CHAPTER TEN

Capture

Bedford, assisted by his duchess and Cardinal Beaufort, had worked hard to ensure that Burgundy’s dalliance with Charles VII did not mature into a closer relationship. He invited the duke to meet them in Paris and there, on 13 October 1429, after lengthy consultations with members of the university and parlement, Burgundy was appointed Henry VI’s lieutenant in France, with authority to govern Paris and the counties to the east and south of the city. In practice this was just a recognition of the status quo but conferring the formal title was an important public recognition of the duke’s importance to the alliance and to the English kingdom of France. In a sense it was an acknowledgement that it had been a mistake not to allow him to accept Orléans’s offer to surrender to him. By making this concession to his pride and ambition Bedford also publicly bound him more closely to the English regime. Furthermore, it was a politically astute way of encouraging the loyalty of the Parisians, who mistakenly believed that this was an absolute division of power and the kingdom, and that Bedford would henceforth concern himself only with Normandy.1

In the duchy, Bedford was keeping up the pressure to ensure that every stronghold and town was properly defended and on the alert for signs of disaffection within. The treasurer’s accounts for the financial year 1428–9 reveal a threefold increase in the amount of money spent on messengers sent by the council in Rouen as a direct result of the military crisis. A messenger had to be sent to Argentan in October, for instance, to warn the lieutenant that the inhabitants were plotting to betray the town and castle to the duke of Alençon and ordering him to step up his security measures. The insecurity of the roads meant that messengers sometimes had to be sent in pairs for their own safety, travelling together or by different routes so that the letters got through. Women were often employed in this role, though their sex did not necessarily protect them: Agnès la Royne, who was regularly employed by the English, was set upon, beaten and had her letters stolen by brigands on one of her missions in 1429.2

The crisis also placed considerable strain on the military resources of the duchy. In August Bedford had to issue orders prohibiting any English, Welsh or other men-at-arms from going overseas because he needed all the skilled manpower he could get. In the wake of so many plots to betray towns and castles to the enemy, this had to be balanced with the need to employ only those who were trustworthy. In October, therefore, a new clause was introduced into the contracts of garrison captains prohibiting them from recruiting anyone who had previously fought for the Armagnacs or had only recently come into the king’s obedience.3

The controller of Évreux, who was responsible for taking the daily roll-call, records the difficulties his captain faced in keeping his garrison up to strength. In just two months, January and February 1430, eighteen soldiers went absent without leave and did not return, four ‘traitors’ went off to join the enemy and thirteen were taken prisoner on a single day. The prisoners had their wages paid, since they had been captured in the king’s service and were held for only a week, but Richard Aynsworth forfeited his month’s wages because he was absent from the muster, having been imprisoned for two days by his captain for picking a quarrel with a fellow soldier.4

The vital importance of not only keeping garrisons fully manned but also being constantly vigilant was brought home in dramatic fashion on 24 February 1430. Château Gaillard was one of the strongest castles in France. Built by the English king Richard the Lionheart, it stood on a cliff jutting out into the Seine at Les Andelys, twenty miles north-east of Évreux. The castle could only be approached from the landward side and along a narrow strip of land which was defended by a bastion with five towers surrounded by a ditch. The great keep, with walls over sixteen feet thick, was protected by two sets of outer walls and ditches; the inner circle of walls was built in a distinctive scallop-shell form with nineteen semicircular protrusions to deflect bombardment and discourage the use of scaling ladders. Even if attackers succeeded in getting beyond the bastion and outer walls, the only entrance to the inner court faced out over the river, forcing them to run the length of the castle to gain entry.

The English captain of Château Gaillard was the highly respected and long-serving Sir William Bishopton. He and his garrison had earned unusual praise from the local vicomte for guarding the castle ‘carefully’ and for ‘buying their supplies daily like simple country people, never seizing or demanding anything from the people’. The only blot on their copybook had occurred some eight years earlier, when they had caught and summarily executed a man who had been involved in the murder of their lieutenant when he was out on patrol against brigands.5

Perhaps because Château Gaillard’s natural and man-made defences were so strong, and because the small garrison of five men-at-arms (three mounted and two on foot) plus fifteen archers had received twenty-one reinforcements in September 1429, complacency had set in. The Armagnacs had already made one attempt to take the castle by treason: a member of the garrison was imprisoned and forfeited his goods for failing to inform the captain that he had seen one of his company with letters from the enemy.6

