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Routiers et mercenaires pendant la guerre de Cent ans

Foreign Soldiers in English Pay: Identity and Unity in the Armies of the English Crown, 1415-1450

Anne Curry

Texte intégral

  • 1 Newhall 1940, 115-20; Allmand 1983, 197-198; Curry 1992, 135-164.

1At least twenty-one different “nationalities” are evident in the muster rolls of Lancastrian Normandy. This is revealed through annotations next to the names of the individuals concerned. Almost all of these annotations are found in musters taken after orders issued in the summer of 1430. These restricted the recruitment of French and Normans because of fears of disloyalty in the wake of Charles VII’s military successes. These restrictions are well known through the work of Richard Newhall, Christopher Allmand and myself1. As Table 1 shows, some nationalities reflect areas under long-term English rule, such as Wales, Ireland and Gascony, commonly described as the “pays subgiez au royaume d’Angleterre”. Others reflect local recruitment within France, including Normandy, and other polities with which the English crown had alliances, such as the kingdom of Portugal. But there were also soldiers from areas with which there was no formal link with the English crown, such as the duchy of Savoy. These annotations do not, of course, reflect the whole picture nor do they give an accurate numerical guide to all of the “foreign” (meaning non-English) soldiers in English pay. The restrictions were inconsistently applied between 1430 and 1450. Many soldiers with foreign names have no annotation at all. Furthermore, the survival of muster rolls is not complete.

  • 2 Curry 1992, 135-164; Bell et al. 2013, esp. chapter 6.

2In 1992, I published in Reading Medieval Studies an interim study of the evidence of the annotations, based on a survey of the men-at-arms alone. Since then, thanks to a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, it has been possible to create a database of all soldiers known to be serving in the garrisons of Normandy and the pays de conquête, as well as on some expeditions outside these areas ( This has made it possible to include in Table 1 archers and other kinds of troops where there are annotations2. In addition, for the purposes of this article, I have carried out a preliminary study of all of the names in the muster rolls, not simply those with annotations. I must emphasise the word “preliminary”. To date we have collected 128,526 nominal records from 2,283 rolls between 1417 and 1450. Even though some men served repeatedly, this still gives a very large total of individuals to consider. It would only be through a comprehensive study of names, considering toponymics and first names as well as naming traditions, that we could come to full conclusions on the presence of non-English troops. This is a considerable challenge given the quantity of names. Furthermore, it is not always possible to identify nationality definitively through a name, as we shall see from some examples provided later. The names in the muster lists were mainly written by French clerks who “Frenchified” even the most English of names. None the less, we can come to some initial conclusions and to set these within broader contexts, both of the English crown’s use of foreign troops and of concepts of identity and unity within English armies in the later middle ages. It is to these topics which I will give attention before returning to the evidence for Lancastrian Normandy.

  • 3 Chapman 2009, 27-28.
  • 4 Vale 1991, 15-35; Pépin 2011b.

3The use of non-English soldiers in the armies of the English crown was nothing new. The researches of my former doctoral student, Adam Chapman, have shown the significance of Edward I’s conquest of Wales in boosting the numbers of infantry at the English crown’s disposal in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century3. It is also well known, thanks to Malcolm Vale, how Edward III negotiated the use of troops of his allies in the first campaigns of the Hundred Years War, and, thanks to Guilhem Pépin, how important Gascon routiers were in maintaining English interests both within and outside English-held Guyenne in the late fourteenth century4.

  • 5 Bell et al. 2013, 241-248.
  • 6 Walker 1999, 31-51.

4The database ( begins in 1369. It therefore allows the identification of circumstances under which foreign troops were used by the English crown in the late fourteenth-century phase of the Hundred Years War5. Four principal categories can be given, which will be used in comparison with findings for Lancastrian Normandy. The first is defence of home territory. The most obvious example is the service of Gascons in defence of their own territory but we also find locally-recruited Scottish troops in the garrisons of the Anglo-Scottish border zone. Based on information provided by Michael Jones, we know of 55 Bretons who served in the English-held garrison of Brest between 1375 and 1377. A second category is military specialisation. Gascon crossbowmen are found serving the English on land and sea. Indeed, in the late fourteenth century the service of Gascons outside Guyenne seems to be limited to crossbowmen. We also find crossbowmen from Genoa, Portugal, Spain, the Low Countries, and Germany, as well as gunners from Germany and Spain. A third category concerns military emergencies. This is noticeable at the reopening of war in 1369, especially in the reinforcing of the garrison of Calais by Scottish troops, which were offered higher rates of pay than their English counterparts and remunerated for their passage back to Scotland. The final category is that of mutual benefit, which links back to the first category of local defence. The service of Bretons in Brest is relevant here, but we can also mention the support of the Castilian, Don Juan Fernández, who provided troops for Spain under John of Gaunt and the earl of Cambridge. Also notable are the troops and fortifications made available to Henry IV, in his invasion of Scotland in 1400, by the earl of Dunbar who had defected from his Scottish allegiance. It is also significant that the Navarrese Janico d’Artasso began his long service in English pay in the garrison of Cherbourg, that place having been provided by the king of Navarre for English use6.

