Tag Archives: Calais

On this day in 1513 – the Battle of the Spurs took place

On 16th August 1513 the Battle of the Spurs took place. The battle was also known as the Battle of Guinegate and it was part of the War of the League of Cambrai. The battle saw the English, led by King Henry VIII, and the Holy Roman Empire, led by Maximillian I fight together against the French.

In May 1513 English soldiers arrived in Calais to join up with the army that was led by George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, who had been appointed as Lieutenant General on 12th May 1513. On 17th May King Henry VIII announced to the Cinque Ports and the Constable of Dover Castle, Edward Poynings, that he would be joining the troops in France and would leave his wife, Catherine of Aragon, as Governor of England.

The Chronicle of Calais records that troops began arriving from 6th June, with all the troops in place at the end of June they set off towards Thérouanne with Shrewsbury leading a vanguard 8,000 men strong and Lord Herbert, Charles Somerset, commanding the rearward that consisted of 6,000 men. King Henry arrived in Calais on 30th June with an army of 11,000 men provided by Cardinal Wolsey. Henry’s army contained cavalry, artillery, infantry and longbows. Henry set off towards the battle led by 800 German mercenaries that had been recruited to the battle.

When Shrewsbury arrived at the town of Thérouanne they set up the artillery battery and mines where they could lay explosives but throughout July little progress was made between the two sides. Eventually the town held by Antoine de Créquy surrendered and the French suffered a huge set back. Margaret of Savoy noted that two men were governing everything during the skirmish; this was Charles Brandon and Cardinal Wolsey. During all this Henry was camped to the east in a heavily defended camp. Henry’s accommodation was a wooden cabin with an iron chimney and surrounding that were large yellow and white tents.

The Emperor Maximillian arrived in France in August 1513 and stayed at Aire-sur-la-Lys, Henry arrived in Aire-sur-la-Lys on 11th August dressed in light armour whilst his retinue wore cloth of gold which was a big difference to Maximillian’s retinue who were dressed in black still mourning Bianca Maria Sforza, Maximillian’s wife. Upon hearing that the two leaders had met Catherine of Aragon wrote to Cardinal Wolsey that she was delighted as it would be an honour for Henry and help Maximillian’s reputation.

King Louis XII of France wanted the French to attempt a second battle in order to break the siege, it was organised for 16th August with the cavalry grouping at Blangy. The French army consisted of gendarmes and pikemen. In response to the this the English had their engineers work overnight constructing five bridges over the River Lys to allow their army to move freely, meanwhile King Henry moved his camp to Guinegate on 14th August after his army were able to displace a company of armed horsemen who were stationed at the Tower of Guinegate.

The French still in Blangy devised a plan to split their army into two one to be led by the Duke of Longueville and the other by the Duke of Alençon. Alençon’s force began by attacking the positions that were being held by Lord Shrewsbury whilst Longueville attacked Lord Herbert. Both of these attacks were to act as a diversion to allow the stradiots to deliver supplies to Thérouanne. The French were hoping to catch the English unaware by setting out before dawn; however, a small cavalry from the Scottish borders were already out patrolling and detected the two troops moving.

Henry sent out a vanguard consisting of 1,000 men and then followed them with between 10,000 and 12,000 men. With the French alerted to the fact that the English already knew they were moving the troops decided to wait on a hillside to regroup and wait for the stradiots to contact the garrison within the town of Thérouanne. Whilst they waited on the side of the hill the English vanguard approached from the front with archers shooting from nearby. This was the first time the French became aware of the size of the English army. The English charged as the French were moving off, throwing the French into confusion.

As the French were in disarray the stradiots who had attempted to reach Thérouanne were fleeing from cannon fire and crashed into the French cavalry. Whilst La Palice tried to regain control over his troops they were fleeing so quickly that in order to gain more speed they throw away lances and standards and the gendarmes even cut some of the heavier armour from their horses. The English chased the French for miles until they reached Blangy.

Whilst this was happening Sir Rhys ap Thomas fought the smaller French troops between the village of Bomy and King Henry’s encampment at Guinegate.

