Post-classical history


John of Gaunt in France 1373–1374

When Parliament opened at Westminster at the beginning of November 1372 it was Guy Brian, an experienced and well-liked soldier with no personal responsibility for the disasters of the summer, who was charged with the task of explaining what had gone wrong. There were in fact a large number of reasons for the English defeat, including misfortunes and misjudgments of a sort inseparable from the conduct of war. But the main themes of Brian’s address, which extended over the best part of two sessions, were the lack of means to defend Aquitaine and the poverty of England’s naval resources. Parliament sat for three weeks. Most of this time must have been devoted to a lengthy post-mortem on the events of the summer and plans for recovery in the following year.1

Guy Brian’s diagnosis of the problems of Aquitaine is confirmed by the copious records generated by the English war effort. The loss of Poitou and Saintonge had deprived the principality of its most productive provinces and what remained was incapable of financing its defence. The clerks who reported on the revenues of Aquitaine after the Prince’s resignation found that they amounted to less than £1,500 sterling a year which was barely a twentieth of the Prince’s internal revenues in 1368–9. Only the districts around Bordeaux still accounted to the Treasurer of the duchy. The wine customs, which accounted for most of the duchy’s receipts, had fallen catastrophically. The pound of Bordeaux, traditionally worth 4s sterling, had by now been devalued to 2s 8d, a fall of a third. This was perhaps the lowest point of the duchy’s financial fortunes, but they never improved by much. For the next two decades its revenues would never exceed about £2,500 sterling a year which was hardly enough to pay for internal administration let alone defence. Between October 1372 and April 1374 the Seneschal, Sir Thomas Felton, personally funded the government of Aquitaine to the tune of more than £8,000, presumably by borrowing on his own credit and paying his retinue from his own pocket, an extraordinary contribution for a Norfolk knight with broad acres and rich patrons but no great fortune. The duchy was now more heavily dependent on England than it had ever previously been in the three centuries of its history. Felton’s enormous deficit was ultimately repaid from the English customs. In the long run Exchequer subsidies would be required to pay most of the ongoing costs of the duchy’s government.

Nor was Gascony’s dependence on England only financial. Almost all the famous Gascon captains were dead or in prison or had transferred their allegiance to the French. In the following years the English kings found themselves employing Englishmen not just as provincial seneschals and receivers, as the Prince had done, but as captains of most of the significant garrisons. The defence of the region against any major French offensive would depend on the despatch of troops from England. Even the duchy’s food supplies depended in difficult years on exports of grain from England now that the grain-growing regions had been lost and the traffic of the river valleys was disrupted by war.2

The other element of Guy Brian’s lament, the decline of English seapower, probably struck a stronger chord than the fate of Aquitaine. The main conclusion which the English ministers drew from their defeats in 1372 was that their naval forces were completely inadequate for confronting the French and Castilian galley fleets now ranged against them. This was a more intractable problem. Or rather it was two problems: one relating to the protection of English seaborne trade, the other to the defence of the long, exposed English coast-line. Chaucer’s merchant was not the only Englishman who ‘wolde the see were kept for any thing bitwixte Middelburgh and Orewelle’. By 1372, and probably earlier, armed convoys were operating both in the North Sea and across the Bay of Biscay. The expense of the escorting ships and their complements of soldiers was met by a special levy (tunnage and poundage) on cargoes, which was passed straight on to shippers in higher freight charges together with the cost of the double crews required by merchant ships in wartime. The result was a rise in costs which fell ultimately on producers, depressing their margins in already difficult trading conditions. Coastal raids added to their woes. There had been one damaging attack on the Solent by French galleys and barges in 1369 and another, less damaging, in 1370. In the following year there had been a brief and violent naval war with Flanders, provoked by some piratical incidents between English and Flemish seamen. Squadrons of Flemish merchantmen had landed raiding parties several hundred strong in Yorkshire and in Dorset and escaped with impunity after inflicting a good deal of damage on nearby settlements. The political impact of even occasional coastal raids or losses at sea was out of all proportion to the damage actually done.3

The most effective defence was to attack the enemy’s ships in their ports. The English had often tried to do this but had only once succeeded, in January 1340, when they had destroyed almost all of the French galley fleet as it lay beached in Boulogne harbour. The French were not caught out like that again. In the late fourteenth century their war fleet was well protected in the arsenal at Rouen or within the seawalls of Harfleur. Generally, the English admirals were obliged to conduct erratic scouting expeditions with fast barges, and sweeps of the Channel with small fleets of requisitioned merchant ships, all in the hope of a chance encounter with the enemy at sea. These campaigns were exceptionally expensive and almost always fruitless. They required a carelessly exposed enemy, outstanding intelligence and a fleet armed and ready to act on it quickly, ideal conditions which were rarely encountered. So in times of danger coast-guards waited day after day beside unlit beacons on cliff-tops waiting for the appearance of French raiders. Coastguard duty was boring, unpopular and often evaded. The Commons complained about this too. Yet the results of so much effort were notoriously patchy. The Solent was heavily defended after 1370. Elsewhere it took up to twenty-four hours to collect the local levies and even longer to bring in reinforcements from inland. By the time they arrived the invaders had usually taken their spoil and vanished.4

After the disasters of 1372 the English government devoted a growing share of its slender resources to naval operations. The solution according to Edward’s ministers was to build up a specialised fleet of oared vessels on the model of other Atlantic powers. They might have been less impressed by the potential of these vessels if they had known about the difficulties which France and Castile had encountered in operating them in northern waters. But one advantage which they undoubtedly possessed was that they were less affected by the caprice of the winds. Guy Brian blamed the ‘contrariouseté de vent’ for the naval disasters of 1372, and this became an article of faith with Edward III’s Council. England already had about twenty relatively small oared barges, most of which belonged to the Cinque Ports or various private entrepreneurs. In the first days of the new Parliament the King was authorised to order the construction of fifteen large new barges in designated ports of eastern and southern England at the expense of the ports themselves. Several ministers and courtiers, including Latimer, Buxhill and William Neville, also built and fitted out barges at their own expense. Some of these were very substantial ships. The Paul of London, of which we have a particularly complete description, was to be eighty feet long with eighty oars, equipment for sixty archers and a great mast with three fortified topcastles. At the same time the King embarked on the construction of the ‘new galley’ of 180 oars in a great pit by the River Stour outside Canterbury. This vessel, later called the Katherine, was comparable in size to the standard Mediterranean galleys of Genoa and Castile. She was for some years the pride of the royal fleet.5

The government hoped for greater things by forging an alliance with Genoa, the major galley power of the Mediterranean, which Edward III’s ministers hoped might play the same role for England as Castile did for France. In spite of the botched intrigues with disaffected Genoese exiles earlier in the year, relations with the republic were reasonably cordial. Genoese merchants had important commercial interests in Bruges and the Low Countries which depended on the free passage of their merchant fleets through the Channel. The republic was sensitive to this fact now that the English controlled both sides of the Narrows. The new Doge, Domenico de Campo Fregoso, had already undertaken not to support the French or Castilian war effort and there is some evidence of active support for the English cause. Martin Cataneo, a member of a prominent Genoese mercantile family, recruited more than 450 crossbowmen and oarsmen for the English government during the winter of 1372–3. Most of them appear to have been found in France and the Low Countries among the Genoese mercenary companies in French service. Antonio Doria, who brought a company of ninety men to England, had been the captain of the Duke of Anjou’s crossbowmen on the march of Gascony two years before. In the autumn of 1372 the Doge’s brother Pietro, Admiral of Genoa, let it be known that he was willing to bring a whole squadron of fighting galleys to England on suitable terms. It was decided to take him up on his offer. Jacopo Provana was sent back to Italy, this time accompanied by a prominent Genoese merchant who was in with the regime and the poet Geoffrey Chaucer, then a squire in the royal household. The high priority now being assigned to the war at sea was signalled early in 1373 by the appointment of William Montague, Earl of Salisbury, to command an enlarged Channel fleet during 1373, with both Admirals serving under him. Salisbury was one of England’s most experienced commanders with a distinguished military career going back to the Crécy campaign of 1346. He also had a certain amount of experience of fighting at sea, having commanded squadrons in the Channel in 1370 and 1372. He was a much more considerable figure than the men who were customarily entrusted with purely naval operations.6

The English government’s ambitious plans for fighting at sea in 1373 were combined with fresh projects of conquest on the continent. In the final days of the autumn Parliament it was decided to approve the despatch of a large expeditionary force, initially expected to be about 4,000 men, under the command of John of Gaunt. The plan appears to have been to land this army in Brittany and re-establish John de Montfort’s position in his duchy. Gaunt would then cross the Loire at Nantes, invading Aquitaine through Bas-Poitou. It was essentially a fresh attempt at the strategy of 1369 and 1372.7 In Gaunt’s own mind this venture was probably intended to be the prelude to a yet vaster enterprise, namely the invasion of Castile over the Pyrenean passes from Gascony.

The weakness of these grandiose designs, as always, lay in the arrangements for financing them. The Commons remained intensely suspicious of the government’s financial management and inclined to look for cheap victories. They renewed the wool tax for another two years and grudgingly added a lay subsidy of one tenth and fifteenth when told that that would not be enough. Even so, tax revenues and customs combined could be expected to bring in barely £100,000 in the course of the year 1373, of which about two-thirds would be available for war expenditure on past experience. A comparison with the French government spending plans is revealing. Although 1373 was to be a lean year for the French government’s finances after the prodigious efforts of 1372, Charles V’s Council, meeting at the same time as the English Parliament, resolved upon a budget for the coming year in which 600,000 francs (about £100,000) was allowed from the royal treasury for field and naval operations alone, on top of the cost of maintaining some fifty garrisons. A rough estimate of French war expenditure in this period, which is all that can be attempted, suggests that it was running at at least twice the level of England’s.8


How much Edward III himself contributed to the plans for a military recovery in 1373 is difficult to say. It may not have been much. The King was now sixty. The abandonment of the great seaborne expedition of 1372 marked the beginning of his decline into weary senility, a development which was to have baleful consequences for the conduct of the war and the stability of English politics over the following years. Nominally the principal officers of the Council were now the Chancellor, Sir John Knyvet, and the Treasurer, Richard Lord Scrope of Bolton. Knyvet was a former royal justice, an ineffectual mediocrity who owed his appointment to the need to find a layman to placate the anti-clerical Parliament of 1371. Scrope, who had been promoted on the same occasion, was a much abler man but was either unable or unwilling to take a grip on the government’s financial administration. Access to the King was tightly controlled by a small group of dominant councillors who took responsibility for the conduct of the war, pre-eminently the Chamberlain William Latimer, the Steward Sir John Neville and the King’s long-standing diplomatic adviser Sir Richard Stury, Edward’s ‘familiarissimus’ as a malicious chronicler called him.9 These men all came from the ranks of the lesser nobility where the King’s administrative household had traditionally been recruited. They were joined in the inner recesses of government by two less conventional figures, Richard Lyons and Alice Perrers.

