Post-classical history


Grand Strategy 1337–1338

The triangle of north-west Europe which now comprises Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the German Rhineland, consisted in the early fourteenth century of many small principalities divided by economic rivalry and dynastic jealousies, and overshadowed by the enormous presence of Capetian France on their southern flank.

By far the most important of these principalities was the county of Flanders. Flanders was rich, populous and unstable. It was also, alone among the territories of the Low Countries, a province of France. Although it had once enjoyed the same autonomy under its own dynasty as the neighbouring principalities of the German Empire, it had been in the process of absorption into the mainstream of French politics for more than half a century. The battle of Courtrai had proved to be a flash in the pan. By the treaties of Athis-sur-Orge (1305) and Paris (1320) the French Crown had appropriated the three districts (‘castleries’) of Lille, Douai and Orchies, which included substantially all of Walloon-speaking Flanders, leaving a French dynasty to govern the truncated Flemish-speaking territorywhich remained. Moreover, although the counts still ruled the richest parts of Flanders, the county was burdened by crushing financial indemnities which the treaties had promised to the French King, and whose payment, stretched over many years, ensured that old wounds did not heal.

Among the Flemings, these events left a legacy of resentment not only against France but against each other. Although the revolutions of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries had loosened the grip of the great merchants over the city governments of the county, the economic foundations of their power survived. Their mansions and towers still rose up from the midst of the squalor and teeming numbers of the cloth-workers. The journeymen were still liable to be buffeted by changes of economic fortune. The economic troubles of the early fourteenth century brought distress which was particularly intense in Flanders, where the balance of population and resources was always delicate. In few other parts of Europe could the haut bourgeois have petitioned the King, as those of Ypres did, to preserve the walls of their city lest the artisans of the suburbs should murder them in their beds at night and loot them of their possessions.1 Beyond the suburbs, the peasantry and smallholders of the flat country conserved all the rancours against the rich, the rural nobility and the French which had led them to support with so much enthusiasm the revolution of 1302. They had achieved even less for their pains than the townsmen had. The humiliating peace of 1305 was followed by a return of the local nobility who had fled at the revolution, and by a determined assault on the liberties which the peasant communities had arrogated to themselves during their brief and joyful anarchy. In hindsight, it is possible to see that the internal troubles of Flanders foreshadowed similar upheavals which less advanced economies would experience later. At the time, they were peculiar to Flanders, and neighbouring governments including England saw in them an opportunity rather than a warning.

The task of bringing order to this wretched province would have been beyond a much abler ruler than Louis of Nevers, who succeeded his grandfather as Count of Flanders in 1322 at the age of eighteen. He was an unimpressive man, without experience or judgement, who by the deliberate decision of Philip the Fair had been separated from his family at an early age and brought up at the French court. Consequently, he had no knowledge of his principality at his accession and no friends there in an age when friendship was the essential instrument of government. His advisers were Frenchmen, including, as his subjects noted with displeasure, the son of that same Pierre Flote who had been the architect of Philip the Fair’s Flemish policy. His stock, already low, was further abased by the enthusiasm which his ministers brought to the collection of the indemnities which the French government had exacted at the peace table. He was, said Froissart, a ‘good and faithful Frenchman’. He had occasion, before his reign proceeded much further, to be an even better Frenchman, for within a few months of his arrival in the county all the animosities of the Flemings for their rulers and each other exploded in a civil war of unparalleled savagery. It began, as the revolution of 1302 had begun, with a rebellion of the cloth-workers of Bruges. This was shortly followed by peasant risings throughout western Flanders. From there it spread to Ypres and to much of the rest of the county. Only in Ghent did the patriciate manage to keep control. In rural areas the nobility and the Count’s officials were murdered wherever they could be found. By 1328, Louis was an exile in Paris and his government in Flanders had all but disappeared. The job of defeating these ‘unreasoning brutes’ (Philip VI’s phrase) fell to the new King of France, who carried it out with ruthless dispatch in the summer of that year. The Brugeois were defeated at the battle of Cassel on 23 August 1328. The walls of the rebel towns were thrown down. A reign of terror was inaugurated which was still in progress three years later. Louis of Nevers returned to govern his own. But he owed his county to Philip VI and did not forget it. Neither did his subjects.2

East of Flanders lay the uncertain boundary of the German Empire, meandering either side of the River Scheldt and leaving untidy enclaves of one county within the territory of another, the seeds of future territorial disputes. With the exception of Brabant, a large duchy with an important cloth industry of its own, the German Low Countries consisted of small agrarian territories much less heavily populated than Flanders and vulnerable to interference from outside. There were few princes of the region who were not in some degree dependent on France. They needed French support against their enemies, or feared French hostility when French power was so close at hand. Many of them held isolated limbs or enclaves of their territory in fee from the French King or owned by marriage, inheritance or purchase estates in the heart of France. Or they were prince–bishops, who owed their election to their sees to the patronage of the kings of France, always closer to the ear of the Pope than a German emperor could hope to be. Or, without any of these overt ties of dependence, they were simply men who felt the attraction of French court culture, married themselves or their kinsmen to French princesses, and maintained mansions in Paris, like that extreme francophile John, Count of Luxembourg, who was also King of Bohemia, the son of one German Emperor and the father of another but by adoption a life-long French courtier who faithfully served Philip VI as a soldier and diplomat until he died fighting for him at Crécy.

All of these princes were vassals of the German Emperor. But the Germany to which they belonged scarcely existed as a political unit. It covered tracts of western and central Europe and Italy too vast and diverse to command loyalty even as an abstract notion. French was spoken in most of Hainault, some of southern Brabant, about half of Luxembourg and in the land of the counts of Namur and the prince–bishops of Liège and Cambrai. Further north and west, it was the adopted language of the higher nobility and of those patricians of the towns who had pretensions to address them on equal terms, Germans who like the sixteenth-century Emperor Charles V spoke German only to their horses. The mass of the population spoke one or other of the local dialects of low German which the French indiscriminately referred to as ‘Thiois’. There was no more political than there was linguistic cohesion. Weakened by two centuries of internal dissension and constitutional dispute with the papacy, the German Empire was in an advanced state of political decay. The Low Countries were the extreme western limb of the Empire. They were marginal to the political balance of Germany and their rulers were for all practical purposes sovereign.

If anyone was capable of restoring the Empire it was certainly not Louis of Bavaria, who had occupied the Imperial throne since 1314. For, although he was a man of great ability, he revived and aggravated longstanding differences with the papacy, differences ostensibly about abstractions of canonical theory but which went to the root of the German constitution. The papal theory, dating back at least to the reign of Innocent III in the early thirteenth century, was that the approval of the Pope was required before an elected king of Germany could exercise his sovereign powers. The theory had only recently been redefined in two uncompromising bulls of Pope Clement V. But Louis of Bavaria disregarded it. He performed sovereign acts in Germany and in northern Italy as if election alone was enough. Moreover, as the bitterness of the dispute intensified, he sheltered and patronized some of the most venomous and effective anti-papal pamphleteers who ever wrote, including Marsiglio of Padua. In 1327 and 1328 Louis brought his feud with the Pope to its culminating point by invading Italy, having himself crowned without papal authority in Milan and Rome, and erecting an anti-pope in place of John XXII. John for his part excommunicated Louis and purported to declare the German throne vacant. Such was the condition of the sovereign power beyond France’s northern and eastern frontiers when Edward III of England began to meddle there.

At about the time when Edward III was looking for friends among France’s neighbours, a number of incidents revealed how vulnerable the princes of the Low Countries were in their ambiguous situation between France and Germany, and how weak a skin the Franco–German border was without any reserve of national power to defend it on the German side. The absorption (which was what it amounted to) of the francophone territories east of the Rhône and Saône rivers into the political orbit of France had been an accomplished fact for more than a century. More recently, in the time of Philip the Fair and his sons, French ‘protectorates’ had gradually reduced some important Imperial territories on France’s north-eastern frontier, such as the Argonne and the bishopric of Verdun, to the same status. Were the Low Countries to be next? There were two concerted attacks on Brabant in the 1330s, one of which was certainly and the other probably engineered by France. Pope Benedict XII, exceptionally well informed and always sensitive to the changing balance of western European sentiment, warned the French King about this as early as May 1336. In April 1337, as the main protagonists were exchanging declarations of war, Benedict told Philip VI plainly that the mood in Germany was one of ‘irritation approaching desperation’ and that an overt alliance between the Empire and England was likely to follow.3


The English King’s preferred course would have been an alliance with Flanders. The county, with its long coastline on the North Sea and along the great north European estuaries, and its open border with France, was ideally situated for his purposes. Moreover, as one of his advisers put it, Flanders was to France what Scotland was to England.4 Unfortunately, relations with Flanders in the winter of 1336–7 were bad. The Scots were being supplied from Flemish ports and Flemish ships were prominent in French attacks on the coast of England. Edward’s government demanded redress for these and other incidents, but the raiders had letters of marque from the King of France, and the Count of Flanders was unable to help even had he wished to. Probably, however, he did not wish to. Louis was a loyal servant of his sovereign. Edward proposed a treaty of alliance, which the Count firmly rejected. In October 1336, there was a complete severance of relations between England and Flanders as the result of Philip VI’s sanctions against Englishmen and their trade, which Louis dutifully enforced in his own county.5

In August 1336 Edward III forbade all exports of wool and leather from the kingdom. This drastic order may not originally have been intended to put pressure on the Flemings. However, what began as financial housekeeping became a political weapon of unforeseen power in the course of the autumn. The Flemish cloth-making industry, and with it the employment of most of the population of the county, depended on English wool. There was virtually no other raw material. The export ban was therefore kept in place, and indeed was extended for a time to embrace wheat and ale and a variety of other items. The economic damage done to England was grave enough, but in Flanders the effect was catastrophic. For a while the Flemings were cushioned by their stocks, but by the end of 1336 the distress was evident. A poor harvest in the previous year added its own contribution. Textile workers were passing through the county begging for bread in roadside villages sometimes as far afield as Tournai and northern France. In the new year, public order began to break down in Ghent and Bruges.6

As distress weakened Louis of Nevers’ grip on his principality, there was a new crisis in the affairs of France and the German territories further east. The occasion was series of complicated and obscure property transactions in the Cambrésis of a kind which half a century of experience in Aquitaine had made very familiar to the English government. The Cambrésis was a region of great strategic importance lying between the upper valleys of the Sambre and the Scheldt, main highways for any army passing between France and Hainault or Brabant. For several years French noblemen had been buying fiefs in this sensitive region and, although it cannot be proved, the probability is that they had been doing so with the connivance of their government. The Cambrésis was an Imperial territory. Its ruler, the Bishop of Cambrai, was a prince of the Empire. But he was also a suffragan of the Archbishop of Reims and, more often than not, a Frenchmen beholden to the French government for his appointment. The incumbent was a Burgundian, Guillaume d’Auxonne, a protégé of Philip VI’s Queen, and the friend and Chancellor of Louis of Nevers, Count of Flanders. A man less likely to defend the interests of the Empire against France can scarely be imagined.

In February 1337, after a short negotiation conducted in the utmost secrecy, Philip bought for his son five castles in the eastern Cambrésis, including Cambrai itself and two places on the vital Scheldt artery. It was an astonishing coup, not unlike the one by which Philip had recently acquired the castles of Blanquefort and Veyrines on the outskirts of Bordeaux. The Emperor’s reaction was like Edward Ill’s. Rumours of Philip’s intentions had begun to circulate shortly before the transaction was completed, and Louis had protested strongly. He had ordered the Bishop of Cambrai to prevent it on pain of Imperial displeasure. But the Bishop was indifferent to Imperial displeasure. Far from preventing it, in due course he formally conferred the castles in fee on Philip’s heir. The French King seems to have been taken aback by the uproar which followed, as well he might be given the passive reception of previous usurpations in Germany. He went to the lengths of preparing a circular, which was sent to the princes and cities of the Rhineland, explaining that there was no intention to trespass on the rights of the Empire. The princes and towns who received it were not persuaded. In the early months of 1337 the idea gained ground that what was needed was a champion to reassert the territorial integrity of the Empire, on which the autonomy of the princes in the last resort depended. It was inconceivable that Louis of Bavaria himself should be that champion. In any event a strong Imperial presence in the Low Countries would probably have been unwelcome to the rulers of the region. So, by a peculiar combination of circumstances, it fell to Edward III to undertake the business on the Emperor’s behalf.7


It is not clear who sowed in Edward’s mind the idea of a great coalition across the northern marches of France on the model of his grandfather’s. But the weight of the evidence points to the Count of Hainault, William of Avesnes. William had ruled his county for more than thirty years in 1337, and had acquired a personal stature far greater than Hainault’s modest size and resources alone could have warranted. On the face of it, he was a surprising candidate to lead an anti-French coalition. Alliance with France had been the cornerstone of his policy for many years. He had supported the French kings in their struggles against Flanders before 1322 and had brought his contingent to fight at Cassel in 1328. A small part of his territory, the county of Ostrevant on the west bank of the Scheldt, was held by him as a fief of the French Crown. He was married to a sister of Philip VI and in the interregnum of 1328 had vigorously canvassed Philip’s claims to the throne. Here was a man deeply enmeshed in the fabric of French politics, and yet a foreign prince with concerns much wider than those of a mere client of France. His court was a famous centre of chivalrous display. He had the Emperor Louis of Bavaria as his son-in-law as well as Edward III, and maintained close relations with both of them, not only at times when this was consistent with French foreign policy. His problem was in one respect that of every prince of the German Low Countries. His position depended on a territorial base which was very vulnerable: Hainault itself, a moderately prosperous agrarian county with a small cloth industry in and around Valenciennes, and the marshy wastes of Holland and Zeeland in the far north.

