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RINCE Henry, having performed his father’s funeral, arranged for a parliament to be convened at Westminster, in which, while they were dealing with the creation of a king in the traditional way, behold, suddenly some of the nobility swore their spontaneous homage to him. It is agreed that no previous prince was shown this mark of favor prior to his acclamation as king, so much hope did Henry’s character inspire in all men from his youth. Therefore he was made king on April 9 in the same year that his father had departed this life, and was called Henry V. This, this was the man who illustrated the truth of the proverb that honors change manners, since as soon as he became king he decided he must follow another way of life than he had previously led, and banished from his presence all the boon companions with whom he had passed his boyhood, which was for the most part full of play and wantonness, forbade them entry to the palace, and in their place took as his friends the bravest and the most serious men, in whom he adjudged there was the greatest prudence in taking counsel, and the greatest loyalty in giving it, so that he might be helped by their counsel, advice, and wisdom. He was nearly the sole sovereign who from the beginning of his reign recognized a king must surpass other men in intelligence, counsel, gravity, vigilance, care, faith, and that he had obtained the throne not as an honor but rather as a burden, and a burden not for other men’s lives but for his own. For, not trusting in the resources of his own wit, he wished to have men who would be helpers in bearing this burden of government and would give them the best advice, so that he could set his subjects a singular example for virtue. For we can see that a vicious sovereign does more harm by his example than by his sinning, since there are always many men who imitate their prince. And so, as Cicero says, it not such a great thing for a prince to sin (although this is a great evil by itself), as for him to corrupt others and bring it about that his altered way of life alters the manners of his people. For he who rules is raised to this honor so that he may govern, have a care for, and correct, public manners, and strive after those things which can confer glory on himself and benefit on them. Nor should he delight in those pleasures which are shared even with the sordid common run of mankind. He who refuses or does not know how to comport himself in this way, he is no sovereign, but rather deserves to be reckoned a slave. For indeed it is baser for a man who ought to command to be obliged to obey others, not when he is eight or ten years old, but when he is twenty, thirty, or more. He does not rule, he is ruled. Such was King Richard II (to return to English subjects). He was not a young man of bad character from the beginning, since he was not always of such small intelligence or feeble wit that he could not heed, accept, and retain good counsel. But in the end the most abandoned of counselors corrupted him. Such was Edward II, and they both came to a very bad end. And it was perhaps because he was schooled by the example of their downfall that Henry not unjustly thought that his boon companions, the authors, partners, and servants of his wicked pleasures, should be shunned, and ensured that he attached himself to the best men, thanks to whom he might learn how to govern well. And so, having laid this foundation of wisdom, since he was minded to achieve many brilliant feats, and was aware that we are all governed by divinity, and that our human powers are most weak in comparison to the power of heaven, he decided to make a start of his government by exercising his piety and justice. Therefore he first of all founded two monasteries near the royal manor today called Richmond, seven miles from London, bestowing them with buildings of wonderful elegance and enriching them with both holdings and privileges. One he wanted to be consecrated to the the name of Jesus, and he called it Bethlehem, and afterwards granted it to the Carthusians to dwell in. This monastery is on the left bank of the Thames. The second was in the other direction and on the other bank of the river, and was likewise dedicated to Jesus, the Blessed Virgin, and St. Brigid, because it belongs to that saint’s order, common to men and women, and is called Sion. This pious prince gave them these names so as to perpetuate the memory of the Holy Land in his realm, from where our salvation proceeded. Next he selected as his judges upright men learned in the law, and especially bestowed the most important magistracies on men whose virtues he had already come to know. Finally he most diligently strove to retain the Welsh and the Scots, from whom he was are seditions, upheavals, and wars continually threatened, in their duty, allegiance and friendship, so that, with things at home in a quiet condition he might more quickly turn to foreign wars, give his attention to promoting the common weal, and devote himself to acquiring, enhancing, and preserving the glory of the realm.
2. Thus gaining leisure at home for martial activity, in his first parliament, when he was deliberating with his nobles about undertaking war against the French, so that the rights of war might be observed, they all adjudged that a claim for reparations must first be lodged. Ambassadors were therefore sent to King Charles to demand the kingdom of France, which was the legitimate property of Edward III and his successors as King of England. Upon their arrival Charles gave these ambassadors a most friendly welcome, but made no reply to these things they had been mandated. Rather he promised to send ambassadors to Henry as soon as he could, to respond to him in person. Hearing these words, the ambassadors departed. The French spokesmen followed them at almost the same time they arrived in England. And soon, when they spoke much on this subject, and many bitter things had been said, they began to hurl insults. Henry gently and calmly interrupted them, saying, “Let this be the end of this matter. Tell your king on my behalf that the English will be coming to France within a few days, seeking and recovering their rights, not by embassies, but by arms.” When they had departed for France, Henry promptly declared war in accordance with the vote of his Privy Council, inflamed with a youthful ardor for expanding the borders of his realm. And he conceived a good hope from this, that he was aware victory always goes to the side which fights with right, since justice and truth fight with it. And in that parliament provision was taken, as it were, to refound the kingdom, and, since many Frenchmen, particularly monks, had church positions in England, presided over monasteries, and were constantly sending money to their nation to help it, for the benefit of the commonwealth it was sanctioned by law that henceforth no English priestly living should be given to a foreigner, unless by royal consent. Historians say the same thing was provided by a decree of the Privy Council in the reign of Richard II, since it is agreed that Richard had decided that men born in England should not reap the fruit of church livings in absentia, and provided for this by law.
3. After money had been decreed for the war and the parliament dismissed, Henry enthusiastically began to prepare everything needful for a war. Meanwhile he, together with other Christian princes, was gripped with a far greater concern for settling a common discord, for the sake of which a council of all nations was held at the noble German city of Constance. Scarcely thinking his French war took precedence over this matter, he suspended that matter a little while and without delay sent ambassadors to Constance who would deal diligently for the common cause. In this assembly Pope John XXIII was stripped of his office because of accusations leveled at him, against which he was unable to defend himself. Not long thereafter Gregory XII, by means of Charles Malatesta, under whose protection he was living, abdicated the papacy. When Benedict XIII was stubbornly claiming to be Christ’s true vicar and could not be persuaded by his friends to abandon his position, for he was that thirsty (or rather mad) for honors, he was deposed against his will, and in the third year of that council Oddo Colonna, a Roman, was elected by unanimous consent, and called himself Martin. In the same council John Wycliff’s heresy was condemned, as were Jan Hus and his disciple Jerome of Prague, two leaders of that sect at the time were sentenced to be burned in that city. When this became known to their coreligionists in England, as if driven by furies they first entered into conspiracies against the entire priesthood, then against the king for being a pious supporter of religion, and they immediately assembled and decided they must take up arms in defense of their superstition. Therefore under the leadership of John Oldcastle, a brave but impious man, for which reason he had recently been expelled from the king’s army, and Roger Acton, and accompanied by a throng of desperate fellows, they came running to London, so that, having gained it, they might collect a larger band of their fellows and attack the king. When this thing was announced, the king thought that he must employ all counsels in forestalling this, so as to be in arms before that rabble broke into the city. Speedily going to confront them, he waited for them in a place suitable for a battle before their mob arrived. But when these rascals learned of the king’ arrival, they hot-footed it in every direction, as if they had already been conquered. Some of them were caught in their flight and immediately burned. And not long thereafter both leaders were taken and thrown in prison. John escaped from the Tower of London at night, whereas Roger received his deserved punishment. Yet because the king was not unaware that he had not wholly uprooted this poison from the hearts of these most opinionated of men, he issued a public proclamation that henceforth, if men were ever found to belong to this sect, they would be deemed enemies of their country, so that, showing no mildness, he could deal with them more quickly and severely. Thus much did he devote his mind and thoughts to its destruction. This was a small feat of the king, made for the sake of preserving Christianity, which beyond doubt foreshadowed the victory he subsequently gained in France. This was the year of human salvation 1414, the second of Henry’s reign, in which Thomas Arundel Archbishop of Canterbury, having occupied that office for thirty-three years, departed this life. In his place succeeded Henry Chicheley, Bishop of Menevia, the sixtieth in the line of Archbishops of Canterbury.
