CHAPTER TWO

Conquest

The sack of Caen had shown that Henry was prepared to be ruthless in pursuit of his goals, but if his conquest were to acquire any sort of permanence he needed to win the acquiescence, if not the support, of the local population. He had therefore issued proclamations that anyone who was prepared to submit and swear allegiance to him would be taken into his royal protection and allowed to enjoy their property and the right to continue in business. Those who did not wish to take the oath would be free to depart, but all their possessions would be forfeited.1

The administrative records of English Normandy reveal that one thousand inhabitants of Caen had refused to take the oath. They were given safe-conducts, valid for three days, enabling them to reach the safety of Falaise, some twenty-two miles further south. More generous terms were given to Bayeux, because the town had surrendered without resistance. The inhabitants there were allowed to take with them all the movable possessions they could carry and 250 wagon-loads were granted safe-conducts lasting fifteen days.2

The confiscated houses and business premises they left behind them were taken into the king’s hands to do with as he wished. Within days of the fall of Caen, Englishmen were invited to settle in the town, though they showed an unsurprising reluctance to uproot themselves until the conquest became more secure. An enterprising exception was John Convers, who married the daughter of Richard Caunet ‘of our town of Caen’ a mere ten days after the formal surrender and was granted all his father-in-law’s property in and outside the town. It may have been the first, but it was certainly not the last, marriage of convenience between victor and vanquished in Normandy.3

Henry himself took up residence in his ancestor’s castle and, in a pointed gesture, turned the building where the townsmen used to hold their official meetings into a munitions store. Before he left to continue his military campaign at the beginning of October, he appointed tried and trusted Englishmen to key positions: Gilbert, lord Talbot, became captain-general of the marches around Caen, Sir Gilbert Umfraville captain of the town itself, Sir John Assheton seneschal of Bayeux and Richard Wydeville captain of Lisieux.4With an acquiescent French population and a growing English presence, Henry could afford to leave Caen, his conquest of the town complete.

He now had to decide where to strike next. At this point the diplomatic agreements he had made before his campaign proved their worth. The dukes of Burgundy and Brittany had each held a separate face-to-face meeting with Henry. Their discussions remained secret but it was now evident from their actions that both had agreed to hold aloof from Henry’s campaign.5 With Burgundy actively pursuing his own ends and holding the Armagnacs hostage in Paris to the east and Brittany nervously looking the other way to the west, Henry was free to plunge through the heart of lower Normandy. Fifteen days after leaving Caen he arrived before Alençon, having taken every town and castle on his sixty-five-mile route, including the strongholds of Exmes, Sées and Argentan. Not one of them had offered even a token resistance.6

It had been breathtakingly easy, not least because the Normans lacked leadership. The duke of Alençon, for whom the duchy had been created within Normandy in 1414, had been killed at Agincourt and his son, Jean II, was only eight years old. He could claim kinship with Henry V, since his grandmother was Joan of Brittany, the king’s own stepmother, but so could many other Armagnacs and there was no room for family sentiment in the world of medieval politics. With no one round whom to rally, and the example of Caen all too recent, even Alençon surrendered immediately, despite being well prepared for a siege. Within a fortnight of Henry’s arrival at the town the rest of the child-duke’s lands were in his hands, creating an English-held corridor from Normandy’s northern coast to its southern border.7

This rapid success brought Jean VI, duke of Brittany, to Alençon for a second personal meeting with Henry. He did not come to assert the rights of his dispossessed nephew, the duke of Alençon, but to protect his own interests. On 16 November 1417 he signed a year-long truce, promising that his subjects would abstain from all acts of war against the English in return for a commitment from Henry to refrain from attacking his lands. At the same time he obtained a similar agreement for Yolande of Aragon, the dowager duchess of Anjou, whose fourteen-year-old son was betrothed to his own daughter.8

Assured of freedom from attack to the west and south, Henry could now begin the business of expanding his conquest. The duchy fell geographically, historically and administratively into two parts divided by the Seine. To the east lay the relatively flat and featureless, though fertile, chalk plains of upper Normandy which extended round the north of Paris towards Picardy; to the west lay the more isolated and dramatic landscape of lower Normandy, with its granite bluffs and plateaux, enclosed valleys and ancient woodlands. Henry’s first objective was to obtain control of lower Normandy. Having cut it in two by his initial advance and secured the central region by garrisoning the places he had captured, he planned to extend his conquest systematically outwards by the simultaneous deployment of divisions of his army against the key fortresses to the east and west.

