An English Martyr… (Sonnet)

Thomas Becket, man of God
once confidante of the King,
transferred his allegiance to God
as church opposed the King.

The King called out in despair
will no one rid me of this man,
knights hearing of King’s despair
answered the call, removing this man.

They killed him
this man of God,
they murdered him
upon his altar; to God.

Henry II and his knights paid a penance,
for the taking of Becket’s life.

One Hundred Years War: The Why?

In 1152, Henry Plantagenet d’Anjou, heir to the English throne, married Eleanor of Aquitaine, the heiress, and took the title; Duke of Aquitaine.  In 1154, Henry ascended to the English throne as King Henry II of England, and started the Plantagenet dynasty.  Henry now held more French land, than the King of France himself.

England’s King John, lost the lands of Normandy, Anjou, Maine, Touraine and Poitou to France.  Henry III son of King John, acknowledged the surrender of Plantagenet claims to French land in France conquered by Philippe Augustus by way of the 1259 “Treaty of Paris.”

The scene had been set, Isabella of France and Edward the son and heir of King Edward I of England, would marry, according to the “Treaty of Montreuil,” dated June 1299.  These two pawns, it was hoped would bring an end, to battles over England’s territories in France.

Isabella of France married Edward II in 1308, what she hadn’t expected, was three partners in the marriage; Isabella – Edward – Pier Gaveston.  For Edward II and Pier Gaveston were lovers.

In 1314, Edward invaded Scotland, and was defeated at the “Battle of Bannockburn,” and it was not until 1329 that Scotland was recognised as an independent nation.

On the 1st August 1323, condemned prisoner Roger Mortimer of Wigmore was being held at the Tower of London, awaiting his execution.

Gerard d’Alspaye, the Tower’s deputy constable slipped a sleeping draught, into the drinks of the constables and guards.  Hastily Gerard released Mortimer from his cell, leading him to the tower’s southern wall, by way of the castle kitchens.

A rope ladder was dropped over the wall, and each climbed down to a waiting boat, and fellow conspirators rowed them across to the river’s south bank.  They escaped by horseback to the town of Porchester, and within days had crossed by ship to France.

In the March of 1325, Isabella went to France to see her brother; King Charles IV.  Her intended mission was to put an end to land disputes between England and France.  An agreement was made, that England could have Gascony and Ponthieu provided Edward attended the King’s court in Paris and paid homage to him.

It was at this time; Isabella met Roger Mortimer, an escapee from the Tower of London, who whisked her off her feet … she fell in love with him.

In the September of 1325, Edward II listened to advice from his advisors; the Despenser’s, that he should not go to France, but send his son; Prince Edward.  Prior to leaving for France on the 12th September, Prince Edward received the title; “Count of Ponthieu.”

On the 21st September 1325, Prince Edward paid homage to King Charles IV of France, and in return Charles bestowed upon him, the title of “Duke of Aquitaine.”

With her son, Prince Edward safe by her side, Isabella began setting the scene of removing her husband from his position as King Edward II of England.

In November 1325, the English Parliament requested Isabella to return to England… she refused, which incurred the annoyance of her brother: Charles.

Part of a letter written by Isabella to Edward:

“I feel that marriage is a joining of a man and woman holding fast to the practice of a life together.  But someone has come between my husband and myself and is trying to break the bond; I declare that I will not return until this intruder is removed, but discarding my marriage garment, shall put on the robes of widowhood and mourning until I am avenged.”

The Queen stayed in France, taunting the King of England who had so abused her and drawing around her a coalition of disaffected English nobles and bishops.  True to her word, she symbolized her disgust with and alienation from her husband by wearing black robes of mourning and a veil over her face.

In England, Edward was furious, and instructed leading bishops of England to tell Isabella that her absence roused fears of a French invasion of England.  Isabella was unmoved.  She held the heir to the Plantagenet realm, and she was protected by the King of France.  As 1325 drew to a close, Isabella allied herself with the fugitive Roger Mortimer of Wigmore.

Isabella left France and attended the court of her brother; William II, the Count of Hainault, who assisted here with her plans to invade England.  In return Prince Edward, now the Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Ponthieu, would marry his daughter; Philippa.

In 1326, England prepared for an invasion of their lands, which had been financed partly by money advanced from Philippa’s dowry.

On the 24th September 1326 Isabella and her loyal supporters landed at Orwell in Suffolk.  Isabella’s army advanced on London seeking out Edward, but he had left the Tower of London, with the Despenser’s and the Earl of Winchester.

Isabella was welcomed upon entering Bristol in October.  The Earl of Winchester, who resided in the castle surrendered and was executed on the 27th October 1326 as a traitor.

King Edward II was captured at the “Abbey of Neath” in Wales and imprisoned in Berkeley Castle.  The Despenser’s were captured and put on trial, and Hugh Despenser was executed as a traitor.

Prince Edward, son of Edward II and Isabella Capet, was crowned King Edward III of England on the 29th January 1327, after his father abdicated his position as King of England.

Edward Plantagenet, King Edward III of England, was fourteen at his ascension, and under the tutelage of an adulterous mother; French born Isabella and her ambitious lover Roger Mortimer.  They acted as the young King’s Regents, until he became of age, to rule his kingdom.

Isabella and Roger Mortimer were now rulers of England.  Mortimer, the Earl of March, seized castles, estates and treasures.  His co-conspirator was no better, for Isabella made huge grants for herself and her lover.  Even to the point of using Parliament to pass laws in her favour.

In October 1330, when Edward could take control of his kingdom, Isabella and Mortimer secured themselves in Nottingham Castle, with guards patrolling the castle walls.