William was an old man, suffering from gout and stone and racked with pain, still an adroit diplomat but without the infinite patience which might once have enabled him to deal with the hardening attitudes of Philip VI’s ministers. French officials were needling at Ostrevant in spite of the King’s protestations that he had told them not to. Their thoughts went even further than their deeds. Within the French Chancery much ingenious learning was deployed in proving that the jurisdiction of the King of France included not only Ostrevant but also the Count’s capital of Valenciennes on the other side of the Scheldt. Several joint commissions which had been charged with fixing the boundary between the French and German parts of William’s territory failed, perhaps deliberately, tocomplete their work. Uncertainty aided the stronger power. The Count of Hainault’s unease turned to outrage when it was learned that Philip VI proposed to buy the five castles of the Cambrésis. The Cambrésis was a region in which he had been carefully building up his own influence for twenty years. Two of the castles in question, Crèvecœur and Arleux, were of particular interest to him. They had once belonged to his family and he had been on the point of acquiring them for his own son when Philip VI snatched them from under his nose.8

The princes of the Low Countries belonged to an extended circle of friends and relations on the north and east border of France, men whose ancestors had been allies and clients of King John and Edward I in their time. The English kings had never entirely ceased to cultivate them. The Count of Hainault was Edward III’s father-in-law. The Count’s brother John, a famous paladin, had fought in Scotland and received a pension of 1,000 marks a year from the English treasury. The Margrave of Juliers, another pensioner and future Earl of Cambridge, had fought in two Scotch campaigns. The Count of Namur had led his contingent into Scotland in 1335. The Count of Guelders was married to Edward’s sister. Yet, in spite of the bonds of tradition, trade and marriage, English civil servants of the early fourteenth century knew little about the German Low Countries and less about the main German lands east of them. The gap was filled in some measure by using strangers to the King’s service: Englishmen familiar with the Low Countries, such as the York merchant John de Woume, who may have been a Fleming by birth; or the various advisers and clerks whom Edward III or his agents hired on the continent between 1337 and 1340. Edward’s main agent on the continent, the shadowy John Thrandeston, may have been a Norfolk man by birth but by adoption he was a German from Cologne.9

Thrandeston was sent on his first mission to the counts of Hainault, Juliers and Guelders in the middle of September 1336. He went on the initiative of the King’s Council, Edward himself being on campaign in Scotland and out of touch with events. It is therefore unlikely that he took with him any very radical proposals. At the end of October 1336 he passed a fortnight at William of Hainault’s court at Valenciennes. This, almost certainly, was when the plans of the next three years were first mooted. During the first three months of the new year there were no less than three separate English embassies at work on Imperial territory. Thrandeston himself visited the Flemish towns and the princely courts of the Low Countries, some of them several times. Another embassy, consisting of one of Edward’s household knights and a senior Exchequer clerk, covered a wider territory including the Low Countries and the Rhineland, retaining influential ministers and soldiers. A third agent, a discreet Augustinian friar called Geoffrey Maldon, worked on the princely courts of Châlons, Bourg-en-Bresse and Savoy, Imperial territories on France’s eastern march whom it was hoped to recruit for Edward’s cause in spite of the traditional attachment of these francophone regions to the French Crown. The expenditure on fees and bribes approached £3,000, a prodigious sum. These men travelled modestly, as the nature of their business dictated. Their instructions were generally given by word of mouth and their work was obscurely referred to in the English records as ‘certain secret business of the King’.10 But so much frenetic diplomatic activity could scarcely remain unnoticed. Philip VI was understandably reticent about his sources of information, but it seems possible that an English diplomatic agent had his baggage rifled in eastern Burgundy, and almost certain that reports were being received from one of William of Hainault’s counsellors.11

By the spring of 1337, concealment was no longer necessary. William of Hainault announced his intention of convening a great diplomatic conference in his capital at Valenciennes on 4 May 1337. To this conference it was proposed to invite not only Edward’s allies and potential allies, but also representatives of Philip VI and those princes of the Low Countries such as the Count of Flanders and the Bishop of Liège who were plainly in Philip VI’s camp and unlikely to support an attack on him. William, who was not a naive man, cannot have expected these personnages to appear. His reason for inviting them was to justify his own conduct. If there was to be a war in which Hainault would fight with an English king against France, then it should be made to appear plainly that it was Philip who had rejected peace.12

Edward III’s own proposals were formulated in the course of April 1337. At the beginning of the month Thrandeston returned from the continent in the company of the agents of the counts of Hainault and Guelders and the Duke of Brabant. They spent some days in London receiving splendid gifts and entertainments while the King deliberated with his Council. On 15 April the composition of the English delegation was announced: Henry Burghersh, Bishop of Lincoln, who was its senior member, and two of the new earls closest to the King, William Montagu, Earl of Salisbury, and William Clinton, Earl of Huntingdon. Burghersh was a significant choice. As a member of the King’s Council he had been much concerned with the diplomatic manoeuvres of the past six months, and the days of his greatest influence were now beginning. He was the principal architect of English foreign policy from this point until his premature death at the end of 1340, long enough to witness both the initial triumph of his schemes and their final, catastrophic failure. Like Stratford, whom he disliked and displaced, Burghersh was a worldly ecclesiastical politician, ambitious, devious and unscrupulous. He was not a man whose judgement was to be relied upon in weighing the balance between peace and war, and it says much for Edward III’s choice of ministers that while peace with France had remained a possibility, Burghersh’s influence on foreign policy had remained small. But as the executant of a war policy once it came to that, Burghersh was supreme. He was, as onecontemporary accurately described him, ‘an ingenious adviser, audacious and smooth’.

Burghersh’s embassy had two functions. He was, in the first place, to deliver to Philip VI or his representatives at an appropriate moment the ultimatum which had been drafted in Parliament. Secondly, he was to equip his master with the continental alliances which would be required in the very probable event that Philip was obdurate or failed to negotiate at all. It was certainly hoped that after suffering an embargo on wool exports for eight months, the Count of Flanders would agree to become one of those allies. The marriage of one of Edward’s daughters to the Count’s heir was proposed as a possible bait. But Burghersh was to complete the formation of the coalition whether or not Flanders came into it. The means to be employed and the terms to be offered were left to him. He and his fellow ambassadors constituted a branch of the King’s Council sitting abroad, able to make their own decisions without referring them back to England, subject only to ratification by the King’s own hand when everything was in place. Edward had learned something from the diplomatic misfortunes of the past decade.13

Burghersh and his fellow ambassadors left England in the last week of April 1337 and went directly to Valenciennes. No effort or expense was spared to impress the natives of the Low Countries with the power and wealth of the English King. The ambassadors were authorized to draw £2,000 from the Bardi firm on Edward’s account, and £1,000 from the Peruzzi. In addition to these enormous sums, the Earl of Salisbury brought with him 5,000 marks (£3,333) of his own in case it should be needed. The arrival of the whole troop in Hainault was celebrated with lavish feasting and display. Valenciennes was a small town and the inhabitants were indeed impressed. ‘People came out to watch the show, amazed by such a magnificent spectacle,’ Jean le Bel recorded: ‘they could not have spent more money if the King in person had been with them.’ It was not only the gapers of Valenciennes who were impressed. Before serious negotiation had even begun, the Earl of Salisbury had distributed the whole of his 5,000 marks in gifts and pensions to influential personages.14

When the Count of Hainault’s conference opened it was found, to nobody’s surprise, that only those well disposed to Edward III had appeared. This meant, apart from Count William himself and his brother, the Count of Guelders, the Count of Limburg, the Margrave of Juliers, the counts of Cleves and Alost and a number of lesser princes. The Duke of Brabant, the Count of Namur and the Archbishop of Cologne sent representatives. But the Count and the towns of Flanders were not represented at all. Neither was Philip VI. Nevertheless, those present set about the task of proposing peace before they agreed upon war. An ultimatum was prepared by the counts of Hainault and Guelders for presentation to Philip VI. This contained three demands. First, there was the question of Robert of Artois, who was represented at the conference by a knight of his household. This was a delicate issue. As the French government had predicted when they chose to make an issue of Robert’s activities, the princes of the Low Countries did not want to defy Philip VI on a matter on which they would be on such weak ground. One of them, the Count of Guelders, produced for Burghersh’s inspection the document by which five years earlier he had sworn to help Philip against his mortal enemy. It was therefore agreed that Philip VI should be invited to grant Robert a safe conduct to return to France and plead his defence before a French court. If the safe conduct was forthcoming and Robert was tried and convicted, then Edward for his part would shelter him in England no longer. The second, more controversial demand was that Philip should abandon the Scots, something which it was hardly conceivable that he would do. Thirdly, the French King was invited to appoint a day when the troublesome litigation between himself and Edward III in the Parlement of Paris might be settled or determined. The two counts offered their services as intermediaries for this purpose.15 The emissary chosen to carry this message to Philip VI was Jeanne de Valois, Countess of Hainault, the French King’s sister and the only participant in this affair whose desire for peace was wholly untinged with hypocrisy. She was a spiritual but still formidable old lady who abhorred the prospect of a war in which all the principal protagonists would be members of her family. So, in the third week of May 1337, she set out for Paris accompanied by the Count’s brother John, a personable man who had always got on well with Philip in the past.

When Jeanne and her brother-in-law arrived at the castle of Vincennes they found the French court filled with the bustle of preparation for war. Philip’s ministers and courtiers tried not to notice her, and it was only after a great deal of lobbying that she obtained an interview with her brother. It was a chilly occasion. Jeanne begged him to send representatives to Valenciennes and gave him the written proposals which the princes had drawn up. Philip dismissed them out of hand. He knew about her husband’s role in assembling a coalition of his enemies over the past six months; more, probably, than she did. Turning to John of Hainault, Philip accused him of trying to ‘hound me from my kingdom’. They left empty-handed. After they had gone, the King relented in some small measure. He sent a messenger after them with a letter which announced that he was, after all, willing to consider granting a safe conduct to Robert of Artois so that he could stand trial in France. He would allow him to choose his own counsel and to object to the presence of any of his enemies among the judges. Philip had nothing to say about the resolution of disputes in the Parlement. He proposed to proceed with the confiscation of Aquitaine. As for the Scots, he said that he was bound by treaty to assist them against England and intended to do so.16

Philip VI had already committed himself to military action on a large scale. The gathering of the army was fixed for 8 July 1338 at Amiens. A second army was summoned to meet on the same day at Marmande, a French fortress–town at the edge of Edward’s duchy some 50 miles from Bordeaux. The Count of Foix, Philip’s commander in the south, returned from a diplomatic mission at the papal court in the middle of May and his orders were sent to him on the 20th. The Constable of France, Raoul, Count of Eu, received his on the 23rd. On the following day, 24 May, the bailli of Amiens was instructed to take over the tiny northern enclave of Ponthieu. All this happened while Jeanne de Valois was at Vincennes.17

Philip’s ministers were already co-ordinating their plans with the Scots and supplying them on a scale which mounted as the English diplomatic offensive grew more menacing. Not long after the King’s uncomfortable interview with his sister, the Cogge deFlandre, one of the largest merchant ships available, was laden at Calais with armour and jewellery, 30,000 livres of silver and chests of records and correspondence. It sailed for Scotland with a great number of soldiers on board, and several dignitaries from the court at Château-Gaillard including the Scotch King’s confidant John Wischart, Bishop of Glasgow. The consignment is known because it was captured in mid-ocean by ships of Yarmouth. The French put down its loss to espionage and hanged the man they suspected, but ill-fortune is a better explanation. In the face of English weakness at sea the consignment should have got through. Many others did.18

The princes waiting at Valenciennes must have expected some such answer as Philip VI had given them. Nevertheless it took them a long time to give Edward’s ambassadors what they had come for. All of them were agreed on the necessity of a defensive alliance with England, by which they meant an arrangement for the payment of subsidies from the English treasury to themselves in the event that the French should attack first. Most of them were prepared to contemplate a joint attack on French possessions within the boundary of the Empire. But there was a difference of opinion about the prospect of an armed invasion of France, which was what Burghersh and his colleagues wanted. The problem lay in the uncertain attitude of the Duke of Brabant and the Emperor. The Duke of Brabant’s support was essential. He was the strongest military power of the German Low Countries. As for the Emperor, although the English ambassadors had high hopes of the military strength which he could bring to bear, his support was needed principally for legal and psychological reasons in order to set the seal of legitimacy on any military enterprise against France. The conference of Valenciennes proved, therefore, to be only the beginning and not the end of the diplomatic campaign. The rest of it taxed Burghersh’s negotiating skills to the limit, for it was just at this time that he lost the invaluable assistance of William of Hainault. The old man had been in great pain and only intermittently visible during the conference. On 7 June 1337 he died.19

Early in June the English ambassadors led their splendid cavalcade northward across the undulating valleys of northern Hainault to the Duke of Brabant’s capital at Brussels. More feasting and enormous bribes. The Duke himself was promised no less than£60,000 for his friendship, payable over the next four years. The prospect of establishing a wool staple in Brabant was held out to him, and export licences were liberally issued to his wool-starved subjects. The ambassadors were full of optimism. In mid-June, they sent report to their master in England that they would be ready to return by the end of the month with the alliances which would allow Edward to mount a major expedition to the continent that very summer. Edward was at Stamford in Lincolnshire, where he passed most of June and July closeted with his Council. Here, from 22 June onwards, a stream of orders was issued for the recruitment of an expeditionary army. It was to be ready to sail from London on 28 July 1337. The inevitable bureaucratic delays and a sense of isolation from the movement of events fed Edward’s impatience as he waited at Stamford for further news. But his ambassadors had been too sanguine. As the commissioners of array began their work in the English counties, Burghersh and his companions were travelling east to Frankfurt to confront the Emperor. A fleet of twenty ships of Great Yarmouth arrived at the Dutch port of Dordrecht at the end of June to carry them back to England, but they were nowhere to be found.20

Hitherto the English had had little direct contact with Louis of Bavaria. They had always been conscious that he was a heretic and a pariah. They addressed him by all his titles, but they sought the Pope’s absolution for doing so and in the privacy of their own records they still called him ‘Duke of Bavaria’.21 For Louis too it was a matter of some delicacy. For several months now he had also been engaged in desultory negotiations with the French King and the papacy in the hope of bringing an end to his long and damaging vendetta with Avignon. There were signs that Benedict XII was willing to consider a reconciliation. Louis knew that a military alliance with the King of England against France would make that impossible. His difficult choice was swayed by two factors. In the first place, there was the question of the castles of the Cambrésis, which still aroused fear and anger in Germany. Secondly, and perhaps more important for this impecunious ruler, there was the money which the English emissaries were offering, 300,000 gold florins (£45,000). For this sum, Louis was persuaded to agree to furnish 2,000 armed men to fight with Edward’s army for two months. Louis hoped, he said, to lead his troops in person. But if he did not, then he promised that Edward III himself would be empowered to act as ‘Vicar of the Empire’ with all the powers of the Emperor. This seminal idea can only have been Burghersh’s. The Emperor’s powers, no doubt, were few and little respected, but they undoubtedly included the power to confer public legitimacy on an invasion of France.22

Once they had settled matters with Louis of Bavaria, the ambassadors’ arrangements with the princes of the Low Countries fell quickly into place. The counts of Hainault and Guelders and the Margrave of Juliers were each promised subsidies of 100,000 florins (£15,000) to furnish troops for the coming campaign. The Duke of Brabant, who had already agreed his fee, made a similar agreement. We cannot know whether in the secrecy of their own counsels these princes had any misgivings about the venture to which they had committed themselves. The Count of Guelders and the Margrave of Juliers certainly had none. They were both men who enjoyed war and their principalities were far from France. They could hope to earn sums which would dwarf their ordinary incomes. But the Duke of Brabant and the Count of Hainault cannot have signed with great enthusiasm. French encroachment in the German Low Countries was a genuine grievance, but a direct assault on France for much wider political objects had dangers at least as menacing. Neither ruler, however, had very much choice. The new Count of Hainault had been made by his father to swear that he would carry the old man’s policy through. The Duke of Brabant could not afford to see the cloth industry of his territory brought to a halt by the English embargo and his towns reduced to the chaos which was rapidly overtaking those of Flanders. Even so, the size of his fee, which was larger even than the Emperor’s and four times that of the Count of Hainault, is probably a good indication of the reluctance which had to be overcome. None of this, however, troubled the English ambassadors. They had the princes’ agreements carried post haste to England and brought to Edward III at Stamford. He ratified them at once.23

When lesser princes, hangers-on and soldiers of fortune had made their own agreements in due course, Henry Burghersh and his companions had assembled on paper a contract army almost 7,000 strong:

The Emperor


The Duke of Brabant


The Count of Hainault


The Count of Guelders


The Margrave of Juliers


The Count of Loos


Rupert, Count Palatine


The Count of La Marck


The Margrave of Brandenburg


The Lord of Falkenburg






The ambassadors had also committed their master, with his grateful consent, to bear a crushing financial burden. The fees exacted by the princes for their alliances exceeded £160,000. In addition, all the treaties provided for the English King to bear the usual expenses of war. He was to pay fixed wages to each purveyor of troops. The usual rate was fifteen florins (£2, 5s.) per man per month. It was normal for two months’ wages to be payable in advance at the outset of the campaign. The men were to bring their own horses and equipment, but the King gave the usual undertaking to pay for all horses lost in his service. He also promised to procure the release of any who were taken prisoner, if necessary by paying their ransom.24

The agreements bound Edward to a campaign strategy which was not necessarily his best military option. He seems to have had in mind at the outset a landing in Normandy. The princes of the Low Countries would either join his army in England before it embarked or else execute a simultaneous attack on Philip VI from the north. This plan, however, had the grave disadvantage that it exposed the principalities of the Low Countries to an attack by a vastly superior French army while the English were still far away. It was therefore abandoned in the course of the conference at Valenciennes and replaced by a second plan which required Edward III to launch his attack from Hainault. This not only protected his allies against attack. It also gave them some hope that the campaign would achieve their object as well as Edward’s. For the Count of Hainault this meant the recovery of Crèvecœur and Arleux and perhaps some other places in the Cambrésis. Louis of Bavaria, so far as he was swayed by policy rather than money, had the same priorities. So Edward’s ambassadors promised that the armies of the coalition would meet in the middle of the Cambrésis. The date fixed was 17 September 1337. The Emperor was given a little longer to assemble his contingent: he was to join the allies on about 1 October 1337. The question of how a large English army was to reach the appointed meeting place was left unanswered.25

