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FateofTruceofParis Christopher Phillpotts

Jountal ~ffMedieval History,Vol. 24, No. I. pp. 61 80, 1998
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The fate of the truce of Paris, 1396-1415
Christopher Phillpotts
46 North Street, Castlefields, Shrewsbur), SYI 2J./. England
The longest truce of the Hundred Years' War was agreed at Paris between Richard II of England
and Charles VI of France in 1396, and was designed to last twenty-eight years. However, despite
Richard's marriage to Charles' daughter Isabelle, relations between the two countries had already
deteriorated by the time he was deposed in 1399. His place was taken by Henry IV, who
established the continuity of the truce, but nevertheless faced a mounting armed challenge to his
position from the French. This consisted of conflicts fought within the framework of the truce. By
1407 they had run out of steam and a new series of truces was made, overlaying the truce of Paris.
Henry IV was able to intervene again in France in his later years, but it was left to his son Henry V
to rationalise the truce system on the basis of the 1396 settlement, and then return to open war in
1415 in pursuit of the Plantagenet claim to the French throne. In the course of these events, both
the nature of the truce and the character of the Anglo-French struggle altered considerably.
© 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
The Hundred Years' War was the longest European conflict of the late middle ages.
The longest interruption of its course was the truce of Paris, agreed between Richard II
of England and Charles VI of France in 1396. The truce framed the following phase of
the war, until the landing of Henry V and his army at Harfleur in 1415. The intervening
years included a great deal of armed conflict between England and France and their
allies, on both land and water, and little attention was paid to the achievement of a peace
settlement, supposedly one of the purposes of truce. What therefore were Richard II's
intentions in agreeing to the truce? Did it really remain in force until 1415? If so, how
was conflict within a truce possible and what implications did this have for the
perception of its purpose? The terms of the truce were the subject of several
modifications, used by this study as indicators of the changing nature of the war and the
shifting aspirations of each side.
Since the renewal of the war in 1369 military events had not allowed either side to
gain a decisive advantage over the other. In all the peace negotiations since the treaty of
Bretigny in 1360 neither the English or the French had been willing to abandon their
positions on the question of sovereignty over Guyenne, until the draft treaty of
C H R I S T O P H E R P H I L L P O T T S completed his Ph.D. at the University of Liverpool in 1985. He has published
articles in English Historical Review, Journal of Medieval Histo~. , London Archaeologist, and Current
Archaeology. He now works as an archaeological consultant, based in Shrewsbury.
Christopher Phillpotts
Leulinghen in 1393 when John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster and chief English negotiator,
agreed it should be held by liege homage, j Long truces as substitutes for unattainable
peace treaties had been proposed at negotiations in 1376, 1381, 1385, 1390, and 1392,
and possibly in 1393. 2 For Edouard Perroy the long truce of 1396 and Richard's
marriage to a French princess marked Richard's slavish devotion to the Valois court in
the last years of his reign. In John Palmer's view, Richard's main aim throughout the
1390s was to establish a stable peace; the truce of Paris was his substitute for the lost
peace treaty of 1393, and therefore a relative disappointment. Stephen Pistono follows
him in believing that the marriage and the long truce 'created a congenial climate in
which the monarchs of England and France could arrive at a final settlement of their
differences'.3 However, Richard's activities and selective inactivity in the last three years
of his reign suggests that his attitude towards the conflict with France was altogether
more belligerent, and that by 1399 the atmosphere of Anglo-French relations was far
from congenial.
Richard began to take control of his own foreign policy in autumn 1394, following the
failure of the diplomatic schemes of his uncle John of Gaunt. The last of Gaunt's series
of peace conferences at Leulinghen in the spring had resulted only in a four-year truce.4
Early in 1395 the recently-widowed Richard sent an embassy to Barcelona to seek the
hand of the heiress of Aragon. In March this provoked Charles VI to open negotiations
for a marriage between his daughter Isabelle and Richard. 5 Richard had drawn the
French into making the first move, and now had a position of strength from which to
make extensive claims and demolish the precedents set by his uncle's peace offers of
On 8 July 1395 Richard instructed his ambassadors to France to demand all of
Guyenne, Ponthieu and the Calais March as they had been defined in the treaty of
Bretigny, in full sovereignty, and a vast dowry of two million francs with Isabelle; he
also revived claims to the Angevin fiefs in France and the overlordship of Scotland for
the benefit of their future children. 6 Such terms would never be acceptable to the French.
~J. J. N. Palmer, 'Articles for a final peace between England and France 16 June 1393', Bulletin of the Institute
of Historical Research, 39 (1966), 180-5; C. J. Phillpotts, 'John of Gaunt and English policy towards
France 1389-95,' Journal of Medieval History, 16 (1990), 371; A. Tuck, 'Richard II and the Hundred
Years' War,' in: Politics and crisis in fourteenth-century England, ed. J. Taylor and W. Childs (Gloucester,
1990), 120-2.
2Anglo-French negotiations at Bruges 1374-7, ed. E. Perroy (Royal Historical Society, Camden Miscellany
19, London, 1952), xvii-xviii and nos. XXXI and XXXVIII; H. Moranville, 'Conferences entre la France et
l'Angleterre 1388-93,' Bibliothkque de l'Ecole des Chartes, 50 (1889), 368-9, 373, 374, 380; Voyage
littiraire de deux religieux Binidictins de la congregation de St. Maur, ed. E. Mart~ne and U. Durand
(Paris, 1724), vol. 2, 326, 345, 346.
3E. Perroy, L'Angleterre et le grand schisme d'occident (Paris, 1933), 383, 390; J. J. N. Palmer, 'English
foreign policy 1388-99,' in: The reign of Richard I1: essays in honour of M. McKisack, ed. F. R. H. du
Boulay and C. M. Barron (London, 1971), 78-9; J. J. N. Palmer, 'England and the great western schism
1388-99,' English Historical Review, 83 (1968), 522; J.J.N. Palmer, England, France and Christendom
1377-9 (London, 1972), 168; S.P. Pistono, The repudiation of the twenty-eight year truce: a study of
Anglo-French diplomatic relations 1399-1404. PhD thesis, University of Oklahoma (1970), 4, 238.
4Phillpotts, 'John of Gaunt', 377-8, 382; Foedera, conventiones, letterae et cujuscunque generis acta publica
inter reges Angliae et alios quosuis imperatores, reges, pontifices, principes, vel communitates, ed. T.
Rymer, 20 vols (London, 1727-35), vol. 7, 769-75.
5j. j. N. Palmer, 'The background to Richard II's marriage to Isabel of France 1396', Bulletin of the Institute of
Historical Research, 44 ( 1971 ), 2-13.
"Palmer, England, 256-7, from London, British Library, Cotton MS Vitellius Cxi, nos. 2-3.
The fate of the truce of Paris, 1396-1415
Richard did not intend them to serve as the basis for a realistic discussion but rather to
induce a French rejection, coupled with a counter-offer of a long truce based on his
marriage to Isabelle. This manoeuvre succeeded and Richard again put the French in the
weaker negotiating position by forcing them to make the first move.
Richard wanted to extend the current truce for five years and gave powers to his
second embassy to France accordingly in October 1395. The French royal council
considered that a peace settlement should accompany Isabelle's marriage, but if it could
not have peace, it preferred to have a truce that would last for a generation. Richard was
prepared to agree: the English powers of 30 December and the instructions of the
following day therefore foresaw an extension of twenty-eight years. This would make a
total of thirty years with the two years before the current truce expired at the end of
September 13987
On 9 March 1396 in Paris the truce was agreed according to these terms and the
marriage contract was concluded. Isabelle's dowry was set at 800,000 francs, 300,000 to
be paid at the time of the wedding, followed by a series of annual payments of 100,0008
The terms of the truce were almost exactly the same as Gaunt's truce of 1394, designed
primarily to limit and control frontier warfare in the duchy of Guyenne. Towns, villages
and other communities in the duchy were accustomed to pay sums called patis to buy off
the hostile attentions of neighbouring castle garrisons, a system which had ossified into a
network of ransom districts. The patis exacted by the English and French garrisons were
to be reviewed and reduced before August by a travelling commission, made up of
personnel from both sides. Any outstanding cases would be referred to a future meeting
of the dukes of Lancaster, Gloucester, Berry and Burgundy, the uncles of the two kings.9
Charles VI had suffered from recurrent mental illness since 1392, and the French
government was largely in the hands of his close relatives, by no means a harmonious
group. Richard's uncles had also been prominent in the English government since his
Richard hurried forward the arrangements for his marriage to Isabelle, pressing
Charles to send her to Calais by August, though the French insisted that neither her
trousseau nor the first payment of her dowry could be ready before the end of
September. j° In August Richard, Lancaster and Gloucester met the duke of Burgundy at
Guines, agreed the final arrangements for the wedding and also for a meeting of the two
kings when Isabelle was handed over. j~ The French had been keen for several years that
Richard should meet Charles, believing that he wanted a peace settlement more than his
uncles.~ 2
7Foedera, vol. 7, 812; London, Public Record Office, C76/80, m.18.
