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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsDAN SPENCER: So we have a lot of documents here, Anne, which ones shall we start with?

Skip to 0 minutes and 11 secondsANNE CURRY: I think we should start with the indenture because that was really the start of the campaign. These are contracts, if you like, for the men who agreed to bring troops for Henry's army. Nearly all of are dated the 29th of April. So that was, if you like, the start date of the whole process. Men had agreed to bring him troops. Now, we've chosen this one here, which is Sir Thomas Erpingham's indenture. In fact, we've chosen a number of documents concerning him. You might be able to spot his name at the top of the document. This indenture was written out twice. So in fact, the one at the top is the copy that the King kept.

Skip to 0 minutes and 57 secondsAnd we've got that here. This was to remain with the King a little while down there. And the one at the bottom here was the copy that Sir Thomas Erpingham kept, does it says at the bottom there. And in fact, they were originally one sheet of parchment. The cut would have been along the top edge here. But some archivist in the past has actually straightened it off, which is a pity. This one here I think you can see rather better, but it's got a wavy line with a word written through it. So originally that would have fitted onto there.

Skip to 1 minute and 31 secondsIt was sort of cut through so that the two halves of the indenture were actually cut from one large sheet of parchment originally. About 320 men entered into these indentures, some of them in groups. We don't have all of the indentures surviving. But where we don't, we're often able to supplement the information, particularly on the size of the retinue by looking at what's called the warrants for issue, the issue of money to the captains. What's interesting about medieval armies as well is that they were paid in advance. Erpingham was paid half of the first three months' wages in order to help him recruit his men. And we have details of the payments made on a special roll.

Skip to 2 minutes and 12 secondsThis is a special issue roll, as it's known, basically the issues that payments made out by the Crown in 1415. I want to show you this one briefly. But basically what it shows is a very large number of payments made to a very large number of men indenting. But perhaps one of the most fascinating things for the medieval historian and something that I've given a lot of attention to in my work on the army are the muster rolls. Because this is war according to accountants. And basically when the indenture was entered into, the Crown had two check that Erpingham had actually brought that right number of men. And here we have his muster roll.

Skip to 2 minutes and 55 secondsAnd this was taken on the Heath of Southampton on the 13th of July, 1415. And we can also see here his name at the top there. And then the names of the knights he brought. And the names of the men-at-arms he brought. And then right down at the bottom here, the names of the archers. In the middle, we have four other men-at-arms. He was so well known, Sir Thomas Erpingham, about 57 at this point. He was able to recruit four more men than he needed. And there they are on the campaign really hoping for somebody else to die so that they could get their job.

Skip to 3 minutes and 33 secondsAnd even more amazing, the dots that you see beside the names were like a classroom register. They're actually checked off. And I think it just shows how bureaucratic the government was at this point and how professional, not only the administration, but also soldiering. These are people who would have served on other campaigns. But also soldiers were joining because they knew he was a well known commander and wanted to serve under him. So I think it shows really the bureaucracy or war and the very sophisticated administration of the English royal government at this point. This is the largest collection of names we have, men only, of course. Whereas the poll tax has women in it as well.

Skip to 4 minutes and 19 secondsBut by putting all of these into a database, people can trace their ancestors. So really quite a remarkable set of material.

Skip to 4 minutes and 28 secondsDAN SPENCER: Thank you, Anne, that's fascinating.

How to raise a medieval army

“This is war according to accountants…this is the bureaucracy of war and it shows the very sophisticated administration of the English royal government at this point.”

In this video, Anne and Dan explore the archival records for the Agincourt campaign in more detail.

They look at muster rolls and indenture records for 1415 and examine the rich information that the documents tell us about the English army and Henry V’s preparations for war with France.


Indenture records tell us who the men were who fought at Agincourt. But how did Henry pay his men? Do some research to find out and then share your findings in the comments area.

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Agincourt 1415: Myth and Reality

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