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Guerre et société en France, en Angleterre et en Bourgogne xive-xve siècle

 | 
H. Maurice Keen
, 
Charles Giry-Deloison
, 
Philippe Contamine

English Military Experience and the Court of Chivalry: the Case of Grey V. Hastings

Maurice H. Keen

Texte intégral

  • 1 On this court see G.D. Squibb, The High Court of Chivalry, Oxford, 1959; and Μ. H. Keen, «The Juri (...)
  • 2 See eg: CPR 1374-1377, p. 54; 1381-1385, pp. 354, 596; 1385-1388, pp. 84, 85, 104, 169; 1388-1392,(...)
  • 3 Scrope v. Grosvenor was published by Sir N. H. Nicolas, The Controversy between Sir Richard Scrope (...)
  • 4 The MSS are (i) College of Arms, PCM (2 vol.); (ii) College of Arms, Philipot MS. P.e.1; (iii) BL, (...)

1The medieval records of what was called the Court of Chivalry of England, the Court of the Constable and the Marshal1, have perished. The Calendars of Patent Rolls, with their evidence about the appointment of commissioners to hear appeals from the Court’s judgement in cases concerning prisoners, ransoms, indentures, safe-conducts and other military matters, hint tantalisingly at how active this court must at times have been, but tell no more2. We know that its records were once preserved in registers; they are lost. Accounts that are fairly full of a small handful of cases that lay within its jurisdiction have, however, survived among the Chancery Miscellanea, among them the records of two great disputes from the reign of Richard II over rights to particular armorial bearings, the cases of Scrope v. Grosvenor and of Lovell v. Morley3. Parts of the record of the proceedings in a third armorial case, Grey v. Hastings which dates from the reign of Henry IV, also survive in three later MSS, of which the fullest – it is more or less complete – is in the College of Arms4. It is a seventeenth century transcript of proceedings, and appears to derive either from the register or from a copy taken from it. There seems no doubt that it is a faithful transcript of a fifteenth century record, and it runs to over seven hundred pages in a clear, closely written hand.

  • 5 M. J. Bennett, Community, Class and Careerism, Cambridge, 1983, pp. 82-83, 166.
  • 6 J. M. Manly (ed). The Canterbury Tales, London, n.d., p. 555: and see the references cited in The (...)
  • 7 M. J. Bennett, op. cit., as above: Μ. H. Keen, «Chivalrous Culture in fourteenth Century England»,(...)

2The accounts of the proceedings in these three armorial cases are obviously of enormous interest to anyone concerned with the history of heraldry; they are also of very considerable interest as sources for the study of the martial experience of the English aristocracy and gentry of their time. In the case of the Scrope v. Grosvenor proceedings, this has long been recognised This dispute lay between Richard Lord Scrope of Bolton and Sir Robert Grosvenor of Cheshire, as to which had the better right to the arms azur a bend or. Both claimed that these had been the arms of their ancestors, which they had borne in wars and at tournaments time out of mind. On each side more than 150 witnesses were called, and much of the testimony was concerned with where and on what martial occasions particular individuals had seen members of the family of either Scrope or Grosvenor armed in the arms in question. From this testimony it is in consequence possible to reconstruct with some accuracy the details of the martial careers of members of the two families, and it is also possible to uncover a good deal of information about the martial careers of the witnesses (though this information is necessarily less complete, since there was no cause for them to mention campaigns in which they had served but in which no Scrope or Grosvenor took part). Michael Bennett has recently used the evidence of the Grosvenor witnesses to illustrate most effectively the decidedly military character of the gentry of Cheshire and Lancashire (the counties from which most of his witnesses came)5. Cheshire men had a martial tradition that looked back to the Welsh border wars: the fact that Chester was the Black Prince’s palatine county made sure that the tradition was maintained through his time in the wars with France. Chaucerian scholars have long been aware of how useful the evidence of the Scrope witnesses can be for putting into context the crusading martial experience that Chaucer attributes to his Knight in the Canterbury Tales, because the Scropes, as it happens, were a family with an impressive record of crusading service in Prussia and the Eastern Mediterranean6. Barnie, Bennett and others including myself have used the testimony more generally to illustrate various aspects of English social history during the period of the Hundred Years War7. Attention has however largely concentrated on the evidence from the case of Scrope v. Grosvenor only, largely no doubt because the proceedings in the other two armorial cases that I have mentioned have never been fully published. What they have to tell us about English martial experience in the late middle ages has in consequence not been much explored.

  • 8 C. G. Young, Reginald Lord Grey and Sir Edward Hastings, London, 1841, pp. 27-28.
  • 9 Ibid., pp. 32-34.

3The case of Lovell v. Morley came up very soon after that of Scrope v. Grosvenor, and the campaigns and incidents about which the witnesses in these two cases testified were very much the same ones, with a distinct concentration on the great years for the English, before the re-opening of the war in 1369. It is my impression – and I stress that it is very much only an impression – that there is nothing about the Lovell v. Morley evidence that alters in any significant way the impressions that can be derived from Scrope and Grosvenor, though of course it offers all sorts of small and interesting additions of detail. That is the reason why I wish to concentrate in this paper on the case of Grey v. Hastings which does offer some interesting contrasts with Scrope v. Grosvenor. This is because the case came on a whole twenty years after Scrope v. Grosvenor had been concluded, and called on witnesses who had different memories and experiences. Most of the evidence to which I shall be referring was taken down in 1408 and 1409: final judgement in the case was given in Grey’s favour on 9 May 14108. Hastings appealed from that judgement, but his appeal was never heard9. If it had been, we might know more about English views on the law of arms and about English heraldic usages in the early fifteenth century, but it would not be likely, as far as I can see, that anything would have been said that would affect the view of English martial experience offered by the testimony that had already been recorded before 1410.

***

  • 10 T. Walsingham, Historia Anglicana, RS, London, 1864, t. II, p. 195.
  • 11 PCM, t. I, p. 273.