They believed they be safe, what they hadn’t bargained on, Edward and a few good men, accessed the castle through a secret passage into Mortimer’s bedroom.

Mortimer’s days of robbing Edward’s kingdom, came to an end, taken to London, charged and found guilty of treason, and hung, drawn and quartered on the 29th November.  His mother Isabella imprisoned in Castle Rising for the remainder of her days.

The Hundred Years War was started by King Edward III of England, who believed he should have ascended as King of France, following the death of Charles IV in 1328.

The Hundred Years War was the final war, going back to the Norman history, when William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy became King of England in 1066, after defeating Harold II at the “Battle of Hastings.”

In 1328, King Charles IV of France died, leaving no male heir to succeed him and continue the Capetian dynasty.

Since the death of Hugh Capet in 996, there has always been a son to carry on the family name.  France didn’t want an English King as ruler, even though Edward was related to Charles.  So it was, the French Assembly awarded the crown of France to a distant cousin; Philip of Valois, who was crowned King Philip VI of France at Reims in 1328.

King Edward III of England, reluctantly accepts the French Assembly decision; making Philip King of France.

The 17 year old Edward III attends Amiens Cathedral in 1329, in response to a summons by Philip VI, in homage for his fiefs (Fiefs – land granted by a lord in return for military service) in France.  The English King Edward III showed contempt by wearing a deep red robe, with embroidered gold leopards upon it, wearing his crown and brandishing a sword at his belt.

Over the next eight years, a gradual change was taking place, England’s symbolic act of defiance to war.

French nobles unhappy with Philip VI as King of France, urged Edward to press his claim, for the throne of France.

In 1337, King Philip VI of France declares that he is confiscating English territories in South-West France, citing England’s failure in feudal obligations.

An enraged Edward responded, claiming that France is his by right of inheritance… So it was, Edward III declared war on France.

On the 26th January 1340, Edward III entered the Flemish city of Ghent, and called upon the towns people to recognize him not only King of England, but also King of France.

This marked the most profound imaging of the Plantagenet Crown… it would spark an exhausting, seemingly endless period of hostility between England and France, that would become known as the “Hundred Years War.”

Plantagenet Kings had depicted their English sovereignty through three lions, commonly known in heraldry as leopards, against a bright red field.  The coat of arms had changed. 

The leopards had been quartered within the ancient arms of the French Crown: golden fleurs-de-lis against a blue field.  French fleurs-de-lis taking pride of place, displayed in the upper left and right corners of the coat of arms.

English and French interests clashed across Europe…  French Kings looked to expand their rights, their borders.  This brought England and France in direct conflict in trading battles and control of shipping routes.

One Hundred Years War: The Battles

The Hundred Years War:  England and France fought each other for the French throne, and English territories from 1337-1453.  The war was not fought continuously but in phases.  It started out well for the English, but by 1453, the tide had turned in favour of France, all English lands except Calais were lost.

The “Battle of Cadsand – (1337),” the first battle of the Hundred Years War, where Edward III raided the island of Cadsand… leading to an English victory.

The “Naval Battle of Sluys – (1340) saw some two hundred French, Castilian and Genoese sail across the English Channel… for a prolonged invasion of England.

The English had a small fleet, but they had long bowmen situated on platforms at the rear of their ships, and were able to fire off arrows, much quicker than Frances crossbowmen.

The French were driven from their decks by a barrage of arrows, as ships closed in.  Grappling irons secured boats for boarding, as English forces scrambled onto French ships followed by hand-to-hand fighting.

The achieved victory, gave England control of the English Channel.

The “Battle of Auberoche – (1345),” was a battle fought between English and French troops over disputed boundaries… English forces won through.

The “Siege of Calais – (1346), tells of English forces capture of Calais, turning the area into their operations base.

The “Battle of Crecy – (1346) was fought in northern France; an overwhelming defeat for the French, with a far larger army than the English forces.  Genoese mercenary crossbow men and French knights, proved no match for the English longbow men.

The “Battle of Saint – Pol – de – Leon (1346),” an English commander named Dagworth, withdrew his men, taking cover at a nearby hill, where they dug trenches and waited for the French.  He was not disappointed as General Blois and his infantry assaulted their position, and they were cut down by English forces, leading to an English victory.

The “Battle of La Roche – Derrien (1347),” England’s forces fell into a trap set by Duke Charles, luring Dagworth into a night battle.  The French overwhelmed them, Dagworth was forced to surrender.  Charles let his guard down, and English backup forces led to his defeat.

The “Battle of Saintes (1351), where French forces attempted to capture the town, but English forces arrived, and were victorious.

The “Battle of Ardres (1351).”  French forces led by Lord Beaujieu, surrounded English forces under the command of John of Beauchamp as they withdrew from Saint-Omer, leading to a French victory.

The “Battle of Mauron (1352),” tells of an English captain, Breton captain and Franco Breton forces, meeting at Brambily, where the French were defeated… leading to an Anglo-Breton victory.

The “Battle of Poitiers (1356)” saw Edward the Black Prince, son of Edward III of England, defeat the French army near Poitiers.  Yet again, the English longbowmen played a decisive part in the battle.  King John II (Jean II) of France was captured and taken to England, where he remained until 1360, promising to pay a ransom for his release.

During the French King’s captivity in England, Charles attempted to be crowned King of France, but the attempt failed.

A peace treaty was drafted in 1360, which coincided with John’s release, by 1369 the treaty broke down wand was resumed.

