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An Analysis of the causes of the Wars and the course which they took.

Michael D. Miller

Chapter 34: French military successes: 1440 - 1443

 

1440

It very rapidly became apparent that it was sheer folly to release Charles, Duc d'Orleans in 1440 without obtaining substantial concessions from the French, such as those envisaged in the English envoys instructions at the Oye Conference 1439. [page ] Equally foolish was the failure of the English to follow the lead towards peace, even though it was fumbling and uncertain, given if the surmise is correct, by Cardinal Henry Beaufort. The Cardinal seems to have favoured peace with France, and was definitely in favour of a renewal of the old peace and trading treaties with Burgundy. Philip-the-Good was known to prefer peaceful relations, and a lead had already been given by the commercial treaty signed by the Cardinal and his Duchess Isabella at Oye in 1439. [page ] On this much could have been built. England clearly needed a foothold on the Continent, and it is suggested that the Cardinal's idea was a sound one that this was better placed in Burgundy rather than in France. Burgundy was by now a substantial power in her own right, and a country with a long history of friendship with England, whereas the French people would have preferred to have little to do with the English, and then only so much as they could not avoid.

Why the Cardinal was so indecisive in urging this policy is not easy to determine. As has already been said, he was now an old man, and seems to have lacked the force and drive of his earlier years. By 1440 he was well into his mid-60s, which was a great age for the time, and his heart lay not in England but with the Pope in Rome. He would have much preferred to be in the service of the Pope rather than that of the King of England, and his whole demeanour was that of a dutiful rather than an enthusiastic councillor. Another factor seems to have weighed heavily with him, the renunciation of the Crown of France. He had by now accepted that this was inevitable if there was to be peace with France, but he simply could not bring himself to face the act of renunciation which he had earlier seen as an impossibility. [page ]

It is not as though the Duc d'Orleans failed to keep his word to strive for peace. He did urge peace on King Charles VII, but he found that the French Court in 1440 was in a far more aggressive frame of mind than he had expected. France was now seen as far more likely to win the War than the military position of earlier years would have suggested, and there was a corresponding disinclination to make any concessions to the English, particularly as the English King had not renounced the Crown of France. The French view, understandably, was that if he did not renounce it, he intended to keep it, and would only relinquish it when force of arms obliged him to do so. As for the Duke himself, his release, a thing of great value to France, had been secured for a ransom which may have been costly, but it was still a paltry sum when compared with the amount which would have been justified for a man of his rank. Admittedly, the Duke should have returned to England if peace could not have been made within a year, but here an interpretation could be given to the agreement to release him which was probably not intended, at least by the English. The ransom was to be refunded if the Duke returned to England. If the outstanding balance was paid in full, as it soon was, then the Duke could remain at liberty in France. King Charles VII happily grasped at this interpretation, advanced the balance of 30, 000 marks, and regarded it as cheap at the price.

So the War, in spite of the wishes in some quarters for peace, was set to continue. Initially, John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset, and his brother Edmund Beaufort, Earl of Dorset, were momentarily helped by dissension within the French Court in late 1439 and early 1440, and took full advantage of the position. Edmund was to lay siege to Harfleur, and to cover the siege in its earlier and more vulnerable stages, John made a raid into Santerre to keep any French force at a respectful distance. He was puzzled to find no French force, but he captured Folleville, which he garrisoned, Lihons and Harbonnierres. Lihons was the scene of a horrifying outrage, where the inhabitants had barricaded themselves within the church. The English soldiers set it alight, and all inside perished in the flames. The siege of Harfleur, which had started in April 1440, was now well under way, so John retired to Rouen to watch the French armies and to cover his brother's back from there.

Some domestic problems for King Charles VII

A "praguerie" was a peculiarly French phenomenon, and arose from discontent of the nobles over some particular problem or conglomeration of interlinked issues. The French nobles were as discordant as their English counter-parts, but English discontent almost invariably resulted in fighting and executions. In France it could also result in a bloody resolution, but did not always do so as it was apt to do in England. It could take the form of a protest where armed force was not initially employed, even though its spectre lay in the background. Whether or not there was actual fighting, or merely a noisy and vociferous protest, it was usually settled by negotiation. Sometimes the French King could be induced to modify or drop his proposed course of action, and at other times he could force his discontented nobles to acquiesce in what he proposed to do.