4I must make it clear straight away that Grey v. Hastings is not by any means as good a source for illustrating martial careers and experience as Scrope v. Grosvenor is. This is because the circumstances out of which the two disputes arose were quite different. In the earlier case Richard Scrope and Robert Grosvenor both claimed that the arms azur a bend or had always been their family arms. In the later case, no one denied that the arms in dispute, or a manche gules, had been the arms of the Earls of Pembroke of the house of Hastings; the question was over who had the right to inherit them after the last Earl was killed in 1389 in a tourneying accident at Woodstock, under age, and though already twice married without heirs of his body10. On the Scottish expedition of Henry IV in 1400 both Reginald Lord Grey of Ruthin and Sir Edward Hastings appeared armed in these arms. Grey immediately challenged Hastings’right to bear them, and took his case to the Court of Chivalry11.

  • 12 In 1401 Grey petitioned Parliament for the appointment of a proctor for Hastings, whose inability (...)
  • 13 This is the clear implication of Adam of Usk’s remark, that if Grey had lost he would have been "u (...)
  • 14 Statute 13 Richard II, cap. 2.
  • 15 C. G. Young, op. cit., pp. 19, 24-25.

5Hastings in 1400 was under age – about nineteen – and in consequence it took a long time, nearly seven years in fact, before the case came to be heard12. When, it did, the central civil question before the court was formally this; which of the two, Reginald Grey or Edward Hastings, was the true armorial heir of the last Earl of Pembroke? It is clear though that there were larger issues in the background, and if Hastings had won there is little doubt, I think, that he would have hoped to open a case against Grey concerning the lands of the Hastings inheritance13, a matter of common law and outside the jurisdiction of the Court of Chivalry. Formally, that Court was restricted to considering "contracts touching deeds of arms and war out of the realm, and also things that touch arms and war within the realm which cannot be determined nor discussed by the common law."14 The Hastings inheritance was clearly what was in Edward’s mind when, before the military court, he charged Grey with having destroyed or suppressed muniments relating to his title, and. throwing down his gauntlet, offered to prove it on his body in the lists15. This brought a second, criminal issue before the Court; ultimately it ruled that battle did not lie in the matter.

  • 16 The genealogical history reviewed below is discussed in detail by R. I. Jack. «‘Entail and descent (...)

6I must explain, as briefly as I can (since others have explained it at length) why there was a problem over the Hastings arms and inheritance. The difficulty arose thus16. Back in the reign of Edward I John Lord Hastings, son of Henry Lord Hastings and sometime competitor for the throne of Scotland, had married Isabella, one of the sisters of Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, who died childless in 1324. As a result of that match John Hastings’s grandson, Laurence, became in 1339 the first Hastings Earl of Pembroke, and quartered the arms of Valence with those of Hastings. Laurence’s father John, son of John and Isabella de Valence, had never been called Earl of Pembroke, probably because he died only a year after Earl Aymer, in 1325. Laurence was the grandfather of the young Earl who died in 1389. John I and Isabella had another child besides this John II, a daughter called Elizabeth, who married Roger a Lord Grey of Ruthin, grandfather of the plaintiff in the Court of Chivalry in Henry IV’s reign. As the Earl who died in 1389 was the only child of an only child, it seems clear therefore that Grey of Ruthin was, as he claimed to be, the heir of the whole blood of Hastings and Valence. That was the basis of the judgement in his favour that was ultimately given in the Court of Chivalry.

7However, John I Hastings had been married a second time, after the death of Isabella de Valence, to Isabella Despenser, by whom he had two sons, Thomas and Hugh, and this complicated matters. Thomas died heirless; Hugh became the founder of a cadet line, Hastings of Elsing in Norfolk. He died in 1347, his son Hugh II in 1369, and his grandson Hugh III in 1386/7. Hugh III left two sons, Hugh IV who was under age when he died at Calais in 1396, and Edward, the defendant against Grey in the Court of Chivalry. Though young Edward had no Valence blood in him, there does not seem much question that in Henry IV’s reign he was the closest in the male line of descent from John I Lord Hastings, whose paternal arms had been or a manche gules. So Edward’s appearance in these arms in 1400 was a good deal more than just a try out from an impertinent youth of the half blood.

  • 17 G. E.Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, London, 1910-1959, t. VI, pp. 155-156, 357.
  • 18 See below, Appendix and C. G. Young, op. cit., p. 21; PCM, t. I, pp. 412, 437, 465. In the variant (...)
  • 19 PCM, t. I, p. 444.
  • 20 C. G. Young, op. cit., p. 24.

8These were the facts out of which the dispute arose, and they were not on the face of it such as to elicit testimony about military experience in the way that the Scrope and Grosvenor controversy did. Grey took his stand on his pedigree, on the undoubted fact that he had received livery of the lands of the Hastings inheritance, and on the fact that he had been ‘generally reputed’ to be the heir and returned as such in the inquisitions post mortem after the death of the Earl of Pembroke (though not in all of them: in Norfolk and Suffolk the jurors had returned Hugh Hastings IV of Elsing as the heir17). His witnesses did not in consequence need to say much about their military experience, though one or two of them did in reply to questioning specify occasions on which, after 1389, they had seen Grey publicly armed in the arms or a manche gules. Hastings in reply to Grey’s contentions sought first to query the pedigree that his opponent had offered, proffering a second, alternative (and as far as I can see incorrect) version of his descent18; and secondly, he sought to query the circumstances in which Grey had obtained livery of the lands. The unfortunate fact was that in 1389 both Edward and his brother Hugh had been under age and so incapable of themselves pursuing their claim, and as Sir Simon Felbrigge put it, it was to be doubted if Lord Grey would had obtained livery so easily if they had not been minors19. Hastings further believed, as I have mentioned, that there had been skulduggery on Grey’s part, and that he had suppressed muniments including entails which have confined the arms (and presumably the Hastings lands too) to the male line20. None of these contentions required asking witnesses to say anything about what they had or had not seen on campaigns. Edward Hastings had however one further argument, and it was one that meant that his witnesses did in fact say quite a lot that has a bearing on military experience.

  • 21 Walsingham remarks that from the time of Aymer de Valence to the time of the last Hastings earl, (...)
  • 22 PCM, t. II, p. 37; C. G. Young, op. cit., pp. 25, 26.

