Cecil George Savile Foljambe Liverpool.

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of the heir of John Holand, late Earl of Huntingdon.

In the Cotton MSS. (Cleopatra), 1410, Mens. John Cornewaile is nominated
a Commissioner for the County of Northampton to borrow money for the King.
In the Rot. Franc, 13 and 14, is a safe conduct for Thanequy de Chastel,t
Chivaler, who was coming to England " pour comhattre in prcBsentia Regis
contra Johaniiem Cornewaille, Chivaler," from which it would appear that he
had achieved a world-wide reputation, while we read elsewhere of a notable
feat performed by him at Smithfield, then the scene of royal tournaments,
in unhorsing a Scottish Knight. It might not be ao exaggeration to style
him ihe Champion of England, + in a great mesisure owing to the following
incident narrated by Monstrelet. To invert the ancient proverb, inter pacem
silent arma, and in 1409, there being no war to satisfy the martial cravings
of soldiers of fortune,§ challenges — amoimting to what we should term inter-
national tests — were frequent. Thus the renowned Seneschal of Hainault||
thought fit to offer his glove to Sir John Cornewall, and accordingly the event
was arranged to take place at LiUe, the weapons being the lance and the battle-
axe, the latter suggesting a duel a I'outrance. No sooner had Charles VI. of
France heard of it than he commanded the combat to be fought in his presence
and at Paris, with the following very unsatisfactory result : —

" On the appointed day Sir John CornewaU entered the hsts first, very
grandly equipped, and galloping his horse around came before the King, whom
he gallantly saluted. He was followed by six Httle pages mounted on as many
war-horses, the two first of which were covered with furniture of ermine, and

* Lord Fanhope, jure uxoris, presented twice to the Rectory of Darlington, Devon.

t This Thanequy, more correctly Duchatel, was PrSvot of Paris, and murdered John of
Burgundy at Montereau.

X Monstrelet records two Challenges sent to King Henry himself, viz., from Louis, Due
d'Orleans, brother of Charles VI., and from Waleran, brotlier of Richard II., Count of St. Paul.

§ Belz — " History of the Order of the Garter " — attributes the frequency of duels to the
pacific qualities of Henry of England cuid Charles of France.

II The Seneschal addressed a letter to the King to the effect, that having heard of the new
Order of the Garter being a revival of King .Arthur's Round Table, where the Knights were sworn
to meet all comers, he prayed the King's permission to fight them all, individually and severally,
at a spot forty miles from London — apparently to secure a fair field and no favour. The King
replied in the negative, alleging that the proposal was contrary to the precedents of King Arthur.
At the same time he reminded him that one Knight — evidently Sir John Cornewall, inasmuch as
in the issue the Seneschal came over especially to meet him — in whatsoever spot he had happened
to be, had gladly encountered from ten to forty foreign Knights. The Seneschal's name was John
de Werchin, or Wrechen [LcUres du Seneschal de Hainault — BibliotlUque National de Paris, No.
8, 417].


the other four with cloth of gold. When he had made his obeisances the
pages retired without the lists."

" Shortly afterwards the Seneschal arrived, attended by the Duke of
Brabant and his brother, the Comte de Nevers, each holding a rein of his horse
on his right and left. The Comte de Clermont bore his battle-axe and the
Comte de Penthievre his lance. When he had made his circuit of the lists, and
had saluted the King, as Sir John Cornewall had done, they prepared to tilt
with their lances."

At this juncture King Charles, who had already displayed symptoms of
insanity, abruptly stopped the combat, a Herald proclaiming the royal pleasure
that " this deed of arms should not be carried further, and that in future no
one within his realm, under pain of capital punishment, should challenge
another without substantial cause." Leland completes the story thus : —

" In the yere X. of King Henry the Senescal of Hainaud (sic.) came to
seke aventures in England. Jousts were held at Smithfield, and on the third
day he encountered ' Syr John of Cornewall,' " but with what result that not
very dependable historian omits to state. We learn from Stowe that the
occasion was more than commonly splendid, " where were to see the same
the most part of the nobles and gentles of England." The Seneschal, before
he encountered Sir John Cornewall, had been unhorsed by John Beaufort,
Earl of Somerset, and had met Sir Richard Arundel.

