Post-classical history


All Courtesy from Heaven

And then I stole all courtesy from Heaven

And dress’d myself in such humility

That I did pluck allegiance from men’s hearts

Loud shouts and salutations from their mouths,

Even in the presence of the crown’d king.

Henry IV Part One, Act 3, Scene 2

On or about 5 February 1381 Henry married Mary Bohun at Rochford Hall, in Essex. Mary was one of the two daughters of the late earl of Hereford and his wife Joan, a cousin of Henry’s mother.1 It was an arranged marriage; almost all aristocratic marriages in the fourteenth century were organised to benefit both families’ economic and political interests. In this case, Henry’s father purchased the right for him to marry his youthful second cousin in July 1380 for five thousand marks (£3,333) which the king owed him for his service overseas.2

All this appears wholly regular until one realises that John arranged everything despite opposition from his brother, Thomas of Woodstock. Thomas was the guardian of Mary’s inheritance, and benefited from her income during her minority. According to Froissart, Thomas had been hoping that he could place Mary in a nunnery, so that the whole of the Hereford inheritance would pass to her sister, Eleanor, and thus to Thomas himself (as Eleanor’s husband).3 John’s action prevented this; in fact he purchased the right of Mary’s marriage hurriedly, while Thomas was out of the country. Even if Froissart was exaggerating the drama for the sake of a good story, Mary was not the only available bride, and her marriage to Henry was bound to give rise to conflict with Thomas over the Hereford estates.4 This requires us to pause for a moment and consider why John was so determined that Mary should become Henry’s bride.

Mary was about eleven years old: too young to live as Henry’s wife but not as young as some of the girls who might have been betrothed to him instead.5 Her late father had been the earl of Essex and Northampton as well as Hereford, and so there was a sound financial reason for John’s investment. But that does not mean that finance was the sole motive for the marriage, especially since the inheritance was certain to be split between her and her sister, and there were substantial proportions of the estate in the hands of their mother, the dowager countess. These encumbrances, combined with Thomas’s interest in the estate, suggests that there was another reason. It is perhaps relevant that John’s own first marriage had been a deeply loving one. Similarly John’s mother and father – Queen Philippa and Edward III – had also been devoted to each other. Thus, despite his affairs, John was no stranger to marital devotion, which makes it more likely that this was a factor borne in mind when considering his son’s future wife. Lastly, Henry and Mary had known each other since infancy. So it is reasonable to suppose that Mary was chosen because she was close to Henry. It was a potential love match.

Looking for evidence to support this, we cannot help but note the regularity with which Henry and Mary produced children. Successful aristocratic marriages tended to produce large numbers of offspring, as the mothers did not have to breastfeed (this duty being passed to a wet nurse, allowing wives to conceive again more rapidly). But to have a large number of children very close in age required the parents to be together, and this meant travelling as a couple for a significant proportion of the time. Noblemen who did not particularly enjoy the company of their wives tended not to do this, but happy marriages often resulted in very large numbers of children. Twelve of Roger Mortimer’s children by his wife Joan lived to adulthood. Thomas Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, and his wife had seventeen children. Edward III himself sired eleven within the first twenty years of his marriage with Philippa, and then one more a few years later. John of Gaunt and his beloved Blanche had five children in nine years. So it is a very positive indicator that Henry kept Mary pregnant almost continually after they started living together, which was probably in late 1385, when he was eighteen and she was about sixteen. Mary gave birth to six children in eight years and at one point (the summer of 1392) had five children under the age of six. Also Henry sired no illegitimate children during her lifetime: as far as we can tell he remained faithful. Later evidence of presents between them supports this picture of marital bliss. So we may be confident that Henry’s closeness to Mary, or potential closeness, was what made John sure she was the right choice for his son.

Henry was fond of books and Mary’s family were the foremost patrons of book production in fourteenth-century England.6 The extant volumes which they commissioned are outstanding examples of English artistry. Two of the most lavishly illuminated books to come from the family workshop were commissioned for Henry’s and Mary’s marriage. These were both psalters, one for Henry and one for Mary. Both Mary and her sister continued to commission such items, actively involving themselves in the creation of illuminated manuscripts. Henry too gathered valuable books, as revealed by a list of those stolen after his death.7 That list included two psalters, valued together at twenty marks (£13 6s 8d), one of which may have been his wedding present from the Bohun family.

We know little about the wedding itself. Even the exact date is uncertain. The place – Rochford Hall – was a house of the earls of Hereford. John gave the bride several presents, including a diamond in a clasp (£2 3s 4d), and a great ruby worth eight marks (£5 6s 8d) for which he had a ring made, the fashioning of which – together with the cost of a diamond ring – amounted to a further £1 6s 8d.8 John also paid for presents from his daughter Philippa to the bride, including a two-handled hanaper and a silver ewer at a cost of £10 8s. Minstrels came from the king and John’s brother, Edmund of Langley, earl of Cambridge. Following the wedding, Mary was looked after by her mother. Not long afterwards, Katherine Swynford also joined her household, to assist in the education of the young countess of Derby.9 Henry himself departed to take his father’s place as nominal head of the Lancaster council at the Savoy. Four months later, with his father far away in the north, he found himself facing the smoke of the Peasants’ Revolt in London, as the rebels destroyed his father’s palace.


It is in the year after the Peasants’ Revolt that we first get some good evidence about the fourteen-year-old Henry. Most of the documents concerning his life prior to June 1381 were burned in the flames which engulfed the Savoy, but for the year from Michaelmas (29 September) 1381 his account book survives, written up by his treasurer, Hugh Waterton.10

Accounts can be awkward documents to use historically. It is important to remember that they only show what was paid for, not those things which were obtained for free. Nevertheless, they are enormously revealing, especially when combined with other evidence; a good set of accounts is often more useful to a historical biographer than a similar bulk of letters. This is because medieval account books do not simply quantify income and expenditure, they seek to justify them too, and therefore normally describe transactions in some detail. Thus we know that Henry’s income of £426 9s in the year 1381–2 came predominantly from three manors which John had allocated him: Passenham, Soham and Daventry, plus an allowance from his father’s Norfolk estates. His wardrobe expenditure included sections on cloth, furs and skins, mercers’ ware, jewellery and goldsmiths’ work, leatherwork, shoes, alms-giving, personal gifts, ‘necessaries’, stipends paid to retainers, stabling of horses, rent, and weapons and arms. The individual entries tell us a great deal about the young Henry, but they also include detailed payments which allow us to establish where he was on a particular day and sometimes whom he was with, what he chose to spend his money on, and to whom he gave presents and from whom he received them. In this way we may build up a picture of his likes and dislikes, his friends, and his patterns of behaviour. Fortunately, we have eight such sets of accounts for Henry prior to his accession: two from the 1380s and six from the 1390s, in addition to two ‘day-books’. Using these in conjunction with other evidence we may begin to discover elements of his daily life and character.