La Hire, who had taken Louviers by assault a few weeks earlier, was also responsible for the capture of Château Gaillard, though it is not entirely clear whether it was betrayed to him by treason or simply taken by surprise. Two men were later executed because the castle had been captured ‘through their fault, guilt and means’: Colin le Franchois, who was on night-watch, and an Englishman, Thomas Surych, who had married into le Franchois’s family and was absent without leave that night.7

William Bishopton escaped execution but he paid dearly for his ‘negligence, carelessness or feeble resistance’. Bedford imprisoned him at Rouen for thirty-two weeks and only released him on compassionate grounds because he was losing his sight. To obtain his pardon Bishopton had to pay the wages of his garrison for three months out of his own pocket and a fine of 2000l.t. (£116,667) which, with a nice irony, was to be paid to the captain of Le Crotoy to cover the cost of that garrison’s wages for six months. In addition Bishopton had to find the enormous ransom demanded by La Hire, for which his son was being held hostage, as the price of his own freedom.8

Bishopton’s punishment was so harsh because he had lost not only an important stronghold but also one of the regent’s most valuable prisoners, the sire de Barbazan, who had been held since the surrender of Melun to Henry V in 1420. La Hire had released him, but, as Bishopton and the garrison were marching out of the castle, Barbazan had recalled him and asked him formally for absolution from his obligations as a prisoner so that he was free to take up arms again. This he did to such good effect that Charles VII made him his lieutenant-general in Champagne and a short time afterwards, with the aid of a monk who let him and his men in through a postern gate, he seized Villeneuve-le-Roi from Perrinet Gressart, who narrowly escaped capture only by jumping from the walls and fleeing back to La Charité.9

The most damaging consequence of Barbazan’s unexpected release was its timing. The English had just agreed to exchange him for Talbot, who had been captured at the battle of Patay on 18 June 1429. That deal was now no longer possible and as a result one of the most effective English captains would remain out of action for another three years.10

In England, in a belated response to Bedford’s pleas, Henry VI was crowned king of England on 6 November 1429. The ceremony was performed at Westminster Abbey by Cardinal Beaufort and it marked the end of Gloucester’s formal role as protector. He would still be chief councillor of England, but the reins of power had now, officially at least, passed to his nephew. In practice, as Henry was not quite eight years old, the council remained in control with its duties and personnel unchanged. Of the three major officers of state, John Kemp, archbishop of York, and Walter, lord Hungerford, had been appointed chancellor and treasurer respectively in 1426, while William Alnwick, bishop of Norwich, had been keeper of the privy seal since shortly after Henry V’s demise. Together with Gloucester and Henry Chichele, archbishop of Canterbury, they formed the core of the council, providing experienced and able continuity of administration.11

In December parliament made an exceptionally large grant of direct taxation: two whole subsidies, one of which was to be collected on 14 January 1430, an unusually short period of notice, and the other on 30 December 1430. Each subsidy was payable on the value of movable goods at the customary rates of one-fifteenth in the countryside and one-tenth in the towns. Only those with movable goods worth less than 10s. were exempt from paying the tax.12

The purpose of these grants – the first English subsidies levied for the prosecution of the war in seven years – was to fund both an expedition to France which would retake all that had been lost since the relief of Orléans, including Reims, and the coronation, in suitable style, of Henry as king of France. In January an advance force of 3199 soldiers crossed the Channel under the command of Henry’s cousin the Bastard of Clarence, and in February a further 4792 men were recruited to accompany the king. This would be the largest army sent to France during Henry VI’s reign and it was unusual in two ways: the proportion of men-at-arms to archers was much higher, at one to three, than the one to five which had become the normal English practice, and the contracts of service were for a year, instead of the customary six months. Together the two forces represented England’s heaviest commitment to France since the invasion of 1417.

These arrangements reflected the magnitude of the task ahead, the importance of putting on a display of wealth and power to impress Henry’s French subjects and the necessity of providing him with a suitable household, court and administration. Twenty-two peers would accompany him, including the eighteen-year-old duke of York, making his first visit to the kingdom which he would later rule as the king’s lieutenant-general, and three senior bishops, Bath and Wells, Norwich and Ely. More than half the indentures, or contracts of service, were made by members of the royal household, ranging from the great officers of state to minstrels, chaplains and surgeons, but John Hampton, the king’s master of ordnance, also signed up to go with a company of eighty-nine, and was given £2222 17s. 11d. (£1.17m) to spend on artillery. (His purchases included two large guns, bought at Calais, one weighing 6780 pounds and the other 7022; in deference to the boy-king, the smaller one was named ‘Henry’.)13