Hen. V. had throughout appreciated the high quahties of his uncle.
Sir John Cornewall, and both were fighting men. The Rot. Franc, contain
letters of protection for him in the 6th, yth, and 9th, years of his reign,* while
in the 4th year — 1416 — ^just after Agincourt, he was nominated with the Duke
of Clarence, the Earls of March and Huntingdon, Lords Grey de Ruthyn,
Poynings, and Bergenny as an escort for the Emperor Sigismund, whose speech,
" Ego sum Rex Romanus et super grammaticam," has for ever immortalised
him. They were ordered to meet this ungrammatical monarch at Dartford,
while at Blackheath the Mayor, Aldermen, and " bones gens " of the City
would present an address, the King finally welcoming his Imperial guest at
St. Thomas Waterynges ; and in the year following Sir John Cornewall was

* The Rot. Franc, 3 Hen. V., contain a safe conduct for one John Sampson gomg abroad
in the retinue of Sir John Cornewall, Chivaler. And in the same RoUs we have protection to Sir
John Harpeden, Knight, going to parts beyond the sea in the retinue of Sir John Cornwall, Knight.


appointed one of a Commission to arrange terms for the surrender of the Castle
of Touque by the French.

We now come to the Battle of Agincourt. Among the ten* Generals
who fought in the van under the Duke of York on that great day the old ballad
tells us that : —

" Sire John, the Knight of Cornewaille,
He dar abyde, and that know yee ! "
He specially distinguished and benefited himself by taking prisoner
Prince Louis de Bourbon, Comte de Vendome. Nor was this noble his only
captive. As will appear, he realised an immense sum by ransoms and other-
wise, whUe his valour remains an eternal record. It is suggested aptly by Miss
Isabel Cornwall, in her admirable Monograph, that he must have formed a
conspicuous feature with his princely prisoner in the superb procession which
marched slowly and solemnly from St. Paul's to Westminster Abbey to return
thanks for the victory. That may be. Two hundred years after, Drayton,
the author of Polyolbion, in a poem styled " Agincourt," mentions him among
the more daring spirits of the fray, and by a strange anachronism confers
the title he was destined to be known by, but which had not been granted
when he fought on that memorable field. The lines run thus : —
" Warwick in blood did wade,

Oxford the foe invade,

And cruel slaughter made —

Still as they ran up ;

Suffolk his axe did ply,

Beaumont and WiUoughby ;

Bare them right doughtily

Ferrers and Fanhope."

The story of Lord Fanhope, as we shall see, forms an object lesson on

the mutability of human greatness. His was a brilliant, nay more, a dazzHng

career. Like a meteor he flashed across the sky and left behind nothing.

Even the trophies of this proud day, and of others wherein he bore his part,

were destined to desecration. Early in the last century the execrable taste

of the period prompted the churchwardens to erect a gallery in Burford

Church. In order to effect their purpose, these priceless trophies — ^swords,

* Sir John Cornewall's command at Agincourt consisted of 30 men at arms and ninety


guns, and a complete suit of armour, the latter probably that worn by
Lord Fanhope — were removed and sold. In 1833 General Cornwall inter-
viewed a blacksmith who had been the purchaser. All was then destroyed,
the last to go being a helmet used to carry ashes. Sic transit gloria !

One consequence of Agincourt was a further and more extensive grant
of manors by the Crown, and, as is recorded, for life only. These estates
lay in Beds., and comprised the manors of Ampthill, Milbrook, Haughton,
Tyngrith, HyUwicke, and Pelyng. At Ampthill he erected a Castle meet
for his royal spouse, who had presented him with a son and heir. Leland
speaks of it as " standing stately on a hill with foure or five Toures of stone
in the inner ward beside the basse Court, of such spoiles as, it is said, he wanne
in France. It may chaunce that the marriage of the Duchess of Exeter was
a great cause of the sumptuous building there." It can only be remarked
that the vast e.xpense incurred seems inconsistent with a mere life-tenure,
indeed Ampthill Castle leads up to a problem needing solution, but which has
hitherto baffled even such capable researchers as the late Judge Bayley. We
shall come to it presently.

One object of the Emperor Sigismund's visit had been to negotiate a
peace between England and France. He failed, and Henry V., in 1417,
had overrun the latter Kingdom as far as the banks of the Seine. We learn
from Monstrelet that he had advanced as far as Louviers, which submitted,
and thence to the Abbey of Bomfort near Pont de I'Arche, where a certain
John de GravUle was in command. King Henry despatched Sir John Corne-
waU to summon him to surrender, but De Graville defied him, whereupon
the former said : "I pledge my word, that despite you and your men, I wiU
cross the Seine. Should I do so, you shall give me your best courser. Should
I faU, I will present you with my steel helmet worth 500 nobles. After this
parley they parted mutually pleased with each other.