Military campaigns were usually suspended for the winter because of the difficulty in obtaining supplies, particularly fodder for the horses upon which the army was dependent, but Henry understood the importance of maintaining the momentum of his conquest. On 1 December, with his brothers Clarence and Gloucester, he laid siege to Falaise, birthplace of William the Conqueror, a town he had avoided initially because of the strength of its defences. Now, however, since he intended to advance further and deeper into lower Normandy, he could not afford to leave such an important stronghold in enemy hands. Though the town at first refused to surrender, it took just three weeks for the English guns to reduce it to submission. The great white-walled castle, soaring above the town on a cliff of solid rock, held out for another month but when no relief was forthcoming it too surrendered, on 16 February 1418. As punishment for this obstinacy the captain and his garrison were not allowed to leave until they had repaired the artillery damage to the walls at the town’s expense and to the king’s satisfaction.9

A special clause in the terms of capitulation also marked a hardening of the king’s attitude towards those who refused to take the oath of allegiance to him. All those not from Falaise who had fought against Henry elsewhere in Normandy were to be at his mercy. This was undoubtedly aimed principally at those who had left Caen a few months earlier with safe-conducts to Falaise. Having spared their lives once, Henry was determined that his generosity should not be abused by having them take up arms against him again.10

Throughout the coming months Henry’s captains extended the boundaries of his conquest. In the south-west the capture of a line of border towns and castles, including Avranches, Pontorson and Saint-James-de-Beuvron, established English control up to the frontier of Brittany. In the meantime Gloucester and the earl of Huntingdon pushed into the Cotentin peninsula, gathering in Saint-Lô, Coutances, Carentan and Valognes before settling down to a five-month siege of the last remaining stronghold, Cherbourg, ‘one of the strongest castles in the world . . . in a place impossible to besiege or fight’.11

Henry himself, with Clarence and their uncle, Thomas Beaufort, who had brought over from England much-needed reinforcements of five hundred men-at-arms and fifteen hundred archers, was slowly advancing towards the Seine and Rouen, taking Évreux on 20 May and Louviers on 23 June. When Pont-de-l’Arche also fell to him, on 20 July 1418, Henry had completed the conquest of virtually the whole of lower Normandy in the astonishingly short period of just less than a year.12 Only two places had evaded him: Cherbourg, which would capitulate at the end of September, and Mont-Saint-Michel, which would remain defiant to the end.

This was a significant achievement but it was not enough to sate Henry’s ambition. Nothing less than all of Normandy would do. The capture of Pont-de-l’Arche marked an important stage in the realisation of his plans, giving him control of his first bridge over the Seine and with it the capability of leading his armies across the river and into upper Normandy. Only one other major obstacle stood in his path. A dozen miles north of Pont-de-l’Arche lay the wealthy and powerful city of Rouen. Ancient capital of the duchy of Normandy, larger and more populous than any contemporary English city except London and, as Henry himself acknowledged, ‘the most notable place in France save Paris’, Rouen would have to be taken before the conquest of upper Normandy could begin.13

As Henry closed in on the capital of the duchy, a dramatic coup took place in the capital of the kingdom, transforming the political situation in France. Paris had remained in Armagnac hands, despite the fact that most of the ordinary citizens and poorer inhabitants were solidly pro-Burgundian in sentiment. Neither a bloody popular uprising within the city in 1413 nor several attempts by the duke of Burgundy himself to take it by military force had succeeded. In the early hours of 29 May 1418 the son of an organiser of the night-watch stole his father’s keys to the Saint-Germain gate and secretly admitted the sire de l’Isle-Adam and a party of armed Burgundians into Paris. Their battle-cries roused their Parisian partisans, who swiftly joined them with any arms they could find to hand and the city was engulfed in a tidal wave of violence. While the soldiers seized the major seats of government and arrested prominent Armagnacs, the mob went on the rampage, pillaging the houses of Armagnac sympathisers whom they dragged from their beds, and murdered without compunction in the street. Their bodies, plundered of everything except their underclothes, were heaped up in piles in the mud ‘like sides of bacon’.