At the “Battle of Auray (1364),” English troops commanded by John Chandos lay siege to the town of Auray.  French forces lose and the town surrenders.  The French military leader; Bertrand du Guesclin is captured and held for ransom.

At the “Battle of Navarrette (1367),” fought between Anglo-Gascon and Franco-Castilian forces.  English forces were led by Edward, against Henry of Trastamara.  Henry’s half-brother assisted Edward in his defeat.

At the “Battle of Montiel (1369)” Peter had the support of Edward and England, Henry and France.  Peter lost the battle, as Edward withdrew his support, and Henry was victorious for France.

At the “Battle of Chiset (1373),” French forces attacked the town of Chiset.  The English called for help, but the battle was over before they arrived, and the French were the victors.

At the “Siege of Harfleur (1415)” King Henry V of England landed on French soil with 10,000 men.  The siege lasted about a month, and Henry’s forces were victorious, but at a price, his number had been severely reduced.  Next stop for Henry was Calais, but French forces intercepted him at Agincourt.

The “Battle of Agincourt (1415)”.  English forces under the command of King Henry V, defeated a superior French army, and his skilled longbowmen, won the battle for their King and England.

The “Siege of Rouen (1418-1419)” English forces reached Rouen in the July of 1418, and came face to face with the French commanded by Blanchard and LeBouteillen.  English forces found it impossible to breach city walls, and opted to starve out their enemy.  On the 20th January 1419, the French surrendered.

The “Battle of Bauge (1421)” French and Scottish forces joined up, attacking the English in Normandy.  Thomas, the Duke of Clarence’s force of cavalry and infantry, were not working with each other, as they attacked allied forces, which brought down their army and victory went to the Franco-Scots force.

On the 31st August 1422, King Henry V of England died at Vincennes in France, and two months later King Charles VI of France also died.

The “Battle of Cravant (1423).”  Following a standoff, Scottish archers began firing at the enemy.  Then under the protection of the longbows chose to cross the river.  The French withdrew their forces, as the Scottish forces fought on, only to be cut down.  This would lead to a victory for the English and Burgundian army.

The “Battle of Verneuil (1423).”  Some 15,000 French and Scottish troops attacked a 9,000 strong English force in Normandy.  As the French and Scottish forces charged, English longbowmen cut them down in their tracks.

The “Battle of St.James (1426).”  The battle took place at Avranches, between French and English troops on the border of Normandy and Brittany.  English forces overwhelmed the French, leading to an English victory.

The “Battle of Jargeau (1429).”  Joan of Arc and Duke John controlled French forces against the English.  The French assault started on the 11th June and on the 12th June, Joan called upon the English to surrender.  Even though the English suffered heavy losses, they battled on, refusing to give in, and were victorious over the French.

The “Battle of Beaugency (1429).”  French forces were losing control of the river crossings, one by one.  French determination won through, as English commanders were captured and longbowmen killed.

The “Siege of Orleans (1429),” will be most remembered when Joan of Arc, a 17 year old peasant girl, stepped forward claiming divine guidance.  Her actions marked a turning point for French forces, she would lead the troops to victory over the English.

In the year 1429, French became more victorious in battle against the English.  Joan of Arc put fire in the bellies of French troops, and she would lead them into battle.

The “Battle of Patay (1429).”  This victory is credited to Joan of Arc, even though the battle was won, before France’s main force arrived on the scene.

The “Siege of Compiegne (1430).”  Captain Louis led an artillery bombardment at Choisy.  As the French forces were victorious, Joan of Arc was captured, put on trial by the English and burnt at the stake as a witch in 1431, in Rouen. 

At the “Battle of Gerbevoy (1435).”  French forces were commanded by La Hire and Jean Poton de Xaintrailles, who were victorious over English forces.  La Hire was promoted to Captain General of Normandy in 1438, and died in 1443 at Montauban.

The “Battle of Formingny (1450).”  King Charles VII of France, goes on the attack, pushing back a force of 5,000 English troops, into the town of Formingny.  French artillery open fire on the town, and only 1,000 English survived the bombardment.  Formingny marked an end to fighting in the northern territories of France.

The “Battle of Castillon (1453),” saw a victorious French army defeat English forces and marked an end to the Hundred Years War.  This battle was more about the use of cannons to achieve victory.

King Edward III of England had plunged the country into war against the French: “The Hundred Years War.”  Edward died in 1377 and so the reign of King Richard II began.  In 1396 Richard married Isabella of France, daughter of King Charles VI.

Richard and Isabella’s marriage, led to a twenty-eight truce in hostilities between the two countries.  It didn’t take long for the truce to be broken, and war to break out again.

The English failed to achieve victory in the Hundred Years War, even though they had achieved many victories.  After the Battle of Agincourt, the war changed direction, away from the English to the French.

England lost the war, all their territories except Calais, which was later captured in 1558.

One Hundred Years War: (1350-1399)

In 1355, after a pause in hostilities due to Black Death sweeping across Europe, the war was on again.  Edward the Black Prince, son of Edward III, landed at Bordeaux in Western France, and marched his forces through Southern France to Carcassonne.  His failure in capturing the walled city, led to the withdrawal of his forces, and back track to Bordeaux.

King John II of France, successor of Philip VI led an army against English forces, commanded by the Duke of Lancaster, who was forced to withdraw to coastal areas.  From their King John attacked the Black Prince, whose army advanced north-east towards Loire, pillaging the countryside as they went.

In September of 1356, King John reached Loire, just as the Black Prince, was turning towards Bordeaux.  On the 18th September, both forces met at the “Battle of Poitiers.”

