The Soldier in Later Medieval England

The French army in 1415

Anne Curry, Rémy Ambühl, and Aleksandr Lobanov (University of Southampton)

Thanks to funds from Agincourt 600, we have been able to put together for the first time some systematic datasets of the French army in 1415. We are grateful for the assistance of Laetitia Renault and David Fiasson. This is work in progress and we would be grateful for any comments and additions. After a short introduction, we introduce our datasets below under two main headings: French Preparations; and The French at the Battle of Agincourt.

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Introduction

We are not the first to attempt to list Frenchmen involved in the battle of Agincourt. In 1865 René de Belleval published a highly significant book, Azincourt (Paris: Librarie Dumoulin, 420 pages, available at https://archive.org). Belleval was born in Abbeville in 1837 and lived until 1900, publishing several works on history and genealogy. Azincourt was Belleval’s effort to do for the French what Harris Nicolas had done for the English in his History of the Battle of Agincourt (1827, 1832, 1833). In addition to an account of the battle, Belleval included lists of dead and prisoners, adding in those known to have been present but neither killed or captured. He drew his information from chronicle sources but also from surviving administrative records, especially in the Collection Clairambault in the Bibliothèque Nationale. He added short biographies of the men he found.

Belleval’s work has proved a useful starting point for us. We began by putting his findings into databases but we have gone much further than he did. We discovered that his use of materials in the Collection Clairambault, for instance, was not comprehensive. We have therefore been able to add many more entries. We have also looked at other archive collections in France and England but cannot claim at this stage to have looked at everything which might be relevant.

As in England, family traditions developed about the presence of ancestors at Agincourt and found their way into key genealogical works, such as that by the Augustinian monk, Père Anselme de Sainte-Marie (Pierre de Gibors, 1625-1694), Histoire généalogique et chronologique de la maison royale de France, first published in 1674 but expanded in a nine-volume third edition in 1726-33 by Honoré du Fourny. (The full text is available on-line at gallica.bnf.fr). Belleval and later writers drew on Anselme’s work as well as on the Dictionnaire de la Noblesse by Aubert de La Chenaye des Bois (1699-1784), first published in 1757, which was published in a third edition of 19 volumes in 1863-66 (also available at gallica.bnf.fr). It is often impossible to substantiate such antiquarian claims for presences by reference to other sources.

A useful support for our work is La Cour Amoureuse dit de Charles VI, ed. Carla Bozzolo and Hélène Loyau (three vols in two, Paris, 1992) which lists members of a chivalric order initially founded in 1400. In providing brief biographies the editors also suggest presences at Agincourt. Although in some cases no contemporary source is given in substantiation, we have included these suggestions in our databases.

Identification of individuals is often difficult because of inconsistencies of spelling (especially in sources written in England) and because nobles were sometimes recorded by family name and sometimes by title. We have erred on the side of caution in our databases, making two entries even when we have suspicions that they concern the same man.

French Preparations

French military organisation had many parallels with English. Troops in royal service were paid, whether they were in longer term service in garrisons or were raised for a specific action, as in 1415 to resist the English. Although the French did not use an indenture system, men were engaged in royal service and expected to bring a particular number of troops. This was checked by means of musters (in French, montres). Men providing troops also gave receipts (quittances) for the pay they received after the muster. Sometimes we also have orders to pay troops linked to the sending of the musters to the crown’s financial officials.