The French troubles arose from a decree promulgated by King Charles VII in November 1439 against the Free Companies. Most of these had been suppressed, but there were still some in the employ of the nobles. Charles, on the advice of his Chief Minister, Charles d'Angou, Compte de Maine, and with the approval of the Constable of France, Arthur of Brittany, had decided to forbid them on pain of severe penalties. People should not be allowed to keep private armies. For many years there had been similar laws in England against 'livery and maintenance', but there they had often been disregarded, sometimes flagrantly so. The new and more resolute Charles was determined that his decree should be seen to mean what it said, and must be obeyed.

The Dauphin Louis, by now a disputatious and resolute youth of 16 years of age, who still entertained a profound contempt for his father, was much affronted. He was joined by the Ducs des Alencon and Bourbon and the Compte de Vendome who were equally outraged. Even Jean, Compte de Dunois so far forgot himself to join them in a Praguerie. La Tremoille, living in obscurity since his fall,  [page ] emerged to shout encouragement to them, although they paid him little heed. These were some of Charles's foremost commanders, and they no doubt thought that the King they had always known as weak-willed would rapidly capitulate. They also expected help from the ordinary people. They soon found that they had misjudged the new-found resolution of their King, and the temper of their fellow citizens,  who rallied to him. Charles harried them into Bourbonaise and Auvergne where he forced them to submit. In July 1440, the chastened Dauphin and the other nobles were forced to kneel before the King and do homage to him, and to swear new oaths of allegiance. A large crowd, no doubt enjoying the scene hugely, looked on. The grim-faced King, wearing his Crown and splendid robes, sat silent, letting some time go by to let the lesson sink in, and then announced that he was prepared to be reconciled to them. He knew he could not do without their services, but whatever the position had formerly been, they must learn they could not trifle with their King. Even so, it was another six weeks before the disturbances were quelled, and it was not until the end of September 1440 that Charles could once again turn his attention to the English.

Meanwhile, the siege of Harfleur was proceeding in earnest. Edmund was assisted by John, Lord Talbot, William, Lord Fauconberge, the Arragonese mercenary Francois de Surriennes, and later by Thomas, Lord Scales and the reinforcements he brought with him from England. Edmund, who conducted the siege much as King Henry V had done twenty-five years before, was leaving nothing to chance. Harfleur was a strongly fortified city, and was capable of resisting the most ferocious assault. Double lines of earthworks were dug, mines were run under the walls, and the siege artillery was put into positions where it could do most damage to the walls. A flotilla of ships and small boats in the River Seine, commanded by Sir John Speke, completed the encirclement.

Having settled the Praguerie, King Charles VII dispatched the Compte d'Eu, Jean, Compte de Dunois, and La Hire to relieve the city, whilst he moved to Chartres, keeping the Dauphin with him under a watchful eye. John moved from Rouen to support his brother in what appeared to be the preliminaries to a pitched battle. A joint attack was made on the besiegers by sea and land. After a spirited naval battle, Sir John Speke forced the Compte d'Eu to retire. The French faired no better by land. Protected by their earthworks, the English archers rained arrows down on their assailants. After some bitter fighting, the French retreated.

It is probable that the French commanders had orders not to engage in a pitched battle in the open, as it would not have suited the French plans at this stage to risk the destruction of their army. They therefore retired to join their King at Chartres. Before the end of 1440, Harfleur was once again in English hands. Despairing of relief, Montivilliers also surrendered to them.

King Charles VII, rejoicing in his new found vigour and sense of resolution, accepted that, for the time being, there was no prospect of a quick and easy victory in Normandy. There were other opportunities to put pressure on the English in the centre and the south of France. He resolved to take them.

1441

King Charles VII had successfully suppressed the Free Companies, and had called to order the nobles who had supported them. There was still much disorder in his Kingdom, notably in Champagne, and he saw this as threatening the authority of his government. In January 1441, he left Chartres with his Chief Minister, Charles d'Anjou, Compte de Maine, and the Constable of France, Arthur of Brittany, to quell the robber bands in Champagne. He was entirely successful, hanging a few to make his point that disorder would not be tolerated, and recruiting the rest into the French armies. This firm action brought one important dividend. The robbers main supporter, John of Luxembourg, had died on 5th January 1441. John's son, and Jacquette's father, Louis, Compte de St Pol, came to the Court at Laon during Easter 1441 to do homage to Charles. The Duc d'Orleans, anxious to make good his boasts that he could make peace between England and France, also came, but he overplayed his hand. He brought with him Isabella, Duchess of Burgundy. Charles, for no particular reason, suspected mischief between the Duke and Philip-the-Good. Isabella was cold-shouldered, and the Duke was dismissed from Court whilst it was at Laon. 