Cardinal Talleyrand de Perigord, tried to broker a settlement between these two armies, but it proved impossible.  The Black Prince offered return of his booty, and a seven year truce, an offer rejected by King John who wanted nothing less, than out right surrender.

The English army, an experienced force of archer’s and men-at-arms, were commanded by Sir John Chandos, Sir James Audley and Captal de Buche.  The Black Prince positioned his force among hedges and orchards.  Front line archer’s took up positions behind hedges.

The Scottish Commander; Sir William Douglas, advised King John, his forces should attack on foot.  For horses became vulnerable to the English archer’s.  King John took the advice.

The French forces, mounted their charge on Monday 19th September 1356, with 300 German forces, under the command of Baron Clermont and Baron Audrehem.  The attack proved to be a disaster, some knights were shot by English archer’s whilst others were dragged from their horses, killed or became prisoners.

Three divisions of French infantry advanced upon English forces, led by Dauphin Charles, Duc D’Orleans and King John.

The first French division under the command of Dauphin Charles was pushed back by the English.  Black Prince’s soldiers, Gascon men-at-arms, English and Welsh archers engaged the enemy.

As the second division advanced, confusion reigned as the Duc D’Orleans force, mingled with division one, the result, both retreated.

The third division, commanded by King John, along with divisions one and two, advanced against the English, a formidable force of knights and men-at-arms.

The French army came within sight of the English, beyond a hedgerow.  English and Welsh archers dropped their bows, joining English knights and men-at-arms, brandishing daggers and hammers.  The result; French army scattered, many slaughtered as they ran.

King John II of France, was captured by the English, along with his 14 year old son; Philip on the 19th September 1356 at the “Battle of Poitiers,” and remained a prisoner until November 1361.

The “Treaty of Bretigny” in 1360 saw the French recognize Edward as ruler of Aquitaine.  England also received Calais and a ransom of three million crowns for the captured King John.  The treaty also called for a nine year peace treaty.

In 1364 King John II of France died, and was succeeded by Charles V.

In 1369, Edward’s wife Philippa died, and the ageing King, fell under the influence of his mistress; Dame Alice Perrers.

In 1369, the peace treaty of Bretigny, which had been drawn up in 1360, calling for a nine year truce, collapsed.  For English and French, backed opposite sides in an internal dispute for the throne of Castile.

In 1370, Edward the Black Prince, massacred the people of Limoges, and in turn lost his credibility as a noble warrior.

The tide was turning away from the English to the French.  For it was in 1370, du Guesclin defeated an English army at Pontvallain, and in 1372 a Castilian and French fleet destroyed an English fleet off La Rochelle.

Charles pushed home the French moments of glory, by re-capturing much of the land granted to Edward, in the treaty of Bretigny in 1360.

By 1375, John of Gaunt had lost half of his army to disease and famine, along with large parts of Aquitaine in the process.

In 1376, Edward the Black Prince, son of Edward III died.

The Good Parliament of 1376 resisted the supply of money, for the continued Hundred Years War in France.  That same year Parliament called for the removal of Edward’s mistress; Alice Perrers, who was draining the royal coffers, to the tune of £2,000 a year.

King Edward became incapacitated by a stroke, and lost his life on the 21st June 1377.   Edward’s life had been spent striving against his foe, in an attempt to regain the lands of France, once English territories.  His grand illusions shattered.  English territories lost, with the exception of Calais, and a coastal strip between Bordeaux and Bayonne.

Richard II, son of the Black Prince and grandson of Edward III, aged eleven became the next King of England.  John of Gaunt, brother of the late Black Prince was appointed his Regent till he came of age to rule his kingdom.

In 1380, King Charles V of France died.  With French forces running out of steam, as the war dragged on, year after year, it was no wonder French warriors lost interest…

King Richard II of England and King Charles VI of France both suffered at the hands of scheming relatives, who ruled on their behalf.  Neither kingdom wanted to see the battle flag raised again.

In 1396 King Richard II of England married Isabella of France, daughter of King Charles VI.  This, one would have to say, was one of those political marriages.  The terms of the marriage led to a twenty-eight year truce.  The two monarchs; Richard II and Charles VI were unable to broker a peace treaty.

One Hundred Years War: (1337-1350)

Matilda, born of Norman blood, the daughter of King Henry I and Edith of Scotland, married Geoffrey Plantagenet, the Count of Anjou, and gave birth to a son; Henry.

King Henry II married Eleanor of Aquitaine, and jointly they owned the French territories of Anjou and Aquitaine.  Henry ruled more land in France, than the French King himself, and he wanted it back.

A weak King, had been England’s downfall, when King John (1199-1216), lost most of England’s French territories.  Future King’s desired to take back what was theirs, culminating in the declaration of war in 1337, “The Hundred Years War.”

1348 was a bad year for Europe, as Black Death struck, and millions of lives were lost.

By 1431, England had conquered most of France, in the Hundred Years War, using the “Long Bow.”

England was dealt a deadly blow, when Joan of Arc, led French troops into battle, putting into them, the belief that France could push these invader’s from their lands.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Henry Burghersh, the then Bishop of Lincoln and Councillor to the King of England, was commissioned by King Edward III of England to deliver a document into the hands of; Philip of Valois, the King of France.

Edward claimed that he was the rightful King of France, by way of his mother, Isabella a French Princess and grandson of a French Monarch.

Charles IV of France died leaving no male heirs, and France did not want an English King as their ruler, as such Philip of Valois, distant nephew to the French monarch was appointed.

