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The Calais Garrison

The Calais Garrison: War and Military Service in England, 1436-1558

David Grummitt
Volume: 27
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    The Calais Garrison
    Book Description:

    `This is the book on the Calais garrison we have been waiting for'. COLIN RICHMOND. For over 200 years, following its capture by Edward III in 1347, the town of Calais was in English hands; after 1453 it remained the last English possession on the continent, a commercial, cultural, diplomatic and military frontier, until its recapture by the French in 1558. This book - the first full-length study so to do - examines the Calais garrison, the largest standing military force available to the English crown. Based on extensive archival research, it covers recruitment and service in the garrison, the problems of pay and logistics, the weaponry and tactics used, and the chivalric and professional ethos among the soldiers. It also investigates the effectiveness of English arms against their European counterparts, through a detailed study of the failed Burgundian siege of 1436 and the successful French siege of 1558. Overall, it reaffirms the importance of Calais to successive medieval and early modern English kings, and challenges the perceived notion that England lagged behind its northwest European rivals in terms of military technology and effectiveness. The Calais garrison is placed in the wider context of the development of European warfare in general during this period.' Dr DAVID GRUMMITT is Senior Research Fellow, History of Parliament Trust.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-606-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. x-xii)
  6. [Maps]
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  7. 1 Introduction: Calais in Context
    (pp. 1-19)

    On 24 June 1450 Caen, the last English stronghold in Normandy, fell to the French. Lancastrian Normandy was lost. Less than three years later English-held Gascony was also overrun, marking the end of the English presence on the continent and any pretensions to the throne of France. Symbolically at least, to some contemporaries and most subsequent observers, this was a symptom of the wider malaise that affected the dual-monarchy of Henry VI. Gascony, however, was not the last English possession on the continental mainland. Since 1347 English kings had held Calais in Picardy and a small area of land around...

  8. 2 The Burgundian Siege of 1436
    (pp. 20-43)

    With the probable exception of the battle of Agincourt, no English military action of the fifteenth century attracted so much contemporary comment as the siege of Calais by Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, in the summer of 1436. At a time when Henry V’s conquest of Normandy and the heady days of the treaty of Troyes were fast becoming a distant memory, the siege saw a national response unprecedented during the latter years of the Hundred Years War. Its aftermath witnessed the composition of a stream of popular and elite verse, the recording of the events by chroniclers and...

  9. 3 The Organisation of the Garrison
    (pp. 44-62)

    How many men served in the defence of Calais at any one time? To answer this question the composition and different status of those bodies of men that formed the Calais garrison must first be understood The soldiers involved in the defence of the Pale were not all recruited and paid for in the same way, nor did they all serve under the one commander. The defence of Calais, certainly at the beginning of our period, was undertaken by a series of separate retinues, each under the command of one of the captains of the town or the various fortresses...

  10. 4 The Nature of Military Service in the Pale
    (pp. 63-91)

    Who served in the Calais garrison and how and where were they recruited? Military service before the advent of the professional army and the emergence of an ethos of service to the nation state is usually discussed in terms of the balancing of obligations and rewards. Indeed, in the Middle Ages the relationship between the king and his subjects was defined by reciprocity.¹ First, in England every able-bodied man had the obligation to serve the king in the defence of the realm, an obligation set down in the terms of the Statute of Winchester in 1285. Second, the feudal system,...

  11. 5 Chivalry and Professionalism in the Calais Garrison
    (pp. 92-118)

    The various reasons that drew men to military service in the Calais garrison have been explored in the previous chapter. But to what degree was the garrison a community, bound together by chivalric ties of military brotherhood, with an institutional identity that transcended the various retinues of which it was comprised? To what extent was it a ‘professional’ force, composed of men who exclusively or mainly followed the profession of arms, and was this professionalism incompatible with the chivalric ethos? To talk of a ‘professional’ army in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries may appear to be anachronistic. Nevertheless, there...

  12. 6 Weaponry and Fortifications in Calais
    (pp. 119-140)

    Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the records of the English administration of Calais in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries is the information they provide about the weaponry used by the soldiers of the garrison. Such detailed information on the weapons used by English armies in this period is uncommon. In this chapter the type of weaponry used by the garrison, with special reference to the developments in gunpowder artillery, will be examined. The built defences of the Pale will also be described. In the final part of this chapter the weaponry and fortifications will be set in the wider...

  13. 7 Financing and Supplying the Garrison
    (pp. 141-164)

    Separated from the mainland by the English Channel and surrounded by potentially hostile territory, the Calais Pale relied upon constant supplies of food, clothing and building materials to maintain its viability as a military frontier. Moreover, the garrison needed to be paid and the difficulties of providing the necessary cash to meet the costs of the defence of Calais remained a constant problem for English governments between 1436 and 1558. Their success in tackling the related problems of finance and supply has been a recurrent theme in discussions of Calais under English rule. Central to the problems of finance was...

  14. 8 The Fall of Calais in 1558
    (pp. 165-186)

    As every schoolboy used to know, Calais fell to the French in January 1558. It was an event of international importance. To Mary Tudor it was a disaster, trumpeting stark evidence of the failure of her policies and especially the alliance with Spain. Whether or not the queen really declared that the word ‘Calais’ would be engraved on her heart for ever we shall never know, but the loss of the town and marches was a bitter blow to her regime politically and to the English national psyche generally. Moreover, for Protestant contemporaries and later observers, the fall of Calais...

  15. 9 Conclusion: War and Military Service in England, c. 1437–1558
    (pp. 187-194)

    For over two hundred years the town and marches of Calais had been the most tangible symbol of the bellicose aspirations of the English kings and their subjects. Their military and symbolic importance were further heightened during the last century of English rule by the loss of Normandy and Gascony between 1450 and 1453. As well as its symbolic importance, Calais’s economic significance, as the staple for the export of English wool, continued throughout this period. Calais, then, was for more than two centuries at the heart of the late medieval and Tudor polities. The dynamics of the relationship between...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 195-208)
  17. Index
    (pp. 209-218)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 219-221)