The question must have loomed large in the ambassadors’ minds as they waited near Dordrecht to be brought home by the fleet of Great Yarmouth. The French fleet had achieved almost complete command of the sea right up to the beaches on which they were standing. There had been serious losses of English shipping in the Channel and North Sea, and renewed raids on the Channel Islands and the south and east coasts. French galleys lay in wait to intercept them off Holland. From Westminster, Edward railed at his admirals, who by failing to bring the ambassadors home were depriving him of vital information. It was only after a wait of three weeks that the Yarmouth fleet succeeded in embarking the party and escaping under cover of a black storm. Some of them reached England wet and bedraggled on 13 August 1337; the others, who had been driven ashore by the gale, arrived a few days later without their horses and baggage. They landed in a country in which beacons were being built on hill tops, the coasts cleared of foreigners, and a mood of alarm intensified by the continual pounding of war propaganda. The ambassadors reached London in the third week of August to witness the half-organized beginnings of an army: a mass of men from Wales and the West Country milling around the capital without leaders or orders awaiting a campaign of which they knew as yet nothing. The King, who had moved from Stamford to Westminster, could now be apprised in detail of the scale of what he had undertaken. It was exactly a month before it was due to be performed.26


Edward III was represented in Gascony by some outstanding soldiers and administrators, a striking contrast to the state of affairs which had existed in his father’s time in the crisis of Saint-Sardos. The Seneschal was an Englishman, Oliver Ingham, a ‘bold and admirable knight’ according to the chronicler Knighton. Ingham was a remarkable and ingenious improviser, one of the unsung heroes of the war. He was a Norfolk man with a colourful career in royal service who had taken an active part in the civil wars of Edward II’s reign and had first visited Gascony in 1325 during the war of Saint-Sardos. He had been released from Winchester jail by the orders of the Despensers and sent out to serve as one of the counsellors of the incompetent Earl of Kent. After the Earl had departed in disgrace, Ingham held the office of Seneschal for a short period, in which he brought a new spirit of aggressive enterprise to the defence of the duchy. This was in 1326, the year the Despensers fell. The new government recalled him in the interests of peace with France. But Ingham had a talent for ingratiating himself with whomever was in power. In June 1331 he was reappointed seneschal of Gascony. He remained there for substantially the rest of his life. By the standards of contemporary Englishmen he was exceptionally experienced in Gascon affairs and evidently very good at the continuous diplomacy which passed for government among the fickle lords of the region.27

Ingham was getting on in years in 1337 (he was about fifty), and his health was not always up to the burden of carrying on a war single-handed. His chief collaborator at the outset of the war was a Gascon nobleman, Bérard d’Albret, who was captain of Blaye and Puynormand on the northern march. Bérard was a cadet of the house of Albret, perhaps the ablest of his ruthless and warlike clan. He had consistently supported the English even in the darkest days of 1324 and 1325 when most of his family were on the other side. The English government rated his military skills highly, and sedulously cultivated his friendship. But his main assets were his influence and his charm, famous in his own day, and a profound knowledge of his own countrymen. ‘We have always found him more enthusiastic than anyone else in these parts about the service of the King our master,’ an Englishman had written in the time of Edward II, ‘and he has drawn more French allies to our side than any other man.’28

These men had resources wholly inadequate to their task. There were no English troops in the duchy except for a handful of immigrants and the personal retinues of a few English officials. The government of Gascony depended for its field army on the nobility of the province and their vassals and retainers. The patchy records which survive suggest that in favourable conditions the Gascon nobility could raise between 4,000 and 7,000 men.29 Even that depended on a high degree of loyalty and enthusiasm. These men were being asked to withdraw their retainers from the defence of their own possessions, to serve on credit, to run the risk of capture and ransom in case of defeat, to abandon what prospect they had of patronage by the French Crown and to forfeit the property which they held in other parts of France. There were not many who felt sufficient confidence in the survival of the English duchy. When Oliver Ingham convened an assembly of the loyal baronage of the duchy in October 1337, a side chapel of the Dominican church in Bordeaux contained them all. There were some notable absences. In spite of the presence of three members of the house of Albret, the head of the family was not there. The lords of Fronsac, Caumont and Duras, whose families were to be stars at the Gascon court of the Black Prince two decades later, were absent. All of them were either firmly on the French side or else (like the lord of Albret) maintaining an attitude of unfriendly neutrality until the course of events should become clear.30

The assignment of almost all the available manpower to the garrisons forced the government of the duchy to follow a policy of passive defence against all the personal instincts of its leaders. Other factors born of weakness and poverty pointed in the same direction. The practice of the Bordeaux government was to promise subsidies to local territorial magnates to retain troops for the defence of their own lands and the districts about them. This had the advantage that it was something that the nobility had every interest in doing, if necessary on credit. But the disadvantages were considerable. Some of the recipients of these subsidies became for all practical purposes the military governors of whole regions, exercising an independent political power and strategic discretion uncontrolled from Bordeaux. Pierre de Grailly, for example, and his son John, ‘Captal de Buch’, were responsible for a substantial block of territory west of Bordeaux, including the fortresses of Benauges and Castillon-sur-Dordogne, the walled town of Libourne and much of Entre-Deux-Mers, as well as another block, less substantial, in the southern Landes near Bayonne. They manned, fortified and provisioned these places as contractors of the King–Duke and levied taxes for their own account.31 By such methods Ingham was able to make bricks without straw. But the price to be paid was the loss of a considerable measure of control over the deployment of the troops. Only on rare occasions was it possible to concentrate the forces of the duchy at the decisive point. The military organization was static and inflexible, and tended to become more so as the French extended their conquests, as the tenure of the nobility became less secure, as they became more straitened in their circumstances, more defensive and tenacious in their outlook. No significant field army was deployed in Gascony before 1340, and none with any prospect of defeating the French in battle until 1345.

The preservation of the duchy depended on castles, not only strong but numerous, to provide defence in depth: obstructing an invading army at each stage of its march along the river valleys and main roads; harassing the communications of any force large enough to pass them by. Something like this had existed in the reign of Edward I. But his grandson’s castles were not numerous. Half a century of grants to much-needed allies within the duchy and two French invasions had reduced them to a fragile line barely following the outer limits of the King–Duke’s territory. Nor were they strong. The revenues of the duchy were not large enough to pay for regular reconstruction and repair, and those of England were allocated to more pressing needs. See to it that the castles are kept in good repair, Edward had told his officials four years before, but remember that the Scots have to be fought as well.32

The defences of the Gascon duchy were strongest on the southern march, facing the Count of Foix. This region had been little affected by the invasions of Philip the Fair and Charles IV. There was a line of substantial fortress–towns along the Adour valley and its tributaries: Bayonne, Dax, Saint-Sever, Geaune, Aire and Bonnegarde, as well as some isolated strongholds such as the Pyrenean fortress of Mauléon further south. This was not, however, the direction from which the main attack could be expected to come. On the northern march of the duchy the position was much less satisfactory. Saintes, a large town standing across the main medieval road from Paris to Bordeaux, had been sacked by the Count of Alengon during the short war of 1331. He had destroyed the walls of both the town and the castle and had made a start on the demolition of the keep when he was recalled. The agreement which followed included a promise to pay for their restoration. But it was never honoured. At the beginning of the Hundred Years War, Saintes was an open town garrisoned by neither side and probably indefensible. Along the north shore of the Gironde there was a line of insecurely held castles. Talmont, the westernmost of them, occupied a strong position on a rock promontory near the entrance to the estuary, but it was weakly held and succumbed to locally recruited French troops after a siege of two months. Montendre, a few miles off the Saintes road, was strong but out of the way. This left as the sole important English strongholds on the northern approach the twin towns of Bourg, dominating the confluence of the Dordogne and the Garonne, and Blaye, 8 miles downstream. These two places were essential to any scheme for the defence of the duchy. Yet, in spite of their obvious strategic importance, the fortifications of both places were in a sorry state. A year after the outbreak of the war the citizens of Bourg were still struggling to repair their walls at their own expense. At Blaye, a larger town whose fortifications were more extensive, Bérard d’Albret gave Ingham and his officials a dispiriting conducted tour in September 1337. This revealed rotting gateways, crumbling masonry, collapsing roofwork, trenches eroded by goats, moats non-existent or filled up with rubbish. There were unofficial openings pierced in the barbicans; on the north side a new suburb had sprung up whose buildings covered the moat and overlooked the walls; on the south side, by the sea gate and along the strand, there were no fortifications at all. Work was still in progress in a year later. The new suburb was not demolished until early in 1339, when the French were advancing on the town.33

The situation was as bad along the other main approach to the duchy by the great artery of the Garonne, navigable in the fourteenth century well beyond Toulouse. Here the problem was not so much the condition of Edward III’s castles, which seems to have been acceptable, as their small number and poor situation. The conquests of the French in 1324 had entirely undermined the eastern defences of the duchy. In the Agenais, Penne survived on its great rock overlooking the Lot valley. So did the weak bastide of Puymirol to the south. The French had passed them by and occupied the entire valley of the Garonne between the Agenais and Saint-Macaire, including, most disastrously for Edward II and his successor, the enormous fortress of La Réole, which had been built and frequently improved for the very purpose of holding the Garonne valley should the Agenais be lost. Saint-Macaire became the bastion of the duchy and indeed the only important stronghold before Bordeaux.

Even such strongholds as Edward III had, fell to be defended in difficult conditions by men whose loyalties could rarely be counted on absolutely. A close siege tested them to the limit and sometimes beyond the limit. Oliver Ingham, who had been in command at Agen in the war of Saint-Sardos, must have had vivid memories of the way in which its citizens had forced him to surrender rather than face a siege; those of Saint-Macaire would have done the same if they had had the chance. Garrison commanders were men whose own lands were often in the hands of the enemy, whose pay was liable to be in arrears and whose family connections with the besiegers might be closer than any with their own side. Bérard d’Albret, who knew these men well, believed that those places which were lost during the French campaign of 1337 had been betrayed from within. Such allegations were often made and it is difficult to know how often they were justified. There is, however, clear evidence of treachery in some cases. For this reason, there was a policy of appointing Englishmen to important commands when suitable Englishmen were available. Generally, however, they were not available. Edward’s territorial interests in Gascony were defended for better or worse by Gascons.34

Edward did attempt to reinforce them with Englishmen, but later and in smaller numbers than he had originally intended. Orders went out on 18 March 1337 to raise an army for Gascony which it was intended to shepherd across the Bay of Biscay with the fleet of Bayonne. On the same day Edward III ordered his admirals to requisition all ships in the south-and west-coast ports of England of more than 40 (later 30) tons’ capacity. Originally this was to be the main military enterprise of the year, and Edward proposed to command it in person. At the end of March Henry Burghersh was on the point of departing for Bordeaux to take a grip on the affairs of the duchy in preparation for the King’s arrival. But as spring turned to summer, the prospect of attacking France by the north grew more enticing. Burghersh was sent to Valenciennes instead. Edward, moreover, encountered mounting opposition to his plans within his own Council, mainly it seems on the ground that it would be impossible to return quickly to England if the realm were menaced by an invasion across the Channel.35

Logistical problems and administrative delay gave the King plenty of time for second thoughts. The original timetable envisaged that the army of Gascony would embark at Portsmouth at the end of April 1337, an impossible date which was quickly replaced by others only slightly less unrealistic. Recruiting proved to be slow and erratic, and was hampered throughout the early summer by the competing demands of the army of Scotland, which was being raised at the same time. Finally, after Edward had heaped abuse on his officials and announced no less than three postponements, the sailing date was fixed for 7 July. Only in the middle of June were there signs of Portsmouth of some purpose in all this administrative activity. Stores of victuals accumulated in waterside warehouses. The first galleys of the escort force appeared in the harbour.36

It was at this point that Edward III received Burghersh’s report of the proceedings at Valenciennes, and finally jettisoned his original plans, announcing his intention of going to the Low Countries instead. Edward III was always over-sanguine about what his small country could achieve, but he was enough of a realist to appreciate that he could not maintain three English armies simultaneously, in Scotland, the Low Countries and Gascony. Once the decision to land in the Low Countries had been made the army of Gascony was progressively downgraded. In July the command was conferred on John of Norwich, a man of minor rank who, like most of Edward’s commanders, had learned war in Scotland. The forces made available to him were much reduced. Some of the men summoned to Portsmouth were told to proceed instead to London to embark for the Low Countries; others were told to go no further than Winchester, where they could be directed to either port of embarkation as political developments might require.37

Less than a week later, Philip VI and his advisers made a similar decision at Vincennes. The substance of Burghersh’s discussions with the Emperor had been reported to them by 28 June 1337, and on that day men who were holding themselves ready to travel to either Amiens or Marmande were directed to the northern army. The French King who, like his rival, had once hoped to take command in the south-west himself, decided that the new threat demanded his presence in the north.38

At Libourne Oliver Ingham had already received on 13 June 1337 the precursors of the French army of invasion, two lieutenants of the Seneschal of Périgord, who produced the royal letters declaring the duchy forfeit and called upon him to surrender the towns and castles under his command. Forms were being observed. Ingham temporized. He asked for time to consult his council in Bordeaux, which was permitted grudgingly. He pointed out that Robert of Artois, whose activities were stated to be the reason for the forfeiture, was not in Gascony. He said that he would need several weeks in which to obtain instructions from England. He appealed to the judgement of the peers of France in the Parlement of Paris, invoking the stay of execution which that entailed. None of this was acceptable to the lieutenants. They said that the army charged with enforcing the forfeiture was already on its way.39

This was true. Philip of France had settled the main lines of his military strategy closeted with his advisers in Paris in the middle of May 1337. The most important decision made on this occasion was that Gascony would be attacked from the east by the Garonne valley and not (as the English appear to have anticipated) from the north by Saintonge. This suggests that it was intended to bring the campaign to a speedy end by lunging at Bordeaux. The muster date was 8 July 1337, by coincidence the day after the English expeditionary force was due to leave Portsmouth. Philip VI’s army, unlike Edward’s, arrived on time. It was almost entirely composed of contingents of the southern provinces. The seneschals of Toulouse, Beaucaire and Agen came with the men of Languedoc. The two great southern lords of the French King’s obedience, the counts of Armagnac and Foix, provide enormous contingents: nearly 6,000 men in Armagnac’s case and about 2,500 in that of Gaston de Foix. The total strength of the army at its peak was probably about 12,000 men, not including garrison troops. These numbers compared poorly with the force of 21,000 which it had been estimated a few years before would be required to conquer Gascony. But given the small strength available to Ingham it was adequate. Its main deficiency was at the level of command, which fell by right of rank to the Constable, Raoul, Count of Eu. He was a man of very limited talent.40

His first mistake was to waste time attacking some of the lesser strongholds of the Agenais held for Edward III. He first attacked Villeneuve, which the English seem to have occupied to bar his passage of the Lot. This place was taken on about 10 July 1337. He then made his second mistake, which was to divide his forces, leaving part of his army to besiege other places in the Agenais while he himself marched west. Penne, the strongest English garrison in the Agenais, was left alone, but Puymirol was taken on 17 July, thus avenging the insult given to the Parlement’s authority earlier in the year and enabling Garcie Arnaud to satisfy his judgement. It is not clear whether the garrison resisted; the populace certainly did not. They delivered up the lower town to the besiegers in exchange for the privilege of holding an annual fair on St Foy’s Day. Why should they endure discomfort and destruction for a distant ruler powerless to relieve them?41 The real campaign did not begin until the middle of July when the Constable joined forces with Gaston de Foix and the two of them laid siege to Saint-Macaire.

