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.]
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.
In our Agincourt Diary, we have several entries that touch on the medieval practice of ransoms, but little has been said about how and where the captured knights were held. Today, the British Library today offered a bit of a glimpse into the paper trail on one “very important prisoner.”
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.
It is the feast of All Saints. The recent battle has meant many new souls to pray for this day, and the king asked his priests to pray for all those lost in that battle, both English and French, in each of the three morning masses he heard today. As is the custom the king wrote a purple gown this day and those around him wore mourning gowns of black. Sir Geoffrey did not as his best goewn was lost in the march.
Some of Sir Geoffrey’s archers are getting a lesson in the hard fact that not everyone who captures a Frenchman can afford to keep him. Even after selling some of the the prizes they had taken from Frenchmen or their baggage train, they do have neither the money to pay for their captured knight’s passage across the sea nor even to keep him fed.They have had to sell him off to a man who seems to make it his business to collect the prisoners from those who can afford to keep them. They received only a fraction of the full ransom, one part in ten I heard said from one and 3 or 4 in one from others, but they have been paid in cash. I know not how much of that sum they retain for I have seen that they revel in ale and wine and I believe they have drunk much of their ransom portion already.
Sir Geoffrey is not pleased. I do not think he cares that they drink their own portion, but by their transaction, they have foregone the full ransom and thusly have deprived Sir Geoffrey, their captain, of his full third of it. As dear as all things have been here in Calais, any loss of income is to be regretted.