The first thing to note is that Henry spent most of the year 1381–2 with his father. In marked contrast to those years of infancy, when John was usually away, father and son were now practically inseparable. Henry travelled with his father, was financially dependent on him, and was educated in courtesy by him. Even where not directly instructed by his father, he learnt from him through example. The accounts note religious oblations and personal gifts made by Henry at his father’s direction. When Eleanor, Thomas of Woodstock’s wife, gave birth to a son, Humphrey, in April 1382, it was at John’s direction that Henry rewarded the messenger and gave presents to the master and nurse of the young infant.11 Similarly John chose Henry’s clothes, directed his own furriers to provide furs for his gowns, and gave special garments to him, whether these be his own cast-offs or newly made gifts.

From these accounts we learn that Henry took part in the January 1382 tournament at Smithfield, held to celebrate the coronation of Anne of Bohemia, Richard’s new queen. Henry appeared dazzling: his tournament armour was decorated with silver spangles in the form of roses. Shortly afterwards he appeared jousting in armour covered with golden spangles.12 Nor was this a one-off. On May Day 1382 Henry (just turned fifteen) entered the lists at Hertford, lance in hand, and rode to the delight of the crowds. He was taking part in the greatest peacetime test of martial skill, drawing attention to himself as a prospective future military leader, and emulating his grandfather, the great Duke Henry, who had been a magnificent tournament fighter. John of Gaunt, who had never won much fame in the lists himself, must have watched his son and heir with great pride.

These entries give us our first real insight into the character of the young Henry of Lancaster. He was close to his father, dutiful and physically resilient. Within a few years he was winning fame in the jousts and earning widespread respect as he travelled around the country in his father’s ostentatious cavalcade. One writer later described him as the ‘strongest’ of the earls of Derby, setting him even above his famous grandfather.13 That strength is clearly evidenced in his jousting. But perhaps even more importantly, it is good evidence of a high degree of self-confidence. You cannot charge headlong at an opponent in armour on a warhorse – nearly half a ton of man, beast and metal, with a closing speed of more than forty miles an hour – and not falter unless you are a very confident, determined individual.

John impressed upon Henry the importance of looking like a prince as well as being one. Henry’s tailors were directed to make short and long gowns, mantles, tunics, paltocks, tabards, kirtles and hoods. His clerks bought scarlet, blue, white and black cloth, of wool, silk, damask, satin, cotton and linen for the purpose. Red damask appears in his accounts alongside golden gowns and ermine furs. Long black gowns furred with ermine must have been particularly elegant. So too must have been the long blue damask tabard which was made for Henry for the occasion of the king’s wedding in January 1382, the cloth being given to him by his stepmother, the duchess of Lancaster. Some historians have described Henry at this time as showing ‘a certain extravagance in his living’.14 But Henry was now second in line to the throne: his clothing was no more than what was appropriate for the king’s cousin and the heir of the only duke in the realm. The dazzling clothes – the spangles worn at the jousts, the short gown of golden damask, the satin paltock decorated with golden leopards, and the white and gold silk paltock – were made for special occasions, and normally from cloth given to him by his father or stepmother. Compared to some of the lavish clothes brought by Edward III as a young man, or John of Gaunt, this is relatively modest.15 Most of the time Henry was more likely to be wearing a long gown of wool than damask or silk. Considering what he might have spent as the eldest son of the richest man in the country after the king, a £20 bill for clothes at the end of the year (including the wages of tailors for his clothes at the royal wedding) plus a furriers’ accounts of £16 16s 8d are not extravagant.

Much the same can be said for Henry’s payments to goldsmiths. We may notice many rings made for him, but plain gold rings were not very costly. Nor were they all for his own wearing: rings were commonly given out as presents. On 29 December 1381 Henry ordered twenty-nine gold rings; he gave them all away on 1 January. There are references to occasional refinements, such as gilt silver rings for a falcon’s hood and buckles and pendants of gilt silver; but we also read of mending and cleaning garters, and making new brooches out of old ones. There are only a few references to precious stones, unlike most aristocratic accounts. There are no expensive drinking cups of gold and silver, no enamelware. The entire account of goldsmiths’ work amounts to £26 3s. If we add the few pounds paid for leatherwork and shoes, it is clear that Henry spent less than £70 in total on his appearance in 1381–2, less than a quarter of his income. By comparison, Edward III’s gifts to Henry’s mother at her wedding had cost nearly £390: fifteen times as much as Henry’s entire annual goldsmiths’ account.16

At first the above seems to point to a contradiction. Henry was drawing attention to himself as a jousting prodigy, and dressing in gilded silver spangles and roses, and yet was relatively modest in his usual dress. But there is no real contradiction; Henry was simply being conventional. When expected to dress the part of the second in line to the throne at a royal wedding, he did so. On ordinary days he preferred an elegant long gown. When lifting a lance and fighting in the lists, he wore appropriately decorated costumes, but this did not mean he had to be lavish all the time.

This conventionality is noticeable in his alms payments. Each day he gave a penny to a pauper: a modest sum for a medieval lord. He gave slightly larger amounts – normally fourpence – having heard a mass on a special occasion. He donated extra sums in particular places or when visiting particular shrines. He gave a donation at Hertford marking the anniversary of the death of his grandfather, Duke Henry. Of course, when saying that Henry was conventional in his alms-giving – and thus presumably in his religious outlook – we must remember that to be ‘conventional’ in a deeply religious age meant to be profoundly religious oneself. In later years Henry’s religious sincerity took him beyond the conventional and caused him to be exceedingly conservative. But at the age of fifteen his religious behaviour was more in keeping with his time.