Lyons was a London vintner of obscure origins who had made a fortune from commodity-dealing and money-lending. There is some evidence that he may have been a Fleming. Lyons owed his influence to his ability to raise large loans in the city at short notice, to his inventive way with money, and to the favour of Latimer. He was involved in most aspects of royal finance. He farmed part of the customs revenues. He was the largest of the Crown’s commercial creditors, earning attractive rates for well-secured loans. He acted as the Crown’s agent for mulcting the Italian merchant community in London. He supervised the system of selling licences to export goods without going through Calais. He also operated a debt-broking business in the course of which he made large sums by buying up ancient unpaid debts of the Crown. These debts were acquired at discounts as large as 95 per cent or 99 per cent and then repaid to Lyons in full, presumably by Latimer’s direction. Much of the proceeds of these operations went straight into the Chamber where it escaped the audit controls of the Exchequer and passed under the direct control of Latimer. But part of them almost certainly went into Lyons’s pocket.10

In the nature of things most of Lyons’s activities were carried on in dark corners. Alice Perrers on the other hand exercised her power with a brazenness that shocked her contemporaries. She had originally come to the King’s attention as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Philippa and at some time in the early 1360s became his mistress, bearing him three children over the following years. Edward’s infatuation with Alice, hitherto comparatively discreet, became notorious in the last five years of his life. This was partly because she began to take a prominent part in the public ceremonies of the court, which was tactless but not in itself exceptional. What was exceptional by the standard of past royal mistresses was the determination with which this intelligent and greedy woman used her access to the King to obtain favours for her clients, amass wealth for herself, and advance her own political objectives. In 1376 it was alleged in Parliament that Alice relieved the King’s Treasury of £2,000 to £3,000 a year. Alice Perrers’s presence about the King did more than anything else to discredit him in the eyes of his subjects. It was also directly related to the declining fortunes of England in the war as the King progressively withdrew from day-to-day decision-making and, in the words of the poet John Gower, ‘abandoned his buckler to seek battle in bed’. This was unfair. But there was a larger sense in which Edward III’s partial retreat from public life was profoundly damaging to England’s fortunes. At the height of his powers the King’s skill in managing his own patronage had been the key to his close relations with the nobility and to his ability to muster support for an onerous war. His inaccessibility in the 1370s and the diversion of royal favour to a small group of self-interested ministers and cronies undermined the political order in much the same way as Gaveston’s power had done in the previous reign and Simon Burley’s would in the next. Moreover it meant that there was usually no decisive voice to resolve the doubts and squabbles of those who had the day-to-day conduct of affairs.11


At about the end of the year 1372 Juan Fernández Andeiro returned to England accompanied by a Portuguese royal clerk, Vasco Dominguez, precentor of Braga cathedral. They brought with them the text of the treaty with the Portuguese King and the news that Gaunt’s ally was in danger of being conquered by Henry of Trastámara before he could perform it. These reports presented the English government with fresh dilemmas. Some way would have to be found of shoring up the Portuguese kingdom while John of Gaunt fought his way across France. At Westminster Edward III’s ministers were prevailed upon to promise that an army would be sent to Don Fernando’s assistance as soon as possible. This decision was made rapidly, probably under pressure from John of Gaunt, and without any real thought for the logistical problems involved. Originally fixed at 1,600 men, the army was placed under the command of one of Gaunt’s retainers, Sir Nicholas Tamworth. He was a dependable captain who had begun his career as a freebooter in Burgundy in the 1350s and had been captain of Calais since 1370. His army would probably have enabled Fernando to match the French mercenaries of Henry of Trastámara if it had arrived in time. But there was little chance of that. Winter gales and recruiting problems in England were likely to delay any attempt to ship troops across the Bay of Biscay until May at the earliest. In mid-January 1373 Gaunt sent two emissaries back to Portugal to urge patience and endurance on his ally.12

Unfortunately neither Don Fernando nor John of Gaunt anticipated the scale or the speed of Castile’s pre-emptive strike. When the Castilians crossed the Portuguese border in December 1372 the Portuguese King had made no serious preparations to defend his country. He then conducted the campaign with the greatest possible ineptitude. Having initially resolved to confront the invaders at Coimbra, he changed his mind, abandoned his wife in the citadel and retreated hurriedly south. There he shut himself in the royal castle of the old Moorish capital of Santarém overlooking the vast plain of the Ribatejo north of Lisbon, while his enemies swept past him to attack his capital. By the time that Tamworth received his orders Henry of Trastámara was already at Lisbon. The city, by far the most considerable in Portugal, dominated the economy of the country by virtue of its new-found maritime wealth and its expanding population. But its defences had not kept pace with its prosperity. The city had been built up on terraces on the north shore of the Tagus around the fortified cathedral and the Moorish castle of St. George, but the crumbling walls protected only the upper town. The rest was completely open. On 23 February 1373 the Castilian King occupied the lower town without difficulty. Two weeks later his Admiral, Ambrogio Boccanegra, appeared in the Tagus with the Castilian galley fleet to complete the investment of the city from the sea. The population of Lisbon withdrew into the upper town and put up an unexpectedly stout resistance. Don Fernando sent a handful of knights from Santarém to support them and a modest fleet of four galleys and fifteen sailing ships under the command of the Admiral of Portugal. But it was an unequal fight. The Castilians threw assault parties against the fragile gates. They brought up stone-throwers which cast great boulders into the wooden houses and narrow streets. The Portuguese Admiral panicked. He refused to obey an order to attack Boccanegra’s ships before they concentrated beneath the city, lost half his galleys in a fight and then left his sailing fleet beached and poorly guarded so that much of it was captured by the enemy. By the beginning of March 1373 Lisbon was all but lost.13

Henry of Trastámara had no desire to get bogged down indefinitely in Portugal. From the first days of the campaign he had been looking for a way of neutralising Portugal so that he could withdraw his troops and turn his strength against England. In Avignon his ambassadors prevailed on the Pope to intervene. Like his predecessor, Gregory XI had always supported the Trastámaran dynasty against its internal enemies and had encouraged Henry’s alliance with France. He was quite as concerned as Charles V was that the continuing hostilities between the Iberian kingdoms might end up by letting the English into the peninsula. Gregory had a legate at the Castilian court, the aristocratic French cardinal Guy of Boulogne, a crafty diplomat who was related to the King of France and well in with his ministers. On 1 March 1373 Guy arrived unannounced at the castle of Santarém where Don Fernando was still cowering with his councillors. He delivered a flowery oration before the court about the horrors of war and the distress of the Holy Father and offered his services as a mediator. But it was more mundane considerations than these which decided the Portuguese King and his advisers to agree. Don Fernando must by now have been told that help would not reach him from England until the spring. His kingdom was incapable of continuing the war alone and his capital was likely to fall very shortly. There followed some two weeks of intense negotiation between the Cardinal and the agents of both kings in the Franciscan monastery outside Lisbon where Henry of Trastámara had set up his headquarters. Don Fernando’s capitulation when it came could not have been more complete. By the treaty sealed at Santarém on 19 March 1373 he agreed to make peace with Castile and to join the Castilian King in an alliance against Edward III and John of Gaunt. He was to expel from his kingdom twenty-eight named partisans of the late King Pedro of Castile and John of Gaunt including Andeiro. He was also required to hand over as security for his good behaviour a large number of hostages and seven of Portugal’s principal frontier fortresses. Any English troops arriving in Portugal were to be treated as enemies and expelled, if necessary with Castilian military assistance.14

This blow to John of Gaunt’s Spanish ambitions was quickly followed by another. Without disbanding his army Henry of Trastámara returned to his kingdom and made for the march of Navarre. Charles of Navarre was still holding a number of border towns and castles taken from the Castilians under cover of the Prince of Wales’s campaign of 1367. They included the fortress-town of Logroño on the River Ebro, and the walled towns of Vitoria and Salvatierra, which controlled the approaches to the Navarrese kingdom from the west. The time had come to deal with this continuing sore. Henry encamped his men in the great oak forest of Bañares near the monastic town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada on the pilgrimage road, where six years before he had had his headquarters before the disastrous battle of Nájera. From here he issued an ultimatum to the King of Navarre to surrender his gains and make a permanent peace with his larger neighbour or suffer the consequences. Charles was in no position to resist. He submitted almost as completely as Don Fernando had done. Once again it was Guy of Boulogne who negotiated the final deal. After several months of patient diplomacy Charles of Navarre had to surrender the disputed border fortresses and to agree to a marriage alliance. Both John of Gaunt’s points of entry into Castile were now closed.15

The result of the new treaty of Santarém was to release the Castilian galley fleet for service against England. By May 1373 it had been agreed that Castile would send at least six war galleys to fight with the French fleet in northern waters for the next three summer seasons. In the event Henry decided to send fifteen. The King of Portugal marked his change of allegiance by promising to add two more galleys of his own each year at Henry of Trastámara’s expense. Unfortunately for the English, at much the same time Jacopo Provana’s attempts to hire a galley fleet in Genoa ended in failure. When the English King’s agents reached Italy they found that war had broken out between the Genoese republic and the kingdom of Cyprus. It was an absurd dispute, arising from an argument about the order of precedence between the Genoese and Venetian delegations at the coronation of the King of Cyprus. But it ended in a riot, the death of several Genoese and the collapse of Edward III’s plans to employ a galley fleet in the Channel in 1373. The Admiral of Genoa was ordered to the eastern Mediterranean with every available fighting ship.16


Within weeks of the treaty of Santarém Brittany too was closed against the English. John of Gaunt’s plans to land there had become known in Paris, at least in outline, by Christmas 1372. Charles V’s councillors were under no illusions about John de Montfort’s dealings with the English. Two months after the arrival of Neville’s troops in the duchy the Duke had been unable to produce either an acceptable explanation of their presence or a convincing promise to get rid of them. Over the new year, the traditional season for planning military operations, it was decided to have done with him. The Duke of Brittany wrote to the King of France in February 1373 with a gift of fresh fish and hypocritical professions of goodwill. The English, he said, would be gone as soon as the weather enabled them to embark. In March 1373 the King resolved upon the immediate occupation of Brittany.17

In the event the first English troops and the van of the French army of invasion arrived in Brittany almost simultaneously. The English had decided to land their army at Saint-Malo, where the Earl of Cambridge had arrived in 1369. The island port had obvious advantages for Gaunt’s purposes. It was more accessible from England than Brest. It also possessed the only first-rate harbour on the rocky north coast of the peninsula. But it had never been firmly under the control of the Duke. The townsmen, aided by their geographical situation, had for years refused to recognise John’s overlordship or admit his officers. John had responded by waging open war on them from the garrisoned keep which he had built at Solidor at the mouth of the River Rance. In 1373 his lieutenants there were constructing a line of temporary forts along the shore. These measures are likely to have been co-ordinated with the English. For, in about the middle of April 1373, an English fleet appeared in the bay under the command of the Earl of Salisbury accompanied by both Admirals. They had forty-five ships and barges under their command with more than 1,700 English soldiers on board in addition to some 2,000 seamen and several companies of the King’s newly hired Genoese crossbowmen. In the harbour the English found seven Castilian merchantmen which they boarded, killing their crews and seizing their cargoes. They then landed on the island. From here they landed raiding parties on the mainland to forage for supplies and reconnoitre the area. Their task was to secure the landing area for John of Gaunt who was due to follow with the main body of the army in May.18

The French army of Brittany was already gathering at Angers when Salisbury landed at Saint-Malo. The bulk of its strength had been recruited from Charles V’s allies among the Breton nobility and from the retainers of the Duke of Bourbon, who had been appointed to command it. When the news of the landings arrived Bertrand du Guesclin was hurriedly recalled from Poitou to join them. The whole army must have numbered about 3,000 men. They entered the duchy in the last week of April. The Constable made directly for Rennes, which was the principal city of francophone Brittany and the hub of the road system of the region. The Duke of Bourbon headed for the north coast to contain Salisbury’s force. The Viscount of Rohan marched on Vannes where John de Montfort was staying. They encountered no resistance at all. For most Bretons the news of the arrival of a second English army and the prospect of a third was decisive. Almost all the fortresses of the nobility and even the garrisoned castles of the Duke opened their gates as the French approached. John de Montfort’s authority was repudiated everywhere. He packed up the contents of his treasury and chancery and fled, leaving his personal possessions to be looted by his enemies. He only just managed to reach Brest before they caught up with him. In the citadel the Duke was received by Sir John Neville. He appointed the Englishman as his lieutenant in Brittany and charged him to hold Brest in his name until he could get help. He left his treasury, more than 20,000 francs in cash (about £3,300), in Neville’s hands as an earnest of his return. Then, on 28 April 1373, he took ship for England.19

Once John de Montfort had left, the last of his partisans melted away. Those castellans who did not surrender at once usually did so once they had been shown copies of the Duke’s treaty with Edward III. Nantes appears to have admitted the French before the end of the May, thus putting an end to Gaunt’s hopes of an uncontested crossing of the Loire. In the north of the peninsula Salisbury’s men at Saint-Malo found the whole shoreline opposite them occupied by the enemy. Only the small and dispersed English forces in the peninsula continued to fight for the disgraced Duke. At Hennebont a largely English garrison was forced to surrender by the townsmen after the walls and keep had been undermined. Concarneau was carried by assault and its English captain captured. The Duke’s favourite residence at the castle of Suscinio was defended to the last man by one of John de Montfort’s Breton squires and a group of English retainers. Only three places still flew the Duke’s banner at the end of June. A large and well-supplied routier garrison defended Sir Robert Knolles’s fortress at Derval on the eastern march of Brittany. John de Montfort’s English Duchess commanded a small, loyal garrison at Auray in the Gulf of Morbihan. And Neville concentrated what remained of his army behind the walls of Brest in the far west. Knolles, although not the most senior English soldier in the province, practically assumed the command of all English forces there. After seeing to the defence of Derval and Auray he made his way to Brest with the Duke’s English treasurer, Thomas Melbourne, and joined Neville in the keep. On 1 June 1373 Bertrand du Guesclin laid siege to Brest. At about the same time the lord of Laval besieged Derval with the retinues of the Breton nobility.20


