Tag Archive | siege. Harfleur

Peel Agincourt Diary: 28 September

The first ship carrying the sick back to England has sailed today. The Earl of Arundel has gone aboard his ship with many of his sickened retinue. Five healthy men-at-arms have boarded as well to serve as his guard. One of the men-at-arms died during the loading.

The king’s brother Thomas, duke of Clarence has gone as well. The earl of March and Thomas Mowbray, the earl marshall, also.

Here in Harfleur, Thomas Beaufort, earl of Dorset is to remain and hold the town for the king.

The earl of Warwick is to go to Calais by ship. Some say that this means that the army will march there rather than to Bordeaux, but the king still says nothing of his true plans. Only he and God know the truth of it.

Peel Agincourt Diary: 27 September

Word spreads that the king has decided to send the sick home to England. Should they remain among us, the illness may spread.

Old Sir Robert [A veteran knight retained by Sir Geoffrey. – Ed.] says that many are not fit to march in any case, and we will all be better off if they are not consuming our supplies.  His words seem callous, but he is a veteran of many campaigns and has seen this sort of thing before. I fear his words carry truth.

Peel Agincourt Diary: 24 September

Today priests and paupers, and women and children, in all some two thousand in number, were led by armed men to the gates of Harfleur. Each was given five sous for food, of the king’s largesse, and told that they were free to go wherever they so wished and that they might take their clothes and whatever they could carry in their arms. It was pitiful to see and hear the sorrow of these poor people thus driven away from their dwellings and property. They left amid much lamentation and grief and tears for the loss of their customary habitation.

A great many wished to go to Lillebourne and, to see that they traveled safely, were accompanied thither by soldiers of our king. At said town they were given over to the marshal Boucicaut and placed under the said lord’s  protection. I pray that the noble Boucicaut is inspired by God’s mercy to truly see them safe. Whether he will or not is between him and God. For the others I have far greater fear, for they go upon other paths and they may be robbed or raped or otherwise distressed with none to aid nor to defend them. Hardship, penury, and the unknown lie all before them. May God have mercy upon them.

All of the town records were burnt in the square, for this day is a new one for Harfleur as it is reborn as one of the king’s strongholds. Houses must be repaired and the defenses rebuilt. It is no small task.

Sir Geoffrey says that our king needs to give Harfleur a strong garrison and that those men who have sworn fealty are likely to be of dubious loyalty when put to the test. The boys and young men who are being taken into service as pages will also be of little worth as fighting men. William, the esquire, says that King Henry can solve this problem by making the town headquarters for the army and wintering over.

God save us from being so long from home.

Old Sir Robert says that the king will most likely move from here, as there is word that the French have ordered siege engines brought to Rouen where their army lies. Should the king stay in Harfleur, he says, the French will soon lay a new siege upon it and such a siege will not go well for us. Neither would marching upon the French at Rouen with our army weakened by the late siege and disease.

It is clear that none of the gentlemen know the king’s mind in this matter.

Peel Agincourt Diary: 23 September

The king made to enter Harfleur today and the gates were thrown open to receive their lord.  The commissioners  and envoys of his party rode in, but the king dismounted, and taking off his shoes and his hosen, walked barefoot into his town.  Sir Geoffrey’s party following after the king, as is our place, dismounted as well and we walked behind him, although we retained our shoes and hosen.

The king made direct through the streets to what remained of the church of St. Martin. It was a doleful sight. Its steeple and tower were all collapsed, and the once fine bells lay amidst the rubble. All along the way, the buildings of the town were, likewise, in a doleful state. Timbers lay broken or warped from their housings. Stone walls lay in ruin. Everywhere there was a foul stench. hanging over the terrible destruction.

As I prayed for those who had thus lost their shelter, the king ordered  that all the women and children be gathered, and all the poor as well. He also ordered all of the clergy be gathered together. Further, he commanded that the surviving men who would swear fealty to him as their liege lord should be allowed to remain in the town. Those who will not are to be imprisoned and held for as great a ransom as they may ever pay. Of the fate of the others, he has not shared his will.

Peel Agincourt Diary: 22 September

Guillaume de Léon and the envoys he led have returned with word that no French army will come. This morning they passed into Harfleur to take this news to those who hold the town.


This afternoon  Raoul de Gaucourt, who is most visibly ill, and Jean d’Estouteville and the other commanders and all those who had swore to the terms of the truce came through the ruins of the Leure gate. The remains of the barbican still smoked, and many were coughing as they met our English heralds. All coming from the town wore ropes about their necks in token of their surrender.

They were taken to the hill where King Henry sat in his great pavilion along with the other great nobles of our host, all in rich robes. Sir Gilbert Umfraville stood on the right of our seated king and bore the king’s crowned helm on a staff. All four and twenty of the hostages were at hand and they joined their countryman to make the formal surrender.

The Earl Marshall received them and gave them reminder that they had unjustly resisted King Henry, rightful lord of England and France, and that in doing so they were liable to death, one and all. He acknowledged that they did, at the last, surrender of their own free will, albeit this was done tardily, and that thus they should not depart entirely without mercy, although he did say that the king might wish to modify such mercy after further consideration. The whole while that the Earl Marshall spoke, King Henry did not so much as look at those that had come before him after defying his will. Only after they had handed the keys of the town to the Earl Marshall, did the king speak and tell them that their lives would be spared.

At the king’s order, a standard bearing the royal arms and another  bearing the cross of ST. George were hoisted over the gates. King Henry named Thomas Beaufort, the earl of Dorset,  his lieutenant of Harfleur and granted him a sufficient staff of people of both ranks. [The two ranks here named being those of gentility and of the commons, one presumes – Ed.]

Peel Agincourt Diary: 20 September

Upon reflection, I think that our king may’ve found the date agreed upon for Harfleur’s surrender to be a good one. That day is the feast of St. Maurice, a Roman soldier martyred for refusing to kill Christians. I pray that it is the mercy shown by St. Maurice that our king wishes to emulate. For King Henry has said he will treat the town as prescribed in Deuteronomic law and destroy all within for their refusal of him as their lord. If he instead looks to the example of St. Maurice, he can spare the poor souls within and still hold to the values of that good martial saint , who was a great follower of our Lord, Jesus.

Peel Agincourt Diary: 22 August

The king daily and knightly in his own person does visit and search the watches, orders, and stations of every part of his host. Those whom he finds diligent, he praises and thanks, and the negligent he corrects and chastises. This night King Henry has visited our encampment, and was pleased to see that sentries were set as they should be.

Men say that no one knows where or when the king king will appear next, not even his brother, the duke of Clarence. They have begun to whisper that the king never sleeps. I am unsure whether they speak with pride or fear.