A few days later the volatile mob was unleashed again. Perhaps deliberately inflamed by calls for vengeance on the deposed Armagnac leaders, they stormed the city jails and massacred the prisoners indiscriminately, leaving their corpses naked and their faces mutilated beyond recognition. Among the most eminent victims who met their end in this brutal way were the count of Armagnac and three Norman bishops who had fled the English invasion. The Burgundian victory was complete and on 14 July the duke arrived in Paris to the acclamation of the crowds. He now had control of the king and the government. Only two things marred his triumph. The new dauphin, sixteen-year-old Charles, the fifth and last surviving son of Charles VI, had escaped his clutches and fled to the safety of his Armagnac friends.14

More importantly, having seized power, the Burgundian party now represented France and therefore had the obligation to resist her enemies. This was forcibly brought home the day after the duke made his formal entry into Paris, when he received two messengers from Pont-de-l’Arche. The first brought news from the garrison’s captain that the town would surrender unless relieved before 20 July; the second, a herald from Henry V, sought to know if the duke would respect his truces with the English. The only possible reply to both – officially at least – was that England and Burgundy were now at war.15

Nevertheless, Pont-de-l’Arche was not relieved and nine days after it surrendered the English army appeared before Rouen. The next stage in Henry’s master plan for the conquest of Normandy had begun. Well aware that if Rouen fell, upper Normandy would surely follow, the citizens had done all they could to protect themselves and their city. Every building outside the city walls which might afford assistance to the enemy had been ruthlessly demolished, including several churches and the famous royal shipyards. The stone had been carried into Rouen to reinforce and repair the five miles of wall which surrounded the city. Guns had been placed in each of the sixty towers on the walls and in those flanking the five gates. Some four thousand extra troops had been poured into the garrison and both city and castle had been placed under the overall command of Guy le Bouteiller, a renowned Burgundian captain. The citizens had even raided the cathedral treasury for items which could be pawned to ensure that the soldiers’ wages were paid. They had also taken up arms themselves and around sixteen thousand were now ready and willing to repel the English. Every person living in Rouen, regardless of status, had been ordered to lay in supplies sufficient for a six-month siege; those who could not afford to do so were told to leave the city. Though some did go, many thousands of refugees who had fled the English advance did not. And the siege began before the harvest could be gathered in.16

Henry set up four great camps around the city, linking them with trenches which kept his men out of the sight and range of gunners on the walls: thorn bushes were piled along the tops of the trenches to prevent assault or ambush. Huge piles were hammered into the bed of the Seine and three rows of massive iron chains were suspended above, below and on the water-line, preventing any ships bringing aid to the besieged. A fleet of English ships, meanwhile, kept the king’s army well stocked with victuals and ammunition, some of it brought over from England via Harfleur. The only bridge across the Seine nearer than Pont-de-l’Arche was heavily fortified and lay out of reach in the heart of Rouen, so Henry built another to facilitate communication between his forces on the left and right banks of the river. This temporary structure, made of hides stretched over a wooden frame, had originally been built in England by the king’s master-carpenter, but it dismantled into sections so that it could be stored and transported for use in the field. Henryhad also brought with him ‘a great multitude of siege engines and artillery’ and these were trained upon the city walls and gates so that the bombardment could begin. His entire army was now gathered round Rouen as he concentrated all his military effort on the single objective of bringing the mighty city to its knees.17

Henry’s plan, however, was not to take Rouen by assault but to starve it into submission. By the beginning of October, food was beginning to run out and the increasingly desperate citizens were driven to eat dogs, cats and rats, paying huge sums for the privilege of doing so. Even water was in short supply after the English dammed the river Renelle above the city. As the death toll rose, the decision was taken to expel those unable to fight: the poor, the old, women, children and the sick. If they had hoped for mercy from Henry V they were mistaken. He would not allow them to pass and, trapped in the ditches between the city walls and the English army, they slowly starved to death, in full view of both besieger and besieged. John Page, an English eyewitness, described their plight: ‘some unable to open their eyes and no longer breathing, others cowering on their knees as thin as twigs . . . a woman . . . clutching her dead child to her breast to warm it, and a child . . . sucking the breast of its dead mother’. Henry remained inexorable. When asked to take pity on them, he simply replied that ‘they were not put there at my command’.18

Summer turned to autumn and then winter but still the English army maintained its relentless and vice-like grip on the city: nothing and no one were allowed to leave or enter. Every attempt to make a sortie was driven back with heavy losses and a regular bombardment kept up the pressure on the unfortunate besieged. The citizens’ increasingly desperate pleas for aid to both Armagnacs and Burgundians went unanswered. At the end of November the duke of Burgundy was eventually pressured into gathering an army and marched as far as Pontoise, where he lingered for five weeks, but he dared not risk another Agincourt and, fearing the Armagnacs might seize Paris in his absence, he retreated without making any attempt to engage the English in military action. Deprived of this last hope, Rouen capitulated. On 19 January 1419, almost six months after he had first laid siege to the city, Henry accepted its formal surrender. The next day he rode through the shattered streets where dead and dying still lay, and gave thanks for his victory in the cathedral of Notre Dame.19

