George Amelius Crawshay Sandeman.

Calais under English rule online

. (page 1 of 11)
Online LibraryGeorge Amelius Crawshay SandemanCalais under English rule → online text (page 1 of 11)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook





B 3 MMO no




University of California.

Gl FT OF'^}hJju^o^.us/^.. .uA/-y.a,/^<^r^. . .^

Class ^





Christ Churcfj






K (^'


This essay was one of the two awarded the Arnold Prize
for 1908. It has been but httle altered from its original
form, save for some slight additions, due to kind sugges-
tions from Lord Dillon and Mr. C. H. Firth.




Introduction -_. - - i

Royal Officers - - - 5

The Garrison and Defences of Calais - - 21

Military History - - - - - 42

Commerce - - - - - - - 57

Municipal Government - _ - - - 84

The Church - - - - - - 101

Justice - - - - 108

Social Calais - - - - - - 114

Conclusion - - - - - - 127


Chanson Nouvelle de la Prinse de Calais - - 138


Authorities for the Geography of the Pale - 139


Some General Authorities - - - - 140

[. References to Chancery Rolls are given thus :

R. O.

= Record Office.

S. R.

= Staple Rolls.

E. R.

= Extract Rolls.

F. R.

= French Rolls.


= Membrane.

Thus R. O. F. R.

= Record Office French Rolls.

io8, M. i6

= Number 108, Membrane 16.

20 H. VI.

=refers to regnal number in Record Office


2. P. of P. C.

= Proceedings of Privy Council.

3. R. of. P

= Rolls of Parliament.




Two or three episodes in the history of Enghsh rule in
Calais are famiHar to all. " Every schoolboy knows " —
to use the tiresome phrase of a famous historian — that
the burgesses of Calais knelt before Edward III. with
halters round their necks ; that Henry VIII. met
Francis I. near Calais at the Field of Cloth of Gold ; and
that Queen Mary made some remark to the effect that
Calais would be found lying in her heart. But how
little more ! The history of the Scottish Marches is com-
memorated in the ballads of Aytoun and in the novels
of Scott. The wild warfare of the Welsh border has
been idealized in fiction, and methodically described,
campaign by campaign, by careful historians. Professor
Seeley, in a brilliant series of lectures, has stimulated
the interest of Englishmen in their colonies. But
the history of the first of English colonies is as
little known to Englishmen as that of Dutch Sumatra
or of French Pondicherry. Its commercial position is
incidentally portrayed in treatises on the Staple, while
its military annals must be painfully evolved from
the bulky chronicles of the Hundred Years War.

The reasons for this neglect of Calais are not hard to
discover. Its capture forms one of the most discredit-
able episodes in the history of English misgovernment,
and no one loves to dwell on discreditable episodes or



upon the events which led up to them. Moreover, it is
true that the history of Calais is inextricably mixed up
with the history of England and France, and that its
political, commercial, and military importance are de-
pendent upon, and relative to, English affairs. Nor are
the materials available wherewith a connected history of
Calais should be written. ^luch valuable material was
doubtless destroyed in 1558, and enlightenment upon the
institutions, government, and social condition of Calais
must be sought in gleanings from the Records of the
Privy Council, from the Rolls of Parliament, and from
such illustrative documents as may be chanced upon in
the study of mediaeval literature or records. Any
attempt, therefore, at a succinct history of Calias is
doomed to dulness probably, and to imperfection almost
certainly. A tantalizing glimpse at some novel or
curious institution is rendered futile by the inabiUty to
follow out its history or ascertain its origin, while a con-
glomeration of illustrative extracts culled painfully from
the scattered annals of a series of years will not fail to
weary the luckless reader. Such French writers as have
attempted the history of Calais — Bernard or Lefebvre —
were painstaking annalists, but no more, and pursued the
historical method of a century and a half ago. Bernard,
for instance, with the naivete of Herodotus, affirms that
the name of the town of Oj'e is derived from the Latin
" anser," owing to the number of geese exported from
the district, and gravelyupholds theopinionof Calais anti-
quaries of his day that the geese who saved the Capitol
were almost certainly natives of the Calais district.^

Yet if the materials are scanty, and the subject at
first sight painful to Englishmen, in reality neither