There is just one unconventional religious donation in these 1381–2 accounts. On 3 April 1382 (Maundy Thursday) John of Gaunt made provision for thirteen poor men to receive alms from Henry. This was traditional: similar amounts had been doled out by members of the royal family since at least the reign of King John. But on that day Henry added two more recipients ‘because he was fifteen years old’, at a cost of an extra two shillings.17 Henry was marking his birthday, that seems clear; but the real question is, why did he do it in this way? This is the first recorded instance of any member of the royal family making a Maundy Thursday donation equivalent to their age. In later years it became a Lancastrian custom, being followed by Henry’s wife and his eldest son, and indeed it remains a royal custom to this day. In the late fifteenth century it was a politically charged act: Henry VII followed it, as did other Lancastrian supporters. Herein lies its interest: if it was a political statement from the outset, why did Henry start to use it now, in 1382? One possibility is that by drawing attention to the religious date of his birth, Henry was countering Richard’s boast that he was born on the Epiphany. If so, it is the earliest evidence of the religious dimension to the rivalry developing between the two young men. It may also have had another, more subtle angle, for on that Maundy Thursday Henry took a linen cloth and personally performed the pedilavium,the royal washing of paupers’ feet. This can only be taken as a sign that he believed that great men – even kings – should be humble. Richard was more concerned with demonstrating his sovereignty than his humility. Thus this payment is evidence of much more than Henry’s personal religious observance. It hints at two important divisions between him and his cousin: rivalry for spiritual favour and the expectation of royal humility. As later events were to show, these divisions were never resolved.


Henry’s religiousness and his conventionality, his jousting prowess and his duty, all suggest that he was an earnest youth. The word which seems to sum him up best is ‘conscientious’. This is fully borne out by the evidence relating to his education. Whereas his grandfather King Edward III had laboured with difficulty to form the words ‘Pater Sancte’ on a letter to the pope, and Richard’s hand was neat but awkwardly slow, Henry was a fluent – if not an elegant – penman.18 His informal handwriting shows signs of regular use. His ability to write in three languages – French, Latin and English – was unusual, to say the least.19 If we then reflect on other details from his later life, such as the fact that he owned a book with a gloss or commentary in Greek, what begins to emerge is a picture of a man whose education was thorough and wide-ranging.20 Nor should we be surprised at this: the widely travelled poet Geoffrey Chaucer was a friend of the family, so too was the poet John Gower. When John of Gaunt set about the education of Henry’s eldest half-brother, John Beaufort, he did not just have him taught to be an excellent fighting knight, he also sent him to Cambridge.21 Henry’s father can thus be seen as an educational driving force. Henry took full advantage of his educational opportunities, and continued to build on them, showing a conscientiousness in later life consistent with that suggested by his youthful confidence, dutifulness and religious conventionality.

This brings us to an important point about Henry. He was probably the nearest to an intellectual among all the medieval kings of England. He was bookish, as were many young men and women of his class, including his wife’s family and his uncle Thomas. But Henry was not just interested in seeing books lavishly decorated, or patronising writers; he was interested in reading too. Gower, in describing learned men who read ‘old books’, felt obliged to add that he knew that Henry was well learned in such texts.22 When exiled later in his life, Henry attended and commented on lectures at the University of Paris.23 Not long after becoming king he personally ordered a magnificent study to be built at Eltham Palace, with cupboards specially designed to house his books. On a visit to Bardney Abbey in 1406, he spent a considerable period of time in the abbey library, reading.24 We even have some idea what he read, for we have that list of the books stolen from his library after his death. It includes a copy of Gower’s work Confessio Amantiswhich was dedicated to him, two histories (including a copy of the popular Polychronicon of Ralph Higden), and several spiritual works. This list – which contains nothing which could be called ‘light reading’ – corresponds with a passage in John Capgrave’s later description of him, in which his prodigious memory and willingness to debate moral issues is demonstrated. In Capgrave’s words:

I have known in my time that men of great literary attainments who used to enjoy conversing with him have said that he was a man of very great ability, and of so tenacious a memory that he used to spend a great part of the day in solving and unravelling hard questions … Let future ages know that he was a studious investigator of all doubtful points of morals … and that he was always eager to pursue such matters.25

It is in this intellectual application that Henry most differs from his contemporaries and royal ancestors. His grandfathers were no less intelligent but they were not inclined to spend prolonged periods in philosophical debate, or reading in abbey libraries. Duke Henry had written a moral treatise,The Book of Holy Medicines, it is true, but by his own admission he was not given over to learning. His grandson was, or would have been if he had had more time. Moreover, viewed in the context of his determined jousting, his emerging piety and his lack of artistic patronage (on the scale of his father or cousin), for example, one may discern in Henry an intellectual rigour and an aptitude for ideas more than the visual appeal of things. He was, it seems, a man of reason: inclined to logic and justice more than extravagance, artistry and beautiful objects.

There is one further element of his education which needs to be mentioned, even though it does not feature in the 1381–2 accounts. This is Henry’s love of music. In one set of annals he is described as ‘a sparkling musician’.26 It was a passion he shared with his wife, Mary, who seems to have arranged choirs, sung and played the cither or harp.27 Henry did all these things too: in 1387 or 1388 he bought a cover for his cither in London, and the same account records several payments for strings.28 In 1395 he paid for acithara to be fetched from Leicester and brought to him at Kenilworth.29 The presence of royal minstrels at his wedding has already been mentioned; but he would have surrounded himself with musicians on a daily basis, eating his meals to the accompaniment of music and encouraging new forms of musical entertainment. He fostered the musical attributes of his sons: he bought a harp for his eldest son and had him taught to play it. He very probably wrote the two pieces of polyphony ascribed to ‘Roy Henry’ (King Henry) in the Old Hall manuscript, the earliest major collection of English sacred music.30 One particularly interesting piece of evidence is Henry’s purchase in 1388 of the first known ‘recorder’. This was obtained specifically for his own use, at a cost of 3s 4d.31 Flutes and pipes were ubiquitous, and thus it is the use of the term ‘recorder’ – or, to be specific, ‘a pipe called recordo’ – which is significant. For in its meaning ‘I remember’, recordo relates to a musical memory device, not necessarily as an instrument in itself but a means of being able to gauge pitch. In Mary’s accounts for this same year, we find an instrument with a similar purpose: ‘an iron to regulate singing’, presumably a tuning fork, at a cost of 10d.32 As later chapters will show, this love of music is revealed in practically all his later accounts, including those while he was overseas. Such an abundance of evidence for his musicianship leaves us in no doubt that he had an aural creative side to his character, and did not just patronise musicians but personally took part in making music too.