The siege of Pontoise - 1441

King Charles VII now felt sufficiently secure to attack the English where he could do them most damage. In May 1441, he marched on Senlis with the object of besieging Pontoise. First Creil had to be subdued. Between 19th and 26th May 1441, Charles's Master Gunner, Jean Bureau, bombarded it into submission, and Sir William Peyto marched out with his garrison. On 6th June 1441, the siege of Pontoise began.

The French objective was to take the place, but to avoid a stand-up battle with the English. The English objective was to hold Pontoise at all costs, and to bring the French army to battle and destroy it. They had other priorities, and could not afford to become tied down by spending too much time in forcing battle on a reluctant French army if it declined to give it. There thus followed a considerable number of manoeuvrings which are worth noting in detail. They demonstrate the skill of manoeuvres off the battlefield at the time, even if manoeuvres on the battlefield once battle had been joined were rare. [Chapter ] They also show how far the French commanders had come since the battle of Agincourt 1415. Then the enemy was charged on sight, and reckless bravery and courage would win the day. Now a prolonged game of military chess was employed to get into the best position before the battle took place, and if no such position was possible, then there would be no battle. Also, they did no loose sight of their main objective simply because the enemy's main force appeared on the scene.

Pontoise stood on the right (east) bank of the River Oise, and was defended by some formidable fortifications. The French nearly lost their siege artillery at an early stage, when they were trying to get it into position. The English garrison made a daring sally, which was only repulsed after bitter fighting. The English held on, although with great difficulty to the left (west) bank head of the only bridge, although they were finally driven off it by the French artillery, which also destroyed the Bridge. The French then built a bridge of boats across the River Oise and below the town, and were able to come and go as they pleased. Shortly afterwards John, Lord Talbot appeared with a relieving column and offered battle. Using their bridge of boats, the French army melted away into the country-side. Talbot could only stay long enough to re-provision the town before retreating to Mantes, leaving Thomas, Lord Scales and William, Lord Fauconberge in command. As soon as Talbot had gone, the French returned and resumed the siege. Talbot came back, and again the French simply disappeared. As soon as he had gone again, they returned.

Richard, Duke of York, had by now got over his doubts about his fitness for High Command,  [page ] and returned to France once again in July 1441 as the King's Lieutenant-General in France. He brought with him a substantial re-enforcement which included John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, James Butler, Earl of Ormonde, Henry, Lord Bouchier, Lord Clinton and Sir Richard Wydeville who was fast making a name for himself as a steady and reliable soldier. After visiting Rouen, Richard marched straight to Pontoise, where he arrived on the west bank of the river in mid-July 1441. The French marched across the River once more and disappeared to the east. Richard sent a message to the French King that he intended to cross the River Oise whether Charles willed it or not.

Richard made a feint attack on Beaumont-sur-Oise as though to cross by the bridge there to draw the French attention away from his own bridge of boats which he was building at Royaumont above Pontoise. This took the French by surprise, and he crossed without opposition. Arthur of Brittany, finding that the English were now in battle array on the east bank, retreated down the River Oise, past its junction with the River Seine, and crossed the Seine by the bridge at Poissy, and was thus on the west bank of that River. It was now Richard's turn to be surprised, because he expected to find the French on the east bank of the Oise. He built another bridge of boats to reach them, only to find the French on the west bank of the River Seine with still a river between the two armies. Richard then marched up the Seine to find a crossing, and as soon as he had gone, the French returned to the east bank. Talbot again appeared at Poissy on the west bank intending to march to Pontoise. As soon as he had gone away again, the French resumed the siege at the end of July 1441.

All this marching and counter-marching took a heavy toll on both armies. Richard, realising that the French would not give battle, retreated to Rouen to watch the French from there, and to hope for another, and better, opportunity to force them to fight. He regarded Pontoise as being able to hold out indefinitely. Arthur had some trouble with the French nobles. They were there to fight, and that was what they desired most of all. All this manoeuvring without apparent purpose left them bewildered, and they accused Arthur of cowardice. Arthur answered amiably that the objective was to capture Pontoise, not to have a formal stand-up fight with the English which would have devastating consequences if they lost it. He reminded them of the battles of Agincourt 1415 and Verneuil 1424. They knew Arthur was no coward, and for the moment let the matter rest. It was all too much for some of them when Talbot again appeared at Vigny, and they resolved to attack him. He slipped away under cover of darkness in a skilfully executed night march. Comptes Louis de St Pol and Vaudemont, both by now thoroughly fed up, went home in disgust.