All of these terrible tidings reached Westminster at about the same time in the middle of May 1373. John de Montfort must have arrived in England in early May. He was followed within days by Provana and Chaucer, returning empty-handed from Italy, and by the first reports of Portugal’s repudiation of the English alliance. Suddenly the world seemed a very different place. On about 20 May John of Gaunt’s plans to land in Brittany were abandoned. Not long afterwards the Earl of Salisbury’s force was recalled from Saint-Malo. Sir Nicholas Tamworth’s army of Portugal, which was already beginning to gather at Southampton, was cancelled. Only the Portuguese ambassadors, Juan Fernández Andeiro and his colleague, declined to recognise reality. They pressed on with the conclusion of the Anglo-Portuguese alliance even after they knew that Fernando had allied himself with the King of Castile and that Andeiro had been forbidden to return to Portugal, simply deleting the clause of the draft treaty which provided for an English expeditionary force to operate in Portugal. The treaty was solemnly executed in that form in St. Paul’s cathedral in June. But it was a dead letter from the moment that the seal was attached. It was never ratified.21

With the limited number and low tonnage of the ships available there could be no question of sending John of Gaunt’s army to Gascony across the Bay of Biscay. He would now have to enter France through Calais. This meant that it would be necessary to reach Aquitaine by marching round the north and east of Paris and passing across the Massif Central, the only region where it was feasible for an English army to cross the Loire. It also necessitated a change of embarkation port from Plymouth to Sandwich and Dover. These changes of plan caused chaos. At least 200 transports had been requisitioned for Gaunt’s passage, more than eighty of which were already lying at Plymouth. More were on their way there. The ships were left idle in the Sound while the rest of the requisitioned fleet was ordered to the Downs. Nearly 4,500 men were making their way to Plymouth from all over England. The men were stopped on the roads and redirected to Kent. The date of Gaunt’s embarkation, already some three weeks late, had to be put back to the middle of June. The army was eventually carried to Calais in relays by a smaller fleet requisitioned in the east coast ports and about a hundred vessels chartered by the English government’s agents in Holland, Zeeland and Flanders. Shiploads of equipment and supplies followed: trains of carts, great quantities of tenting, mobile grain mills and ovens, and bridging equipment.22

The most difficult question for Edward’s ministers was what to do about John de Montfort once the Breton campaign had been abandoned. He was burning to get back to his duchy to support the hard-pressed garrisons still holding out for him. He had also promised Neville to relieve him in Brest. John determined to raise an army of his own. His plan was to embark the men at Plymouth and Dartmouth on the ships which had been requisitioned for John of Gaunt. His recovery of the honour of Richmond in the previous year meant that he had dilapidated but potentially valuable assets in England against which he could borrow to finance this project. At first Edward’s government was willing to support him. They agreed to let him recruit 600 men-at-arms and 400 archers in England. They made a large grant towards his expenses and lent him £9,000. Neville lent £2,000 more out of his own pocket. Then suddenly, on about 10 June 1373, the whole project was cancelled. The reason is not recorded but the likelihood is that the English government was unable to agree terms with the Duke for the reoccupation of his duchy. For the truth was that their interests were directly opposed. John wanted to be reconciled to his subjects, whereas Edward III’s ministers wanted to obtain military control of the peninsula. So John was forced to drop his plans to return to Brest and his strength was added to John of Gaunt’s army, probably against his wishes. He was destined to pass the next few months marching through France in Gaunt’s shadow. The job of relieving Brest was assigned to the Earl of Salisbury.23

Inside the castle of Brest Neville and Knolles knew little or nothing of what was going on in England. They did not know that the Duke of Brittany had been diverted to Calais or that the Earl of Salisbury’s fleet was being prepared in Southampton to relieve them. Their men had exhausted their stores and their hopes. By July 1373 they were reduced to eating their horses. On 6 July the garrison entered into a conditional surrender agreement with Bertrand du Guesclin in a form which had by now become conventional. A truce was agreed for the area around Brest, which would allow the garrison to resupply itself. The fortress was to be abandoned a month later on 6 August unless by then the Duke of Brittany had appeared in person with enough men to hold his own against the French army on open ground outside the gates of the town. The Bretons in the garrison were to be pardoned and allowed to keep their lands while the English were to be given a safe-conduct to go wherever they wished with everything they had. To secure their performance of these promises the English commanders delivered six hostages and furnished undertakings from six more to surrender if they were called for.24

While he waited for the month to pass Bertrand du Guesclin occupied his men by raiding the Channel Islands. He captured and briefly occupied the lower wards of the coastal fortress at Gorey on Jersey while the garrison held out from the keep. He then attacked Guernsey, which was virtually undefended, and seized the dilapidated fortifications of Castle Cornet. The inhabitants were obliged to enter into a patis agreement to pay protection money to the Constable. Crops, villages and farm buildings were so completely devastated that the King’s revenues there yielded almost nothing for years afterwards.25

The Earl of Salisbury sailed out of Southampton with the relief force for Brest towards the end of July 1373. After joining the ships of the western admiralty at sea his fleet comprised more than fifty vessels with nearly 3,000 soldiers on board and several shiploads of stores. When the fleet entered the great roadstead at Brest it was received with ecstatic joy by the garrison. Salisbury’s own joy must have soured when he saw the terms of the conditional surrender agreement. The place had not been relieved in the manner required because John de Montfort was not there in person. Faced with this unexpected difficulty the English decided to repudiate their agreement with the Constable. Their pretext was a series of minor disputes about the truce around the town, which they said that the French had failed to observe. On 4 August 1373 Neville wrote to the French commanders in the name of the three captains who had sealed the agreement, declaring that since they had received no satisfactory answer on these points they considered that were no longer bound to surrender. They demanded the return of the hostages in French hands. Meanwhile preparations were made to defend Brest. The stores were unloaded from the ships. Artillery was distributed about the walls and bows, arrows and cords among the archers. The French were outraged. On 6 August, the day appointed for the surrender, Bertrand du Guesclin, fresh from his conquests in the Channel Islands, appeared before the town with the whole of the French army in Brittany, about 3,000 men. They found Neville’s garrison and Salisbury’s relief army drawn up in their lines in front of the gates. The numbers on each side were roughly matched. But neither was willing to be drawn into a battle. Most of the English were equipped for service at sea and had no horses. As for the French, they did not care to lose the advantage of the defensive by attacking an enemy in prepared positions beneath their own walls. After a few days the French army withdrew. The Earl of Salisbury’s men boarded their ships in the second week of August and returned to England, leaving Neville to defend the place with a normal wartime garrison, probably no more than about 200 men, which was periodically resupplied from England. The six English hostages in French hands were left to their fate. They became prisoners of war and were held in harsh conditions for four years until Neville was eventually persuaded to pay £4,500 for their release from his own pocket. For John de Montfort and Edward III the whole affair had probably been worth the effort. John never settled his debt to Neville and Brest was destined to remain in English occupation for almost a quarter of a century.26

The year 1373 was one of the best years for English naval operations in Edward III’s reign. The English fleet had, as the Chancellor told Parliament in November 1373, ‘confronted the enemy with skill and enterprise’. Much of this was due to the Earl of Salisbury. What was perhaps most remarkable was that his operations had been carried out with much the same forces as had so completely failed the year before. None of the new barges ordered the previous November was ready in time to take part in the capture of Saint-Malo and only three were ready for the relief of Brest. The rest were delivered late and in some cases incomplete and without their tackle. Crewing difficulties were a serious constraint on the use of these vessels even when they had been delivered. The Admirals did not have nearly enough Genoese oarsmen to man them. Most of the crews were pressed men, drawn from the small pool of English seamen who were not already serving on requisitioned merchantmen.27

The main reason for England’s success at sea in 1373 was the strange passivity of their French and Castilian enemies. Early in the year the mere threat of their appearance had emptied the sea lanes along the south coast of England. Yet the galleys did nothing to justify their fearsome reputation. The French barges spent most of the summer at their bases in the Seine as a result of a backlog of maintenance work in the Rouen arsenal. There is some evidence that they also experienced the same sort of difficulty in recruiting local oarsmen as the English did. The ships eventually succeeded in putting to sea in mid-July, by which time it was too late to interfere with the English expedition to Saint-Malo. There was no attempt to disrupt the long-drawn-out process of transporting John of Gaunt’s army to Calais. There were no recorded raids on the English coast. When the ‘army of the sea’ returned to Harfleur to revictual, in early August, many of the troops assigned to it were recalled to reinforce the defences of the north against John of Gaunt. The Monegasque Admiral Rainer Grimaldi undertook another short cruise in the middle of the month with the six Italian galleys of his own squadron. But after three weeks they were back in port preparing for winter lay-up. As for the Castilians, their galley fleet had arrived in the Seine in June accompanied by a number of sailing ships. The Castilians probably participated in Grimaldi’s two cruises. There was at least one direct encounter with Salisbury’s fleet which resulted in the capture of three of the Castilian sailing ships. Otherwise they seem to have done very little. The absence of Ambrogio Boccanegra with his aggressive tactics and skill in handling large fleets at sea may have had something to do with this. He had retired from Castilian service after the siege of Lisbon. The fleet sent to the Channel was commanded by his successor, Fernán Sánchez de Tovar. Sánchez was a soldier, not a seaman, and a native Castilian in an office traditionally monopolised by Genoese. He would later prove himself to be a competent practitioner of naval guerilla warfare and a master of the coastal tip-and-run raid, but neither skill was much in evidence in this first campaign.28

Yet, for all their ineffectiveness at sea, the French and Castilian fleets achieved their purposes by their mere existence. In the long run their impact would not be measured in burning villages, captured hulks or bloated corpses washed up on the beaches of southern England but in money. Leaving aside shipping costs associated with John of Gaunt’s expedition, English naval operations in 1373 cost Edward III’s government more than £40,000.29 This was more than the entire yield of the Parliamentary subsidy for the year. It was nearly half of the government’s average annual expenditure on warfare. The weight of naval expenditure in the government’s accounts had grown substantially since 1369, a tendency which persisted for many years and was not matched by any increase in the government’s resources. This seriously inhibited the conduct of military operations in France.


John of Gaunt crossed the Channel in about the middle of July 1373 followed shortly by the Duke of Brittany. Three English earls joined the army as well as Henry, Lord Percy, the greatest figure on the Scottish march, who had the standing of an earl. Several of the great captains of past campaigns were there, including Calveley and Hewitt. The whole army numbered about 6,000 men-at-arms and archers on the payroll, half as many again as the number originally planned back in November. With the mass of pages, varlets, clerks and artificers, there must have been about 9,000 mounted men altogether. The process of shipping the whole force across the Channel, with all its horses, equipment and stores, was not completed until 9 August. On the following day the army formed itself into two columns. One, under the command of the Duke of Brittany, marched directly south towards Hesdin and then turned south-east, skirting around Amiens and reaching the Somme just east of the city. The other, under John of Gaunt himself, followed a roughly parallel route about forty miles east of them via Saint-Omer and Arras. The army covered about ten miles a day, leaving villages and farms in flames across a broad front. Gaunt was keen to get to the south-west and made no attempt to attack any of the walled towns or castles on the route. On about 19 August the two columns met on the Somme.30

The appearance of an English army in Calais wrong-footed the French King’s ministers. They were still expecting a landing in Brittany. As a result almost all the available troops were in the peninsula, tied down by the sieges of Brest and Derval. There were barely 600 men on the Calais march. It was not until the first week of July that the French King, alerted by the scale of English troop movements in the Channel, realised what was happening. A second army was summoned to assemble at Amiens in August. The Duke of Burgundy, who was on his way to Brittany, was abruptly recalled and put in command of it. Duke Philip entered Amiens with about 700 men-at-arms on 14 July 1373. He was obliged to pass more than a month idle in the city as the laborious process of recruitment was put in hand and troops made their way across northern France to join him. He still had only about 4,000 men under his command when John of Gaunt marched out of Calais.31

The English forded the Somme not far from the walled town of Bray. A few miles further south they burned the town of Roye as the terrified population crowded for safety into the tower of the fortified church. Then they paused for a week by the banks of the River Avre in the open plain of Vermandois, daring the Duke of Burgundy to attack them. While they waited the Duke of Brittany composed a letter of defiance to Charles V, the formal renunciation of his homage which the law required of any man who intended to fight against his lord. But John’s letter was more than a point of form. It was an angry and self-righteous denunciation of the French King for invading his duchy, capturing his walled towns and castles, imprisoning and killing his supporters and committing every other ‘irreparable villainy’. ‘I hold you to be my enemy,’ John wrote; ‘do not be surprised if I come now to injure you and your supporters and avenge the wrongs you have done to me.’32

The French army left Amiens on 17 August 1373 and headed south-east, reaching Soissons on the 22nd. Philip of Burgundy followed what had become the traditional French strategy of avoiding battle. He kept his distance from the English, moving from one walled town to another, always keeping the bulk of his army between the enemy and Paris. The population of the plat pays was ordered into the towns and castles. Garrisons were put into all the more significant walled places. Unprotected bridges were broken. In the French capital the King and his advisers struggled to reinforce him. The northern cities were commanded to find infantry and crossbowmen. The troops of the ‘army of the sea’ were urgently recalled from Harfleur. A new corps was raised from late arrivals and placed under the command of Charles V’s youthful and mediocre uncle, Philip, Duke of Orléans.33