5The last three categories blur into true mercenary presence. For instance, when, following the end of the Anglo-Scottish truce in 1372, Scottish recruitment was no longer possible, the continuing need to bolster the garrison of Calais stimulated recruitment from the Low Countries and Germany. We find 20 soldiers in the Calais March in 1372 from as far afield as Bohemia. Piers van Busch, from the Low Countries, served with a company in Guînes in 1386, on a naval expedition in 1387, and on Richard II’s expedition to Ireland in 1394-1395. In other words, van Busch forged a longer term link as did Janico d’Artasso, but whilst the latter integrated himself into English retinues, van Busch maintained his own company of men which he provided to the English crown. Boundaries were easily blurred. In 1381, there were at least two English soldiers serving in the company of the Castilian, Don Juan Fernández, and in the late 1370s we find a Norman serving in the garrison of Brest, the English-held fortress in Brittany.

  • 7 TNA, E 101/69/2/316; E 101/32/25 m. 2-3.
  • 8 Enguerran de Monstrelet, ed. Douët d’Arcq 1859, t. 3, 285.

6There was therefore already an international feel to “English” armies before Henry V’s invasion of Normandy even if it was small-scale. Attitudes were wholly permissive. There was no general ban on the service of non-English soldiers. The two occasions on which a ban was imposed highlights circumstances under which the nationality of soldiers was deemed significant in the military sphere. The first is in the English lordship of Ireland where there was sometimes a requirement for the lieutenant-general to take only troops neez dengleterre or resseantz en angleterre. This was the case in 1392, for instance, although at that point the restriction applied only to the archers. In 1406, both men-at-arms and archers serving in Ireland had to be resseantz du roiaulme dengleterre. Hence we see names of soldiers crossed out in the muster rolls – a sign the soldier had not been accepted for service – because they were Irish7. This exclusion of Irishmen was based on fears of partisanship but also because the Irish were still using the short bow and were not deemed to be good quality soldiers. That said, Henry V deliberately recruited a group of lightly mounted Irish scavengers to hound the local population during the winter of the siege of Rouen8.

  • 9 Given-Wilson et al., ed. 2005, t. 8, 213.
  • 10 Chapman 2009, 112-116.

7The expression neez en Angleterre or resseantz en angleterre would have been understood to include the Welsh. During the Welsh rebellion of the early fifteenth century, however, limits were placed on the service of the Welsh in their own region. In 1402, castles and walled towns in Wales were to be garrisoned by brave English men who were not resident in the locality; no men of mixed blood from Wales or the Marches were to be recruited. The stated rationale for this is similar to the fears in Normandy in 1430: use of English soldiers would ensure that castles and towns were securely guarded, and would also help in gathering information about the behaviour and actions of the native population, a fyn qe sur ceo purra remedie ester ordene ou busiognera, tanqe les ditz parties soient autrement justifiez et apeisez9. As in fifteenth-century Normandy, however, these restrictions were not consistently applied. Surviving musters and financial records for several garrisons show that they remained “routinely dominated by local Welshmen”10. Although the restrictions were never lifted, they were increasingly ignored as the years passed. This points to a tendency to keep restrictions in place just in case they were needed in the future. The same conclusion can be reached about the restrictions in Normandy which, as we shall see, were more closely imposed in some years than others in light of military and political considerations.

  • 11 BL, Cotton Nero D. vi., fol. 89r-90r; Curry 2011, 287-288.

8Let us now turn to the broader question of late medieval English attitudes to recruitment of foreign soldiers. The first surviving set of English military ordinances, drawn up for Richard II’s campaign of 1385 to Scotland, acknowledges that the army could include men of any nationality. Take, for example, the first clause11.

premierement qe toutes maneres de gentz de quell nacion estat ou condicion quils soient soient obeisantz a nostre seigneur le roy, a son connestable et mareschall sur quantqe ils purront forfaire en corps ou en biens.

  • 12 Bell et al. 2013, 248.

9We know that there were some Germans serving in 1385 in what was, at almost 14,000 men, the largest English army of the Hundred Years War period12. What is also striking here is the concept of unity through obedience to the crown and the commanders it had appointed. This is fundamental to the development of a state army. Whatever the identity of individuals, they were bound together by service to the English crown. Conceptually, therefore, whether armies were operating at home or abroad, on expedition or in garrison, all soldiers were serving in one army – an officially and properly constituted royal army. Although often recruited by an individual captain, all soldiers were in royal pay, and captains were bound by contract to the crown. This unity of purpose as well as of identity was enhanced by the wearing of common insignia. Another clause in the 1385 ordinances tells us this, its wording also emphasising the potential multinational dimension and the unity created by virtue of being de nostre partie:

Item qe chescun de quel estat condicion ou nacion quil soit issint qil soit de nostre partie porte un signes des armes de Seint George large devant et autre adherer sur peril qe sil naufre ou mort en defaute dycel cely qe le naufra ou tue ne porte nul juesse pur li et qe nul enemy ne porte le dit signe de Seint George coment quil soit prisoner ou autrement sur peyne destre mort.

  • 13 BL, Lansdowne MS 285, fol. 144r-150; Curry 2008, 214-249.
  • 14 Lansdowne MS 285, folio 150r-152r.