8Les grands trait~s de la Guerre de Cent Ans, ed. E. Cosneau (Paris, 1889), 71-99; Paris, Archives
Nationales, J643, no. 6; Foedera, vol. 7, 813-20.
9Paris, Archives Nationales, J644, no. 16. See Phillpotts, 'John of Gaunt', 375, 377-8.
~'London, Public Record Office, E30/326; Paris, Archives Nationales, J644, no. 21; P. Chaplais, 'English
diplomatic documents 1377-99', in: The reign of Richard 11, 42-3.
'~Perroy, Angleterre et schisme, 378; Chronique du religieux de Saint Denys, ed. M. L. Bellaguet (Collection
de documents in~dits sur l'histoire de France, Paris, 1839-52), vol, 2, 444-6, 450; Anglo-Norman letters
and petitions, ed. M. D. Legge (Anglo-Norman Text Society, Oxford, 1941), no. 174.
'2Lettres de rois, reines et autres personnages des cours de France et d'Angleterre depuis Louis VII jusqu 'dr
Henri IV, ed. J. J. Champollion-Figeac (Collection de documenls in6dits sur l'histoire de France, Paris,
1847), vol. 2, 257.
Christopher Phillpotts
In October, the leading nobility of both nations gathered in the Picardy marches. The
two rival monarchs finally met at a group of pavilions pitched mid-way between Guines
and Ardres, with a great display of friendship. Four days of ceremony and gift
exchanges followed, on the last of which Isabelle was delivered to her future husband.
Richard and Charles swore oaths to observe the truce faithfully and devote themselves to
the search for final peace, and also to assist each other as allies against all men. The
marriage took place in Calais on 4 November. The following evening, Richard and the
royal uncles drew up an agreement about the next peace conference, joint Anglo-French
measures to end the Papal schism and the p a t i s of Guyenne. ~3 The royal uncles were to
meet again in a peace conference in April 1397. A joint embassy was to assemble in
Paris in February 1397 and go to both Popes Boniface IX and Benedict XIII to obtain
their agreement to the voie d e cession, the preferred French method of ending the
schism, apparently by threatening them with the withdrawal of ecclesiastical obedience
in both kingdoms. Richard and Charles also agreed to send a joint expedition to
Lombardy in spring 1397 to enforce the end of the schism.
The Anglo-French agreement of 1396 therefore consisted of a combination of a long
extension of the existing truce, with its emphasis on Guyenne; a marriage alliance; and
elements of a wider European settlement. For the Valois it was a relatively cheap way of
ending the conflict for the foreseeable future, without having to buy off the Plantagenet
claim to the French throne with cessions of land. One element of the settlement, the
return of Brest to the duke of Brittany, was probably also agreed at Calais. Brest had
been leased from the duke by the English since 1378. Richard agreed to surrender the
town and castle, provided Duke John paid him 120,000 francs by Easter 1397, and
30,000 francs compensation for p a t i s unlevied and other lost revenues. The sums were
paid at Paris in May and June, and the town and castle were finally returned on 30
June. 14 Richard was quite willing to sell Brest for the right price. Indirectly it was
Charles VI who paid for it, since he gave Duke John 150,000 francs as a dowry when his
daughter Jeanne married the heir of Brittany in 1396, and another 10,000 francs for
John's attendance at the summit between Guines and Ardres. ~5
Other elements of the settlement did not go as smoothly. The English p a t i s
commissioners withdrew from their commitment to tour Guyenne, then obstructed
progress by failing to attend meetings with their French colleagues. 16 Evidently the joint
commission achieved nothing to alleviate the problems caused by patis, for it was left to
Richard and the royal uncles meeting at Calais in November to agree temporary
~3Perroy, Angleterre et schisme, piece XIII (from Paris, Biblioth6que Nationale, Dupuy 564, f.269), and piece
XV; St Denys, vol. 2, 452-72; Thomas Walsingham. Annales Ricardi Secundi et Henrici Quarti, ed. H. T.
Riley, in: Johannis de Trokelowe et Henrici de Blaneforde cronica et annales (Rolls Series, London, 1886),
188-94; Oxford, Oriel College, MS 46, ff.llMv-106v; London, British Library, Additional MS 17906,
ff.4-6; Additional Charter 3400; Paris, Biblioth~que Nationale, Bourgogne 21, f.28v; Paris, Archives
Nationales, J644, no. 19.
~4M.C. E. Jones, Ducal Brittany 1364-99 (Oxford, 1970), 138-9; Lettres de Rois, vol. 2, 282-4; Proceedings
and Ordinances of the Privy Council of England, ed. N. H. Nicolas (London, 1834), vol. 1, 64-9; Foedera,
vol. 7, 851-3; Paris, Biblioth~que Nationale, Nouvelles acquisitions franqaises 5216, no. 18.
~SJones, Ducal Brittany, 138, 141 n.1.
~6London,Public Record Office, C61/104, m.4; C76/80, m.2; Paris, Biblioth~que Nationale, Moreau 1423, no.
42; Paris, Archives Nationales, J644, no. 23, copy at Oxford, Bodleian Library, Carte MS 112, ff.156-158v.
The fate of the truce of Paris, 1396-1415
measures until the matter could be discussed further at the peace conference in the
spring. ~7 The French charged the English with unwillingness to fulfil the obligation they
had made, but without result; the burdens of marques and patis continued to weigh upon
the populace of Guyenne.
The peace conference arranged for April 1397 was postponed, and never actually met.
Neither side pressed for it, and with it disappeared the process of regulating the patis of
Guyenne. ~8 Charles was wary of peace negotiations which involved further concessions
to the English, until Richard had committed himself to the voie de cession and backed
French policy in Italy.
Richard fulfilled his commitment over the schism in the letter rather than the spirit,
delaying his part of the joint embassy to the popes and then sending nonentities of no
previous diplomatic experience. They returned to England in November 1397, having
achieved nothing. ~9 The Anglo-French expedition to Lombardy was abandoned by
summer 1397. 20
A change in Richard's attitude to the truce is discernible from about July 1397
onwards. By this time Brest had been returned to Duke John, the English envoys had
departed to Rome and Avignon, and it was clear that the peace conference of the royal
uncles would not meet. No further concessions were to be expected from the French,
territorial, marital or financial. The chief reason for maintaining the truce was to obtain
the remainder of Isabelle's dowry payments. In 1399 this money paid for Richard's Irish
Richard made no further moves in accordance with the French method of ending the
schism. When he received an embassy from Charles in summer 1398, urging him to
withdraw obedience from Boniface, he insisted on first consulting the English clergy,
known to be opposed to the idea. He eventually submitted the French proposals to the
Universities of Oxford and Cambridge in November, but only five days later he ratified a
new concordat with Boniface. The universities rejected the voie de cession in favour of a
general council of the Church. 22 Without a quid pro quo Richard's co-operation with
Charles for the union of the Church soon turned into competition between English and
French methods.
Meanwhile, Richard had delayed publishing the new truce until the last possible
moment. Charles sent him three embassies requiring lhis, the last in August 1398. He
17K. Fowler 'Truces', in: The Hundred Years War, ed. K. Fowler (London, 1971), 207 and n.92; Paris,
Archives Nationales, J865, no. 12.
~Paris, Archives Nationales, J644, no. 20.
~'Perroy, Angleterre et schisme, 380-2, 417, piece XV.
-'°Palmer, 'Foreign policy', 103-4; D. M. Bueno de Mesquita, 'The foreign policy of Richard II in 1397: some
Italian letters', English Historical Review, 56 (1941), 628-31, 634; Perroy, Angleterre et schisme, 343;
Annales Ricardi Secundi, 200; Rotuli Parliamentorum, ed. J. Strachey et al (London, 1783), vol. 3, 338;
Lettres de Rois, vol. 2, 298-300; Jean Froissart, Oeuvres, ed. Kervyn de Lettenhove (Brussels, 1867-77),
vol. 15, 308. The instructions of an envoy going to the lords who had offered to serve the king in Lombardy
may belong to this period, although Palmer prefers to place them in 1391: London, British Library, Cotton
MS Nero Bvii, f.6.