9Once again there is a need for a little explanation. John I Lord Hastings, the common ancestor of both Lord Grey of Ruthin and Edward Hastings, died in 1313 and was succeeded by his son John II. When John II died in 1325, his son Laurence, the first Hastings Earl of Pembroke, was very young, probably six years old: Laurence did not engender an heir, another John, until just over a year before he died. This John III was the Earl who was captured in 1372 by the Spaniards in a sea battle off La Rochelle: he never came back to England (he died on his way home, on parole to set about raising a ransom). So he never saw the son whom his wife, Anne Manny, bore after he had left the country on his last expedition. That son was the Earl who was killed in a tourneying accident in 138921. There were thus a series of very long periods in the fourteenth century when there was no heir of Hastings in the head line. The contention of Edward Hastings was that during these periods his father, grandfather and great grandfather had borne publicly on formal military occasions and in battle the arms of Hastings, with a label of three points argent, and that that, according to the custom of England, was the difference in arms traditionally awarded to the next heir of the line (the fact that it was the difference that the Black Prince had borne in the arms of England lying strongly in his favour22). He contended further that his ancestors had borne these arms, without challenge or reproof, in the company and presence of the Earls of Pembroke, and of the ancestors of Lord Grey, and that this must imply that these people had recognised his forebears as the next heirs of Hastings should an Earl of Pembroke die without heirs of his body. To prove all this he called a large number of witnesses who could testify that they had seen direct ancestors of his armed on campaign in the arms or a manche gules with a label.

  • 23 PCM, t. I, p. 322.

10There is really very little doubt that Edward Hastings was right in his facts here. The arms or a manche gules with a label appear clearly on the famous brass in Elsing church of Hugh Hastings I of Elsing. Even Sir William Hoo, called on behalf of Grey in the Court of Chivalry and at seventy four one of the most senior and militarily experienced of his witnesses, could not deny him; he had seen the father and the grandfather of the defendant thus armed on diverse occasions, he admitted, and he could only explain the fact that there had been no challenge as being the consequence of folie ou négligence23. The evidence of Hastings’ own witnesses was thoroughly consistent on the point, as one might expect. Few, naturally, could remember Hugh I of Elsing; but since both Hugh II and Hugh III were strenuous knights, members of the Lancastrian military retinue who had both seen extensive service, their evidence is of considerable interest for anyone seeking information about the military experience of English gentlemen in the later part of the fourteenth century.

***

  • 24 R. I. Jack, art. cit., pp. 6-9.
  • 25 Ibid., p. 8.
  • 26 Ibid., pp. 9-12; Adam of Usk tells us that "William Beauchamp, Lord of Bergavenny, for that he… ha (...)

11I think it will be best for me to start by considering the evidence offered by Grey’s witnesses: it is less full and interesting concerning military service and experience than the Hastings testimony and had better be got out of the way. A good deal of what they had to say concerned a wholly domestic incident of 1370, fully explored by Professor Jack in an article in the BIHR for 1965, when Grey’s father, hearing a rumour that the Earl of Pembroke had died on campaign in Guienne, promptly went hunting in the Earl’s chase at Yardley, telling the foresters that he was the heir24. This led to a furious row with Pembroke, who felt Grey had shown unseemly haste and still less seemly relish at the news of a kinsman’s death. So angry was he that he set about making arrangements to ensure that if he died heirless, his lands should not go to Grey; but the relative in whose favour he had it in mind to instruct his feoffees was not Hugh of Elsing, but his cousin Sir William Beauchamp25. When the last Earl did die Grey’s son, our plaintiff who had by then succeeded his father, was obviously worried about this, and made terms with Sir William which assured him a very handsome share in the Hastings inheritance26. This story does not really concern us, but it does give an indication of the circumstances in which Edward Hastings believed that muniments might have gone missing, and whom he suspected of colluding with Grey in their suppression. To Grey this tale was obviously important, because it seemed to show that Pembroke really had thought his father was his next heir; otherwise why should he have contemplated steps to disinherit him?

  • 27 PCM, t. I, pp. 267, 271.
  • 28 Ibid., t. I, p. 281.
  • 29 Ibid., t. I, p. 273.
  • 30 Ibid., t. I, p. 264.
  • 31 Ibid., t. I, p. 283.

12Most of Grey’s thirty eight witnesses in fact said nothing about military service, but a small handful of them did. John Brenker and Thomas Stotfield, esquires of Bedfordshire had both seen Grey armed in the Hastings arms (quartered with his own, says Brenker) in Richard II’s host in Ireland27. Grey served in both Richard’s Irish expeditions: Henry Howard, another Bedfordshire esquire, specified that he had seen him bearing the arms in the first expedition, in 139428. Thomas Lounde of Bedfordshire had seen Grey armed in the arms of Hastings on the Scottish expedition of 1400 and had witnessed his challenge to Edward Hastings when he appeared in the same arms29. Reginald Ragoun had seen Grey armed in the Hastings arms then and in Henry IV’s company in Wales, riding against the rebels30. John Becke esquire has also seen him so armed in the war against Glendower, "two or three years ago"31. This short list specifies just those campaigns which one would have expected to be mentioned, in the light of the known facts about Grey’s career.

  • 32 Scrope & Grosvenor, t. I, pp. 124, 127, 165.

13There are two points I wish to make regarding the testimony for Grey, one arising out of this evidence that I have just quoted from witnesses who made it clear that they had martial experience, the other from the evidence of others who, for the most part, seem not to have had any. The first is this, that if one compares the campaigns mentioned by Grey’s witnesses with those mentioned in the Scrope v. Grosvenor controversy, they really are rather small beer. That no doubt is why the Grey testimony lacks that chivalrous tone that colours so much of the evidence in the earlier case. There is no such matter as the testimony of Nicholas Sabraham about how he saw Sir Henry Le Scrope armed in the company of the Earl of Northampton when he rode by torchlight from Lochmaben as far as Peebles; or John Rither’s story of how young Geoffrey Le Scrope fell fighting against the pagans in Lithuania; or William Moigne’s story of how in 1347 William Le Scrope’s daring in the interception of a French attempt to revictual Calais was the talk of the whole army32. Comparatively, the statements are flat and factual, the memories untinged with glamorous detail.