10These fundamental clauses persist in all subsequent sets of ordinances. Take, for instance, the opening clause of the ordinances issued by Henry V at Mantes which date to either 1419 or 1421: “First that all maner of men of what soever nacion, estate or condicion so ever he be, be obbeisaunt to our Soveraigne lord the kinge and to his constable and marshall upon peyne of as moche as he may forfeite in body and in goodes”13. This is echoed in the ordinances of the earl of Salisbury for the campaign into Maine in 1424-5: “No maner of men of armes, ne archer ne of what estate condicion or nacion that ever he be…”14. The armies which conquered Normandy under Henry V, and which garrisoned the area under Henry VI, wore the cross of St George. Therefore there was an immediate visual unity. The wearing of the same uniform is an important element both in creating an internal sense of unity and solidarity within an army and also in projecting an image of unity for those outside the army. This is particularly important in situations where there were soldiers from different nationalities, and also where there was an occupation and garrisoning of territory, both characteristics of the Lancastrian presence in France. Even men who were not subjects of Henry VI, whether as king of England or of France, became so, at least for the period of their service, by taking his pay for military service. This is a very important point which affects the way we should consider “mercenary” service.

  • 15 National Archives of Scotland, PA/5 fol.71r and v; Curry 2011, 292.
  • 16 Hughes & Larkin, ed. 1964, 121.

11The late medieval military ordinances of the English crown accepted the presence of different and distinct personal identities and “nations” yet also emphasised the unity of the group. There is a parallel here with the Franco-Scottish army raised to counter Richard II in 1385, where all the soldiers, both French and Scots, were to have the cross of St Andrew on their front and back15. Yet the military ordinances also had to accommodate difference by establishing separate zones of responsibility. If a Frenchman offended a Scotsman he was to be taken before a French captain, and vice-versa. This separation of jurisdiction is also seen in the ordinances issued by Henry VIII in 1513 for his French campaign: “Also if any Almain give any reproach or unfitting language to any Englishman, that then the Englishmen to complain them to the captains of the Almains which shall see and provide for remedy in that behalf”16. This clause is preceded and followed by sentences that acknowledge the possibility of tensions between different nationalities: “No Englishman intermeddle or lodge himself within the ground assigned to the Almains for their lodgings or give them reproach or unfitting language or words by the which noise or debate might ensue on pain of imprisonment and further punishment…And over that, the king’s highness commandeth that all Englishmen and other his army friendly and courteously do treat the said Almains after like manner as though they were his proper subjects”.

12The ordinances issued by Henry V at Mantes also acknowledged a similar possibility of inter-national tension and tried to mitigate it.

“Also that no maner man geve no reproche to non other by cause of the country that he is of, that is to saye, be he Frenche, Englisshe, Welshe or Irisshe, or of any other country whense that he ever he be, that no man saye no vilony to non other, through the whiche vilony saynge may falle soddenly man slaughter, or risinye of people, all such barratours shall stand at the kings wille what death they shall have for ther noys making”.

  • 17 Curry 2008, 233.

13The inclusion of Frenchmen in this clause is a strong argument for the dating of these ordinances to Henry’s stay at Mantes in 1421 rather than that of September 141917. By 1421 the treaty of Troyes was in place. Its twenty-fifth clause emphasised unity.

  • 18 Cosneau, ed. 1889, 111-112.

[..] dès maintenant, et à tous temps perpetuellement, se tairont, appaiseront et de tous poins cesseront toutes dissencions, haynes, rancunes, inimitiez et guerre d’entre lesdis royaumes de France et d’Angleterre et les peuples d’iceulx royaumes adhérens à la dicte concorde ; et entre les royaumes dessusdiz sera et aura vigueur dès maintenant perpetuellement à tousjoursmais, paiz, transquillité, concorde, affection mutuelle, amitiés fermes et estables18.

  • 19 TNA, C 64/16, m. 33d; Rymer, ed. 1704-1735, vol. 10, 106-108.
  • 20 BL, Birch MS 4101 fol. 65; Rowe 1931, 202.
  • 21 Curry 1986, 233-257.

14The nature of the English presence in France had been transformed. Henry V ruled as regent of France and heir to the French throne. According to the terms of the treaty, even though Normandy and the pays de conquête remained directly his, these areas were to be resumed within the royal French polity as soon as Henry became king of the double monarchy. This clause in his ordinances indicates an assumption that there would be recruitment of Frenchmen as well as those from further afield. The ordinances issued by Henry for the Norman garrisons in April 1421 do not include any mention of nationality19. They simply refer to soldiers (solidarii) and paid men (stipendarii). Indeed, the introduction of the latter term is potentially significant. Nor were there any restrictions on recruitment in the disciplinary ordinances issued by the duke of Bedford in 1423. In a clause which aimed to control the behaviour of soldiers towards the local population they are referred to as gens d’armes et de trait soyent angloys ou autres20. We also hear of complaints that plusieurs capitaines et autres tant francoys comme angloys were demanding appatis. Bedford’s ordinances were to be obeyed by tous nos subgiez. Another clause emphasised the wide definition of this last term: plusieurs de nos subgiez tant angloys comme normans et autres de notre obeisance. This was deemed to include all who accepted the treaty of Troyes. This is also shown by the content of another clause which banned the use of the term “French” for the enemy, ordering that the term “Armagnac” should be used instead. When the semonce des nobles and other feudal summons were issued in Normandy they applied to the English and Welsh to whom lands had been given as well as the Normans themselves21.

  • 22 BnF, ms. fr. 25 766/794.
  • 23 AN, K 59/29/3.
  • 24 Arch. dép. Seine-Maritime, 100 J 30/32.
  • 25 AN, K 62/7/8.
  • 26 BnF, ms. fr. 25 767/122.
  • 27 For instance, under Perceval de Gaillartbois in the area of Eu in August 1429: BnF, ms. fr. 25 76 (...)