Reports of the day’s events were sent to Margaret of Savoy the Imperial Master of the Posts, Baptiste de Tassis wrote

“Early in the day the Emperor and the King of England encountered 8,000 French horse; the Emperor, with 2,000 only, kept them at bay until four in the afternoon, when they were put into flight. A hundred men of arms were left upon the field, and more than a hundred taken prisoners, of the best men in France; as the Sieur de Piennes, the Marquis de Rotelin, and others.”

With the battle over it was time to assess the casualties many French prisoners were captured and reports of approximately 3,000 French casualties. It was reported that nine French standards were captured as well.

With the threat of a French counter attack now dealt with Henry’s camp once again moved south and on 22nd August the town of Thérouanne fell and Henry was welcomed into the town by Shrewsbury. With the town captured it was time for the army to turn its attention towards Tournai.

Battle of the SpursAn artistic impression of the Battle of the Spurs

On this day in 1520 – the Field of Cloth of Gold began

The Field of the Cloth of Gold began on 7th June 1520 and lasted for 17 days. It was a meeting between King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France. It was arranged to unite the two countries after the 1514 Anglo-French treaty. It was held just outside of Calais at Balinghem, an English territory. King Henry VIII and his first wife, Katherine of Aragon left Dover on 1st June 1520 and crossed the channel heading to Calais, they stayed here for six days before setting off to meet the French king. Hall’s Chronicle described the meeting as; “Thursday 8 June being Corpus Christi day, Henry and the French king Francis I, met in a valley called the Golden Dale which lay midway between Guisnes and Arde where the French king had been staying. In this valley Henry pitched his marquee made of cloth of gold near where a banquet had been prepared. His Grace was accompanied by 500 horsemen and 3,000 foot soldiers, and the French King had a similar number of each. When the two great princes met proclaimations were made by the herald and officers-of-arms of both parties, to the effect that everyone should stand absolutely still – the king of England and his company on one side of the valley and the king of France with his retinue on the other. They were commanded to stand thus, completely still, on pain of death whilst the two kings rode down the valley. At the bottom of the valley they embraced each other in great friendship and then, dismounting, embraced each other again, taking off their hats. Henry’s sword was held, unsheathed, by the marquess of Dorset whilst the duc de Bourbon bore the French king’s sword similarly all the while. On Friday 9 June the two kings met up at the camp where a tiltyard had been set up with a pretty green tree with damask leaves nearby. On Saturday two shields bearing the arms of the two kings were hung upon this tree and a proclamation made to the effect that anyone who intended to attend the royal jousts and compete in feats of arms – such as the running at the tilt, fighting tourneys on horseback and fighting on foot at the barriers with swords should bring their shields of arms and have their names entered into the records kept by Clarencieux and Lancaster, officers-at-arms. On Sunday 11 June the French king came to Guisnes to dine with the Queen of England and was graciously received by the Lord Cardinal, the Duke of Buckingham, the Duke of Suffolk, the Earl of Northumberland and various other noblemen, together with a large number of ladies and gentlemen all richly dressed in cloth of gold, velvet and silks. That day too the French king was himself magnificently dressed in tissue-cloth set with precious stones and pearls. When dinner was over, some time was spent dancing in the banqueting hall. Before he started to dance, the French king went from one end of the room to the other, carrying his hat in his hand and kissing all the ladies on both sides – except for four or five who were too old and ugly. He then returned to the Queen and spoke with her for a while before spending the rest of the day dancing. At the same moment King Henry was dining with the French Queen at Arde where he spent the time in a similar manner until seven o’clock in the evening when he returned to Guisnes and the French king likewise returned to Arde. On Monday 12 June both kings and their men-at-arms met at the aforementioned camp. Also present were the Queen of England and the Queen of France, wife of Francis I with her ladies-in-waiting – all riding in litters and sedan chairs covered in sumptuous embroidery. Some other ladies also arrived mounted on richly decorated palfreys. Then the two kings with their teams of challengers and their sides entered the field, every one fully armed and magnificently dressed. The French king started the jousts and did extremely well, even though the first lance was broken by King Henry, who managed to break one on each charge. The French king broke a good number of lances but not as many as Henry. Thursday 15 June saw Henry in the field again, fully armoured and challenging all comers. Opponents that day included two French noblemen with their men-at-arms, all well-mounted and finely dressed, who acquitted themselves well. On Friday 16 June there was no contest at the camp because of a tremendous gale. On Saturday both kings entered the field and King Henry’s armour-skirt and horse-trapper were decorated with 2,000 ounces of gold and 1,100 huge pearls, the price of which was incalculable, the Earl of Devonshire also appeared that day wearing cloth of gold, tissue-cloth and cloth of silver, all elaborately embroidered, with his retinue wearing the same uniform. When the French king and the Earl of Devonshire charged at each other, so fierce was their encounter that both their lances broke. In all they ran off eight times, during which the French king broke three lances while the earl broke two lances and the French king’s nose. On Saturday 23 June a large and well-appointed chapel was set up on the grounds, decorated with ornate hangings and filled with statues of saints and holy relics. Later the lord cardinal said mass in the chapel – which had been built and fitted out entirely at King Henry’s expense. During the service the chaplains of both kings took it in turns to sing the refrains, which was heavenly to listen to. The mass completed, the kings and queens, proceeded to the gallery beside the chapel to dine in great style.” Henry and Francis were always in competition with each other and the Field of the Cloth of Gold was no different each camp tried to outshine the other. In the English camp a temporary palace was erected covering nearly 12,000 square yards. The palace was separated into four blocks with a central courtyard. The base of each block was brick that stood at eight feet high and above this the walls were made of canvas or cloth attached to timber frames and painted to look like brick. Oiled cloth was painted to give the impression of a slated roof. In the central courtyard stood two fountains that flowed red wine for everyone to enjoy, it is believed that over 2800 tents were erected around the palaces for lesser visitors. The following days of the meeting saw many tournaments, banquets in each camp where the kings entertained each other’s queens. Other entertainment included wrestling, although the kings had not competed against each other due to carefully established rules Henry challenged Francis to a wrestling match but promptly lost. The Field of the Cloth of Gold came to an end on 24th June when the two kings departed the political reasons for the meeting was not resolved and in fact relations began to break down soon after.