4. After these things, his fleet now outfitted and his forces collected, when Henry heard his captains complain that so many months had been lost in which they could have been accomplishing this thing, and that nothing was more hateful to them than procrastination, he thought he needed to indulge the ardor of their spirits. And so at the beginning of spring he set out for the port of Southampton. While he was concerned with putting his army aboard ship, he learned from a trustworthy source that Earl Richard of Cambridge, the brother of Duke Edward of York, Henry Scrope, and Sir Thomas Grey had entered into a conspiracy for his murder. Since they were thus detected, he ordered their arrest, regretting that men of this quality were being accused of such a crime, and that he was compelled to lose them, whose virtue, he was sure, would have made him more terrible to the enemy. They were put to the question, confessed their guilt, and did not deny that, having received a large bribe from the King of France, they had decided either to hand him over to the enemy alive, or to kill him before he could reach Normandy. When the matter had been investigated to his satisfaction, Henry ordered the guilty parties to be brought into his presence, and addressed them thus: “If you have marked me down for murder, I who am the head of our nation, beyond doubt you are thinking of the destruction of everybody, and you must have been striving to overthrow our nation completely. But if some private grudge has moved you, this indeed should not have been done in the camp, which cannot exist without a leader, nor is it a reason to gratify our common enemy. You have therefore committed a very dire crime. And if you have any accomplice in our army, you must be taken from here to your deserved punishment, so that he may be deterred from evildoing.” After they had been beheaded in the sight of the army, the king turned to his lords, saying, “See these men’s great audacity. They wanted to attack me, who am expending all my energies day and night for the good of the commonwealth, who for that reason am unsparing in my efforts, who am striving to deserve well of all men, for think I have been born for this. Would that there would not be anybody among you of whose treachery against myself I could complain, who would prefer to see me dead than to see the nation safe and our empire enlarged! Nevertheless, I suspect nothing of the sort about you, but I put a good interpretation on all things. If you permit me to live in safety, and to help my nation and avenge our ancestor’s glory upon the French, I shall freely forget this. But if you refuse, then, God willing this will someday be to your great discomfort.” When he had spoken such things they all fell at his feet, promising always to be obedient to his command, and that they would not allow their commander to be the victim of his enemies’ schemes. And, all men’s minds thus confirmed, the conspiracy was instantly suppressed. If Henry had cast an eye on this blazing fire, he would have seen a horrible torch being applied to the walls of his house and perhaps would have quenched it instantly. For it is possible that Earl Richard, having shared his plan with his confederates Henry and Thomas, did not πlan on killing the king to obliged their enemy, but to obtain the throne for himself. And it is in the end he preferred to confess that he had been corrupted by French money because he was impoverished, because in this way he was looking out for his children’s welfare, towards whom Henry would have been harsher, had he understood their father’s intention. For Richard was married to Anne, the daughter of Earl Robert of March, the sole remaining descendent of Duke Lionel of Clarence, as has been shown above, the heir to the realm. Knowing this full well, Richard is said to have striven to gain the crown itself, not without reason, as his son Duke Richard of York afterwards did openly. Now I return to my subject.
5. Then, about August 13, when a favoring wind was blowing, he gave the signal for departure and ordered his fleet to set sail for Normandy. Arriving there and landing his soldiers with no inconvenience, he attacked and besieged Harfleur, a coastal town set between two hills by the Seine. Meanwhile, since rumor had it that the English king had brought his soldiers over to Normandy, the French (commanded by Boucicaut, the Marshal of France) did not collect in one place alone, but rather disposed garrisons all along the coast for its protection. When they learned that Harfleur was being besieged, the enemy having suddenly arrived, they immediately came to Caudebec, a castle not far from the town, bent on bringing aid to their fellow countrymen. They surrounded everything, so that if the English came out to collect fodder or grain, as they were sure they would do, they could vex, impede, and intercept them by making attacks from all sides. But they were wrong in their expectation, since their enemy had brought along with him provisions for many days. While they were reduced to setting ambushes at a distance and did not dare come to the support of their comrades, the English sharply pressed the siege, giving the townsmen no breathing-space. For Duke Humfrey of Gloucester, who had been placed in charge of the siege, mined the walls and brought up siege-engines, constantly battling the enemy. Meanwhile the king pitched camp on the steep part of a little hill near the town, both preventing the French from coming to the protection of their friends, and depriving the townsmen all hope of future aid. Appreciating this, the hard-pressed burghers despaired of all help and asked the king for a few days’ truce: if aid were not brought before it expired, they would hand over the town and thirty leading citizens as captive hostages, and all the rest would be allowed to go away, free and unarmed. The king granted the townsmen their request so that he would not be obliged to waste more of his time, being intent on grater things. So at the end of the truce, when they saw that no aid was being sent by their countrymen, they surrendered, on the thirty-seventh day of the siege, giving over the captive hostages, who afterwards ransomed themselves. All the plunder was assigned to the soldiers. Henry, happy and pleased by this success, decided to go further afield but was impeded by the winter, which had now come on earlier than usual. He assembled a council to plan a strategy. Of the various sentiments expressed one seemed best of all, that he march to Calais. And so this would not seem like a retreat, he decided he should take an inland route through the midst of his enemies. This seemed all the more dangerous because the number of his soldiers had been drastically reduced: many men were dying of a disease which was ravaging that region at the time, and this was the reason why they had settled on a speedy withdrawal. And so, leaving Earl Thomas of Dorcester to garrison this captured town, he began his march in battle array and made for Ponthieu, his plan being to get his forces over the Somme before they could be cut off.
6. Meanwhile the French understood the English plan, and had seized beforehand all the bridges and fords. Likewise they cleared every field through which they imagined the English might pass of its fodder, grain, and other crops, so that they might bar his entire passage and vex him with scarcity. The English king, beset with troubles of this kind all at once, was undeterred, but hastening along his intended route he came to the Somme. Learning the bridges had been cut down by the enemy, he sent ahead his light cavalry to learn where his enemies were, what dangers and ambushes lay to his left and right, and to locate a safe ford for crossing the river. The horsemen did their duty quickly and reported everything was full of the enemy. Learning this, the king, no differently than he had originally decided, marched slowly, and, handling himself well, led his battle formation through the enemy hovering on the right and left in such a way that he seemed to be displaying a vision of terror to his onlookers. The result was that he came as far as Corble without being obliged to fight. Here he was slowed by the arrival of peasants during the night, and in the morning by the garrison which had been left to defend the town. But this worked to his great advantage. For when the garrison had been slain and chased inside the town walls, together with the throng of peasants, on the following day a ford, supposedly not known previously, was discovered between Corble and Peronne. He crossed and speedily headed straight for Calais. Because of the small number of his soldiers, he had decided not to fight unless the situation required it. For there were about 2,000 English horsemen and 13,000 archers. During their march the English suffered countless difficulties, since they had not prepared provisions for so many days, and could not easily find any along the way, the French having destroyed the crops. Yet amidst such poverty Henry had held his soldiers’ hand from sacrilege, having published an edict such as this, Soldiers, do not loot or desecrate any church. If you do so, you will suffer the due punishment for your crime. And so when he learned that a soldier had stolen a Mass chalice from a church, he made the column halt, and did not move forward until the chalice had been restored and the soldier had paid with his life. The result was that, when the report of this had spread through the countryside, the local farmers gave the army food, contrary to what they had been commanded.