15In the light of this, it is not surprising that a permissive stance on recruitment is revealed in the muster rolls once the negotiations for the settlement at Troyes were in place. For instance, at Tombelaine in April 1420 – a garrison established to confront the continuing the Armagnac tenure of Mont-Saint-Michel – we see several French names, including Colin Poret, Roland de Verger, Jean Taillefer and Geffroi Fromage, as well as evidence of the service of those from further afield, such as John Scherman, possibly from the Low Countries22. The service of Normans is also evidenced by topnymics: Jean Cherbourg was an archer at Domfront in December 142023, Colin Bethencourt at Harfleur in September 142124, and Jean le Exmes at Exmes in November 142325. For boat patrols on the Seine or in the sieges of Mont-Saint-Michel, local men were regularly used. In the blockade of the Mont in May 1425, for instance, we find a Nevew de Caudebek and both Berbryll and Duport de Toque serving on a ship from Caen26. Local men are also in abundance in companies to defend the roads and the Seine in the wake of the reversals of 142927. These examples confirm the categories of men serving in defence of their own localities as well as in specialist occupations.

  • 28 AN, K 59/23/3.
  • 29 BnF, Clairambault 100/95-97.
  • 30 For example, BnF, ms. fr. 25 767/45 (Glasdale 1423); BL, Additional Charter 11520 (de Lisle, 1424 (...)
  • 31 BL, Additional Charter 11612.
  • 32 College of Arms, MS M9; Rowe 1926, 504-513.

16Other nationalities are also seen in the second category of military specialists, such as Hankyn Dutcheman, a cannonier serving in the garrison of Saint-Lô in March 1421, and Arnold Wapenmaker, who was amongst the archers at Harfleur in October 142328. The Saint-Lô muster includes several archers with French names, as well as a number where only one name is given, such as Saquette, Archar, Karbere, Berrade. This, along with nicknames, was a common tendency when listing foreigners in muster rolls and may reflect the difficulty of clerks in understanding foreign names. The most impressive example of foreign soldiers is the retinue of the earl of Suffolk for the campaign under the earl of Salisbury in Champagne in December 1423. Here we have listed as archers “le bourguignon”, “le normant”, “le lorrain”, “le savoie”, as well as the men-at-arms “le pillays”, “le petit marteau”, and “misère davingnon”, along with more standard name forms such as Hans Laleman, Henotin le picard, Anthoine de Florence29. Other retinues of armies under the earl of Salisbury and his associates, such as William Glasdale and Sir Lancelot de Lisle, for activities in Champagne as well as for the conquest of Maine and the Orléans campaign also tended to contain large numbers of foreign troops, both French and from further afield30. Lord Talbot also had several troops of this kind (including Michel de Luxembourg, Jean de Mantes) when he took over control at the siege of Orléans after the death of the earl of Salisbury31. Indeed, the armies used in the expansion south of Normandy between 1424 and 1429 see the largest concentrations of non-English troops of any phase of the fifteenth-century war. Intriguingly too, Christopher Hanson, a German (de patria almayn) who was involved in the conquest of Maine and was placed in the garrison of Sainte-Suzanne, later co-wrote a history of the wars whilst a member of Sir John Fastolf’s administration in England into which he had passed after the loss of Maine in 144832. By contrast, companies under the earl of Warwick for expeditions into Maine contain very few non English/Welsh. This may reflect incoming expeditionary troops but could also be indicative of the attitude of this particular commander. We shall see why this is relevant when we consider the restrictions of 1430.

  • 33 BnF, ms. fr. 25 770/727.
  • 34 BnF, ms. fr. 25 767/119 and 25767/107 respectively.
  • 35 BnF, ms. fr. 25 767/13; AN, K 62/25/24.

17There is not enough space here to give many examples but some basic conclusions can be drawn for the 1420s. Non English or Welsh troops served both as individuals and in groups, and in all kinds of situations: in the personal bodyguards of the leading commanders such as the retinue of Richard Woodville as seneschal which contained a Peter Dutcheman as man-at-arms and Anthoine Coutances as archer33; in field activity, as in the examples given previously for Champagne and Maine; and in the garrisons, such as a “Gonsalle” and two “de Marsan” brothers at Saint-Germain-en-Laye in February 1425, and Rodrigo Portugayler at Tombelaine in October 142434. Based on the evidence of wide range of muster rolls, the garrisons of the Norman heartlands, such as Caen and Bayeux, tended to be predominantly English, as did the retinues of the baillis, but otherwise non-English/Welsh troops are found in most garrisons. There are larger concentrations in the larger and more significant places, especially those close to Paris such as Dreux, Pontoise, Mantes, Saint-Germain. In April 1423, for example, William Appleby at Pontoise, had an Anthony Lombart, a Grace de Luques, Camus le Gascon and a Jean d’Arragon. All were still serving there in 142735. Indeed, several men in our non-English sample show careers stretching over several years.

  • 36 Guethin: AN, K 62/11/9; Lansac: BnF, ms. fr. 25 766/813, 25767/28; Boutellier: BnF, ms. fr. 25 76 (...)

18It was the norm to find several nationalities mixed together. Notable concentrations of one specific national group tended to occur under but were not exclusive to, non-English captains. Thus we find a cluster of Welshmen serving under the Welsh captain, Sir Richard Guethin, Gascons under the Gascon, Guillotin de Lansac (the only Gascon to hold a garrison command in the 1420s), and French under Guy Boutellier, linked to the household of the Regent Bedford in 1428, although we also find a Symonet le Fleming in this company36.