Saint-Macaire had been the scene of the dispiriting failure of March 1337, when the Master of the Royal Archers had attempted to surprise the place and failed for want of equipment. On this occasion there was an elaborate siege train which included in addition to conventional machinery two large stone-throwing mangonels mounted on barges moored in the Garonne. With these he was able to do great damage to the walls of the town and its citadel. We cannot know how long the prosperous citizens of Saint-Macaire would have persisted in the face of the destruction of their houses and the uprooting of their fine suburban vineyards. They were not put to the test. Inexplicably, on 31 July 1337, the Constable abandoned the siege after only a fortnight and divided his forces again into two independent units which he dispatched on raiding expeditions in different parts of the duchy. The object was not so much to take possession of the strategic points of the duchy as to harass partisans of Edward III. The main force, under his own command, burst into the territory east of Bordeaux in the angle of the Garonne and the Dordogne. The big square keep of Tastes near Saint-Croix-du-Mont, the property of one of Edward III’s keenest supporters, was taken. At least three weeks more were passed in besieging Pommiers, a large modern seigneurial fortress, one of the few places which had successfully resisted the army of Charles of Valois in 1324. This place fell at the very end of August 1337, whereupon the Constable marched north and pitched his tents before Civrac on the south bank of the Dordogne. Civrac was an old seigneurial castle and probably not in good repair. It capitulated almost at once. These were places of some importance on a provincial level, but they were not the keys to the possession of the duchy. The Constable’s other conquests were no more than fortified manor houses.42

3 Gascony: the Constable’s campaign, 1337

The second raiding force, which was commanded by Gaston de Foix, marched at speed into the southern part of the duchy and raided the lands of the principal Gascon lords loyal to Edward III in the foothills of the Pyrenees, the valley of the Adour and the hinterland of the great commercial city of Bayonne. There were no great victories. He failed before all the more substantial strongholds, including the great Pyrenean fortress of Mauléon. Gaston lost four of his knights and several good horses on the retreat from this place. He did not even broach the walls of Bayonne or the main ducal garrisons on the Adour at Dax and Saint-Sever. But he occupied many smaller places, and he did considerable damage to crops and buildings, which was probably his main object. On this point Philip VI had expressed his wishes very clearly. ‘It is our desire’ he wrote, ‘that you shall inflict as much damage as you can on the lands of the lord of Tartas and that you shall do so on our behalf and in our name.’ The lord of Tartas was probably only slightly exaggerating when he told Edward III after Foix had gone that his loyalty had cost him the whole of his income for many months.43

The English adopted the only policy which was open to them. They shut themselves up in their castles and walled towns and waited for reinforcements. The geography of the duchy was an ally: all the main strongholds of the Bordelais were accessible by water from Bordeaux and scarce garrison troops could in case of need be switched from one to another. But in the face of a more determined attack this juggling could not have been sustained for long. The promised reinforcements were kept in their ports in England by political indecision and bureaucratic confusion. During the first ten days of August 1337 it emerged from the babble of conflicting orders that the forces allocated to Gascony were to be yet further reduced. Edward appropriated to the army of the Low Countries all the ships and most of the troops which had been earmarked for it. The levies of the west of England gathered at Winchester trudged along the London road, and sixty-one ships in Portsmouth harbour sailed round the coast to join the mass of shipping which was already clogging the Thames. In their place, John of Norwich was assigned a mixed force of Welsh archers, some Londoners and a handful of men-at-arms. Their port of embarkation was abruptly switched to Bristol. For much of August frenzied efforts were being made to find carts to transport their victuals and equipment from Portsmouth to Bristol. In the end these orders too were countermanded, and in the last days of August John of Norwich finally sailed from London. The exact size of his force can only be guessed, but it was certainly modest. Given the number of ships available to carry it there were probably between 300 and 500 men.44

By the time they reached Gascony the momentum of the French campaign had been almost entirely dissipated. The Count of Foix was still engaged in wasting the southern pays. As for the main body of the French army, after the fall of Civrac at the end of August, they had been ferried across the Dordogne and had marched on Saint-Emilion and Libourne, the largest towns within easy reach. This was a show of force, not an attack in earnest. Both towns were well defended and Saint-Émilion, indeed, had with rare enthusiasm cleared its suburbs and made its fortifications ready well in advance. Having made their point, the French left. The Constable had left this operation to his subordinates. He passed the whole of September in the safety of La Réole. His behaviour at this juncture is as difficult to explain as anything else in this peculiar campaign. The most probable explanation is that the strength of his army had fallen, not only because part of it had been detached for garrison duty and peripheral raids, but because large contingents had left without being replaced.45

The war was still too recent to be taken entirely seriously in the neighbouring provinces of southern France. There had been no obvious threat to the security of the population to provoke a mass out-turn of infantry from the towns and villages, or the payment of compensation in lieu. Money was a perennial problem. The French, like their adversaries, adopted the practice of trying to make the south-western theatre financially self-supporting so far as they could. This meant that every French commander spent a great deal of his time and energy extracting money from the local population. Swingeing taxes had been imposed back in May, a hearth tax and an income tax of 20 per cent on the holders of fiefs. But the collectors had been met by juridical obstruction and in a few places armed rebellion. Most communities paid something in the end but less than had been asked and too late. A few refused absolutely.46

There was a spark of hope at La Réole in the middle of September 1337, when Gaston de Foix returned from his destructions bringing no less than 6,000 reinforcements from Béarn. An attack on Bordeaux was mooted. Some preliminary plans were made, and troops were gathered at Podensac 30 miles from the duchy’s capital. Part of the French Channel fleet was moved south to La Rochelle to blockade the city from the sea. It would have been a difficult military operation. It was late in the season. The weather was atrocious. And the troops of John of Norwich had now finally reached Bordeaux. However, the decision to call it off was made not by the commanders in the south, but by the government in Paris. They had already decided that the army of Gascony should be disbanded and the Constable recalled. This news reached him on about 20 September and was acted upon at once.47


Philip VI and his ministers can hardly have been satisfied with the Constable’s achievements, but the reason for his recall was that as the senior military officer of the Crown he was now urgently required in the north. It was one of the abiding strategic difficulties of the French during the early years of the war that although they were operating on internal lines of communication they were hardly ever willing to take the risk of conducting field operations on both the southern and the northern fronts simultaneously. Evidently the French government had the same exaggerated view of England’s military capacity as Edward III had.

Between 18 and 26 August 1337 an important meeting of the royal Council was held at Westminster to hear the reports of Bishop Burghersh and the Earl of Salisbury. It was the first comprehensive review of the diplomatic position since early April. It became apparent that there was a division of sentiment between the ambassadors, not all of whom where satisfied with their work. Some of the English King’s advisers must have had well in mind the precedent of Edward I, who had paid large subsidies to the Emperor and various German princes only to be abandoned by them at the crucial moment. The Earl of Salisbury, according to one account, was appalled by the cost of the subsidies which the Germans were demanding. He thought that they were being too greedy and that they would not honour their promises even if Edward honoured his, itself a large question. His advice seems to have been that the treaties should be repudiated, even though some of them had already been ratified. Edward rejected this advice. He was well pleased with Burghersh’s work and ratified all the remaining treaties on 26 August 1337. To his mind, the problems lay not in the principle but in the performance.48

There were two main problems, one military and logistical, the other financial. The military and logistical problem was that Edward III did not have a large enough army to appear with credit in the Cambrésis in the middle of September 1337. Nor did he have the ships to carry them there and defend them against a powerful French fleet cruising off the Flemish coast. There had been a standing army in southern Scotland and the border since April, under the command of the Earl of Warwick. Warwick’s forces were too few for their task, but even so they absorbed such manpower as the northern counties could provide, as well as the retinues of many magnates. From the west and south and the Midlands a small army had already been formed to go to Gascony. What was left was verydisappointing. Although recruitment had been in progress since March, the best-organized regions were sending only two-thirds of the numbers demanded and the worst none at all. Of the army which should have been ready to embark at London at the end of July 1337 fewer than 2,000 men had assembled a month later. This unimpressive force grew, but by not very much, as stragglers arrived in the following weeks.49

The financial problem was even more intractable. The subsidy which Edward III had been voted in Parliament in March was promptly assigned, as such subsidies almost invariably were, to the King’s bankers to repay the loans of the past and was not available to finance an expedition to the Low Counties. To pay for that, Edward estimated that he would need £200,000. He proposed to obtain it by a remarkable method. It was intended that almost all the year’s wool crop should be compulsorily purchased on behalf of the Crown on credit. It would then be carried to the continent with the army and sold there at the inflated prices which English wool commanded after twelve months in which exports had been embargoed. This scheme had been devised in the course of the summer by a small group of financiers, the chief of whom were William Pole and the London merchant Reginald Conduit. They represented a new breed of war financier, men who were never far removed from the centre of power during the next twenty-five years. Pole, for example, although he was a wool merchant, diversified his business activities as the King’s needs required. He was the government’s principal banker after the Bardi and the Peruzzi. He had moved into war contracting, building a galley, supplying victuals for the army as well as wax, tenting, metals for siege engines and a variety of other goods.

Pole and Conduit gathered round themselves a large consortium of wool merchants, who met in London on 26 July 1337 and approved both the scheme itself and the details of its operation. The consortium was given a monopoly of the right to export wool. They undertook to buy 30,000 sacks in the English counties, which was about 90 per cent of the quantity usually available for export. The wool was to be acquired at minimum prices fixed by the government, county by county, but in case the growers and local merchants should find them unsatisfactory the consortium would be armed with royal commissions to purvey (that is, compulsorily purchase) wool by prerogative power. As and when they sold it to their customers on the continent, the consortium would pay to Edward III half of their profit and would lend him interest free £200,000. To secure repayment of this large sum Edward would assign his customs revenues to them until they were entirely satisfied. Moreover, until they were entirely satisfied they were to be under no obligation to pay the growers from whom they had bought the wool. If any of these should be bold enough to sue for their price, the courts would be prevented from giving judgement by royal letters of protection. The timetable for wool shipments from England was determined partly by the government’s perception of the administrative burden (which they greatly under-estimated), and partly by the date on which the King had promised to pay his allies. There were to be three shipments, each of 10,000 sacks, the first to be made almost at once and the other two in the first half of 1338. It was hoped that this would produce the promised £200,000 in instalments pro rata at Christmas 1337 and at Easter and Ascension 1338. It was an elegant device. The merchants’ monopoly would guarantee their profit. The growers, although their cash flow would suffer, were protected after a fashion by the minimum prices. The King would receive quickly and cheaply enough money to pay for his expedition. Only the foreigner would suffer. He would be excluded from the export trade and compelled to pay high prices to the English monopolists.50

That at least was the principle. The practice was less satisfactory. For in the first place the plan was based on the simple economic fallacy that prices on the continent would remain at the high levels created by the trade embargo even after the very large consignments of the monopolists had begun to arrive on the market. Moreover, like every elaborate scheme concocted by medieval governments without the extensive police powers of the modern state, it depended on a measure of co-operation from those concerned, including many growers and small country traders. They were outraged by the fixed prices and long credit terms which were to be forced on them, and by the monopoly which left them at the mercy of the King’s consortium. There was very little that they could do to challenge the main features of the wool scheme, but their resistance was bound to delay its execution and Edward’s political commitments on the continent could brook very little delay. Even those who had devised the scheme and were in Edward’s innermost counsels could not be relied upon. Pole and Conduit and many of their associates were in varying degrees grasping, unscrupulous and dishonest.

What was plain even in August 1337 was that if everything went according to plan there would still have to be some postponement of the expedition to the Low Countries. For a time, Edward III clung to the idea of landing on the continent in the autumn, albeit later in the season than he had agreed. On 26 August the assembly of the army was put back to 30 September 1337. Even this revised timetable was not expected to be achieved. On the day he announced it, Edward III agreed with Louis of Bavaria to put back the meeting of the English and Imperial armies, which had been fixed for 1 October, by two months. It was now intended to take the field on St Andrew’s Day, 30 November 1337, a difficult time at which to find food for an army and march it across the sodden fields of northern Europe. The nobility of the realm and their contingents of men-at-arms, as well as archers and lancers from Wales and southern England, continued to gather slowly in London, at Sandwich and in Orwell.51

The troops at Sandwich, some 1,300 of whom had appeared by the end of October, received their orders first. It was decided, probably in order to make the most productive use of scarce shipping, that they should be sent ahead of the main army together with the first large shipments of wool. They were to be landed in Holland, a territory of the Count of Hainault. They were placed under the command of the Admiral of the north, Walter Mauny, and embarked in the Downs in the first few days of November 1337. With them went Bishop Burghersh and three other members of the King’s Council to explain their master’s perplexing conduct to the allies and pay them something if they insisted.52

The rest of the army waited, some of them increasingly hungry and cold on the east coast, the others in their homes on twelve days’ notice to arrive at their assembly points. As autumn turned to winter Edward’s difficulties accumulated. The Scots began to stage violent diversions in the lowlands and northern England. Carlisle was attacked in mid-October and part of Cumberland wasted. At the beginning of November they laid siege to Edinburgh. Supplies were pouring into Scotland from France through Dunbar and other ports. Edward III began as early as September to divert to the north important noble retinues which had been intended for his continental expedition. In early October he was obliged to send the Earl of Salisbury, one of his principal commanders. Even so, the King did not recognize reality until the second half of November. On 20 November 1337, only ten days remained before he was due to meet the Emperor in the field. The best estimate of the forces available for the Low Countries was then about 1,000 men in addition to those who had already left under the command of Walter Mauny. Louis of Bavaria had not been paid and Edward’s coffers were empty. He cancelled the expedition and sent the soldiers home.53


Philip VI decided before Edward III did that the English King would be unable to join his allies by the appointed day. Well-disposed individuals in Germany kept him informed of developments, and from the north-eastern march of France spies were sent out to watch for signs of military activity. Their reports were reassuring. The date of the muster at Amiens was reviewed at fortnightly intervals and on each occasion postponed.54 It was unfortunate that the French government’s intelligence, which was so effective in Germany, was able to tell them almost nothing about what was happening in England. Philip had no understanding of the difficulties which Edward III was experiencing in assembling his armies. At the beginning of October, when the muster date next fell for review, it was refixed for 15 November with every sign that the French government was convinced that the crisis was now upon them. The Constable, together with some important southern lords, was summoned from the south and all serious military activity in Gascony was abandoned. During October 1337 arrayers throughout England were being lambasted for their failure to meet the King’s demands. The ships, too few in number, were loaded with wool and bottled up by seasonal gales in the mouth of the Thames. But at Vincennes panic had gripped Philip’s ministers. Visitors to the French court were pressed by the King with the perils of his situation. Edward III, he told them, would be embarking his army in a matter of days. It was essential that he should be put off before he had embarked, ‘extinguishing the spark before it becomes a flame’. Once the King of England had arrived on the continent he would be financially committed to war and governed by greedy and warlike Germans, and there would be no holding him back.55

In the middle of the month the French government was convinced that the English intended to land at Boulogne within the next few days. All available troops were placed under the command of the King’s brother, the Count of Alençon, and his brother-in-law, Philip of Navarre, and dispatched to the town to meet them.56 They waited in vain while the blow fell elsewhere. In Gascony, now almost denuded of French troops, the English burst out of their garrison towns and seized almost all the places which the Constable had taken earlier in the year except Puymirol. There seems to have been little or no resistance. The English then crossed the Dordogne in early November and invaded eastern Saintonge. One of the main French garrison towns in these parts, Parcoul on the Dronne, fell without a blow. The commander of the place, a weak-minded man, was bullied into surrender by citizens anxious for a quite life. The English were not grateful. They burned the town and all the villages about it before withdrawing.57