All these elements of his development seem to possess a common feature: a sense of order. Jousting was not just a matter of courage and confidence: it required training and structure. Reading and writing in three languages did not come easily to men whose usual occupations were hunting and falconry. The rules of harmony may be very different from those of war and justice, but there is a logical thread running through them all. In what is to come, therefore, we should not picture the young Henry lurking in the shadows like a worried youth but proudly entering the tournament lists, mindful of his duty, and conscientiously reading with his tutor, and singing in chapel or with his companions, guided above all by a logical and resolute mind. By the end of his teenage years he had developed into an exemplary knight: a steadfast champion of God, full of self-confidence, and certain of his place in the social order. Few who met him in his teenage years would not have admired him, or considered him worthy of his grandfather’s name.


Richard’s mid-teenage years were very different from Henry’s. In some respects the young king had to educate himself, for there was no one in England who could actually teach him about kingship from experience. His favourite tutor, Sir Simon Burley, was a man of relatively humble origins who had earned his position through serving Richard’s father. Thus when he tried to instruct Richard it was from the point of view of the loyal subject: the man who gladly allows himself to be commanded. Burley may well have been aware of contemporary ideas of kingship; he owned a copy of Giles of Rome’s De Regimine Principum, for example.33 But even so, such a work – which stresses the importance of the king exerting his will in government, and demanding total obedience from all his subjects – could only have amplified Burley’s natural view of the king’s command. Partly as a consequence of this, and partly as a result of his lonely and unnerving upbringing, Richard’s very character was being distorted by those around him. The pressure on him was immense: he had been given near-absolute power, educated to believe that the correct application of that power was to force everyone in his kingdom to obey, and told by parliament that his accession was as longed for as the coming of Christ.34 After such an education, it would have been a miracle if he had developed as a fair-minded, level-headed king.

By 1382 it was already becoming apparent that Richard was very far from the glorious youthful leader that parliament and the rest of the country had hoped for at his coronation. Unlike Henry, who had been able to practise the arts of a chivalric leader privately, Richard was already being tested in public, in council and in parliament. He was already psychologically on edge, wary of expectations he could not live up to, and torn between his education and the advice of the lords in parliament. But he had one great advantage: he was clever, blessed with a very quick and flexible mind. He now began to invent a different sort of kingship, one quite unlike Edward III’s, which did not require him to be a jousting champion, or a warrior-king.

It is reasonable to assume that Richard’s demands for personal power arose from his intentions to govern well, not just a wilful independent streak. As he toured the south-east counties after the collapse of the Peasants’ Revolt, seeing dire punishments inflicted on the rebels, he cannot but have reflected that their demands had been the removal of bad ministers; they had been staunchly royalist. He concluded that the root of the problem was that his rule was too weak.35 It was his duty to stamp on anyone who threatened his authority, be they bad ministers or overmighty subjects. Ironically, the rebels permitted him to take his first steps towards strengthening his hand. Their universally condemned rebellion meant that he could order severe reprisals without fear of contradiction.36 It was a first step towards building his personal authority.

Richard knew that the next step – to impose his personal rule over the council and his royal uncles – required a much stronger justification. He needed a body of powerful and influential men who would support him. Such a body of men was already gathering around him. First there were those older men, his tutors. Men like Simon Burley and Michael de la Pole were exhorting him to take power, so they were bound to help him. Then there were the lesser household knights who encouraged him, like Sir Guy Brian, Sir Robert Bardolf and Sir Peter Courtenay. But the most important in the long run were those courtiers and young men of noble birth with whom he had a genuine rapport. Such men and boys included Ralph Stafford, heir of the earl of Stafford, Robert de Vere, earl of Oxford, Sir John Beauchamp of Holt and Thomas Mowbray, who became earl of Nottingham following the death of his brother in February 1383. Quickly they became identified as a set of royal intimates, viewed by non-courtiers with a measure of envy, suspicion and hostility.

Through a natural desire to reward his faithful friends, Richard deepened the divide between those whom he favoured and the rest. After the death of the earl of March in 1381, the major part of the Mortimer inheritance fell into his hands. Rather than keep the whole estate in trust for the heir (his seven-year-old cousin, Roger Mortimer), Richard started breaking it up to distribute among his supporters.37 When the chancellor, Richard Scrope, refused to countenance these grants of land, Richard sacked him. This was hugely presumptuous for the fifteen-year-old king.38 Thereafter, many of the Mortimer lands were distributed to Richard’s friends, including Burley and the knights of the king’s chamber. Similarly, following the death of the earl of Suffolk in September 1382, Richard gave many of the earl’s lands to Michael de la Pole, a man not even of noble birth. Nor were these his sole attacks on the magnates’ interests in that year. Most shocking of all was his refusal to honour large parts of the will of his grandfather, Edward III. Instead he gave to Burley a number of manors which the late king had intended to be given to religious foundations to pray for his soul. Richard took back estates which had been granted to monasteries by his late grandfather and dismembered certain royal estates, including part of the duchy of Cornwall, again contrary to the late king’s charters.39 It was not behaviour becoming for the grandson of the warrior-king.

The problem for Richard lay in the perception that he was showering rewards on his friends not in return for any great deeds or services to the nation but simply out of favouritism. Simon Burley and his brothers were made Knights of the Garter, and Simon himself received very extensive grants of land. Thomas Mowbray was made a Knight of the Garter and given licence to hunt in all the royal forests. He was also given an heiress to marry (at a cost of a thousand pounds to the royal purse), and allocated his own apartments at two of Richard’s favourite royal palaces, Eltham and King’s Langley. Robert de Vere likewise was made a Knight of the Garter, given a large number of grants, wardships and offices at Richard’s order and installed in private apartments at Eltham and King’s Langley. As the criticisms increased, Richard simply put himself physically out of reach of his opponents. Burley, as the acting chamberlain, prevented Richard’s critics approaching the king. As teenage rebellions went, this was very serious. Richard was heading quickly for a confrontation with all those who would stand in the way of his assuming complete control of government.

Men cautious of the king now began to discuss historic situations where young leaders who dismissed their councillors met with violent opposition. The case of Rehoboam came to be cited, as it always was when young kings replaced wise old knights appointed for their guidance with a group of young men.40 More alarmingly, men started to draw a parallel between Richard and Edward II, whose reliance on a small group of intimate companions had eventually led to civil war. By the end of 1382, many people – including a number of lords – were of the opinion that, unless Richard could somehow be brought to heel, all the evils prophesied to occur in this reign would soon take place.