Every effort was also made to involve the duke of Burgundy, whose presence at the coronation would be an important rallying call to any subjects whose loyalty had wavered after the consecration of Charles VII. On 7 January 1430 Philippe married Isabella of Portugal, a significant choice since both his previous wives had been Armagnacs: Michèle (d. 1422), Charles VII’s sister, and Bonne of Artois (d. 1425), whose husband had been killed at Agincourt. Isabella was a niece of Cardinal Beaufort and half-cousin of Henry VI, with whom she had spent a month in England before travelling to Flanders for her marriage. The wedding was marked with the usual extravagant feasting, pageantry and jousts in the market square of Bruges, but also a more permanent memorial in the foundation of a new order of chivalry, the Order of the Golden Fleece. Based on the English Order of the Garter, this would consist of twenty-four knights of irreproachable reputation and noble, legitimate birth drawn from the Burgundian empire.14

On 12 February Cardinal Beaufort, who had followed his niece to Flanders to secure the duke’s military aid for the forthcoming campaign, persuaded him to sign a contract to serve the young king with fifteen hundred soldiers in return for 12,500 marks (£4.38m). A month later the county of Champagne was ceded to Burgundy and his male heirs, to give him an incentive to recover it from the Armagnacs: one of his new knights of the Golden Fleece, Hue de Lannoy, an ardent advocate of the English alliance, then drew up a convincingly argued strategy for which preparations were put in place. The execution would have to wait until the expiry of Burgundy’s truces with Charles VII in April.15

One of the terms of those truces had been that Compiègne, which had submitted to Charles a month after his coronation, should be surrendered to Burgundy. Despite being ordered to do so, the inhabitants of the town had refused to hand it over. On the contrary they had stockpiled food and weapons and strengthened their defences in anticipation of a siege. Their foresight was rewarded when Burgundy and his captain, Jehan de Luxembourg, together with the earls of Huntingdon and Arundel, newly deployed from England, arrived in force before the town.

Compiègne was protected by walls and towers and surrounded by a moat which had been created by diverting the waters of the Oise. A single bridge, fifty feet long and lined with houses, spanned the river, just as at Orléans. The besiegers built a series of bastilles around the town, just as they had done at Orléans, and began a heavy bombardment which was returned by the artillery on the walls. And just as had happened at Orléans, Jehanne d’Arc came to the rescue, slipping into the town in the early hours with a small troop of two hundred men.

This time, however, she did not come with the blessing of Charles and his court; nor was she escorted by princes of the royal blood. Angered and frustrated by her king’s refusal to employ her in the field, she had left the court without his leave (a treasonable offence) and made her own way to Compiègne. The men she had with her were mercenaries led by Bartolomeo Baretta, a Piedmontese soldier of fortune.16

That same day, 23 May 1430, towards evening, the Pucelle decided to make a sortie from the town. Guillaume de Flavy, the garrison captain, ordered the town gate leading on to the bridge to be opened and she rode out, with her standard, at the head of several hundred armed men. They cleared the bridge and the boulevard guarding its access on the opposite bank, and began to attack Jehan de Luxembourg’s troops. Twice they drove the Burgundians back to their camp but on the third assault they were intercepted by the English, who cut off their retreat. As they tried to make their escape across the fields the Pucelle was pulled from her horse, surrounded and taken prisoner. Some four hundred of her men were killed or drowned and her brother and the master of her household were among those captured. The exulting Burgundians, who had ‘never feared or dreaded any captain or war leader as much as they had this Pucelle’, paraded their captive before the duke, who came specially to the front line to see her and had a conversation with her which Monstrelet, an eyewitness, disingenuously claimed not to recall. The duke, however, marked the occasion by writing a triumphal letter to the major towns that very day announcing that ‘she who is called the Maid’ had been taken prisoner.17

Although neither Jehanne herself nor any of the eyewitnesses blamed her capture on anything other than being caught between the two forces and overwhelmed by numbers, accusations of treachery have circulated for centuries. Guillaume de Flavy, a half-brother of Regnault de Chartres, is accused of having deliberately shut her out of the town by closing the gates against her. Only one contemporary, Perceval de Cagny, writing eight years after the event, suggests that Flavy raised the drawbridge and shut the gates. Cagny was not an eyewitness but he was master of the duke of Alençon’s household: given that the duke was one of the Pucelle’s most ardent supporters, it is not surprising that his own apologist might seek to blame treachery, rather than human fallibility, for her failure at Compiègne. Even Cagny, however, does not suggest malicious intent on Flavy’s part, explaining that he acted as he did to prevent the English and Burgundians, who were already on the bridge, getting into the town.18

