CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

The Truce Breaks Down

In France the violations of the truce became daily more blatant. On 28 February 1449 Beaufort wrote to Charles VII complaining that since the previous August Robert de Floques and his garrison at Louviers had committed a number of outrages, attacking shipping on the Seine, seizing wine worth 800 l.t. (£46,667) and raiding the village of Quévreville, near Pont-de-l’Arche, where they had beaten the inhabitants, calling them false traitors and English dogs, and badly damaged their property. The men of Mont-Saint-Michel and Granville were no better, ‘daily committing infinite crimes, murders, robberies, seizing labourers whom they seek out at night ten or twelve leagues away from their bases, putting them to ransom, as they still do, just as if it were war-time and open war at that’.1

Worse still, because it was a deliberately planned attack rather than opportunism or the result of a lack of discipline, was a raid led by the men of Dieppe on 25 February, Shrove Tuesday, the last day of feasting before the abstinence of Lent. Between 160 and 180 men, ‘armed and armoured as if in time of war’, had ridden into the parish of Torcy-le-Grand, ten miles south-west of Dieppe, where an important meeting of royal officials was being held. They had taken a large number of them prisoner, among them the lieutenant-general and the procurator of the bailli of Caux, the lieutenant of the vicomte of Arques and, most spectacularly of all, Simon Morhier, the royal councillor who had been provost of Paris until the expulsion of the English in 1436, who was there on private business of his own. Two men were killed in the incident and the rest, including some who were wounded, were taken and imprisoned in the dungeon at Dieppe ‘as if it were time of war’.2

Though Beaufort acknowledged that there had been some provocation in that Norman officials had arrested men from Dieppe, a matter that was being investigated by his conservators of the truce, such action was inexcusable. Since Charles also had cause for complaint in that the English were refortifying Saint-James-de-Beuvron and Mortain, envoys were sent by both sides to attempt to resolve the issues.3

Before any conclusions could be reached, however, there was another major breach of the truce, this time by the English. On 24 March 1449 François de Surienne seized the town and castle of Fougères in the marches of Brittany, close to the Norman border. On the face of it this was simply the independent action of a foreign mercenary captain. Fougères was a wealthy trading town which Surienne thoroughly plundered, earning himself booty alleged to be worth 2,000,000 l.t. (£116.67m), before installing himself and his men in the castle and preying on the wider district, levying appâtis, taking prisoners and ‘generally carrying out all the customary exploits of waging war’. When an indignant duke of Brittany sent his herald to Normandy and England, demanding reparation and to know on whose authority this had been done, both Beaufort and Suffolk denied all knowledge and disavowed the action.4

This was completely untrue. The capture of Fougères had been carefully planned in London at least fifteen months earlier. According to Surienne’s account of the whole affair, written in March 1450, the idea had actually been mooted as long ago as the summer of 1446. In June of that year, under pressure from Prégent de Coëtivy, one of a group of highly influential Bretons at the royal court, Charles VII had ordered the duke of Brittany to arrest his Anglophile brother, Gilles, on charges of conspiring with the English. There was some basis for this allegation as Gilles held an English pension and had been an important advocate of English alliance at a time when the duke himself was more inclined towards the French: Gilles may even have hoped that English arms would restore him to the lands he claimed from his brother. The English administration in Normandy had certainly provided him with a bodyguard in the weeks before his arrest and warned him of plots against him. When he was imprisoned official protests were made and consideration given to his rescue: Surienne claimed that ‘Matthew Gough and others were urgent to have Thomassin du Quesne, my scaling-master, and others of my people to find a way of liberating my lord Gilles of Brittany.’ Suffolk, however, had suggested an alternative plan to Surienne’s marshal at Verneuil who just happened to be in England at the time: that his master, who was renowned for similar exploits, should capture Fougères so that it could be traded for Gilles’s freedom. He offered assurances that Surienne would not suffer any consequences as a result.5