Richard proceeded, undaunted. After all, as he was constantly reminded by Burley, the essence of good kingship was the king’s personal control of the realm. It was his duty to face down doubters. His flexibility of mind allowed him to turn his opponents’ arguments on their heads. If they said that he would end up like Edward II, why, then he would praise Edward II. His maternal grandfather, the earl of Kent, had been executed for trying to rescue Edward II from wrongful imprisonment, so by championing Edward II he could restore both his grandfather and great-grandfather to a higher level of dignity. We may picture Richard going to the royal book presses in the Tower, and rummaging through them for chronicles which would tell him about the period.41 And when he found a relevant volume, and read of how Edward II had been forced to work with a royal council, and had resisted all attempts to control his power, and ultimately had fallen due to his refusal to compromise, we can imagine Richard closing the book and holding it tightly, having recognised a royal martyr in the man who had sought to maintain the integrity of the royal will above all his magnates, including Lancaster. Upon opening it again, and reading of how Edward II had preferred his favourites and commoners to the lords who had such different expectations of him, there was no doubt in his mind. At the age of sixteen Richard gave orders that his great-grandfather’s anniversary was specially to be celebrated each year. Later he would write to the pope and try to make the man a saint.42


In 1383 the first opposition to Richard’s government began to take form. At first it remained disparate. Those whose prior concern was the management of the royal household petitioned the king ‘to choose the most wise, honest and discreet persons of your realm to remain about your honourable person and advise you’; to which Richard responded that he would choose such men as he deemed ‘best for his honour and profit’.43 Those more concerned with the appointments to high offices of state petitioned him ‘to elect those endowed with the greatest loyalty and knowledge of the governance of the people … [and] to exercise office without favour or partiality for any person’. Richard again replied that he would choose such worthy persons as he considered best for the good government of his kingdom. Three days later, after the resignation of the chancellor, he appointed his friend Michael de la Pole, a man who had no right even to attend parliament (not being an MP, a prelate or a lord). Coming on top of his dismissal of the chancellor for daring to disobey him, this was a forceful slap in the face of anyone who expected him not to appoint his personal friends to offices of state.

Such actions concentrated opposition on the king himself. Henry probably met him in the summer of 1383, when his father attended a small council at Nottingham.44 John was playing a difficult role, balancing his unpopularity with his need to maintain order within the royal family. By the time of the parliament of October 1383 there were a number of lords who were prepared openly to complain that the king was listening to foolish advice. As a chronicler at Westminster Abbey recorded, ‘a serious quarrel arose between the king and the lords because it seemed to them that he clung to unsound policies and excluded those offering good guidance from his entourage’.45 The lords insisted that Richard’s royal predecessors had accepted advice from the magnates and prelates. Predictably, the king was of the opposite view; his refusal to follow advice (despite being still only sixteen) confirmed their fears. When Michael de la Pole, the new chancellor, had to apologise in his opening speech for his presence, and announced furthermore that one of the matters to be discussed was the imminent threat of invasion from Scotland and the failure of the previous year’s expedition to France, the kingdom could be seen to be trembling. It was far from being the confident and assertive nation which it had been under Edward III.

The opposition lacked leadership. John of Gaunt could not provide a focus of resistance to the king’s unsound rule, as he had sworn to the Black Prince on his deathbed that he would protect Richard, and he intended to fulfil that promise. Besides, John was far too unpopular with the commons to act as a spokesman for their cause. The next royal uncle, Edmund, was unambitious and similarly loyal to Richard. Thomas, the youngest son of Edward III, was not yet openly hostile to his nephew’s rule. As a result, the nearest approximation to coordinated opposition was the group of lords who continued to press the case of the Mortimer inheritance and who, in December 1383, succeeded in stopping Richard distributing the Mortimer estates among his friends.46

To Richard, of course, any man who dared to speak against him was a self-confessed rebel. To Henry, the protectors of the Mortimer inheritance were in the right, safeguarding a great estate for the heir. Just as importantly, these bold lords were his kinsmen. Richard, earl of Arundel, was both his mother’s cousin and his wife’s uncle. Arundel’s close associate in the business, Thomas, earl of Warwick, was a more distant kinsman, but an old comrade-in-arms of Henry’s father. Thomas and John were almost the same age, had fought together on Edward III’s last campaign in France in 1359–60 and had been on campaign together subsequently, most recently in the summer of 1381. A third earl who joined in this trust overseeing the Mortimer estates on behalf of the young earl of March was Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland, another Lancastrian cousin of Henry’s (although a sworn enemy of John of Gaunt). With no love for Richard or his style of kingship, Henry was attentive to the arguments of the opposition lords. While as yet he could not act, he could at least listen.

Henry was still under age, and so was not summoned to the 1383 parliament. He would only have known of the proceedings against Richard from his father. John’s own policy with regard to Henry was to keep him in the background, for there could be no possible advantage in bringing him into the political fray too soon. Nevertheless, as a result of John’s influence, Henry’s name was added to the list of nobles to negotiate a truce with France at the end of the year. Thus Henry received his first (and only) official commission under Richard II. He accompanied his father overseas in December to witness the negotiations with the French at Leulinghen, concluding a truce on 26 January 1384.47 Herein lies another reason why John was reluctant to take any part in forming an organised opposition to Richard II: he hoped to use his loyalty to gain advantages for his children, especially his eldest son.

Parliament was summoned to meet at Salisbury on 29 April to discuss the terms which Henry had seen formulated at Leulinghen. Writs of summons went out – though not to Henry – on 3 March. But long before parliament actually met, other events had overtaken the original agenda. The Scots had seized the English castle of Lochmaben, removing the last English presence in Annandale. John of Gaunt and his brother Thomas were given the responsibility of carrying out reprisal attacks by the English council, and set off north. Henry, having already proved himself useful in arms, probably went with them.48 We cannot be certain about this but it seems likely, especially considering that his father believed him old enough to take part in a diplomatic embassy.49 In the end the expedition proved little more than a punitive raid. By 23 April, John – and presumably Henry too – were back at Durham, and shortly after that they began the long ride south to meet with the parliament already gathered at Salisbury.