These documents form part of the archive of the crown’s chambre des comptes, the French equivalent of the royal Exchequer in England. The chambre was based in Paris but over the centuries its archive has suffered much damage and loss. As a result relevant documents have found their way into archive repositories world-wide. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Pierre and Nicolas-Pascal Clairambault, royal genealogists, put together a collection of documents from the chambre archive. Whilst the main archive of the chambre des comptes suffered losses from a fire of 1757 and from destructive anti-royal actions in the French Revolution, the Collection Clairambault survived and eventually found its way into what is now the Bibliothèque Nationale (BNF). This collection contains many documents concerning the French army in 1415 but since the volumes are arranged by name of person, reflecting the Clairambaults’ genealogical interests, it is a large task to find all relevant documents. We have been assisted by a chronological index (fichier) made in the BNF and by the placing of many (but not all) of the documents on-line on Gallica.bnf.fr. Other surviving documents from the chambre des comptes archive were collected in the nineteenth century in the BNF into the series pièces originales (also organised by name of person, and with a chronological fichier), and two series in the manuscrits français: quittances et pièces diverses and montres (both organised chronologically).

Musters provide the names and military rank of the troops but the heading of the muster rarely gives any indication of the purpose for which the troops were serving. Quittances do not give names other than of the leader receiving pay but usually include more information, such as the overall commander under whom they were serving and the nature of the service.

We have included in the databases all musters and quittances between 30 June and 25 October we have found so far (228 musters, 343 quittances). By such means we can see the French building up troops in Normandy in anticipation of the English invasion and in response to it. The formation of the army at Rouen in September/October is particularly noticeable. But we can also see some troops in garrison, not only in Normandy, and that troops were also detailed to protect Paris (because of a fear of Burgundian attack).

Our purpose here is to provide names of soldiers but we have also included the commander and intended purpose of the troops. Published works have already used the documents in reconstructing French military actions: see Anne Curry, Agincourt: A New History; Jonathan Sumption, Cursed Kings. The Hundred Years War IV; and Bertrand Schnerb, Autour d’Azincourt, a supplement to the Revue du Nord for 2016).

The musters and quittances prove that the named individuals gave military service in the months leading up to Agincourt but they do not by themselves prove actual presence at the battle. However, some of the soldiers can be shown from other sources to have been at the battle (see the next section on dead, prisoners and presences). It is likely that many others were too.

The information is presented in two datasets.

The French army lists all known quittances and musters, thereby listing those known to have headed companies.

French Soldiers provides the names of all those found in the muster rolls.

Some troop leaders have several quittances and sometimes several musters surviving, showing the continuation of their service. The same persons may therefore appear several times in the datasets. Also it was common in France where a captain had both men-at-arms and gens de trait (archers and crossbowmen) for the troops to be mustered separately by type, producing a double number of musters and quittances in such cases.

This is work in progress. Where the names in a muster has not yet been transcribed into ‘French soldiers’ it has been marked with an asterisk. Quittances yet to be examined in detail will reveal more retinue sizes. The site will be updated as further work is done.

The French at the battle of Agincourt

We have drawn up three databases concerning men who were at the battle of Agincourt: French dead; French prisoners; French presences (i.e. men at the battle but who did not die and were not taken prisoner).

The French dead

We know about the dead mainly from lists in French and English chronicles. The longest list with 273 individuals is found in the chronicle of Enguerran de Monstrelet, which was completed by 1447. The same list is in the chronicles of Jean de Waurin and Jean le Fèvre, but who copied whom is still a matter of debate. The longest list in an English chronicle is found in versions of the Brut, with 38 names.

In addition there are two free-standing lists of dead, both compiled in England. A list of 92 named (plus three unnamed) dead is to be found in the records of the city of Salisbury, linked to a short account of the return of Henry V to England (Wiltshire County Record Office, G23/1/1, Salisbury Ledger Book A, folio 55. This book is translated into English in The First General Entry Book of the City of Salisbury 1387-1452, ed. D. R. Carr, Wiltshire Record Society, 54 (2001). A. R. Malden, ‘An official account of the battle of Agincourt’, The Ancestor, 11 (1904), pp. 26-31, contains the Latin text and a translation as well as a brief note. An eighteenth-century copy is to be found in British Library Lansdowne 1054.)

Another free-standing list of dead in a fifteenth-century English hand (Bodley MS 3356 folio 211) came into the possession of the Bodleian Library in 1756 but was originally in the collection of the antiquary Ralph Thoresby (1658-1725). This second list also gives 92 dead by name plus another three unnamed and is similar to, but not identical with, the Salisbury list.