Accordingly De Graville sent for reinforcements to guard the fords. Among
others came Sir James D'Harcourt from Estampigny, and with him 800
men at arms and some 1200 peasants. On the morrow Sir John Cornewall
marched to the banks with but sixty Englishmen, only one horse, and his son,
then fifteen years of age, and embarking in eight boats reached an island in
the middle of the stream. Here with a few small cannon he was able to fire
upon those who guarded the opposite bank. In the end the enemy made


no defence, but fled in disorder, whereupon Sir John re-embarked in his boats
and landed on the south bank without opposition. Immediately he dubbed
his son a Knight, and being joined by looo Enghsh, laid siege to Ponte de
I'Arche. He then told De Graville that the French had behaved badly,
declaring that had he been in their position with but 60 Englishmen he would
have defended the river, even if he had been confronted by the combined
armies of England and France. This language, it must be admitted, sounds
braggart, but indirectly testifies to the high opinion the valiant speaker had
of the Englishmen whom he commanded. No doubt at the moment he was
much exalted over the courage exhibited by his son and heir, and that may
serve as an apology for the high flight of his winged words.

The si.K month's siege of Rouen gave a title to an ancient poem, from
which we extract the subjoined extracts : —

" The Friday before Lammas Day
Cure Kynge reraevyde on ryche araye
Unto that Cyte wyth wel grete pryde,
And loggyde hym a lytil this besyde ;
And on the Saturday he synede the grounde
To the chyveteyngs (chieftains) abowte that Cyte rounde."

[Here follows an account of the lodgings assigned to the royal retinue ;

And the Erie of Urmonde there lay bye.
Next Clarance wyt a full fayre manye,
And Coruewall, that comely Knygte,
He lay wyt Clarance both daye and aygte."

Concerning this siege Monstrelet narrates as follows : —

" Sir James D'Harcourt and the Baron de Morcul assembled about 2000 men, whom they led
to within two leagues of the English army in the hope of plunder. They attacked a village near
the town, in which were a party of English. These for the most part were either taken or killed,
but a few having good horses escaped to the main army, crying out that they had seen the French
in great force. The English were instantly in motion and under arms, and the King of England
ordered Sir John de Coruewall to mount his horse and take 600 men to reconnoitre. Sir John,
without delay, marched off his men, taking with him (as guides) some of those who had seen the
French, and soon came up with them. The French perceiving that the EngUsh were in force hastily
retired upon their ambuscades, annoimcing their approach. Sir John de ComewaU followed them
in good array and so closely as to be able to distinguish their number. Then the French suddenly
advanced from their ambush in order of battle, albeit the more part turned their backs and fled.
The English perceiving this made a vigorous charge, and with a trifling loss put the whole to flight.
On this day were twelve score French killed or made prisoners, among the latter being the Baron
de Morcul, with many noble gentlemen of high rank. Sir James D'Harcourt and others only
saved themselves by the fleetaess of their horses. Sir John de Coruewall returned with his prisoners
to the camp very much rejoiced at his victory."


On his voyage home the victorious general narrowly escaped shipwreck.
Thus HoUinshed : " In this passage the seas were so rough and troublous
that two ships belonging to Sir John Cornewall were driven into Zealand.
Howbeit nothing was lost." Looking forward down the stream of time we
have already found another Cornewall also landed in Zealand and left it with
nothing lost, but on the contrary very much gained.

In the year 1417 he was appointed a Commissioner with Richard Beau-
champ, Earl of Warwick, to treat with De Montenay, Captain of Caen, for
the surrender of that fortress, and in 1419 Sir John Cornewall returned to France
as second in command to the Earl of Huntingdon, winning fresh laurels,
whereafter followed the treaty of Troye, in 1420, with the marriage of Hen. V.
to Katherine of France. By way of honeymoon this young and lovely bride —
a mere girl — was condemned to follow the army which was stiU engaged in
reducing such fortresses as had not surrendered. In the Memoires of Pierre de
Ferrin we have the subjoined graphic description of the scene at Sens : —

" La fat le roy Charles, le roi Henri, et le Due de BourgojTie sept jours avant qii'ils voulussent
parlementer. Mais quand Us virent qu'il y avoit si grande puissance, et qu'ils n'auroient aucune
secours, il voulurent trouver leur traite ; partant le roi Henri envoya Cornewaille (qui bien apperceut
qu'ils etoient ea danger) parler a eux. Quand le dit Cornewalle fut vener assez pres de la porte
pour parler k eux, il vlnt a lui un gentilhomme qui avoit grande barbe, mais quand Cornewaille
le vit, il dit lui qu'il ne parleroit point a lui s'il n'avoit sa barbe mieux faite, et que ce n'etait
point la guise et coustume des Anglois.' Cela fit qu' aussitot il lui alia faire son barbe, puis revint
vers le dit Cornewaille ; et la parlerent tant que la traite fut faite."