  • 37 BnF, ms. fr. 25 767/28.
  • 38 BL, Additional Charter 12 089.
  • 39 BnF, ms. fr. 25 768/291.
  • 40 BnF, ms. fr. 25 768/295.

19The overall impression for the 1420s is of a multi-national army with a wide range of geographical origins, including local. There was no requirement in this decade to note nationality in the muster rolls, yet a few rolls do so for reasons which are not immediately evident. In a muster of the garrison of Louviers in September 1423, one man (William Lomiel, a foot archer) is marked as English37. Was this because the rest of the garrison, captained by the Gascon, Guillotin de Lansac, was not? In a muster of the garrison of Coutances under Lord Talbot in March 1428, two foot men-at-arms and two archers are noted as Norman38. For these archers an occupation is also added (“bon carpentier”, “bon flechier”), a further indication of non-English being recruited as military specialists. Two archers are noted as “allmand”. The rest of the garrison were annotated as English. In August 1428 a muster of the company of Sir Thomas Rempstone for the campaign towards the Loire included four men annotated as Gascons39. In the following month, the muster of the garrison of Saint-Lô, captained by the earl of Warwick, included one archer noted as Gascon40.

  • 41 BL, Additional Charter 6835, BnF, ms. fr. 25 769/464.
  • 42 Newhall 1940, 113-114.
  • 43 BnF, NAF 1482/70.
  • 44 BnF, ms. fr. 26 053/1360, with a second copy at BL, Additional Charter 11 663.

20The interest of the earl of Warwick in the nationality of his troops is also evidenced by the annotations of local men in musters of his various garrisons in Rouen between November 1429 and February 143041. This, combined with the earl’s lack of foreign troops in his earlier retinues, and his importance as captain of the Norman capital during the king’s visit of 1430-32, suggest that he had a less permissive view than the earl of Salisbury in the 1420s, and that he was influential in the restrictions on recruitment which were imposed in 1430. Reversals in English fortunes after the raising of the siege of Orléans in May 1429 cast suspicions on the loyalty of French and even of Norman soldiers. This prompted a series of restrictive measures. In October 1429, we see the first signs of this. Captains of garrisons in Normandy were banned from recruiting men who had been received only recently into the allegiance of the double monarchy42. It was feared that supporters of the Valois king would attempt to be recruited in order to undermine Henry VI’s authority from within. An order of March 1430 to muster the garrison of Meulan reflected particular fears in this vulnerable area close to Paris. The soldiers in the garrison were to be tous anglois et natifs du royaume d’Angleterre43. When the garrison of Pontoise was mustered in June of the same year, soldiers not of the nacion d’Angleterre ou du pays subgiet au royaume d’Angleterre were allowed to serve, but commissioners were instructed ou cas que aucunes dautres nascions seroient presentz ausdictes monstres les marquez en tete44. The resulting muster roll notes 15 of the 45 men-at-arms and 24 of the 186 archers as francois and one man-at-arms as allmand.

  • 45 BL, Additional Charter 11 674; Newhall 1940, 117.
  • 46 BnF, ms. fr  26 053/1399.
  • 47 Newhall 1940, 121.
  • 48 BnF, ms. fr. 26 055/1813.
  • 49 Newhall 1940, 120.

21By September 1430, with the young king now present in Rouen, a completely restrictive approach was taken. All garrisons were to be mustered simultaneously on 26 September sans y recevoir toutesvoies pour ceste foiz aucun sil nest de la nation dangleterre yrois, galois ou guiennois car ainsi fut il par nous derrenierement ordonne45. By the time the annual indentures were drawn up with effect from Michaelmas (29 September 1430), we see a degree of compromise, however. Half of the men-at-arms in a garrison could be French or Norman but the archers had to be English, Irish, Welsh or Gascon46. There was also a ban on captains recruiting within the locality of the garrison, emphasising the fear of local fourth-columnists. Restrictions were also placed on the recruitment of men, irrespective of nationality, who held lands by royal grant, and on artisans and traders, although exceptions were made for military craftsmen such as armourers, bowyers, and fletchers. This reflected the perceived need for constant vigilance: there was no place for part-time soldiers who had external distractions. No mention was made of troops from further afield nor, technically, did the indentures make it necessary for nationalities to be annotated in the muster rolls. However, in a simultaneous muster of all garrisons in March 1431 it was ordered that the “nation” of all soldiers should be recorded47. Although a study of the subsequent muster rolls suggest that this was not ubiquitously obeyed, there is no doubt that the recording of nationality became more common from 1430 onwards. Occasionally there were ad hoc orders linked to particular politico-military situations. For instance, at Mantes in 1432 the garrison troops were ordered to be restricted to anglois, galois, irois ou gascons48. But by October 1434, as part of a series of reforms instituted by the duke of Bedford, the rules were relaxed to allow one eighth of an entire retinue to be French49. In other words, the recruitment of local archers was no longer banned. This clause in indentures of garrison captains prevailed until the loss of Normandy in 1450.