Jehanne was consigned to the custody of Jehan de Luxembourg, who sent her to his fortress of Beaulieu-les-Fontaines in Picardy; when she attempted to escape she was transferred to the tower of his castle at Beaurevoir, where Luxembourg’s wife and aunt were both in residence. Their presence did not prevent Jehanne suffering the indignity of having to fend off the attentions of one of the count’s knights, who later testified that ‘many times . . . in sport, he tried to touch her breasts, trying hard to put his hands on her bosom’, though she always pushed him away as hard as she could. He cannot have been the only one and Jehanne lived in constant fear of sexual assault, even rape, her much-vaunted virginity evidently being a challenge to her male captors and guards. This was the reason she would give at her trial for refusing to wear female clothing, even when pressed to do so by the Luxembourg ladies, though she also insisted that her voices had told her it was not yet time to abandon her male attire. Her voices also daily warned her to submit to her fate and not to attempt another escape, but in desperation she eventually jumped from the tower, injuring her hips and her back. Recaptured immediately, she would return to her prison until the end of November.19

News that the Pucelle had been captured at Compiègne travelled fast. Only two days afterwards the University of Paris wrote to Philippe of Burgundy requesting that his prisoner should be sent to them ‘to appear before us and a procurator of the Holy Inquisitor’ to answer charges that she was ‘vehemently suspected of many crimes smacking of heresy’. Two months later, after no response, the university ‘required’ Burgundy, Luxembourg and the Bastard of Wandomme, to whom Jehanne had surrendered, to deliver her to the church authorities: her suspected crimes were now enumerated as casting spells, idolatry and invoking devils.20

The principal mover in the attempt to prosecute Jehanne was Pierre Cauchon, a former rector of the University of Paris and ardent partisan of the Anglo-Burgundian alliance. He had been one of the leaders of the pro-Burgundian Cabochien revolt in Paris in 1413, which resulted in a massacre of Armagnacs, and had been exiled from the city as a result. The duke of Burgundy and his father had showered him with church offices as a reward for his loyalty, including making him chaplain of the ducal chapel at Dijon and engineering his appointment as bishop of Beauvais in 1420. A negotiator of the Treaty of Troyes, he had been entrusted with numerous important diplomatic missions by the English administration and was a senior member of the king’s council in France.21

Cauchon had bitter first-hand experience of the Pucelle, having been forced to flee before her army as it advanced first into Reims, where he was then living, then into Beauvais, expelling him from the seat of his own bishopric. He had taken refuge in Rouen, where the English had compensated him financially for his losses, but he now had his eyes on the ultimate prize, the archbishopric of Rouen, which had just fallen vacant owing to Jean de la Rochetaillée’s promotions to the rank of cardinal and see of Besançon. As both a royal councillor and a senior churchman, Cauchon owed much to the English regime and expected more from it. Jehanne had been captured in his diocese of Beauvais, so he was able to claim that the right to try her fell within his jurisdiction and for the next four months he worked unremittingly to persuade the Burgundians to hand her over to him.22

The removal of the Pucelle from the scene was a relief to Bedford, but it was secondary in importance to the recovery of the places lost during her campaigns. In November 1429 the estates-general of Normandy had granted him 140,000l.t. (£8.17m) specifically for the payment of garrison wages and to lay siege to Torcy, Aumâle, Conches and other troublesome neighbouring fortresses, ‘and not elsewhere’–a stern reminder that there should be no repetition of the diversion of funds which had seen those intended for Angers go to Orléans. An additional grant in March 1430 of 70,000l.t. (£4.08m) was an acknowledgement of the strain that so many operations were putting on the finances of Normandy.

