36 Unlimited Funds

 

‘Visit Samuel Harman at the Dolphin further along the quay and give him this warrant and you’ll find there are virtually limitless funds waiting for us!’

William de Montacute – 15th April 1355

‘Tell me everything that happened.’ Henry de Vere, Earl of Oxford, had lost a throw of the dice determining who should attend the tournament at Woodstock. ‘I am jealous and starved of news. Take a seat.’

William de Montacute, the Earl of Salisbury, looked around Henry’s tent in wonderment.


‘Well, I would if there was somewhere to sit. What is going on here?’

‘An unmitigated disaster.’

‘Pardon?’

‘I was sent here to mobilise an army large enough to allow for an invasion of Armagnac. However, I have received not a sou from the King. What you see now has come from my own pocket and my pocket is now depressingly shallow!’

‘Is that why your tent looks like the kitchen storeroom? Where do you sleep? And more to the point, where will I sleep?’

‘We can squeeze another bed over there.’

William studied Henry in momentary thought. ‘Come on, the Prince has an account at The Cherry Tree. We will stay there until we get funds.’

‘Wonderful.’


Later, after a bath and a mug of ale, it was as if Henry had become a different person. As they descended the withered and twisted set of stairs to The Cherry Tree’s justly famous dining room, he was full of good cheer.

The Cherry Tree, on the quay overlooking Sutton Harbour, was where seafarers and ship-owners rubbed shoulders with royalty and the aristocracy. That they were able to conduct their business so far from London was a sound measure of the importance of shipping to a nation that had two territories separated by three hundred leagues of usually hostile Frankish territory. Often, the only way of travelling between the two territories was by sea.

William struggled to understand the situation. ‘Have you sent a message to the King letting him know how short of funds you are?’

‘Three, all with no reply,’ Henry scowled.

‘Have you sent a message to the Prince?’

‘I have no idea where the Prince is.’

‘Then you will be happy to know that he is due here any time now.’

It was the most incredible of coincidences. The door to the dining room burst open and through the door walked the Prince. ‘William, Henry, I thought I might find you here.’

The Prince put his arms around the shoulders of his two comrades and the three of them were soon immersed in copious greetings, congratulations and condolences, the latter directed mainly at Henry de Vere, as he had missed the tourney.

A tall, gangly but handsome young man hovered near the door. The Prince waved a hand in the young man’s direction. ‘Oh, yes, you, of course, know the Earl of Richmond, my younger brother?

Both William and Henry de Vere nodded.

‘He has been living with me for over six months, but the time has come for him to do something useful.’

A gaggle of servants could be heard carrying luggage down the hallway outside the dining room. There was much banging and bustling and the voice of the landlord asking them to be careful. William nodded towards the hall.

‘How did you manage to bring the entire palace on horseback?’

‘I didn’t, I sent it on ahead in a wagon. There is more outside that should be stored in the mobilisation camp as it is intended for Bordeaux.’

Henry groaned.

After a meal which consisted mainly of roast meat and vegetables washed down with many mugs of beer, the Prince eventually got down to business. ‘So, how is mobilisation going?’

Henry groaned again. ‘Not well. I have my own men and some of Lord James’ Welshmen, and there are confirmed promises of men from virtually every lord we have contacted. It is the supplies; cooking utensils, tents, bows, arrows, swords, pikes, grappling irons, tunics, and a thousand other things, which are causing my biggest headache. I fear that without proper funding I cannot continue.’

The Prince face split into a cheery grin. He pulled a crumpled piece of paper from his inside pocket and handed it to Henry. ‘I enjoy being the bearer of good news. You will be happy to know that your problems are now over. All you have to do is visit Samuel Harman at the Dolphin further along the quay and give him this warrant and you’ll find there are virtually limitless funds waiting for us!’ Samuel is De la Pole’s agent and he is making an advance to fund our war against the Armagnacs. He urges us to spend carefully but to make sure the army is short of nothing it needs to be successful. Prince John’s role will be to do all the clerical work to make the mobilisation happen, but of course, his presence will give you just that extra edge of authority.

The Prince’s voice acquired a conspiratorial tone. ‘If we can deal with the Armagnacs expeditiously, I am in fact planning to do slightly more than originally intended.’ He rubbed his hand across his forehead. ‘Now, if you will excuse me, Henry, I need to talk to William about a private matter.’