At about the same time Walter Mauny’s fleet with the advance guard of the army of invasion made another cut-and-run raid on the coast of Flanders. Mauny was a flamboyant adventurer, a Hainaulter who had come to England as a page of Queen Philippa in 1327 and emerged during the Scotch wars as a man of great personal courage and ostentatious boldness, qualities which endeared him to the English King and ensured that he would be fully employed for the next thirty years. Mauny had eighty-five ships under his command carrying some 1,450 troops and about 2,200 mariners in addition to their cargoes of wool and a crowd of diplomats, clerks and servants. He handled these forces with the utmost recklessness. At the beginning of November 1337 he made an attempt on the port of Sluys but was repulsed. Then turning north he landed his men on 9 November 1337 on the island of Cadzand, a bleak, marshy place of small fishing villages lying at the entrance to the Hondt. The English passed several days there in slaughter and destruction in the hope of drawing out the garrison of Sluys. The garrison rose to the bait. They offered battle and were routed with great bloodshed on both sides. Mauny made no attempt to occupy Cadzand, and his main purpose was probably the capture of valuable prisoners. If so, he was well rewarded for his risks. Among the prisoners taken was the Flemish commander, Guy Bastard of Flanders, the Count’s half-brother, whom Mauny later sold to the King for a considerable sum. But the memory of Mauny’s butchery returned to haunt Edward III ten years later when his relations with Flanders were closer, and he found it politic to soothe ill feeling by founding a Charterhouse in honour of the dead.58

Raids like these, on territory which was won only to be abandoned, achieved no strategic object, but they fed the profound sense of insecurity which had beset Europe’s strongest monarchy. Philip VI’s mood moved from effortless confidence to craven panic and back again. He acquired an extreme and irrational fear of conspirators and fifth columnists. At the end of the year he was persuaded, on the basis of a confession by a Hospitaller in prison, that the princes of the Low Countries were plotting to poison him and all his family. There began the regular series of executions for treason, hitherto very rare, which were to continue for two decades, attended by the demonstrative ceremonies of drawing, hanging and quartering. The unfortunate garrison commander of Parcoul, who was more incompetent than treacherous, was accused of having marked the weak points of his town with chalk and charcoal to guide the English in. The accusation was fanciful, as the French government later acknowledged, but he was convicted of treason and beheaded in Paris. The King’s more perceptive servants knew that indifference was a greater threat than betrayal.59


As the momentum of warlike operations failed, the thankless task of reconciling England and France fell to two politically inexperienced cardinals who had been appointed as mediators by the Pope in the summer. Bertrand de Montfavence, a cardinal of more than twenty years’ standing, was an ecclesiastical lawyer from Provence whose diplomatic experience was limited to a short sojourn in Italy a few years before. Pedro Gomez de Barroso, the Chamberlain of the College of Cardinals, was a learned Castilian with no diplomatic experience at all so far as can be discovered. The efforts of these men to resolve in a few weeks the problems of four generations continued intermittently for almost two years and ended in failure. They were shamelessly used by both sides for temporary political and military ends.

The cardinals were unctuously received in France by Philip VI, then in one of his moods of fear and misgiving, not at all averse to a truce and inclined to feel that they might be turned in his own interest. They arrived in England in late November 1337, equipped as if for a voyage of exploration in a savage land, bringing their own wine cellar and an enormous supply of palatable food. The English government received them with much public joy and private vexation. Indeed, Edward III had at first declined to give them a safe conduct to cross the Channel. He did not change his mind until his hopes of invading France in 1337 were finally abandoned in November. With a characteristic sense of theatre he accorded them his first interview in the famous Painted Chamber of the Palace of Westminster whose walls were decorated with scenes from the wars of the Old Testament. In these unpromising surroundings the cardinals put forward their proposals for a truce.60

Edward Ill’s situation was most delicate, and only dimly understood by his visitors. In fact, there was nothing that he wanted more than a truce, now that his immediate military plans had collapsed. However, by the terms of his treaties with the German princes, Edward could not conclude a truce which did not include them. Even to discuss such a thing might suggest a waning enthusiasm for the war, which could create a most unfortunate impression on the continent. He therefore decided to play for time. By the ‘admirable customs of England’, he told the cardinals, it was impossible to take any irrevocable step without consulting Parliament. Moreover, to defend himself against the aggressive designs of Philip VI he had had to arm himself with allies, and he could not contemplate a truce without their consent, all of which would involve some delay. The cardinals were unsympathetic. They reacted angrily and tactlessly. They told him that Louis of Bavaria’s consent was immaterial, he being an excommunicated heretic; as for the other allies, they were only with him for his money and would desert him when it suited them. Indeed, they added untruthfully, the Duke of Brabant and the Count of Hainault had already done so, and sworn secret oaths to Philip VI.

On the following day the cardinals summoned as many English prelates as could be found at short notice to assemble before them in the Convent of the London Carmelites at the eastern edge of the Temple. This was an even more unpleasant occasion. One of the cardinals opened the proceedings with a sermon about peace which was thought to be pro-French, and was loudly heckled by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The cardinals then explained that unless Edward III agreed to the proposed truce the papacy would declare itself openly for Philip VI. They exhibited a panoply of papal letters authorizing them to degrade or deprive ecclesiastics below the rank of bishop who assisted the war effort (this meant almost all the civil service), to dissolve treaties and alliances, to release subjects and vassals from their obligations, to prohibit military expeditions on pain of excommunication and interdict. Edward’s ministers took these threats most seriously. It was almost certainly because of them that on Christmas Eve they agreed to a curious hybrid that fell short of a truce but left time for further negotiation and apparently satisfied the cardinals. Edward promised that he would not invade France until at least 1 March 1338, and that unless his own subjects were attacked he would suspend all hostilities at sea and in Gascony until the same date. Meanwhile he would hold a Parliament on 3 February 1338 to consider some more formal arrangement. Writs of summons had already been sent out. Messengers left urgently for the Low Countries to tell Burghersh what had happened and to warn him of the delicate matters which he would now have to broach with the allies.61


Bishop Burghersh and his colleagues were already in extreme difficulty. After an uncomfortable sea journey interrupted by the assault on Cadzand, he had landed at Dordrecht in Holland at the end of November 1337. While the wool was being unloaded from the ships, the Bishop made his way through the waterways of Zeeland to Antwerp and overland to the small industrial town of Mechelen in central Brabant, where a gathering of anxious princes of the Low Countries was waiting to have the shifts of English policy explained to them. Events had cast Henry Burghersh in a particularly devious light. He resolved his difficulties in the same way as he had created then, by promising more than his master could give. For the German princes, the moment of danger would come in the spring when French armies could be expected to appear on their southern borders. Burghersh appears to have persuaded them that Edward III would be with them by then. He certainly promised that a large part of their subsidies, which were already in arrear, would be paid by March. The promise had to be made if the alliance was to hold together, but the resources for meeting it were not there. Burghersh’s officials calculated that he would need to raise £276,000.

When Burghersh got back to Holland he called the wool merchants before him at the little port of Gertruidenberg and demanded that they should provide him with £276,000 by 22 March 1338 ‘or the kingdom of England and all the other lands of the King were in danger of being lost’. Like most aristocrats of the fourteenth century, Burghersh could not conceive that men who lived as splendidly as Pole and Conduit had limited resources. The merchants were aghast. The sum demanded was more than they had agreed to raise for the whole 30,000 sacks of wool, let alone the 11,000 sacks which had been brought from England. They replied that they could not raise such a sum if they sold everything they possessed on the continent. The most that they could do was advance 100,000 marks (£66,666), the first instalment of the promised loan, before the wool had been sold instead of afterwards. Burghersh and his fellow councillors responded brutally. They requisitioned all the wool in store at Dordecht for the King’s account. They believed that the merchants were underestimating the value of it in order to make a greater profit for themselves. It was a grave miscalculation. The officials who now had to sell the wool were not very skilful salesmen. The political pressures on them forced them to dispose of it too quickly and in too small a sector of the market. Merchants from Germany and Brabant offered ready cash for low prices, and Burghersh raised no more than he could have got by accepting the merchants’ offer of an advance. When the expenses had been paid there was only £41,679 left, less than a sixth of what was required. Moreover, the result was to destroy the bargain which Edward III had made with the wool merchants in England in the previous summer. Two more shipments of 10,000 sacks each were due to be made, but the merchants would now have nothing to do with them. The bonds which they were given in payment for their wool were dishonoured by the Crown and passed into currency at heavy discounts, a source of scandal and complaint in Parliament for many years.62

It was in these trying circumstances that Edward Ill’s agents in the Low Countries learned about the suspension of hostilities which had been forced on him by the cardinals, and of the King’s intention to negotiate with Philip VI. They were appalled. Writing from Nijmegen in Guelders, where he had consulted all the leaders of the alliance, Burghersh reported the unanimous opinion of the councillors about him that a truce would be a disaster. England’s allies would have to be formally named in it and some of the lesser men among them were most anxious that their identities should not be revealed. If a truce were allowed to delay Edward’s continental invasion the allies would become entitled to their subsidies long before they were due to muster their armies. They would then have no motive for honouring their promises. Even the informal cessation of hostilities which had already been declared was received with extreme irritation by the princes when they heard of it. Only the ‘beautiful words’ which Edward III had addressed to them prevented them from deserting him at once.63

Some of them, in spite of Edward’s eloquence, had already opened discreet channels of communication with the other side. In particular the Duke of Brabant began to play a game of treachery and bluff which continued intermittently for the next three years. He made Bishop Burghersh sign a renewed undertaking that his treaty with the English King would be revealed to no one. At about the same time he secretly appointed a resident diplomatic agent at the French court, a knight of strong francophile sympathies called Leon of Crainheim. Leon told the King of France that his master had no quarrel with him, in spite of appearances. The Duke, it was said, had done nothing to help Edward’s ambassadors except to allow them to lodge in his territory, something which he could hardly refuse since Edward was his kinsman and they paid their own expenses. Leon himself probably believed that this was true.64

War without fighting is a strain on morale and ‘beautiful words’ were becoming necessary in England too. During the autumn there had been a vigorous propaganda campaign in the provinces. The gentry, important local merchants and anyone else who might be thought influential were called to the county towns to hear the justice of the King’s cause explained by specially appointed commissioners. For a wider public there were patriotic sermons on Sundays and feast days, and notices in churches listing the concessions which Edward III had made to avoid war and Philip had spurned:

On the very day after I received your instructions [Bishop Grandisson of Exeter wrote to the King in September 1337] … I went before the assembled community of the county of Exeter and explained to them personally the document which you sent me. Then I explained it to the common people in English. When I had done that, I interviewed separately the knights, the stewards of the manors, the bailiffs of the hundreds and liberties, and everyone else who was present … so that at Michaelmas on the occasion of the Sheriffs next tour of the courts and leets of the hundreds the whole matter can in turn be explained to everybody else.’

In the following week the Bishop explained Edward’s letter and its enclosed propaganda sheet to the congregation of his cathedral and then to an assembly of the clergy of the diocese attended by the Earl of Devon and a crowd of interested laymen, ‘urging and exhorting them as persuasively as I could, illustrating my theme with reasoned argument, scriptural authority and apposite stories’.65

The effect of all this persuasion is difficult to gauge. The two cardinals had formed the view almost as soon as they arrived in England that the English people were opposed to the war. But the truth was less straightforward. There was widespread hatred of France and a general disposition to accept that Edward III had been shabbily treated by the French King. The chroniclers faithfully repeated Edward’s own self-justifying account of the origins of the war, sometimes in his own words. There was less agreement about the manner in which Edward was prosecuting it. It was irresponsible, the Prior of Canterbury grumbled, to take an army to the continent when the coast of Kent so close to his own church was threatened with invasion. There were many who took the same view,particularly in the north of England, where Scotland was a more potent danger than France. The Scotch raids in northern England in October 1337, which occurred during the sessions of the Parliament, were a shock. It was incidents of this kind as well as the wisdom of hindsight that persuaded the Northumberland knight Thomas Gray that Edward III’s continental alliances were an ‘enormously expensive and unprofitable’ waste of resources which would have been better employed in defending the north and completing the conquest of the Scots. Within the royal administration dissenters had been edged aside when Henry Burghersh and his friends had taken over the day-to-day conduct of English foreign policy, but they were never entirely silenced. William Montagu, Earl of Salisbury, had voiced his misgivings at the Great Council of August 1337. The aged royal cleric Adam Murimuth confided his to the pages of his chronicle. Yet what was impressive, and entirely contrary to the English political tradition, was that these intelligent and articulate representatives of the governing class closed ranks as soon as the decisions had been made. Once it had been decided by the Great Council to ratify the alliances made by Burghersh’s embassy, opposition to the war, according to Gray, wasregarded as treachery. That was in August 1337. At the end of September Parliament voted the Crown a remarkably generous subsidy of three tenths and fifteenths spread over the next three years. There was no precedent in English Parliamentary history for recurrent taxation on this scale. The essential political and strategic decisions were not challenged as they had been in 1297. Gray and Montagu fought with distinction in France and maintained their intense personal loyalty to Edward III even after events had justified their doubts.66

When Parliament next met in London on 3 February 1338, there were complaints about some of the government’s marginal devices for raising money, but on the main issue the King received the advice that he wanted. There was to be no truce, only a voluntary abstention from fighting until further notice. The King’s continental invasion was to proceed as planned unless Philip VI showed some interest in restoring Edward III’s lost territories in France, and a date, 26 April 1338, was fixed for its departure. The wool contract having failed, Parliament authorized the government to get the remaining 20,000 sacks by other means. They were to be raised as a forced loan on the people of England. Up to half of each man’s stock might be requisitioned and paid for at a price assessed according to quality, county by county. Payment would be made after two years.67 As for the cardinals, they did not resort to the arsenal of spiritual weapons that they had exhibited in December. Edward III’s ministers humoured them, going through the motions of diplomatic exchange. They drew up proposals for a formal truce, which members of the cardinals’ staff took to France in March 1338. These were laid before the French King, but he found them to be ‘insincere, hostile and dangerous to our realm’ and rejected them out of hand.68

Philip made sure that his reasons were explained to his subjects. He was as sensitive as his rival was to the requirements of the home front and the financial consequences of ignoring it. There were masses, processions and prayers in France as in England, reminders of the fearless manner in which Philip VI was exposing his life for the defence of his realm. There were retrospects of recent history, as partial and self-serving as those which had been expounded by Bishop Grandisson to his audiences at Exeter: the King of England’s treachery in breaking his oath of homage, his refusal to submit to impartial arbitration, his piratical raids on French shipping and his plans for aggressive warfare in alliance with France’s enemies in Germany; all, it was said, borne with marvellous patience by the French King until the provocation had become too great to be overlooked.69


The English did not wage a war of reconquest in Saintonge in the autumn of 1337 as perhaps they had been expected to do. Instead, Ingham’s men recrossed the Dordogne well upstream, raiding the town of Sainte-Foy-la-Grande on the way. They then boldy invaded the Agenais from the north, and crossed the River Lot near Villeneuve. This circuitous route avoided the strong French garrisons which blocked the Garonne valley at La Réole and Marmande. Towards the end of the year they laid siege to Agen, the provincial capital and the seat of the French Seneschal. The story of this siege is very obscure. All that is known about it is that it lasted several weeks and failed. The siege was probably raised by force in late January or early February 1338. The English withdrew eastward away from the enemy and vanished into southern Gascony.70

Ingham had conquered no territory, but his enterprise touched on a sensitive nerve. The Agenais was the obvious point of entry for French armies invading the Garonne valley. Possession of it was vital to them. Yet their conquest of it in the 1320s had never been entirely complete. In 1338 they occupied all the significant towns but the English retained allies and influence as well as the incomparable castle at Penne on the Lot. With these advantages they had been able to exercise many of the powers of government side by side with the parallel administration of the French Crown. Edward III granted and regranted land, appointed officers and assigned revenues. Patronage mattered.71 Even in Agen itself the English had found friends and fifth columnists among prominent citizens, who fought in the army of Oliver Ingham. French officials took firm measures against their property and their families, but reported nervously to their superiors their doubts about the loyalty and security of the place. Here, as in so many provinces of late medieval France, international politics were reduced to the play of local interests, the jostling of rival lords for territory and power, the recurrent feuds of the towns with the barons of the outlying districts. Both French and English armies found themselves fighting the battles of their friends as often as their own.72