Z~D. Johnston, 'Richard II's departure from Ireland, July 1399', English Historical Review, 98 (1983), 797-8.
22Perroy, Angleterre et schisme, 340-9, 384-7, 416-20, pi~ces XV and XVI; Anglo-Norman letters, no. 180;
Paris, Biblioth~que Nationale, Dupuy 564, f.268-268v; Palmer, 'England and schism', 519-20; Froissart,
vol. 16, 134-6: Foedera. vol. 8, 62.
Christopher Phillpotts
reported that the English captains in Guyenne had openly said they would renew the war
when the current truce expired on 29 September; he threatened to retaliate if they did,
and that Richard's party would therefore be responsible for breaking the truce just as it
was beginning.23 Richard finally yielded to French pressure and ordered the proclamation
of the truce on 30 August, exactly a month before it was due to take effect.24
Richard's diplomacy was marked by a restless and aggressive energy, consisting of
resolute moves, crude but effective. He was not prepared to continue fruitless lines of
negotiation leading to a compromise which involved abandoning points of principle; he
preferred to change the direction of discussions to obtain all available advantages. He
applied these methods to hurry forward the completion of the 1396 settlement, and then
delayed and sabotaged its full implementation. He must have expected to gain from both
tactics. Since the English were in a weaker military position in Guyenne, Richard could
not hope to obtain any territorial concessions to accompany the truce; instead he was
seeking the advantages of dynastic marriage and large cash payments. He acquired a
marriage alliance with the leading royal family in Europe and the prestige of meeting its
head as an equal. More tangibly the Valois paid him enormous sums to buy the long
truce and the restoration of Brest, about three quarters of a million francs in cash and
jewels, with another 300,000 still owed in 1399.
Richard had no intention of impairing his claim to the French throne and the quarrel
he derived from it. His effective possession of the French royal title and absolute
sovereignty over Guyenne were assured, the current position frozen in an armed peace.
In July 1395, Richard insisted on retaining his title, symbolised by the quartering of the
fleur-de-lys on his arms. The quartered arms of England and France were a particular
feature in England between 1394 and the end of the reign, and Richard perhaps adopted
the cosse de genet as a badge to stress his Plantagenet descent from Geoffrey of Anjou,
although this could equally have been an echo of the livery collar of his new
father-in-law.25 After 1398 he constantly wore around his neck the eagle containing the
oil given by the Virgin to Thomas Becket, which bore the promise of the recovery of the
lands lost by his ancestors.26 This emphasis on his claims in France implies an intention
to pursue them when circumstances allowed.
With the settlement achieved, Richard directed his diplomacy and new financial
resources to halt the advance of Valois influence in western Europe. He had begun this
theme by seeking the alliance of Rupert of the Palatinate in August 1394 and the
Aragonese marriage in 1395.27 When France transferred her alliance from Milan to
Florence in September 1396, Richard responded with an approach to Milan. In 13971398 Richard made diplomatic moves to protect the Milanese from attack by the count
-~SParis, Archives Nationales, J644, no. 23, copies at Paris, Biblioth~que Nationale, Nouvelles acquisitions
franqaises 7005, and Oxford, Bodleian Library, Carte MS 112, ff. 156-158v.
24Foedera, vol. 8, 43.
2~K. Fowler, The age of Plantagenet and Valois (London, 1967), 193; D. Gordon, Making and meaning. The
Wilton Diptych (London, 1993), 51-3.
26English Historical Documents 1327-1485, ed. A. R. Myers, (London, 1969), 173; T. A. Sandquist, 'The
holy oil of St. Thomas of Canterbury', in: Essays in medieval history presented to Bertie Wilkinson, ed. T.
A. Sandquist and M. R. Powicke (Toronto, 1969).
27Foedera, vol. 7, 785; Palmer, England, 167-8; Palmer, 'Backgroundto marriage', 2-8; London, Public
Record Office, C76/79, m.2.
The fate of the truce of Paris, 1396-1415
of A r m a g n a c ' s expedition to Lombardy. 2s In May 1398 Duke John of Brittany signed an
alliance with Richard, by which Richard would send him English troops if the Breton
civil war broke out again.29 In June and July 1398 Richard allowed English troops to go
and serve King John of Portugal against the rebellion of his brother Dinis, sponsored by
France's ally Castile~ ° Richard tried to halt further Burgundian advances into the Low
Countries in 1396-1398 by constructing a defensive wall of territories along the Rhine,
funded by English pensions and bound to him by the obligations of liege homage and
military service. This included Gelders-Juliers, Cologne, Berg, Ravensberg, the Rhine
Palatinate and several minor lordships) ~ This was the area where a renewal of
Anglo-French conflict seemed most likely to break out.
There is some evidence that the Valois maintained friendly contact with the English
royal court late in Richard's reign, particularly Philip of Burgundy. 32 But at sea and on
the frontiers of Guyenne the tension between the two sides increased in its quantity and
violence after the truce of Paris was signed. In November 1396, the very month that
Richard married Isabelle at Calais, the mayor of Sandwich forcibly confiscated a
wine-ship of La Rochelle driven into his harbour by adverse weather. Vessels were taken
at sea by both sides during the next three years, the English taking the initiative against
the French. English merchants suffered more heavily in 139933 By the time that Henry
of Bolingbroke landed at Ravenspur in July 1399, the spirit of the 1396 settlement had
evaporated from the two courts, and relations on the frontiers were more fractious than
Richard was probably insincere about keeping the truce right from the meeting
between Guines and Ardres. At his deposition he was accused of dissimulation to popes
and other foreign rulers 34 After 1396 Richard was still 'king of France', but before
exploiting his claim he needed a period of recovery to gather his strength in his kingdom
of England, his lordship of Ireland and the alliance structures of Europe. Had he lived
until all the dowry payments were complete, he may well have re-opened the quarrel
with France again, breaking the truce on the pretext of some frontier incident or a
satellite conflict between the allies of each side.
Richard's deposition by Bolingbroke threw the whole settlement of 1396 into doubt.
2~Bueno de Mesquita, "Foreign policy of Richard II', 631-7; M. de Bouard, Les origines des guerres d'halie.
La France et l 'ltalie au temps du grand schisme d'occident (Bibliothrque des Ecoles Fran~aises d'Athbnes
et de Rome, Paris, 1936), 230-1; Palmer, 'Foreign policy', 102-3; The Diplomatic correspondence of
Richard II, ed. E. Perroy (Royal Historical Society, Camden 3rd series 48, London 1933), no. 226; Foedera,
vol. 7, 835.
29 Privy Council, vol. 1, 79-80.
3"Foedera, vol. 8, 29, 40, 41.
~tFoedera, vol. 7, 854-6, 858-9; vol. 8, 1-6, 21-4, 36-8, 66, 80--2; Calendar of Patent Rolls 1396-9, 25;
Diplomatic correspondence, no. 231, nn.230-1; London, Public Record Office, E30/1088; E30/1358;
E30/1514; C76/82, m.15; Palmer, 'Foreign policy', 80, 85-6.
~2R.Vaughan, Philip the Bold (London, 1962), 108, 219; J.H. Wylie, History of England under Henry IV, vol. 4
(1898), 176; Perroy, Angleterre et schisme, 119 n.3.
~Calendar of Close Rolls 1396-9, 113, 165; 1399-1402, 119, 319, 395; 1402-5, 481 ; Calendar of Patent
Rolls 1399-1401, 164; London, Public Record Office, E28/17, no. 45; Paris, Archives Nationales J645, no.
17 articles 28, 31, 39; no. 18, article 20; no, 20; no. 35 articles 41, 76, 77, 79, 80, 88; no. 36(1) articles 7,
11, 28, 31, 39, 40; no. 36(2) articles 43, 44, 47; J919, no. 7 article 20; no. 10.
~4English HistoricM Documents, 411.
