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Peel Agincourt Diary: 24 November

Last night word came to where we stayed in London that the last of ships carrying the men-at-arms and archers who fought at the great battle at Agincourt have made port at Dover. It seems the king’s great adventure has come to its end. Most of our company is already on the road home. We stayed here, at no small cost, for Sir Geoffrey wishes to attend this day’s solemn Requiem at St. Paul’s Cathedral, which the king had ordered to be held to pray for the dead on both sides in the battle of Agincourt. After we pray for the souls of the departed at St. Paul’s, we will begin the journey back to Dunbury. God give us safe travel.

Peel Agincourt Diary: 23 November

Londoners came out to Blackheath, where the king’s own father met the emperor of Byzantium upon his visit  some fifteen years ago, to greet King Henry, whom God has marvelously and miraculously in His clemency led back to triumph from a rebellious and uncontrollable people. The mayor and four and twenty aldermen were dressed in scarlet while lesser persons wore red gowns with parti-colored hoods of dark red and white. thousands gathered, some on horseback. Men of the trades wore their traditional badges and waited in their traditional places.

At ten of the clock the king appeared, coming from Eltham Palace, dressed in purple robes and behind him rode the captive great nobles of France, much as a roman general would parade those who has submitted to him. The mayor greeted the king, thanking him for his labors on behalf of the public and congratulating him on his success, and giving thanks and honor to God for the victory. When this was done, the citizens of London hastened back joyfully to the city to join in the processions and celebrations prepared at great expense for the king’s arrival.

When King Henry came to the tower guarding the approach to London Bridge, he found two giant figures there, each taller than the city walls, on watch for the king’s coming. The giant man held the keys of the city in one hand and a huge axe in the other. The giant woman wore a scarlet mantle and marvelous jewelry. All around them, as well as in and on the tower itself, musicians played trumpets, clarions, and horns. One wall had the words “City of the King of Justice” painted in Latin upon it. Near the center of the bridge, where the roadway can be drawn up, there were two pillars built of wood and covered with linen that had been painted to resemble building stones of white marble and green jasper, At the top of one stood a large antelope, standing erect with its right foot extended, holding a royal scepter. Around the antelope’s neck hung a shield with the royal arms. Upon the other pillar stood a rampant lion, holding a staff and the royal standard. At the end of the bridge was another tower. this one held a statue of St. George in armor within a niche above its arch. The arms of St. George were displayed all about and the statue held a swording in one hand and in the other a scroll bearing the motto, “To God alone, honor and glory.” Above the niche was another motto, “The force of the river makes glad the cry of the city of God” and above that, on top of the outwear, stood an array of spears and flags displaying the royal arms. In the house there was a choir of boys, dressed as angels in pure white gowns and with wings and their hair all entwined with laurel, whom all sang “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

The processions went along the old Roman road that is now Gracechurch Street and was met with cheering and waving crowds. Fathers and mothers raised their babes up to see the king. It seemed that every window held more jubilant city folk  and they were in such numbers that I thought the whole of the city’s population might be staying indoors and yet the crowds along the streets were so great that it was difficult for the riders in the king’s procession to pass. Aqueducts had been set up to run with wine which men and women could drink freely. Through all of this King Henry rode with a cold and humorless face such that it seemed that none of the celebration either moved or delighted him.

When the king led the procession into Cornhill, he found that the tower of the water conduit there was covered in crimson cloth. From its center the cloth stretched out to the tops of staffs that were wrapped themselves in crimson cloth and arranges around it. Encircling the tower were the arms of St. George, St. Edward the Confessor, St. Edmund, and the those of England. Above all, between escutcheons of the royal arms was written a quotation from the book of Psalms, “Seeing that the king hopes in the Lord and in the mercy of the Almighty, he shall not be moved.” Under the awning, at the foot of the tower, stood a number of old men with what hair dressed like unto the Old Testament prophets. Their heads were wrapped in crimson turbans. When the king approached them they released a flock of small white birds from cages while singing a Psalm. “Sing to the Lord a new song, Alleluia, for His deeds are marvelous, Alleluia.” The birds flew around the kind and some landed upon him and sat on his shoulders even before they all flew away.