Philip VI had appointed two ‘captains-general’ for the south-west to hold his position on the march during the winter: Etienne le Galois de la Baume, the Master of the Royal Archers, who had already had one tour of duty there early in 1337; and a judicial officer of the royal household called Simon d’Arquèry. Their appointment, on 13 November 1337, was probably the government’s response to Oliver Ingham’s raids. Philip had in mind heavy police work, not a full-scale winter campaign, and most of their time was spent trying to impose order on the shifting loyalties of the Agenais with a mixture of political pressure and military force.73

The extent of their problem, which was never perfectly understood in Paris, can be illustrated by the careers of two prominent anglophile lords of this nominally French province. Arnaud de Durfort, lord of Frespech and his son, also called Arnaud, were petty lords of the Lot valley whose ambitions to become greater ones depended largely on the friendship of Edward III. Moreover, they also held valuable properties in the south-west of the duchy around Bayonne, an area firmly under English control. They therefore had abiding reasons to value the English connection. Arnaud père had visited England many times and had fought in Scotland. He also had modest business interests in London, dabbling in the grain and wool trades. Edward III showered him with favours which grew more splendid as the onset of war increased his dependence on such men. He granted him a large pension, paid the vast arrears of his war wages extending back through three reigns, and in August 1337 appointed him and his son joint captains of Penne. When the captains-general arrived in the Agenais in February 1338, Arnaud père was in England lobbying the King and the Westminster Parliament for very extensive rights, long coveted, over the outlying districts of Penne. Nothing short of the capture of Penne and a permanent military occupation was likely to destroy English influence in the Lot valley while this man flourished.74 Amanieu du Fossat was probably a more characteristic figure, whose loyalties were more finely calculated and whose outlook was more narrowly limited by the bounds of the province. This unscrupulous and violent hill-baron had briefly been Seneschal of Aquitaine under Edward II, until he was dismissed for repeated criminal violence. He held a well-sited castle at Madaillan, a short distance north of Agen, from which he had for many years conducted a vendetta against the citizens of the town. Amanieu signed a convention with the French captains-general shortly after their arrival, only to repudiate it as soon as the ink was dry. He withstood a siege of six weeks before surrendering for a second time on 16 March 1338. But the French could not offer men like him what they really wanted, in his case the right to bully the citizens of loyal Agen. The persistence of these apparently trivial local vendettas virtually guaranteed that one side or the other would ally itself with the English dynasty. Amanieu was already back in the English camp by July, and the consuls of the town were beseeching Philip VI to finish with him.75

4 Gascony: the southern march, 1337–9

The main military operation of the winter was the work of Gaston de Foix on the southern march. During February 1338 he invaded the Tursan, next door to his principality of Béarn, with 6,400 men of his own and a contingent of troops brought by the Seneschal of Toulouse. They captured the bastide of Geaune on 5 February 1338, then marched on the little town of Aire-sur-l’ Adour. The Captain of this place was persuaded to surrender for a bribe of 1,000 livres and a pension of 50 livres per annum. The fortifications were razed. Cazaubon surrendered on 5 March 1338 apparently without a fight. Other places followed.76 Gaston’s campaign illustrated what might have been achieved in the Agenais and the Garonne valley with greater resources of men and money. His conquests paid for themselves, for he was allowed to annex them to his principality in lieu of wages.77 The conquest of the strategically more important regions further north did not. D’Arquèry and de la Baume were obliged to spend much of their time squeezing money from the inhabitants of Languedoc by methods which were not calculated to make the war popular there: levying forgotten taxes, exacting fines for breaches of the coinage regulations, selling pardons for usury and licences to buy noble fiefs, and settling old scores of the Crown for whatever could be had. They raised enough to keep their army in being and to hold most of what Philip VI already controlled, but that was all.78


The French struck their most effective blows against England at sea. In February 1338 Philip VI appointed as Admiral of France one of his financial officials, Nicholas Béhuchet. Béhuchet was a Norman, a short, fat man of low birth whose appointment was not popular at court. But those who said that he knew ‘more about book-keeping than naval warfare’ seriously under-estimated this brave and intelligent amateur. On 24 March 1338, some six weeks after his appointment, he led a mixed force of galleys and barges from Calais in a bold and successful raid on Portsmouth. His ships arrived without warning flying English flags from their masts. In spite of the importance of Portsmouth as a naval and commercial harbour it had no walls and the French met very little resistance there. Landing parties burned the whole town except for the parish church and a hospital. They then made off with impunity. From Portsmouth Béhuchet made for Jersey, where, on 26 March 1338, his men landed and destroyed crops and buildings over the whole of the eastern part of the island. They almost captured Gorey Castle, the island’s principal fortress. These successes were particularly galling for the English government because their excellent intelligence service had given them two months’ warning that something of the sort was planned, and had suggested a probable date which was correct to within a week. Attempts to intercept the raid had been made, and failed.79

The attack on Portsmouth revealed how vulnerable the English coastline was, with its many small weakly-defended harbours. Béhuchet’s fleet, although it was described by the English chroniclers as enormous, must in fact have been quite modest. Such raids (and there were to be more of them) had a strategic value out of all proportion to the physical damage which they inflicted. Because intelligence could not be counted on and the raids occurred at unpredictable times and places, enormous resources of manpower, equipment and money had to be devoted to guarding the whole length of the coast. The main features of the English system of coastal defence dated back to the 1290s. The practice was to designate a strip of land within 6 (sometimes 12) leagues of the coast as ‘maritime land’. Men living in this area were exempt from military service away from their homes, and their victuals and property were not to be requisitioned without special instructions. Instead they were required to serve as a coastal militia under the command of local magnates who were appointed as ‘keepers of maritime lands’ in their counties. For calling them to their duty there were beacons and men permanently manning them not only on the clifftops where great pyramids of wood were a traditional sight in time of war but, from August 1338 onwards, on hills extending inland for a considerable distance. In the inland counties men were expected to hold themselves ready to reinforce the coastal levies quickly at the vital point. Counties were grouped together for this purpose. The men of Berkshire and Wiltshire, for example, were directed to hold themselves ready to come to the aid of Hampshire. Inevitably human failings vitiated this tidy scheme. Panic bred confusion as well as fear. The going on English medieval roads was slow, especially in winter and at night. Militia service was unpopular, expensive and widely evaded. The system failed completely in 1338 and its effectiveness in later years was spasmodic at best.80

The mere attempt to make it work greatly reduced the capacity of England to make war on the continent. As the men of Devon and Cornwall explained, because galleys had been seen cruising off every headland, because they had countless harbours, all open and unwalled, and because the land, particularly in Cornwall, was infertile, they had nothing to contribute to the war effort. This was no doubt the worst case. It was nevertheless true that the army which Edward III recruited in 1338 to take to Brabant was much smaller than the army which he had planned, and that one of the main reasons for this was the demands of coastal defence. Recruiting for the continental expedition had to be cancelled in Cornwall and Devon because the men were needed for the coasts. Although every coastal county from the Wash to Land’s End was called on to furnish contingents to accompany the King abroad only three, Essex, Kent and Dorset, actually did so.81

The French gave serious thought to the strategic purposes of sea power, and it is tempting to suggest that they knew what they were doing. But probably they did not. Nicholas Béhuchet prepared a memorandum for the French royal Council which showed that he perfectly understood the economic effects of maritime warfare. A powerful fleet, he pointed out, could damage the lucrative English trades in wine, fish and salt and by destroying the livelihoods of English seamen could make it difficult for Edward III to man his ships. With control of the sea, the French would also be able to provide more effective assistance to the Scots. But Béhuchet said nothing about missions of destruction against English coastal towns. He probably regarded these as mere morale-boosters and sources of plunder to reward loyal seamen.82

In spite of its growing financial embarrassment (civil servants’ salaries were stopped for a year in December), the French government had already committed itself to fight at sea on a vastly increased scale in 1338. At the end of October 1337 their representatives entered into a contract to hire a fleet of twenty large Mediterranean galleys from a private syndicate of Genoese shipowners organized by Ayton Doria. Rather later, a similar contract for seventeen galleys was made with another syndicate whose members were Genoese exiles in Monaco brought together by the Grimaldi family. Doria belonged to one of the great Ghibelline families of Genoa. The Grimaldi and their friends were Guelphs. But the pursuit of lucre united them. The galley captains were handsomely paid and were promised a half share of all the booty taken. The contracts called for them to be available in the French Channel ports by the end of May 1338 and to serve for at least three months after that. For service in the Bay of Biscay Philip hired yet another fleet from the Castilians, the major maritime power of the Atlantic seaboard, who contracted to supply a squadron of twenty galleys. In conjunction with Philip’s own forces the arrival of all of these ships would have brought the strength of the French navy to about eighty galleys, not to speak of oared barges and sailing ships.83


By December 1337 there had been no authorized exports of English wool to Flanders for well over a year. No licences were granted, not even for friendship or ready money. Ships were stopped and searched for contraband at sea. Exporters were required to put up bonds which would be forfeit unless proof were furnished that the wool had found its way to the King’s friends. Some wool must have entered the county by circuitous routes, but if so it entered in small quantities and at high prices. Distress mounted as textile workers were laid off in growing numbers and the trades which nourished them withered. In the new year the French Crown finally lost control of Flanders. It is one of the few examples in history of a wholly successful economic blockade.84

Bruges, the traditional fomenter of Flemish rebellions, played a passive role. The leadership of the Flemings was assumed by Ghent, the largest of the towns, the most disputatious in defending its autonomy and privileges, and the only one whose walls had not been dismantled by the victorious French in the early part of the century. It is probable that Ghent, which lacked the banking and shipping interests of Bruges, was also the worst affected by the English embargo.

In the early months of 1337 the main Flemish advocate of an accommodation with England was an urban knight called Sohier de Courtrai, a well-known figure in the politics of Ghent who was influential enough to merit a pension from both sides. According to French accounts, which are to some extent corroborated by the English records, he was trying to persuade the men of Ghent and Bruges to declare for Edward’s continental coalition and was buying friends with English money. But Sohier was indiscreet. During the early summer of 1337 he had some conversations with English agents at Ghent which were reported to the French government. As a result he was arrested by the Count’s officers on 6 July 1337 and charged with treason.85 The affair of Sohier de Courtrai opened the eyes of the French government to the weakness of their position in Flanders. It also made that position weaker still. For as a citizen of Ghent Sohier was entitled to trial before the courts of the town and ought not to have been arrested on the King’s orders. Philip VI’s ministers were taken aback by the strength of the reaction. They were well aware of the delicate condition of Flanders and of the importance of placating public opinion there. Although they did not release Sohier de Courtrai they made other concessions which might have had even wider appeal. In August 1337 it was decided that the indemnities for past rebellions, now some two years in arrears, would be reduced. A commission of no less than five senior royal councillors was sent to Bruges to announce this concession. Further reductions followed quickly, and in November 1337, after Walter Mauny’s descent on the Scheldt estuary, the Bishop of Thérouanne arrived with fresh messages from the King of France promising that the indemnities would be not only reduced but entirely remitted if he could be satisfied of the Flemings’ loyalty.86

It was not enough. In the economic catastrophe which was now engulfing the Flemish towns the indemnities could not have been enforced anyway. What was needed was the restoration of the cloth industry, and all that France could offer in that direction was first refusal over her own production of wool, which was small and of low quality. While the French ministers bargained for the friendship of the towns, unidentified, perhaps unofficial, representatives of the Flemings were engaged in secret discussions with the English agent John de Woume at Flushing. These discussions almost certainly concerned the terms on which Edward III would allow wool to be imported into Flanders. The pressure on the Flemings grew stronger in December, with the arrival of half a year’s wool crop atDordrecht and the overt threat that unless the Flemings submitted the English would establish a staple in Brabant to the lasting detriment of the commerce of Bruges.87

At the end of December 1337 there was a revolution in Flanders. The exact course of events is difficult to follow. There was a large armed demonstration in Ghent on 28 December in a meadow by the west wall of the town, outside the Cistercian convent of Biloke. This was followed, on 3 January 1338, by the appointment of an emergency government of the town comprising five ‘captains’. Comprehensive controls of food prices were introduced. A curfew was imposed and firm measures taken against disorder. Persons out of sympathy with the movement, many of whom had fled to the churches or to suburban villages, were proscribed. Bruges and Ypres, the other two great towns of Flanders, followed the lead of Ghent.88

The leader of the revolution from the outset, and the effective ruler of Flanders for most of the next seven years, was a remarkable patrician demagogue, Jacob van Artevelde. Van Artevelde had not previously played a notable part in the affairs of Flanders, and very little is known about his origins. He was a merchant of Ghent in late middle age. He was rich. He held no public office even in his own town except that he was one of the five captains of the emergency government. Yet no one doubted that he was ‘maistre et souverain’ (Froissart’s phrase). His power rested on his political skills and on the force of his personality, which was felt not only in Ghent but also in the communities of its traditional rivals, Bruges and Ypres. He was a most persuasive speaker who exercised a hypnotic influence over his colleagues and over the mass of craftsmen and journeymen. Moreover, van Artevelde could use more ruthless forms of persuasion when he needed to. He walked the streets with a bodyguard of thugs, suppressed the least signs of opposition and on occasion had the authors of it beaten up or murdered. Jacob van Artevelde has gone down in historical legend as a scion of the common people and a champion of freedom. He was in fact a ruthless autocrat whose rule was made tolerable only by the desperate situation in which Flanders found herself at the outset of the Anglo-French war.

Van Artevelde’s policy was summed up in the words attributed to him by a French chronicler. ‘Without the goodwill of the King of England,’ he is supposed to have said, ‘we shall die, for Flanders lives by making cloth and cloth cannot be made without wool. It follows that we must make a friend of England.’89 This did not necessarily mean an alliance. In these early days, before his ambitions grew, van Artevelde was looking for the line of least resistance. It might be that the neutrality of Flanders would be enough to satisfy Edward III as well as to avert the vengeance of Philip VI.

Both sides reacted rapidly to the news of the Flemish revolution. The King of France, who was in Paris, summoned his army to meet at Amiens by 20 March 1338, the best that could be done in the middle of winter. The Bishop of Cambrai was told to proceed urgently to Flanders to reason with the representatives of Ghent, Bruges and Ypres and if necessary to make concessions to them. But the English King’s agents moved faster. Henry Burghersh and the rest of Edward’s Council in the Low Countries were at Nijmegen when they heard about the events in Ghent. They travelled south at once and within two weeks were in conference with representatives of the new regime at Louvain in the duchy of Brabant. They had reached an agreement in principle by the end of January which was substantially accepted by all the main towns of Flanders. The towns undertook that they would lend assistance to neither side and would allow neither army rights of passage through their territory. Flemish ports would no longer be used for supplying the Scots or for raiding English shipping, and no attempt would be made to interfere with the passage of the English army up the Scheldt to Antwerp in the summer. In effect Flanders would remain neutral in the coming war in spite of its status as a part of France. In return, the English embargo on the sale of wool to the Flemings was to be lifted. It was a considerable diplomatic and strategic success for Edward III. The first consignments of wool were received from Dordrecht early in March.90

Philip VI was outraged. His first reaction was to order the execution of Sohier de Courtrai, who was still being held in prison. This order was carried out on 21 March 1338. On the same day, two French ecclesiastics acting as papal commissioners but on the instructions of the French government pronounced the excommunication of the whole lay population of Ghent. On the 23rd it was announced that the Constable and the Marshal of France had been ordered to see to the demolition of the walls of the town. These foolish outbursts merely advertised Philip’s impotence. The call to arms to suppress the Flemings was not popular, least of all in the neighbouring provinces. In Artois, gangs of men toured the county organizing forcible resistance to the impressment of townsmen for the French army. The gathering which was due to take place at Amiens in March had to be abandoned so that the Crown’s resources could be conserved to meet the greater threat from Edward III in the summer. As a result, the only forces available to the Constable and the Marshal for enforcing the will of Philip VI on Ghent were the garrisons of Tournai and Lille and some late reinforcements. The Count of Flanders himself was at Bruges with his own retainers and household men; in addition there was an enthusiastic but small and disorganized army of Flemish noblemen willing to fight for their Count and their King.