22Lack of consistency in the recording of nationality in the 1430s and 1440s reflects an ongoing tension between theory and practice. With continuing military needs it was unlikely that the garrisons and field activities could be sustained by English troops alone, even with various influxes of expeditionary armies. This encouraged a more permissive approach than was officially allowed. Only around 1600 individuals have annotations against their names in the muster rolls between 1430 and 1450. Therefore, in terms of considering the service of foreign troops after the imposition of restrictions, we still, as for the 1420s, need to look at the name evidence as well as the annotations. But before we turn to the evidence of service after 1430 in order to assess continuities and contrasts with the previous decade, there are some important general points to draw out which link to larger issues of identity.

  • 50 AN, K 63/10/36; BnF, ms. fr. 25 775/1395.
  • 51 BnF, NAF 1482/79.

23The first is the difficulty in ascertaining nationality, since it relied on the honesty of the soldier as well as of his captain. Both had reasons to lie, the soldier to keep his post, and the captain to keep up the numbers for which he had indented and perhaps also to keep a soldier who had already served under him for several years. This might explain why a soldier might be recorded as being of a particular nationality in one roll but not in another. Thomas Marchaunt and William Martin were recorded as French in 1431 but English in 143950, yet there was no system of denization in operation in Lancastrian France. Nationality was blurred and easily concealed and musterers had to rely on what a soldier told them. An acknowledgment of this problem is seen in the fact that in the order at Meulan of March 1430 which restricted the garrison to English, soldiers had to take an oath that they were indeed all natives of England51. The addition of an oath made deception less likely because of contemporary belief in the binding nature, and religious implications, of sworn evidence.

  • 52 BnF, ms. fr. 25 773/1171.
  • 53 BnF, ms. fr. 25 775/1395.
  • 54 BnF, NAF 8606/101.
  • 55 BL, Additional Charter 6979.

24A second point is that there was confusion on which nationalities needed to be recorded. A minority of musterers chose to record the presence of Englishmen or those from the pays subgiet, perhaps because they did not always understand the status of those from the English dominions and wished to play safe. In some musters, such as that at Gournay in February 1438, some names were bracketed together as anglois et galois52. Longer term residence and marriage in Normandy might also have had an effect. One of the archers annotated as Welsh in a muster of the garrison of Neufchâtel in March 1440 was Geoffrey Harfleur. Another “Welshman” in the previous year was called Piers d’Orbec53. Had they changed their names as a result of settlement in Normandy? Were Welsh patronymics too difficult for the locals to cope with? Were these men the sons of Welshman who had been born in Normandy, perhaps to a local mother? In the garrison of Exmes in 1447 we find a norman, fils d’un anglois54. There were cases where local men were rejected only to be reinstated as a special concession, such as Jean Galande, receiver of aides, who was allowed in 1447 to serve in Caudebec55.

25The recruitment of Normans and French, and even Burgundians, never ceased, as the annotations, as well as the names, shows. However, it does appear, based on name evidence, that in the early 1430s there was proportionately fewer soldiers of these nationalities serving. In 1435-6 annotation of these nationalities became less consistent, no doubt in response to the need to increase the defence of the duchy. Financial records show that the largest ever garrison establishment in Normandy was achieved in 1436 with over 6,000 soldiers, even though many of the places in the pays de Caux, such as Dieppe and Harfleur, were in French hands. With the boosting of the garrison establishment, French names are more in evidence in the garrison muster rolls, even without annotation. But in 1438-9, when the earl of Warwick was in command as lieutenant general, we again see in the muster rolls a tightening up in annotation and a decrease in local participation. Given the earl’s involvement in the initial restrictions of 1430-31, his opinions again appear to play a key role in the formulation and implementation of policy on recruitment.

  • 56 See, for instance, BnF, ms. fr. 26 073/5214.

26That there were still Normans and French in the garrisons at the time of the truce of Tours of May 1444, when the garrison establishment was reduced to 2,500 men, is made evident by efforts exactly a year later to rid the duchy of soldiers no longer needed56. In May 1445, all native soldiers with civilian occupations were ordered to return to them. All soldiers of other nationalities were to assemble at Écouché, close to Argentan on the southern frontier of the duchy. Some were then assigned to a range of locations for short-term service, but those not deemed suitable were ordered to return home. Where the latter were English, Welsh and Irish they were marched collectively to Barfleur and shipped back to England.

  • 57 BnF, ms. fr. 25 778/1836.

27In the last years of Lancastrian Normandy recording seems to have been tightened. We can see a few Normans and French in garrisons and official retinues. in two of the last surviving musters of Lancastrian Normandy dating to June 1449, only a month before Charles VII declared war, Jean du Pont, a Norman archer, was in the escort of the treasurer, Osbern Mundeford, and two Norman archers were Mundeford’s additional company at Fresnay-le-Vicomte57. However, it is clear that the reduction of the garrison establishment after the truce of Tours had involved efforts to give employment to English soldiers wherever possible. This therefore contributes to the decline in the use of men from elsewhere, and helps to explain the renewed interest in annotation. There may also have been uncertainties about the loyalties of local soldiers. Was there a fear that they would deliberately infringe the truces in order to give Charles VII a casus belli?

  • 58 BnF, ms. fr. 25 774/1295.
  • 59 AN, K 64/23/19.
  • 60 BnF, ms. fr. 25 775/1397.