The siege had cost Henry a great deal of time and several of his commanders, including Gilbert, lord Talbot, and Thomas Butler, prior of the Knights Hospitallers at Kilmainham in Ireland; Butler had only recently arrived, bringing fifteen hundred Irish foot soldiers whose distinctive dress and savage behaviour had caused consternation among French and English alike.20 The terms of the rendition were little harsher, except in scale, than those of other Norman towns. Henry demanded eighty hostages as surety for the payment of a fine of 300,000 écus (£21.88m); all English prisoners were to be freed; Norman members of the garrison were to remain as prisoners, but those of other nationalities could leave so long as they swore not to take up arms against him for one year; the town’s ancient privileges were ratified and its inhabitants confirmed in their possessions, providing they took the oath of loyalty.21

Guy le Bouteiller was among those who did so and was rewarded for changing his allegiance by being appointed lieutenant to the duke of Gloucester, the new captain of Rouen. The French regarded his defection as treachery, so it was ironic that one of the few executions which did take place was that of another traitor whose betrayal had actually benefited the English. Nicolas de Gennes had accepted a bribe and a safe-conduct as far as Rouen to surrender Cherbourg to the English the previous August: as a result, only Mont-Saint-Michel remained in French hands in the whole of western Normandy. Instead of being grateful to de Gennes, Henry had him arrested, tried and executed for treason. To modern eyes this seems like impartiality taken to excess, but contemporaries applauded this very unusual action as further evidence of Henry’s punctiliousness in observing the laws of war. Once more he emerged with his reputation enhanced.22

The fall of Rouen was a turning point in the conquest of Normandy. Fourteen neighbouring towns and castles surrendered under the terms of Rouen’s capitulation. Two months later the whole of the Caux region was in English hands, including the important strongholds of Caudebec, Lillebonne, Tancarville and Honfleur on the Seine and Dieppe and Fécamp on the Channel coast. Henry’s captains pushed the eastern boundaries as far as Gournay, Vernon and Mantes, most places surrendering without even a token resistance. The frontier town of Ivry, which did resist, was swiftly taken by assault and though the castle garrison held out for another six weeks, no relief came and it too was obliged to surrender. It was becoming increasingly clear to the Normans that they had been abandoned by Burgundians and Armagnacs alike.23

Yet the strain of continuous warfare was also beginning to tell on the English. They had been fighting on French soil for almost two years – one of the longest periods of sustained military activity of the entire Hundred Years War – and though almost all of Normandy was now in their hands, the conquest had drained England’s resources of both money and men. The cost of putting garrisons into every conquered stronghold while also maintaining armies on active service in the field was prohibitive, particularly since Henry insisted that his men should pay their way rather than live off the land. He was also finding it harder to recruit soldiers in England. The Privy Council reported in May 1419 that it had been unable to find any willing volunteers among the leading gentry, adding that all the ‘most able’ were already in Normandy with the king. And some of those who were in Normandy were now hankering to go home. ‘There may no hope be had as yet of peace’, wrote John Feelde from Évreux. ‘I pray you to pray for us that we come soon out of this unlusty soldier’s life into the life of England.’24

A diplomatic solution was the best hope of obtaining a permanent peace and resolving these difficulties but Henry’s sweeping military success entitled him to remain resolute in his twin demands for territorial concessions and marriage with Charles VI’s daughter Katherine. He had continued his policy of negotiating separately with each party throughout 1418 and 1419, successfully ratcheting up the tensions and suspicions between them, but failing to win the concessions he wanted. As always, the English blamed the French: they were ‘yncongrue’, Feelde complained after the dauphin failed to turn up for a summit meeting at Évreux, ‘that is to say, in [the] old manner of speech of England, they be double-dealing and false’.25

The Burgundians at least honoured their promise to attend a meeting arranged on neutral ground between English-held Mantes and Burgundian-held Pontoise in the early summer of 1419. This was not the usual conference of ambassadors and diplomats but a meeting at the highest level, raising hopes on both sides that a settlement might be achieved. The presence of Henry V himself, his brothers Clarence and Gloucester, the duke of Burgundy, Queen Isabeau and Princess Katherine (whose hand in marriage had consistently been one of Henry’s demands since before the Agincourt campaign) indicated that business was meant to be done: it would not be possible to rely on the usual stalling tactic of referring back for further instructions. There was only one notable absentee and significantly that was Charles VI, whose attendance had been promised. The Burgundians claimed he was too unwell to travel from Pontoise but his absence was a convenient insurance policy, providing them with an excuse to avoid committing to a final treaty.