  • 33 PCM, t. I, p. 198 (John Lee); 229 (John Boteler); 242 (William Parker); 271 (Roger Tunstall); 273 (...)
  • 34 Ibid., t. I, p. 198.
  • 35 Ibid., t. I, pp. 176 (John Henry); 243 (John Styvede); 284 (Robert Baa); 290 (John Enderby).
  • 36 Ibid., t. I, p. 284.
  • 37 Scrope & Grosvenor, t. I, pp. 98, 103.

14My second point arises out of the rather meticulous details which Grey’s witnesses offered about themselves: it may seem unrelated but I think it is not entirely so. They all gave their age, their standing or occupation (esquire, parson, husbandman and so on) and stated whether or not they were literate, whether they were gentlemen of ancestry, and whether they had arms. A little group of them claimed explicitly to be gentlemen of ancestry, but not to have arms33. Only one of these claimed to have ever served in war, and the others do not seem to have felt they had missed anything. John Lee, esquire of Buckinghamshire, was indeed quite explicit that he had never served in war but lived off his lands which were worth £50 a year to him34. Another little group singled themselves out as apprentices-at-law35; all these claimed to be gentlemen both of ancestry and of coat armour, but their careers were notably unmilitary. As Robert Baa put it, he was one who had never been involved in viages36. There is a distinct contrast here with the Scrope and Grosvenor record, where a whole series of witnesses testified as to how they had seen those two great lawyers, the brothers Geoffrey and Henry le Scrope, armed in the arms of their family at war and especially at jousts and tournaments37. There is actually only one single reference that I have found to jousts anywhere in the Grey v. Hastings case, and that is in the Hastings testimony. Altogether it is once again a somewhat less chivalric note that is struck by the evidence of the gentlemen of ancestry testifying in this later case, on the Grey side at any rate, than by the witnesses who appeared in that other great armorial suit of a generation earlier. Some of them made it pretty clear that the traditional association between gentility of birth and the martial calling did not mean very much to them.

***

15Hastings’s witnesses, as I said earlier, tell us a great deal more than Grey’s do about military experience; because a principal point on which evidence was sought on Sir Edward’s side required that they should testify about what they had seen at the wars. There were also a great many more of them, altogether not far short of a hundred. I shall be concentrating on the testimony of just forty two, all of whom made it clear that they were present on particular, identifiable campaigns. I have probably missed a few more who say somewhere in their often lengthy depositions that they had seen service, but I think I have got most of the ex-soldiers. The other Hastings witnesses had many interesting things to say, about church furniture with the Hastings arms, about lost pedigrees, vanished muniments, and exchanges that they had heard about who the next heir of the last Earl of Pembroke was. But I must leave all that on one side on this occasion as irrelevant.

  • 38 The twenty four older men were J. Bere (PCM, t. I, p. 426); N. Braynton (p. 529); S. de Burgh (p. (...)
  • 39 R. Fyshlake, Sir T. Gerbergh, D. Hemnale, Sir T. Erpingham, R. Lymworth, Lord Morley, W. Plumstead (...)
  • 40 Sir W. Berdwell (4); T. Clifford (3); Sir R. Berney, Sir R. Morley, Sir J. Gyney, J. Reymes (2).
  • 41 Sir L. Kerdiston: but see below n. 41.

16My forty two witnesses can be divided into two groups by age, sixteen who by their own reckoning were under forty five when they gave their evidence, and twenty four who were older (those, that is to say, who were born in or before 1364; two failed to give their age)38. Of course a number of them probably misremembered their ages, so the division may not be precise, but the contrasts between the two groups are sufficient to suggest that it is not very misleading. Among the older men, there were ten who were able to specify three or more military expeditions on which they had seen either Hugh I or Hugh II or Hugh III of Elsing armed in the arms of Hastings with or without a label of three points39. In the younger group there were two, Sir William Berdwell and Thomas Clifford esquire of Kent, who testified to service on three or more expeditions: four of the others mentioned two expeditions in which they had served, the rest only one. These figures are of course no reliable guide to the total military experience of these witnesses: they were only asked to testify about occasions when they had seen a Hastings of the Elsing line in the arms or a manche gules,40 differenced or entire. Edward Hastings had however clearly chosen his witnesses carefully, with a view to eliciting the maximum of evidence about the arms borne by three of his ancestors who had between them seen a great deal of service, so the tally remains at least indicative. It may seem the more significant if I add that in the younger group only one witness claimed to be under thirty five41. They were not, as Edward Hastings himself was, men who could show little service because they were not yet old enough to have acquired more than one campaign ribbon. The fact seems to have been more simple, that it was hard in 1408/9 to find men under forty five whose military experience was at all extensive.

  • 42 Sir W. Berdwell, T. Clifford, T. Hengrave, Sir R. Morley.
  • 43 PCM, t. I, p. 456; his age is clearly entered as XXIX, and he alludes to his youth; but I think it (...)
  • 44 The exception was H. Claxton, who mentions no service before the Scottish expedition of 1400, when (...)
  • 45 A systematic count would be possible: I base my statement on a sample of just short of 60 names in(...)

17One further point that seems worth mentioning about the younger group is how early in their lives they first saw arms. Four out of the sixteen had been on expeditions by the time they were twelve42. A fifth, Sir Leonard Kerdiston, if he was right in giving his age as twenty nine (which I doubt) could not have been much more than seven when he saw Hugh Hastings III in Richard II’s host in Scotland in 138543. He clearly was very junior, for he said himself that he was too young then to recall whether Hugh’s arms were differenced with a label or not. All but one of the younger men had demonstrably seen service by the time they were sixteen or thereabout44. It is not really feasible to make a comparison here with the older group, since many of them had probably seen service before the first occasion on which they remembered seeing a Hastings in the relevant arms. It is however possible to make a comparison with Scrope v. Grosvenor, since the witnesses in that case not only gave their ages but also stated how long they had been armed – or specified the first battle or campaign in which they had been in arms. From that evidence it is clear that fourteen or fifteen was a very common age for first arming, and that it was not exceptional to be armed even younger: but it also makes clear that there were a good many who did not see service until their twenties45. The implication of the consistently early date for arming among Hastings’s younger witnesses therefore seems plain: it suggests that in 1408/9 it was not easy to find gentlemen under forty five or so who could testify to military experience, unless they had been armed at a relatively early age.