Most however stayed with the colours, and seemed to accept the points which Arthur had made. The siege of Pontoise shows as clearly as anything else how disciplined the French army had become since the days of Agincourt. The junior officers and the men in the ranks may have been perplexed, as they almost always are in any army, and may not easily have grasped what their commanders were aiming to do. Yet they stayed, and did everything that was required of them. Now they were to have their reward. Aware that time was short, Arthur told Jean Bureau to keep up the bombardment day and night, and on 19th September, he ordered a grand assault. After some bitter fighting, the French were once again in possession of Pontoise.

The loss of Pontoise was a severe blow to the English and a great triumph for the French. Now they had a clear choice, unfettered by disorder or dissension, whether to attack the English in Normandy in the north, or Gascony and Guienne in the south. They chose the south.

King Charles VII invades the English provinces in the South - 1442

The confident temper of King Charles VII as he prepared for his campaign in the south may be judged from the reply which he sent to Charles, Duc d'Orleans. The Duke, anxious to pursue his role of peace-maker, had taken the odd step of summoning the malcontent nobles who had taken part in the Praguerie in 1440 to a conference at Nevers in March 1442. Not all of them came, but the Duc de Bourbon and the Duc d'Alencon attended as did the Comptes d'Angouleme and Vendome. No secret was made about the gathering, and the King's Chancellor attended as an observer. It was agreed that a demand should be made to King Charles VII for further peace conferences with England, and some of the nobles took the opportunity to add a schedule of their grievances, thus ensuring an unfavourable response from the King. Charles answered brusquely. He would be prepared to meet the English in October 1442, but not before 'the day at Tertas was decided.' Tartas was an important frontier fortress on the border with Gascony which had been taken by Rodriguez de Villandrada in 1438 [page ] and had subsequently been retaken by the English. Charles was not prepared to sit down with the English until he had won some important triumphs against them in the south, and thus strengthen his bargaining hand. He added some pithy comments that the English King would have to do homage for any ceded territory, and that the people of Normandy would have to be represented. As Charles very well knew, the English would never agree to these conditions, and his statements were tantamount to saying that he was not interested in any peace conference.

On 8th June 1442, Charles and his army arrived in Toulouse, where it was enthusiastically greeted by the citizens. It had been delayed on its march by the necessity to chastise the robbers lurking around Poitou, Saintes, Vertueil and Angouleme. These had been dealt with by the now customary methods of hanging a few and recruiting the remainder into the ranks. Once in Toulouse, the Comptes de Foix and Comminges, who were really vassals of the English King, did homage to him. For no good reason that Charles could see, the Compte d'Armagnac stayed away, but at least he sent his son. No matter Charles thought, he would soon have matters out with the Compte.

What in all probability King Charles VII did not know was that the Duc d'Orleans had made a suggestion to Jean,  Compte d'Armagnac; the hand of one of his three daughters should be offered to King Henry VI. The Compte had seized on the idea, and it had enjoyed a ready reception in London. This must be some further evidence of the disarray of any peace movement among the English Council, because the hand of their King should have been reserved for a really important 'daughter of France' as part of a peace treaty, and not given away to the daughter of an obscure provincial Count, even though the House of Armagnac had enjoyed considerable prominence in the past. However, the idea was sympathetically received, and even now King Henry VI was examining the portraits of the young ladies to decide which one he preferred.

The French army then moved on Tartas, and Charles was pleasantly surprised when it surrendered without a blow being struck on 25th June 1442. Much encouraged, Charles then took St Sever by storm and captured Sir Thomas Rempston, the Seneschal of Guienne. Further success followed, and Dax was taken after a sharp fight on 3rd August. The Landes was soon pacified, and towns and castles opened their gates to the French troops in rapid succession. La Reole surrendered after a five day siege. It seemed nothing could stop the whirlwind French advance. Right in the middle of the French successes, the envoys concerned with the marriage proposal arrived in Bordeaux to find the Compte d'Armagnac, who now had a French army on his doorstep, taking an extremely cautious line. Any day now, he might find that he had a new master. So indecisive did they find him that they went home in despair. That was the end of the proposed marriage and if there were three very disappointed young ladies, time was to show that, so far as they were concerned, things had worked out for the best.