Miners and labourers were already working at the siege of Torcy, halfway between Beauvais and Dieppe, in January 1430; local taxes were levied to pay their ‘reasonable and competent’ wages promptly, together with those of the men-at-arms who, by thefollowing month, were installed in bastilles round the town. A siege for the recovery of Château Gaillard was also in progress, though by April, John Lunberry, the under-marshal of the army there, was in despair because he could not obtain payment for the wages of his workmen: he had been forced to advance money out of his own pocket just to give them a subsistence allowance and they were now threatening to leave if not paid in full. Elsewhere in the duchy, even a reasonably secure place such as Lisieux was so alarmed by the Armagnac revival that it sought permission to levy local taxes to pay for the ‘fortification, enclosure and defence of the town’.23

The new military effort was in preparation for the long-awaited arrival in France of Henry VI. On 23 April 1430 he landed at Calais, his voyage having been carefully planned so that he would arrive auspiciously on Saint George’s Day and could celebrate the feast of England’s patron saint on French shores. The difficulty now was what to do with him. One proposal had been for him to go straight to Reims for his coronation but this was impossible: not only Reims itself but many other places to the east and north of Paris were in enemy hands. He could not even go to Paris because the Armagnacs blocked his route by holding Louviers. His councillors, fearful of exposing the eight-year-old to any danger, decided to sit tight in Calais until the army arrived from England and cleared the way for him to venture further inland. It was not until the end of July that it was considered safe enough for him even to go to Rouen, where he would remain for the next sixteen months.24

The English council had decided that Bedford’s role as regent should end on Henry’s arrival in France. From that moment all military appointments and letters of gift were taken out of his hands, together with responsibility for payments from the Norman treasury. Until Henry returned to England the effective administration of France rested with the ‘great council’, an amalgamation of those English councillors who had accompanied Henry to France and the members of the council in France. This was only a temporary arrangement and it was understood and expected that Bedford would resume his role as regent on Henry’s departure. In the meantime he had to content himself with the title of ‘formerly regent’. Though he could have claimed a place as ‘chief councillor’, as his brother had done in a similar situation in England, he rarely attended great council meetings, instead devoting his energies to directing the military reconquest. By accident, or perhaps by design, it was Cardinal Beaufort, president of the great council and a constant presence in Rouen, who now assumed the reins of government.25

With the aid of the reinforcements now arriving in batches from England, Bedford was able to make slow but steady progress: Château Gaillard was starved into submission in June and Aumâle and Étrépagny were retaken in July. Pushing doggedly on towards and beyond Paris, he deployed the duke of Norfolk and the earl of Stafford to capture twelve fortresses round the city within a month and by the second week in July they were at Corbeil. Torcy fell to the Bastard of Clarence in August but the siege of Louviers stalled, despite renewed and generous grants from the estates-general of Normandy. Another setback was the death of lord Roos, a twenty-four-year-old who had arrived in Paris ‘with more ceremony than any knight ever did, who was not a king or a duke or an earl’ and was drowned two days later in the Marne when he missed the ford as he chased after a band of raiding Armagnacs. His more experienced men successfully completed the mission, capturing the captain of Lagny, who had been a thorn in the flesh of the Parisians, and recovering all the prisoners and booty they had taken. Roos’s replacement, the earl of Stafford, arrived in Paris at the beginning of September: appointed constable of France, he began a successful push to retake the towns and fortresses of Brie.26

The citizen-diarist of Paris had little sympathy with these comings and goings. ‘Not a man of all those now under arms, whichever side he belongs to, French or English, Armagnac or Burgundian or Picard, will let anything at all escape him that is not too hot or too heavy’, he complained. Nothing was sacrosanct. The Armagnacs had captured and pillaged the abbey of Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, but when the English retook it they ransacked it for a second time ‘whether their commanders liked it or not . . . They stripped it so clean that they did not even leave a spoon standing in a saucepan.’ The citizen at least recognised that the English were better soldiers, tartly recording in his journal that ‘three hundred Englishmen got more done in matters of war than five hundred Picards’ even if they were ‘shocking thieves and always jeering at people’, but he was daily disappointed by the duke of Burgundy’s failure to take Compiègne and come to the relief of his Paris.27

Burgundy was preoccupied with his own problems. The siege of Compiègne dragged on and he was forced to withdraw some of his troops to redeploy in the north, where war had broken out between his county of Namur and the city of Liège. The ending of his truces with Charles VII in May 1430 also led to a resumption of border warfare in the south: though it was essentially opportunistic and intermittent, it drained men and money from any façade of a joint campaign with the English. On 11 June 1430 a twelve-hundred-strong Burgundian army, which had invaded the Dauphiné under the command of the prince of Orange, was ambushed by Raoul de Gaucourt and the notorious Castilian mercenary Roderigo Villandrando at Anthon, sixty miles east of Dijon. The Burgundians scattered in panic and were cut down as they fled, though the body of one unfortunate man-at-arms, who had hidden in a hollow oak and was trapped by his armour, was not discovered until the tree was chopped down in 1672. The prince himself escaped but he was badly wounded and was later expelled from the Order of the Golden Fleece because, like Fastolf at Patay, he had abandoned the field after unfurling his banner.28