  • 46 PCM, t. I, p. 529.
  • 47 Ibid., t. I, p. 429.
  • 48 Ibid., t. I, p. 533.
  • 49 Ibid., t. pp. 402-403, 440, 446.
  • 50 eg. PCM, pp. 418, 475, 509; and see C. G. Young, op. cit., p. xv.

18Not surprisingly, there is a distinctly stronger chivalric flavour to the testimony of the Hastings’ witnesses than there is in that of Grey’s. Nicholas Braynton recalled vividly how, on the chevauchée of 1373, he had seen Edward’s father, Hugh Hastings III who was then a very young man, kneeling to receive his knighthood at the hands of John of Gaunt, with an escutcheon before him of the arms of Hastings with a label, quartered with those of Folliot46. Robert Fyshlake, who accompanied Hugh III on a journey to the Eastern Mediterranean, to Jerusalem and elsewhere, remembered how in all the important places where he stayed (including the Hospitallers’ Maison d’Honneur at Rhodes), Hugh left an escutcheon of his arms47. John Parker recounted how he had always heard that Hugh II, Edward’s grandfather, had first raised his banner in an engagement "against the Saracens"48. Those who had been in Hugh Ill’s company on Gaunt’s Castilian expedition of 1386 (in which he perished) were full of memories of his distinguished conduct in the skirmishing at Brest on the way to Spain49. The chivalrous tone comes out most strongly of all, perhaps, in the story told by a number of witnesses about how both the Duchess of Norfolk and her daughter, Anne Manny Countess of Pembroke, had begged Hugh III to bear the Hastings arms entire on that expedition "so as to do honour to the said arms" while the Earl was too young to serve in war50. It was generally agreed that Hugh has so borne them, and had done them honour.

19Even so, the Hastings testimony has not quite the full flavour that makes the evidence of the Scrope and Grosvenor witnesses such a marvellous companion piece from judicial records to set alongside the stories of Froissart, if one wishes to illustrate the chivalrous mentality of the fourteenth century. It seems to me probable that this has something to do with the campaigns on which Hastings’witnesses served, and that it may have a further significance, on which I will speculate in conclusion.

  • 51 PCM, t. I, p. 544.
  • 52 Ibid., t. I, p. 467.
  • 53 J. Bere (Rennes); W. Parker (1359); Sir T. Gerbergh (Najera).
  • 54 Sir T. Gerbergh; W. Plumstead.
  • 55 Lord Morley; Sir J. Wiltshire.
  • 56 N. Braynton; R. Lymworth; R. Poley.
  • 57 Sir W. Berdwell; R. Fyshlake; D. Hemnale; T. Hengrave; Lord Morley; W. Plumstead; Sir R. Shilton; (...)
  • 58 Sir W. Berdwell; R. Fyshlake; T. Pikworth; W. Plumstead.
  • 59 PCM, I, p. 404.
  • 60 S. de Burgh; T. Clifford; R. Fyshlake; Sir T. Gerbergh; D. Hemnale; R. Lymworth; Lord Morley; T. P (...)
  • 61 Sir R. Berney, Sir T. Erpingham, Sir J. Gyney, Sir R. Morley, R. Poley, J. Reymes, Sir R. Shilton, (...)

20The campaigns which Hastings’ witnesses could recall straddle a very long period. The longest martial memory was that of Sir William Hoo of Sussex, who could remember seeing Hugh Hastings I, Edward Hastings’great grandfather, armed in the arms of Hastings with a label, quartered with those of Folliot, on the "first expedition of the Prince Edward in Picardy", that is to say in the Black Prince’s company in 1346/751. Hoo gave his age as seventy two, which would make him ten or eleven at the time. The latest evidence given by any of Hastings’witnesses was that of Henry Claxton, who saw Sir Edward in the Hastings arms in Henry IV’s Scottish host of 140052. Inside this bracket of time, there was one witness whose memory went back to the siege of Rennes, one who could recall the 1359 chevauchée of Edward III, and one who was at Najera53: but the main weight of testimony referred to the campaigns of the 1370s and 80s. Two witnesses had been in Guienne in 137054: two had been with the Earl of Pembroke in 1372, when he was taken prisoner in the sea fight off La Rochelle55; three had been on John of Gaunt’s chevauchée of 137356, and eight had been with Gaunt on the expedition to St Malo in 137857. Four witnesses had served in the fleet commanded by Sir John Arundel that was dispersed by a storm in 1379, with the loss of many ships58: Thomas Pikworth remembered how Hugh III, after he had got safely to land, had hung a banner of his arms in the church at Falmouth in thanksgiving for deliverance from the sea59. Twelve witnesses had served on Buckingham’s expedition of 138060, and eighteen in each case on Richard II’s Scottish expedition of 1385 and on the Castilian expedition of 138661.

21All these campaigns and expeditions of the 1370s and 80s were in their own way important, and they clearly left their individual mark in knightly memory, but none of them could be called glorious. There were noble feats of arms achieved by individuals in their course, and Hugh Hastings III clearly made his mark in them as a chivalrous man: but they had not, from an English point of view, the kind of resonance in recall that the great campaigns of the 1340s and 50s had had. In consequence it was not possible to talk of them in quite the same way, with quite the same confident tone of knightly nostalgia that the Scrope and Grosvenor witnesses could adopt when they thought back to martial companionships in the great days of Edward III. The quality of English military experience in the two periods was, clearly, rather different. What I want to muse on in conclusion is what the effects of that difference of quality may have been.

***

22The value of the evidence I have been examining seems to me lie in its suggestiveness; it is not of the kind from which anything very significant can be proved to the hilt. My conclusion in consequence has to take the form of a question, to which the answer cannot be definitive.

  • 62 Ph. de Mézières, Le Songe du Vieil Pèlerin, ed. G. W. Coopland, Cambridge, 1969, t. I, pp.396-397.