Some of these men appeared before Ghent on the eve of Easter (11 April). They were washed away by the opening of the dykes. Others occupied the little town of Biervliet. Van Artevelde and his friends reacted to this threat with the vigour which became characteristic of them. They marched on Biervliet with the militia of Ghent at the end of April and routed the Count’s allies with much bloodshed. Van Artevelde’s men next entered Bruges, where they joined forces with the townsmen and fought a pitched battle with the Count’s men in the streets and markets. Ypres, which had shown some sign of backsliding, was attacked in early May and reduced to obedience. So ended the counter-revolution. To suppress the Flemings now, after the manner of 1328, would have required an enormous French army in addition to the one which was required for the defence of France against Edward III. On 13 June 1338 the French government acknowledged defeat. Philip VI pardoned the townsmen of Flanders for dealing with the King of England and formally recognized their neutrality. He professed to have been moved by the ‘great sufferings and hardships of the people of Ghent for want of their trade and livelihood’. The truth was that if Philip had conceded any less the Flemings might well have abandoned their neutrality and joined forces with his enemies.91

The negotiation of the treaty of neutrality with the Flemings was the last great service which that ingenious diplomat Henry Burghersh performed for his master before the arrival of the English army on the continent. It remained only to observe the legal conventions. Edward had sworn fealty to Philip VI in 1331 and could not invade his realm without renouncing it. So, at some time in the spring of 1338, probably in May, Burghersh travelled to Paris with his household, carrying the letter of defiance which he had brought with him from England months before. On the afternoon of his arrival the Bishop appeared before Philip VI and his court in the palace on the Island in full episcopal vestments, mitre and crozier and presented the letter to him. Philip handed it to one of his secretaries who read it out. The document, which addressed the King as ‘Philip de Valois’, declared that he had intruded himself on to the throne of France in 1328 in spite of Edward’s own, stronger, claim. ‘For which cause’, it continued, ‘we give you notice that we intend to conquer our inheritance by our own force of arms.’ The scene was recalled many years later by one of Philip’s household knights who was present. Philip was in good humour, courteous and unperturbed. He turned to the Bishop, smiled and said: ‘Bishop, you have performed admirably the task for which you came. Your letters are of such a kind as need no answer. You may go when you wish.’ Burghersh went.92


The threat might have been mere bombast. During the spring and early summer of 1338 Edward III had to stretch the resources of his small kingdom to fight on four fronts simultaneously: on the south and east coasts of England, in Scotland, in the Low Countries and in Gascony.

Gascony was undoubtedly the theatre which suffered most. The war had damaged its economy more gravely and undermined its institutions more completely than anyone at Westminster can have appreciated. There was a serious shortage of provisions in the towns. The Bordelais and the coastal regions under firm English control produced very little grain and in wartime conditions it was very difficult to import it from further inland. This abiding problem of the defence of Gascony (it had been the same in 1324) was aggravated in 1338 by a long drought which had destroyed much of the previous year’s harvest of grain, wine and oil throughout south-western France. From the beginning of 1338 onward it was necessary to ship large quantities of grain from England, a major operation and as time went on an increasingly dangerous one.93 As the French became bolder in exploiting their superiority at sea, communications between England and Gascony became progressively more difficult. The port of La Rochelle, which the French had begun to develop as a naval base during the previous year, was ideally situated for intercepting English and Gascon shipping as it rounded the island of Oloron. A small French squadron stationed there in August 1337 had been quickly worsted by the men of Bayonne. But at the end of the year it was reinforced and from then until August 1338 a large fleet of French and Castilian galleys was able to cruise with impunity near the mouth of the Gironde. On 23 August 1338, the largest food convoy yet sent to the duchy was attacked by eighteen galleys off Talmont at the entrance to the Gironde. Two of the ships, including one of the largest, were captured and their precious cargoes lost.94

The disruption of inland communications was the single most important reason for Oliver Ingham’s intensifying financial difficulties. The income of the duchy was derived in large part from tolls and customs levied on the great waterways. Banditry and military campaigns destroyed crops and choked off the movement of goods. The traffic in wine from the haut pays through the Gascon ports fell in the first year of fighting to about one-fifth of its peacetime level. The impact on the fortunes of the Bordeaux government was catastrophic. The one surviving set of accounts for this period shows that in the financial year which began on 29 September 1338 only about one-eighth of the wages due to troops could be settled in cash. The rest were paid by debentures or grants in kind. In the previous year the situation is likely to have been even worse. Edward III was in no position to help. In the same financial year the government of the duchy received form England a total of 9,120 pounds of Bordeaux (£1,824) and 196 sacks of wool, a tiny proportion of what Edward was spending in the north. John of Norwich, for example, received no wages for more than six months after he left London. When the King ordered the Exchequer to advance him £200 upon his wages and expenses, they replied that they did not have £200. The money was eventually advanced to him by the Bardi. But John’s men were not paid until February 1339, by which time they had been in Gascony for almost a year and a half. The predictable results followed. Morale fell. English troops rioted in Bordeaux. Men slipped away or, worse, sold themselves and their strongholds to the other side. When Gaston de Foix invaded the upper Adour early in 1338 the main reason for the lack of serious resistance was that the defenders were unpaid. The commander of Saint-Sever, the greatest fortress of the region, complained in January 1338 that he had been maintaining 500 men-at-arms and 1,000 infantry at his own expense for many months and was owed the enormous sum of 11,400 pounds of Bordeaux. It is surprising that he remained loyal. Others sold their strongholds and sloped away.95

During February and March several prominent Gascons arrived in England in the hope of bending the King’s ear. There was a lot of pressure on Edward’s resources. He had an army of about 4,000 men in Scotland under the command of the earls of Arundel and Salisbury. They had been besieging Dunbar since the beginning of the year. In order to assemble this force it had been necessary to draw on the retinues of three earls and many lesser magnates and to recruit heavily not only in the northern counties which had traditionally manned the armies of the border and Scotland, but throughout England. Then, on 26 February, orders had been issued for the recruitment of another army for the Low Countries. These envisaged the raising of about 4,500 men in the counties, and probably about the same number from the retinues of the magnates, all of whom were to be ready at Norwich no later than 12 May. All of these men had to be raised south of the Trent. Nevertheless, on 1 March 1338 further writs went out for men to assemble at Portsmouth by 29 April to assist the King’s hard-pressed lieges in Gascony. Edward seems to have had in mind a force of about 1,000 men under the command of an important magnate. William Clinton, Earl of Huntingdon, was suggested. It was not a great army, but it represented a significant additional demand on the resources of the southern and western counties and Wales. The men would have to carry with them their victuals and supplies for a considerable period. The Council calculated that seventy large ships would be required.96

In late March 1338 John of Norwich’s brother arrived in Bordeaux from England bringing the joyful news with him together with a grandiloquent letter in which the King promised his Gascon lieges that their loyalty would very shortly be rewarded. With stronger cards in his hand than he had held since the outset of the war, Oliver Ingham set about persuading waverers among the Gascon nobility that they could now count on the English King’s commitment to his continental dominions. Even the inscrutable Bernard-Aiz, lord of Albret, who had hitherto succeeded in remaining aloof from both sides, gave him to understand that he would declare for Edward III.97

It was fortunate for the English that, when the French commanders opened their campaign in the spring, their conduct of it was hesitant and unimpressive. There were to be two thrusts at the duchy; one from the south-east by the Agenais and the Garonne valley; the other the long-planned offensive by Saintonge and the north shore of the Gironde. The captains-general took command of the first. But they were prevented from penetrating beyond the Agenais by the fierce resistance of the great English fortress at Penne. They laid siege to Penne in mid-April 1338. It is entirely unclear why. Its capture could not have been decisive. Of all the English strongholds in the south-west it was likely to be the most difficult to capture quickly. Originally built by that famous castle-builder Richard Cœur-de-Lion and carefully modernized on several occasions since, Penne stood on a rock some 300 feet above the River Lot. Its situation made it impossible to undermine and its walls were beyond the reach of most siege artillery. The French soldiers sat outside the walls for more than ten weeks until, early in July, they abandoned the siege and marched away.98

The Saintonge offensive was better conceived, for Philip’s ministers had devoted much care to its planning ever since the previous autumn. But it was hardly more successful. The command was shared between two captains: Savary de Vivonne was a rich local knight with a long, undistinguished military career before him; his colleague, Jean (‘Mouton’) de Blainville was a Norman, a venerable royal official in his sixties. They divided their forces among a number of separate sieges. Their main object was the capture of Blaye at the head of the Gironde, which would have been a great prize. This ambitious venture involved not only investing the town on the landward side but cutting it off by water from its source of reinforcements and supplies in Bordeaux. Several galleys were moved round from La Rochelle and moored in the Gironde off the town.

Oliver Ingham and John of Norwich ignored the doings of the captains-general and concentrated on the closer threat. They gathered a small field army by stripping the garrisons of Bordeaux, Libourne and Saint-Émilion and drawing on the retinues of loyal noblemen of the Bordelais. This improvised force marched on Montlaur, a castle (now vanished) which was probably on the Garonne a short distance upstream of Blaye. Early in July they broke the French siege, suddenly descending on the besiegers in boats and scattering them. The French withdrew northward. In the middle of July they were found besieging Montendre, the last significant English stronghold in the interior of Saintonge, whose Béarnais commander had held out in his isolated position since the beginning of the war. Ingham tried to relieve this place too. But he was either beaten off or abandoned the attempt before reaching it. Montendre surrendered at the beginning of August and was immediately demolished. It was the solitary French success of the campaign.99

By now the Earl of Huntingdon’s army of relief should have arrived. Its absence must have been a grave embarrassment to the Seneschal. But Edward III’s plans had been dogged by misfortune and misjudgement. In April there had been signs of severe strain, the consequence of trying to achieve too much at once. The recruiting officers’ returns were very poor, for both quantity and quality. Victuals had proved to be a considerable problem. Men were concealing their stocks and in parts of England forcibly resisted the purveyor’s officers. Some of the victuals which they did succeed in collecting for Gascony were stolen by dishonest royal servants. Some of them had to be sold to pay the wages of the seamen. The rest was diverted to Orwell to feed the army of the Low Countries. In early May, neither men nor supplies had reached Portsmouth. Both continental expeditions had to be postponed several times. Although shortage of men and supplies contributed substantially to this outcome, it was the shortage of shipping which was in the end decisive. Edward III had still not learned how difficult and time-consuming it was to requisition ships and impress sailors. At Hartlepool, an officer of the northern Admiral reported, a request for information about ships of 30 tons or more had produced the answer that there were none, ‘but I proved that answer false.’ At Ravenser, near Hull, the bailiff ‘would not comply with the King’s orders nor supply the information which I required’. At Hull eight ships were requisitioned but escaped to sea almost at once. At Whitby another eight ships were seized but their crews struck and refused to sail. Explanations of the delay, increasingly awkward, were sent to Edward’s embarrassed agents in the Low Countries.100

Even worse, the leaders of the army and several thousand men were still, at the end of May, engaged in besieging Dunbar. The garrison, under the command of ‘Black Agnes’ Randolph, had resisted the efforts of Edward’s soldiers and siege engineers for four months, hurling defiance and abuse from the ramparts. Edward had her brother, the Earl of Moray, who was his prisoner, sent north and threatened to have him executed under the walls unless she surrendered. But she was unmoved and Edward did not carry out his threat.101

Whitsun in 1338 fell on 31 May. Edward III celebrated the feast at the abbey of Bury St Edmunds, close to his army, which was assembling at Norwich. There were some difficult deliberations with his Council. Dunbar was the only important stronghold which held out for David Bruce south of the Firth of Forth, a dangerous point of entry for goods and men from France, but the siege would have to be abandoned if numbers were to be made up for the crossing to the Low Countries, let alone Gascony. So, on 13 June, the earls of Arundel and Salisbury folded their tents and withdrew. Arundel remained in the north to organize the defence of the border. Salisbury joined the King in East Anglia. The plans for the Gascon expedition were left alone but it was apparent that they had become entirely unrealistic. On 19 June 1338, still short of ships, troops and above all money, Edward cancelled it.102

In military terms, the cancellation of Huntingdon’s expedition had little impact. By the time the news of it reached Gascony the French campaign in the region had already failed and there was very little time left to them in which to make amends. A general conference of French commanders in the south occurred at La Réole in mid-July 1338. Thereafter, their offensive disintegrated into a number of separate raids in the Agenais and the southern Landes. In the following month all of them, including the two captains-general, the counts of Foix and Armagnac and the men of Languedoc were urgently required in the north. The strength of the French in the south-west was once again reduced to its main garrisons.103

Politically, however, it was a severe setback. The barons of the duchy made their calculations and drew the appropriate lessons. Bernard-Aiz of Albret, in spite of his promises earlier in the year, never stirred in the English King’s interests. Although Edward III appointed him joint Seneschal of Aquitaine on 1 July 1338 he never assumed any duties and the appointment was allowed to lapse. Philip VI also summoned Bernard-Aiz to join his armies. The lord of Albret’s answer is not recorded, but although he carried out some minor raids on Philip’s account, he did not fight in the French King’s armies. He waited on events. The other lords who had declared themselves for Edward III at the same time did likewise.104


1 Pirenne, ii, 65.

2 Froissart, Chron., i, 369; Pirenne, ii, 94 (brutes).

3 Lucas, 113–24, 145–66 (Brabant); Benedict XII, Reg. (France), nos 178, 280.

4 PRO C47/30/4(12, 16–18).

5 CCR 1337–9, 44–5; Chronographia, ii, 42; RF, ii, 948.

6 RF, ii, 943, 954–5; CPR 1334–8, 315, 333, 337, 340, 351; L1oyd, 144–55 Lucas, 200–2, 219–20.

7 Offler, 615–6; Lucas, 196; Dubrulle, 279–81.

8 Viard (7); Lucas, 196; *KOF, xviii, 137; *Récits d’un bourgeois, 74–5; Froissart, Chron., i, 366.

9 John: CCR 1333–7, 37–8, 77–8, 200, 265, 345. Juliers: Bock, Quellen, nos 36, 44, 100, 106, 128, 153. Woume: *KOF, xviii, 50–5; CCR 1333–7, 110–11, 366, 732; CPR 1334–8, 416; PRO E372/182, m. 46 (Woume). Thrandeston: CPR 1334–8, 167; *KOF, xviii, 154–65. Others: e.g. TR, ii, 19–20.

10 *KOF, xviii, 154–8; RF, ii, 952, 955; WBN, 218–19; *Trautz, 424–5 (Maldon). Expenditure: CCR 1333–7, 640; CCR 1337–9, 14–15; Bock, Quellen, no. 504.

11 Benedict XII, Reg. (France), no. 341; *Récits d’un bourgeois, 74–5.

12 Chronographia, ii, 32; Récits d’un bourgeois, 158; *KOF, xviii, 158–9.

13 *KOF, xviii, 158; Bock, Quellen, no. 180; CPR 1334–8, 416; RF, ii, 966–7. Burghersh: Knighton, Chron., ii, 17; Murimuth, Chron., 120.

14 CIM, ii, no. 1580; CCR 1337–9, 63, 86; RF, ii, 968; Bel, Chron., i, 124–5; Klerk, Van den derden Eduwaert, 311–12.

15 Bel, Chron., i, 126; Chronographia, ii, 32; Istore de Flandre, i, 360; Gedenkwaardigheden Gesch. Gelderland, i, 368–9; *KOF, xviii, 30–3. Robert’s knight: CPR 1334–8, 416.