Edward further announced, it was his intention not to pay homage to the King of France for England’s territories in France.  Edward’s challenge – refusing to pay homage, was by far, more audacious, threatening the feudal system, a centuries old system.

14th century Plantagenet King of England, descendants of French princes, held territories in France, descended from William the Duke of Normandy, of Viking decent had won the English crown, by right of conquest at the “Battle of Hastings” in 1066.

Edward became King of England in 1327. And Philip became King of France in 1328.  In accordance with France’s feudal customs, Edward III of England paid homage to King Philip of France, at Amiens Cathedral in 1329, for his fiefs, the French territories, under English control.

The English King faced a dilemma, for he held the title’s; Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Ponthieu, and as such was a member of the French aristocracy.  As such it was his duty, to defend the interests of France.  However, the issue at hand, Edward as King of England, could not be seen to allow France, to dictate his foreign policies.

France wanted to control sea traffic along its coastline, which led Philip of France to create links with Scotland, England’s hostile neighbour.

England and Scotland had been at war since the 1290’s, and in 1314 Robert the Bruce King of the Scots, had won a humiliating defeat against Edward II at the “Battle of Bannockburn.”

In 1328, Edward III sealed a treaty with the Scots, but he couldn’t resist any chance he had to poke his nose into Scotland’s affairs, after the death of Robert the Bruce in 1329.  He removed David II, son of Robert the Bruce, and placed his own puppet King on the Scottish throne, one who was loyal to Edward.

Philip stepped forward offering a safe haven to the exiled King of Scotland.

Edward would have felt uneasy by an alliance of France and Scotland, but that was nothing compared to the large fleet of French ships gathering in the harbours of Normandy.  There was only one explanation, King Philip of France was preparing for an attack on England, with the support from the Scots in the north.

In 1337, King Philip VI declares to Edward, that he is confiscating English territories in South-West France, citing England’s failure in its feudal obligations.

An enraged Edward responded, claiming that Philip VI had no right to confiscate his legitimate inheritance in France… those lands belonged to England.  The French throne should have been mine by right of inheritance, but I accepted the French Assembly to appoint you… but no longer.  “I declare war on France!”  I want what is mine.

In the year 1337, the first battle of the “Hundred Years War” took place at Cadsand, where English forces raided the island, leading to an English victory.

On the 26th January 1340, Edward III entered the Flemish City of Ghent, and called upon the townspeople, to recognize him, not only as King of England, but also as King of France.

Edward took the battle to the French: The Naval Battle of Sluys in 1340, saw some two-hundred French, Castilian and Genoese ships, sail across the English Channel… the start of an invasion of England.

On the 23rd June, Edward anchored at Blankenberghe, north of Bruges, where veteran soldiers; Robert Crawley and John Crabbe were put ashore to reconnoitre the French Fleet.  The two knights rode to Sluys with a French escort.  Upon their return they advised Edward, it be risky, as the French Fleet was located within the harbour.

Edward chose to ignore the advice from his knights…

On the 24th June 1340, King Edward attacked the French Fleet; made up of French, Castilian and Genoese ships inn Sluys harbour.  Their ships had been bunched together, in three squadrons, and each squadron was chained together.

The English Fleet bore down on the French early in the day, with the advantages of having the wind, tide and sun behind them.  English archers sent hails of arrows from their advantage points; end castles or raised platforms located at the rear of ships, or on the masts.

English ships rammed French vessels, attaching hooks and grappling irons, as men clambered across, to deliver death and destruction at close quarters.

The French were trapped, their ships chained together proved to be their undoing.  Some 18,000 French and Genoese were killed, either by arrows, or cut down in hand to hand combat or drowned.

Both French commanders lost their lives.  Hugues Quieret was killed as his ship was boarded and Nicolas Behuchet was hanged from the mast of his ship.

Most of the French Fleet had been destroyed or captured, removing danger to English merchant ships in the English Channel.

On the 11th July 1346, King Edward III of England landed at St.Vaast on the northern coast of France.  His army consisted of 16,000 knights, men-at-arms, archers and infantry.  Their target was Normandy.

On the beaches of France, he knighted his 16 year-old son, Edward the Prince of Wales, who became known as the Black Prince.

At the same time a second English force, landed at Bordeaux on the coast of south-west France.  Their target was to invade Aquitaine.

Edward’s forces marched south to Caen, capital of Normandy, taking Raoul, Count of Eu, prisoner, he being the Constable of France and a prized prisoner at that.

They marched forth to the Seine, finding bridges destroyed, slowing up their advancement into France.  They marched up the Seine, until they found a bridge which was crossable.  The bridge at Poissy, was easily repaired, and English forces crossed.

At the same time, news reached Edward, that King Philip VI of France, was amassing an enormous army, to stop English invaders.

Edward’s forces crossed the Seine, and marched north to the sea, approaching perilously close to Paris and Philips forces.  As they marched north King Philip followed closely in their tracks.  At low tide, they crossed the mouth of the river, evading pursuing forces.  Edward’s escaping forces encamped in the Foret de Crecy on the north bank of the Somme.

On the 26th August 1346, the English forces took position between the villages of Crecy and Wadicourt.

Edward III took the central position, with his son Edward, the Prince of Wales commanding the right flank of forces, along with the Earl of Oxford, Earl of Warwick and Sir John Chandos.  The left flank of forces was commanded by the Earl of Northampton.

Each division of forces, had its spearmen to the rear, knights and men-at-arms in the centre and archers to the front.

Philip’s army came north from Abbeyville arriving mid-day on the 26th at Crecy – Wadicourt.  French knights advised their King to encamp for the night, and attack on the 27th… Philip agreed.