7. The French were mightily indignant that their enemy had slipped away without a fight, and so by heralds they invited Henry to a fight, provoking him by arms and words. To these things the English king replied, “My concern is that nothing should happen contrary to God’s will, and as it should be. For I shall not be the first to attack the French, but, provoked by them, I will not refuse a fight. Meanwhile I am marching to Calais. But if someone should seek to bar my way, he will do that to his great harm, and no man should rashly try that. I greatly wish that this ground not be soaked with Christian blood.” So saying, he dismissed none of their heralds without giving him gifts. The French nobles, hearing his reply, which they adjudged to be the words of a commander more timid than careful, pitched their camp at the town of Blangy and prevented the enemy from going any further, being entirely ready for a battle. And they arranged their army as follows. In the van they had 3,000 horsemen. Dukes Charles of Orleans, Louis of Bourbon, and Edward of Barry, and the Count of Nevers, accompanied by a countless multitude of foot and horse held the second line. After this, a disorderly of throng held the third line, ready to lend their support. When Henry saw the confrontation was nearer at hand than he had thought, and did not think he could retreat safely from the camp he had made the previous day, led out his army in battle formation to the nearby plain, which stretches widely near the town of Blangy. And, so it would not impede his soldiers’ virtue, he selected a place near the little village they call Agincourt, overhung by a little hill and walled in by trees and thickets, so that it provided protection from an enemy attack in the rear. Here he drew up his battle-line, stationing his archers on the right wing, facing the enemy, and placed Duke Edward of York in command of these. He disposed his horsemen on the left and on the flanks, while he himself and the bulk of the army occupied the center. But since the enemy was superior in number of soldiers and horsemen,and he was afraid lest the fight would be unequal in his front and on his sides, to defend against the weight and onslaught of the enemy cavalry, so that his footmen (in whom the whole strength of his army resided) would not be thrown into disorder or have their ranks broken, he made fences on either side out of stakes six feet in length or greater, shod with iron on both ends and pointed. If horses ran into these they would suddenly be run through. And he assigned certain ordinary troops the task of repositioning these fences, should circumstances require, and re-erect them where his footmen might chance to move while fighting. Thus his footmen remained within these fences or walls, but his cavalry all stood outside them on the flanks. Even now the English retain this method of protecting their battle-line, with other devices having been invented to do the same thing, especially caltrops strewn on the ground, to keep enemy horsemen far from their infantry. For if horses rashly run against these devices, they are either impaled by the stakes or have their feet ruined by the caltrops and fall. Having drawn up his army in this fashion, the king gathered all his baggage in one place and left them in his lightly-guarded camp. Then he delivered a speech to his soldiers, encouraging them to be of high hopes, since they should persuade themselves they that they had been brought to a place suitable for a small army but of no use to a multitude, by the guidance of a God Who does not favor oath-breakers, Who gives no aid to those who lay hands on what belongs to others, and they should know that their enemy the French were particularly marked by the stigma of these crimes. So he particularly admonished them not to be afraid of their enemy’s greater numbers, since they should know that the majority within a multitude must needs be very unskilled in war, and never be anything but an impediment to good and strenuous soldiers. And even granted that all were equally able to fight, even this should not be feared, for they were fighting for their nation, and for the sake of this nothing should not be borne with a ready mind. For if they should conquer, all men would attribute this to their virtue. But if they were overwhelmed by such a multitude of their enemy, they should not imagine it would be any manner of disgrace for so few to be defeated by so many. And, lastly, they should be aware that victory was in their grasp, if at the first collision they should join battle with high spirits, as they all should do, since they were not unaware this business was being conducted against the French, whom they had so often bested in the past, whom they had already learned were hot for joining battle but most weak for sustaining a lengthy one. While the king was still speaking, the soldiers’ ardor began to manifest itself to the point that with a great shout they demanded the signal for battle. At the same time the Dukes of Clarence, York, and Gloucester were of the opinion they needed to act quickly, affirming that delay was only of use to the enemy, with new soldiers flocking to them from all sides. But the king chose to delay a while, lest he do anything without consideration, knowing full well that in battle defeat is most shameful, but victory very fair.
8. Meanwhile the French, scorning and disdaining their enemy’s small numbers, were so filled with confidence and high spirits that they had no thought for strategy, but imagined they had already conquered. Being elated and boasting with great joy, they crowed that they had the English penned in, and that with no trouble they had him in their grasp. Now their officers were dividing the spoils, sharing out the captives, and preparing the wagon in which the captive king would be led in triumph. At the same time they exhorted their soldiers, bawling out, hasten to plunder, to glory, so that we may already think of your rewards, of giving you thanks. Such a desire for joy overcame them that they sent messengers to their cities to command public victory-celebrations and thanksgivings to God, as if the matter were not still undecided, little suspecting, as the saying goes, that the winds might carry away their happiness. From this we may see the folly of judging the outcomes of future events as if they were certitudes, when it is the mark of prudence not to prejudge them. What about the the fact that they sent a herald to Henry asking how much he would be willing to pay for his ransom? They say his reply was that he trusted within a few hours it would be the French, not the English, who would be concerned with the payment of ransom.