William found Henry de Vere at breakfast and decided to be direct. ‘Henry, the Prince wants to steal twenty-five of your best men so we can take them up to Dartmoor for special training.’

‘We?’

‘The Prince and myself.’


‘Surely it is my turn to do something interesting. I could go and you could stay here to mobilise the army. I am really not looking forward to working for a fifteen-year-old prince.’

William struggled to suppress a wave of irritability. It was not unreasonable for Henry to wish to escape his dreary task, but it was the task which had been assigned to him. Before he had a chance to reply, the Prince rescued him, arriving at their table with genuine joviality shining on his face.

Obviously, he had overheard the last snippet of conversation. ‘No, Henry, William has the talents I need for a rather special mission. In any case, I want you to make the army your own. You will not be working for the Earl of Richmond. He will be working for you. I have made that very clear to him. You will be military commander in Aquitaine later in the year. It is important the army identifies with you as its leader.’

‘I only have fifty men in total. How am I going to receive and store the supplies?’ Henry protested.

‘Start the process of mobilising the army and in the meantime hire in people from the town to help. I must have twenty-five men, experienced soldiers, or the nearest you can get to that. I want archers. Archers are disinclined to do any physical work anyway.’

‘Mobilisation immediately? No one will leave home without pay in advance. And how will I influence any lords who may be wavering in their support of this war?’

The Prince smiled. ‘You now have access to ample funds. I will give you twenty blank pages that I have signed and sealed. Use these to do whatever you need to do to mobilise the army. Date them as you use them. It shouldn’t be a problem to get compliance with my seal on the documents.’

A thoughtful expression claimed Henry’s face as he took the documents from the Prince. ‘Training on Dartmoor? You are going to make an expedition to Scotland?’

William grinned. ‘Sorry, Henry, but that is all you need to know.’

He and the Prince spent a whole day sifting through the lists of men who were assisting with the mobilisation. They chose mainly archers but there were also engineers and siege specialists and everyone they chose was able to ride a horse.

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

Table Of Contents

References

characters

List of Places

Table of Contents

Reference

Extract from The Prisoner of Foix--Chapter 43 -The EntranceNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley-26th April 1355

 

'Looks like we are going to see a bit of excitement, John. The Captain tried to get an agreement from the Prince that if there is surf running across the channel to Arcachon we will turn back to Bordeaux, but the Prince would hear none of it. Instead, he has offered to provide insurance for all three ships. If they are damaged or sunk, the owners will be compensated and every sailor who makes the passage will be given a bounty payment. What none of this seems to take into account is that if we sink in rough, fast-flowing waters we might all drown.'

John raised his eyebrows. 'But that is what we are going to do?'

'Yes, despite the fact that surf running accross the entrance is not uncommon and the deep water channel moves continually. In the end, the Prince attacked their captains on their weakest point, their professional pride! He threw down the gauntlet. He offered to take the Sally first through the channel, and to take control during the passage.' He raised his brow. 'We are going into the Bay of Arcachon, come what may! '

Extract from The Eagle of Carcassone -- Chapter 24-- A Real GoddessNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley - 22 July 1355

An hour later John walked with Ximene close to the river along the valley below St Feriole. It was the very essence of a summer’s day. The sun was fierce but in the shadow of the trees, it was cool and fragrant. The trees and shrubs along the riverbank hid their progress, from the Château, from St Feriole.

Eventually they reached a point where John thought it was safe to emerge from cover. To his satisfaction the stream extended into a pool with a sandy beach, shaded by trees. Where the stream entered the pool there was a flat grassy area, almost circular. Behind this, the bulk of two mountain ridges provided a splendid backdrop. 

He looked around once more ‘Not just a good training ground but a great training ground. If the Greek heroes knew about this they might be tempted to join me, to train with me’

Ximene laughed out loud. He turned to look at her. She had removed her outer clothes and was wearing a white chemise, cut short so that it barely reached her knees. Around her waist, she wore a plaited leather belt, obviously fashioned from the multitude of leather straps to be found in the tackle room.

She ran her hands down over her breasts. ‘When you were unconscious I heard you muttering about gods and goddesses, so  I have decided that from now on, for you, I will be the goddess.’