All the indications are that the French commanders thought that John of Gaunt and John de Montfort were heading for Brittany. They therefore had a difficult dilemma. The Constable’s army in Brittany was badly needed to help keep the English away from Paris. But withdrawing it would expose the major cities of the duchy to attack. With some misgivings, Charles V decided towards the end of August to recall it. Olivier de Clisson paused before leaving to patch up a truce with Knolles’s garrison at Derval. Knolles himself was far away at Brest. His lieutenants had given up hope of relief. They cannot have known how tightly stretched French resources were. So they agreed to surrender the castle on 29 September if no relief force had appeared by then. Clisson took hostages for the performance of these undertakings but he must have wondered, after the affair at Brest, whether they were worth much. In early September he too was on the road to Paris. The Viscount of Rohan was left to defend the Crown’s interests in Brittany with a retinue of just 300 men. To fill the gap Charles took the remarkable step of summoning the Duke of Anjou from Languedoc. Anjou was ordered to leave at once for Brittany bringing every available man with him. He received this summons towards the end of August in the Dordogne valley. He was on his way by the beginning of September with 2,500 men at his back.34

6 John of Gaunt’s chevauchée, August–December 1373

On about 23 August 1373 John of Gaunt’s great column began to head east from the Vermandois. They crossed the Oise south of Saint-Quentin, passing well north of Philip of Burgundy’s headquarters at Soissons. They then made for Laon and Reims, leaving behind them a broad swathe of looted barns and burning farmsteads and villages. On about 3 September they passed Laon. A few days later they crossed the Aisne by the bridge at Vailly and marched south towards Épernay. The terrain was easy. The only serious obstacles were the many river crossings. A corps of carpenters proved adept at throwing bridges across the ruptured ends of masonry which the French had left behind them. Supply was a more difficult problem. To feed an army of this size off the country it was necessary to spread it out over a broad front and to send armed foraging expeditions some way from the main body. They proved to be very vulnerable. As the English moved into Champagne they began to encounter increasing resistance and suffered heavy losses of men and horses. The French formed harassing forces of a few hundred mounted men to pick off stragglers and foraging parties one by one. At the beginning of September Jean de Bueil surprised a company of English north of Laon and took a large number of prisoners. On the 9th another English detachment commanded by Walter Hewitt was ambushed near Oulchy-le-Château, south of Soissons. Hewitt was killed in this encounter and more than thirty of his men-at-arms were captured. Bands of peasants hidden in the forests fell on anyone wearing the cross of St. George or speaking English (‘or any other strange and horrible language’), battering them to death, drowning them or slitting their throats. It was to be the pattern of the campaign.35

In the middle of September 1373 the French forces in the north were ordered to concentrate at Troyes, the cathedral city on the left bank of the Seine in southern Champagne. The strategy appears to have been to prevent the English army from swinging round to the west and approaching Paris through the Gâtinais as Edward III had done in 1359, or from making a dash for Brittany as Knolles had done in 1370. The King’s orders were that they were to delay, harass and exhaust the enemy but on no account to give battle. Once again the policy was controversial, especially among its victims in the undefended countryside of northern France whose murmurings were becoming too loud to be ignored. At a council of war in Paris the Constable had to remind his fellow councillors about Crécy and Poitiers and the many pitched battles which the French had fought and lost against the English. Olivier de Clisson, who was ‘brought up with the English and knows their ways better than any of you’, would back him up, he said. According to Froissart’s much embellished account of this meeting the King declared that he ‘would not risk the lives of his knights and the fate of his realm for a corner of land’. The Duke of Burgundy left Soissons on 10 September, shortly after the council of war had concluded, and joined forces with the other French corps during the next few days. On the 15th they entered Troyes.36

The two armies came as close at Troyes as they would ever do. The English began to cross the River Aube, north of the city, a few days after the French had arrived. On about 22 September the vanguard of John of Gaunt’s army penetrated into the undefended suburbs of Troyes, breaking into the rich suburban monasteries and mansions and throwing themselves against the outworks which the French had built in front of the bridgehead on the right bank of the river. They paid heavily for their indiscipline. A sudden sortie from the city caught them unawares, killing 120 of them and capturing eighty more. Three Bretons, presumably retainers of John de Montfort, were found among the prisoners and summarily executed as traitors. John of Gaunt tried to provoke a battle outside Troyes. He halted the main body of his army in the plain north of the city. From the city walls they could be seen through the haze of smoke rising from the wreckage of the suburbs, standing in formation for three days in succession and daring the French to attack them. The French refused to move. On about 25 September the English marched away up the valley of the Seine. The army crossed the river beneath the walls of the fortress of Gyé-sur-Seine, thirty miles upstream, at about the end of the month. But Gaunt did not attempt to turn west as the French must have expected him to do. Instead he made a dash southward into the Nivernais and along the upper valley of the Loire towards Auvergne, pursued at a distance by the Duke of Burgundy. By the first few days of October it was clear that John of Gaunt was looking for a crossing of the Loire and that he was heading not for Brittany but for Gascony.37

The Duke of Anjou had by now reached Brittany. He arrived at Derval shortly before the date fixed for its surrender. He was joined there by Olivier de Clisson. Anjou’s long march from Languedoc had been a mistake as events had turned out. The region which he had come to defend was no longer threatened. The garrison of Derval added to his frustrations by refusing to surrender according to their agreement. Knolles had re-entered the fortress and repudiated the treaty which his lieutenants had made. They had acted without his authority, he said. The Duke of Anjou had the hostages brought out and beheaded beneath the walls in full view of the defenders. In law he was within his rights, although there were plenty of men in his army who protested at his act. According to report it was Clisson who insisted on their execution. ‘If they do not die I shall not so much as put a helmet on my head for your war,’ he is said to have told the Duke. Knolles responded by having an improvised scaffold built out from a high window of the keep, where four French prisoners of war were promptly beheaded and thrown into the castle ditch. It was the second time in as many months that Knolles had dishonoured the conventions on which war between noblemen was founded.38

7 The crossing of the Allier, October 1373

On about 10 October 1373 John of Gaunt’s army, having left a trail of devastation in the Charolais, crossed the Loire by the bridge at Marcigny, about twenty miles north of Roanne, and then made a course west into the Bourbonnais. This was difficult ground in the northern foothills of the Massif Central, where the rivers swollen by autumn rains flowed north–south, presenting successive barriers to the exhausted English army. The major obstacle in the way was the Allier, a fast-flowing river with few bridges and no fords. John of Gaunt decided to try to force a crossing at Moulins, where a stone bridge, the only one in the region, crossed the river a few hundred yards from the walls of the town. He narrowly escaped being trapped there. The east bank of the river was defended by the Duke of Bourbon’s garrison in the city. Bourbon himself was holding the west bank from his headquarters at Souvigny, a few miles beyond the bridge. Other French forces were closing in from all sides. Bertrand du Guesclin brought his troops up the valley behind the English and entered Moulins. The Duke of Burgundy crossed the Loire at Roanne and came up from the south-east. On 18 October his army reached Saint-Pourçain. The Duke of Anjou had been conferring with his brother in Paris when the news arrived that the English were heading south. He hurriedly rejoined his army and was now approaching Moulins from the north. A large body of infantry and crossbowmen of the northern towns followed him at a few days’ distance. The area between the walls of Moulins and the bridge was crossed by a dense network of marshes and waterways. John of Gaunt managed to reach the bridge across this difficult terrain and got the whole of his army over the Allier before the French succeeded in concentrating all these forces. But it cost him the heaviest casualties of the campaign and he was forced to abandon his wagon train on the east bank.39

At the beginning of November 1373 the French remade their plans. Philip of Burgundy dismissed the bulk of his men-at-arms and prepared to return to his domains. The mobs of northern infantrymen were sent home. The Duke of Anjou returned to Languedoc to make plans for containing John of Gaunt in Aquitaine. The rest of the pursuit was entrusted to a small mounted force under the command of the Constable and Marshal Sancerre. The English may well have thought that the worst was over. In fact it was just beginning. They headed south-west from Moulins, making for the Limousin. Marching across the Combraille and the high Limousin plateau the men of the English army found themselves in one of the most inhospitable winter landscapes of France: cold, bleak and sparsely populated, it was a region of dense forest with no food for men or beasts. The rain fell in torrents, turning the roads into marshes and filling the streams with undrinkable mud. Foraging was impossible. The troops were strictly forbidden to stray from the main force. Anyway they no longer had any carts. The Constable’s mounted raiders clung to their flanks, picking off those who ignored these orders. Everywhere that the English had passed the French found the route marked by the corpses of their starved horses.40

John of Gaunt was welcomed nowhere until the beginning of December 1373 when, reaching the valley of the Corrèze in Bas-Limousin, the army entered the last part of the province to accept French rule. In these remote regions there was still a fund of residual loyalty to be tapped. Gaunt was able to pause for about three weeks while his men rested and raiding parties spread out across the neighbouring parts of the Cantal and northern Quercy. The city of Tulle put up no more than a perfunctory resistance. Brive willingly opened its gates and accepted an English garrison. Several noblemen received him in their castles. But these were the solitary (and as it turned out short-lived) gains of Gaunt’s campaign. ‘Honourable to their arms but disastrous to their interests’ was the balanced verdict of the official chronicler of the French royal house.

The army which entered Bordeaux at the end of December 1373 was a shadow of the one which had left Calais five months before. Although they had not succeeded in engaging the enemy on any substantial scale they looked like beaten men. More than half of the thirty thousand horses with which they had set out from Calais had been lost. Much of the army, including 300 belted knights, entered the city on foot. Others were without their armour, which they had thrown away en route to lighten their loads. Their clothes were filthy and torn and their faces drawn with hunger. It is impossible to be precise about the scale of the human casualties. Hundreds had succumbed to injury or disease on the march or had been killed in skirmishes with the French. A large number of veterans were prisoners in French hands. Most of them were still prisoners three years later.

Bordeaux was in no position to take on the burden of feeding a mass of men roughly equal to its ordinary population. The city was in the grip of a renewed epidemic of bubonic plague from which many of the troops would die in the following weeks. The harvest had been poor throughout southern France. Food prices rose to astronomic levels which Gaunt’s followers were quite unable to pay. They had long since spent their advances and were forbidden to raid and steal in friendly territory. In the next few weeks famous knights, rich men with broad acres in England, were to be seen begging for food in the streets of the duchy’s capital.41


The sorry condition of John of Gaunt’s army, although obvious to its commanders, did not become generally known for some time. Contemporary opinion, both in England and on the continent, assumed that, with an army of nearly 10,000 Englishmen and the support of an aggressive Gascon nobility, John of Gaunt had the whole of the south-west at his mercy. On 22 November 1373, as Gaunt’s army marched across the Limousin plateau nursing the injuries of the crossing of the Allier and battered by rain and high winds, Edward III’s Chancellor was telling Parliament at Westminster that the Duke of Lancaster’s outstanding qualities of command and fine feats of arms had inflicted serious damage on the French. The King, he said, intended to make Gaunt’s army the focus of military operations on the continent for 1374. He asked for a Parliamentary subsidy to keep it in being until the following November, some six months beyond the service specified in the men’s indentures.42

The Chancellor did not tell Parliament that the main objective for 1374 was the invasion of Castile. But this was by now becoming obvious. At the papal court it was taken for granted. In Castile the partisans of the dead King Pedro were stirring in the towns. Five people were executed in Murcia early in 1374 for organising demonstrations in favour of John of Gaunt. There is some evidence of similar disturbances in other places. On the march of Navarre Henry of Trastámara’s military governor at Logroño had already written off his master’s chances of survival and agreed with Charles of Navarre to bring his own troops over to the enemy when the invasion came. At about the end of the year Henry had his young heir, the future John I, crowned as his successor, the traditional resort of rulers who felt unsteady on their thrones. At about the same time the Castilian King summoned the largest army that he could gather to defend his kingdom and sent his agents to the Duke of Anjou in Toulouse with appeals for help. In February 1374 some 6,200 Castilian cavalry and 5,000 infantry had gathered around Burgos. They were advancing towards the River Ebro, where Henry of Trastámara could cover the approaches to his kingdom from the north and east.43