1 Bernard, " Annales de Calais et du Calaisis," p. 541. St.
Omer, 17 15.


interest nor instruction nor romance is lacking to the
history of Calais. It was the first English colony, and
as a colony it was in a sense unique, for Calais is the
only instance of a colony founded on the Greek system —
the ousting of the native population in favour of an
immigrating community of the conquerors. Moreover,
it is an almost exact mediaeval counterpart of the modern
Gibraltar, and as such may have its lessons for modern
statesmen. Commercially, its history forms a most
absorbing period in the rise of English trade, and illus-
trates the tentative experiments of our Kings to formu-
late a sound commercial policy. The history of the
municipal changes at Calais is an interesting example
of the blending of French institutions with English, while
the quarrels between Staple and Municipality incidentally
make clear some intricacies and anomalies of town-
government in the Middle Ages. Again, Calais is an
excellent example of the importance of maritime supre-
macy, which has been entirely neglected by even the
most brilliant exponents of the influence of sea-power
on history. But if romance is required, the military
history of Calais will provide it. The story of how John
of Lancaster, captured by the French and confined at
Guisnes, fell in love with a laundry-maid, and, effecting
his escape by her aid,^ became the means whereby
Guisnes was captured for the English, may be an
eighteenth-century fabrication, but the entry of Guise
into Calais disguised as a peasant rivals Alfred's ven-
turesome entry into the Danish camp at Wilton ; while
the tale of Aymery de Pavia's treachery and the mid-
night repulse of de Charney's attempt on Calais, or any
of the numerous stories in Froissart of duels and frontier
fights, and ambushes and tournaments, or last, but not
1 R. Calton, "Annals and Legends of Calais," pp. 131, 132.

I — 2


least, the desperate struggle waged in January, 1558,
by the English garrison, already vastly outnumbered and
without hope of reinforcement, proves that the military
history of Calais, like all other border warfare, was not
without its picturesque incidents.

There are, broadly, only two divisions of Calais life —
military and commercial. And even these are dependent
on each other. Without commerce, Calais would not
have been worth keeping, and a garrison would not have
existed ; without a garrison, the Calais merchants would
not for a moment have been safe from French aggression.
So that Calais existed for commerce, and the garrison
existed for the protection of commerce and Calais.
Everything else was subsidiary either to the military or
to the commercial organization. Thus, the Municipality
only existed that there might be regulations for the
housing, deportment, and safeguarding of the commerce-
pursuing inhabitants. Thus, the Church existed only
that the reljgious needs of the merchant might be met.
So it was with Justice. Thus, again, the Captain and
the royal officers practically existed only that the garri-
son might be kept obedient, and might receive its wages,
and that the Crown might receive its proper proportion
of the commercial revenues of Calais.

The plan of this essay, then, will be to sketch the
history and organization of the military and commercial
life of Calais, dealing on the one hand with the position
of the Captains, royal officers, and garrison, and with
the history of border warfare and upkeep of works, as
being subsidiary to the military side ; and with the Staple,
Municipality, Church, and with Justice, as being depen-
dent on the commercial needs of Calais. The military
history comes first, for commerce was necessarily depen-
dent on the existence of a garrison. But as a factor in
Calais life, commerce was of vastly greater importance.


The King's representative and supreme official of Calais
was called successively Captain, Lieutenant, and Deputy.
He was usually noted for birth or talents, and had wide
powers, which were defined by Edward IIL in an Act of
July 12, 1349. Practically the business of the Captain
was to keep the town in safety. Thus, all inhabitants
and visitors to the town were to obey him absolutely by
night or day in everything touching the safety of the
place, and he had power to punish those who disobeyed
him. Further, he could dismiss officials who were remiss
in any respect, and send them to the Tower if necessary,
with right of nominating their successors. These powers
could be exercised by his second-in-command in his
absence. The Captain evidently had absolute authority
over all royal officers and soldiers,^ with the right of
making regulations for them, which, however, seems to
have been exerted by few. In 1465 the Earl of Warwick,

1 This was not always beneficial to the interests of Calais as
a garrison town — e.g., a letter from Sir Nicholas Wentworth to
Sir Thomas Darcy. After remarking that " the King was never
worse served than now," he goes on to say that the Captain (of
the Castle) " fears for the Town on account of the number af
strangers who come through the gates ; wishes he could shut
them when he pleased, according to the old ordinance ; is told
he has not the power, but must do as the Deputy commands ;
prevents all he can, but perhaps, if anything happened amiss,
the Deputy would lay the blame on him " (British Museum, Add.
MS. 24, 852, f. 2).