Christopher Phillpotts
As king, Henry IV quickly attempted to establish a peaceful relationship with France,
sending Walter Skirlaw and Thomas Percy as ambassadors with powers to confirm the
truce. 35 However, the French government reacted adversely to the changes in England,
refusing the ambassadors' request for a safe-conduct from Calais and arresting their
herald. Their report, sent to the Great Council early in February 1400, suggested that war
was more likely with France than a new truce or a confirmation of the 1396 truce. 36
But the immediate danger had already passed. With the collapse of the revolt of the
earls and Richard's death at Pontefract, French plans to intervene in England were
abandoned. Charles could no longer fight on behalf of his son-in-law whilst preserving
the truce that had been made between them; that truce now concerned his assign or
successor, whoever it might rightfully be. The French found it impossible to deny the
English ambassadors' assertion that the truce should not be broken because it had been
made between the two kingdoms and their subjects and the allies of both sides, not the
persons of Charles and Richard. 37 By some aggressive diplomacy, Skirlaw and Percy
achieved an exchange of truce confirmations by June 1400. 38 The French government
appears to have regarded the renewal of hostilities at this point with some trepidation,
and its actions were confined to stirring up trouble for the English in Guyenne. 39
However, the Valois were not prepared to accept Henry's legitimacy as king,
regarding him as Richard's murderer. This created some problems in negotiating with
him; his ambassadors were not received in Paris until September 1407, nor did French
ambassadors go to London, discussions being held on the frontier in the march of
Picardy at French insistence. Each side devised formulae to avoid calling the opposing
ruler 'king'. The conflict was now symmetrical: each protagonist regarded the other as a
usurper. Each also designated his heir as ruler of Guyenne. Henry conferred the title
duke of Aquitaine on his eldest son, Henry of Monmouth, shortly after he came to the
throne, and Charles responded in January 1401 by creating his eldest son, the Dauphin
Louis, duke of Guyenne as peer of France.4° This implied an intention to enforce the
confiscation of the duchy and was intended as a provocation to the new regime in
England. Parliament thought it meant there was a danger of open war in Guyenne, and
English ambassadors complained to the French that the grant was a breach of the truce,
as it altered the status q u o to the detriment of the Plantagenets' rights as dukes of
Aquitaine 4~
35Foedera, vol. 8, 109.
"rFoedera, vol. 8, 125-7. The credence of the English ambassadors at Calais to their messenger William
Faryngdon, now damaged and very faded, has not been noticed before, London, British Library, Cotton MS
Caligula Diii, f.125. See also the council memorandum of 2 February 1400 at London, Public Record Office,
C49 file 48, no. 1.
37Choix de pikces inddites relatives au r~gne de Charles VI, ed. L. Douet-d'Arcq (Soci6t6 de l'histoire de
France, Paris, 1863-1864), vol. 1. 189-90.
38C. J. Phillpotts, English policy towards France during the truces 1389-1417. Unpublished PhD thesis,
University of Liverpool (1985), 215-8; Foedera, vol. 8, 124, 142; London, Public Record Office,
E30/339A. S. P. Pistono, 'Henry IV and Charles VI: the confirmation of the twenty-eight year truce',
Journal of Medieval History, 3 (1977), 357-63, misconstrues the negotiations of these months, confusing
the drafting of truce confirmations with their exchange between the two sides.
39Pistono, 'Confirmation', 356-7; Tuck 'Richard II and the Hundred Years' War', 107, 109.
4°Wylie, Henry IV, vol. 1, 66; Paris, Archives Nationales, J369, no. 1.
4rRotuli Parliamentorum, vol. 3, 454; Foedera, vol. 8, 195, 223; Choix, vol. 1,220; Paris, Archives Nationales,
J645, no, 15.
The fate of the truce of Paris, 1396-1415
Another problem was the presence in England of Charles' daughter Isabelle, now
Richard's widow. Skirlaw and Percy were commissioned to negotiate for diplomatic
marriages with the Valois; Henry was probably considering a French marriage for
himself and wished to marry Isabelle to his eldest son Henry of Monmouth. 4z But the
French government refused any suggestion of marriages and forbade Isabelle to marry
again in England.43 By the terms of the marriage contract agreed in 1396, on Richard's
death his successor became liable to repay 200,000 francs of the dowry received after
the initial payment at the wedding, and to return Isabelle free of obligation with all her
jewels and goods to her father. Henry and seven other leading English lords had sworn a
solemn obligation to carry out this last clause.44
French envoys' requests for the return of Isabelle, her goods and dowry became a
continuing theme at their meetings with English embassies. Henry delayed the queen's
return to extract the best diplomatic advantage that he could. He tried to draw the
negotiations to England, hoping this would lead to the recognition of his position as king
by the Valois.45 In spring 1401 he tried to lure the French envoys into discussions of
truce violations, but they refused to discuss these matters until Isabelle had been
restored 46 They succeeded in obtaining her release at Leulingen 31 July 1401, in return
for a meeting about violations and patis four days later. The dynastic marriage was a
major component of the 1396 settlement and Henry now had to maintain the truce of
Paris without it. He had been forced to sell Isabelle back to the French for only a minor
conference about the truce, and had lost the hostage who fettered French policy.
Despite the French government's attitude to Henry's royal title, it was unprepared to
resume a full-scale war because of its financial problems and the uncertainty of a divided
political leadership. Henry was not prepared to recommence an official war either. The
circumstances of his acquisition of the throne placed him in constant danger of domestic
rebellion; campaigns in Wales and Scotland were a drain on his insufficient financial
resources; and in the duchy of Guyenne security was precarious and fidelity doubtful.
Neither side was willing to precipitate a ruinous conflict by renouncing the truce. It was
theretbre necessary to continue negotiations for as long as possible, preserving the truce
by repeatedly discussing it. French embassies were often instructed to seek the longest
possible interval when arranging the next successive meeting, and their English
opposites were well aware of their delaying tactics.47 Above all, they were not to allow
the sequence of negotiations to be broken. Henry wanted the French to commit
themselves further by proclaiming the truce anew and making agreements supplementary
to the truce, and empowered his ambassadors to make such arrangements 48 The French
4~Foedera, vol. 8, 108, 128-9; Choix, vol. 1, 167-71; Paris, Archives Nationales, J645, no. 4; London, Public
Record Office, C76/84, mm.4, 6: Privy Council, vol. 1. 118.
4'Paris, Archives Nationales, J644, nos. 33, 34; Choix, vol. 1, 194-5; Froissart, vol. 16, 370; Wylie, Hem3' IV,
vol. 4, 261.
44Foedera, vol. 7. 817-9; Paris, Archives Nationales~ J643, no. 11, printed by Chaplais, 'English diplomatic
documents', 39-40.
4~Choix, vol. 1, 185, 196.
46Foedera, vol. 8, 186-7; Paris, Archives Nationales, J645, nos. 1. 13.
47paris, Archives Nationales, J644, no. 31(4); J645, nos. 43, 47, 51; J919, no. 13; Choix, vol. 1, 219-20;
Foedera, vol. 8, 231.
4~Privy Council, vol. 1, 241; Foedera, vol. 8, 187, 224, 301; London, Public Record Office, C76/84, m.4:
C76/86, m.2; Paris, Archives Nationales, J645, no. 9.
Christopher Phillpotts
were reluctant to draw up any new contracts with Henry, as this would imply some
recognition of his royal title by accepting his person as the representative of the kingdom
of England. Henry hoped these additional agreements would achieve precisely this end,
besides limiting French aggression.
Three successive agreements containing measures to support and modify the truce
were made in meetings at Leulinghen on 3 August 1401, four days after the delivery of
Isabelle as arranged; on 14 August 1402; and on 27 June 1403. `*9 These measures mostly
concerned correcting violations of the truce and banning reprisals, particularly at sea,
and the freeing of prisoners taken for ransom on both sides. Additional securities were
also agreed in October 1403 and September 1404 for fishermen in the eastern part of the
Channel during the herring seasons,s° These accords were not new truces, nor were they
agreements to observe the current truce during a certain time limit. Their effect was to
alter the centre of gravity of the 1396 truce from Guyenne to Picardy and the Channel,
where friction between English and French subjects was causing the most disquiet for
their governments. The focus of the conflict had changed and the terms of the truce had
to be adapted to match. While the agreements were being negotiated and as a result of
them, there was a series of meetings from the return of Isabelle until November 1403. s~
The results of both the agreements and the meetings were negligible in their declared
aim of suppressing violence, but each successive accord referring to the truce confirmed
its continued existence, and there was almost continuous diplomatic contact between the
two governments. It was increasingly insincere, but neither side was sufficiently
confident to make the final break.