Suffolk’s choice of Fougères was probably dictated not just by its wealth and its location close to the Norman border but also by the fact that it had formerly belonged to Jean, duke of Alençon. In order to raise funds for his ransom after his capture at Verneuil in 1424, Alençon had reluctantly mortgaged it to the duke of Brittany for 80,000 écus (£5.83m) and had never forgiven Charles VII for refusing to assist him in getting it back. Since his involvement in the Praguerie revolt Alençon had been cold-shouldered by his king and had made several overtures to the English. In the summer of 1440, for instance, he had sought military aid from the seneschal of Gascony for his rebellion. The following summer he had sent his personal pursuivant to Argentan to warn the captain that the castle-keep had been sold and betrayed by the English and to give him a list of the traitors’ names so that he could arrest them. It was in Suffolk’s interest to please Alençon and it was in Alençon’s interest to take Fougères from Brittany. Though there is no hard evidence for his complicity, at least one of Alençon’s agents is known to have been in touch with Surienne.6

Perhaps testing the water, Surienne said that he could not carry out the scheme without a base in the marches of lower Normandy. Suffolk obliged by persuading lord Fastolf to surrender his castle of Condé-sur-Noireau, some fifty miles north-west of Fougères. As an added inducement Suffolk offered Surienne the most prestigious gift in the king’s hands: an invitation to become a knight of the Order of the Garter in place of John Holland, earl of Huntingdon and duke of Exeter, who died in August 1447. For an Aragonese soldier of fortune this was an honour which could not be turned down. His installation on 8 December 1447 provided a convenient cover for him to travel to England to discuss the Fougères scheme in person with Suffolk and with Beaufort, whose appointment as lieutenant-general was about to be confirmed. Reassured of their support, Surienne returned to Normandy and over the course of the following year sent his spies into Fougères to ascertain the state of its defences, and gathered support and intelligence for his enterprise by visiting the garrisons of lower Normandy under the guise of a joint commission with Talbot from Beaufort to muster and review the troops.7

In the light of these actions the deployment of Mundeford and the troops withdrawn from Maine to Saint-James-de-Beuvron takes on a more sinister interpretation. The dismantled fortress lay just fourteen miles north-west of Fougères. Perhaps as a result of Charles VII’s many complaints about the rebuilding at Saint-James-de-Beuvron and neighbouring Mortain, Beaufort took fright at the last minute and on 26 February 1449 sent his herald to Surienne forbidding him to launch an attack without Henry VI’s express command. He was informed in no uncertain terms that Surienne’s plans were too far advanced for him to withdraw. Some six hundred troops had been gathered at Condé-sur-Noireau; Thomassin du Quesne had brought his scaling ladders there, and the long pincers and other instruments Surienne needed to break open the gate-fastenings at Fougères, which Beaufort had personally ordered a suspicious workman in Rouen to make, were ready.

Surienne gave the signal to depart on 23 March 1449, setting off in the direction of Avranches to deceive the French spies he knew would be watching, before heading under cover of night for his genuine destination. The next day, at around two in the morning, part of his company scaled the town walls while the rest took the castle by surprise. The operation was, militarily at least, a complete triumph. A relieved Beaufort sent his congratulations, together with bows, arrows, gunpowder and culverins to restock the castle, and ordered Surienne to keep his troops in a state of readiness and await further orders from Talbot.8

The capture of Fougères became notorious as the cause of the resumption of war between England and France. In itself, however, it was not sufficient reason for restarting hostilities, not least because the quarrel should have been between England and Brittany. But the incident played straight into the hands of Charles VII. Just as he had done with the cession of Maine, he took up the dispute on behalf of the duke, and turned it into a matter touching on his personal honour as king.

When challenged by a Breton envoy, Surienne had made it clear that he had not been acting independently: ‘I have the power to take but not to give back,’ he said, then, drawing attention to his Garter insignia which he wore prominently displayed, ‘do not ask me any more. Do you not see well enough that I am of the order of the Garter? And that should be sufficient for you!’9

At first the matter was treated just like any violation of a truce. The duke of Brittany demanded Fougères’s return and reparation and when this was not forthcoming, appealed to Charles VII, who took up his cause with enthusiasm. Charles wrote to Beaufort formally demanding satisfaction for the seizure of Fougères but he also gave his tacit approval for retaliatory action. His choice for its execution fell on Robert de Floques, the maverick captain of Évreux, who, on 21 April, carried out a sabre-rattling raid to the gates of Mantes, thirty miles away, threatening to take it by assault. When the English conservators of the truce objected Charles’s representatives airily disclaimed all knowledge and said that Floques had acted without royal orders but in response to the general outrage at the English capture of Fougères.10

Early in May, however, with no breakthrough in the deadlock over Fougères, Floques carried out a more spectacular coup with the aid of Jean de Brézé, the Breton captain of Louviers. Guillaume Hoel, a merchant who daily travelled the seven-mile road between Louviers and Pont-de-l’Arche, informed them that the latter town was poorly guarded and suggested a plan to take it. On a designated day the two captains sent a number of their men, one after another to avoid detection, to an inn in the suburbs where Hoel was due to make a call. That night Floques and Brézé hid several hundred soldiers in ambush around the town.

