|John, Duke of Bedford|
An Attempt at Peace
In November 1432 Fastolf, although decidedly not a diplomat, attended a conference in Auxerre, called by Cardinal Albergati; Fastolf was Bedford’s representative. Bishop Langdon[i] also attended and the Duke of Gloucester sent Thomas Bekyngton[ii]. The English attendees were empowered to treat for peace with ‘Charles of Valois’. Parliament ordained that;
‘It is not suitable or fitting, nor in accordance with God’s will nor that of the world, for a Christian prince to refuse peace offered with reasonable conditions nor the resulting treaty…..also considering the burden of the war, and how grievous and heavy it is to this land; and therefore how beneficial peace would be for it.’[iii]
The French arrived late and immediately upon their arrival dissension broke out and the conference fell apart. The English refused to consider the release of Charles, Duke of Orléans and other prisoners taken at Agincourt. And the French were not prepared to make any territorial concessions.
Bedford had recently failed to take the town of Lagny and the revenues of Normandy had been diverted to pay for the siege. One of the consequences for Fastolf was that his men in Caen and Fresnay-le-Vicomte were not paid. Two years later, when a mob of people from Bayeux surrounded Caen, Fastolf brought aid to Sir Richard Harrington who was commanding the castle.
Peace Breaks Out
A further peace conference, again organised
by Cardinal Albergati, was held in Arras[iv] in August 1435. Bedford was too ill
to attend but asked Fastolf to file a memorandum to the conference. The French
were demanding that Henry VI give up his claim to the French crown, to which
Fastolf took exception.
‘It seemeth that it [neither] [be]longeth nor sitteth to the said persons to touch nor to speak of so high and great matters, saving only by the commandments of my lords of the king’s council……….the king should pursue the rights he is possessed of in France with all his power, regardless of any outcry and of the devastation of the country.’[v]
Fastolf suggested that the English return to the strategy of Edward III and lay waste to the countryside rather than wasting time besieging towns; taking the offensive rather than static defence. Fastolf further recommended that the wool trade with Flanders be protected. His advice was ignored along with his proposal that the government of Normandy be anglicised.
‘That the king ordeine in this lande sufficient counseille of Englisshe menne, expert and knowing them in the were………and not it to be demened so moche be the Frenshe conseile as hit be done heretofore.’[vi]
The conference was bound to fail, not least because Gloucester and Bedford disagreed on strategy[vii]. The English walked out, but Charles VII and Philip the Good came to an agreement; Charles apologised for the murder of Duke John in 1419 and Philip renounced the Treaty of Troyes. England now faced a double foe and Gloucester’s concerns about Calais became ever more based in reality.
|Pays de Caux coast|
In 1435 there was a serious rebellion in the Pays de Caux, where Fastolf owned extensive estates, and the peasants took Fécamp, Valmont, Tarcarville, Lillebonne, Montivilliers and Harfleur. The French commander sent in the troops and by the beginning of 1436 there were 2-3,000 French soldiers in the area and only Caudebec was left in English hands.
During 1435 the French made great advances in the Paris region and many of the Burgundian leaders transferred their allegiance from the English to the French. The city itself fell to Charles VII in April 1436 and Fastolf, along with many other English warriors, lost their properties in Paris.
The English ability to counter these advances was wounded by Bedford’s death in September of 1435. The Duke of York[viii] was appointed Lieutenant of Normandy in the following May. Fastolf became one of the inexperienced duke’s advisers and continued to sit on the Grand Conseil, but he was also involved in the administration of Bedford’s estate.
|Richard, Duke of York|
York appointed his own Grand Master and took over the captaincy of Caen from Fastolf. York favoured Talbot over Fastolf and made him Marshall of France on 8th May 1436. Richard Beauchamp, the earl of Warwick[ix], took over the lieutenancy in June 1437; Fastolf commented that Warwick was;
‘Full farre from the ease of [his] years.’[x]
His death in April 1439 saw York become Lieutenant again.