Neither father nor son can have had much optimism for the proceedings which lay ahead of them. Each of the last four parliaments had seen a hardening of the stand against the king’s personal rule, together with a commensurate increase of the king’s defiance of his would-be advisers. But even John could not have expected what would happen at Salisbury. By the time he arrived (shortly after 9 May) there had already been a number of ‘astonishing squabbles’ between the lords and prelates, so that they ‘almost nullified the effect of the parliament’.50 The commons had had great difficulty deciding whether they wanted peace on the terms agreed in outline by John at Leulinghen. They asked for a committee of lords to help them debate the issue. They felt that the peace gave too much to the French, including the sovereignty of Calais, a near-impregnable town which had taken Edward III eleven months to conquer. But nor were they eager to sanction another term of taxation for a futile war. Suddenly the proverbial elephant in the corner of the debating chamber – the king’s inability to lead an army and his reluctance to entrust an army to someone who was capable of military success – raised its trunk and trumpeted loudly in the form of a speech from the earl of Arundel:

You are aware, my lords, that any kingdom in which prudent government is lacking stands in peril of destruction; and the fact is now being illustrated before your eyes, since this country which, as you know, began to lose its strength long ago through bad government, is now almost in a state of decay. Unless remedies are promptly applied for its relief and it is speedily rescued from the stormy whirlpool in which it is engulfed, there is reason to fear that it will very soon suffer enormous setbacks and crippling losses, leading to its total collapse and the removal (God forbid) of all power which may come to its aid.51

When Richard heard these words he was uncontrollably furious. ‘The king turned white with anger’ wrote the chronicler who recorded the earl’s speech. Scowling, Richard erupted in fury: ‘if you would blame me for this, and say that it is my fault that there is misgovernment in the realm, you lie in your teeth. You can go to the devil!’

A stunned silence followed.

Henry knew Richard well enough from childhood to realise that he was incapable of taking criticism lightly. But shocking though the king’s anger was, what happened next was of even greater concern. While celebrating Mass at Salisbury in the chapel of the house commandeered by Robert de Vere, earl of Oxford, a Carmelite friar called John Latimer told Richard that John of Gaunt was plotting against his life. Richard was sent spinning into a fury once more. He ordered that his uncle be put to death immediately. Lords implored him to see reason. Someone ran to tell Thomas of Woodstock who, thrown into a rage, burst into the king’s chamber and ‘swore a terrible oath that he would attack and kill anyone who intended to accuse his brother John of treason, and no one was excepted, not even the king himself’.52 Enough of the more moderate lords had their wits about them and were able to divert the king’s attention, and make him see that he could not execute the heir to the throne without a trial.

When John heard the charges levelled against him, he too went to Richard, and managed to convince him of his innocence. Richard then ordered the friar to be put to death. This time it fell to John to make Richard see reason, and to try to preserve both the friar’s life and the king’s reputation. The end of the business is unclear, but one account has John Holland, Simon Burley, Philip Courtenay and others torturing the friar by hanging him by his hands, then suspending heavy stones from his testicles while he was hanging, forcing him to kneel on a fire, draping a sheet over his face and pouring boiling water over it three times, and burning his feet. Whether this torture story was propaganda, salacious rumour or the truth, we cannot be certain – it is hardly likely that the protagonists told the chronicler or anyone else of their misdeeds – but it is likely that the friar was tortured, for he died soon afterwards. Whoever had entreated the friar to say these things against John was never discovered.53 But the incident had revealed two important things. First, when faced with intense and hostile criticism from the magnates, Richard had no ability to control himself. And second, even though John of Gaunt was his most stalwart defender and his heir, Richard was terrified of his uncle: so much so that he did not think twice before ordering his execution, even though he had no evidence of his guilt, or even of his readiness to commit a crime.


Arundel had been right. England in the summer of 1384 was festering with political maladies which were destroying its pride, wealth and security. In June the Scots took advantage of the situation to invade Northumberland, burning the villages and murdering anyone unfortunate enough to get in their way. A great drought parched the country, so that even the deepest wells dried up and many cattle died. When the drought ended, it seemed to rain continuously for four months. Carmelite friars began to declare that John Latimer was a martyr, and publicly preached sedition. Arguments broke out between prelates and temporal lords, with no one to check them. The bishop of Exeter’s officers forced a messenger of the archbishop of Canterbury to eat the seal of a letter which he was carrying. In revenge, the archbishop of Canterbury’s men forced one of the bishop of Exeter’s esquires to eat his own shoes. Such things prompted the monastic chronicler of Westminster to remark that ‘all the lamps have gone out in the church of God, and the darkness which shadows her face on every side is great indeed’.54

For the purposes of understanding Henry of Lancaster, the importance of the summer and autumn of 1384 is to understand that the rifts were deepening between the Lancastrians and the court of Richard II. Despite John of Gaunt’s best efforts to maintain the respect of his nephew, the Lancastrians were powerless to stop Richard himself casting a shadow over his fitness to rule. In coming to judge an ex-mayor of London, a Lancastrian supporter, and being told that he hoped the king would not proceed to judgement until John of Gaunt arrived, Richard shouted that he was competent to sit in judgement on both the accused and John of Gaunt.55 John himself was out of the country at the time, dutifully attempting to negotiate another treaty on Richard’s behalf.56 Notwithstanding this fact, Richard sentenced John’s supporter to death, a punishment only commuted to imprisonment after the queen’s intercession.

The original reasons to doubt Richard’s fitness to rule – his unwise grants of lordships and lucrative offices, his lack of military leadership in the face of encroaching enemies and his lack of judgement in political and diplomatic affairs – all remained valid. He continued to advance his favourites and friends without regard for lordly or public opinion. For example, he gave the town and castle of Queenborough to Robert de Vere and specified that, if Richard were to die first, then the de Vere family were to keep it as their own inheritance.57 This was strategically unwise: Queenborough was of military importance and de Vere had no military experience whatsoever. Moreover, Richard had no qualms about treating one of King Edward III’s greatest military constructions as a present for a friend. Similarly when de Vere decided to abandon his royal bride, Philippa, granddaughter of Edward III, Richard did not condemn him, unlike the rest of the nobility. Richard was prepared to belittle his grandfather’s memory in order to promote his own vision of kingship. It seems extraordinary that he should not defend the dignity of the royal family but there is no doubt that Edward III’s martial legacy bore heavily on him. The late king was not just his predecessor, he was also his rival.

