Authors: Gordon Corrigan
. Heresy might be defined as a belief that is in opposition to the orthodox teachings of the church, but to avoid confusing reform with
heresy the definition used by Michael Lambert, the authority on medieval cults, is convenient: ‘Heresy is whatever was explicitly or implicitly condemned by the papacy.’ See Lambert,
(2nd edn), Blackwell, Oxford, 1992.
. This was not as daft an argument as it sounds. It was all about how often something could be divided and whether there was a basic particle
which could not be reduced further. It was in a sense the forerunner of atomic theory.
. There are a number of belief systems in which eating the body, or parts of the body, of a dead hero, a dead enemy or a dead animal such as
a lion allows the consumer to absorb the qualities of that person or animal, so the mass may be a vestige of ritual cannibalism.
. It has been suggested that this was because Gascoigne had committed Henry as Prince of Wales to prison for interfering in the trial of one
of his servants, but, as there is no evidence whatsoever that this incident ever took place, it is much more likely that Gascoigne, having refused to try Archbishop Scrope in 1405, was dismissed
because he was of too independent a mind.
. It was well known that a number of nobles held Lollard sympathies, while falling well short of potential rebellion.
. The village of that name had been obliterated by a tidal wave in 1370 and rebuilt as Saint-Adresse (as it still is today). As there is no
saint by the name of Adresse, this is presumably some form of French humour impenetrable to Anglo-Saxons.
. A barbican was a fortified gatehouse with towers in front of and behind the actual gate.
. Today the Master General of Ordnance and until very recently one of the most senior appointments in the British Army.
. He was the youngest of John of Gaunt’s sons out of Katherine Swynford.
. His brother had been executed for treason in 1405, but the family had been forgiven and lands and titles restored. The appointment stayed
in the family and his direct descendant (through the female line, the male line of the Mowbrays having died out), Edward Fitzalan-Howard, eighteenth duke of Norfolk, is Earl Marshal of England
today and responsible for state ceremonial.
. At the most optimistic – it would probably have taken nearer six weeks.
. The crossing was probably somewhere north of where Napoleon I’s Canal du Nord joins the Somme and south of Béthancourt.
. The village where the battle took place is and was Azincourt in French and Agincourt in English (medieval spelling had not yet been
standardized). In 1415, the English only found out the name by asking a local herald, and it is easy to mishear a Z as a G.
. The English V sign of two fingers is said to originate from this period, as archers taunted the enemy ranks by showing that they still had
the requisite digits to carry on the fight.
. He had supported Henry IV’s seizure of the throne and was created one of the first knights of the Order of the Bath as a reward.
Nearer to our own day, W. E. Gladstone regularly held crowds of 10,000 or more for several hours at a time.
. Much of Tramecourt Wood is still there, but the Agincourt flank is now open.
. Orléans spent the next twenty-five years in (comfortable) captivity in England, where he won some fame as a poet.
. As horseflesh was and still is sold openly for human consumption in France, this cannot have been any great hardship, but it did reduce the
number of cavalry and transport animals.
. The Scots turned up outside the walls with what appeared to be large numbers of English prisoners tied to their horses’ tails. In
fact, they were English-speaking Scots.
. The model for Shakespeare’s Falstaff, Fastolf was born of minor gentry in Norfolk and rose to eminence by his performance as a
soldier, a progress not hindered by his marrying a rich wife.
. In accordance with a thirteenth-century papal instruction, Christians were required to refrain from eating meat on Fridays and throughout
Lent, hence the herrings. The Second Vatican Council of 1962–5 made the Friday requirement advisory rather than mandatory, and prior to that soldiers in the modern British Army (and
presumably in others too) had a dispensation excusing them when in the field.
. The legitimate son, now the duke, was of course still composing poetry in the Tower of London.
. Henry Tudor, who reigned as Henry VII, was the son of Margaret Beaufort, who was a great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt out of his third
wife, Katherine Swynford. In the male line Henry’s only claim to status was from his grandfather’s marriage to Queen Katherine of Valois, widow of Henry V. Richard III had a much
stronger blood claim, but did not help his cause by (almost certainly) having Edward IV’s young son, who would have been Edward V, and his brother murdered in the Tower.
. The population of England and Wales in 1450 was around 3 million; today it is over 60 million.
. This lesson seems, however, to have been forgotten in the recent Iraq campaign. British forces performed brilliantly in the war-fighting
phase, taking Saddam Hussein’s second city of Basra in a classic example of the cost-effective use of force in 2003, only to be forced into a humiliating scuttle in 2009 largely because there
were insufficient boots on the ground to seal the borders from infiltration.