9. Amidst these things, when both sides were drawn up for battle, on October 25, the day of the fight, they at length came to blows about midday. At the same moment the signal for battle was given on both sides. At their first encounter the English bowmen so savaged the French horsemen that they were wounded and could not easily retire, and, falling everywhere, they inspired much fear in their men, and much high spirits in their enemy. But when they began to fight hand to hand, a goodly part of the English archers, casting aside their bows (as is their custom, for they always have both arrows and swords ready at hand), were swept against the attacking enemy with great force. The French for their part pressed forward, attacked, and toiled in every part of the field. For while some of their horsemen fought against the English footmen on the right wing, holding up their shields, they strove might and main to attack their enemy on the flank. But the did not do this without losses, for they were repelled by the archers and the horsemen stationed by the stakes. Therefore at all points the fight was savage and doubtful, as each man stood his ground, energetically plying his shield and sword with no respite, some fighting for glory, and others to save themselves. After both sides had put up a brave fight for nearly three hours, the king, who had gradually led around his squadrons of horse, attacked their battle-line of footmen from the rear. The new shouting that arose so terrified the French that they immediately began to retreat. When the king saw their wavering standards and buckling line, then, giving his soldiers a little encouragement, he gave such a pursuit that the French were suddenly turned to flight and ran off in various directions, casting away their weapons, throwing up their hands, and only begging for mercy. Meanwhile the French cavalry, under the leadership of Robert d’Bar de Marle, who had been the first to turn tail, learned that the English baggage was far removed from the warriors without any great protection. Partly out of a desire for plunder, and partly inspired to compensate for their defeat by achieving some fair deed, they attacked the undefended camp, seized all the baggage, capturing or killing all those who had been left to protect it. When a fearful messenger reported this to the king, and the shouting of some boys was heard, who threw themselves at the feet of the approaching enemies, exclaiming that their soldiers’ fortunes were being looted, he was afraid that his scattered enemies would collect themselves and renew the encounter, so that he would have new fight with both the captives and his enemies. So out of necessity, and contrary to the mildness of his nature, he ordered the captives (of whom there was a large number) to be killed forthwith, and for his soldiers to prepare for a new battle. They did as they were commanded. After they had killed a goodly portion of the captives, having endured all that effort throughout the day, and ignoring their wounds, just as if they were fresh and rested, they surged back into the battle-line and hurled themselves against their enemy with all the energy they could muster. But since the English soldiers had gained the day and were scarcely able to pursue their enemy, they spontaneously broke off the chase. And this was the noble battle of Agincourt, to be counted among the most memorable victories of the English people. 10,000 Frenchmen died fighting, and about an equal number were taken captive, had they not been killed in the camp. Many on both sides later died of their wounds. Scarcely a one hundred English died, among them Duke Edward of York, if we believe those who write such miracles. Other authors report five or six hundred Englishmen were lost in that battle, and I do not regret agreeing with these, since the battle was vigorously fought for more than three hours, and it cannot be doubted that the English who participated received their share of wounds also. After he gained this victory, nothing was more urgent for the king than to fall to his knees, utter many a prayer, and give undying thanks to God, to Whom this day, the day of Saints Crispin and Crispianus, was henceforth sacred forever. After these things, a little before nightfall he returned to the camp, which he found to have been ransacked by the enemy, as I have recounted, but he did a certain amount to repair it from the enemy’s spoils. And there he refreshed his exhausted soldiers. And, returning to the battlefield the next day, he buried all the men killed in the battle, both friend and foe. But he arranged for the Duke of York’s body to be returned to England to be interred in the tomb of his ancestors. This done, taking the Dukes of Orleans and Bourbon and other noble captives, he returned, first to Calais, and then to England, where he entered London like a triumphant Roman emperor, together with his army. Meanwhile through all of England many days’ supplication were decreed for all churches of God and the saints, as all men congratulated themselves on the victory gained that day, extolling their king to the skies, and especially offering up thanks to God. This was the year of human salvation 1415, the third of Henry’s reign.
10. King Charles of France was profoundly troubled by this defeat and with all his energy strove to achieve a reconciliation with Duke John of Burgundy, long alienated from, fearing lest he suffer at home from civil discord, and at the same time received an even worse blow from his foreign enemy. Likewise he appointed Count John of Armignac, a man of great experience in war, Marshal of France in place of Boucicaut, now in English captivity, hoping that he was the man who could bring relief to tottering French arms. Meanwhile Earl Thomas of Dorcester, the governor of Harfleur, learning of the victory, went out into the neighboring countryside with 3,000 armed men, making excursions as far as Rouen. Returning home while laden with spoils, he chanced to encounter Armignac with a strong force, and was routed in a light skirmish, losing more than 300 of his men. But the French, not content with this victory, came closer to the town in their pursuit than was wise, clashed with garrison which came flying out to meet fellow countrymen, and was obliged to retreat, not without bloodshed.
11. While these this were occurring elsewhere, the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund, a man of great virtue, who otherwise had frequently dealt with the kings about making peace by letters, since he was far removed, came to England with ambassadors from King Charles, and Henry gave him a friendly reception for the sake of their old friendship. He, desirous of peace, began to design a composition for both kings. But a fatal accident befell the French, so that afterwards they incurred yet more damage. For peace was within their grasp when, behold, a new reason for discord and hatred arose. Henry, learning of the slaughter of his soldiers in the district of Rouen, began to grow so angry that then he did not even wish to listen to the name of peace. But the emperor did not suspend his effort and immediately after the king grew angry (although he quickly cooled down) he nevertheless pressed the matter, and would have been successful, had the French not prepared a new war. For their spirits were lifted by Armignac’s recent success and they decided that by all means they should retake Harfleur. So after a little while, marching by various routes as secretly as they could, they combined all their forces at one moment and attacked the town. Likewise Viscount John of Narbonne, the Admiral of their fleet, occupied the neighboring coast with equal celerity and surrounded it. But their stratagem did not make any headway, for before they could arrive at the town the castle watchmen observed their regiments approaching. This being known, Thomas, the governor, recovered his men within the walls, and sent letters and messengers thick and fast to the king asking for help. The French, seeing they had no further chance to take the town unawares, nonetheless came up with both their land and sea forces to besiege the town. For the nonce the English resisted them stoutly. Meanwhile Henry, learning the news, realized that his men were in serious trouble, and that the matter required his diligence. And so, making no delay, he prepared a fleet and hastened to the aid of this subjects. But the Emperor Sigismund held him back, earnestly begging him not to go, and urging he send one of his dukes to counter that impending storm, since there was no reason for a sovereign, on whom the welfare of the commonwealth depended, to expose himself to every danger. Therefore the king, restrained by his friend’s warnings, sent his brother Duke John of Bedford with a fleet of many ships to Normandy as soon as he could. And he, enjoying a following wind, sailed quickly to the mouth of the Seine. When the Viscount of Narbonne perceived he was approaching, he gave a sudden signal and attacked his enemy from every direction, and occupied the narrows of the harbor. Seeing the enemy fleet coming out, John sent two of his stronger ships ahead to counter him, and at their first encounter these captured two French ships which had sailed out carelessly, together with their rowers and fighting contingent. He himself was present a little later with the remainder of the fleet, inspired by zeal, and joined battle bravely. Both sides fought it out a while, until finally the English either sank or captured a goodly part of the enemy fleet, and forced the rest into a disgraceful retreat. Then John, sailing up the river to the town and encountering no obstruction, landed and at once helped his fellow-countrymen with both provisions and reinforcements. Meanwhile Armignac, learning by letters and messengers that his forces had had the worst of a naval fight near the mouth of the Seine, abandoned the siege and went to Paris, since he had no hope of storming the town.
12. The French were considerably weakened by this reversal. Their nobles’ interests were diverse, and since they were incited by the goads of ancient grudges they served the commonwealth with reluctance. Thus their feuding began to sap their strength to the point that French liberty was called into question. And although the Duke of Orleans, the head of one of the two factions, was a prisoner in England, nevertheless Charles the Dauphin and the Duke of Burgundy were so provoked by their squabbling that, while each tried to destroy the other by his arms, deceits, and schemes, not a one of them was greatly concerned about warding off the common danger impending from the English. And so in this condition there were many evils: the insanity of King Charles, the risk of war, the discords and bad dealing of the nobles, and countless other things which conjoined to make the whole picture gloomy. But I return to my subject. The Duke of Bedford, enjoying this success, immediately returned to England. And the Emperor Sigismund, seeing that he could make no headway in his dealings for peace because the French had deeply offended the English in their recent siege of Harfleur (he himself was irritated with them), had long ago broken off his peace negotiations and entered into a treaty with Henry, which he was so far from violating subsequently that the both of them greatly strove to observe and foster it, and this afterwards proved useful to them both. After this, the Emperor, laden down with many and various gifts, crossed over to Germany. The alliance of these kings occurred in the fourth year of Henry’s reign, the year of human salvation 1416.