Just before daybreak, having taken the innkeeper prisoner and loaded up a wagon with wine, two of them, disguised as carpenters, accompanied Hoel to the drawbridge of the town. Hoel hailed the porter, saying he was in great haste, and offered him money to let him in. The porter lowered the drawbridge but, as he bent down to pick up a coin Hoel had artfully dropped, the merchant killed him with his dagger. The two ‘carpenters’ were already on the second bridge and had killed a second Englishman who had been summoned to assist the porter.

With the entrance to Pont-de-l’Arche now open and unguarded, Floques and Brézé sprang the ambush, pouring their men into the town. Significantly, instead of using their usual French battle cry of ‘Saint-Denis!’, they shouted ‘Saint-Yves! Brittany!’, making it clear that this was revenge for the taking of Fougères. It was arguably also a way of avoiding a French breach of the truce, since it was not an act of war committed in the name of France. They took the town with ease, since most of its inhabitants were still asleep, and acquired between a hundred and 120 prisoners, including lord Fauconberg, who had unluckily chosen to spend the night there. Hesitating to surrender to a humble archer, he was so seriously wounded that he almost died and was carried off to Louviers, remaining a prisoner in French hands for three years. A few days later Floques and Brézé reprised their success, taking the neighbouring strongholds of Conches, where ‘the town [was captured] by surprise and treason, the castle by composition [agreement to surrender]’, and Gerberoy, ‘seized by subtle means very early in the morning’ in the absence of its captain; all thirty Englishmen found in the latter place were put to death.11

Pont-de-l’Arche was a town of enormous strategic importance, being widely considered the gateway to lower Normandy. Its loss, and the capture of such an experienced captain as Fauconberg, were major blows to the English administration in Normandy: Beaufort was said by one observer to have looked as though he had been hit by a thunderbolt when he received the news. Though he vowed to recover Pont-de-l’Arche immediately, he got no further than a show of force, sending Talbot with ‘a great number of soldiers’ to Pont-Audemer, some thirty miles west of the lost town. Even Talbot dared not risk a military confrontation, however, as this would have ended any hope of patching up the truce.12

Talbot had already sent William Gloucester, master of the king’s ordnance, to England before the fall of Pont-de-l’Arche. Beaufort’s plea to parliament in February having gained no response, Gloucester was charged with reinforcing the message that Normandy was in desperate need of money, men and munitions. The English garrisons were becoming mutinous because they were unpaid. Jean Lampet, the captain of Avranches, had been obliged to resort to drastic measures: with his men threatening to leave unless paid and unable to get messengers through to Rouen because of the dangers of the road, he forcibly took 2170l.t. (£126,583) from the tax-receiver for the vicomté –though he did give him a receipt for the full amount. Richard Harington, the bailli of Caen, also used the threat of violence against his clerk of the general receipts to get 600l.t. (£35,000) to pay the reinforcements he had brought in for the town’s defence.13

That men of their calibre should be forced to such means to obtain their legitimate wages was an indication of the dire state of the Norman finances. Beaufort had summoned a meeting of the estates-general in May to secure the garrison wages: originally due to meet at Caen, it was transferred to Rouen as Beaufort was reluctant to leave the city in the escalating crisis. The news of the capture of Pont-de-l’Arche came while it was in session, prompting the assembly to grant a general aid, and on 2 June Osbern Mundeford, now the Norman treasurer, issued the orders for its collection.14

The same news also prompted Suffolk to agree to send Beaufort and Talbot reinforcements of one hundred men-at-arms and twelve hundred archers: they were ordered to muster in unusually short time on 11 June at Portsmouth and Suffolk intimated to the council in Rouen that he would accompany them himself. Without funds, however, he was in difficulty. According to an assessment presented to parliament earlier in the year, the king was already £372,000 (£195.3m) in debt, ‘which is a great and grievous sum’. As Henry was as profligate with his gifts as he was with his distribution of titles, his annual income of £5000 (£2.63m) fell far short of what he spent: his household alone cost him £24,000 (£12.6m) a year.15 In the circumstances it was not surprising that he had nothing to spare for Normandy or that parliament was unwilling to grant him more taxes. It was not until 16 July, after heated argument, that the House of Commons reluctantly increased the half-subsidy it had granted earlier to a whole tenth and fifteenth. It was to be collected over two years and, strikingly, none of the money was earmarked for the defence of Normandy.16