To retain the protection of the truce of Paris, the French government tried to do the
maximum possible harm to Henry by methods outside its legal scope, encouraging rebels
and third parties to fight against him in their own names, with French forces taking part
only indirectly and unofficially. Until 1403 the French pursued a war of attrition through
these guerres couvertes, merely raising the normal level of frontier truce violations and
piracy, and they gained no more than they lost. It included sending a small troop of
French knights to Scotland under Jacques de Heilly in 1402. Several of them were
captured by the Percies at Homildon Hill in September.s2
When Henry had been in exile in Paris in 1398-1399, he was warmly welcomed by
the French royal family, particularly by Duke Louis of Orlrans, Charles VI's brother.
Henry and Orlrans made a personal alliance in June 1399; this was apparently directed
at the duke of Burgundy, but Orlrans may have known in advance of Henry's return to
England to claim his inheritance. 53 Whatever the truth of their private arrangements,
when Henry was king they soon turned to public emnity. Orlrans began to accumulate
49Foedera, vol. 8, 219-20, 274-6, 305-9; Paris, Archives Nationales, J645, nos. 24, 44; Oxford, Bodleian
Library, Carte MS 113, f.242; Phillpotts, English policy, 228-37.
S°Foedera, vol. 8, 336-7; London, Public Record Office, C76/87, m.2.
5tPhillpotts, English policy, 238-42.
SZWylie,Henry IV, vol. 1,291-3,297; Foedera, voL 8, 323, 379, 393; London, Public Record Office,C76/88,
53Choix, vol. 1, 157-9; Chronicles of the revolution, 1397-1400. The reign of Richard H, ed. C. Given-Wilson
(Manchester, 1993), 25, 28-31, 105-6, I09-14.
The fate of the truce of Paris, 1396-1415
quarrels against Henry. He posed as the protector of his niece, the young Queen Isabelle,
and as champion of her rights in England. In June 1404 she was betrothed, and in June
1406 married, to his son Charles; her dowry included the claim for the 200,000 francs
repayment from Henry.54 In 1402 and 1403 Louis sent personal challenges to Henry,
accusing him of maltreating Isabelle, usurping the throne and causing Richard's death.55
Orlrans was trying to damage Henry's reputation in Europe and provoke an aggressive
response from the English, who could then be held responsible for the general
breakdown of the truce.
In February 1403 Count Waleran of Saint-Pol also sent a letter of defiance to Henry,
stating his intention to damage him by land and sea outside the kingdom of France and
the king of France's quarrel, in retaliation for the death of his brother-in-law Richard
II.56 He then attacked the English in the Calais march and at sea. Since the French
government refused to respond to the English complaint that the duke and the count
were in breach of the truce by these challenges, the English government chose to regard
them as acting on their own authority, and therefore as outside of the truce.
In the early years of Henry's reign, there was a dramatic increase in hostilities at sea.
In 1400 and 1401 the level of conflict rose steeply as English and French privateers
engaged by turns in excessive reprisals for their losses. By 1402 the privateers' activities
were directed, or at least encouraged, from Westminster and Paris; large numbers of
ships were taken on each side. The level of conflict was sufficient to cripple commerce
and communication at sea, but it continued to be covered by the fiction of piracy in order
to maintain the truce. The French sent ships under Scottish flags and Scottish
commanders to prey on English shipping and then would not acknowledge responsibility
for restoring English losses. The Bretons and Flemings were regarded as Charles' allies
rather than his subjects, enabling the English to retaliate against their shipping, and even
their territory, without breaking the truce. The main concern of the ambassadors was to
evade or delay responsibility for the restitution of the ships and merchandise taken by
their own side. But the mounting toll of captured vessels jeopardised the supplementary
agreements that had absorbed so much of their efforts and kept the fragile truce in being.
Henry's increasing encouragement of his privateers did not increase his control over
them. The war at sea had its own momentum and was soon beyond the reach of both
governments.57 Activity died down in the second half of 1403.
When English envoys arrived in Picardy for an arranged meeting with the French on
20 November 1403, they found that the French government had closed the roads around
the Calais enclave and suspended trade between the two countries,s8 Over the next
eighteen months, the English diplomats maintained an almost constant presence at
54Enguerran de Monstrelet, La Chronique, ed. L. Douet-d'Arcq, (Socirt~ de l'histoire de France, Paris,
1857-62), vol. 1, 56-7, 126 and n.2, 129; Paris, Archives Nationales, K55, no. 29.
55Monstrelet, vol. 1, 43-5, 52-7; Wylie, Henry, IV, vol. 1, 336, 388, 394.
5rFoedera, vol. 8, 348; Monstrelet, vol. 1, 67-9.
57phillpotts, English policy, 336-56; C. J. Ford, 'Piracy or policy: the crisis in the Channel 1400-03',
Transactions of the Royal Historical Socie~, 5th series, 29 (1979), 63-77.
~8Royal and historical letters during the reign of Henry/V, ed. F. (7. Hingeston (Rolls Series, London, 1860)
vol. 1,429-31.
Christopher Phillpotts
Calais, striving to bring the French to the negotiating table for the meetings which had
previously been agreed.59 In Paris the French government had decided to prosecute
active war against Henry. An estimate of the cost of aggressive war in Picardy, Guyenne
and at sea was d r a w n up. 6° An aide was raised throughout Languedoc, Languedoil and
the Dauphin6 in 1404 for the next campaigning season against the usurper of the throne
of England and his supporters. 6~ On 14 July 1404 an alliance was signed in Paris
between Charles and Owain Glyndwr, leader of the Welsh rebels, against their mutual
enemy, 'Henry of Lancaster'. 62 Stephen Pistono believes that these actions and the
escalation of hostilities amounted to a declaration of war and the renunciation of the
truce by France, which therefore technically ended when the French ambassadors failed
to meet the English on 1 March 1404 63 But the commitment of Charles and his family to
a personal vendetta against Henry was not equivalent to a public war between the
kingdoms of England and France. The truce of Paris had been made between the two
kingdoms and remained in force.
However, French intentions towards the truce were sufficiently questionable for Henry
to send Sir John Cheyne as a special envoy to France, carrying letters from Henry
himself and the lords and commons of the kingdom of England, drawn up in Parliament
on 25 February 1404. These exhorted Charles and the whole community of the kingdom
of France to continue to observe the truce and send envoys to discuss violations, in a
direct appeal from the representatives of one kingdom to the other, bypassing the
personal quarrel between Henry and the Valois.64 The French government avoided
making a response by the simple expedient of refusing to provide Cheyne with a safe
conduct to go to Paris,65 and no reply was ever received to the letters. Attempts to revive
negotiations in late 1404 and 1405 also came to naught.
After 1403 the French strategy consisted of ambitious plans for co-ordinated attacks
against the English on all fronts, to expel them from France and transfer the war to
English soil. A series of raids on the south coast of England by French, Breton and
Castilian fleets lasted until 1406. English expeditions made retaliatory raids on the
5~Letters of Henry IV, vol. 1, 170-4, 214-25; London, British Library, Additional Charters 12500, 12507;
London, Public Record Office, E28/15, unnumbered; E28/22, nos. 31, 40, 41, 42; Paris, Archives
Nationales, J919, no. 23; J645, no. 53.
6°Paris, Archives Nationales, J1025, no. 13, undated.
6~London, Public Record Office, PRO31/8/135, section 4, copy of Paris, Archives Nationales, 'Section
Domaniale, M6moires de la chambre des comptes 14925, f.172'; Paris, Biblioth~que Nationale, Nouvelles
acquisitions franqaises 3623, no. 209; London, British Library, Cotton MS Caligula Div, ff.69, 70.
62Welsh Records in Paris, ed. T. Matthews, (Carmarthen, 1910), 25-31.
63pistono, Repudiation, chapter 6, especially 215-6, 234-6.
64Foedera, vol. 8, 348-50; London, Public Record Office E28/18, nos. 44-6; E28/14, no. 904. For an earlier
draft of the letters see C. M. Fraser, 'Some Durham documents relating to the Hilary Parliament of 1404',
Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, 34 (1961), 192-9. Cheyne's instructions were discussed by
the royal council 25 April 1404: Privy Council, vol. 1, 223. The substance of the discussions behind
Cheyne's mission is unknown. Relations with France were probably also discussed at meetings of the Great
Council in February and May 1405: Privy Council, vol. 1,258; vol. 2, 98, 100, 104; London, Public Record
Office, E28/17, no. 55.
~SLondon, British Library, Additional Charter 12500.