28What of other nationalities beyond the French and Normans? After 1430, there is nothing to compare with the concentrations in the troops sent into Champagne and Maine of foreigners from wide and far. As the English were forced on to the defensive after the failure of the Loire campaign of 1428-1429, there was less opportunity for service in the field in major offensives. Two conclusions can be drawn here. The first is that English expansionism boosted recruitment needs (even if the victory at Verneuil had made it possible to reduce the garrison establishment in Normandy, thereby encouraging, if not forcing, English soldiers also to serve in campaigns to the south). The second is that campaigns of conquest were more attractive to the wandering soldier who sought short term service, full of excitement and opportunities for gains of war as well as wages. Life in garrison, with restrictions on behaviour towards the civilian population, was less attractive to such men. Yet, as the annotations and the names show, there remained a good number of men of other nationalities in the garrisons of Normandy. For instance, Lord Talbot had an archer simply called Bretaigne in his garrison at Gournay in November 143858. Some lengthy careers are also seen: the arragonais, Guillaume Baudewyn, served as an archer from 1430 to at least 1445. We continue to see concentrations in the large frontier garrisons towards Paris, notably Mantes and Pontoise and Creil, the latter seeing the service of Sennelier de Cassada as well as Jean Autriche in October 143859. We can also see that when places were threatened, as Evreux was in 1439, larger numbers of non-English troops, such as Samson de Navarre serving under Lord Fauconberg60.

  • 61 These can be found in the Normandy garrison database in
  • 62 AN, K 68/27/3.

29What is also notable is the increase in non-English/Welsh serving as garrison captains in the 1430s and 40s compared with the previous decade. These included French as well as Gascon and German captains. This may reflect a decline of interest on the part of the English gentry but it also created a greater concentration of non-English troops serving under such men, as opposed to being scattered more broadly across the various garrisons and retinues. This suggests a solution to the potential conflict of interest between the need for more troops and the need to ensure control over them. The best examples are the various garrisons of the Gascon, Sir Lewis Despoy, in the 1430s and of Francois l’Arragonais, better known as Surienne, in the 1440s61. Interestingly, the muster rolls for Surienne’s garrisons are never annotated even though they included almost exclusively foreign troops. The names suggest a wide range of origins: Spanish, Gascon, Basque, Portuguese (“la nonne de Portugal” who served under Surienne on several occasions between 1440 and 1445), Burgundian, Picard, Lombard, Norman, German, and even Welsh (Rhys Hoby) and English (John Rose). In April 1447, Surienne petitioned for pay for a troop of 80 men. He had held these men in his company before the truce of Tours but now they were over and above the number he had been ordered to have. He argued that, as he had drawn them out of their native land and taken them at a young age to France, he could not simply abandon them now62. Furthermore, he asserted that the places where he held them, Verneuil and Longny, were on the frontier and that the enemy were active each day in grands langaiges et grandes menasses so he still needed all of these men.

  • 63 AN, K 65/1/31.
  • 64 King 2011, 65-75.
  • 65 AN, K 64/1/34.

30We can also see the granting of other exceptions to the rules because of particular military needs. At Pontoise in 1439 John Stanlawe was allowed to have 20 men of any nation pour ester cannoniers, macons, pionniers, charpentiers, artillerers, fevres, batelliers, all to be paid as archers63. From the musters of the ordnance company studied by Andy King, we see that this specialist troop continued to be dominated by local men, as it had been in the 1420s, and always had a French clerk to arrange purchases of equipment and powder64. As in that earlier decade, considering garrisons and retinues as a whole, foreign soldiers served both singly (such as the lone Scotsman in Lord Talbot’s personal retinue in February 1436)65 and in groups from the same “nation”. As mentioned earlier, this was most notable in the garrisons commanded by foreign captains, but even these saw men of a variety of nationalities serving within them. Indeed, what is striking is the highly multi-national nature of some garrisons. In 1438 the garrison of Tancarville had English, Welsh, Lombard, Norman and Gascon members. This range was outstripped by the garrison of Mantes in December of the same year which contained, alongside Englishmen (drawn from many different areas of England), 19 gascons, 11 French, a German (allmand), a Spaniard (espagnol), a Portuguese (portugais) and a Lombard.

  • 66 Curry et al. 2010, 89.
  • 67 BnF, PO 2623 Salvain 72.
  • 68 BL, Additional Charter 12 005.

31This raises interesting questions not only on the language of communication and on inter-cultural experiences66, but also on individual and collective identity. As emphasised earlier, these soldiers were bound together in a single identity as soldiers of the English king (albeit officially in his capacity as king of France since it was under that aegis that they were recruited to the army in Lancastrian France after 1422), wore the same insignia and abided by the same disciplinary controls. That different nationalities operated together even when they did not have official military employment is also striking. Without garrison posts, ex-soldiers turned to living off the land, forming multi-national groups not dissimilar to the routiers of the fourteenth century. This is revealed by the wording of orders, such as that of March 1435. This expressed concern about large numbers of men of war assembling in the duchy and moving from place to place demanding food of local inhabitants: such men were tant anglais, galois, norman, picard comme d’autres nacions67. Similarly, in an order of September 1438 by Lord Talbot in his capacity as marshal, reference was made to plusieurs englois, gallois et autres gens de diverses nations et pais who were living off the poor people of the area68.