It is commonly assumed that heralds were responsible for listing the dead after the battle. The English chronicler, Thomas Walsingham, mentions that the number of the rank and file dead ‘was not calculated by the heralds’, implying that identification of named dead was made through coats of arms, an area in which heralds were experts. Yet study of all of the chronicle as well as the Salisbury and Thoresby lists shows considerable inconsistency in the names given, suggesting different sources of knowledge as well as authorial choice. Olivier Bouzy has looked in detail at the list in Monstrelet, concluding that the list was biased in favour of Burgundian victims and derived from several different original lists, hence the fact that some men are mentioned in it more than once (‘Les morts d’Azincourt. Leurs liens de famille, d’office et de parti’, Hommes, cultures et sociétés à la fin du moyen âge. Liber discipulorum en l’honneur de Philippe de Contamine, ed. Patrick Gill and Jacques Paviot (Paris, 2012), pp. 221-255.)

In compiling the database of French dead we have included anyone mentioned in any source, including the genealogical works of Anselme and La Chenaye-Desbois. Further study of fifteenth-century local and legal records would assist in resolving dubious cases.

We have also drawn up a list of the burial places we have so far discovered.

French prisoners

Chronicles also name prisoners although none includes more than 21 (Monstrelet).Most chroniclers on both sides of the Channel restrict themselves to mentioning ‘the big six’ (the duke of Orleans, the duke of Bourbon, the count of Richemont, the count of Eu, the count of Vendôme and Marshal Boucicaut). The Salisbury list names 7 prisoners.

It appears, therefore, that chroniclers were less certain on who had been taken prisoner. Remy Ambuhl has highlighted a fascinating reference in a lettre de remission (pardon) granted by Charles VI to Jean Chevreau in August 1416 (Archives Nationales, JJ 169, no. 297, published in Choix de pièces inédites relatives au règne de Charles VI, ed. L. Douët-d’Arcq, 2 vols (Paris, 1863-4), ii, pp. 53-5). Chevreau was servant to a Frenchman taken prisoner at Agincourt and, according to his own testimony, was tricked by a companion who claimed to hold a roll naming all the prisoners and which he was using to gain money from wives and other relatives keen to know the fate of their loved ones at the battle. We know that the problem of ‘missing believed dead’ existed after the battle. If men did not come home, it would take some time for their fate to be established, not least if they were amongst the prisoners taken to England.

In the twenty-first century we can be more certain of the prisoners’ names than in 1415! Since the English king had a right to the share in the ransoms of prisoners, royal financial records provide information on those were captured at the battle and who were put to ransom. Particularly useful here are the post campaign financial accounts for the captains who served on the campaign where gains of war are recorded (The National Archives E 358/6; E 101 Army and Navy Records).

In addition in the records of the English Chancery we find safe conducts issued for men, or for their servants, returning to France to raise funds. These are enrolled in the French rolls (The National Archives C 76, calendared in Annual Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records 44 (1883)). However, it is difficult to know whether safe conducts issued from late 1416 onwards relate to Agincourt or not. Some prisoners were taken at the battle of the Seine on 16 August 1416. In this listing we have included safe conducts to the end of 1417.

Remy Ambühl has made a detailed study of all of these sources, and especially of the bonds which were entered into with the crown for payment of the royal share of the ransom (The National Archives E 101/48/2; E 101/45/12; E 101/46/4; E 210/2834, 2837 and 2865). A complication here is that soldiers who captured prisoners at the battle sometimes sold on their rights to a third party, particularly to the inhabitants of Calais but even to men such as the famous Richard Whittington, sometime mayor of London. Soldiers gained an immediate cash return whilst the new owner (‘master’) hoped to gain a profit from the actual ransom. Prisoners (or perhaps more accurately ransoms) were therefore a tradable commodity. For the database, therefore, we cannot be sure that the holder of the ransom was at the battle, so have used the term ‘master’ in preference to captor. We also cannot be sure in most cases when the actual release took place. The actual ransom would normally have been three times the amount which the masters had to pay to the crown.