The fate of the truce of Paris, 1396-1415
Breton, Norman and Flemish coasts. Expected sieges of Calais in 1404, 1405, 1406 and
1407 by the duke of Burgundy did not materialise and the English march survived a
period of crisis. °6 Had the French succeeded in launching a full-scale attack on Calais, it
would probably have been regarded as the definitive rupture of the truce. In Guyenne,
Louis of Orlrans launched a series of campaigns of conquest, like those of the 1380s.
These culminated in 1406 in an attempt to overrun English Guyenne in one season,
which stalled at the siege of Bourg. This failure lost the French much of the ground they
had gained over the last three years. In the summer of 1405, a French expedition
assisting Glyndwr achieved only limited results.67 When these schemes did not come to
pieces under the strains of their own organisation, English garrisons in the Calais march
and Guyenne, and England's privateers and coastal defences were able to stand up to
them. French aggression was mirrored at every stage, and eventually the English were
able to outlast the French appetite for fighting. In this struggle, they were often
inadequately supplied with men and money by the government at Westminster; they
fought alone on their own resources and initiative. Inevitably central direction of
England's war policy was not maintained.
The insecurity of Henry IV's domestic position impelled him to maintain the bulwark
of the truce of Paris against an increasing French challenge to his kingship. Forced onto
the defensive, he overcame the challenge by sheer survival. Although the 1396 truce had
never been specifically renounced, it was now a dead letter on the frontiers. Both kings
could finance and launch major expeditions against each other as usurpers, straining the
conception of a guerre couverte to the limits, and there was a need for new truces.
In the frontier zones local authorities lightened the burdens of war by making
particular truces, covering limited areas for limited periods of time. These local
initiatives then influenced the policies of governments in Paris and Westminster. In 1406
English envoys were empowered to conclude new truces, both general and particular,
and also to discuss Prince Henry's marriage to one of Charles Vl's daughters. 68 France
was also in need of a respite and there was a renewed interest in returning to a settlement
of the 1396 type. A short local truce covering Picardy and west Flanders was made in
July 1407, to protect the negotiations until September. This summarised some of the
clauses of the 1396 truce, stating that neither side should do anything against the current
truce during this term.69 It was therefore little different from the agreements of
1401-1403 in acknowledging the continued validity of the truce of Paris, but implied
°~R.Vaughan, John the Fearless (London, 1966), 39-40; J. L. Kirby, 'The council of 1407 and the problem of
Calais', History Today, 5 (1955), 44-50; Foedera, vol. 8, 336 (misdated to 1403), 456; Monstrelet, vol. 1,
135-8; Letters of Henry IV, vol. 2, 145-8; London, Public Record Office, E28/20, no. 65; E28/22, no. 30;
E28/23, nos. 3, 20; Paris, Biblioth~que Nationale, Bourgogne 57, ff.26, 295; Paris, Archives Nationales,
J919, no. 24.
67j. L. Kirby, 'The siege of Bourg 1406', History Today, 18 (1968); J. E. Lloyd, Owen Glendower (Oxford,
1931), 101-5, 106, 126; R. R. Davies, The revolt ofOwain Glyn Dwr (Oxford, 1995), 193-5; Monstrelet,
vol. 1, 81-4; Thomas Walsingham, Historia Anglicana, ed. H. T. Riley (Rolls Series, London, 1863-1864),
vol. 2, 272.
68Foedera, vol. 8, 432-5, 453-5; London, Public Record Office, C76/90, m.7.
6~Paris, Archives Nationales, J646, no. 2.
Christopher Phillpotts
that limits could be set to its observation. The negotiations subsequently moved to Paris,
but this local truce was nevertheless renewed and reinforced with additional clauses. 7°
In December 1407 at Gloucester a truce for the duchy of Guyenne was made in
almost the same terms.7~ It is clear from the instructions to the English negotiators that
they would have preferred to conclude a general truce between the two kingdoms and
their allies. They were ordered to maintain that the truce of Paris had not been broken,
since neither lord had ever defied the other, and to seek a declaration by the French that
the truce continued in force. Only if they refused this were they to turn to the discussion
of particular truces. 72 It was therefore the French government that wished any new
agreements to be particular truces, to avoid a comment or commitment about the status
of the truce of 1396. Both truces were later extended and a general truce at sea was
added, coupled to both the particular truces, with the express purpose of protecting trade.
All three truces were repeatedly renewed and ran with some interruptions until January
1412. The truce for Picardy and west Flanders was probably then extended for another
By French design, the a d h o c security arrangements of July 1407 had grown into a
tripartite system of truces which had effectively replaced the truce of Paris. The truces
for Picardy and Guyenne added nothing to the 1396 truce and were minor in scope
compared to the agreements of 1402 and 1403. The truce for the sea was fullest in its
terms and it was the admirals who were most active in the attempts to deal with the
violations of these years. The tripartite truce system was intended, by both sides, to have
the practical effect of removing the threat of war from Anglo-French sea-borne trade and
fishermen. The French government also intended it to have the legal effect of replacing a
long truce with a short one.
England had two other agreements to protect commerce running concurrently, with
the French fiefs of Flanders and Brittany. A one-year treaty to protect Anglo-Flemish
commerce became operational in June 1407, and ran through a succession of renewals
until November 1419. 74 This was a long and meticulously-detailed contract, obviously
the result of protracted stubborn bargaining. It was never called a truce, but always
'points and articles' or 'security and provision', and regarded as supplementary to the
truce of Paris. Henry also made a simple one-year truce in July 1407 with his step-son
Duke John of Brittany to protect free trade between Brittany and the English possessions
in France. The truce was renewed several times to run until July 1413, but meanwhile
had been extended for ten years in January 1412. Another ten-year truce, made by Henry
7°London, British Library, Additional Charter 16223; Paris, Archives Nationales, J646, no. 4.
7~Foedera, vol. 8, 507-9; Oxford, Bodleian Library, Carte MS 113, ff.260-8.
7ZPrivy Council, vol. 1,302-3. Henry ordered the Exchequer to send the original of the 1394 truce to him at
Gloucester, presumably to serve as a model for a new general truce: London, Public Record Office, SC1/63,
no. 494; Calendar of signet letters of Henry IV and Henry V, ed. J. L. Kirby (London, 1978), no. 706.
7~Foedera, vol. 8, 552-60; Monstrelet, vol. 2, 231; London, Public Record Office, E30/1521(16); London,
British Library, Additional MS 24062, f.150v; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Asbmole 789, ff.128-31v.
74privy Council, vol. 1,310-11; vol. 2, 191, 193, 250-7; Foedera, vol. 8, 469-78, 530-2, 548-51,687-91;
vol. 9, 352-4, 476-80, 481,483, 784; E.Varenbergh, Histoire des relations diplomatiques entre le comtg de
Flandres et l'Angleterre au moyen dge (Brussels, 1874), 504-5, 506-8, 548-78; Calendar of Patent Rolls
1416-22, 138-9; London, Public Record Office, C76/94, mm.8, 13, 14; C76/99, mm.27-30; London,
British Library, Additional Charters 12508, 12510, 14820K, 58420.
The fate of the truce of Paris, 1396--1415
V in January 1414, not only regulated relations at sea but established the military
neutrality of the duchy of Brittany 75
This new system of truces and securities was overseen, not by specially-appointed
panels of conservators in several districts as in the truce of Paris, but mostly by the
officers whose jurisdictions were involved. On the English side these were the
Chancellor, the Admiral, the Warden of the Cinq Ports, the captains of Calais and Guines
or their lieutenants, the mayors of the town and Staple of Calais, occasionally the
mayors of Sandwich and Winchelsea, the Seneschal of Guyenne, and the Mayor and
Constable of Bordeaux. Throughout the period of the truces meetings were planned and
held to correct violations. Those for the three Anglo-French truces do not seem to have
met with any success. Most of the Anglo-Flemish meetings did take place and transacted
some business. It appears that there was a genuine desire on the side of the English
government to minimise the friction caused by piracy between the seamen of its
south-western coasts and Brittany. It was impelled as much by the attractions of a Breton
alliance as the need to protect the interests of English subjects 76
Regular meeting-places on the frontiers became established in the Picardy march, the
duchy of Guyenne and the island of Guernsey, Anglo-Flemish meetings to discuss
violations were arranged for 1 August in 1407, 141 1 and 1416, which suggests the idea
of a regular annual conference at Calais had emergedJ 7 These developments imply that
endemic warfare and truce-violation had become acceptable. They tended to diminish
the status of Anglo-French international negotiations to the level of the March-days and
Love-days held at regular intervals on the boundaries of the Scottish marches and the
marcher lordships in Wales. The chancel of the chapel at Leulinghen, formerly used in
the peace talks of the 1380s and 1390s, was built exactly on the border of the comtrs of
Guines and Boulogne, with a door on each side for the entry of each party without
provoking problems of precedence.7~ This was the normal venue for Anglo-French
meetings between the agreement of 1401 and the impact of Henry V on diplomacy in
1413, and serves as a symbol of the sterile diplomacy of the period.