Many of his army leaders were not waiting, and Philip conceded and so the attack was made that very day, on the afternoon of the 26th.

The role of the Constable of France was to command the Kingdom’s feudal army in battle.  They had been thwarted, for the English had taken him prisoner.  Crecy lost its authority and experience in battle, the King’s army lacked direction.

The French army was divided into four divisions:

Division One was commanded by Antonio Doria and Carlo Grimaldi.

Division Two was commanded by Duke D’Alencon with blind King John of Bohemia.

Division Three was commanded by D’Alencon’s, King of the Romans and former King of Majorca.

Division Four was commanded by the Duke of Lorraine and the Count of Blois.  With King Philip and his forces bringing up the rear guard.

The battle began, late in the afternoon.  Suddenly without warning, the heavens opened, and it poured with rain.  English archers removed their bow strings, putting them in their jackets to keep them dry.  The French crossbowmen did not have that option.

With rain stopped, French crossbowmen fired their arrows, only to discover they fell short of their mark; the rain had loosened their strings, and they were no longer taut.  English forces stepped forth, drawing their bowstrings to their ears, as they released their arrows they crossed the skyline and reached their desired target.

The barrage of arrows, inflicted many casualties, forcing retreat by crossbowmen who were trampled down by French knights.  French knights and men-at-arms were subjected to a relentless storm of arrows, wave after wave.

The battle continued late into the night, and King Philip abandoned the carnage, riding to the Castle of La Boyes, to seek safety from the English onslaught.

The King of France had left his post, his forces fled the battlefield.  Come the next day, Welsh and Irish spearmen walked among the dead and dying, murdering and pillaging the wounded…

The French army was 80,000 in size and lost some 30,000 men to an English army of 16,000 men, who reported minimal losses.

After the battle, Edward the Prince of Wales the Black Prince, adopted the emblem of the King of Bohemia, three white feathers and his motto “Ich Dien” (I serve). Still the emblem of the Prince of Wales.

In 1347 Calais surrendered to Edward’s forces.  It was the first battle of the Hundred Years War, which saw the use of artillery.

In the early part of the 14th century, Earth underwent a period of extreme cold weather, as temperature plummeted.  What was to come, led to millions of death’s across Europe; “The Black Death Plague.”

There was no control against this disease as it spread from village to village, town to town, and country to country, as thousands died, day by day.  The disease was known to travel by sea and land, with no available solution to stop it, in its tracks.

  • By the winter of 1347 it had reached Italy, and reports were coming in, it was running rampant through the streets of Rome and Florence.
  • January 1348 the plague had reached Marseilles, for the dead were lying where they died; in houses and on the streets.
  • It travelled along the Rhine, and reached Germany in 1348 and the Low Countries.
  • By the middle of 1348, this disease had struck Paris, Bordeax, Lyon and London.

The Hundred Years War was suspended in 1348, due to high mortality rates amongst the military, caused by the plague, yet it was reconvened once the plague had passed.

The Black Death plague became one of the worst pandemics in human history, killing an estimated two hundred million people between 1347-1350.

Birth of the Plantagenets

The House of the Plantagenet, was a catalogue of crimes and atrocities that took place between the 12th century and the 1485 slaying of King Richard III, that which ended the Plantagenet line…

The French county of Anjou, was the homeland of the House of Plantagenets.

Matilda was born in 1102, to parents King Henry I and Matilda Queen Consort, daughter of Malcolm Canmore, the King of Scotland.

Matilda, married the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V of Germany on the 7th January 1114, and was recalled back to England in 1125, when her husband died… for she was Henry’s only remaining legitimate child.

Henry I insisted she marry Geoffrey of Anjou, for Henry had no male heir, and hoped Matilda’s marriage would produce a male heir.  A future Count of Anjou and King of England would be born.

In the meantime, Henry made Matilda his heir, a rare choice in an age when right of succession passed from father to son.

Henry forced his barons to swear an allegiance to his daughter Matilda, as the rightful Queen of England upon his death, many blatantly refused.

In the June of 1128, Matilda, a somewhat reluctant Matilda married the fourteen-year-old Geoffrey Plantagenet.  On the 5th March 1133 a son was born to Matilda and Geoffrey Plantagenet at Le Mans, Anjou, much to the delight of Henry.

England’s barons refused to accept Henry I choice of successor upon his death on the 1st December 1135, who died aged 67 in Rouen, France and was buried at Reading Abbey.  They invited Stephen, Matilda’s cousin to seize the English throne

Stephen’s actions sparked Civil War and strife over right of succession.  On the 22nd December, he seized the English throne, and was crowned on the 26th December at Westminster Abbey.

In the January of 1136, King David I of Scotland invaded English lands in support of Matilda believing she be the rightful and true heir to the English throne. He continued across England, capturing Carlisle and Newcastle.

Robert, the Earl of Gloucester, rebelled against King Stephen in 1138, a keen supporter of Matilda’s believing she should sit upon the English throne.

In the February of 1141, Stephen laid siege to Lincoln Castle, but was over whelmed by superior forces, captured and held prisoner at Bristol.

In the April of 1141, Matilda was elected Queen, and headed to London for her coronation, but was driven out by the citizens of London, who opposed her coronation.

Robert, the Earl of Gloucester, was captured under order of Stephen’s wife.  The captives were then mutually exchanged, and Stephen resumed his position as England’s King.

Around1142, Stephen believed he had the better of Matilda, trapping her in Oxford Castle.  In late December she fled the castle dressed in a white cloak to camouflage herself against the snow.