13. In this same year the king held a parliament of his nobles and delivered an address them, recalling the recent French insults to him, showing that there was an opportunity for waging war, describing the discords of the French nobility, and he set forth many reasons why the war against them should be resumed, and why he thought they should devote all their energies to prosecuting this. Likewise he begged them to decree that money should be raised and a levy of soldiers held, so that he would at length be albe to attend to his enemies’ mischief. When he had said these things, the parliament gave him his way in everything. Above all, money was raised, so the expenses for his forces could be paid in a timely manner. For there was no man to whom this war was not dear, and it seemed both useful and opportune. Next by decree of parliament Duke John of Bedford was appointed governor of the realm and head of the Privy Council, to hold this power as long as Henry was in France to manage the war. This done, about July 27 the king himself set sail with a fleet of more than a thousand ships, arrived in Normandy, landed his soldiers, and conferred with his captains about strategy. When the Normans learned of their enemy’s arrival, they were at once affected by fear and gloom, and came flocking from the countryside into their towns, which they fortified, filled with grain and the other things necessary for human life, prepared arms for resisting the enemy, and sent embassies to King Charles so he would defend him from harm. The French soldiers who had been left to garrison these places joined the throng of peasants in going into the towns, so as to help them, because they despaired of opposing their enemies’ strength out in the open. These things occurred throughout Normandy, men were in such a panic. Henry, after forming his plans, encamped next to Toques, a castle fortified both by human work and nature, and assaulted it with a siege, even if it was stoutly defended by those within, and he took it. Then he decided to attack Caen, thinking the French would never fail to come to the support of their suffering fellow-citizens, as their duty required, and so there would be a battle, which he greatly desired. And so he hastened there with his army, widely ravaging and plundering the countryside as he went.
14. Caen is a town set on flatland, defended by ditches and high walls, as I have shown elsewhere, and at this time it lacked nothing, because before the enemy’s arrival the townsmen had crammed it full of provisions and arms. Therefore when the king came to the town he constructed a barrier between its walls and his camp, so that those within could not launch a sally, and having disposed his officers and their soldiers, ordered missiles to be shot against the enemy works. This did nothing to frighten the citizens of Caen, who remained hostile and alert, with no commotion. Therefore the battle was joined at all points. Each of the English fought according to his inclination: some fought from afar with arrows and stones, others with artillery. Yet others came up to the wall and attempted now to undermine the wall, now to climb it, being eager to come to hand-to-hand fighting. In this way the fight continued for several days, with a goodly number of Englishmen being killed, because they suffered more damage from those within the fortifications than they themselves inflicted. Henry, perceiving this, recalled his soldiers from the fight, for he thought the siege should be managed only by breaching and demolishing the walls, Therefore he began tunnels approaching the city and planted his cannon in various places, and suddenly made a violent assault on the walls. And, so that the work he had begun would not be inhibited by the townsmen, he ordered some of his soldiers to bring up ladders and climb the walls again, and others to harass them with arrows. The townsmen, spiritedly defending against these, hurled, stones, fire, and other manner of shot. While the battle fought in this way, the English breached the walls in various places, and those undermining the foundations created shafts by which their soldiers could emerge in the town. Then the king, taking pity on the townsmen, had decided to spare them, if they would submit, rather than ravaging them, and at the same time fearing lest, if the town had to be stormed, he would be obliged to give it to his soldiers for the looting, advised them by a herald that there was still room for mercy in his heart if they would surrender immediately. But they, still relying on the hope of support, stoutly denied they would do. Then the English again attacked the walls and strove to enter through the breaches. For the space an hour they fought while they struggled to break in and the citizens of Caen defended all places most bravely. But in the end English virtue prevailed. Having conquered the town, the king ordered all men to deposit their arms in one place. When they had done this with nobody refusing, then all men knelt weeping, their hands flat on the ground, and begged for their lives. Henry consoled them and commanded them to stand up. This done, in his habitual way he went to the cathedral and prayed thanks to God for his success. That night he did not sleep, but wanted his army to stand to arms just as if it were not free of fear, so that none of his soldiers might take advantage of the dark of night to slip out for some looting, and none of the townsmen might furtively make his escape. But in the morning he placed their city council on trial, and punished some with death for their mad recalcitrance, and fined others of their goods. Then he praised his soldiers over and over and rewarded them the all plunder taken from the enemy, since their virtue had been very excellent turing the siege, and he thought they had deserved well of him. It certainly appears that Henry wished that battle in particular to display his own skill in the art of warfare, and also that of his soldiers, so that the French might understand they were dealing with an enemy greatly abounding in virtue, and perhaps because he was aware that in warfare one must strive for a reputation, and as the first thing goes, so, usually, will all the rest. The castle still stood firmly in its allegiance to the French, and was excellently fortified. To offer a show of loyalty, its governor proclaimed that he would await its ruin before he would hand it over to the enemy. The English king decided this was the last thing he would wish to do, to destroy such a fair work so necessary for the defense of the town, which he would only be obliged to rebuild afterwards. Therefore the king promised the governor and the other soldiers within safe conduct, prescribing a day on which they must hand over the castle. Hearing this and despairing of help, they surrendered. And so in the end Henry took Caen and its castle. They say he had previously gained high hopes for this victory because while at his prayers he saw a cross shining among his forces. Thus God is wont to be on the side of those who pray well and fight a just war.
15. While these things were being done by the King of England, the French neither had a proper army prepared, nor were themselves ready to come to the aid of their countrymen. For they suffered at the hands of domestic enemies, and, so they might not extricate themselves, new reasons arose for the revival of seditions. For since Charles had no idea how to rule in his own right, it came about that nothing was more needy than him, nothing more deprived of power, because every man was squandering the public wealth for his own benefit. Only Charles the Dauphin lamented his nation’s ills, only he was devoted to the commonwealth, only he cared about resisting the enemy. But he was poverty-stricken and gnawed by concern. Finally, at the advice of Armignac, the Marshall of France, from various places he took the money his mother Isabella had amassed, and for the sake of relieving his nation he began to spend it in preparing an army. For this reason the woman, unconcerned about the imminent danger, but very concerned at receiving an insult, regarded her son and Armignac as enemies and decided she should hound them both. She placed Duke John of Burgundy in great favor with her husband Charles, and gave, granted, and bestowed on him rule over all things. Having this power and being given the ability to avenge all injuries, Burgundy armed himself against the Dauphin, so that, with him weakened, he might himself resist the public enemies as best he could. As similar logic inspired the Dauphin, who, thinking that this domestic upheaval needed to be dealt with before the foreign war, turned his arms against Burgundy, the head of his faction, and strove to destroy him by hook or by crook. Hence a great bane was created for the realm, and nothing came closer than for it to be wholly overthrown. Therefore France was ablaze with war, and there was nearly nobody who could undertake or sustain the management of the war amidst such sorrow.