Field of the cloth of goldField of the Cloth of Gold

On this day in 1568 – Sir Edward Rogers died

Sir Edward Rogers was born in 1498 to George Rogers and his wife Mary.

It is believed that Rogers served the Courtenay family and was given livery by the Marquess of Exeter in 1525. The following year Rogers along with George Carew and Andrew Flamank took off to Calais. Instead the landed at Le Conquet and they set off for Paris and Blois where they sought to enter the service of the Regent of France. Their offer was turned down due to the lack of a letter of commendation from Henry VIII or Cardinal Wolsey. With the failure to gain the appointment the trio set off back for England via Calais. They were interviewed at Calais where they received a pardon and allowed to travel back to England.

Rogers was made an Esquire of the Body to King Henry VIII some time before 1534. In this role he was act as a personal attendant to the King and answered his every call. During the Dissolution of the Monasteries he was granted the land of a former nunnery in Cannington, Somerset. From here he set up his family home and was appointed as a Justice of the Peace for Somerset and Dorset and later, in 1547, represented Tavistock as a Member of Parliament.

Rogers fell out of favour briefly when he argued with the new Lord Protector, Edward Seymour, but with Seymour’s fall from grace Rogers returned to court. At the coronation of King Edward VI Rogers was knighted and appointed to be one of Edward’s four principal gentlemen of the Privy Council. It was a short appointment as in January 1550 Rogers was placed under house arrest for unknown reasons, he returned to favour once again six months later where he was also granted a pension of £50. Back in favour with King Edward VI Rogers witnessed the appointment of Lady Jane Grey as Edward’s heir.

With Lady Jane’s short reign and the rule of the Catholic Queen Mary, Rogers retreated back to Somerset until 1554 when he was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London for attempting raise a insurrection in Devon that coincided with Wyatt’s rebellion. Rogers was released 1555 with a pardon and a fine of £1000. Rogers had throughout his life discarded the Catholic rules and previously in 1543 he was reprimanded for eating meat during Lent.

With Mary’s death and the accession of Queen Elizabeth Rogers was recommended to her employment by Sir Nicholas Throckmorton. Rogers was appointed to the roles of Vice-Chamberlain, Captain of the Guard and Privy Councillor and in 1560 was appointed to succeed Sir Thomas Parry as Comptroller of Elizabeth’s household.

Rogers would hold these roles until his death on 3rd May 1568 in his will he left the majority of his goods and land to his only son.

Sir Edward Rogers