The War of Saint-Sardos (1323-1325): Gascon Correspondence, and Diplomatic Documents

By Pierre Chaplais | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

(i) THE DOCUMENTS

FEW documents have yet been printed, either in France or in England, on relations between the two countries during the last years of the reign of Edward II. This is all the more regrettable, as the events which took place during that period were to influence to no small degree the foreign policy of Edward III and Philip VI, which eventually resulted in the outbreak of the Hundred Years War. It is hoped that the documents which are printed in the present volume will partly repair this gap in our knowledge.

The material used for this edition has been gathered from various classes of records preserved chiefly in the Public Record Office and does not claim to be more than an artificial collection, centred around the Anglo-French war of Saint-Sardos (1323-5). They may be classified as news-letters, diplomatic documents and financial documents.

The bulk of the collection consists of original news-letters sent by royal officials in Gascony to Hugh le Despenser the younger, who from 1322 to 1326 directed England's internal and foreign policy.1 A smaller number of similar letters addressed to Edward II himself and draft answers from Hugh le Despenser have also been included. All this Gascon correspondence seems to have been kept in Despenser's wardrobe until his execution for treason in 1326; later, it was delivered with his other muniments into the Treasury of the Receipt.2 What remains of it is now scattered through several volumes of the Ancient Correspondence in the Public Record Office,3 and a few isolated items have found their way into the Cottonian collection of the British Museum.4

The informal character of such documents makes them highly interesting, as, besides giving a detailed account of the major events of the period, they also show us a vivid picture of the political atmosphere in Gascony, of the distrust felt by English

____________________
1
See J. Conway Davies, The baronial opposition to Edward II ( Cambridge, 1918), pp. 336-41.
2
Cal. Close Rolls 1323-7, p. 629; Exchequer K.R., Accounts Various 332/27: 'Ceste endenture tesmoigne qe le xxv jour de Marcz, lan du regne le roy Edwardtierz apres le conqueste primier Johan de Wymondeswold, clerk'nostre dit seignur le roy ad livere al honurable piere en Dieu H. par la grace de Dieu evesqe de Nicole, tresorer nostre dit seignur le roy del escheker et as chaumberleyns de meisme lescheker' les parceles desouz escrites en xvj roules endentez par bref' nostre dit seignur le roy attache a ceste endenture, les queux feurent a sire Hugh' le Despenserle fuiz . . . (last membrane) . . . Item, une bage de canevas contenaunte diverses remembraunces tuchauntz nostre seignur le roy des auns xvme, xvjme, xvijme et xviijme ensele du seal mons' Johan de Beek'. Item, une bage de canevas contenaunte diverses remembraunces tuchauntz la guerre de Gascoigne lan xviijme ensele du seal Hugh' le Despenserle fuiz. Item, une bage de canevas en la quele sount xj roules des countresummes del hostel le roy lan xviijme et iij roulles et iij escrouetz tuchauntz Gascoigne . . .'
3
Most of these letters are found in Anc. Corr. XLVIII-LI and LVIII.
4
Cotton MS., Caligula D III; Cotton. Ch. xvi, 59.

-vii-

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