16 Chronographia, ii, 43–4; Récits d’un bourgeois, 159. Letter: AN J440/54.

17 LC, no. 71; Arch. admin. Reims, ii, 781–4; BN Fr. n.a. 7413, fol. 172 (Eu); *KOF, xviii, 34–7.

18 Chron. Lanercost, 291; Bridlington Chron., 124; Walsingham, Hist., i, 198; CPR 1334–8, 513, 579; CCR 1337–9, 172; PRO E372/182, m. 48 (Ambrose Newburgh); Lennel, i, 79.

19 TR, ii, 4–5, 7–8, 8–9, 10, 11–12.

20 Bel. Chron., i, 125; TR, ii, 16–18; *KOF, xviii, 18–19; RE, ii, 959, 966, 974–5; PRO E101/20/16. Recruitment: PRO C61/49, mm. 23, 27, 28.

21 Vat. Akten, no. 1831; *Trautz, 425.

22 S. Riezler, ‘Urkunden zur bayerischen und deutschen Geschichte, 1256–1343’, Forschungen zur deutschen Geschichte, xx (1880), 268–71; Schwalm, ‘Reiseberichte’, 345; Gedenkwaardigheden Gesch. Gelderland, i, 361; TR, ii, 1–2. These reflect an earlier agreement known in France by 28 June (*Cordey, 286) and in England by 12 July (TR, ii, 2–4).

23 TR, ii, 2–4, 5–7, 13–15; BL Cotton Nero C.VIII, fol. 263. Oath: Chronographia, ii, 34.

24 TR, ii, 1–4, 5–7, 12–5, 18–9, 23–7, 27–9, 30–1.

25 *KOF, xviii, 38; Bock, Quellen, no. 505; TR, ii, 2–4, 5–7; Riezler, op.cit. (n. 22), 268–71.

26 Roncière, i, 396; RF, ii, 977, 981–2, 983; PRO C61/49, mm. 18, 21, 22, 22d, 29d; PRO E372/182, m. 42 (Roos); *KOF, xviii, 52; CCR; 1337–9, 159; Lit. Cant., ii, 158–9. Army: BL Cotton Nero C.VIII, fols 246vo, 263–263vo.

27 GEC, vii, 58–60; Knighton, Chron., ii, 1; PRO SC1/38/176 (jail); WSS, 50, 148, 260–6; Walsingham, Hist., i, 178; PRO C61/43, m. 10 (reappointment).

28 WSS, 80, 217–8; PRO C61/42, m. 9, C61/46, m. 7; RF, ii, 963.

29 PRO E101/166/11,12, E101/167/3, E404/508.

30 BN Coll. Périgord 10, fols 190–1.

31 PRO C61/52, mm. 7, 2, C61/54, m. 23, C61/55, m. 10, C61/57, m. 6; RF, ii, 1236; Guinodie, ii, 482.

32 PRO C61/45, m. 6.

33 Saintes: RF, ii, 816–17, 821, 832; PRO C61/46, m. 1; Grandes Chron., ix, 156–7; no garrison pay recorded in PRO E101/166/11. Talmont: PRO C61/50, m. 5; BN Fr. 32510, fol. 140. Montendre: Confessions, 165–6, 167. Bourg: PRO C61/50, m. 3. Blaye: AHG, iv, 95–7; PRO C61/49, mm. 5, 39, C61/50, m. 12, E101/166/11, mm. 13, 41.

34 WSS, 50,104; PRO C61/49, m. 4. Englishmen: PRO C61/45, m. 6; C61/46, m. 1.

35 PRO C61/49, mm. 38, 38d, 37, 36, 36d; RF, ii, 974. Burghersh: CPR 1334–8, 403. Opposition: PRO C47/28/5(41).

36 PRO C61/49, mm. 4od, 38d, 34, 34d, 33d, 32d, 31d, 29, 22; RF, ii, 974.

37 PRO C61/49, mm. 28, 27, 26d, 23, 23d, 22d. Norwich: GEC, ix, 762–5; McFarlane, 165–6.

38 *Cordey, 286.

39 ANJ635/10.

40 BN Fr.n.a. 7413, fols 190–214; BN Fr. 20685, PP. 247–57; BN Coll. Doat 164, fols 154–155. 21,000: Jusselin, ‘Comment la France se préparait’, 226–8.

41 Villeneuve: AN J880/14; BN Fr. 20685, p. 256 (not previously in English hands: WSS, 261, 264, 265). Puymirol: *Chron. Norm., 207–9; AHG, xxxiii, 91–2; AN JJ73/93.

42 St-Macaire: Chron. anon. Par., 170–1; BN Coll. Doat, 164, fol. 158; *HGL, x, 827–8; PRO C61/50, m. 1. Tastes, Pommiers: BN Fr. 20685, p. 256; the latter was under siege on 3 and 26 Aug., Ordonnances, iv, 39, AN JJ71/32. Civrac: AN JJ82/332.

43 BN Coll. Doat 164, fols 158–9, 164, 165–7; *HGL, x, 821–2; *KOF, xviii, 37–8; LC, no. 73; RF, ii, 1009.

44 PRO C61/49, mm. 21, 20, 18, 17, 16, 15, E101/19/39, m. 1., E101/166/11, m. 1. Assertion of Froissart, Chron., i, 380–8 and Chron. Norm., 38 that Robert of Artois fought in Gascony is probably derived from French royal propaganda and is wrong. He would have outranked J. of Norwich, who was unquestionably in command and second only to Ingham: PRO C61/49, m. 16; RF, ii, 1023. No English chronicle and none of the ample English records refer to a campaign of Robert in Gascony and French accounts of his acts conflict with record evidence at every point. Robert’s whereabouts are unknown between May 1337 and Nov. 1338 but are thereafter inconsistent with any visit to Gascony: WBN, 217, 223, 424.

45 HGL, ix, 497n, *x, 827–8; AHG, ii, 343.

46 Henneman, 119–20.

47 BN Coll. Doat 186, fols 114–116, 119vo–121; 164, fol. 168; DCG, no. 173; Benedict XII, Reg. (France), nos 368–9; AHG, ii, 130.

48 RF, ii, 990; Gray, Scalacronica, 167–8.

49 BL Cotton Nero C.VIII, fols 246vo, 263–263vo; PRO E101/388/5, m. 23. Returns: e.g. PRO C61/49, m. 16.

50 E. Fryde (1), 12–15; CCR 1337–9, 148–50; CPR 1334–8, 480–2. Pole: E. Fryde (5), 4–7; E. Fryde (9), 44–7.

51 PRO C61/49, mm. 15, 15d, 14,13, 12; Ann. Paulini, 366; Murimuth, Chron., 80; RF, ii, 997; CRP 1334–8, 530–6; BL Cotton Nero C.VIII, fols 246vo, 263–263vo; PRO E101/388/5, mm. 19–23.

52 PRO E101/388/5, mm. 20, 23; Knighton, Chron., ii, 2.

53 RF, ii, 997; PRO E101/388/5, m. 22. Border: Chron. Lanercost, 305–6, 307–8; Gray, Scalacronica, 168; RS, i, 499, 501–13; PRO E101/388/5, mm. 19–23.

54 *Cordey, 287–9; LC, no. 78. Spies: BN PO 998 (Deuilly, 2); Froissart, Chron., i, 404.

55 Benedict XII, Reg. (France), no. 370. Thames: CCR 1337–9, 197.

56 Nangis, Chron., ii, 159; Grandes Chron., ix, 161; Chronographia, ii, 56; BN Fr. n.a. 7413, fol. 214vo.

57 Chron. anon. Par., 171; Nangis, Chron., ii, 157; AN JJ74/195.

58 PRO E101/388/5, mm. 20, 23; Muisit, Chron., 112; Grandes Chron., ix, 163; Chron. anon. Par., 172; Chronographia, ii, 44–5; RF, ii, 1123; *KOF, xviii, 297–9.

59 Gedenkwaardigheden Gesch. Gelderland, i, 371–4; Cuttler, 145–6; Chron. anon. Par., 171–2.

60 Vitae Paparum, i, 200; RF, ii, 1002–3, 1006; CPR 1334–8, 546; Chronographia, ii, 55–6; Murimuth, Chron., 81.

61 Chaplais, Dipl. Practice, 287–8; Walsingham, Hist., i, 222; Benedict XII, Reg. (France), nos 305–35 (powers); RDP, iv, 488–91; RF, ii, 1007, 1009.

62 PRO E101/388/31, m. 3; Lloyd, 149–50; Lucas, 246; E. Fryde (2), 17–23; Chaplais, Dipl. Practice, 293–4.

63 Chaplais, Dipl. Practice, 288–91.

64 Sturler, 353–4; Bel, Chron., i, 135–6.

65 RF, ii, 989–90, 994–5; Grandisson, Reg., i, 300–2.

66 Benedict XII, Reg. (France), no. 389; Lit. Cant., ii, 158–9; Gray, Scalacronica, 168; E. Fryde (7), 257.

67 Murimuth, Chron. 82; Knighton, Chron., ii, 3; TR, ii, 44–5, 46–9, 50–62, 62–3, 72–3, 73–4; E. Fryde (7), 260–1; *Déprez, 418.

68 *Ménard, ii (Preuves), 103; CCR 1337–9, 391.

69 *Ménard, ii (Preuves), 103–4.

70 AN JJ73/194–5, 197, 200; Ordonnances, xii, 61.

71 E.g. PRO C61/47, m. 6, C61/48, m. 2, C61/49, m. 12; Doc. Durfort, nos 631–2, 637.

72 BNPO 226 (de la Baume-Montrevel, 2); ANJJ71/170, 230, 382, JJ72/456, 497, 517.

73 AHG, iv, 98; HGL,ix, 497–501.

74 Doc. Durfort, nos 617, 721, 749–51, 759, 789, 792, 817–18, 1021–2; CPR 1338–40, 25.

75 Tholin, 19–30; M. J. de Bourrousse de Lafforre, Nobiliaire de Guienne, iv (1883), 289–90; HGL, ix, 497–50; AN JJ71/77, 229, 230, 317. For his changes of allegiance in 1340s: AN JJ74/754; BN Clairambault 7/385; PRO C61/67, m. 15.

76 Geaune, Aire: BN Coll. Doat 186, fols 160–161vo, 162-162vo; HGL, ix, 500–1, 506n, 512; ANJJ73/38; AHG, iv, 101. Cazaubon: PRO E101/166/12, m. 11vo; ANJJ71/60.

77 AN JJ71/45, 246; AD Pyr.-Atl. E511.

78 ANJJ 71/47, 49, 79, 92, 182, JJ72/4, JJ73/333.

79 Knighton, Chron., ii, 3; Hemingburgh, Chron., ii, 315; Nangis, Chron., ii, 158; Bridlington Chron., 135; DCG, no. 185; CCR 1339–41, 479; RF, ii, 1027–8, 1042, 1067; TR, ii, 171–2; Godfray, ‘Documents’, 31.

80 PRO C61/50, m. 7; RF, ii, 1055; TR, ii, 101, 102–103, 162–4; CPR 1338–40, 180–1; CCR 1339–41, 226; Hewitt, 6–11.

81 Grandisson, Reg., i, 301; PRO C61/50, m. 8d; TR, ii, 172; compare TR, ii, 172–4 and WBN, 358–62.

82 Jusselin, ‘Comment la France se préparait’, 233–4.

83 *Chron. Norm, 210–3; Doc. Monaco, 219–30, 286; Cron. D. Alfonso XI, 285. Philip had 22 French galleys in 1340: DCG, no. XXVIII(331–3, 468, 503). Pay stop: JT, no. 5661.

84 PRO E356/8 (enrolled customs accts). CPR 1334–8, 578–9; CCR 1333–7, 643–4; CCR 1337–9, 90, 229–30, 557; PRO E372/182, m. 48 (Reppes).

85 Chronographia, ii, 42–3; Bel, Chron., i, 132–3. Pensions: RF, ii, 1034; JT, nos 5337, 5602.

86 Kervyn, iii, 172–5; Lucas, 224–7, 260; Chronographia, ii, 46.

87 *KOF, xviii, 53.

88 Lucas, 263–8.

89 Grandes Chron., ix, 164.

90 Brussel, 824n (summons). Kervyn, iii,. 188–9; Lucas, 269–72; *KOF, xviii, 54; Bel, Chron., i, 131–2; Grandes Chron., ix, 164–5. Terms formally executed on 10 June 1338: TR, ii, 117–20.

91 Lucas, 273–9; Muisit, Chron., 113–4; Nangis, Chron., ii, 159; Grandes Chron., ix, 162–3, 165–6; Chronographia, ii, 43–4, 52–4; *KOF, xviii, 62–3, xxi, 208–11. Impressment: Inventaire AD P.-de-Calais, ii, 23.

92 Froissart, Chron., i, 403–5; Chronographia, ii, 38–40. Date of letter (19 Oct 1337) corresponds with Edward’s itinerary and sittings of Parliament but chronicler’s date for presentation (1 Nov. 1337) is wrong. Philip not in Paris between 10 Oct. and 19 Nov. 1337 (‘Itin. Philippe VI’). K. of Navarre, said to have been present, was at Boulogne (BN Fr. n.a. 7413, fol. 214vo). Burghersh’s known movements rule out visit to France before March 1338 (PRO E101/311/31; *KOF, xviii, 53–4). Letter probably overtaken by cancellation of invasion in Nov. 1337. Most likely date of delivery between c.6 May 1338, when Edward repudiated informal truce (TR, ii, 91–2), and c.21 May 1338, when Philip VI referred to it in summons of his army (Chron. anon. Par., 174).

93 WSS, 92; Benedict XII, Reg. (France), no. 432; PRO C61/50, mm. 1, 2, 4d, 13, 14,16; AHG, lv, 22–4, 25; PRO E101/21/3, E101/166/10.

94 DCG, no. 173, 180, 186; PRO E101/166/11, mm. 32, 33; Cron. D. Alfonso XI, 285. Bayonne fight: PRO C81/240/10405; PRO C61/50, m. 5; RF, ii, 1005. Talmont fight: PRO C61/50, m. 16, C61/51, m. 3.

95 James, 15, 32; PRO E101/166/11 (Exchequer subsidy: m. 7). J. of Norwich: CCR 1337–9, 318, 323; PRO E101/166/11, m. 19. Riots, desertion: PRO C61/50, mm. 1, 3d.

96 Scotland: Prince (1), 358–60; RS, i, 501–12, 521–2. Low Countries: TR, ii, 61–4, 66–72. Gascony: RF, ii, 1018, 1020; PRO C61/50, mm, 3, 4, 6.

97 PRO C61/50, m. 4; RF, ii, 1012, 1022, 1033, 1038; AHG, ii, 126–7; Marquette, 478–81.

98 HGL, ix, 502.

99 Plans: DCG, no. 180, 186. Savary: Anselme, viii, 763; Rec. doc. Poitou, ii, 159n. Blainville: Anselme, vi, 758. Blaye, Montlaur: PRO E101/166/11, mm. 11, 22; Trés. Chartes Albret, i, 530. Montendre: ibid., 530–1; BN Fr. 2598, fol. 50; BN Clairam-bault, 31, p. 2305, 54, p. 4123, 87, p. 6887; Confessions, 165–6.

100 PRO C61/50, mm. 4, 8, 10, 12d, C47/2/30; CCR 1337–9, 355; TR, ii, 93, 82–3.

101 Chron. Lanercost, 297–8; Fordun, Chron., i, 362–3; Gray, Scalacronica, 168.

102 Walsingham, Hist., i, 222–3; CCR 1337–9, 499; PRO E101/166/10 (for ‘July’ read ‘June’).

103 AHG, iv, 98–101, 102; BN Coll. Doat 186, fols 123–125vo; LC, nos. 92, 94, 97–100.

104 RF, ii, 1047; AHG, ii, 127–30; AN JJ71/46; BN PO 24 (Albret 2, 3).

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