By the end of 1384, after another stormy parliament, relations between the Lancastrians and Richard reached breaking point. John voiced his opinion – which was almost universally shared – that war with France was now unavoidable, and that Richard was well advised to lead an army across the Channel in person. This had been made a condition of the grant of taxation for the war in the recent parliament. But at the council at which John said these things, Richard rebuked him, and blamed him for failing to negotiate a permanent peace treaty. John – who had laboured long and hard in such negotiations – stormed out, together with his brothers.58 Then Richard, bitter at this flouting of his will, plotted with de Vere and Mowbray to murder John on the night of 14 February 1385. John heard about the plot just in time, and fled with a few companions. Ten days later, when the king was not expecting him, he returned by river. He left his barge in the care of a strong guard, and took more men with him to Sheen Palace, where Richard was staying. He wore a breastplate beneath his robes. At the gate he left a large contingent of armed men, to stop anyone going in or coming out. Then, striding into the hall, and bowing to the king, he launched into a lengthy, well-prepared and heartfelt condemnation of Richard’s government and behaviour, condemning him for the bad counsellors whom he kept, and humiliating him with the observation that it was shameful for a king in his own kingdom to stoop to private murder in order to seek revenge. After this, he declared that he would no longer attend the king as he had done previously, for fear of his life.

Hearing of this interview, Richard’s mother was distraught, and feared for her son. Once ‘the Fair Maid of Kent’ – but now so fat she could barely stand up – she went to her son and demanded that he make efforts to restore himself to John’s favour.59 Richard acquiesced. He met his uncle in March 1385 at Westminster, and was reconciled to him, but the damage was already done. Not much later, the archbishop of Canterbury harangued the king on the same theme, accusing him of ordering John to be murdered in the street. How could Richard command the great men of the realm if they feared that he might turn a mere grudge into a reason to murder them? Richard had heard enough criticism of his personal rule, and leapt to his feet. Furious, he launched a tirade of threats at the stunned prelate. Later that same day, Richard met the archbishop again, and drew his sword to kill him, which he would have done had he not been stopped by his uncle, Thomas, assisted by Sir Thomas Trivet and Sir John Devereux. Whatever it was the king yelled at the men who restrained him was not deemed repeatable by the St Albans chronicler, who was clearly deeply shocked to hear such language from an anointed monarch.60


In 1385, at the age of eighteen, Richard II finally did lead a military expedition. But it did not go to France, as parliament had demanded and as John had advised. Instead the king chose to lead an army to Scotland. Following their reconciliation, John also agreed to serve. In fact, as this was a feudal summons – the last of the middle ages – he had little choice.61 So John went north, in the summer of 1385, and Henry, now eighteen, went with him.

For Henry the chance to fight in Scotland was probably as good as the chance to fight anywhere. As a tournament champion he was already winning fame and respect, but there was a big difference between being good with a capped lance in the lists and being a successful commander on the battlefield. He rode in the vanguard, in his father’s company. Although the English army proceeded to burn and destroy, the Scots remained wary. Years of fighting Edward III had taught them that the best way to preserve their country was to stop the destroying army by starving it. If the Scots themselves undertook the controlled destruction of their crops and livestock before the English got there, and evacuated their people, then the English army could not advance without going hungry, and no leader could wage war with an army of ten thousand empty stomachs. Richard had the choice of advancing through the wilderness to seek out the Scottish leadership and their sixteen hundred French auxiliaries, or to retreat without gain.62

John, with the support of the other royal uncles, was all for going after the Scots. He tried to persuade the king, pointing out that the enemy were in flight, and reminding him of the size and strength of their own forces.63 But Richard did not trust him. De Vere played on the king’s paranoia by suggesting that John wished to lure him north in order to murder him in revenge for the two occasions when Richard had threatened his life.64 So when John suggested advancing, Richard rounded on his uncle and ‘blazed with anger’, declaring:

‘No matter what region you have come to with an army, you have been the ruin of my men because of your bad leadership, your advice, the bad terrain, and because of hunger, thirst and poverty. Always concerned for your purse, you are totally unconcerned for me. And now, it is typical of you to want to force me to cross the Scottish sea, so that I may perish with my men from hunger and destitution, and become a prey to my enemies … You will certainly not have your way in this matter. However, you may cross the sea with your men, if you so wish. Never before have you been thronged by so large a number of your men as you are now. But I and my men will return home.’

‘But I am also your man’, John responded.

‘I see no evidence of it!’ snapped Richard, whose mood was afterwards one of great distress.65

Although the retreat was sounded without any material gain and without even having engaged an enemy, the campaign of 1385 was not without its landmarks. One of these was Richard’s creation of two of his uncles as dukes: Edmund as duke of Canterbury and Thomas as duke of Aumale. These titles were short-lived; there may have been hostility to them, not so much arising from the recipients as from the fact that Richard had created them outside parliament. Edward III had been very careful to raise all his higher lords to their dignities within the parliamentary chamber. For this reason, Richard’s attempt to make Simon Burley the earl of Huntingdon – having already given him many of the old earl of Huntingdon’s lands – failed.66 He was more successful with his plan to create Michael de la Pole earl of Suffolk, but even here he managed to alienate one of his uncles, Thomas, to whom he had just given a dukedom. He gave de la Pole all the inheritance of the Ufford family, who had previously been the earls of Suffolk. This angered Thomas, who still had no landed inheritance of his own. He began to side more openly with those speaking against Richard’s personal form of government.

While the army waited at Bishopthorpe, a quarrel broke out between John Holland – Richard’s older half-brother – and Sir Ralph Stafford. Two esquires in the company of Stafford’s father, the earl of Stafford, killed two grooms in the service of Sir John Holland. The offenders fled to sanctuary and would have been dragged out and lynched had not Richard intervened. Holland then went to see Richard, to ask for redress, and was assured that the squires would stand trial. But shortly afterwards Sir Ralph chanced upon Sir John. As Ralph Stafford was one of Richard’s favourites, probably his closest friend after de Vere, and a great favourite of the queen’s too, John Holland should have exercised more caution. But like the king himself, Holland could not stand criticism of any sort, anddrew his sword and killed young Stafford. Subsequently, fearing Richard’s revenge, John Holland withdrew from the army and sought refuge on his estates in Lancashire.

News of the quarrel between her two sons plunged Joan of Kent into deeper grief. Hearing that one of her sons, the king, had insisted that another of her sons should face the full penalty of the law, she sent messengers to intercede with Richard, and to show pity to her through showing mercy to John. Richard refused. He had promised the dead heir’s father – who was understandably distraught at losing his eldest son – that he would not protect the killer even though he was his half-brother. When Joan’s messengers returned and told her this, she collapsed.67 We can sympathise with all parties: the royal family was wrenching itself apart, brother fighting against brother; cousin against cousin. A few days later, on 8 August, Joan died. Although she made due acknowledgement of Richard’s place in her affections in her will, describing him there as ‘her very dear son’, the king cannot have been reassured. She chose not to be buried with his father, the prince, but with Thomas Holland, the father of her other children, including the renegade John.68


Henry probably remained in the north at the end of the 1385 campaign. His father took on the securing of the northern border against reprisals from the Scots. They had both seen enough of the young king and his entourage for the time being. Although John had been reconciled to Robert de Vere and Thomas Mowbray in June, he did not trust either of them. Nevertheless, he could not remain in the north forever. There was a parliament to be attended. Writs had been sent out as soon as Richard had returned. And this time they included one name which had never before been included on a parliamentary summons: Henry of Lancaster, earl of Derby.