Throughout May and June the conservators of the truce had been continuing their negotiations over Fougères, their meetings being augmented by various embassies in which Guillaume Cousinot, who had been so heavily involved in the surrender of Maine, again played a leading role. Beaufort had steadfastly refused to offer restitution and compensation, probably because he was determined to carry out the original plan to exchange Fougères for Gilles of Brittany. In this he almost succeeded. Arthur de Richemont persuaded Charles VII that Gilles’s continuing imprisonment might cause trouble in Brittany and that his liberation would facilitate the restoration of Fougères. Charles therefore sent Prégent de Coëtivy back to the duke, who at first agreed to release his brother but then, at the very last minute, on 30 May 1449, suddenly countermanded his order.17

His decision is probably to be explained by another act of English aggression, committed just a week earlier by Robert Wynnington, a Devonshire esquire, who had contracted to serve the king on the sea ‘for the cleansing of the same and rebuking of the robbers and pirates thereof, which daily do all the nuisance they can’. Instead of attacking the French and Breton pirates who preyed on English merchant shipping in the Channel and whose activities had been a constant cause of complaint for decades, on 23 April Wynnington captured the entire fleet of ships – over one hundred of them – carrying Breton salt from the Bay of Bourgneuf and brought them to the Isle of Wight. This was a major diplomatic incident, both because the Breton salt trade was extremely valuable and much of Europe depended on it for the preservation of meat and fish, and the ships were sailing under the friendly flags of the Hanseatic League, the Dutch and the Flemish.18

It was an action that was typical of the lack of coordination between the governments of England and Normandy and it exacerbated an already tense and delicate situation. Together with English intransigence over reparations for the seizure of Fougères, it drove the duke of Brittany into the arms of Charles VII: less than a month later they concluded an offensive and defensive alliance and the duke began to make his preparations for war.19

Our accounts of the final breakdown of the negotiations all come from the French side and are understandably partisan. They include the résumé compiled in July 1449 to justify Charles’s declaration that the truce was irreparably broken and an account written in the 1460s when Louis XI was trying to subsume Brittany within the French state.20

According to them, and the French chroniclers to whom the 1449 résumé was circulated, Beaufort perversely and obstinately refused all demands for the restoration of Fougères, thereby putting himself in breach of the truce; he likewise refused the reasonable final offer put to him on 4 July, that if he returned Fougères and all its former contents or their value by 25 July, then within fifteen days Charles would do the same for Pont-de-l’Arche, Conches and Gerberoy and release lord Fauconberg. This all sounds very like the propaganda issued by Henry V in 1415 when he was trying to justify his decision to go to war to enforce his ‘just rights and inheritances’ against an ‘unreasonable’ and ‘obdurate’ opponent.

The 1449 résumé reveals the fact that Beaufort made counteroffers, though not what they were, and that he fell back on the standard delaying tactic of referring back to the king for further instruction. More importantly it shows that he sought to have the matter of the sovereignty over Brittany treated as an ‘open question’ and therefore set aside from any agreement that might be reached. This was a sensible option since the sovereignty belonged to the king of France and both Charles VII and Henry VI claimed that title: over the years since the Treaty of Troyes the dukes of Brittany had done homage to both kings, most recently to Charles VII on 16 March 1446.21

Suffolk’s failure to include Brittany in the list of English allies when signing the Truce of Tours in 1444 had been remedied by the Treaty of Lavardin in 1448–though not, as in the ridiculous account compiled in the 1460s, because the English deviously arranged for the treaty to be signed at midnight, without the aid of candles, at the bottom of a ditch at Le Mans, thus deceiving the French envoys in the darkness. In the 1449 negotiations Beaufort evidently tried to use the argument that Brittany was subject to Henry VI to claim that the seizure of Fougères was an action against his own subject and therefore not a violation of the truce with France. Charles responded by angrily insisting that he had always and indisputably enjoyed sovereignty over Brittany: to turn it into an ‘open question’ impugned his right to do so, ‘which is a matter of the highest importance, and one which touches the king nearer than almost any other that can arise in this realm’. It was, he alleged in his résumé of events, proof that Beaufort had no real wish to proceed to a settlement at all. It gave him his excuse to turn a truce violation into a cause for war.22