23In 1389 Philippe de Mézières in his Songe du Vieil Pèlerin addressed the English thus: "Listen, you who have sown such terrible shedding of man’s blood! By your evil war… the whole of Christendom has for fifty years been turned upside down… and what is worse, what you have been empowered by God’s permission to achieve for the chastisement of the sins of the Scots and French, you and your fathers have attributed solely to your own valour and chivalry, drunk as you are with pride and stirred up by stories of Lancelot and Gawain and their wordly valour."62 These are passionate and loaded words; nevertheless it is hard not to feel that, as applied to Englishmen of the 1380s and their fathers, they had a certain justification. Whence my question: would it be fair to suggest that, on the whole, English gentlemen of the next generation were just a little less crudely confident in chivalric values, less bellicose, less drunk with stories of worldly valour?

  • 63 W. Worcester, The Boke of Noblesse, ed. J. G. Nichols, Roxburghe Club, London, 1860, pp. 77-78.
  • 64 Ante, n. 32.

24In the evidence that we have heard there are some pointers in that direction. Among Grey’s witnesses the little group of barristers who claimed proudly to be gentlemen of ancestry and coat armour but who were not martial men are from this point of view interesting. The relevance to gentlemen of a legal training and the significance of the legal profession as a path for the upwardly mobile in the landowning sector of society are already striking in fourteenth century England: in the fifteenth century they become still more so. In 1450 William Worcester in a famous statement lamented that among Englishmen of gentle blood those who knew how to hold courts had come to be more respected "as the world goes now" than those who had spent "thirty or forty years in great jeopardy" in the king’s wars63. And it is not only the lawyers among Grey’s genteel witnesses who seem somewhat unmartial. Of course there had always been gentlemen like that other witness of his, John Lee esquire, who had lived off their lands and did not meddle with viages64; it is interesting, though, to hear one identifying himself so explicitly in the Court of Chivalry.

25The shape of the more extensive military experience of the Hastings witnesses also seems to me significant. In the testimony in all the surviving armorial disputes tried in the Constable’s Court there are a great many references to what witnesses had heard as common report among "old knights and esquires." The stories that Hastings’s elderly witnesses and their one time companions-in-arms could tell of the martial doings of their youth were not such as to inflame the ardour of younger men in quite the way that the stories told by the Scrope and Grosvenor witnesses would have done. Those who demonstrably had really extensive service records were all older men, and the campaigns that even they could recall lacked glamour from an English point of view. The campaigns that Hastings’younger witnesses could remember best were Richard II’s Scottish expedition of 1385 and Gaunt’s expedition to Castile, neither of them militarily very successful, and both of which, in 1408/9, were a long time ago. Few seem to have seen subsequent military service and a great many of their neighbours and contemporaries would probably not have seen any, because the opportunities had been too few. It seems hard to believe that the children of these men would not have grown up a little less excited about the prospects of winning their spurs abroad than their grandparents would have been.

  • 65 M. Powicke, «Lancastrian Captains», in Essays in Medieval History, presented to Bertie Wilkinson, (...)

26English local landed society was dominated by the kind of men and the kind of families whose members represented their shires in Parliaments, served regularly on local commissions, and acted as sheriffs and as justices of the peace. In the fourteenth century men of this stamp were prominent at the wars as well as at home, and most had some military experience at least. As Professor Michael Powicke has pointed out, after 1420 their absence among the English war captains of the fifteenth century is striking65. Even the new flurry of military enthusiasm that Agincourt aroused seems to have run out of steam rather quickly. That seems to have had quite a lot to do with the English failure to capitalise effectively on Henry V’s great successes in the only period when it might have been possible to do so, in the years immediately following the treaty of Troyes. There was still, in those years and subsequently, a steady trickle of well born adventurers crossing the sea from England to France, hoping to make a name and a fortune; but it was becoming a trickle rather than a stream. Feats of arms still commanded wide respect, and there were still plenty of chivalrous minded spirits – Edward Hastings, of a family of distinguished and strenuous knights, was clearly one such. But there do not seem to have been quite so many coming forward quite so eagerly as of yore, especially after the post-Agincourt euphoria had begun to wear off. There was a change of mood, by the beginning of the 1440s at latest a clearly discernible one, and one that by then was clearly important.

27So the question arises. Does this have anything to do with the kind of military experience – and the kind of lack of it – that the generation of Englishmen who testified in the Grey v. Hastings case and their contemporaries, men who had grown up in the 1380s and 90s, had enjoyed? Is there room to suggest that the seeds of that cooling of bellicose ardour, among gentlemen, that had become noticeable by the 1440s, had been sown a generation earlier? The Grey v. Hastings testimony certainly opens the door to speculation on the point, but it would clearly be very unwise to jump to a conclusion on the basis of evidence that is, in its nature, slender and very eclectic. The testimony that I have been going over may perhaps be sufficient to allow the question to be raised: it is certainly not sufficient to warrant offering an answer one way or the other. There is enough though to suggest that we need to allow for very considerable variations and also for considerable fluctuations in the attitudes of the gentlemen and aristocrats of England towards the war with France. In considering those fluctuations, and variations, it further suggests, we need to take into account the impact of experience not just on those at the political helm, but also on the landowning, political class more generally. It is easy to be tempted to treat their attitude as relatively unitary and consistent, both in class terms and over time: the Grey v. Hastings evidence helps to remind us of how unwise it is to yield to that temptation.

Annexes

APPENDIX

PEDIGREE OF HASTINGS AND VALENCE

PEDIGREE OF HASTINGS AND VALENCE

* A claim to a moiety of the Valence (but not the Hastings) lands, put forward on behalf of the descendants of Joan after the death of the last Hastings Earl of Pembroke, failed by default in Chancery in 1391, and finally in 1397, see Jack, BIHR.
** The position of this John Hastings, of whom little is known is problematic. G.E.C. lists him as the elder brother of Hugh I of Elsing (VI. pp. 366-367). In 1351, however, it was found that Margaret Foliot’s lands should pass to her sons John and Hugh, with remainder to the heirs of Hugh’s body. In the Norfolk and Suffolk inquisitions post mortem after 1389 Hugh IV of Elsing was returned as the heir of the Earl of Pembroke, not John, though he was living. The line of Hugh II seems therefore to have been treated as the elder one.

