was starved out, and his head cut off and fixed high on his own elm, June 5, . For he and his men had mocked , bringing an ass on to the ramparts and shouting, [Henri,]

" Oyez le roi !"

[] when it brayed.

6. North France was now 's up to the Loire, and with the King and Queen of France, and his wife, who had come over with her new-born son, of Windsor, to see her father and mother, he kept Whitsuntide, holding open court with great state in Paris. But all this while his health was fast failing: the doctors did not know how to cure him, and when he set out again to help Burgundy against an attack of the dauphin, he had to give up the leadership of the army to Bedford, being too weak to ride. He was borne from Corbeil to Bois Vincennes, and there he died, August 31, in the thirty-fifth year of his age,-

" small time, but in that small most greatly lived this star of England !"

As he lay on his deathbed he tried to provide for the future. He prayed his brothers not to quarrel, and warned them never to fall out with Burgundy, never to -make peace with the dauphin, save to get Normandy in full sovereignty, and never to let Orleans, Eu, and Gaucourt, be ransomed as long as the young king was under age. He bade them offer the regency of France to Burgundy, and if he refused Bedford was to take the office, while was Regent of England, and governor and warden of the little king. When his last hour was nigh he busied himself with prayer, and had the seven psalms sung over


him, and when they came to the 2d verse of the 147th Psalm, he said, and spake no more. [8] 



was tall and strong, spare of flesh by reason of his sober diet and daily exercise,"

and so swift of foot that he is said to have once run down a hart in a park. His head was round, with broad brows, small ears, cleft chin, and long neck. His eyes and hair were brown, his colour fresh and ruddy, his teeth very white and even. His look was grave and cold, but his smile made his expression pleasing. His manners were courteous, his speech brief, straightforward, and sharp. His mind was well trained, for though he took much pleasure in hunting, hawking, and feats of arms, he loved his book, and delighted in fair buildings and good art-work. From the day that he was crowned he showed himself a man devout towards God, and just towards men, neither leaning to mercy nor cruelty. He was slow to promise, but steadfast to his word. He worked hard, and was careless of his own comfort or ease, though he paid great heed to the well-being of his soldiers and servants, requiring in return that they should obey him to the letter. After his first great victory abroad, he seems to have believed that he was chosen by God to punish the sins of the French court and nobles, and to reform and raise the land of France, which God had given him as his lawful heritage; and he acted strictly on this view, looking on those who resisted him as evil-doers and enemies of God. Had he lived to have won France as was most likely, he wished to head a great crusade from his three kingdoms to drive out the Turk, crush the Mohammedan Power, and retake the Holy City. was held in awe and love by most Englishmen of his day for his justice, bravery, and success. He came to the throne peaceably, unstained by the treachery and murder that darkened his father's rule, and he died before any ill-hap had touched him. So that, in the next generation, he was looked back to as a saint, and two centuries after was still

"of all that time who lived the king of most renown,"

the chosen hero of our greatest poet. But the fruit of his great deeds were a bitter harvest, and it is truly said of them-

"Glory is like a circle on the water

Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself,

Till, by broad spreading, it disperse to nought.

With Henry's death the English circle ends,

Dispersed are the glories it included."


[1] Oldcastle's plot, January 1414.

[] 1414.

[] [1414.

[2] Cambridge's plot, July 1415.

[] 1415.]

[3] Battle of Azincourt, Oct. 26, 1415.

[] 1414.]

[4] The Council of Constance, 1414-1418.

[] 1418.]

[5] The Siege of Rouen, July 30, 1418--January 16, 1419.

[] [1419-1420.]

[6] Treaty of Troyes, May 21 1420.

[] [1421.

[7] Henry's third campaign, 1421- 1422.

[] [1422.

[8] Henry's death and character.

  • In-text illustrations for this text are cataloged in MS004/002.001#DO01.
This object is in collection Subject Temporal Permanent URL
To Cite:
DCA Citation Guide    EndNote
Detailed Rights
View all images in this book
 Title Page