By stretching the rules over g u e r r e s c o u v e r t e s , the French created uncertainty amongst
both contemporaries and historians about the extent to which conflict within a truce was
possible without destroying it. Yet their policy of indirect attacks had failed to remove
the Lancastrians from the English throne or from French soil, and they had resorted to a
new series of truces. In 1407 France weakened at the centre as the rivalry between John
of Burgundy and Louis of Orlrans developed, culminating in the latter's assassination in
November. This removed Henry IV's chief enemy at the French court. The balance of
advantage began to swing back to him in this year. As an indicator of this, the French
government was willing to discuss not only the new truces but also peace terms and
7~Foedera, vol. 8,490-1,542-3, 591-2, 710-12, 732; vol. 9, 80-5; G. A. Knowlson,Jean V, duc de Bretagne
et I'Angleterre 1399-1442 (Cambridge, 1964), 68-70; M~moires pour servir de preuves f l'histoire
eccl~siastique et civile de Bretagne, ed. E H. Morice, (Paris, 1742-1746), vol. 2, 865-7; Lettres et
mandements de Jean V due de Bretagne, ed. R. Blanchard (Nantes, 1889-1895), vol. 5, 166-7; Calendar ¢~j~
Patent Rolls 1408-13, 318; London, Public Record Office, C47/28/7, no.28.
7~Phillpotts, English policy, 260-2, 276-7, 281-3.
77London, British Library, Additional Charters 12508. 12510, 58420.
78St. Denys, vol. 2, 74-6.
Christopher Phillpotts
diplomatic marriages, and to receive English representatives in Paris for the first time
since 1399. These diplomatic exchanges were particularly associated on the English side
with Prince Henry and his uncle Henry Beaufort, influential in foreign affairs from
March 1406 onwards, and on the French side with the duke of Berry, who led most of
the talks with the English between 1407 and 1409. Unfortunately little evidence is
available for the content of these talks, which ended without a conclusion when John of
Burgundy seized control of the French government in 140979
As French interference in the periphery of the conflict faltered and ceased, English
intervention in France again became feasible, but King Henry's continuing financial
difficulties required a delay before he could take any military advantage. The French
escalation of the covert conflict rebounded against France when Henry applied the same
principle in his alliances with the Burgundian and Orleanist factions in 1411-1412,
which enabled him to send troops across the Channel again. He reversed the French
weapon of warfare within a truce against the Valois, with the aim of gaining an extended
Guyenne by force of arms. Indeed he gained an advantage not enjoyed by the kings of
England since the treaty of Bretigny in 1360, for in his negotiations for alliances with
the Burgundians and Orleanists, they ceased to demand liege homage for his projected
holdings in France.8°
When Prince Henry took control of the Council in December 1409, he adopted an
aggressive attitude towards France and Plantagenet claims there. In contradiction to his
father he favoured an alliance with the Burgundians. Of the two available factions, the
Burgundian was the more advantageous to his strategic objectives in northern France.
The trend of his ambition was away from an extended Guyenne and towards re-opening
the question of the Plantagenet claim to the French throne.8~ The Prince's discussions
with John of Burgundy led to English troops under the command of the earl of Arundel
crossing to France in October 1411. This force participated in the Burgundian advance to
re-occupy Paris, and particularly distinguished itself in the assault on Saint Cloud.82
Negotiations for a Burgundian alliance and a marriage between the Prince and the
daughter of Duke John continued into the early part of 1412. But in the spring King
Henry re-asserted his control of the government; he broke off the negotiations when he
received a more advantageous offer from the Orleanists. The Prince and the earl of
Arundel were obliged to disengage themselves from promises they had made to Duke
The king's discussions with the Orleanists culminated in alliances with them in May
and with the duke of Brittany in July 84 The alliances were given military expression by
the expedition of Henry's second son Thomas, duke of Clarence, to France in August.
v~Phillpotts, English policy, 111-14.
S°Monstrelet, vol. 1, 154-65; English Historical Documents, no. 95.
8~For a different view of Prince Henry's aims, see C. T. Allmand, Henry V (London, 1992), 48-50.
8:Monstrelet, vol. 2, 189, 198-208, 219-20; Wylie, Henry IV, vol. 4, 57-63; Vaughan, John the Fearless,
91-2, 94, 141.
8~Wylie, Henry IV, vol. 4, 64, 211 ; B.A. Pocquet du Haut-Jusse, 'La renaissance littdraire autour de Henry V roi
d'Angleterre', Revue Historique, 224 (1960), 335-8; Foedera, vol. 8, 712-3, 721; Monstrelet. vol. 2,
232-3; Paris, Biblioth~que Nationale, Moreau 1424, no. 55.
84Foedera, vol. 8, 738-42; Calendar of Close Rolls 1409-13, 350-2; Wylie, Henry IV, vol. 4, 211; Paris,
Biblioth~que Nationale, Franqais 2714, ff.63-65v.
The fate of the truce of Paris, 1396-1415
He was too late to fight for the Orleanists, since they had come to terms with John of
Burgundy by the Peace of Auxerre, but nevertheless he burned and looted his way from
Normandy to Bordeaux. 85 In the Calais March, English troops took the fortress of
Balinghem to harass the Burgundian rear. s6 Part of the English expeditionary force
remained in Guyenne under the command of Thomas Beaufort, earl of Dorset, and in
1413 recovered much ground in Saintonge and Angoumois.~7
In the middle of his reign Henry IV had been obliged to accept French initiatives for a
new system of particular truces, but by his final years he and his son Prince Henry were
able to turn the tables on the French. It might appear that there was a consistent English
policy in 1411 and 1412 to aid the weaker of the two parties in France and change sides
when it became the stronger, making English military force an indispensable factor in
French politics, But in the early months of 1412 Henry IV was prepared to continue the
negotiations the Prince had begun for the Burgundian alliance, until he knew that the
Orleanists would offer him an enlarged Guyenne. His policy at this time was
opportunistic in pursuit of this goal. The duke of Clarence's actions in France appear to
have been entirely independent of the wishes of either his father or his brother. English
foreign policy towards the end of Henry IV's reign was as much a product of the faction
politics in England as of those in France, but diplomatic and military precedents had
been set for the next stage of the conflict.~
When the Prince succeeded to the throne as Henry V, he imposed unity and
consistency on policy towards France by the force of his personality and his determination to pursue the logic of the claims to the French throne. He continued Edward
Ill's military offensive against France and prepared the ground by continuing Richard
ll's diplomatic offensive. In its aggression and its preference for manipulation his
diplomatic method resembled that displayed by Richard in his last years. If it was more
rigid in its demands and responses, this was because Henry was in a position of greater
strength and advantage; his technique was to intimidate the French envoys rather than
entrap them.
Henry emphasised the inheritance of his claims and policies from Richard by
restructuring the truces on the basis of the 1396 settlement. At his accession both ends of
the Channel were covered by truces and securities with Brittany and Flanders, but the
1407 truces with France had lapsed. Only the uncertain truce of Paris prevented a state
of open war with France, and Henry determined to take his stand on its continuing
validity. This was discussed in the royal council in June 1413 and Henry Chichele drew
*~R. Lacour, 'Une incursion anglaise en Poitou en novembre 1412', Archives Historiques du Poitou, 48
(1934), 8, 12-36; Wylie, Hen O' IV, vol. 4, 76-7, 80-1; Monstrelet, vol. 2, 291-3, 299-300, 303-4; J. M. de
la Martinibre, 'Les guerres anglaises dans I'ouest et le centre de la France: Poitou, Saintonge, Angoumois,
Limousin, Perigord 1403-17', Positions des Thbses (1899), 90-1; M. G. A. Vale, English Gascony
1399-1453 (Oxford, 1970), 62; J. D. Milner, 'The English enterprise in France 1412-13', in: Trade,
devotion and governance. Papers in later medieval histoo', ed. D. J. Clayton, R. G. Davies and P. McNiven,
(Stroud, 1994), 84-6, 92-3.