When the procession came to the great conduit in the middle of Cheapside, they found the tower there had also become a pavilion, this one of green cloth decorated with the city’s arms. As the other had been, this tower was decorated with staffs with flags and coats of arms. Under the awning were twelve men dressed like unto the twelve apostles of out Lord, Jesus Christ, and twelve more dressed as past kings of England. All had the names of those they represented written before them. As the king approached they sang another Psalm, “For you have saved us from those who afflict us, and have saved us from those who hate us.” The apostles and kings presented King Henry with baskets of wafers intermingled with leaves of silver and gave onto him a cup filled with the wine that ran from the conduit, all in emulation of Melchizedek, king of Salem, in the Old Testament.

Further along in Cheapside, where one normally found the great Eleanor cross erected by the great King Edward, first of his name, in memory of his first wife Queen Eleanor, there was a three-story castle of wood set across the street. It had towers and ramparts and vaulted arches, some open and wide enough for a man to ride through. The walls were covered with linen that had been painted to appear as blocks of porphyry, marble, and jasper and coats of arms decorated them. Music filled the air from the angels, singers and organs set about. There was even a gatehouse with a bridge to the main castle and over this bridge came a procession of beautiful maidens dressed very chastely in pure white cloth and virgin attire. As they came they sang, in the common tongue, “Welcome Henry the Fifth, king of England and France.” Boys dressed as angels, situated in the castle above joined in the greeting. When they passed six important citizens stepped toward the king and offered to him two basins of gold containing a thousand pounds in gold coins.

The king passed under the great castle and met more crowds beyond. So great was the throng of people on Cheapside, from one end to the other, that the horsemen were only just able to ride through. The upper rooms and windows on both sides of the streets were packed with some of the noblest ladies and womenfolk of the kingdom and men of honor and renown. Here, as before, Sir Geoffrey hurried us ahead of the king so that he might see each part of the festival.

Near the church of St. Paul’s another conduit has been transformed into a fantastical building with arches and niches. The maidens at this one, all dressed in virginal white and wearing symbols of charity, blew gold dust from golden chalices over the king as he passed. Above them, at the top of the tower was a canopy as blue as the sky on which clouds had been painted. It was supported by four gold angels and above it stood a gold archangel. The whole of the canopy covered a magnificent figure of the sun in majesty. Drums beat and virgins sang while boys dressed as angels danced around and musical instruments accompanied it all. No one I met could recall there ever having been a more noble array6 or greater assembly in London.  King Henry continued to ride at a dignified pace through all the exultation with never a smile but with an impassive countenance.

The king was greeted by twelve bishops, all in their mites and fine robes, when he reached St.Paul’s Cathedral. The bishops led the king through the nave and up to the high altar where he made an offering in  memory of the departed. He made another offering at the shrine of St. Erkenwald behind the high altar and another at the Holy Cross. King Henry asked that a solemn Mass be held at the cathedral for those on both sides who had died at Agincourt. He then went back into the churchyard and remounted his horse. He and his knights rode to Westminster.

At Westminster, I hear, there was another huge crowd of people. The abbot and monks there led the king in procession into the abbey, where he paid his respects at the shrine of St. Edward the Confessor and the tombs of his ancestors. After this, King Henry retired to the palace and away from the celebration and joyful noise that filled the city.

Peel Agincourt Diary: 21 November

God blessed us on our sea passage and the seas were as calm as might be expected for the time of year, although one of the horses was killed during the unloading when the sling rope broke and it was dashed against the wharf.

Sir Geoffrey wishes to travel to London to see the king’s entry. Despite the king having reached England five days before us, he says we shall be in time for the king is traveling slowly, making many stops for prayer and the handling of royal affairs and such matters as have gone undone since his departure. Old Sir Robert says the king is mostly letting the Londoners have time to receive him right royally.

 

Peel Agincourt Diary: 18 November

Yesterday the king arrived at Canterbury. He will attend mass in the cathedral there and pay his respects at the shrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury. I do not doubt he will also visit the tomb of his great-uncle, Edward of Woodstock, whose great victory at Poitiers was as great as King Henry’s own at Agincourt.