with the consent of Edward IV., drew up some regula-
tions with the object of consolidating the authority of
the Captain and his delegates.^ It was laid down that
the Lieutenant of the castle and of the town of Rysbank,
the Marshal, and all other officers, owed obedience to the
representative of the King, and were bound to assist him
in all that touched the government and defence of the
place. In return, the Captain was to treat them " in
gentyl, amyable, and friendly maner," giving to each
the necessary advice and instructions. If one officer
had a complaint against another, he must avoid a quarrel,
and come to the Captain, who would adjust differences.
All must assist on pain of dismissal in maintaining good
order, and must give a good example of private conduct.
j\Iention was then made of the scandalous immorality
among the soldiers, and it was decreed that all soldiers
having guilty relationship with married women must
break it off immediately, while bachelors living in con-
cubinage must marry their mistresses before the next
festival of Assumption, or else cease to have dealings
with them. Non-compliance was to be punished with the
man's dismissal from employment, and the banishment
of the woman. Thus even the morals of the garrison
came within the sphere of the Governor's authority.

But the duties of the Captain are perhaps best under-
stood by examining the agreements which were drawn
up at the beginning and end of each Captain's term of
office, defining the reciprocal obligations of Captain and
Sovereign to one another. Thus, Robert de Herle, ap-
pointed Captain for one year in 135 1, agrees to maintain
ten knights, forty-nine squires, and sixty foot-archers,
who are to be paid quarterly. No soldier is to be em-
ployed without his permission. He has power to dis-

^ Record Office, French Rolls, 24, Membrane 14, 5 E. iv.


place the commandant of the castle and those of neigh-
bouring places, while his jurisdiction extends to Marc,
Oye, Sangate, and Colne. The King agrees to supply
enough troops by land and sea for the proper defence of
the town.^ In 1.356 the following conditions were drawn
up on the appointment of John of Beauchamp for one
year to the captaincy. He was to maintain 9 knights,
5 squires, and 42 horse-archers, and for his own
and his men's wages he was to be paid £66 13s. 4d.,
payable in advance and by quarter. The town and castle
belonging to it were to be furnished with a banneret,
29 knights, 348 squires, 162 mounted archers, 123 " hobe-
lours," 195 foot-archers, 13 men for guard by day, more
than 220 masons, carpenters, etc., 5 arbulaters, and 20
sailors, all receiving pay by quarter. The town must
always have provisions for six months at least. If the
town or one of the castles was besieged, and the Captain
had not sufficient troops to repel them, the Sovereign
must send adequate reinforcements within a month.
If the King did not fulfil his engagements and pay the
wages, John of Beauchamp was entitled to leave Calais,
with his people, horses, and equipage. No soldier might
cross to England without his leave.^ In Beauchamp's
case a similar agreement was drawn up at the end of the
term of office. Again, in 1383, when William Beauchamp,
Lord of Abergavenny, was made Governor of Calais for
two years by Richard II., he agreed to supply a garrison
of 800 men-at-arms, each accompanied by 5 to 6
cavaliers, 9 knights with their esquires, not less than
150 mounted archers, 100 men-at-arms, S;^ foot-archers,
and 4 mounted squires. The King agreed to pay four

1 Lefebvre. " Histoire Generale et Particuliere de Calais et du
Calaisis," vol. ii., p. 19.

2 Rymer's " Foedera," vol. iii., part i., p. 324. London, 1825.


shillings daily for the wages of the Governor, two shillings
for each knight, and one shilling to each of the 800 men-
at-arms.^ Apparently the Governor might use the troops
in his pay for raiding without being under any obliga-
tion to share the booty with anyone — a lucrative privilege
for William Beauchamp, who, having a turn for piracy,
captured on one occasion eighty-eight French merchant-
men, two laden with spices and the rest with white
herrings. In the agreement of Richard, Duke of York,
father of Edward IV., in 1454, it is stated that the third
part of all booty should belong to him, as well as all
prisoners taken by the troops under his orders, the King
only reserving for himself the King of France or his sons
and the Constable.^ In Tudor times the Deputy was
assigned about 230 acres in the Scunnage of Calais,
which he held as livery lands. His pay averaged about
/lOO a year, besides an extra allowance of similar size
for intelligence w^ork in the enemy's country.