The carrion crows were gathering in both of these directions. Peter IV of Aragon had followed the progress of John of Gaunt’s army with intense interest. Unlike the rulers of Portugal and Navarre he had resisted the attempts of the papal court to bring about an accommodation with Henry of Trastámara. He was determined to hang on to the frontier regions of Castile which he had occupied during the Castilian civil wars of the late 1360s. For the moment Peter dithered, uncertain whether to risk the security of his kingdom by publicly throwing in his lot with an invader who might never appear or to stand on the sidelines and lose the chance of consolidating his gains at Castile’s expense. But even this master of procrastination seems to have decided that Henry of Trastámara’s days might now really be numbered. In November 1373 all three of the principal officers of the duchy of Aquitaine, the Seneschal Sir Thomas Felton, the Constable and the Mayor of Bordeaux, were locked in negotiations with Peter’s representatives in the Pyrenean town of Jaca, planning the conquest and partition of Castile. Peter’s agents tentatively promised a corps of 1,500 cavalry to support an English invasion, provided that he should not have to declare himself until John of Gaunt had actually reached the Ebro. Peter was plainly assuming that the Duke of Lancaster was planning to enter Castile through Navarre. He was almost certainly right about this. One of the first acts of John of Gaunt after arriving in Bordeaux was to send five of his councillors to conclude matters with the King of Aragon. Some members of this mission appear to have been charged with negotiating with the King of Navarre as well.44

All of these plans, however, depended for their execution on the English army in Bordeaux, which was sick, demoralised and mutinous. There was a rash of desertions. Those who could afford it found passages on ships bound for England. Refugees from Gaunt’s army began to appear on the streets of London. The Duke of Brittany sailed for Brittany at the beginning of February 1374 taking at least part of his retinue of 1,000 men with him. Many of the rest were incapable of fighting, even if they had been fit and willing, for want of horses and equipment. But the Duke’s gravest problem was the want of money to pay their wages. According to their indentures the men were required to serve for a year to the end of June 1374. They had been paid a quarter’s wages in cash before leaving England and another quarter’s worth in assignments on government revenues. They were now due their wages for the third quarter. A substantial proportion of them were not willing to serve unless they were paid. The King had promised John of Gaunt to ‘refresh’ the army by sending out £12,000 in cash as a payment on account for the rest of their service. But his ministers did nothing about it. They said that this was because they had not known where to send the money. In fact it seems clear that they did not have it. This turn of events was deeply embarrassing to John of Gaunt. He was not inclined to drive a hard bargain with his captains even if he had been able to. His own claims against the government amounted to nearly £25,000, much of which was still outstanding from his previous expedition to Aquitaine.45

At Westminster the Council had no idea of the condition of John of Gaunt’s army until a messenger arrived in England in mid-January 1374 with the Duke’s letters containing his report on the state of affairs in Gascony. These were forwarded post-haste to the King at Langley, north of London, and read out before him on 17 January 1374. Their contents caused consternation. The Duke told his father that he could not even ensure that the troops would serve what remained of their indentures let alone an extra six months. The Council chewed over the options during the last ten days of January and eventually resolved to send a commission of three knights out to Bordeaux to reason with the Duke and his captains. The leader of this group, Sir Nicholas Dagworth, was a soldier of renown with a talent for delicate diplomacy. But his most persuasive argument was the missing £12,000, which he was to take with him to Gascony in coin and pay out to John of Gaunt’s captains on the strict condition that they undertook to serve at least until June. In addition he was to take an extra 2,000 marks to be distributed among the men at John of Gaunt’s discretion. Dagworth and his colleagues received their instructions on 1 February 1374. But it proved impossible to find the £12,000. By 24 February their mission had been cancelled.46

The ultimate cost of John of Gaunt’s expedition was at least £100,000, of which it seems likely that about half had been paid in cash or assignments in the course of 1373. The whole of the duties and subsidies which had been voted for war purposes had been spent, leaving the cost of paying Gaunt’s army in 1374 unfunded. As the Chancellor had hinted in his opening address to the Parliament of November 1373, tax revenues were simply not enough to cover the cost of the war and were quite unequal to the combined resources of France and Castile. Confronted with these gloomy facts Parliament had responded by authorising a subsidy for 1374 and another for 1375 if the war was still continuing. The clergy matched this by granting their own tenth in the following month. With these grants the government could expect to enjoy receipts of about £120,000 in the course of 1374, of which on past reckoning about £80,000 might be available for war expenditure. Since it cost between £8,000 and £9,000 a month to keep John of Gaunt’s army in being this would just about enable it to operate until November, assuming no other military expenditure at all. But that of course was an impossible assumption and no one at Westminster was making it. There were past debts and arrears to be settled. There was the steady drain of money on the defence of Calais (currently about £20,000 a year). There were fresh commitments in Ireland (more than £11,000).

In addition to all this Parliament had required the King to take proper measures for the ‘keeping of the sea’. Reports had reached England shortly before the Parliament of November 1373 that the King of Castile had recently agreed with Charles V to send another galley fleet to the Channel in 1374. This news, which was substantially correct, had provoked the usual panic among the Commons when it was reported to them. At the beginning of February 1374 the Admirals were preparing what the Council believed to be the largest fleet of barges and ‘great ships’ ever assembled for the defence of the coasts save when the King or the Prince had commanded in person. As a result the money coming into the Exchequer was at once claimed for seamen and men-at-arms recruited for the fleet, who would otherwise have deserted. More than £10,000 was paid to them in advances in February. By the time that the Admirals put to sea in the second half of March, the cashiers of the fleet had drawn nearly £29,000 from the Treasury. The difficulty encountered in paying the army of Aquitaine reflected a permanent deficiency in the government’s war accounts, of which the most important single cause was the cost of financing naval operations for the defence of England.47

In Bordeaux John of Gaunt was oblivious to the travails of the Exchequer at Westminster. He assumed that the money was on its way and played his cards with some skill while he waited for it to arrive. He persuaded his captains to be patient and managed to form some effective units from companies which were still able and willing to fight. With these he made a show of force in about the middle of February against the castles of French partisans within reach of Bordeaux. This brief campaign was brought to an end towards the close of February by a controversial agreement with the Constable and the Duke of Anjou. The terms were that there was to be a truce covering the whole of the south-western theatre, including Castile, until Whitsun, 21 May 1374. The two royal dukes promised to appear with their entire armies at their backs for an arranged battle near Moissac on Easter Monday, 3 April, on open ground in the flat meadows at the confluence of the Tarn and the Garonne.

The truce was for different reasons in the interest of both sides. John of Gaunt, whose position was weaker than Louis of Anjou or Bertrand du Guesclin realised, obtained a respite of more than a month to rest and supply his army and resolve his financial problems, and nearly three months to complete his preparations for the invasion of Castile. The arranged battle, a traditional tool of English military diplomacy, is unlikely to have represented Anjou’s preference. But he had virtually no troops under arms. The battle probably represented John of Gaunt’s price for the truce. There is no doubt that Anjou took it seriously and believed that it could be won. His financial officials passed much of March negotiating loans and advances against the tax revenues of Languedoc. His marshals recruited troops throughout Languedoc. Louis’s domains in Anjou and Maine were scoured for recruits. A thousand men were hired from the Breton companies operating in the south and centre. The Duke of Burgundy promised to join him with several hundred more. The Count of Savoy came from beyond the Rhône. About 3,500 men had been retained for Anjou’s army by the end of March. But the main force with which Anjou proposed to confront the English at Moissac was the large Castilian army of Henry of Trastámara, which was already assembled near the southern frontier of Navarre waiting for the threatened English invasion. Anjou persuaded Henry to bring these men over the Pyrenees through the passes of Navarre. Charles of Navarre, faced with the threat of a Castilian invasion, reluctantly agreed to allow them through in small groups of 300 at a time against strict promises of good behaviour and the delivery of suitable hostages.48

John of Gaunt’s agreement with the Duke of Anjou ultimately foundered on the objections of the King of France, who had not been consulted and strongly disapproved when he was told. The arranged battle was inconsistent with his firm policy of avoiding all major engagements with English armies. As for the truce, Charles V consulted his councillors and the jurists of the Parlement of Paris and pronounced it to be neither binding nor expedient, mainly on the ground that it was inconsistent with his treaty obligations to Castile. The Duke of Anjou must have learned of his brother’s reaction in about the middle of March.49

In the third week of March John of Gaunt, accompanied by Sir Thomas Felton and some of the principal captains of his army, travelled across the windswept wastes of the Landes to the southern march of the English duchy. In the cathedral city of Dax on the Adour he met Gaston Phoebus, Count of Foix, and Charles, King of Navarre, the two great territorial princes of the western Pyrenees whose support would be indispensable for any successful invasion of Castile. The meeting was also attended by uninvited guests, three councillors of the Duke of Anjou led by the Marquis of Cardaillac, who appeared on behalf of their master. Their instructions were to ask Gaston Phoebus to use his good offices with John of Gaunt to have the arranged battle, now only a fortnight away, cancelled or at least postponed. They were also charged to discuss certain ‘secret business’ with the Count of Foix and the King of Navarre which can only have concerned the projected invasion of Castile. They appear to have had some success in the matter of the battle, which was becoming an embarrassment to all parties. John of Gaunt must have begun to fear that he would be outnumbered at Moissac. Anjou for his part had certainly under-estimated the time required to bring troops from Anjou and Bourbonnais and evidently had no conception of the logistical difficulties of bringing a Castilian army across the Pyrenean passes in early spring. So the battle was cancelled and Louis of Anjou withdrew his request for Castilian reinforcements. The terms of the new agreement are obscure, but it is clear that in spite of the French King’s repudiation of the truce it was agreed to observe it.50

On the projected invasion of Castile, however, Louis of Anjou’s envoys achieved nothing. The terms of John of Gaunt’s agreement with the King of Navarre have not survived and it would be characteristic of Charles’s ways if they were never recorded. But the outline was disclosed four years later by his Chamberlain, Jacques de Rue, to the interrogators of the Châtelet prison in Paris. John of Gaunt was to be allowed to cross the Pyrenean passes and to use Navarre as a base from which to enter Castile in return for his assistance in recovering Logroño and certain other border towns which Charles had been forced to restore to Henry of Trastámara in the previous year. John of Gaunt’s treaty with the rich, powerful and notoriously independent-minded Count of Foix was in some ways an even more striking demonstration of the respect in which the English army was held among experienced observers in the region, in spite of its internal dissensions and battered condition. Gaston Phoebus opened his chests to lend the Duke money. He agreed to a marriage between his eldest son and John of Gaunt’s daughter Philippa, with a comparatively modest dowry. And he proposed to put his powerful army at John of Gaunt’s disposal for the campaign against Henry of Trastámara in return for a fee of 12,000doblas (about £2,300) plus the wages of his men. The agreement records that the invasion of Castile was expected to begin within two months of Easter, in other words in late May when the truce with the Duke of Anjou expired. As for the King of Aragon, he was still formally uncommitted to John of Gaunt’s cause. But by the time Gaunt’s emissaries left Barcelona on 10 March 1374 Peter IV had made it reasonably clear that he was likely to support the English invasion. The issues in Barcelona had been not whether but how: the strength of Peter’s military contribution, the extent of his territorial rewards in eastern Castile, the delicate question of timing. All of Gaunt’s diplomatic arrangements for invading Castile seemed to be falling into place.51

Yet they fell apart within a week. John of Gaunt was back in Bordeaux by 26 March. There he abruptly abandoned all his plans for campaigning in southern France and Spain and resolved to return at once with his army to England. The only possible explanation for this remarkable volte-face is that he had now learned that funds to pay his army’s war wages were not after all on their way from England. Peter IV’s ambassador was on the point of leaving for Bordeaux with his master’s agreement to join in the invasion, on Gaunt’s terms if necessary, when the first reports of Gaunt’s decision reached Barcelona. The Aragonese King declined to believe it and sent the ambassador on his pointless mission anyway. But within days it became obvious that he was wasting his time. At Burgos Henry of Trastámara stood down part of the army which he had recruited to meet the Lancastrian onslaught. Some time after 8 April 1374 John of Gaunt boarded his ship in the Gironde. Sir Thomas Felton went with him, apparently in order to recruit troops in England to strengthen the duchy’s defences. On 25 April they landed at Dartmouth.52

It would be a long time before England’s reputation recovered from the humiliation. The Count of Foix abandoned his treaty with the Duke. The King of Navarre complained of betrayal and resigned himself to observing the hated treaty with Castile. His eldest son, the future Charles III, married Henry of Trastámara’s daughter Leonora in the Castilian town of Soria in May of the following year. The King of Aragon cancelled his embassy. Eventually, when threatened with imminent invasion from Castile, he too made terms with Henry of Trastámara, surrendering all the Castilian border fortresses which he had occupied since 1369. A month after Leonora’s marriage to the heir of Navarre, Soria witnessed another royal wedding between the Castilian King’s own heir and the daughter of the King of Aragon. These treaties reflected the growing military strength of Trastámaran Castile within the Iberian peninsula, just as the large dowry which Henry of Trastámara paid for his daughter’s marriage signified its progressive financial recovery from the disasters of the civil war. But the skin-deep reconciliations with Navarre and Aragon were agreeable to no one but Henry of Trastámara. Charles of Navarre dreamed of revenge. Peter IV made no bones about his own position. Writing to his official biographer the Aragonese King said that he had never trusted Henry of Trastámara and had married his daughter to Henry’s son only because the impoverishment of his kingdom left him with no choice. As for John of Gaunt, his Castilian projects were virtually abandoned. In the following year the English government made a discreet approach to Henry of Trastámara through the King of Navarre, suggesting that the Duke might be prevailed upon to drop his claims in return for Castilian withdrawal from the French alliance and payment of the debts owed by King Pedro to the Prince of Wales. No doubt these demands would have been negotiable if Henry had shown any interest. But he did not. He replied, according to the Castilian source which tells us this, that while England and France remained at war he ‘would not abandon the French alliance for all the world’.53


As soon as the news of John of Gaunt’s departure was confirmed the Duke of Anjou sent his agents into Castile to press upon Henry of Trastámara a new project for a joint invasion of Gascony. Anjou was keen to take advantage of the disarray in the English duchy and the presence of a large Castilian army in the southern foothills of the Pyrenees. The idea was for the Castilians to enter the duchy across the mountains from the south while Louis of Anjou attacked with his own army through the valley of the Adour and joined forces with them outside Bayonne.54 Bayonne would have been a great prize for both men. It was the principal maritime city of Gascony and the chief commercial rival of the Basque ports. Its galleys and merchantmen represented the main threat to Castilian command of the sea lanes across the Bay of Biscay. Its capture would probably have led to the loss of the whole of the Adour valley, loosening English control in the south of the duchy and making it exceptionally difficult to attempt another invasion of Castile.