At the beginning of November Xaintrailles and an Armagnac army made a feint attack which successfully drew the besiegers away from Compiègne, allowing the town to be resupplied. Jehan de Luxembourg and the earl of Huntingdon therefore decided to cut their losses and raise the siege. The much-maligned Guillaume de Flavy, by his steadfast refusal to surrender during more than five months of blockade, had done what the Pucelle had failed to do and saved his town.29

A few weeks later, at Guerbigny in Picardy, Xaintrailles surprised another Burgundian force, which had foolishly been travelling without sending scouts ahead, killing fifty or sixty and taking up to a hundred prisoners, including the Englishman Sir Thomas Kyriell, who had been detached to join them. A disastrous year for the Burgundians ended in defeat at the hands of the sire de Barbazan in a pitched battle near Bar-sur-Seine, in which much of their famed artillery was lost.30

Philippe of Burgundy laid the blame for his military failures squarely on the shoulders of the English. Writing to Henry VI two days after his army left Compiègne, he protested that he had undertaken the siege ‘at your request and command . . . though this was contrary to the advice of my council and my own opinion’. He had been promised 19,500l.t. (£1.14m) a month to keep his men there, together with the cost of his artillery, but his payments were two months in arrears and he had personally had to find 40,000saluts(£3.21m) to fund the guns. He had lost the services of the earl of Huntingdon, who had been forced to withdraw because his men’s wages were unpaid and he could no longer afford to keep them at the siege. ‘I cannot continue’, Burgundy complained, ‘without adequate provision in future from you . . . and without payment of what is due to me.’31

The English administration had financial problems of its own. Though the coronation expedition army had contracted to serve for a year, the soldiers had only been advanced six months’ wages before they left England. The rest of their wages should have been paid monthly in advance but the money was not forthcoming and many decided to return home early. Sir William Porter, for example, had arrived with a company of eighty but by the end of October only fifteen men remained in his service. The great council, under Cardinal Beaufort’s leadership, tried to remedy the situation by appointing at least twenty-three retinue leaders to the captaincies of Normandy garrisons, thereby transferring the costs to the duchy treasury. Such sweeping changes of personnel in some of the most strategically important fortresses were militarily questionable, especially as they led to some highly inappropriate appointments: the cardinal himself, for instance, became captain of Honfleur at Michaelmas 1430.32

At the end of December, with the prospect of Henry’s coronation in Reims no closer despite the unprecedented resources poured into the campaign, the great council decided to send the cardinal and Sir John Tiptoft to England to seek more money and men for a new campaign. They arrived in time for Beaufort to give the opening address in the new parliament which met at Westminster on 12 January 1431. He chose as his theme the very apt ‘The throne of his kingdom will be established’ and parliament responded by granting a subsidy of one-fifteenth and one-tenth, to be collected by 11 November, together with a third of another whole subsidy to be paid by 20 April 1432.33

The cardinal was equally successful in recruiting men, though possibly only because he applied family pressure: his two nephews, Thomas and Edmund Beaufort, signed up to lead an expedition totalling 2649 men, more than two thousand of whom would accompany them to France early in March. At twenty-five Thomas had spent much of his life in France but only because he had been captured as a teenager at Baugé in 1421; released in the summer of 1430, he had spent the rest of the year on campaign, returning to England with his uncle in December. His younger brother Edmund, the future first duke of Somerset, would become one of the most important figures in the history of the English kingdom of France. At the age of twenty-one he had been seriously compromised by an indiscreet love affair with Henry V’s widow but had redeemed himself by continuous military service since leading the cardinal’s crusader forces to France in July 1429; Bedford had appointed him constable of the army and captain of several important fortresses, as well as entrusting the sieges of Étrépagny and Château Gaillard to him. Both men had extensive landholdings in France, Thomas as count of Perche and Edmund as count of Mortain, giving them strong personal reasons for defending English interests in France. Another of the cardinal’s nephews, Richard Neville, who had inherited his father-in-law’s earldom of Salisbury when the latter was killed at the siege of Orléans in 1429, would bring a further force of eight hundred men in the summer of 1431. The total cost of the wages and shipping for these expeditions would rise to £24,000 (£12.6m), over half of which was funded by personal loans from the cardinal. No one could doubt the Beaufort commitment to the English kingdom of France: the question was whether that commitment was ultimately in the interests of the kingdom itself.34

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