In 1421 Sir John was in England suing Gerard the Dane for 900 crowns —
probably the ransom of a prisoner — and inasmuch as the said Gerard could
not, or would not pay, he was committed to gaol. Money from ransoms just
now began to stream into the coffers of Ampthill. Thus we find in the Rot.
Norman, 8 Hen. V., a grant to John Cornewall of Peter de Reux, Marshall
of France, taken prisoner in the field ; and in the Cotton MSS., under date
June 27, 1423, there is the following entry having reference to Agincourt : —

" Before the Lords of Gloucester, etc., the Bishops of Norwich, etc. Whereas the Dukes
of Gloucester and Exeter commanded Sir John Comwaile to come before them to treat for
the Count de Vendosme, a prisoner, and it was agreed that the said Sir John should have for ransom
5500 marks, it is further agreed that the said Sir John shall be satisfied with 3000 marks out of the
lands of John, heir of Sir John Arundel, a ward of the King, annually. But that if Parliament do
not ratify this, then the entire 5500 marks is hereby guaranteed."

Apparently this arrangement, pressing as it did with undue severity on
the minor, John Arundel, could not have been ratified, inasmuch as in the


second year of King Henry VI. we find among the Rot. Pat. " a grant to
Sir John Cornewall. Knight, of Louis de Bourbon, Count de Vendome, his
prisoner at Agincourt with ransom."

In Nov. 16 of the same year — 1423 — " The Lords of the Council dehvered
to Sir John Cornwaile Louis de Bourbon, Count de Vendome, prisoner of war
at the Battle of Agincourt, and whereas the ransom was in arrears, leave is
granted to the said Count to go to his own country to procure and pay his
ransom, and to return to England whenever it shall please the said Sir John
Cornewaile. Present, Duke of Gloucester, Archbishop of Canterbury (Chicheley,)
Bishops of Winton, Norwich and Worcester, Earls of March and Warwick,
Lord Cromwell, the Lord Chancellor, Treasurer, and Privy Seal."

Again the Rot. Franc, 4 Hen. VI., contain a safe conduct for Sir John de
Chabanes, bringing gold to Sir John Cornewall for the ransom of the Lord de
Goncourt, his prisoner ; and in the same Rot. Franc, 6 Hen. VI., a safe conduct
to Lord de Goncourt, Knight — prisoner— coming to surrender his person to
Sir John Cornewall.

Later on we find more ransoms accruing, e.g., Rot. Franc, 14 Henry VL,
safe conduct for John Lendermean of St. Malo in Brittany, prisoner to Sir
John Cornewall, going to Brittany for his ransom.

To revert to the year 1421. King Henry V. brought his bride to England
for her Coronation in Westminster Abbey. On this auspicious occasion Sir
John had the honour of entertaining the Royal pair, and the menu bearing the
legend " Hoc festum fecit D'n's J'h'ones Cornewell Regi Anglie," is preserved
among the Add. MSS., No. 18752 in the British Museum. For quantity and
variety it fairly eclipses a Lord Mayor's feast or a College Gaudy, e.g. : —

Grene pese wt. Veneson

Graunte chare (query, a big char ?)

Capon of haute Grece (i.e., (larded)


Blaunche custarde dyaburde with b\Trdys (diapered)

Leche maskelyn (a cake of wheat and rye)

Roo in brothe (roe- venison soup) •n

Rosey (stewed fruits flavoured with roses)



Mounter in Mantell (a hawk with its hood in sugar) '• Secundus Cursus

Chyk>Ti dyaburde (i.e., diapered)

Veneson y'bake I

Fuiter lumbarde (fritters)

Leche ruwy (rye pudding)

Primus Cursus



Datys ia composte

Blaunche creme vvt. annys in compts.

Lardys of veneson


Quayle )■ Suggearke


Rysshewes (rissoles)

Vyandys couched wt. lyons (decorated)

Leche of his armys

The latter item appears to have been a mould in sugar of the Royal Arms.
It is evident that the confectioner had a larger part to play in the preparation
of this banquet than the cook, the white custard diapered with little birds of
sugar being in itself a work of art, while such rarities as heron, kid, and cygnet
may well have tested the capacity of Sir John's cordon bleu ; but no doubt
his Princess must be held responsible for many of the details of a superbly
artistic feast. In the middle ages the highest ladies in the land were by far
the most capable.

This may be considered the climax of a brilliant career. Sir John CornewaU
had excelled all knights in battle and in tournay. He had wedded the King's
sister, and wore the ribboo of the Garter. Great riches had poured into his
lap, enabUng him to erect a castle worthy his royal consort, who had given
him an heir promising to be his counterpart alike in court and camp. We
have now to mark a change in the trend of events.