Nevertheless, it seems possible that they might indeed have accepted Henry’s terms. Queen Isabeau later wrote to Henry claiming that they were ‘agreeable enough to us’ but that, if they had been accepted, ‘all the lords, knights, cities and good towns would have abandoned us and joined with our . . . son; whence even greater war would have arisen.’26 At their final meeting Henry allowed his frustration to show: ‘Good cousin’, he said to the duke,

‘we wish you to know that we will have the daughter of your king and all that we have demanded with her, or we will drive him, and you also, out of his kingdom.’ To which words the duke replied: ‘Sire, you say as you please. But before you drive my lord and me out of his kingdom, you will be very tired, and of that I have no doubt.’27

What the duke knew, but Henry did not, was that Burgundians and Armagnacs were about to sign the Treaty of Pouilly, ending the war between them and committing both parties to unite against the English for the recovery of Normandy. Henry’s reaction on learning this news can only be guessed, but his response was swift and punitive. The day after his truces with Burgundy elapsed, he sent the earl of Huntingdon and the Gascon Captal de Buch to Pontoise, which the duke and royal court had just vacated. Under cover of night the Captal and his men scaled the walls and took the town by surprise; the fleeing citizens were intercepted and slaughtered by Huntingdon. Those who escaped fled to Paris, bringing a shocking and premature end to public celebrations of the peace.28

Pontoise was a mere seventeen miles from Paris and its fall meant that nothing now stood between the capital and ‘the cruel, bloody English’. The Parisians were thrown into a blind panic, which escalated as the duke decamped to the safety of Troyes, taking the king and the court with him, and English raiding parties appeared before the city gates. In answer to their desperate pleas the duke and the dauphin agreed to hold a second meeting to put their treaty into effect. If ever there was a time to put aside their differences and work together to save France from the common enemy, this was it. Actions, not words, were needed and action there was, though not of the kind that the plight of the kingdom demanded. Since neither man trusted the other, the security arrangements took several weeks, so it was not until 10 September 1419 that they met on the neutral ground of the bridge over the river Yonne at Montereau. As the duke knelt before the dauphin, his hand upon his sheathed sword, Tanneguy du Chastel, the former provost of Paris, who had rescued the dauphin in the Burgundian coup of the previous summer, cried out, ‘It is time!’ and struck the duke in the face with an axe. The rest of the dauphin’s attendants closed in, raining sword blows upon the dying duke and overpowering those who ran to his aid.29

Whether the assassination was a premeditated plot involving the dauphin, as the Burgundians claimed, or a reaction to an attempt by the duke to seize the dauphin, as Charles himself asserted, the murder changed the course of history. Any hope of cooperation between Armagnacs and Burgundians ended at that moment: both parties were now committed to each other’s utter destruction, even if it meant alliance with their country’s most deadly enemy. As the Carthusian prior of Dijon would later say, when showing François I the duke’s skull, it was through the hole in that skull that the English entered France.30

Just ten days after the murder the dauphin’s own mother, who was said to have been Burgundy’s lover, wrote to Henry, urging him to avenge his murder and offering to resume peace negotiations. Before the end of September Henry had also received overtures from both the city of Paris and the new duke of Burgundy.31

Since the Burgundians needed him more than he needed them, Henry increased the price of peace. Only a few months earlier he had been willing to renounce his claim to the French crown in return for recognition that Normandy and an enlarged Gascony were his in full sovereignty, and marriage with Katherine of France. Now he saw his opportunity to win the crown itself. The negotiations which followed were lengthy and tortuous, since any agreement had to be acceptable to as many people as possible and legally binding, but Henry also kept up the military pressure, advancing his troops into the Île-de-France, taking Meulan, Poissy and Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and tightening his economic grip on Paris, where the price of food and fuel soared. The fear that he might take Paris itself was enough to persuade both Philippe of Burgundy and the Parisians that English alliance was better than English conquest.32