Robert the Earl of Gloucester died in 1147, Matilda’s most powerful ally in her fight for the English throne … the fight had been taken out of her, and in 1148 she returned to Normandy … never to step foot on English soil again.

In 1151, Matilda’s husband; Geoffrey of Anjou, died and their son Henry Plantagenet becomes Count of Anjou and Duke of Normandy.

In 1153, Henry Plantagenet, the Count of Anjou, landed his forces on English soil to resolve the question of England’s rightful heir.  A wrong needed to be put right.  So, it came to pass an agreement was made between Stephen and Henry under the “Treaty of Westminster.”  Stephen would remain King of England, until his death, and then Henry Plantagenet, the Count of Anjou would become King Henry II of England.

In 1154 King Stephen died, and was succeeded by Henry Plantagenet, the Count of Anjou, the next King Henry II of England.

On the 10th September 1167 Matilda the rightful heir to the English throne died.  She who had been her father; King Henry I, chosen successor should have reigned.  That never came to pass… as England was pushed into a Civil War over the right of succession.

King Henry’s successors included Richard the Lionheart who went to the Holy Land, and the evil King John.

Some Historical Events which took place:

  • The murder of Thomas Becket
  • Edward I battle with William Wallace, who sought Scotland’s Independence.
  • Edward II and his love affair with Piers Gaveston.
  • Richard I and the Crusades
  • 1381 Peasants Revolt
  • Black Death
  • Battle of Agincourt
  • Wars of the Roses
  • 100 Years Wars

Just to name a few of the events that took place.

Politicians Lynched By The London Mob — timalderman

Politicians and journalists are more unpopular today than ever. But in the past in London they stood a very real risk of being lynched. One of the many politicians to be lynched was Walter Stapleton, Lord Treasurer of England, who came to a sticky end around 1326. Victim of the London mob Not only was […]

Politicians Lynched By The London Mob — timalderman

King Edward I taxed smugglers

King Henry III died on the 16th November 1272, whilst his son Edward, was in the Holy Land, fighting a crusade, for Christianity.  Edward succeeded his father, becoming King of England.  Upon his return from the Holy Land, he was crowned King Edward I of England, along with his Queen; his devoted wife, Eleanor of Castile on the 19th August 1274 at Westminster Abbey.

Following his ascension to the throne, he fought many wars in protection of his homeland, including those against Wales and Scotland, and used up a great deal of England’s funds in these battles.

Edward taxed the Jewish money lender’s to finance these wars, and when they could no longer pay, he declared they be a threat to England.

In 1287, some 300 Jews were executed at the Tower of London, and others were reported to have been murdered in their homes.  In 1290 he banished all Jews from England.

In 1295 Edward summoned his Model Parliament, which included; clergy, aristocracy, knights and town leaders.  Its aim was to raise money for these wars.

This led to high taxes being imposed on the English people, which brought large outcry’s from the rich and poor alike, a decision which was to change a way of life, for many centuries to come.

Parliament passed an act, putting customs duty, on the export of wool, which was in great demand in Europe.  This was to be the first permanent customs system established in England.  The tax gradually rose, which paid to finance Edward’s wars, but this also, led to smuggling.

The Customs Service initial responsibility was to collect the duty, at the allocated ports, not to prevent smuggling.  In the Sussex area, Chichester was the only port, where importing and exporting of goods was allowed.  It was not long before merchants were landing produce at small ports, with little or no officials.

In 1357, some merchants were caught smuggling goods through Pevensey Port, and were put on trial at Rye, this didn’t deter the smuggler.

By 1614, it had become illegal to export wool, but that didn’t deter the hardened smuggler, this just increased the price, and port officials were easily bribed.  When the death sentence was imposed for the exportation of wool, the smugglers started arming themselves, and the only way they could be stopped, was by force.

In 1671 during the reign of King Charles II, the Board of Customs was created.

During the 1670’s, some 20,000 packs of wool, were exported between Romney Marshes and Calais each year.  The smugglers had fast boats, fully armed to outrun the Revenue Service.  By 1714, demand from the continent was high, but stocks were ever decreasing, which saw an end to wool sales, and the French went to Ireland.

In the 1730’s smuggler’s started importing Tea and Brandy, with plenty of French distilleries to supply the French smuggler, and plenty in England willing to buy from the smuggler.

In the years 1735-1749 the Hawkhurst Gang (Holkhourst Genge) became feared with an army of 500 armed men, working out of the village of Hawkhurst.

In 1784, duty on French wines and tea was reduced, so the market for the smuggler turned to spirits and tobacco.

In 1831, the Coastguards policed the water of England’s coastlines, seeking out the smuggler.  In 1833, violent clashes at Pevensey, saw an end to smuggling in the area.

During the latter half of the 18th century, the Cornish Coast was associated with smuggling.  Taxes encouraged fishermen to supplement their income with brandy, gin tea and tobacco, which was landed on remote coastal areas, and hidden in caves, away from the prying eyes of the Revenue Service.

It wasn’t until the early years of the 19th century, that heavy penalties were imposed, on anyone caught smuggling.

Unscrupulous hauliers persistently smuggle large quantities of contraband, whether it be alcohol, tobacco, drugs or people, much as their forefathers would have done in the past.

Even though the penalties for being caught are still, they still continue…

Plantagenet Times: Edward I and Smuggling

In June 1239, Edward son of Henry III, and Eleanor of Provence, was born into the royal household.  During his early years, received a disciplined education in French and Latin with training in the arts and music, as was be-fitting a future King.