A Reduced Bailiwick
By early 1437 the English were reduced to keeping watch outside the gates of Rouen, the capital of the duchy. Although the end of English rule in France was still over a decade away, Fastolf’s generation were giving way to new men such as Talbot, Scales and Sir Thomas Kyriell[xi].
|St Martin's, Jersey|
Before returning home Fastolf served in Jersey as Gloucester’s Lieutenant Governor from 1437-8. He indented for repairs to his ships;
‘Item, to various expenses and stock for two ships called ballingers……on a voyage to the islands of Jersey and Guernsey, according to the accounts of the ostler and filed in two books – 73s 2d[xii]
Item, to various repairs made on the ballinger called The George, at Yarmouth, after the voyage to Jersey and Guernsey - £7 8s 5d[xiii].’[xiv]
A Man of Substance
In 1434 Fastolf used some of his new found wealth to start a project that was to take twenty years in the completion; the building of a brick castle at Caister. He also owned a house at Southwark in London and the Boar's Head Inn.
One of Fastolf’s neighbours in Norfolk was John Paston, with whom Fastolf had friendly relations. He also placed his trust in another neighbour William Yelverton, a Norfolk judge[xv]. In the late 1440’s negotiations began for the marriage between Fastolf’s fifty year old stepson, Stephen Scrope and Elizabeth Paston
‘See whether Scrope, if he were married and fortuned to have children, if those children should inherit his land or his daughter who is married……….Scrope said to me that if he be married and have a son and heir, his daughter that is married shall have of his livelode fifty marks[xvi] and no more.’[xvii]
Despite this lure the negotiations dragged on until 1454 when it was becoming clear to the Paston’s that negotiations were unlikely to come to any positive conclusion.
In 1447 Fastolf lent £100[xviii] to Thomas Daniel, a squire in the royal household[xix], to commission privateers to help clear the North Sea of pirates. Fastolf was of course looking to turn a profit but, despite winning a battle at sea against the Germans, it seems as though the enterprise failed in Fastolf’s purpose, if not the king’s.
In 1454 Fastolf put in a claim to the court for the monies loaned. He was also forced to go to Chancery, accusing Daniel of malicious falsehood as Daniel was claiming that he was Fastolf’s heir.
Dissension Among the Garter Knights
|Arms of Sir John Fastolf showing Garter and pilgrim's scallop shells|
Fastolf’s quarrel with John Talbot, who probably saw himself as a model of chivalric behaviour, originated in Talbot’s denunciation of Fastolf’s decidedly un-chivalric behaviour at Patay; Talbot’s bitterness was probably exacerbated by the knowledge that his fortune would not have been depleted if he had not been taken prisoner at Patay. Then there would have been no huge ransom to pay as a result of Fastolf’s cowardice.
Talbot renewed the claim of cowardice when he was released from imprisonment and in the spring of 1442 the chapter of Garter Knights was convened to consider the matter. William Worcester had travelled extensively obtaining evidence on Fastolf’s behalf and eventually judgement was given in Fastolf’s favour[xx].
From 1454 onwards Fastolf failed to attend the meetings of the Garter Knights and in 1454 it was recorded that he was;
‘So very old and weak that he could neither go nor ride without very great danger of his health.’[xxi]Even in his later years, in common with many of his fellow commanders in France[xxii], Fastolf was making claims to the government in the sum of £11,000[xxiii] in respect of unpaid wages for his troops.
The Hundred Years War – Alfred H Burne, Folio Society 2005
The Real Falstaff – Stephen Cooper, Pen & Sword Military 2010
The Reign of King Henry VI – RA Griffiths, Sutton Publishing 1998
The Fifteenth Century – EF Jacob, Oxford University Press 1997
John Talbot & the War in France – AJ Pollard, Pen & Sword Military 2005
The Illustrated Letters of the Paston Family – Richard Virgoe (ed), Macmillan London Ltd 1989
[i] Bishop of Rochester
[iii] The Real Falstaff - Cooper
[iv] Part of the domains of the Duke of Burgundy
[v] The Real Falstaff - Cooper
[vi] John Talbot and the War in France - Pollard
[vii] Bedford’s strategic interests were focussed on Normandy while Gloucester was more concerned about Calais, now being threatened by the Duke of Burgundy, and its safety.
[ix] Talbot’s father-in-law and therefore not approved of by Fastolf
[x] The Real Falstaff - Cooper
[xi] Who died on the scaffold in 1471
[xiv] The Real Falstaff - Cooper
[xv] Both men were to be among the executors of his will
[xvii] Illustrated Letters of the Paston Family – Virgoe (ed)
[xx] In 1460 Worcester made a claim on Fastolf’s estate to the sum of 100s (In 2013 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £3,432.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £102,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £1,633,000.00 www.measuringworth.com) relating to his work arising from the Garter dispute.
[xxi] The Real Falstaff - Cooper
[xxii] John Talbot for one