But if the plan was well conceived its execution was not. The first Castilian forces to appear were a fleet of eight galleys from the arsenal at Seville, which were on their way to join the French fleet in the Channel. They arrived off Bayonne in about the middle of June 1374 under the command of the Admiral of Castile, Fernán Sánchez de Tovar. Henry of Trastámara followed shortly afterwards with his army. He took the coast road from San Sebastian, difficult terrain where the foothills of the Basque mountains descend steeply to the sea. Conditions were particularly bad in 1374. It had been a late spring. The melting snows had turned the rivers into torrents, spreading out when they reached the coast into impassable tidal swamps. The Castilian King had made no preparations to supply his army by land or sea. As a result the troops were already in a wretched state when they crossed the Bidasoa. Bayonne had never been directly attacked before and it was usually ungarrisoned. Some prominent inhabitants of the town, including the Bishop, assumed that all was lost and fled when the Castilians arrived beneath their walls. But they under-estimated the resilience of the English government in a region which had always belonged to it even in the darkest hours of the Gascon duchy. In Bordeaux the government was in the hands of two caretaker lieutenants, the Mayor of Bordeaux Sir Robert Roos, and the Gascon veteran Florimond de Lesparre. They had enough warning of what was afoot to organise the defence. The suburbs of Bayonne were flattened. The citizens were organised in districts under their own captains and artillery distributed among them. Reinforcements were sent from Bordeaux under the command of Sir William Elmham, a confidant of John of Gaunt who was one of a small band of soldiers that the Duke had left behind to stiffen the defence of the duchy. Another of them, Sir Matthew Gournay, was sent to Dax to hold the valley of the Adour against the approach of the Duke of Anjou. Florimond de Lesparre occupied the territory of Marensin around Soustons, whose lord, the Viscount of Castelbon, had chosen this moment to throw in his lot with the Duke of Anjou. When Henry of Trastámara arrived outside the walls of Bayonne on 21 June, he found the whole region well defended and completely cleared of supplies.55

The Duke of Anjou, who should have been on his way with help and stores, was nowhere to be seen. He had been sidetracked in May by a quixotic project for the invasion of Aragon by a confederation of Aragonese exiles and routier bands which predictably dissolved in chaos and recrimination, leaving large parts of the Rhône valley at the mercy of companies of frustrated brigands. Anjou was obliged to pass several weeks in large-scale police operations in eastern Languedoc. As a result he was away from Toulouse until 22 June 1374. No sooner had he returned than he was diverted from his purpose by fresh reports of routier activity, this time around Montauban. The envoys of the King of Castile demanded to know what had happened to his plan to meet Henry outside Bayonne. The truth was that Anjou had lost interest in Bayonne. He sent his apologies to Henry of Trastámara and turned north to face the new threat in Quercy. The Castilian King refused to wait. He folded his tents and marched home in disgust.56

These distractions prevented the French from mounting any serious military operations against the English in the south-west until late July 1374. By this time the possibility of military assistance from Castile had passed. On about 22 July the Duke of Bourbon arrived outside Brive, the only notable conquest which John of Gaunt had made on his great march through France. The place was defended only by its citizens and a small English garrison of fifty men. Bourbon’s troops assaulted the walls from two sides at once and fought their way over the top and into the streets. The garrison fled to the church where they tried to bargain for their lives from the top of the tower but the building was stormed and every one of them was killed. A relief force was despatched by the English lieutenants from Bordeaux but it was still some thirty miles away when the town fell. The consuls who had let in the enemy were beheaded beside the gate through which the English had entered eight months before. Their remains were exhibited on the walls as a warning to others who might mistake the fleeting appearance of English armies for a permanent revival of their fortunes. About a week later Bourbon joined forces with Anjou at Toulouse. The two royal dukes marched out of the city on 1 August, accompanied by the Constable and the leading magnates of the south-west with about 4,000 troops. The army moved west down the valley of the Garonne and in about the middle of the month appeared outside La Réole.57

La Réole was the strongest English fortress of the Garonne valley and the main barbican of the east march of the duchy. The town, itself defended by three circuits of walls, was dominated at its western extremity by the great square citadel with its four towers planted on the rock, originally built by Richard Coeur-de-Lion and continually strengthened by his successors to defend the approaches to Bordeaux. Since any French army operating in the region would need to be supplied by river, the capture of La Réole was the essential preliminary to any French invasion of the Bordelais. As at Bayonne the English had had plenty of time to prepare the defence. The citadel had been revictualled and armed with artillery. A large garrison was put into it under the command of the redoubtable Sir Hugh Calveley. But the outcome was very different. Shortly after the siege had begun the English attempted a sortie against the encampment of the Duke of Bourbon. They were beaten back and when they tried to return through the gate by which they had left they were unable to stop the French from coming in after them. The outer circuit of the walls was lost together with some of the richest quarters of the town and a large quantity of stores. Calveley did not have the support from the town that Elmham had enjoyed at Bayonne. The leading citizens went out to parley with the French commanders. They agreed to open their gates. On 21 August 1374 the Duke of Anjou entered the town. It was only a matter of time before the citadel followed. As the French had discovered when they lost the place to Henry of Lancaster in 1345, the citadel was weaker on the town side than towards the river and was overlooked by the tower of the church of St. Pierre. On 28 August Calveley decided that it could not be defended. A conditional surrender was agreed by which the garrison undertook to surrender on 8 September if Edward III or one of his sons had not come to its relief by then. It was pure face-saving. Calveley knew perfectly well that no relief force could be organised within ten days, even without Edward III or one of his sons. On 8 September 1374 the Duke of Anjou was master of La Réole.58

This left as the only real obstacles to a French advance on Bordeaux the twin fortresses of Saint-Macaire and Langon on either side of the Garonne, some thirty miles from the city. The English took urgent measures to reinforce both places, while Florimond de Lesparre set about organising the defence of the capital. A few days after Calveley’s surrender at La Réole the French host arrived before the walls of Saint-Macaire. A better planned and more persistent campaign might have brought the war to the suburbs of Bordeaux. But quite suddenly, towards the end of September, the French withdrew. The reason for this sudden change of plan is far from clear. Saint-Macaire was not strong and English forces in the region were thinly spread. Nor was Anjou short of money. The Estates of Languedoc had been milked for subsidies. Anjou’s treasurers had been busy sending money to the front since the beginning of the campaign. The explanation probably lies in the Duke’s unwillingness to spend it. He was an instinctive hoarder of treasure and had his own ambitions as well as his brother’s to fulfil. By early October he was back in Toulouse where he paid off the troops, pressing lavish gifts on their commanders. The English lieutenants must have been extremely relieved. But only the immediate threat had gone. To well-informed observers the future of the English in Gascony must have seemed bleak.59


According to reports reaching the French court John of Gaunt returned to a glacial reception in England. The King and the Prince of Wales thought that he had squandered the fine army placed at his disposal. They were angered by his refusal to fight on in the south-west during the summer. Scurrilous rumours circulated about the arranged battle at Moissac, which Gaunt was widely believed to have shirked, leaving the Duke of Anjou with the honours of the field. Yet, for most of those in England who knew the facts, the failure of the campaign raised more important issues than John of Gaunt’s qualities as a military commander. The easy assumption of 1369 that the English could repeat their triumphs of the 1350s had gone. Ultimately Gaunt’s experience was to have a profound effect on his own strategic thinking and that of his contemporaries. The main consequence was the virtual abandonment of any attempt to conduct major military operations in south-western France. Gaunt himself was wholly committed to retaining the French possessions of his house. But he had been shocked by the disorder in which he found the affairs of the duchy and despaired of being able to find the resources to defend it against the constant and wearing pressure of France on its borders. Edward III promised that he would send Sir Thomas Felton back to the duchy with reinforcements, and tried to do so, but the usual administrative and financial problems intervened and other projects took priority. Felton did not in fact get back to Bordeaux until the summer of 1375, more than a year after he had left, and then with very few troops. For years to come Gascony would be starved of funds and reinforcements to finance campaigns in northern France, in Brittany and at sea. Gascon lords who visited England were received, according to an acute observer, with embarrassed silence and confessions of impotence and sent on their way with nothing more helpful than a smile and reassuring verbiage. Drafts of men, a few hundred strong, would be sent out from time to time to reinforce the defences of the English duchy at critical moments. But after John of Gaunt’s departure in the spring of 1374 no major English expeditionary army would set foot there again until the arrival of Thomas, Duke of Clarence, in 1412.60

The main result of this neglect of Gascony was a fresh chapter in the operations of the Gascon free companies. When John of Gaunt had arrived in Aquitaine in December 1373 the region had recently been pacified by the agreements which the Count of Armagnac and the Pope had made with the two principal captains, Bertucat d’Albret and Bernard de la Salle. They had reserved the right to fight with any army led by the King of England or one of his sons. So the arrival of John of Gaunt effectively released them from their engagements. Bernard de la Salle left the Mediterranean and returned to the Gascon march. By the beginning of December 1373 his companies and the remnants of Bertucat’s had joined forces with the English army in the Limousin. He himself was with John of Gaunt at Brive. Gaunt followed a deliberate policy of trying to hold the regions lying east of the shrunken borders of the duchy with the aid of Gascon companies like his. He appointed Bernard as captain for the King of England in the Limousin and appears to have given him a general commission to operate on Edward III’s behalf in the neighbouring provinces of central France. In mid-December 1373 Bernard took his companies and some detachments of the English army and marched south into the Cantal, a region of steep valleys and dense forest, pock-marked with ancient forts, where the western foothills of the mountains of Auvergne gradually flattened out into the bleak causses of Quercy. Here he occupied a number of strongholds which became the main centre of routieractivity in southern France for nearly twenty years.61

The most important of these places was Carlat, a remarkable natural fortress built on top of a sheer basalt rock rising 130 feet above the valley, some ten miles east of Aurillac. The castle was systematically demolished in 1604 by the engineers of Henry IV and almost nothing remains of it. But in the late fourteenth century it must have been an impressive sight, defended by stone ramparts extending for 300 yards along the cliff-tops on either side. Carlat had been occupied before by Gascon companies, in 1369, and had been bought out at much expense in 1371 by the Estates of Auvergne. Its reoccupation in December 1373, together with about a dozen other places around Aurillac, gave the Gascons a formidable base at the cross-roads of the road and river routes between Auvergne, Limousin and Quercy. The man put in command of these places in 1373 was Garcie-Arnaud, bastard of Caupenne, an associate of Bernard de la Salle who came from the Pyrenean march of Gascony. His family had been associated with the English government in Bordeaux for generations.