~Wylie, Henry /V, vol. 4, 72-3; Varenbergh, Histoire des Relations, 502.
~Tj. H. Wylie, The Reign of Hen O, V (Cambridge, 1914-29), vol. 1, 129, 134-7; Martini~re, 'Guerres
anglaises', 92-3; Choix, vol. 1, 364.
~SCompare Milner, "Englishenterprise', 81, 84.92-6, who downplays the significance of the 1412 campaign.
Christopher Phillpotts
up a memorandum to present to the king.89 In July, Chichele and other envoys were sent
to France to negotiate a new truce and require Charles VI to observe the old one. They
were provided with an official copy of Charles' letter of 31 May 1400, confirming the
1396 truce.9° When they met the French ambassadors at Leulinghen in September, they
cited this and proposed the truce should be confirmed again on both sides and insisted on
correcting violations against it. The French refused to acknowledge their claims or even
to report them to Charles, saying that they had been forbidden to swear any oaths
concerning the 1396 truce or the violations of it. They would only discuss breaches of
the truces between Charles and Henry IV. It was eventually agreed that there should be
another meeting at Leulinghen on 1 May 1414 to consider relations between the
kingdoms, and that meanwhile the truce for Picardy and West Flanders should be
revived until the following June 91
But French ambassadors were sent to London as early as December 1413, as the Paris
government felt impelled to respond to Henry's aggressive stance. The problem over the
validity of the truce of Paris was avoided by concluding a new general truce with
English deputies in January 1414 to last one year from 2 February. Almost all the terms
were taken from the 1396 truce, with clauses which might work to the disadvantage of
the English position removed. The reduction of patis was no longer written into the
truce; a new clause stated that there was to be no prejudice to those that were current.
This shifted the centre of the truce's balance away from Guyenne. Another new clause
excluded prejudice to any previous truce between the parties, meaning that of 1396. The
new truce was drawn up in both Latin and French at the insistence of the English
deputies, whereas all previous truces had been written in French alone.92 There can be
little doubt that Henry V was responsible for the form taken by the London truce.
Through it he stressed his inheritance of the English throne, his claims to France and his
policy towards France from Richard II. His purpose was to return the struggle to the
legal position of Richard's reign, removing all the obfuscation imposed by the French in
the particular truces since 1407. This would provide the proper context for the
consideration of his claim to the French throne.
During 1415 there were four short extensions of the London truce, to 1 May, then to 8
June, then to 15 July and finally to 1 August. 93 Each extension was designed to cover the
next stage of the peace negotiations through which Henry was conducting his diplomatic
offensive to recover Plantagenet rights in France. His interest in truce prorogations was
limited to this and he ensured that they were short, to maintain the momentum of the
This diplomatic offensive was based on the theory of just war, which required that
when Henry finally broke the truce, he was able to place the blame on Charles VI. He
89privy Council, vol. 2, 129-30.
9°Foedera, vol. 9, 35-8.
9~Foedera, vol. 9, 56-60; Paris, Archives Nationales J646, nos. 8 and 9.
92Foedera, vol. 9, 91-101 in the name of the French ambassadors. A copy in the name of the English deputies,
a faded and fragmentary corrected draft, is at London, British Library, Cotton MS Caligula Div. Its pages
should be read in this order: 131v, 131, 132, 132v, 133v, 133.
9~Wylie,Henry V, vol. 1,436, 444; Foedera, vol. 9, 183, 196, 197, 199, 201, 221, 225-7, 260, 262-8; Privy
Council, vol. 2, 153-4; London, Public Record Office, C47/28/7, no. 31, a corrected draft of Foedera, vol.
9, 260.
The fate of the truce of Paris, 1396-1415
insisted that he had striven to obtain a reasonable peace but that Charles had refused his
requests for justice and delayed the talks so long that he was obliged to resort to the
force of a just war 94 His manipulation of the theory does not negate his sincere belief in
The late truce extensions were probably requested by the French diplomats in order to
stave off the invasion Henry was preparing. But they could not win a long enough
respite to outlast the campaigning season. On 6 July Henry told the French ambassadors
at Winchester that since their lord had denied him justice in his claims, he was obliged
to appeal to the justice of God and seek a different remedy, calling upon God and man,
heaven and earth, to witness the rightness of his actions.~5 On 28 July, he wrote to
Charles from Southampton announcing his intention to obtain his rights by just recourse
to arms, sending a final ultimatum to surrender what he demanded, and referring to the
judgement of God which awaited them both. A reply was sent from Paris on 24 August
promising to resist force with force, and placing responsibility for the renewed hostilities
on the English party.96 Fighting began on the Calais frontier on 2 August 1415, the day
after the last extension of the London truce expired.97 By this exchange of defiances
Henry and Charles invalidated any truce that might exist between them, including the
truce of Paris. In the ensuing campaign, which culminated at Agincourt, both sides
recognised that there was a state of open war for the first time since 1389. Henry
returned the conflict to northern France, and fought as 'king of France' rather than as
duke of Aquitaine. In preparation for this he had taken his stance on the continued
validity of the truce of Paris, and its more favourable restatement as the truce of London.
With the diplomatic offensive over and the fighting begun, he could afford to discard it.
Truces reduced the level of warfare rather than ended it, and it became obvious that a
long truce with static terms was not even able to do this. It needed repeated redefinition
and clarification. The Paris truce of 1396 formed the central framework of a series of
general and particular truces, extensions, agreements, securities and provisions. As the
conflict changed in tone from a feudal quarrel with Charles VI at an advantage, to a
dynastic quarrel with Henry V at an advantage, the focus of the truce terms shifted from
Guyenne to the sea, to northern France. Originally based on the terms of the truce of
1394, they progressed from Richard's concern to preserve his position in Guyenne,
through Henry IV's preoccupations with defending the weakness of his usurped throne,
to Henry V's determination to obtain his family's rights in France.
The concept of truce was devalued and changed in this period. By the 1380s
precautions against the breakdown of a truce had already led to the adoption of a clause
stating that it would not be invalidated by accumulating violations. Frontier friction
which mainly concerned individuals and small communities was considered acceptable,
in the form of letters of marque and reprisal, the enforcement of patis, raid and
'~4Receuil de diverses pi~ces servant ~ l'histoire du roy Charles VI, ed. G. Besse (Paris, 1660), 96: Monstrelet,
vol. 3, 78; Lettres de Rois, 360, 361-2; Paris, Archives Nationales, J646, no. 14.
'~SParis, Archives Nationales, J646, no. 14.
~6N. H. Nicholas, Histo~. of the battle of Agincourt and of the expedition o[ Henry V into France (London,
1832), appendix no. 1, 5-7.
"7Monstrelet, vol. 3, 78.
Christopher Phillpotts
counter-raid. The truces of the 1390s sought to bring these activities under some sort of
regulated control. After Richard's deposition and death, the private nature of the feud
between the Valois and the Lancastrians began to distort the idea of a truce. Each side
strove to wage a war of attrition against the other without investing in full-scale public
war, too expensive an option for either at this time.
The truce of Paris survived and remained strong enough to prevent open war. This
would probably have been caused by certain major hostile acts like an expedition led by
the king or his heir in person (though not apparently by younger sons or brothers), as
was threatened several times by Henry IV; an assault on a vitally important town such as
Bordeaux or Calais, as seemed probable in 1405 and 1406; or a direct invasion of
England by a French army. The truce of Paris was therefore worth retaining. Even
though it was abused and ignored, the French could not pronounce it invalid; they could
only refuse to make a statement of its validity and try to supersede it with other truces.
The English considered it to be legally in force until Henry V's defiance in 1415. Henry
made the viewpoint effective by incorporating its terms into the new London truce.
But a new purpose was also emerging in truces. When Henry IV obtained Charles VI's
confirmation of the Paris truce in 1400, the principle was established that a truce was
made not merely between two princes, but between the kingdoms, subjects and allies of
each, and should therefore continue whatever the fate of the princes. England and France
were at truce even though neither of their kings recognised the other and could even
seek to have him displaced. Truces had always covered the right to engage in trade, but
in 1407 a series of truces and securities began to cover English relations with Flanders
and Brittany and at sea, whose primary purpose was to protect the commercial interests
of the subjects of both sides, even when these ran contrary to the political interests of
their princes. The idea was emerging of a community whose needs in international
relations were independent of dynastic quarrels and ambitions, and could override them.