What caused the very successful French offensive to stall was the early onset of a very severe winter. Already in October 1442, when attacking La Reole, Charles's army had been beset by problems posed by the weather. Many died, including Etienne de Vignolles, who has figured prominently in this story as La Hire. He was worn out by his constant campaigning against the English for twenty years. Some limited fighting still took place. The English retook Dax, only to lose it again to the French. Had it not been for the dreadful weather, which made campaigning all but impossible, there can be little doubt that King Charles VII would have driven the English out of most, if not all, their possessions in Gascony and Guienne. He still caused panic in London; by taking full advantage of his ability to move on interior lines of communication, he had forced the English to fight on two fronts with inadequate resources. To which should they give priority, Normandy or the South? The Council found itself unable to decide. An appeal was made to the country to come to the defence the southern provinces. In marked contrast to the appeal made to defend Calais in 1436, [page ]few responded. Richard Duke of York was bidden to remember that he was the King's Lieutenant-General in France, and was chivvied into taken the offensive in the north. In November 1442, he despatched John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury to besiege Dieppe. [This was John, Lord Talbot, who had just been created Earl of Shrewsbury for his many services in France] 600 men was all Richard could spare, and this force was inadequate. It could do no more than harry Dieppe until it was driven off by Jean, Compte de Dunois.

John, Duke of Somersets expedition - 1443

It is easy to criticise the Council for taking a number of very unwise steps in early 1443, but it must be conceded that they were probably forced upon it by the pressure of events. John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset, was now promoted to Duke of Somerset and appointed Captain-General of Guienne. He was intended to relieve John Holland, Earl of Huntingdon, who was due for relief. Richard, Duke of York felt affronted that one of the Beaufort clan, whom he disliked and distrusted,  [Chapter ] should be promoted to the same rank as himself and given a command which conflicted with his own appointment as the King's Lieutenant-General in France. He had had an easy-going relationship with Huntingdon, who had never disputed that he was subordinate to Richard, but now here was somebody, and one of the hated Beauforts at that, who was equal to him in rank and independent of him in command. At least John's name could, although with some difficulty, raise an army to go to the south, but this diverted money, already very scarce, away from Richard and towards John. Money, or rather the lack of it, was one of Richard's greatest problems in Normandy. None of this was likely to lead to a close and intimate relationship between the two men of a kind which was crucial to any success in France. King Henry VI did his best to smooth Richard's ruffled feathers by dwelling on Somerset's limited commission, by speaking of Somerset as a shield to Richard, and by begging Richard to be patient on the matter of money. None of this helped the situation, and if anything made relations between the two men even worse than they already were.

Somerset and his army did not land in France until August 1443, and then in Cherbourg, not Bordeaux. What his plans were is not known. Somerset was a secretive man, who did not readily confide his plans to anyone, not even his closest subordinates. There is even a story that he once said that if his shirt knew his plans, then he would burn it. There was considerable merit, if he ever entertained the idea, of joining forces with Richard to seek out the French army together to force it to give battle and to destroy it.

Somerset was however well aware of Richard's dislike of him and of his distrust of the House of Beaufort, and would certainly have known of Richard's chagrin at his appointment. He probably felt that any such close co-operation would not be possible, and that his force alone must march through France to confront Charles and drive him away from the southern provinces, destroying his army in the process. He would certainly not have been averse to taking all the credit for himself in doing so and denying any share to Richard. This over-looked the fact that he was already a sick man who was simply not up to the rigours of a long march with a big battle at the end of it. He had hardly left the boundaries of Normandy before he threw up the whole enterprise and returned to England to die in 1444. Apart from some indecisive skirmishing, nothing had been achieved.

A proposal of marriage - 1444

With Somerset's death in 1444, there was a lull in the fighting, because both sides were exhausted. Somerset's abortive expedition had absorbed all of England's present monetary resources, and she was in no position to make a further effort to succeed where Somerset had failed. The French, with similar money problems, had failed to subdue Gascony and Guienne, but could still look with considerable satisfaction on their recent successes in the south. The Duc d'Orleans, not discouraged by the rebuff from his King [page ] or the failure of the Armagnac marriage proposal, or the bad odour in which he seemed to be at the French Court, now made a further marriage proposal; King Henry VI should now be offered the hand of Margaret d'Anjou, a young and very pretty lady of 14 or 15 years of age. [Margaret was born in 1429] By the standards of the time, she was now ready to be married.

Normally, such a proposal could have been expected to form part of an overall peace settlement, but the Duke had found that he could not interest King Charles VII in any formal peace negotiations, and he was aware of English obduracy at the conference table. He had not forgotten the terms of his release, and he had learnt to be patient from his long captivity in England. He knew better than to take offence from the several rebuffs he had suffered at the hands of King Charles VII, and now decided that the best way to proceed towards the desired goal of peace was to suggest that one of the most obvious terms of any peace settlement should now be realised whether or not there was any formal settlement. If the War could not be brought to a conclusion in one single conference, with everything agreed at the same time, then the best way to carry matters forward was by one step at a time.