16. Amidst these things, Duke Thomas of Clarence with a lightly-armed force marched along the Norman coast and captured the city of Bessin. In the same way, his brother Duke Humfrey of Gloucester attacked the town of Lisieux and took it with next to no trouble. Meanwhile Henry lingered at Caen to strengthen it with a garrison, and there he gave a singular example of piety. For in the castle he discovered citizens’ great fortunes, including money that had long been deposited in churches, as well as sacred plate. He was so far from touching this all that he even arranged immediately for it to be returned to the churches and citizens, so that he would not be defiled by sacrilege or theft, contrary to his habit. These things done, he assembled a council of his captains, at a time when the rumor of his mildness and mercy was spreading in all directions, and the leading citizens of nearly all the neighboring towns came to Caen and entrusted themselves to him. So he elected to announce by public edict that all people, and also their fortunes, would be free of danger, if they voluntarily surrendered to the English. The result was that numerous populations were daily defecting from the King of France to Henry. Afterwards the king left Caen with the intent of besieging Argentan, which he took upon his arrival. Next came into his power Alençon, Constance, Falaise, St. Lo, and some other very well fortified towns. Nearly all their citizens were troubled by the sad memory of Caen, and feared a similar disaster, so they preferred to surrender to the English rather than, perhaps, expose themselves and their fortunes to great peril. This was particularly so because they saw no army of Charles in their vicinity, nor did they hear that he intended to come to their aid. Having at a stroke accumulated so many towns, Henry thought he only needed to expend his effort on gaining power over Rouen, the capital city of all Normandy, where the Normans had brought their money and dearest possessions from all over the region, and which they had fortified with the greatest works at the beginning of the war. So he drew up his forces, moved camp, and hastened to Pont d’Arches, a town on the Seine about eight miles from Rouen. When the French in the garrison there discovered this, prior to their enemy’s arrival they strengthened the bridge there with a garrison. At the same time he disposed his soldiers on the other side so they might cross by bridges, reed rafts, or small boats. After Henry came to the town, he immediately moved to attack the bridge. But when he saw it was defended by the French so keenly that it could not be taken, he fell back and encamped about three miles further along the bank, next to the water, and there he readied rafters and rowboats and brought across part of his army in the night, encountering no opposition. For those stationed on the far bank, thinking the English had turned elsewhere, did not pursue them, because they had enough trouble protecting the town. This done, in the middle of the night he turned back and surrounded the town with a siege. When the townsmen realized this, they despaired of help and surrendered. Having gained the town and opened a safe way, the king marched on Rouen. After the garrison within had learned of this, they quickly brought out nearly all their cavalry and came to encounter him in battle formation. They fought a light skirmish with the English outriders, and then, being pressed, were obliged to retire whence they came. Then the king drew near the walls and set siege to the city. This was the year of salvation 1418, the sixth of Henry’s reign. For the conduct of this enterprise the English started to construct mantlets on two sides, a rampart, and tunnels, and when these were finished they daily fought the townsmen, but to no avail, because the citizens of Rouen lacked nothing in their virtue, nor did a man of them doubt that all his fortunes hung upon the outcome of that siege. So they encouraged one another and fought as if they would never have another chance, for they thought that, were the city to be captured, everything would be brought to perdition by the enemy. When Henry perceived this wonderful consensus and perseverance, of necessity he changed his plan and decided to overcome by starvation an enemy he could not vanquish by arms. He thought this would be easily accomplished because the French, caught up in their domestic seditions, as has been said, would hardly come to the aid of their own countrymen. Therefore, stationing his soldiers at opportune places, and damming the Seine (which waters Rouen) above and below the city, in a short time he threw all the citizens into such consternation that, since their food was all consumed and all hope of receiving help abandoned, they voluntarily submitted to his power. Having gained this very wealth city, at almost the very same moment the king took possession of all places, and received the homage of Duke John of Britanny. For he, fearing for his affairs, freely entered into friendship with the English. Seeing that day by day the strength of the French grew weaker, he feared that if the did this under compulsion, he would not be accepted.
17. When word of Rouen’s surrender spread throughout France, it is incredible to say how much terror overcame everybody, and how much sorrow, for they saw how much slaughter civil sedition was inflicting daily, and no remedy being applied to check the evil. But this troubled the Duke of Burgundy most of all, for he had gained control over the realm and governed King Charles as he wished. Hence he could not be free of dislike, and knew for certain that whatever slaughter was committed would be blamed on himself alone. And so he adjudged it would be useful for both himself and the commonwealth if he could find some way to achieve a reconciliation between the kings. Then he would be free from external fear and able to avenge his dignity upon Charles the Dauphin, and free himself from public hatred, unpopularity, and infamy, if he were free of this national war. Adopting this counsel, he stated to deal with Henry through ambassadors, so that for the sake of arranging a piece he would be willing to confer with Charles about the entire matter. The English king did not refuse to do this, but, just as he had promised the ambassadors, within a few days he made his appearance at Meulan, where he met with Charles, his wife Isabella and his very beautiful daughter Catherine (or, as some say, with his wife but not Charles, who was not of sound mind), who had come there previously with the Duke of Burgundy. Therefore they dealt with peace in vain, as had occurred at other times, but the meeting had this success, that Henry was entranced by the girl’s beauty and was made a very mild enemy indeed. Meanwhile the French nobility, lamenting their common misfortune, cursed their lot because they had plenty of strength they could be devoting to external wars, but were squandering it on fighting among themselves. So they saw no other means of healing their sick minds save for a general conference, so they could easily quench the fury of their hatreds and eradicate their injuries. All approved this view, and the conference was appointed to be held at Montereau, a town situated where the little stream Yonne flows into the Seine. To the meeting came both the Dauphin and the Duke of Burgundy, the heads of the two factions, so that the civil discords could either be ended wholly, or at least suppressed and put in abeyance until the war could be finished, which had been inflamed by the very existence of civil dissent. But the result was otherwise than they expected. For while everybody was full of hope for a settlement, a scheme concocted out of internal hatred suddenly renewed the discord and brought their common affairs into far greater danger. For when they had agreed on holding his conference of the nobility, behold, Guy du Chastel, a cruel man and bold for every crime, had a sudden recollection of Duke Louis of Orleans, under whom he had served as a mercenary, and he decided to avenge his murder at Burgundy’s hands, which I have described in my previous Book. There are some who say this was done at the instigation of the Dauphin, which scarcely seems improbable. For perhaps the Dauphin, who had unending quarrels with the duke, imagined that in this way he could put an end to Burgundy’s power without committing any treachery himself. But I shall not pursue this theme. The day of the conference came, and the Dauphin and Burgundy both made their appearance, surrounded by their retinues. Here, after they had met together, all unanimously asked for peace, while in the meantime the Dauphin and the duke began to denigrate each other’s good works, expostulate about the injuries they had received, and exchange insults. As their altercation grew, Guy, thinking he had an excellent chance to commit his crime, unexpectedly snatched Burgundy’s hand and killed the man at the first blow. Seeing this, all men of both sides drew their swords either to defend themselves or to calm the uproar, not imagining Burgundy had received a fatal wound. But when they saw him lying there dead, their enthusiasm was for escape, not fighting. And so they left the conference, and such was the death of Duke John, who cared little for his safety in comparison with civil discords, thus, as I believe, paying atonement to Orleans’ dust according to the will of divine justice, which always desires parricide to redound to the blame and downfall of its author.
18. When John of Burgundy’s son Philippe, who was keeping himself at Paris, found out that his father had been treacherously assassinated by his enemies, he promptly made up his mind to give them such trouble that, vexed by it, they would in the end pay their deserved penalties. Therefore he first made peace with Henry by means of secret messengers, and shared with him his counsels. Then, in the name of King Charles, whom he had in his power, given him by his father, he sent ambassadors to Henry to deal for a peace, at the same time requesting him to come to a conference at Troyes, a city of Champagne. The English king heard these ambassadors gladly, and promised to come to the appointed place at his earliest convenience. Hearing these promises, although he was wonderfully overjoyed to have been given this opportunity for success beyond all hope, nevertheless he did not place such trust in Philippe’s promises that he did not adjudge it best to learn all things by his spies before coming to the conference. For the recollection of Burgundy’s recent murder made him more careful and fearful of the French even when bearing gifts (as Laocoon says of the Greeks in Vergil). But when he had learned everything was being transacted without guile, without hesitation he set out for Troyes, where, after the ambassadors had reported on their mission, Philippe, together with Charles, had invited him. Here, after the nobles’ conference had been held, they arrived at a treaty, which was strengthened by a new kingship, with Charles’ daughter Isabella being bestowed on Henry. The terms of the treaty were that Henry should govern, administer, and rule over the kingdom of France during Charles’ lifetime, and after Charles’ death should obtain it by a right as good as the best. If it should transpire that Henry died first, the throne should pass to his eldest son by Catherine, that the French nobility should swear an oath of homage to Henry, and that Charles the Dauphin should be stripped off all the power he possessed, and be deemed in perpetuity an enemy of his nation.