It was a tumultuous parliament. Everything was set for confrontation. The king had led his army, as he had been required to do. Now he wanted free rein to rule as he wished. He had turned his thoughts to how to counter criticisms of his personal rule, and he had a new strategy. Whatever parliament wished to throw at him, he had something to throw back. He was set to make a powerful display of his own vision of chivalric kingship. When the lords, prelates and commons arrived at Westminster Hall, they found themselves confronted by a series of larger-than-life-size statues: one for every king from St Edward the Confessor to Richard himself. Thirteen kings – some good, some bad, some strong and some weak, but all of them kings – were displayed as the inheritors of the throne of a saint, not a conqueror.69

The proceedings of the parliament were cold and meaningful. The chancellor made the opening speech, announcing that the parliament had been called to discuss the good governance of the realm and its preservation from threats within and without its borders. But then he announced that the internal ‘threats’ amounted only to the location of the wool staple and the standard of the currency. What of the appointment of bad ministers, of the raising of unworthy men to peerages, of the alienation of royal property? What of the fact that Richard had promised to give de Vere £45,000 to secure his lands in Ireland? The king was then petitioned repeatedly to revoke his grants to unworthy lords, for the royal purveyors to act within the law, for the royal household to be reviewed, for a committee of lords to be appointed to oversee the operations of the exchequer and to exercise restraint with regard to royal grants. Richard listened as his political opponents read out a blistering attack on his personal government. In thirteen clauses (echoing the thirteen kings, perhaps) it hammered home what exactly the lords wanted from Richard: that he give credence to his council, that he not interfere with the law, that he appoint suitable persons to control access to his chamber and other household offices, that he not appoint anyone to any offices without first seeking advice, that he not grant out lands and offices without advice, nor grant pardons for murder, robbery and rape as lightly as he had done.70

After a bitter and long debate, a compromise was reached.71 A commission of four men to reform the royal household was agreed, with a remit to oversee the operation of the royal finances.72 The king was prohibited from making further grants which reduced the Crown revenues. Other grants could only be made following an expert valuation, and then only to those who deserved them: the king could no longer simply hand out lucrative offices to his friends. Richard cleverly managed to water down the most excessive demands, but then he rendered the whole compromise utterly meaningless. Having been criticised for raising his friends to high titles outside parliament, he decided that the agreement now gave him the right to demand confirmation of their titles within parliament. On 9 November he announced that he would create his two uncles dukes. Thomas was henceforth to be duke of Gloucester, and Edmund, duke of York (the titles he had given them on the Scottish border were discarded). These were fine but then he declared that Sir Michael de la Pole would receive the earldom of Suffolk and Sir James Butler the earldom of Ormond. Sir Ralph Neville would become earl of Cumberland and Sir Simon Burley earl of Huntingdon. And then he declared that Robert de Vere would become duke of Ireland.73

Those present were horrified. They did not know what was more objectionable: Richard handing out a grant of £45,000 of royal revenue to de Vere or making him a duke. Giving Burley, de la Pole and Neville earldoms was hardly any better. They objected. Burley was prevented from receiving his earldom, so too was Neville. De la Pole was grudgingly allowed his, but de Vere’s dukedom was out of the question. Richard refused to back down. So the debate raged. Eventually, yet another compromise was suggested. Rather than a dukedom, de Vere could be given a new form of title, a marquisate. Richard agreed. On 1 December, his favourite was created marquis of Dublin.

The earls were bitterly resentful. De Vere now outranked them in the chamber: an unremarkable, inexperienced pleasure-seeking twenty-five-year-old! But Richard was not finished yet. To insult his detractors that little bit more, he also gave de Vere the confiscated estates of John Holland, even though the reversion of these meant that they were not his to grant. And then he decided he would not abide by the decisions of the commission to reform his household and finances. Was this not everything which the lords had just sought to prevent happening? Would Richard never learn?

Richard was no fool, however. Instead of working with parliament, he made personal bridges with John of Gaunt. He agreed to pardon John Northampton, the pro-Lancastrian mayor of London. He agreed that John could lead a military expedition to Castile, funded by the subsidy granted in the last parliament. On the last day of the parliament, 5 December – four days after Richard had so controversially raised de Vere to a marquisate – John was dining in his company.74 Parliament’s will had once more been flouted. John was probably looking forward to his Castilian venture, if only because it removed him from threats of being murdered and Richard’s shameful political intrigues.

Henry spent Christmas and New Year at Leicester with his father. On 19 February 1386 they were at Lincoln, when Henry was accepted into the confraternity of Lincoln Cathedral. With them too were Henry’s half-brother, John Beaufort, now aged about fourteen, and Thomas Swynford, now seventeen.75 Following the ceremony, the Lancastrian party with all its many followers returned to London, to watch Henry take part in the jousts at Smithfield in early March. All eyes were on him, the champion of the Lancastrians, hoping that he would demonstrate the prestige and power of the family. Henry did not let them down. In front of a huge crowd of Londoners, he swept the field and took the prize as the best jouster of the tournament.

John and Henry remained in London for about three weeks. A royal council on 8 March confirmed support for John’s expedition to Castile, and two days later Henry officially received custody of his wife’s inheritance.76 Having made his farewells to the king and queen, exchanging presents with them, John set out on a series of pilgrimages, a preliminary to his expedition to Castile. Henry went as far as Plymouth. In mid-June they were staying at the Carmelites house as the fleet and an eight-thousand-strong army gathered. While waiting for a favourable wind, they gave evidence in the famous heraldic legal case between Robert Grosvenor and Lord Scrope of Bolton as to who should be allowed to bear the arms azure, a bend or. On 9 July the wind changed and the fleet was ready to sail. Henry joined his father on board his flagship for one last meal together, and then disembarked.77

He was nineteen. The full weight of Lancastrian expectations now lay on his shoulders.

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