32Overall, we can conclude that, even though the 1430 restrictions were never fully or consistently implemented, there was a decrease in the number of local and international soldiers after this point. In the 1420s the relative security of Lancastrian authority had enabled recruitment of local men and had also made possible campaigns outside Normandy which attracted the service of men from other areas of Europe. After 1430 the English rulers were more circumspect about the use of local soldiers. A war mainly of attrition and lengthy sieges (as at Harfleur and Dieppe) rather than major offensives diminished the attractiveness of service for soldiers from further afield. In the 1430s and 40s non-English soldiers were more likely to be serving under non-English captains, whereas in the 1420s they had been more widely spread across retinues. As the English war effort deteriorated, particularly after the truce of Tours in 1444, opportunities for employment for soldiers of all nations diminished. That said, the multi-national garrison never disappeared. Even with fluctuations in needs and impulses, we can see that the campaigns and garrisons in Normandy and in other areas under English control generated significant opportunities for soldiers from many areas.

33What is undoubted is that men of different nations served under captains of different nationalities. Foreigners were recruited individually and in groups. This suggests a variety of patterns of wandering soldiers seeking opportunities. Further research could reveal how new groups were forged by virtue of military service in a particular place or retinue. These conclusions are borne out more generally through our study of the muster rolls for this period. Soldiers of all nationalities, including the English, pursued their own careers as a result of their own choices and preferences. They might choose to stay with the same captain for several years, or else to remain in the same location even if captains changed. Or they might move frequently at their own discretion and inclination between several different captains and places. This army was multinational as well as in a constant state of flux.


1 Newhall 1940, 115-20; Allmand 1983, 197-198; Curry 1992, 135-164.

2 Curry 1992, 135-164; Bell et al. 2013, esp. chapter 6.

3 Chapman 2009, 27-28.

4 Vale 1991, 15-35; Pépin 2011b.

5 Bell et al. 2013, 241-248.

6 Walker 1999, 31-51.

7 TNA, E 101/69/2/316; E 101/32/25 m. 2-3.

8 Enguerran de Monstrelet, ed. Douët d’Arcq 1859, t. 3, 285.

9 Given-Wilson et al., ed. 2005, t. 8, 213.

10 Chapman 2009, 112-116.

11 BL, Cotton Nero D. vi., fol. 89r-90r; Curry 2011, 287-288.

12 Bell et al. 2013, 248.

13 BL, Lansdowne MS 285, fol. 144r-150; Curry 2008, 214-249.

14 Lansdowne MS 285, folio 150r-152r.

15 National Archives of Scotland, PA/5 fol.71r and v; Curry 2011, 292.

16 Hughes & Larkin, ed. 1964, 121.

17 Curry 2008, 233.

18 Cosneau, ed. 1889, 111-112.

19 TNA, C 64/16, m. 33d; Rymer, ed. 1704-1735, vol. 10, 106-108.

20 BL, Birch MS 4101 fol. 65; Rowe 1931, 202.

21 Curry 1986, 233-257.

22 BnF, ms. fr. 25 766/794.

23 AN, K 59/29/3.

24 Arch. dép. Seine-Maritime, 100 J 30/32.

25 AN, K 62/7/8.

26 BnF, ms. fr. 25 767/122.

27 For instance, under Perceval de Gaillartbois in the area of Eu in August 1429: BnF, ms. fr. 25 768/408.

28 AN, K 59/23/3.

29 BnF, Clairambault 100/95-97.

30 For example, BnF, ms. fr. 25 767/45 (Glasdale 1423); BL, Additional Charter 11520 (de Lisle, 1424), Additional Charter 94 (Salisbury, 1426), Additional Charter 7947 (de Lisle, 1428).

31 BL, Additional Charter 11612.

32 College of Arms, MS M9; Rowe 1926, 504-513.

33 BnF, ms. fr. 25 770/727.

34 BnF, ms. fr. 25 767/119 and 25767/107 respectively.

35 BnF, ms. fr. 25 767/13; AN, K 62/25/24.

36 Guethin: AN, K 62/11/9; Lansac: BnF, ms. fr. 25 766/813, 25767/28; Boutellier: BnF, ms. fr. 25 768/323.

37 BnF, ms. fr. 25 767/28.

38 BL, Additional Charter 12 089.

39 BnF, ms. fr. 25 768/291.

40 BnF, ms. fr. 25 768/295.

41 BL, Additional Charter 6835, BnF, ms. fr. 25 769/464.

42 Newhall 1940, 113-114.

43 BnF, NAF 1482/70.

44 BnF, ms. fr. 26 053/1360, with a second copy at BL, Additional Charter 11 663.

45 BL, Additional Charter 11 674; Newhall 1940, 117.

46 BnF, ms. fr  26 053/1399.

47 Newhall 1940, 121.

48 BnF, ms. fr. 26 055/1813.

49 Newhall 1940, 120.

50 AN, K 63/10/36; BnF, ms. fr. 25 775/1395.

51 BnF, NAF 1482/79.

52 BnF, ms. fr. 25 773/1171.

53 BnF, ms. fr. 25 775/1395.

54 BnF, NAF 8606/101.

55 BL, Additional Charter 6979.

56 See, for instance, BnF, ms. fr. 26 073/5214.

57 BnF, ms. fr. 25 778/1836.

58 BnF, ms. fr. 25 774/1295.

59 AN, K 64/23/19.

60 BnF, ms. fr. 25 775/1397.

61 These can be found in the Normandy garrison database in

62 AN, K 68/27/3.

63 AN, K 65/1/31.

64 King 2011, 65-75.

65 AN, K 64/1/34.

66 Curry et al. 2010, 89.

67 BnF, PO 2623 Salvain 72.

68 BL, Additional Charter 12 005.

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