Edward received the gift; duchy of Gascony, parts of Ireland, Channel Islands and the Kings lands in Wales, from his father, in 1254.

Later that year Eleanor of Castile, the half-sister of Alphonso, King of Castile and Leon, married Edward in, an arranged marriage that suited both Henry III, and Alphonso, who were at war with each other.  Despite the political intentions, involved in their marriage, they were very much in love, so much so, she joined him on his many crusades.

Henry III died on the 16th November 1272, whilst his son Edward, was abroad fighting on his behalf, in the Holy Land.  Without opposition he succeeded to the English Throne, and at the age of 35, was crowned King of England, at Westminster Abbey on the 19th August 1274, along with his devoted wife Eleanor.

Following his ascension to the throne, fought many wars, in protection of his homeland, including those against Wales and Scotland, and used up a great deal of England’s funds in these battles.  Was known to borrow heavily from the English Jews, but in 1290 when the Jewish communities refused additional funds, Edward had them banished from England.

This led to high taxes being imposed on the English people, which brought large outcry’s, from the rich and poor alike, a decision, which was to change a way of life for centuries to come.

Parliament passed an Act, during Edwards’s reign, putting customs duty, on the export of wool, which was in great demand by Europe.  This was to be the first permanent customs system established in England.   The tax gradually rose, to help pay for the troops and fighting, which in turn led to smuggling.

The Customs Service initial responsibility was to collect the duties at the allocated ports, not to prevent smuggling.  In the Sussex area Chichester was the only port, where importing and exporting of goods was allowed. 

It was not long before merchants were landing produce at small ports, with few officials.

Some merchants, who were caught smuggling goods through the port of Pevensey, were put on trial at Rye in 1357, but still many more continued this practice.

By 1614, it was illegal to export wool, but this didn’t deter the smuggler, this just increased the price, and port officials were easily bribed.  But when the death sentence was imposed for exportation of wool, the smugglers started arming themselves, and the only way they could be stopped was by the force.

In 1671 during the reign of Charles II, the Board of Customs was created.

During the 1670’s, in the region of 20,000 packs of wool, were exported from Romney Marshes to Calais each year.  The smugglers had fast boats, fully armed to outrun the Revenue Service.

As each act was passed to prevent the export of wool, there were always officials waiting to be bribed. As was the case in 1698, when they tried to stop the sale of wool within a 15-mile area of the coast.

By 1714, smuggling of wool had become a large business, the demand was high, but the stocks were ever decreasing, leading to the French having to obtain their wool from Ireland.

In the 1730’s, major smugglers started working the area, with the import of Brandy and Tea, a trade that was to escalate over the years. Still there was never a shortage of French distilleries, opening up in Northern France to supply the English smuggler.

Between 1735 and 1749 the Hawkhurst Gang, (Holkhourst Genge), out of the village of Hawkhurst, became the most feared on the South Coast, with an army of 500 armed men.

Then in 1784 duty on French wines and tea was reduced, taking away the incentive, the market moved over to spirits and tobacco.

In 1831, the Coastguards took over policing the coast, and in 1833, following violent events at Pevensey, smuggling in the area ceased.

Another area well known for its smuggling links has to be Polperro on the Cornish Coast.  The high range of taxes, encouraged fishermen to supplement their income, by importing brandy, gin, tea and tobacco, brought across from Guernsey, during the latter half of the 18th century.

Smuggled contraband landed on remote coastal areas, would disappear into caves quickly, for fear of the Revenue Service. 

It wasn’t until the early 19th century, that the Government imposed heavy penalties on any one caught in the act of smuggling.  With the additional use of patrols on land or sea to catch offenders.

Collecting taxes has proved to be a major problem, more so since the relaxation of border controls in 1993, allowing larger amounts of alcohol and tobacco, to be brought into the UK from abroad.  But unscrupulous hauliers persistently smuggle in large quantities of contraband, as their forefathers would have done in the past.  Even though the penalties for being caught are stiff, they still continue!

King Henry II Mistress: Rosamund de Clifford

King Henry II was smitten by Rosamund de Clifford, a beauty to behold, also known as Fair Rosamund.  She was born around 1140 to parents Walter de Clifford a Welsh Lord and one of Henry’s knights and Margaret de Tosny.

Rosamund claimed the heart of Henry, as she took him from his wife and Queen, one Eleanor of Aquitaine.

A crime of passion was taking place between Henry II the unfaithful King and his mistress; one Rosamund de Clifford.  Both England and France knew of the affair, and Eleanor was growing angrier by the day.

Eleanor could take no more, this woman a thorn in her side had to go.  Henry and Eleanor had grown apart, she had given him what he so desired male heirs, and moved back to Poitiers to run her kingdom.  However, news reached her ears that her husband and king, was openly taking his mistress on his travels, he was openly flaunting her, across his lands.

Eleanor and her knights, secretly landed on British shores, and headed for Woodstock Palace, where Henry’s mistress was hidden.  Only a single brave knight protected Rosamund, and was no match for battle hardened knights.  Eleanor was to confront her nemesis… Rosamund was given a choice; death by dagger or poison, she chose poison and her life was slowly taken from her.

Henry mourned Rosamund’s death.  She died in 1176 at Godstow Nunnery, becoming a Nun on her deathbed, and buried in Godstow Abbey Convent Church.  In 1190 Bishop Hugh of Lincoln was horrified to discover Henry’s mistresses tomb had a place of honour, and was duly removed to the Nun’s Chapter House.

This is a historical act… What we have here is a situation, one consisting of a Queen and a King’s mistress, fighting to the death for the love of King Henry II.