In December 1431, Henry VIth became the only king of England crowned king of France in France. Which sounds great. But in fact it was a sign of English weakness than English strength. And at Arras things got substantially worse.
In 1428, the English were still sweeping all before them. Then came a figure so famous, that she was selected by Bill and Ted for their history project - and what greater recognition can there be than that?
One reason that we know so much about Joan is that her trial was recorded in fine detail, and therefore we have an extraordinary insight. You can read it to. There's a translation to be found at the St Joan Centre, where you can read every word for yourself.
There's really often little practical difference between what we call politics and some of what we call crime. Essentially it the history of the struggle for power by a bunch of aristocratic families. And a smidgen of life on the Borders.
The history of the borders between the Scottish wars of independence and 1603, when the Scottish king also took the throne of England, is the story of a closed society that learned to cope with a life of constant danger and violence, and became warped as a result.
The Reivers were specialist fighters; trained through experience, built for
speed and flexibility. The essential component was the Hobbilar, or Hobby - small light. hardy horse. Then the Jack, the leather jacket, and the Steel Bonnet. Favoured weapons were lance and bow .
While Bedford and talented commanders like Salisbury were alive, the cause of the English in France was far from dead. But in 1423, buoyed by the arrival of the Scots, the French launched a fresh campaign into Normandy, and quickly took the mighty town of Verneuil.
The French offensive of 1424 started with a surprisingly easy capture of the town of Verneuil by the Scottish commander, Douglas. The English army was probably of the order of 8,500 men, probably with about 2,000 men at arms and the rest archers. The French and Scottish contingent was of the order of 16,000 strong.
There are two common images of Henry VIth, The first is of Henry as a young man. Looking fine 'n all, but really rather lacking in gorm. And then there's an older one, where really he looks at the end of his tether.
To be honest, the range of opinion about Henry is pretty limited - but it is there. It's affected very much by the Wars of the Rose, which affects the view point.
So,m here's a comment on the reign from someone writing in the time of Edward IVth, the Yorkist king, while Henry is still alive in the tower:
"the realm of England was out of all good governance…for the king was a simpleton and led by evil counsellors, and owed them more than he had. His debts increased daily, but no payments were made; all the possessions and lordships that belonged to the crown the king had given away…for these misgovernances, and for many others, the hearts of the people were turned away from them that had the land in governance, and their blessings were turned to curses."
Not good then. With Henry's death, he begins to get rehabilitated, even in the time of Yorkist Richard III. Here's the story in those days:
‘How great his deserts were, by reason of the innocence of his life, his love of Go and the church, his patience in adversity, and his other remarkable virtues, is abundantly testified by the miracles which God has wrought in favour of those who have implored his intercession’
3 Other big players
Henry VIth had two uncles to look after him.
John, Duke of Bedford, Regent of France
John was a big powerful man, competent, pious but a man of letters and a patron of the arts. To him fell the job of maintaining the English realm of France while Henry was in his minority - and in particular, maintaining the Burgundian alliance. He was the right man for the job. And he was helped by his wife, Anne of Burgundy, 15 years his junior when they married in 1423. Anne and John seemed to have had a happy marriage and while they held court in Rouen and Paris, Lancastrian France and the Burgundian alliance had a chance of survival.
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester
Humph was a different proposition. Also an enthusiastic patron of the arts, who built his palace at Greenwich into a centre of culture. But despite his self confidence and pride, somehow without his brother's competence and solidity. His marriage to Jacquetta of Hainault and military adventure to win her land - which incidentally belonged to the Duke of Burgundy - ended in failure, endangered the all-important alliance, and then he casually discarded Jacquetta. He had been appointed 'tutela', or Lord Protector to the young king by Henry Vth - which he claimed made him ruler of England during the minority. Parliament diasgreed; and by making him work as part of a Council of State made him, much to his fury, just primus inter pares.
Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester and Cardinal
We've met Beaufort before - Chancellor of England under both Henry IVth and Henry VIth, and now for periods under Henry VIth. He was a political player, and involved in an intense running rivalry for power with Gloucester. In 1425, their rivalry would flare up into outright conflict, leading to Beaufort's temporary downfall.
Only 4% of women remained unmarried in the middle ages, and therefore for both men and women working life was a matter of team work. In towns in particular, women might find their opportunities for specialised work more limited than men, but not impossible - women like Margery Kempe showed how the mould could be broken.
Henry's talents ran as much to managing his back yard as it did to war; this week how Henry organised his kingdom for war, and the last days of his life. Plus a guest bonus from Kevin Stroud and 'The History of English'.
In 1420, Henry faced an uphill battle again; his negotiations had failed with both Dauphinists and Burgundians, and instead they'd patched it up. So he faced an alliance - Dauphinist, Armagnac, Orleanist, Burgundian - Scot - against the English. And then came a meeting on a bridge that changed everything.
Henry Vth was the first monarch since Richard the Lion Heart to pay much attention to the English fleet. The experience of putting maybe as many as 1,500 ships onto the water to transport his army of 1415 to France made him realise that he needed a new solution.
Here it is then, the music question. The idea was to deal with what someone somewhere described as 'audio drone', and I've noticed this with other podcasts - how ever good it is, it's hard to listen continuously to one person talk. So It'd be great to know if this is an improvement, or a distraction.
Please let me know what you think in the comments; is it:
a) an improvement
b) a distraction, not as good as before
c) a good idea, but not well executed - try it with quieter or different music
By 1417, Henry had sorted out his support in England, and was able to launch a war of conquest in Normandy. After butchery at Caen, castles and towns fell, and by June 1418 the final and biggest prize stood before Henry - Rouen, second city of France.
Between 1417 and 1419, Henry and his captains took to war into Normandy, and the French were unable to raise effective resistance to support the towns as they were besieged. By 1418, Henry was before the walls of France's second city, Rouen, 70,000 citizens strong. It took 7 months before it fell, but its fall meant that Normandy was lost to France, and the road to Paris lay open.
The meeting of Henry and Catherine of Valois
Henry Vth and Catherine met first at the conference of Meulan in 1419, as he and John the Fearless tried to strike a deal. In fact one chronicler noted that the only thing to come out of the conference was love. There's more than a suggestion the Henry was genuinely smitten (though Catherine's views remain unknowable), above and beyond the normal verbiage of chroniclers.
In fact, the Meulan conference failed, and instead the Dauphinists and the Burgundians announced that they had resolved their differences and would once again fight together for king Charles VIth to throw the English invader from their lands. The truth is that neither Dauphin/Armagnac nor Duke John of Burgundy could give Henry what he wanted and remain a credible leader. It would take the events at the bridge of Montereau to achieve that.
Medieval understanding of physiology had an impact on attitudes to sex, just as much as did the teachings of the church. Though who knows how much it had an impact on everyday life. And something about how childbirth fitted into community life, and rearing the outcome.
I am sorry everyone, but I have boobed - and boobed badly. I am away this weekend, and realise I have not prepared the week's episode. Mea Culpa, mea maxima culpa, but there will be no episode this week.