We learn from HoUinshed that holding command in the province of Maine
was Sir John Greene CornewaU — thus unintentionally adding this sobriquet
to his surname — indeed he was always the Green Knight, and, as has already
been remarked, the bordure of his coat was of that tincture, albeit not the
normal vert of the Heralds, but a hue not elsewhere to be met, a sage green.
From the festive board at Westminster he fared forth as a soldier to a soldier's
duty, his brave son by his side. That young man had attained his i8th year, and
appears to have been filled with the military ardour of his sire. It was probably
owing to reckless valour and the inexperience of youth that at the siege of
Meaux, Dec, 1421, he came within the range of cannon fire, falling, much as
Richard, son of the King of the Romans, at the siege of Berwick. The Cardinal
des Ursins wrote thus : " During the siege a young knight, son of Sir John de
CornewaU and Cousin German to King Heniy, was kiUed by a cannon shot to
the great sorrow of the King and other Princes, for although he was but a youtli.


he was very well behaved and prudent."* The effect on Sir John can only
be described as electrical. He who but yesterday had been feasting his nephew
and comrade in arms, King Henry, exclaimed in his grief and anger, " The
King brought us here to recover Normandy, and now he is attempting to deprive
the Dauphin of his throne ! " — thus testified the Cardinal. Probably these
hasty words never reached the King's ears, but Sir John's action in throwing
up his command and leaving without a word for England and Ampthill told
its own tale. The blow in truth fell \vith greater force on the bereaved Princess,
who survived the shock barely four years, going down to the grave mourning.

It was characteristic of the Cornewalls — up to the last melancholy episode
in the long story of the Barons — that they turned to Burford as their proper
home. Sir John Cornewall had acquired vast estates elsewhere, with a Castle
in Bedfordshire, and his Princess might have been laid to rest by the side of
The Confessor in Westminster Abbey. This in virtue of her royal birth. But
when she was taken from him, a spirit of loyalty to the old and proud home,
redolent of such mighty memories as De Say, Mortimer, and Fitzosberne —
princely in all but name— induced him to remove her mortal remains to the
noble Church by the rushing Teme. There he erected to her honour a
recumbent effigy in alabaster on the north side of the Chancel, life-size, her
hair surmounted by a ducal coronet— strawberry leaves with pearls — the
mantle bordered with ermine. Two angels support the cushion whereon her
head rests, while couching at her feet a dog lifts the fringe of her robe. It is
pleasant to reflect, when compared with the methods of modern science, of the
loyal return made by loyal natures to the love of a faithful hound. On the
canopy are displayed the arms of England quartering the lilies of France,
and the lion rampant of the Cornewalls with the following inscription of later
date : —

" Here lyeth the bodie of the noble Princess Elizabeth, Daughter of John
of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and own sister to King Henry IV., wife of
John Holland, Earl of Huntingdon and Duke of Exeter, after married
to Sir John CornewayU, Knight of the Garter and Lord Fanhope.
She died in the fourth year of King Henry VI., A.D. 1426."

King Henry V. passed away soon after the tragic event of the siege of
Meaux, and in HoUinshed's account of that marvellous funeral procession on

* See Warvia's Chronicle — vol. I., p. 371.


foot headed by James of Scotland from Vincennes to Westminster we note
the name of Sir John Cornewall as one of the twelve chief mourners.

AnsHs' Register of the Garter, vol. ii., contains some entries of interest
referring to Sir John Cornewall, e.g. : —

7 Hen. V. — Sir John Cornewall absent with the King in Normandy at the Feast of St. George.

8 Hen.V. — Sir John Cornewall again absent with the King, who was taken up with his
marriage in France, and preparing to go to Milan.

9 Hen. V. — At a Chapter of the Garter Sir John Cornewall was present.

10 Hen. V. — He was absent, and not excused, because being in the Kingdom he had not
sent the cause of his absence.

1 Hen. VI. — He was present to elect the Duke of Austria a Knight of the Garter, vice The
Emperor Sigismund deceased.

2 Hen. VI. — Present and pardoned for previous absence.

12 Hen. VI. — Payment made by the Dean of Windsor for the e.xpenses of Lord Fanhope
and others on the Feast of St. George.

In 1430 on the Feast of St. Gregory, so we learn from Testamenta Vctusta'
p. 219, Philippa, Duchess of York, appointed Sir John Cornewall one of the

Online LibraryCecil George Savile Foljambe LiverpoolThe house of Cornewall → online text (page 19 of 33)