Beaufort seems to have had no idea that anything other than the usual tortuous diplomatic negotiations were taking place: after all, if the French complained that the seizure of Fougères was in violation of the truce, so also was the taking of Pont-de-l’Arche, Conches and Gerberoy. He also seems to have been unaware, despite a spy system that had always been efficient in the past, that Charles was merely using the conferences as a cover for his final preparations for the invasion of Normandy. Several great armies were now gathering on the frontiers of the duchy to launch a three-pronged attack: from Brittany into lower Normandy, led by the duke and his uncle Arthur de Richemont; through the centre, under the command of the Bastard of Orléans, assisted by the duke of Alençon from his base in Anjou; and from Picardy into upper Normandy, led by the counts of Eu and Saint-Pol.

The fact that Louis, count of Saint-Pol, had assumed a commanding role in the French army was significant. The house of Luxembourg had been a mainstay of Bedford’s last years as regent of France and after his death its members had refused to take up arms against the English. Jehan de Luxembourg died in January 1441 never having taken the oath to the Treaty of Arras, and in September of that year Jehan’s nephew, Louis, count of Saint-Pol, who had served in Charles VII’s army during the siege of Pontoise, was permitted to return home early to avoid having to participate in the final assault. Now, however, his ties with the English administration long since severed, he volunteered to raise troops for the invasion.23

That he did so with the approval of his feudal overlord, Philippe of Burgundy, was also noteworthy. The duke had maintained peace with both England and France since 1439 but Wynnington’s capture of the Bay fleet in May 1449 had alienated him as much as it had the duke of Brittany because Dutch and Flemish vessels had been taken. Burgundy responded by arresting English merchants in his territories, confiscating their goods and sending four warships to patrol the coast of Normandy and Brittany. He refused to be drawn into Charles VII’s invasion plans, but he did permit him to recruit volunteers in Burgundian dominions.24

Even before the formal declaration of war another major English bastion fell to a combination of treachery and force. A miller from Verneuil, who had been beaten for falling asleep on night-watch, took his revenge by travelling the twenty-four miles to Évreux to offer his services to Robert de Floques and Pierre de Brézé. On 20 July, when he was next on duty, he persuaded his fellow night-watchmen to leave early because it was Sunday and they needed to get to mass. He then showed the waiting French where his mill adjoined the town walls and helped them place their scaling ladders there. They were able to enter unseen and take the town by surprise; some of the garrison fled to the castle but the next morning the miller diverted the waters from the moat, enabling the French to take it by assault.

The remaining English, together with around thirty of the leading townsmen, retreated into the last stronghold, the Grey Tower, which was strongly fortified and surrounded by a moat but lacked a suitable stock of provisions. That same day the Bastard of Orléans, newly appointed as the king’s lieutenant for war, arrived at Verneuil at the head of his army and surrounded the tower. The besieged had already sent an urgent appeal for assistance to Talbot and Mundeford, who set out from Rouen at the head of a relief column, expecting only to encounter the French who had taken Verneuil. It was therefore a shock when, as they neared Harcourt, they saw the Bastard and his massive army gathering to intercept them. Talbot quickly drew up his wagons into a circle, placed his men inside the makeshift fortification and refused to be drawn into battle. When night fell he retreated under cover of darkness into the castle at Harcourt. Hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned, Talbot had no option but to return to Rouen, leaving the defenders of the Grey Tower to their fate.25

There was a poetic justice in the fact that the town and castle of Verneuil were captured while the Truce of Tours was still in force. The captain of the place was none other than François de Surienne, who was now at Fougères, and both his lieutenant, his nephew Jean de Surienne, and his scaling-master, Thomassin du Quesne, were among the defenders of the Grey Tower.