8 Principal routier garrisons in Auvergne, Quercy and Limousin, 1374–1377

Surviving accounts of Garcie-Arnaud’s occupation of Carlat suggest that there was more to it than the indiscriminate pursuit of plunder which had characterised earlier operations of the Gascon companies. The garrisons of the Cantal supported themselves by taking patis from the surrounding region as all routier garrisons did. But their raiding operations were now directed to overtly political ends. Their main victims were known supporters of the French King’s cause in the region. These men were targeted, often as a result of denunciations by neighbours and enemies. Their land was wasted. When they fled no one dared to open their gates to give them refuge unless it was to hand them over to the enemy who ransomed, mutilated or hanged them.62

Bernard de la Salle left the Cantal in the hands of the bastard of Caupenne and concentrated his efforts on trying to establish an effective English presence in the Limousin. But the province proved to be an inhospitable centre for his kind of operations, poor, with few castles and lacking the resources or major trade routes to support a large number of garrisons. The Gascons managed to maintain themselves at La Souterraine for another seven years. In the south of the province they clung on to about six small forts but over the next two years were progressively pushed out of all of them. Bernard’s returns were so poor that he seriously contemplated giving up his profession in France and entering the service of the papacy in Italy. In the event he stayed but shifted the main centre of his operations east into Auvergne where there was more spoil to be had and the geography was more favourable. From here he launched frequent looting and cattle-rustling expeditions west into the Limousin and north down the Allier into Bourbonnais and Berry, penetrating as far as the march of Burgundy. What glimpses we have of the receipts of the routier companies of Auvergne suggest that these were profitable operations. The isolated castle of Trascros was held by just sixteen men but when it was recovered in June 1375 their chests were found to contain two hundred marks of plate silver, half of it in church chalices. This was equivalent to about eight months’ wages for a similar company fighting in an English army.63

Fresh recruits continually arrived from the Bordelais in search of returns like these. During 1374 the Gascon companies spread across the highlands of Auvergne until they held a line of fortresses extending from the Cantal hills across the north-west face of the Monts Dore and the Monts Dôme and into the plain of the Limagne. They were joined by a small number of English adventurers driven by much the same motives. Their largest garrison, at La Roche-Senadoire west of Clermont, was commanded by Sir Robert Cheyne, a professional soldier who had served in the Prince of Wales’s armies in Castile in 1367 before leading a division of the Great Company of 1368 and then returning to the Prince’s service in Quercy and Rouergue when the war broke out in 1369. Cheyne was typical of an expanding class of English professional soldiers, following in the tracks of more famous opportunists like Knolles, Calveley, Hewitt, Devereux and Cresswell, men who moved freely between the paid service of the Crown and the freebooting of the companies. One of Cheyne’s lieutenants at La Roche-Senadoire was Richard Craddock, a younger man whose career followed the same pattern in the next generation. His father had been the Prince’s lieutenant seneschal in Rouergue in the last months of English rule there and ultimately became Mayor of Bordeaux. Richard himself found profit and excitement in Auvergne but would pass most of his time in royal service in England and at Bordeaux. In an increasingly fluid war the distinction between the way of life of the free companies and that of the King’s paid soldiers was less certain than it had seemed to an earlier generation.

By the end of 1374 there must have been several thousand routiers, predominantly Gascons, based in Auvergne and operating in the English interest. The situation had so far deteriorated that in the following spring it was necessary to send the Duke of Bourbon with another army against the intruders. During May and June 1375 Bourbon passed through the mountains of Auvergne, capturing six of the principal routier fortresses on the north face of the massif in less than two months. Cheyne appears to have ended his career in the Duke of Berry’s prison in the Tour de la Monnaie at Clermont. But most places surrendered on terms, usually after a nominal resistance. At the last fortress to be reached before Bourbon paid off his army the captain opened his gates on the Duke’s approach and led his company away without a word.64 These men were there for profit, not for glory. There were better ways of carrying on their trade than fighting hopeless actions against superior forces. The Duke of Bourbon brought some relief to the battered provinces of the region but he never penetrated to the Gascons’ principal redoubts in the Carladais and within months of his departure the companies were flowing back into the mountains of Auvergne as if he had never been there.


1 Parl. Rolls, v, 258 (7–9); CCR 1369–74, 475–7.

2 Runyan, ‘Constabulary’, 228–9; PRO E101/179/7; E364/15, m. 2 (Rotour); CPR 1374–7, 93. Grain shipments: PRO C61/86, mm. 2, 1; C61/87, mm. 6, 5, 3; C61/88, mm. 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 1; C61/89, mm. 8, 7; etc.

3 Canterbury Tales, Prologue ll. 276–7 (Works, iv, 9). Convoys: PRO E403/446, m. 35 (27 Sept.); E101/4–11, 28, 32; E364/19, m. 4 (Eyrmin); Parl. Rolls, v, 259–60 (15); James, 25–6. Flemish war: PRO E30/1271, 1275; CCR 1369–74, 169; Foed., iii, 917.

4 1340: Sumption, i, 320–1. Coast-guards: Parl. Rolls, v, 268 (44).

5 BL Add. Mss. 37494, fols. 13, 25vo–27: PRO E101/30/15; Tinniswood, 284; Sherborne (1977)[2], 111. Four royal barges are recorded in 1370: PRO E101/29/39. Only two ‘old’ barges are recorded in 1373: BL Add. Mss. 37494, fols. 25–25vo, 26vo. New barges: PRO E403/447 (22 Nov.); E364/12, m. 3; C76/56, mm. 33, 30, 29, 8; Cal. Letter Books G, 302; Mems. London, 368–71; BL Add. Mss. 37494, fols. 27–8; CPR 1370–4, 219; Foed., iii, 976. Galley: PRO E403/454, m. 4 (8 May); E101/30/13, m. 9; BL Add. Mss., 37494, fols. 13, 34–34vo.

6 Foed., iii, 931, 965, 966, 971; BL Add. Mss. 37494, fols. 9, 10vo–13, 29; PRO E403/447 (10 Dec.). Doria in France: BN PO 1015, Doria/5–7; Mandements, no. 770. Salisbury: Foed., iii, 971; PRO E101/30/36; E101/32/30, mm. 2, 6.

7 The destination is not explicitly stated but may be inferred. Walter Leicester was charged with requisitioning ships for Gaunt’s campaign: BL Add. Mss. 37494, fol. 15. He was the main agent for English dealings with John de Montfort in this period: PRO E403/446, m. 38 (29 Sept.); E101/179/13; PRO E403/447, m. 30 (4 Mar.). On 21 March 1373, a receiver was appointed to accompany Gaunt to take possession of booty and ransoms ‘according to the laws of France, Brittany and Aquitaine’: PRO C76/56, m. 28. Planned date of embarkation: PRO C76/56, m. 33.

8 Parl. Rolls, v, 258–9 (10–12); Ormrod (1990), 204, 207. French budget: Ord., v, 538–41 (18–19); *Rey (1965), i, 371–7.

9 Walsingham, St. Alban’s Chron., i, 30 (Stury).

10 Myers (1969), 301–4; Holmes (1975), 77–8, 87–8; CFR, viii, 197–8, 227, 231, 273; CPR 1370–4, 382, 383, 384–5; Parl. Rolls, v, 300–1 (17), 305–6 (27).

11 Walsingham, St. Alban’s Chron., i, 42–6; Parl. Rolls, vi, 26–30 (41–3); Anonimalle, 87; Brinton, Sermons, ii, 321; Gower, Mirrour de l’Homme, ll. 22814–15 (Works, i, 251). Also: C. Given-Wilson and A. Curteis, The Royal Bastards of Medieval England (1984), 136–7, 141–2; J. Bothwell, ‘The management of position: Alice Perrers, Edward III, and the creation of a landed estate, 1362–1377’, J. Med. Hist., xxiv (1998), 31–51; Holmes (1975), 68–9, 87–9.

12 Lopes, Crón. D. Fernando, 243; John of G. Reg. (1372–6), nos. 52, 1143. Tamworth: PRO E101/32/36. On Tamworth: Walker (1990)[1], 29n; Gr. chron., i, 227; *Plancher, iii (Preuves), no. 300; PRO C76/53, m. 26; Foed., iii, 914.

13 Lopes, Crón. D. Fernando, 251–77; Ayala, Crón., ii, 41–3.

14 Lopes, Crón. D. Fernando, 283–8; Ayala, Crón., ii, 43, 44; ‘Dispacci di C. da Piacenza’, 49–50 (wrongly reporting the peace as already made); Gregory XI, Lettres (Autres Pays), nos. 1422, 1447–9; *Suarez Fernandez (1956), 64–77.

15 Cat. Arch. Navarra (Comptos), ix, nos. 115, 128, 130, 137; Col. doc. Murcia, viii, no. 118.

16 ‘Dispacci di C. da Piacenza’, 50, 52; AN K1338/51; Ayala, Crón., ii, 58; Lopes, Crón. D. Fernando, 285. Genoa: Stella, Ann. Gen., 165–6.

17 Mandements, nos. 937, 952; Chron. Bourbon, 41; John IV, Actes, no. 218; Froissart, Chron. (SHF), viii, 123–4.

18 Gr. chron., ii, 168–9; Froissart, Chron. (SHF), viii, 122. Fleet: PRO E101/30/13, m. 9; Foed., iii, 71; BL Add. Mss. 37494, fols. 10–13, 23vo–24vo, 24–25vo, 26vo–27, 31. Gaunt: PRO C76/56, m. 33. John de Montfort and St.-Malo: Jones (1981)[2], 173; Gregory XI, Lettres (France), nos. 1073, 1271, 1273–4.

19 Gr. chron., ii, 169, 170; Froissart, Chron. (SHF), viii, pp. lxxii n1, 123–6; Chron. Bourbon, 42. Bourbon left Paris after 23 April: Titres Bourbon, i, no. 3241. Du Guesclin was in Brittany by April: AN KK251, fol. 94vo. Montfort at Brest: PRO E101/179/14, m. 13 (lieutenant); Rot. Parl., iii, 53 (12); Jones (1970), 147n4; ‘Chron. Brioc.’, col. 46;Istore, ii, 118–19.

20 Gr. chron., ii, 169; Istore, ii, 118–19, 131, 132–3; Chron. Bourbon, 42–4; Froissart, Chron. (SHF), viii, p. *clxii, 126–7, 129–31, 135–6, 139–40; Morice, Preuves, ii, 65; *Hay du Chastelet, 379–81, 382.

21 Chaucer Life-Records, 35–6; John of G. Reg. (1372–6), no. 310. Salisbury, Tamworth: PRO C76/56, m. 14; E101/32/36 (before 18 June). Treaty: Chaplais, English Med. Dipl. Practice, 517–22.

22 BL Add. Mss. 37494, fols. 13vo, 17–23, 30, 35vo–37vo; PRO E403/449, m. 4 (11 May); John of G. Reg. (1372–6), no. 310; Istore, ii, 136; Froissart, Chron. (SHF), viii, 137, 148–9, 163.

23 PRO 403/449, m. 15 (13 July); Antient Kalendars, i, 238; CCR 1369–74, 502; CPR 1377–81, 74; CPR 1385–9, 205; Foed., iii, 981. Reassigned to Gaunt’s army: PRO E403/449, m. 15 (13 July). Salisbury: PRO E101/179/14, m. 13; AHG, xii, 328.

24 Chron. Bourbon, 49; *Froissart, Chron. (SHF), viii, pp. clx–clxiii; *Froissart, Chron. (KL), xviii, 509–10; Rot. Parl., ii, 53 (12).

25 *Lemoine, 55–7, 60–1; Foed., iii, 990; Chron. Bourbon, 45–6.

26 Froissart, Chron. (SHF), viii, p. lxxx n3, 128, 143–6; Gr. chron., ii, 170; AHG, xii, 328; PRO E101/179/14, m. 12, 13; PRO E403/449, m. 20 (26 Aug.) (Courtenay back by 23 Aug.). Relief force: BL Add. Mss. 37494, fols. 10–11, 12–12vo, 23vo–25, 27–28; PRO E403/449, m. 15, 20 (13 July, 26 Aug.). These figures assume that Tamworth served with Salisbury: PRO C76/56, m. 14. Garrison: CCR 1369–74, 517–18. Hostages: John IV, Actes, no. 249; Letters B. du Guesclin, nos. 724, 727, 736, 740–1; Rot. Parl., iii, 53 (12).

27 Parl. Rolls, v, 277 (2). Barges: BL Add. Mss. 37494, fols. 14, 27–8, 29, 34–34vo; PRO C76/56, mm. 34, 30, 8; CPR 1370–74, 343–4; CCR 1369–74, 508, 510; Cal. Letter Books G, 310, 311–12.

28 PRO E101/179/14, mm. 12, 13 (threat); Doc. Clos des Galées, i, nos. 946–9, 954, 957–8, 960, 964–5, 966, 972–3, 976, ii, no. 57 (5); Mandements, no. 1009; CCR 1369–74, 579–80. Castilians: BN PO 638, Châlons/2; PRO E403/449, m. 7 (27 May); Foed., iii, 986, 988; Ayala, Crón., ii, 58. On Sanchez: Valdeon Baruque, 287–8.