On Christmas Day 1419–a day carefully chosen for its Christian significance as the anniversary of the birth of the King of Peace – a preliminary treaty was agreed between Henry V and the duke of Burgundy. The old demands for ‘just rights and inheritances’were quietly dropped and in their place a completely different structure was created. This was to be a ‘final peace’ between England and France, based on Henry’s marriage to Katherine of France and his formal adoption as his father-in-law’s heir. During Charles VI’s lifetime the government would continue to be carried out in his name but Henry would act as regent and be styled ‘our very dear son Henry, king of England, heir of France’; the lands that Henry had conquered inside and outside the duchy of Normandy were to remain his absolutely. When Charles VI died the crown would pass to Henry, his heirs and successors, and Normandy, with the pays-de-conquête as conquered territory outside the duchy was known, would once again become part of the kingdom of France.

At the heart of this arrangement was the concept of the union of the two crowns which, after Charles’s death, would be indivisible in the person of the king. In response to unease in both England and France, however, it was explicitly stated that neither kingdom was to be subject to the other: they were to be governed separately and each would preserve its own institutions, laws and customs.33

The treaty became the foundation stone upon which the edifice of the English kingdom of France was built. The sheer scale of what was at stake, and the likelihood that the settlement would be contested, meant that everything possible had to be done to make the treaty legally water-tight and morally binding. Once the final form had been agreed, the principals of both parties met at Troyes in Champagne, residence of the French royal court. (In the light of recent events, Henry demonstrated a remarkable degree of confidence in his new ally by travelling so far into Burgundian territory: Paris would have been a more obvious choice.)

On 21 May 1420 the Treaty of Troyes was formally signed and sealed on the altar of the cathedral, this holiest of places being chosen to emphasise the sanctity of the settlement. Immediately after the ceremony Henry and Katherine were betrothed at the same altar, and all those present, including Queen Isabeau, Philippe of Burgundy, Henry and his current heir, Clarence, swore to observe the treaty. The next day fifteen hundred eminent Frenchmen took the oath, led by Philippe de Morvilliers, first president of theparlement of Paris, which, as the ultimate court of appeal in France, would be responsible for upholding the settlement. Its legal status was further underpinned by the requirement that both the English parliament and its French counterpart, the national estates-general, should formally ratify the treaty.34

All Charles VI’s subjects were expected to swear the oath to what its supporters called ‘the final peace’. Many were prepared to do so, believing an English king of France to be a lesser evil than a realm disintegrating through civil war and foreign conquest. Henry had, after all, a reputation for enforcing justice and order which even his enemies respected. In the longer term, if Katherine produced a son, then at least the crown would pass to an heir who was half Valois. Nevertheless, even some Burgundians had reservations about this ‘unnatural’ alliance and the duke had to pay a personal visit to Dijon, capital of his duchy of Burgundy, to enforce its obedience.35

The elephant in the room was the dauphin. A proclamation in his father’s name earlier in the year had accused him of the murder of John the Fearless and declared him unfit to be the heir to the crown. The treaty effectively disinherited him, though this was nowhere stated explicitly. Indeed he was mentioned only twice. One clause prohibited either side from negotiating independently with ‘Charles, who calls himself dauphin’ on account of the ‘horrible crimes and offences’ he had committed. Another bound ‘our son’ (Henry) to do all in his power to regain all the places and people within the realm belonging to ‘the party commonly called dauphin or Armagnac’.36

This was the fatal flaw in the settlement. For the Treaty of Troyes was not really a ‘final peace’ but a commitment to continue the war. The dauphin had already set up a rival court and administration in Poitiers and virtually all France below the Loire and between Gascony and Burgundy remained resolutely loyal to him, as did much of the upper Seine valley and the area east of Paris. If Henry was to achieve his aims, it would only be at the point of the sword.

On Trinity Sunday, 2 June 1420, the archbishop of Sens married Henry of England to Katherine of France in the parish church of Troyes. The king was almost thirty-four, his bride just eighteen. Katherine can have had few illusions about her husband’s character but she might have expected at least some of the customary celebrations which attended a royal wedding. Instead, the very next day, when knights from both parties proposed a tournament, Henry ordered that ‘tomorrow morning we all of us be ready to go and besiege Sens, where my lord the King’s enemies are. There we may all tilt and joust and prove our daring and courage, for there is no finer act of courage in the world than to punish evildoers so that poor people can live.’37

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