(For further discussion, see Rémy Ambühl, ‘A fair share of the profits? The ransoms of Agincourt (1415)’, Nottingham Medieval Studies, 50 (2006), pp. 129-50; and ‘Le sort des prisonniers d’Azincourt (1415)’, Revue du Nord, 89 (2007), pp. 755-87.)

French presences

Chronicles are the main source for those who were are the battle but who were not killed or captured. Other contemporary evidence such as legal cases is also useful. Family traditions are also apparent here as for the dead.

Abbreviations used

All original documents are from The National Archives unless otherwise stated

? doubtful case

ADN Archives du Nord, Lille
AN Archives Nationales, Paris
Anselme Père Anselme de Sainte-Marie Histoire généalogique et chronologique de la maison royale de France (3rd edn, Paris, 1726-33)
BN Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris
Bacquet G.Bacquet, Azincourt (Bellegarde, 1977)
Basset London, College of Arms, MS 9, folios xxxi-xxxiii (printed in Curry, Sources)
Belleval Belleval, Azincourt (Paris, 1865)
Berry Les Chroniques du roi Charles VII par Gilles le Bouvier dit le héraut Berry, ed. H. Couteault and L.Celier with M. Jullien de Pommerol (Paris, 1979)
Boffa, Antoine Boffa, ‘Anthoine de Bourgogne et le contingent brabaçon à la bataille d’Azincourt (1415)’, Revue belge de philologie et d’histoire, 72 (1994)
Boulogne Registre des recettes et dépenses de la ville de Boulogne-sur-Mer, 1415-1416, ed. E. Dupont (Boulogne-sur-Mer, 1882), pp. 108-9
Bourgeois Journal d’un Bourgeois de Paris de 1404 – 1449, ed. C. Beaune (Paris, 1990)
Bouzy Bouzy, ‘Les morts d’Azincourt. Leurs liens de famille, d’office et de parti’, Hommes, cultures et sociétés à la fin du moyen âge. Liber discipulorum en l’honneur de Philippe de Contamine, ed. Patrick Gill and Jacques Paviot (Paris, 2012), pp. 221-255.
Brut The Brut, or the Chronicle of England, vol. 2, ed. F. W. D. Brie (Early English Text Society, original series, 136, London, 1906-1908)
Choix de pièces inédites relatives au règne de Charles VI Choix de pieces inédites relatives au règne de Charles VI, vol. 1, ed. L. Douët d’Arcq (Paris, 1863)
CGB Mollat, Comptes généraux de l’état Bourguignon 1416-20 (2 vols, Paris, 1965-6)
Cour amoureuse La Cour Amoureuse dit de Charles VI, ed. Carla Bozzolo and Hélène Loyau (three vols in two, Paris, 1992)
Courcelle J. de Courcelles, Histoire généaologique et héraldique des pairs de France (Paris, 1822-5)
Curry, Sources Curry, The Battle of Agincourt. Sources and Interpretations (Woodbridge, 2000)
De Baye Le journal de Nicholas de Baye, greffier du parlement de Paris, 1400-1417, ed. A. Tuetey (2 vols, Paris, 1885-8)
Demurger, ‘Baillis’ Demurger, ‘Guerre civile et changements du personnel administratif dans le royaume de France de 1400 à 1418; l’example des baillis et sénéchaux’, Francia 6 (1978), pp. 151-298
DKR ‘Calendar of French Rolls’ in Annual Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records, 44 (1883)
Dynter Chronique des ducs de Brabant par Edmond Dynter, vol. 3, ed. P. F. X. De Ram (Brussels, 1858)