29 BL Add. Mss. 37494, fols 2–6, 10–14vo, 23vo–28, 33–37vo; PRO E403/447, 449, 451, passim.

30 John of G. Reg. (1372–6), nos. 111, 157, 195, 318–25, 598, 742, 1357–87, 1749, 1784–5; PRO E403/448, m. 15 (13 July); C76/56, mm. 12, 11; BL Add. Mss. 37494, fols. 21–23; Gr. chron., ii, 171; ‘Chron. Brioc.’, col. 47; Noyal, ‘Frag. Chron.’, 271; Froissart, Chron. (SHF), viii, 148–50, 151–2. Strength: Sherborne (1964), 728 (Table 1.2).

31 *Moranvillé (1888), 266–71, 270–7; Itin. Ph. le Hardi, 96–7.

32 Voyage paléogr., 148–50; *Gr. chron., ii, 171, *iii, 217; John IV, Actes, no. 225; ‘Chron. Brioc.’, col. 47.

33 Itin. Ph. le Hardi, 97; Arch. admin. Reims, iii, 385–7; *Moranvillé (1888), 277–8; Istore, ii, 137. Jean de Vienne participated in Grimaldi’s first cruise (Doc. Clos des Galées, i, no. 966), but was with the army in Champagne on 9 Sept. (Gr. chron., ii, 171–2).

34 Froissart, Chron. (SHF), viii, 150; Mandements, no. 984; Istore, ii, 135; Chron. premiers Valois, 245; *Moranvillé (1888), 278. Du Guesclin was at Rennes on 20 Aug. (Morice, Preuves, ii, 77) and near Ribemont in Champagne at the beginning of Sept. (AN JJ105/298). Clisson was in Champagne on 13 Sept.: Itin. Ph. le Hardi, 98. Anjou: BN Doat 198, fols. 55–8; *L. Menard, iii, 6; Mandements, no. 984.

35 Noyal, ‘Frag. Chron.’, 271; Voyage paléogr., 150–1; Istore, ii, 136–7; Froissart, Chron. (SHF), viii, 157–8, 163; Gr. chron., ii, 171–2; Anonimalle, 74; AN JJ104/207, 105/31 (peasants).

36 Chron. premiers Valois, 246; Chronographia, ii, 347; Itin. Ph. le Hardi, 98; AD Côted’Or B1441, fols. 19vo, 20, 62vo. Council of war: Froissart, Chron. (SHF), viii, 160–3.

37 Froissart, Chron. (SHF), viii, 167–8; Chron. Bourbon, 53; Gr. chron., ii, 172; Itin. Ph. le Hardi, 98. Damage: Voyage paléogr., 151–2; AN JJ106/397.

38 Froissart, Chron. (SHF), viii, 142, 158–60; cf. xii, 36–8; Istore, ii, 137.

39 Gr. chron., ii, 172, *iii, 217; Itin. Ph. le Hardi, 98–9; AD Côte-d’Or B1441, fol. 63vo; Istore, ii, 138. Anjou’s movements: Titres Bourbon, i, no. 3251; *Hist. gén. Lang., x, 1498; AN KK251, fols. 107vo, 109; AD Côte-d’Or B1441, fol. 63vo. Topography: M. Litaudon, Moulins en 1460 (1947), 84–97.

40 Istore, ii, 138; Itin. Ph. le Hardi, 99; Chron. premiers Valois, 247. Cf. Gr. chron., ii, 173–4; Noyal, ‘Frag. Chron.’, 271.

41 AC Martel CC5, fols. 26, 27, 27vo; EE1/16, 32; Rouquette, 270; *Clément-Simon, 68–70, 73–4, *101–4, *109–13, *117–18. Bordeaux: Chron. Bourbon, 55, 56; Istore, ii, 138–9; Gr. chron., ii, 172; Anonimalle, 74; Walsingham, Hist. Angl., i, 315–16; Chron. premiers Valois, 247. Prisoners: Parl. Rolls, v, 344 (129). Gaunt was at Bergerac on 15 Dec. (PRO C61/90, m. 2), and at Bordeaux by 3 January 1374 (PRO C61/91, m. 5).

42 Parl. Rolls, v, 277 (2–3); BL Cotton, Caligula D.III, fols. 117vo–118.

43 Cascales, 168–9; Col. doc. Murcia, viii, nos. 128, 130; Secousse, Preuves, 376–7; Cat. Arch. Navarra (Comptos), ix, nos. 334, 859; Ayala, Crón., ii, 59–60, 61; Chron. premiers Valois, 247; ‘Dispacci di C. da Piacenza’, 54–5.

44 Gregory XI, Lettres (Autres Pays), nos. 2096, 2098, 2343–6, 2371, 2501; Zurita, iv, 629–30, 632. One of the ambassadors, Roger-Bernard, Viscount of Castelbon, was in Navarre in March: Cat. Arch. Navarra (Comptos), ix, no. 187. Two others, Garcia Fernández de Villodre and Sancho Ruiz de Quintana Redonda, may have accompanied him, since they were not included in the safe-conduct given to the rest of the embassy to return to Bordeaux: ACA reg. 1240, fol. 148vo.

45 Anonimalle, 74; Delpit, Coll. doc., 190; Gr. chron., ii, 173. Wages: PRO E101/68/5 (120), E101/68/6 (121–7, 131, 133, 135); John of G. Reg. (1372–6), no. 52 (p. 38); BL Cotton, Caligula D.III, fols. 117vo–118 (promise). Gaunt’s claims: PRO E364/10, m. 1 (Lancaster); E364/5, m. 5d (Lancaster).

46 BL Cotton, Caligula D.III, fols. 117vo–118; PRO E403/451, mm. 19, 21, 22 (26 Jan., 7, 16 Feb.); Foed., iii, 997; Antient Kalendars, i, 240–1 (no. 10).

47 Cash receipts: PRO E401/514. Cost of Gaunt’s expedition: payments to captains who accounted at the Exchequer, at PRO E364/8, m. 6d (Calveley), m. 10d (Despenser); E364/9, m. 1 (Calveley), m. 5 (Percy), m. 12 (Stafford), m. 14 (Willoughby), m. 14 (Warwick); E364/9, m. 15d (Suffolk); E364/10, m. 1 (Lancaster), m. 2 (Basset); E364/13, m. 6 (Bardolf); payments to other captains (advances only), at E403/447 (5, 14, 16, 21 Mar.); E403/449, mm. 4, 11–13, 15, 19 (11 May, 20–30 June, 13, 16 July); shipping costs at BL Add. Mss. 37494, fols. 17–23. Subsidies: Parl. Rolls, v, 277 (2–3), 279–80 (12); Rec. Convoc., iii, 328, 329–30; CFR, viii, 241–2. Calais: PRO E364/8, m. 7 (Romsey). Ireland: PRO E101/33/3, m. 3. Fleet: BL Cotton Caligula D.III, fols. 117vo–118; Foed., iii, 997, 998, 999, 1001; PRO C76/57, mm. 19, 18; PRO E101/30/13, m. 10, E101/33/9–18, 25; payments at E403/451, mm. 20–9, passim.

48 BN Clair. 159/41; Chron. premiers Valois, 247. Truce: AN X1a, fol. 110; Gr. chron., ii, 175; Walsingham, Hist. Angl., i, 316; Foed., iii, 1000. French recruitment: *L. Menard, iii, 6; Doc. Millau [2], no. 407; Rouquette, 275–6; Chron. Bourbon, 56; Higden, Polychron., Cont. (iv), 381; Inv. mobiliers Bourgogne, i, no. 2004; AD Côte d’Or B1444, fol. 39. Cf. Chron. Bourbon, 56; Troubat, i, 545n12; *Hist. gén. Lang., x, 1503–5. Castilians: Chron. premiers Valois, 247–8; *Russell, 562.

49 AN X1a, fol. 110.

50 Foed., iii, 1000; BN Coll. Languedoc 159, fol. 147vo; Chron. premiers Valois, 248. Gaunt was at Dax with Gaston Phoebus on 19 and 20 March:: *Tucoo-Chala (1959), 403 (nos. 346–7), 353. Charles of Navarre’s presence: Secousse, Preuves, 376 (confession of Jacques de Rue). Cardaillac’s presence is attested by the fact that the sealed original of his powers to discuss the arranged battle, issued in Toulouse on 17 March and presumably given to Gaunt, is in the English public records: PRO E30/1491 (Foed., iii, 1000). Observance of truce: Gr. chron., ii, 175; John of G. Reg. (1372–6), no. 42.

51 Secousse, Preuves, 376–7 (confession of Jacques de Rue); *Tucoo-Chala (1959), 353; AD Pyr.-Atl. E410. Aragon: Russell, 207–8, *562–5.

52 Russell, 216–17, 216n3; Col. doc. Murcia, viii, nos. 145–6. Gaunt’s movements: John of G. Reg. (1372–6), nos. 724, 1766; PRO E364/10, m. 1 (Lancaster). Felton: PRO C61/87, m. 4, C61/88, mm. 8, 7.

53 Secousse, Preuves, 377; Ayala, Crón., ii, 48–9 (wrongly dated to 1373), 76; Cat. Arch. Navarra (Comptos), ix, nos. 865–70, 890; Zurita, iv, 635, 639–41; Col. doc. Murcia, viii, nos. 165, 169, 126–30; Documents per l’historia de la cultura catalana mig-eval, ed. A. Rubio i Lluch, i (1908), 263–5.

54 Ayala, Crón., ii, 62; *Russell, 565; BN PO 266, Bel/2, 3, 13, 14.

55 Ayala, Crón., ii, 63; BN Coll. Moreau 654, fols. 255–264vo; Cambridge, UL Ms. Dd. III.53, fols. 44vo–45; Balasque, iii, 359–61; *Russell, 565; PRO E101/179/14, fols. 10, 13, 25. Rebellion of lord of Castelbon: *Hist. gén. Lang., x, 1482–6.

56 Lecoy, ii, 196–8; *L. Menard, iii, 6; Ayala, Crón., ii, 63–4.

57 Chron. Bourbon, 56–8, 59; Istore, ii, 140; Clément-Simon, 82, *118–21; *L. Menard, iii, 6. Strength: *Hist. gén. Lang. x, 1503–10 (some of the companies listed in this document had been detached to fight in Aragon).

58 Chron. Bourbon, 60; Gr. chron., ii, 175–6; Ord., vi, 105–6. Garrison: PRO E101/179/14, fol. 10; AHG, xii, 337.

59 PRO E101/179/14, fols. 9vo, 10, 24; Foed., iii, 1030; *L. Menard, iii, 6, 321; Arch. Montpellier, i, 198 (no. 2473); Inv. AC Toulouse, i, 540; Chron. Bourbon, 61.

60 Gr. chron., ii, 174; Walsingham, Hist. Angl., i, 316; Higden, Polychron., Cont. (iv), 378–9; Froissart, Chron., viii, 179. Future of Gascony: John of G. Reg. (1372–6), no. 42; *Russell, 565–6; PRO C61/88, m. 4; E403/457, m. 8 (4 June); Brinton, Sermons, ii, 321.

61 AC Martel EE1/67; *Clément-Simon, 102; Rouquette, 271; Reg. St.-Flour, 214.

62 Doc. Carlat, i, 287–8, 330–2, ii, pp. xxxiii, cclxxx, cccxlv–cccxlix; Spic. Briv., 447–8; Reg. St.-Flour, 113–14; AC Cajarc CC11, fols. 45, 47; BN Doat 199, fols. 113–15. Garcie-Arnaud accompanied Bernard de la Salle to Quercy in 1369: AC Martel EE1/23. He is recorded as captain of Carlat in 1375: BN Doat 199, fols. 113–15, 124–128vo.

63 Gregory XI, Lettres (France), nos. 1626, 1685, 1725, 1727, 1923–9, 3329, 3502, 3508, 3618; Ann. Limoges de 1638, 283; PRO SC1/56/47; AN JJ112/263; Chron. Bourbon, 96. Charlus-Champagnac: Inv. AC Montferrand, i, 403, 404; Inv. AC Riom, 57. La Souterraine: Chron. r. St.-Denis, i, 122–4; BN Fr. n.a. 7414, fol. 300 (date).

64 Chron. Bourbon, 93–105; Christine de Pisan, Livre des fais, i, 155–6; BN 7414, fol. 221. Cheyne: Froissart, Chron. (SHF), vi, 8, 39; Jones (1970), 216; Doc. Millau [2], no. 332. Craddock commanded a company in Gascony in 1379: PRO E101/38/27; C61/93, m. 9. He was captain of Fronsac, 1383–9 (Foed., iv, 153; vii, 642). His father: PRO C61/95, m. 5.

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