19. After these things, Henry assumed the burden of government, and was acclaimed as Regent of France. The princes who were present (and many of them were) freely swore their homage, beginning with Duke Philippe of Burgundy, because, thanks to reports of his achievements, they had been seized with admiration for him, and, meeting him in person, they were seized by a greater veneration. Whether they did this with their minds or just with their faces is doubtful. They certainly perceived Henry was prudent in taking counsel, skilled at military discipline and its use, energetic for undergoing the labors of war, brave for all dangers, and always on the lookout for good fortune and the main chance, and this was the particular source of their admiration. The king spoke to them thus, “This one thing occupies all my cares, my lords, and keeps my mind as taut as a bowstring, that I must constantly think and act so that I can, with Almighty God’s help, make our two realms one, after the accession of this second one, and enhance it happily, that I may bequeath it to my posterity free of factions, and, just as today Europe has no greater realm, so it may not have one in later days. And so I have first of all chosen to persecute the remnants of sedition, which remain in Charles, who has recently by your decision been deprived of the honor of being Dauphin. So join me in compelling him to obey my rule, so that our commonwealth may be freed from all danger. What kind of king do you imagine he would make, should he obtain the throne, who, at his young age, has not blushed to befoul himself with the blood of the very noble Duke of Burgundy? So stand by me, who am destined to succeed to your crown, together with Charles my father-in-law, a crown owed by hereditary right first to my ancestors, and then to myself. Nor let it sway you that I am an Englishman by birth. Since I am heir to the throne, I cannot help being one of you, or to seem to you to be such. For unless I should choose to be very defective in my duty, I am obliged to keep you before my eyes forever, in exchange for your kindness towards me. And I shall make a beginning of this dutifulness in my comportment towards my father-in-law Charles, whom I regard as a father.” Saying such things and dismissing the meeting, he gathered his forces. But when the rest of France learned the conditions of this treaty and what had been done, it suddenly collapsed in extreme chagrin. For it could not tolerate this national disaster with equanimity, because it saw the commonwealth being invited to its destruction unless Charles the Dauphin supported and preserved it. And so all men of the other party came running to him, as the one man in whom the protection of all his fellow citizens reposed. And he, greatly distressed by the friendship formed between Philippe of Burgundy and the English king, held a council with the nobles well-disposed to himself, in which, since they were unequal in strength, they first discussed resistance. In the second place, so that no adversity would suddenly befall them, it was decided that the Dauphin, in whose person the outcome of the entire war resided, should by no means participate in battle. In the third, provision was made for assembling an army and garrisoning suitable places. Thus the Dauphin prepared and armed his mind and equipped himself with forces for offering resistance.
20. King Henry, the Regent of France, leaving Troyes with a strong army, hastened to Sens, which was loyal to the Dauphin. After he progressed through that region, creating widespread destruction, he came to their city and took it by storm. Likewise he took Moret-sur-Loing and Montereau, recently notorious for the murder of John of Burgundy. Next he besieged Melun. Barbasan was charged with the protection of that place, a warlike man who defended the town with energy, but he too was overcome by lack of provisions and compelled to surrender. All those were allowed to leave under safe conduct, save for those who shared in the guilt for Burgundy’s murder. For a number of confederates in that crime had retired there. The king, having gained the town, sent those caught there (including Barbasan, who was found to have played a part in that crime) under custody to Paris. Finally he encircled Meulan, but the burghers could not long endure a siege, and after a few days, despairing of help, they surrendered. Having accomplished these things prosperously, he returned to Charles at Troyes, and then the both of them, together with Duke Philippe of Burgundy, headed for Paris. Their arrival was most welcome to the citizens, who thought that at least a resolution and end would soon be made to domestic hatreds and wars. After coming to Paris, Henry’s first act of business was to order the execution of those captives who had been party to Burgundy’s murder, and to others who had found to have a share in the guilt. Then for the sake of settling the state of the realm he convened a parliament, and set forth what he believed to be of advantage to the commonwealth. And since many considerations were recalling him to England, they should appoint some governors to manage affairs in his absence. These things being disposed of according to the will of the parliament, the charge of administrating the commonwealth was given to his brother Duke Humfrey of Gloucester and Duke Philippe of Burgundy, and his other brother Duke Thomas of Clarence, together with Earl Richard of Warwick, a man of singular virtue, were sent to Normandy to preside over that region. After provision was made for these matters, Henry returned to England with his wife Catherine, and his arrival was celebrated with incredible rejoicing by men of all ages. Not without reason England rejoiced for itself, since its king had had his way and obtained the government of France. And so Henry, as if he had obtained his heart’s desire, wanting to give God public thanks, arranged with Archbishop Henry of Canterbury that he would immediately declare a four-days’ supplication. And then he himself, having assembled a parliament of his nobles, set forth his accomplishments, and informed them that French affairs were in such a condition that they could not be put on a safe footing without English wealth, and therefore he asked that money be voted for the war. The members of Parliament most willingly obliged their sovereign, telling him that they and their resources were at his disposal. Then in that parliament Queen Catherine was crowned in the traditional way. This was the eighth year of Henry’s reign, and the year of human salvation 1420. After dismissing the parliament, Henry first recruited more than 5,000 soldiers from the nobility, and the like number of peasants, then collected the money that had been conceded him, so he could more quickly rejoin the army in France.
21. This place requires me to subjoin something about Scottish affairs. For in that parliament of the English nobility I have just described, James I King of Scots was released, ten years after having been captured by Henry IV, when Joan, the daughter of the Duke of Clarence, was betrothed to him and he could pay part of his ransom with her dowry. He gave hostages for the rest of it, and bound himself by treaty never to act against the English. When he returned to his nation he found things very unquiet, since at the same time Duke Robert of Albany, the Regent of the kingdom, had departed this life. So he immediately held a parliament, in which, he and his queen were crowned in solemn estate and the condition of the realm put right, he dealt with the parliament that it help him with money. This everyone did gladly. These things having been done to his satisfaction, from the very first James was seized by such a desire for true glory that henceforth he held nothing more important than to arrange for the goodly arts to be taught by most learned men hired for the purpose, and to cultivate the justice and good manners he had learned among the English, to compete with his nobles in virtue, to restrain young men by laws, and to exercise them in the arts of war, so that their minds not grow insolent through licence and leisure. And since he was aware of the importance of archery in the English method of making war, he wished the young men of Scotland to acquire this art more diligently than had been the custom. What should we say of the fact that he appointed a penalty for those who did not devote themselves to it from boyhood? James was ruling, guided by such enthusiasms, when the Highland Scots, under the leadership of Kenneth, a stout fellow but not an upright one, attempted to impede him, who began to make raids in the Lowlands. And Alexander of the Isles (for such they called his realm) made this storm far worse, who joined himself with the Highlanders. But James promptly assembled an army and applied a remedy to this growing evil so quickly that he nearly cured it at the very moment it broke out, with the men responsible for that bane forcibly returned to their sanity. Now I return home.