From the point of view of the French, this was a very shrewd proposal, and he had every confidence that it would be favourably received by both Kings. Margaret, although her father carried no political weight at the French Court, came from one of the foremost families in France. Her father was Rene, Duc de Bar and Lorraine,  [He had been excluded from Lorraine by Philip-the-Good in 1431 see page ] Compte de Provence, and the titular King of Sicily and Jerusalem. This string of grandiloquent titles did not mean that he was a wealthy man; Rene had no money, hence his lack of influence, which also meant that there was no question of a large dowry. No matter, the Duke thought, the girl's good looks would more than compensate for her poverty. Margaret was also the niece of King Charles VII's Queen, Yolande of Sicily, and also of his Chief Minister, Charles d'Anjou who by now was a close personal friend of Arthur of Brittany, the Constable of France. Margaret thus came from the innermost circle of the French Court itself, but the Duke saw no difficulty in getting his King to agree to give away such a poverty stricken, and therefore worthless, girl to King Henry VI. The French King could be made to realise that he was giving little away, but how was the Duke to persuade the English King to take her?

The Duke had very considerable experience of the English Court, and knew that King Henry VI would do as he was told by the predominant faction of the time. The rising power at the English Court was the Beaufort family, [Chapter ] although it was still not yet the predominant faction. There was still Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, who was not entirely a spent force even though he was currently in disgrace because his 'consort', Eleanor Cobham,  had been found guilty of the dread crime of sorcery. She, and possibly Humphrey as well, had consorted with sorcerers, and this was not lightly to be forgiven. [Chapter ] There was Richard, Duke of York, a powerful man who was known to dislike and distrust the Beauforts.and there was the remaining nobility of England, who were either pro- or anti- Beaufort even though they were not yet in organised or recognisable groupings. The Beauforts however were the right people to approach, and surely they would jump at the chance of finding a young and beautiful queen for the young King, and a very well connected queen at that, even though she would bring no money with her. The way to approach the Beauforts was through the Duke's old friend William de La Pole, Earl of Suffolk, with whom the Duke had often stayed as a guest at his splendid mansion. William was connected with the Beauforts through his Countess Alice, and he too could be expected to leap at the chance to increase his influence with them. Moreover, the Duke was well aware how the Council in England worked; if the proposal could be made through Suffolk, there was every likelihood that he would be appointed the ambassador to attend to the necessary negotiations.

All this seems very cynical on the part of the Duc d' Orleans, but it must be remembered that arranged marriages were the rule rather than the exception in the mid 15th-century, particularly for the highly born. It was the duty of nobly born young men and women to marry for political or monetary advantage, and while many of these arranged marriages led to genuine bonds of love and affection, there was no escape simply because the chosen partner was abhorrent. Even among those in less exalted circles, the young were expected to marry those who would bring advantage to their families, and one of the Paston girls found that she was locked in a dark room and beaten by her mother until she relented. The Duke could also be accused of playing politics in England, but it would be wrong to criticise him for this. He owed the English nothing, except for a promise to strive for peace, and this he was doing. The advancement of the Beaufort family, and the jealousies this gave rise to, was another of the principal causes of the Wars of the Roses. Yet in helping to sow dissension among the English body-politic and so weaken England's capacity to wage war upon his own country, the Duke was doing no more than was to be expected of a patriotic Frenchman.

The Duke was much gratified when the news reached him that his proposal had been warmly welcomed in London, and that William had been appointed to head the embassy which would handle the necessary negotiations. To the Council, it was a matter of picking up the threads of the Congress of Arras 1435 and the Oye Conference 1439 once again, and by renouncing the Crown of France, albeit a bitter pill to swallow, to secure Normandy and an extension to England's southern possessions in France. Now they would not be frustrated by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester's malign influence. Since 1441, when his consort Eleanor had been found guilty of sorcery, Humphrey had been in disgrace.

It was a singularly naive assumption that the French would be in a giving mood when territorial concessions came to be discussed, because much had changed since 1435 and even since 1439, but the Duke saw no real difficulty in disabusing the English of these fanciful notions when the time came. The story how King Charles VII did make the English understand that there would be no territorial concessions belongs to Chapter .

Copyright Michael D. Miller 2003