The king will continue his progress toward London. Sir Geoffrey says the king will be making gifts of appreciation along the way to those whose services aided in the success of his adventure. He also says that financial arrangements for the the next campaign are likely already getting underway, for Archbishop Chichele is to attend a convocation at St. Paul’s where he is expected to urge our clergy to grant the king  further tenths in addition to the one already pledged to be paid on February 2nd next year.

 

Peel Agincourt Diary: 17 November

Word has come that the king reached Dover at nightfall, safe despite terrible storms. God has preserved our king against the elements and clearly has him in His keeping.

The fleet sailing with him was scattered and at least two ships are known to have sunk with the loss of all aboard. Our own voyage home may be delayed with this damage done. I pray that God will take the souls of the lost sailors and their passengers to him. I also pray that we might have less trouble when we journey. I know it will be as He wills.

Peel Agincourt Diary: 15 November

The king is to sail for England tomorrow. With King Henry gone, it is certain that the army will not march again this year. God be praised that our trials are coming to an end.

Our company will not sail with the king for there are not enough ships to be had to take all of our men, horses, and prisoners across the sea. Because of this, King Henry has provided that each man shall receive a sum of 2 shillings and a further 2 shillings per horse to pay for the cost of the voyage back to England. Sir Geoffrey and all his gentlemen have gone to see what may be done about arranging our passage.

Peel Agincourt Diary: 12 November

There is discontent among the gathered French knights and gentlemen. They claim that they have all come to Calais, as was agreed, and that since there was the great battle at Agincourt, they are only required to pay their ransoms and sould be free to return to their homes. Had there been no battle, they say, the agreement of their paroles was that they would again be subject to imprisonment. King Henry has declared that if they had previously heard that they would be able to leave freely, they were misinformed. He holds that they are once more his prisoners.

The king has been particularly harsh with Raoul de Gaucourt, who held the town of Harfleur in defiance of him. Sir Raoul, as one would expect from a man with his reputation, has done the honorable thing, even rising from his sickbed to fulfill his vow to submit to his captor, Sir John Cornewaille. King Henry has told him that if he wishes to be free again, he must set about ransoming all of the some seven or eight score Englishmen captured during this adventure in France. He must also see to the return of all of those precious items looted from the king’s baggage during the battle at Agincourt. Further, Sir Raoul must provide two hundred casks of Beaune wine, to be shipped to the king in London.

Sir Raoul, following the advice of other French noblemen already imprisoned in Calais, has agreed to King Henry’s demands rather than risk languishing many years in English captivity.  The king has granted his request to leave Calais and arrange for all that was demanded.

[Raoul de Gaucourt  paid the ransoms of all the English prisoners he could find, redeemed all the jewels he could tracer, and sent them as well as the Beaune wine to Henry V in London. The cost to de Gaucourt was in excess of 13, 000 crowns (about £2,167). Even then, Henry did not remit de Gaucourt’s ransom, finding him still to be Cornewaille’s prisoner and thus subject to a ransom of 10,000 crowns and to remain a prisoner until it was paid. -Ed.]

 

Peel Agincourt Diary: 11 November

It is Martinmas.

All across the pas de Calais, those who cannot afford to feed their pigs, bullocks, sheep, goats, and geese have had these animals felled and butchered and their meat salted down for the coming winter. At least some of the people hereabouts have remembered St. Martin’s charity to a beggar and have been generous to us this day as we sit like beggars outside their city walls. For the first time since we arrived here, there is sufficient meat for the day. The archers are once again rowdy, as they were when noted sold their prisoners, for the vintners have tapped the new vintage and they are honoring their patron saint, the most excellent St. Martin. [The diarist’s high opinion of St.Martin may have some bearing on the fact that the handwriting in this entry is notably less refined than usual -Ed.] Soon the Advent season will be upon us and such feasting will be nought but a pleasant memory until we once again celebrate the coming of the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ.

This was the day set for all of the king’s prisoners to return from parole and present themselves to him here in Calais. I have heard it said that those captured at Harfleur, those captured along the march and released before the battle at Agincourt, and even those set on parole to gather their ransom once we reached the pas de Calais have, to a man, come to here to Calais to submit to King Henry.