22. Meanwhile Duke Thomas of Clarence with a part of the army went from Normandy to Anjou, and encamped at the town of Beaugé. And, hearing there that Frenchmen loyal to the Dauphin were in the area, he went forward with a few horsemen, unwisely collided with the enemy, and was killed fighting in the forefront. The rest were either captured or killed along with him. When the English at Beaugé learned of the duke’s death, they swiftly fled back into Normandy. Hearing the news of this brother’s death, Henry was greatly upset, and first of all he sent ahead Duke Edmund of Somerset to Normandy, to govern the province in place of the Duke of Clarence. Then, together with his brother Duke John of Bedford and the forces he had readied, he crossed over to Calais as quickly as he could, and from there with equal zeal he arrived, having only encamped six times, at Vincennes (this is the name of a royal manor about three miles removed from Paris, on the Seine), where he found Charles with his queen. Here they made many necessary arrangements. And Henry and the Duke of Burgundy laid secret plans for destroying the Dauphin by any means necessary. While such things were being done, Catherine, whom Henry had left at home because she was pregnant, gave birth to a son at Windsor Castle, who was given his father’s name. There is a popular rumor even today that when King Henry had learned in his camp that the boy was born, he predicted ill for him, as if that birthplace would be fatal for the boy. As soon as Catherine had recovered from childbirth she came to her husband, and was received with much congratulation. Soon the kings retired to Paris, where Charles was left behind while Henry and Burgundy decided to come to the aid of the burghers of Chartres, who were being besieged by the Dauphin at the time, assisted by the Scots, who had come there to aid him, led by John Stuart Earl of Buchan, the son of Robert the Regent, and Archibald Douglas Earl of Wigtown. But the Dauphin had not been expecting the arrival of his enemy, and, distrusting his strength, he broke off the siege and hastened to Chinon. For from the beginning he had chosen this place as the safest citadel for his government, partly because of its nature, and partly because he relied on the fidelity of its populace. And for this reason he was sometimes jokingly called the King of Chinon. Henry, eager to come to grips with his enemy, after capturing Dreux, Vendôme, and several other places, marched along the Loire and encamped in the town of Beauce, evicting the burghers from their own homes, robbing and ravaging them. Today they call that part of France between the bank of the Loire and the Seine Beauce, bordered by the regions of Paris and Sens. There he hastened to the town of Villeneuve, which is on the Yonne in the territory of Sens, to besiege it. He took it at his arrival and went back to the Loire, and, having brought his forces across the river, he marched against Chinon, where, as I have said, the Dauphin had retired. There, on a flat plain, he offered battle to the Dauphin, but he was so far removed from being willing to attempt a fight that he immediately retired into the city. Seeing this, Henry drew nearer and studied the site of the city. He appreciated that it was more suitable and convenient for defenders than attackers, and so, after ravaging the countryside in all directions, he hastened to Senlis, where he set to gathering grain with a will, for his supply was beginning to run short. Meanwhile Charles the Dauphin, who very artfully refrained from battle, because he had a weak army and so never drew closer to the enemy than two days’ journey while on the march, when he had learned that Henry had gone far from Chinon, immediately besieged Cosnes-sur-Loire, sending off a portion of his forces to lay waste to Philippe’s territory, to draw him off from the English king. Nor was he mistaken in this hope. For Burgundy quickly brought protection to his subjects, and, since he had his hands full in putting up a resistance, when wrote a letter to Henry advising him to send help to Cosnes. For its burghers had given hostages to the enemy and undertaken to surrender unless they received aid by a certain specified day. The king replied he would send nobody, but would himself go there by forced marches But he could not do this, as his fate drew on. For, whether broken by overexertion or affected by the climate, he began to do poorly, and when he was overcome by fever while on the march, he went back. Seeing this, the Duke of Bedford immediately brought help to Cosnes, its citizenry, freed from the siege, got back their hostages from the enemy. But the Dauphin, frightened by the duke’s arrival, not only ceased troubling Cosnes, but also recalled all the forces he had sent to Burgundy, and quickly returned to his safe citadel at Chinon.
23. Meanwhile King Henry, his body a little relieved, went to Vincennes at Senlis, and as soon as he had completed his journey he began to be afflicted much more heavily and vehemently. After a few days his brothers the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester came flying to him, together with Earl Richard of Warwick and others of his captains. When they arrived, the king shook their hands affably, and when they wept, he consoled them with a steady mind, showing no signs of sadness. Then, when the force of the disease grew worse and he realized that his life was beyond hope, he humbly prayed for pardon and offered his thanks to God Almighty that death was befalling him after he had gained his heart’s desire and had never experienced adversity, in the flower of his victories. Turning to his brothers and the others present, he spoke words such as these: “I see you, my lords, to be grieving over my death, but I do not do the same. For my short life will provide evidence of my faith, integrity, justice, probity, and mercy, and will bring it about that at my death I leave behind glory, not criticism for sloth or vituperation for great sin. A long life would perhaps not have provided this, but might have removed it, inasmuch as mortal minds can be altered in an instant. And I apply these words to myself. My untimely death not undeservedly troubles you, not undeservedly inflicts sorrow on our nation, because I am depriving you of a sovereign amidst such turmoil. And yet this should be taken less hardly, because human affairs are always such that something is lacking for the full measure. Consult for yourselves, have a care, let every man look to your common future, so that you may someday finish the journey I have traveled. I beg and pray you that you love my infant son Henry and bring him up well, so by your effort, care, and grace he may turn into a man deemed worthy of so great a government. Support my dearest wife, now the saddest of all women, with your dutifulness, and be willing to hold her in the same affection that I have always held you. As far as the present situation goes, I particularly admonish you to be of one heart and mind, and to maintain perpetual peace with Duke Philippe of Burgundy. And, if this is agreeable to you all, let my brother Duke Humfrey of Gloucester be responsible for administrating my realm of England, nor should he set foot from its territory until my son Henry is of an age to rule. And let Duke John of Bedford, together with the Duke of Burgundy, rule my French kingdom. And you should think that either you must by all means overcome Charles, the so-called Dauphin, or you must yield to him the possession of France. So you should not fall asleep over your cause, while the ability of achieving this thing is granted you. And finally, whatever happens to you, I wish this to be your earnest care, that you forever retain Normandy, lately recovered by our strength, as an assured possession of our kingdom, our dignity, our honor, and our realm’s ancient inheritance and home.” After he said such things, they all replied to Henry that they would do as he enjoined, even if they were shattered by such pity that they could scarcely speak for sorrow. After living one more day, he died, the unique glory and light of his nation. No man was born more noble for the loftiness and greatness of mind, none more excellent for piety, and even today his lack is felt no less acutely than it first was among his contemporaries. For when word of his demise spread among the common folk, they all collapsed with sudden sorrow, for their sorrow so much overwhelmed their minds in all respects that like madmen they cursed their fortune for begrudging their nation such great glory. For the king’s untimely end subtracted as much from the English nation’s hope of overcoming the French as it added hope of regaining their liberty to the French themselves. And for this reason there were those who suspected that he had died by poison. He reigned nine years, five months, and twenty-three days, and he lived thirty-six years. His body was brought to England and buried in his ancestral tomb at Westminster. He was taller than the average man, possessed of a slender body, with proporionate, strong limbs, a comely face, and long neck. He was most skilled in the art of war, and most illustrious for its glory.

Go to Book XXIII