Various duties apart from those naturally associated
with his office fell to the Captain's lot, some not alto-
gether enviable. In 1353, for instance, Edward III.
ordered Lord Cobham, temporary Governor of Calais, to
settle a dispute between John of Spain, Constable of
France, and a lady residing at Calais, who, having been
accused by the said Constable of disloyalty to Edward,
had challenged him to mortal combat.^ The issue is
unknown. Again, in 1357 the Commandants of Calais
and St. Omer respectively were made responsible for
truce-breakings. Each, in case of infringements of the
truce by their respective side, had to give himself up

1 Lefebvre, " Histoire Generale et Particuliere de Calais et
du Calaisis," vol. ii., p. 65.

2 R. O. F. R., 120, M. 2, 32 H. VL

3 Lefebvre, vol. ii., p. 22.


as prisoner.^ The Captain also had a joint jurisdiction
with the Mayor over the soldiers having suits against
civilians, and vice versa} Spying out the enemy's country
was another duty of the Captain. Thus, in 1417 the
Earl of Warwick was given a special allowance of £100
a year for " espial " in France and elsewhere,^ and before
Henry V.'s invasion of France a letter was sent by the
Privy Council to Sir William Bardolf, Lieutenant of
Calais, stating the King's intentions, and ordering him,
in view of the general ignorance regarding the French
movements and plans, to send spies into Picardy.* Lord
Lisle received £100 a year from Henry VHL for " spyall
money, "° and Lord Berners a slightly larger amount.

The wages of the Captain are somewhat difficult to
ascertain, as a lump sum was usually given for his own
wages and those of the garrison. For instance, John of
Beauchamp in 1356 received about £60, while the wages
in 1500 amounted to about £5,635.^ Richard, Duke of

1 Lefebvre, " Histoire Generale et Particuliere de Calais et
du Calaisis," vol. ii., p. 28.

2 This occasionally led to quarrels. In 1535, for instance.
Sir Robert Wingfield, the Mayor of Calais, who, curiously enough,
had formerly been Deputy himself, quarrelled with Lord Lisle,
the Deputy, as to the respective positions of Deputy and Mayor.
The King supported Lisle, but a long and wearisome suit

3 Proceedings of the Privy Council, February 18, 141 7.
* Ihid., January 27, 1418.

5 For another instance of this curious mediaeval example of
secret service money, which seems to have been frequently
granted by the early Lancastrian Kings, see " Excerpta His-
torica," p. 26 (Richard Bentley, 1833), in which occurs, among
a list of the expenses of the garrison of Calais : " Also for the
special reward of the Captain a 100 marks by the qart for his
espiall /104 14s. 8d. by the year, and for spall reward of the said
3 knights and 26 men on horseback (part of the Captain's suite)
every one 5 marks by the qart."

6 " Chronicle of Calais," p. 4. Camden Series, British


York's pay in 1454 was 6s. 8d. a day, with a supple-
mentary payment of 100 marks a year. Probably his
indirect emoluments was a m.ore lucrative item than his
actual wages. In 1455 Humphrey of Gloucester was
given the captaincy, with the right of receiving all the
King's revenue without rendering account, deduction
being made from his wages and those of the garrison.^
Indeed, Philip de Commines calls Calais " the richest
treasure belonging to England, and the best captaincy
in the world (or at least in Christendom) ; and this I
know, for I was there several times . . . and was told
by the chief ofhcer of the Staple for cloth that he would
willingly farm, the government of the town from the King
of England at 15,000 crowns per annum ; for the Governor
of Calais receives all profits on that side of the sea, and
has the benefit of all convoys and the entire disposal and
management of the garrison."^ In the sixteenth century
the post of Deputy, although it increased in importance,
seems to have become less lucrative. At any rate, Lisle
was always in debt, and Berners was notorious for his
pecuniary troubles. The latter was forced, in 15 11, to
borrow £3^^ from the King, and when, during the years
1522 and 11533, Berners was prostrated with a severe
illness, Henry directed the royal agents in Calais to look
after his personal effects in the interests of his creditors.
After his death all his goods were placed under arrest
and an inventory made of them.