ELSING VARIANT OF THE HASTINGS PEDIGREE

ELSING VARIANT OF THE HASTINGS PEDIGREE

Edward Hastings was succeeded by his son by his first wife. John Hastings, who was thus, according to later doctrine, de jure Lord Hastings. but was never summoned to Parliament as such.
In 1841, by the judgement of the House of Lords, the barony of Hastings was called out of abeyance in favour of Sir Jacob Astley, Bart., who claimed in right of his descent from Elizabeth wife of Hamon Lestrange and daughter and co-heiress of Sir Hugh Hastings of Elsing (d. 1540), after the death in 1542 without issue of her brother John.

Notes

1 On this court see G.D. Squibb, The High Court of Chivalry, Oxford, 1959; and Μ. H. Keen, «The Jurisdiction and Origins of the Constable’s Court», in War and Government in the Middle Ages: Essays in honour of JO Prestwhich, ed. J. Gillingham and J.C. Holt, Woodbridge, 1984, pp. 159-169.

2 See eg: CPR 1374-1377, p. 54; 1381-1385, pp. 354, 596; 1385-1388, pp. 84, 85, 104, 169; 1388-1392, pp. 45, 47, 324, 412; 1408-1413, p. 391.

3 Scrope v. Grosvenor was published by Sir N. H. Nicolas, The Controversy between Sir Richard Scrope and Sir Grosvenor in the Court of Chivalry, 2 vol., London, 1832 (cited henceforward as Scrope and Grosvenor): Lovell v. Morley is PRO, C 47/6 No. 1.

4 The MSS are (i) College of Arms, PCM (2 vol.); (ii) College of Arms, Philipot MS. P.e.1; (iii) BL, Harleian MS 1178: the two latter MSS contain only extracts. Those in College of Arms MS. P.e.1 are said to derive from an ‘antique register’ in the possession of Henry Earl of Kent, 1541-1615 (a descendant of the Greys of Ruthin). This could be the text from which the full transcript in (i) above was made.

5 M. J. Bennett, Community, Class and Careerism, Cambridge, 1983, pp. 82-83, 166.

6 J. M. Manly (ed). The Canterbury Tales, London, n.d., p. 555: and see the references cited in The Riverside Chaucer, ed. L. D. Benson, 3rd ed., New York, 1987.

7 M. J. Bennett, op. cit., as above: Μ. H. Keen, «Chivalrous Culture in fourteenth Century England», Historical Studies (1976), pp. 1-24.

8 C. G. Young, Reginald Lord Grey and Sir Edward Hastings, London, 1841, pp. 27-28.

9 Ibid., pp. 32-34.

10 T. Walsingham, Historia Anglicana, RS, London, 1864, t. II, p. 195.

11 PCM, t. I, p. 273.

12 In 1401 Grey petitioned Parliament for the appointment of a proctor for Hastings, whose inability as a minor to plead was holding up proceedings, RP, t. III, pp. 480-481. It seems that a proctor must have been appointed, since the case was commenced, according to Adam of Usk who appeared for Grey in the Court of Chivalry on 30th June, 1401: see Chronicon Adae de Usk, ed. E. Maunde Thompson, London, 1904, pp. 58, 63-64. After this the case seems to have lapsed until 1407.

13 This is the clear implication of Adam of Usk’s remark, that if Grey had lost he would have been "utterly undone", Chronicon Adae de Usk, p. 58.

14 Statute 13 Richard II, cap. 2.

15 C. G. Young, op. cit., pp. 19, 24-25.

16 The genealogical history reviewed below is discussed in detail by R. I. Jack. «‘Entail and descent’: the Hastings inheritance, 1370 to 1436», BIHR, t. XXXVIII (1965), pp. 1-19.

17 G. E.Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, London, 1910-1959, t. VI, pp. 155-156, 357.

18 See below, Appendix and C. G. Young, op. cit., p. 21; PCM, t. I, pp. 412, 437, 465. In the variant Elsing pedigree Isabella Dispenser is shown not as the second wife of John I Hastings (as in the Grey pedigree), but as the wife of a John Hastings his son, to whom she bore two sons, John father of Laurence Earl of Pembroke and Hugh I of Elsing. The variant thus makes Hugh a son of the whole blood, and introduce a third John Hastings where Grey has only two.

19 PCM, t. I, p. 444.

20 C. G. Young, op. cit., p. 24.

21 Walsingham remarks that from the time of Aymer de Valence to the time of the last Hastings earl, there was no Earl of Pembroke who had ever seen his father (Historia Anglicana, t. II, p. 195).

22 PCM, t. II, p. 37; C. G. Young, op. cit., pp. 25, 26.

23 PCM, t. I, p. 322.

24 R. I. Jack, art. cit., pp. 6-9.

25 Ibid., p. 8.

26 Ibid., pp. 9-12; Adam of Usk tells us that "William Beauchamp, Lord of Bergavenny, for that he… had a moiety of that lordship and of others which belonged to the said earl, for his own advantage worked manfully with the said Lord Grey", Chronicon Adae de Usk, pp. 58, 221.