The seizure of Verneuil – and indeed the Bastard of Orléans’s bringing an army into the duchy – were yet more infringements of the truce which Beaufort could cite in the long catalogue of violations by both sides. There was, however, little point. On 31 July 1449 his envoys were summoned into Charles VII’s presence at his castle of Roches-Tranchelion: they were obliged to listen to a recitation of the faults committed by the English administration in Normandy since Beaufort’s arrival and then officially informed that as a result Charles found himself ‘completely and honourably freed and discharged’ from his obligation to keep the truce. It was a declaration of war.26

With impressive speed and efficiency the invasion of Normandy now began in earnest. The counts of Eu and Saint-Pol invaded from the east, crossing the Seine at Pont-de-l’Arche: on 8 August they captured the small castle of Nogent-Pré, the garrison capitulating after a brief assault. They were allowed to march out, leaving their arms behind them, and the castle itself was destroyed by fire. On 12 August they joined forces with the Bastard, Gaucourt and Xaintrailles, who had brought two thousand men from Évreux, to surround Pont-Audemer, a small but important hub-town thirty-two miles west of Rouen, not far from Honfleur and Pont-l’Évêque.

The town had evidently been selected both for its position and the fact that its defences were poor, in part at least consisting of just wooden palisades. Without pausing to lay siege, the French attacked, hurling fire into the town and forcing their horses through the moats in water up to their saddles. They swiftly carried the town by assault but then faced unexpected resistance. What they did not know was that a few days earlier Fulk Eyton and Osbern Mundeford had brought reinforcements into Pont-Audemer. After fierce hand-to-hand fighting in the streets the English were eventually overwhelmed by numbers and retreated into a stone house at the end of the town. The Bastard then led an assault on this last stronghold and, faced with the prospect of all his men being massacred, Eyton formally surrendered, handing over his sword to the Bastard on the stairs of the house. Twenty-two Burgundian esquires were knighted as a result of this exploit.27

From Pont-Audemer the triumphant armies turned west, heading for Lisieux but taking in Pont-l’Évêque, which surrendered at their approach when its garrison fled. Lisieux proved equally faint-hearted. Its bishop was the chronicler Thomas Basin, who had led a peripatetic childhood when his parents fled before Henry V’s invading armies. They had returned to their native Caudebec in 1419, only to be driven out again some twenty years later by the ‘horrifying tyranny’ of Fulk Eyton, ‘an abominable Englishman and ferocious brigand’ whose men were not his inferior in wickedness, according to Basin. While his parents had taken up residence in Rouen, Basin himself had not returned to Normandy until 1441, spending the intervening years training as a canon lawyer in Paris, Louvain and Italy. Having decided that the English conquest was going to be permanent, he came back to take up a post at the new university at Caen, rising to become the rector, and finally earning his elevation to a bishopric in 1447.28

Basin had no stomach for a fight. When the French hosts approached he held a town council meeting and undertook to negotiate a surrender. His years of legal training evidently paid off, for he succeeded in obtaining permission for the English garrison to withdraw with all its belongings and for himself, the cathedral chapter and inhabitants to remain in possession of all their lands, properties and goods. The price he paid was that Lisieux became subject to Charles VII, together with seven dependent castles and fortresses in the neighbourhood, including Orbec, the head of the vicomté. At a single stroke, and without striking a blow, the Bastard had subjugated the whole district. It was certainly a clean and efficient way to conquer.29

Basin’s cooperation was richly rewarded. Twelve days after surrendering Lisieux he did homage to Charles VII at Verneuil and was appointed a member of the great council with an annual pension of 1000l.t. (£58,333). Charles was equally generous to the townsmen of Verneuil who had opposed him. On 23 August the Grey Tower had surrendered. Even without Talbot’s supplies its defenders had managed to hold out for another five weeks, but when they finally capitulated, through lack of food, only thirty men were found inside. Most of these were Normans who had supported the English regime, for whom the humiliating term ‘French renegades’ was now coined. Jean de Surienne, displaying the family resourcefulness and perhaps employing the skills of his scaling-master, had taken advantage of a negligent night-watch to escape, together with most of the other defenders and anything of value left in the tower. Despite his annoyance at this turn of events, Charles magnanimously pardoned all the ‘renegades’ who had taken refuge in the tower, a gesture designed to win over his future subjects. The pardon, incidentally, mentions by name three men, two officials, the vicomte and grênetier of Verneuil, and Robin du Val, who were ‘the cause and means of the capture’, suggesting that there were wider ramifications to the betrayal than simply a disgruntled miller.30

Charles’s presence at Verneuil was no accident. The scene of Bedford’s victory in 1424, the greatest French defeat in battle since Agincourt, had become the first place he would choose to enter in triumph as king of a France that would soon include the duchy of Normandy.

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