The term of the Captain's office varied considerably
at different periods. Edward III. made a point of never
retaining any one man very long in the post. Thus, John
of Montgomery, the first Captain, appointed in October,

1 R. O. F. R., Si,M. 15, 2H. V.

2 " Memoirs of Philip de Commines," vol. i., p. 185. Bohn


I347» was replaced by John of Chiverston in December
of the same year. Their successors were chosen for
periods which were usually short and undetermined.
There were no less than five different Captains between
January, 1349, and January, 1356. Later on, as in the
cases of John of Beauchamp and William Beauchamp,
the Sovereign made the appointment for a fixed period,
often for a year, and it is from this time that the custom
of drawing up agreements commenced. Sometimes, as
in the case of John of Beauchamp and Henry le Scrope,
these agreements were renewed. Fifteen years was the
longest period for which anyone was appointed, the
record-holder being John Holland, Earl of Exeter, ap-
pointed in 1398.^ After him came John. Earl of
Somerset, appointed in 1401,^ and Henry V., when
Prince of Wales, appointed in 1410,^ who were each
given the office for twelve years. But the term was
never actually fulfilled. Henry became King long before
his period expired ; while Richard, Earl of Warwick, who
succeeded him in February, 14 14, was replaced in Novem-
ber of the same year by William Lysle, being required to
represent England at the Council of Constance.

As has been mentioned, the Captains, Lieutenants, or
Deputies of Calais were nearly always distinguished men,
and usually fulfilled their duties worthily. This is espe-
cially true after the beginning of the fifteenth century.
It is sufficient to mention the names of Humphrey, Duke
of Gloucester ; Richard, Duke of York ; Richard, Earl of
Warwick, " the Kingmaker " ;* WilHam Hastings of Hast-

1 R. O. F. R., 66, M. 6, 21 R. II,

2 Ibid., 69. M. 9, 2 H. IV.

3 Ibid., 77, M. 13, II H. IV.

4 For a French ballad on Warwick, vide " Chants Historiqnes
et Populaires du Temps de Charles VII. et de Louis XI.," par le
Roux de Lincey, p. 45. Paris, 1857.


ings ; Daubeney ; Berners ; and Maltravers. The " King-
maker," appointed in 1455/ made great use of Calais in
his struggle with the Lancastrians, and was given the
Governorship for life by the grateful Edward IV., with
the title of " Captain of the town, Castle, and town of
Rysbank."^ William Hastings of Hastings, appointed
in 147 1 with title of '' Guard-General, Superintendent,
Governor, and Lieutenant of the King at Calais at the
castle and town,"^ was in 1479, as a reward for his
capable rule, maintained in office for ten years longer.
Hastings was so popular with the garrison that, when in
147 1 Antony Woodville was appointed to the captaincy,
the soldiers refused to have anybody but Hastings, and
Edward IV. perforce confirmed their choice. Richard III.
executed him, and after two quick changes appointed

1 R. O. F. R., 121, M. II, 33 H. VI.

2 Warwick's career as a sort of despot of Calais is interesting
as representing the possibilities open to a clever and unscrupulous
man in possession of the town, with all the advantage of a dis-
ciplined force at his back and the command of the sea. In
1457 Warwick was appointed Governor of Calais, to supersede
Richard, Duke of York, accused of treachery. Warwick
promptly joined Richard in his rebellion, and sailed with his
troops to Calais, on the pretext of taking up his government.
On his way he fell in with some Lubeck and Genoese ships.
These refused to lower their flags, whereupon he sunk some and
brought back the rest to Calais. Complaint was made to
Henry VI,, who, well aware of Warwick's intrigues, deposed him,
and sent out the Duke of Somerest to succeed him. But citizens
and soldiers alike clamoured for Warwick. Somerset's ships
were captured, and he himself retired to Guisnes, where he
conducted a series of fruitless raids on Calais. Thereupon
Henry deputed Lord Rivers and Sir Antony Woodville to lead
an expedition against Calais. Determined to anticipate their
attack, John Dunham, one of Warwick's officers, made a descent
on Sandwich, captured the force and its commanders, and
brought them back in triumph to Calais. Soon afterwards
Lord Falconbridge, following his example, captured another
royal fleet with troops, beheading Simon de Montfort, the
Admiral, and twelve other officers at Calais.

3 R. O. F. R.. 146, M. 3, 18 E. IV.


his bastard son, John of Gloucester (1485), who was
under twenty years of age, but apparently possessed
' ingenii vivacitas membrorumque agilitas."^ Never-
theless, Richard III. kept the nomination of officers in
his own hands during John's minority. George Dau-
beney, appointed Lieutenant of Calais by Henry VII. in
i486 for seven years, ^ is buried in Westminster Abbey
in a black marble tomb with alabaster figures of himself
and his wife. Gilbert Talbot, who succeeded him, was

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Online LibraryGeorge Amelius Crawshay SandemanCalais under English rule → online text (page 1 of 11)