27 PCM, t. I, pp. 267, 271.

28 Ibid., t. I, p. 281.

29 Ibid., t. I, p. 273.

30 Ibid., t. I, p. 264.

31 Ibid., t. I, p. 283.

32 Scrope & Grosvenor, t. I, pp. 124, 127, 165.

33 PCM, t. I, p. 198 (John Lee); 229 (John Boteler); 242 (William Parker); 271 (Roger Tunstall); 273 (Thomas Lounde).

34 Ibid., t. I, p. 198.

35 Ibid., t. I, pp. 176 (John Henry); 243 (John Styvede); 284 (Robert Baa); 290 (John Enderby).

36 Ibid., t. I, p. 284.

37 Scrope & Grosvenor, t. I, pp. 98, 103.

38 The twenty four older men were J. Bere (PCM, t. I, p. 426); N. Braynton (p. 529); S. de Burgh (p. 427); Sir W. Calsthorp (p. 457); R. Chyrche (p. 451); Sir T. Erpingham (p. 439); R. Fyshlake (p. 329); Sir T. Gerbergh (p. 496); D. Hemnale (p. 458); Sir W. Hoo (p. 544); J. Kirkstead (p. 519); T. Lucas (p. 445); R. Lymworth (p. 413); Lord Morley (p. 435); J. Parker (p. 533); J. Payn (p. 502); W. Plumstead (p. 478); R. Poley (p. 495); J. Roger (p. 397); Sir R. Shilton (p. 423); T. Spekkesworth (p. 395); T. Stanton (p. 486); Sir J. Wiltshire (p. 401); Sir J. de Wilton (p. 497). The sixteen younger men were E. Barry (p. 393); Sir W Berdwell (p. 390); Sir R. Berney (p. 474); J. Bryston (p. 464); H. Claxton (p. 467); T. Clifford (p. 500); Sir S. Felbrigge (p. 443); Sir J. Gyney (p. 425); T. Hengrave (p. 492); Sir L. Kerdiston (p. 456); R. Marian (p. 513); Sir R. Morley (p. 421); C. Mortimer (p. 509); J. Reymes (p. 444); Sir M. Stapleton, (p. 442); Sir W. Wisham (p. 399); for T. Pikworth (p. 404) and T. Swinburne (p. 405) no age is given.

39 R. Fyshlake, Sir T. Gerbergh, D. Hemnale, Sir T. Erpingham, R. Lymworth, Lord Morley, W. Plumstead, Sir R. Shilton, Sir J. Wiltshire, Sir J. de Wilton.

40 Sir W. Berdwell (4); T. Clifford (3); Sir R. Berney, Sir R. Morley, Sir J. Gyney, J. Reymes (2).

41 Sir L. Kerdiston: but see below n. 41.

42 Sir W. Berdwell, T. Clifford, T. Hengrave, Sir R. Morley.

43 PCM, t. I, p. 456; his age is clearly entered as XXIX, and he alludes to his youth; but I think it must be intended to be XXXIX, which would just make him old enough to have served on the post mortem inquest that found for Hugh IV Hastings, as he seems to imply he had done.

44 The exception was H. Claxton, who mentions no service before the Scottish expedition of 1400, when he was c. 35.

45 A systematic count would be possible: I base my statement on a sample of just short of 60 names in Scrope & Grosvenor, t. I, pp. 150-215: twenty of these seem to have been armed by the time they were sixteen (if they have stated their age correctly!).

46 PCM, t. I, p. 529.

47 Ibid., t. I, p. 429.

48 Ibid., t. I, p. 533.

49 Ibid., t. pp. 402-403, 440, 446.

50 eg. PCM, pp. 418, 475, 509; and see C. G. Young, op. cit., p. xv.

51 PCM, t. I, p. 544.

52 Ibid., t. I, p. 467.

53 J. Bere (Rennes); W. Parker (1359); Sir T. Gerbergh (Najera).

54 Sir T. Gerbergh; W. Plumstead.

55 Lord Morley; Sir J. Wiltshire.

56 N. Braynton; R. Lymworth; R. Poley.

57 Sir W. Berdwell; R. Fyshlake; D. Hemnale; T. Hengrave; Lord Morley; W. Plumstead; Sir R. Shilton; T. Swinburne.

58 Sir W. Berdwell; R. Fyshlake; T. Pikworth; W. Plumstead.

59 PCM, I, p. 404.

60 S. de Burgh; T. Clifford; R. Fyshlake; Sir T. Gerbergh; D. Hemnale; R. Lymworth; Lord Morley; T. Pikworth; W. Plumstead; T. Stanton; T. Swinburne; Sir J. de Wilton.

61 Sir R. Berney, Sir T. Erpingham, Sir J. Gyney, Sir R. Morley, R. Poley, J. Reymes, Sir R. Shilton, Sir J. Wiltshire deposed that they had served on both expeditions; J. Bryston, R. Chyrche, R. Fyshlake, Sir T. Gerbergh, D. Hemnale, Sir L. Kerdiston, J. Kirkstead, R. Lymworth, W. Parker and T. Swinburne claimed service in 1385; E. Barry, T. Clifford, Sir S. Felbrigge, T. Lucas, R. Marian, C. Mortimer, J. Payn, W. Plumstead, J. Roger, and Sir W. Wisham on the Castilian expedition.

62 Ph. de Mézières, Le Songe du Vieil Pèlerin, ed. G. W. Coopland, Cambridge, 1969, t. I, pp.396-397.

63 W. Worcester, The Boke of Noblesse, ed. J. G. Nichols, Roxburghe Club, London, 1860, pp. 77-78.

64 Ante, n. 32.

65 M. Powicke, «Lancastrian Captains», in Essays in Medieval History, presented to Bertie Wilkinson, ed. T. Sandquist and M. Powicke, Toronto, 1969, pp. 371-382.

Table des illustrations

Titre PEDIGREE OF HASTINGS AND VALENCE
Légende * A claim to a moiety of the Valence (but not the Hastings) lands, put forward on behalf of the descendants of Joan after the death of the last Hastings Earl of Pembroke, failed by default in Chancery in 1391, and finally in 1397, see Jack, BIHR.** The position of this John Hastings, of whom little is known is problematic. G.E.C. lists him as the elder brother of Hugh I of Elsing (VI. pp. 366-367). In 1351, however, it was found that Margaret Foliot’s lands should pass to her sons John and Hugh, with remainder to the heirs of Hugh’s body. In the Norfolk and Suffolk inquisitions post mortem after 1389 Hugh IV of Elsing was returned as the heir of the Earl of Pembroke, not John, though he was living. The line of Hugh II seems therefore to have been treated as the elder one.
URL http://books.openedition.org/irhis/docannexe/image/1138/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 134k
Titre ELSING VARIANT OF THE HASTINGS PEDIGREE
Légende Edward Hastings was succeeded by his son by his first wife. John Hastings, who was thus, according to later doctrine, de jure Lord Hastings. but was never summoned to Parliament as such.In 1841, by the judgement of the House of Lords, the barony of Hastings was called out of abeyance in favour of Sir Jacob Astley, Bart., who claimed in right of his descent from Elizabeth wife of Hamon Lestrange and daughter and co-heiress of Sir Hugh Hastings of Elsing (d. 1540), after the death in 1542 without issue of her brother John.
URL http://books.openedition.org/irhis/docannexe/image/1138/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 127k

Auteur

Balliol College, Oxford

© Publications de l’Institut de recherches historiques du Septentrion, 1991

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