Word has come this evening that today at Westminster, the parliament has ordered that no corn should be exported to any port on the continent save that it go to Calais or Harfleur. I have growing hope that we shall soon eat better than we have been doing. May God grant that it be so.
The king’s clerks are compiling a list of all prisoners, for the king’s eye is upon his own profits from their adventure. Any man directly indented to the king, as Sir Geoffrey is, must pay the king a third of any ransom he receives as well as a third of any third that he receives, as captain, from the men of the company.
I saw Sir John Cornewaille and some of his folk in the camp yesterday. That valiant knight is well known for assuming the prisoners of others, relieving those captors of the burden of the prisoner’s care and the trouble of collecting the ransom for immediate cash or favors.With food and cash still scarce, more and more men are tempted to accept the offer of a fraction of a ransom’s worth in immediate wealth over the promise of greater wealth at some indefinite future time. Now I must go about the company and ascertain how many prisoners are still held among us before making a fair copy of the list of those that our people continue to hold and what ransom has been agreed upon for them.
The food set aside for the army by the king has gone, and we are in the hands of the victualers and the greedy townsfolk of Calais. The cook says that he has had nothing but hard bargaining for food with said victualers and townsfolk. What they ask for bread, that very staff of life, is astonishing. I do not understand how good Christians can do this to their fellow Christians.
Sir Geoffrey reviewed his company’s accounts today. He noted and decried the costs for the medical care of for Sir Guillaume, one of his prisoners. A dead captive brings no ransom, as old Sir Robert has had to remind the archers regularly. Under the laws of war, a captor must support his prisoner while that unfortunate remains in his keeping. Although providing medical care is not required, Sir Geoffrey has ordered that the bills be paid. He also wondered aloud where he was going to find the money to transport the prisoners over the sea to England which must needs be done if they are to be kept safe while their ransoms are paid.
Today the king made his triumphal entry into Calais. He was met at the gates by Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick and captain here, and a crowd of townsfolk who greeted King Henry with glad cries. The king and his people entered into the town escorted by all the priests and clergy of the place bearing crosses and the banners of their places and singing Te Deum. We could hear the crowds hailing him as he passed. He is lodged now in the castle, although it is said that he stopped on his way there at the Church of St. Nicolas to give thanks for his victory.
This evening we reached the fortified town of Guînes and are now safely within the Pas-de-Calais. The king was welcomed with due solemnity by the captain of the garrison. He and his people and his prisoners have gone within the walls. The army was not welcome within and so we marched on the last few miles to Calais, where the gates were also closed to us. The great leaders have been admitted, among whom Sir Geoffrey does not yet stand, and we now make camp in sight of the walls.
Three days of marching has exhausted all we gained from the French baggage train but, through God’s mercy and the wise preparations of our good king, medicine and beer and food has been prepared in anticipation of our arrival. Although there is a dire shortage of bread.
The progress we make is slow. Many of our horses were killed or stolen away during the battle. More are now set to carrying those wounded men, French prisoners and Englishmen alike, who are injured such that they can not walk. I think as many as three in four of our men now walk rather than ride.
There was a skirmish, somewhere near Boulogne if I have been informed correctly, and several archers were captured. It is the only trouble we have had with the French since the battle, and I pray God that it will be the last.
I began to wonder what would happen to the mortal remains of the countless dead who lay upon the field. There were far too many to see proper Christian burial by our people. I did not even know if all of our own dead will receive proper rites, as they should. I went to the edge of the battlefield to offer prayers for the repose of those souls. Rain was falling and I imagined it as the tears of the our Savior and His saints for all the good Christian souls sent to judgement this day. When I came upon the site of the king’s God-given victory, I saw that there were men and women moving among the dead. From bits of talk that I heard, I knew them to be French. What our people had not taken from the dead, they did. I heard exclamations from one group, then a weak voice calling for succor. That group drew into a tight knot. I thought that I saw a glint of metal and there followed a scream that stopped abruptly. These people were busy for a few moments before the departed, carrying burdens. I knew what I had witnessed was no more or less than our own peopled had done, but the thought that these French men and women were so far into the shadow of the devil’s wings so as to do as they had done to their own countryman made my soul shiver. I fled back to our camp.
Thoughts of the dead still beset me. I take small comfort in knowing that at least our fallen nobles will receive their due, as is right and proper. I have been told that the corpses of the duke of York and the earl of Suffolk, since they can neither be embalmed nor encased in lead to seal in the putrefaction, are being prepared. They have been quartered and are now being boiled in order that the flesh may come away from the bones. When this is accomplished, their bones will be reverently placed in a small coffer that they may be carried back to England for interment with all due ceremony in a final resting place fit for their station.
I will pray for their souls and all the souls of the departed until God, in His mercy, sends me sleep.
As evening approached it began to rain again. The king said it was too late to resume the march and retired to his lodging in Maisoncellle. I think he reasons that it is more than the hour, for the men are desperately tired and cannot sustain further effort. The victuals we have taken from the French baggage train will refresh us all and be most welcome after the deprivation we have suffered for so long.
As weary as they are the soldiers are moving about the battlefield, searching among the slain for treasure. Some are seeking arms and armor to replace their own that has been lost or damaged, others do so in order to sell it for gain. Two of Sir Geoffrey’s archers have clattered back into camp with enough harness to equip themselves as men-at-arms twice over.
The scavenging activities, although right and proper for our people as the day’s victors, have come to the king’s attention. He is mindful of the continuing threat from the French, either through ambush or renewed direct opposition. Overburdened with loot, the army would be vulnerable. Further, we have yet some distance to travel before we reach the safety of the Pas de Calais and, despite this night’s bounty, food will remain scarce until we reach that haven. He now orders that no one is to acquire more than he needs for himself. All the rest of the arms and armor is to be brought to a certain barn and burned, that it might not fall back into the hands of the French to our detriment. There is much grumbling, but the king’s will is being done.
At some point in time, during the confusion of the battle, a party of French fell upon our baggage train, slaying and stealing. Many horses were taken or run off and even some of the king’s own carts were plundered. [When the losses were accounted, the pillagers took 219 pounds,16 shillings in cash as well jewels including a gem-studded golden cross worth 2166 pounds, a piece of the True Cross, the king’s crown, his state sword, and the seals of the English chancery. – Ed.]