Des Ursins Jean Juvenal des Ursins, Histoire de Charles VI, roy de France, ed. Michaud & Poujoulet (Paris, 1836)
fa Farthing
Famiglietti R.C. Famiglietti, ‘The French monarchy in crisis 1392-1415 and the political role of the Dauphin Louis duke of Guyenne’, unpublished Phd thesis City University of New York 1982
Fenin Mémoires de Pierre de Fenin, ed. E. Dupont (Paris, 1837)
Gallia Regia Gallia Regia ou état des offiers royaux des bailliages et des sénéchausées de 1328 à 1515, ed. G. Dupont-Ferrier (7 vols, Paris, 1942-66)
Geste des nobles francois printed in Chronique de la Pucelle ou Chronique de Cousinot, ed. A. Vallet de Viriville (Paris, 1859), pp. 155-7.
Godard/Amiens Godard, ‘Quelques précisions sur la campagne d’Azincourt tirées des archives municipales d’Amiens, Bulletin trimestre de la Société des Antiquaires de Picardie (1971)
Gonzalez E.Gonzalez, Un prince en son hôtel. Les serviteurs des duc d’Orléans au XV siècle (Paris, 2004)
Gruel Chronique d’Arthur de Richemont par Guillaume Gruel, ed. A. Le Vavasseur (Paris, 1890)
Hardy Rotuli normanniae in turre londinensi asservati Johanne et Henrico Quinto, ed. T. D. Hardy (London, 1835)
ICB Inventaire des chartes et cartulaires des duchés de Brabant et de Limbourg et des pays d’Outre-Meuse, 3e partie, Chartes originales et cartulaires, 1415-1427, ed. A. Verkoren, A. Graffart (Brussels, 1988,
La Chenaye-Desbois, A. Dictionnaire de la Noblesse (3rd edn, Paris 1863-66)
B de Lannoy, Hugues de Lannoy, B de Lannoy, Hughes de Lannoy, le bon seigneur de Santes (Brussels 1957)
Le Fèvre Chronique de Jean Le Fèvre, Seigneur de Saint Remy, ed. F. Morand (2 vols, Paris, 1876-81)
Monstrelet La Chronique d’Enguerran de Monstrelet, vols. 2 and 3, ed. L. Douet-d’Arcq (Paris, 1858-9)
Monstrelet supp. BNF ms fr 93 version of the chronicle
Moreri Moréri, Le grand dictionaire historique (Paris, 1674)
Morice P.H. Morice, Mémoires pour server de preuves à l’histoire écclesiatique et civile de Bretagne (3 vols, Paris, 1742-6)
Morosini Chronique d’Antonio Morosini, vol. 2, ed. G. Le Fèvre-Pontalis and L. Dorez (Paris, 1899)
ob halfpenny
Oeuvres de Ghillebert de Lannoy Oeuvres de Ghillebert de Lannoy, voyageur, diplomate et moralist. Recueillies et publiées par Charles Poitvin (Louvain, 1878)
PO pièce originale
POPC Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council, vol. 2, ed. N. H. Nicolas (London, 1834)
Pocquet de Haut Jussé B-A. Pocquet de Haut Jussé, La France gouvernée par Jean sans Peur (Paris, 1959)
Religieux Le Religieux de Saint-Denis, Histoire de Charles VI, vols. 4 and 5, ed. L. Bellaguet (Paris, 1839-44)
Ruisseauville Chronique de Ruisseauville, in Bacquet, Azincourt, pp. 91-6
Rymer Rymer, Foedera, conventiones, litterae et cuiuscunque generis acta publica (3rd edn, The Hague, 1739-45)
Salisbury list Wiltshire County Record Office, G23/1/1, Salisbury Ledger Book A, folio 55
Waroquier Louis-Charles de Waroquier, Tableau généalogique, historique …de la noblesse (Paris, 1808)
Waurin Receuil des Croniques et Anchiennes istories de la Grant Bretagne a present nomme Engleterre par Jehan de Waurin, vol. 2, ed. W. L. Hardy and E. L. C. P. Hardy (London, 1864)