Mobilisation of the French, summer 1338

French army instructed to array on 8th August 1338

Whereas the English needed to prepare for a campaign for a significant period due to the logistics of a sea crossing, the king of France was able to call upon his forces at much shorter notice. Intelligence reports kept the French informed of English preparations. The English army and fleet was simply too big to hide from merchants, and that meant that reasonably accurate news reached France on a regular basis.

Edward IIIs diplomatic efforts in the Low Countries were also known. French relations with some of these provinces were frayed, others hostile. It was the likely point of disembarkation by the English fleet and as such King Philip could save his money and identify the right location in which to muster.

The English fleet departed Yarmouth on 16th July, the king arriving in Antwerp on 22nd July. News of this reached King Philip VI of France on the 26th of July. Armed with the knowledge that the English army comprised 1400 men-at-arms and 3000 archers, plus the potential for England’s allies raising a further 7000, the French could now plan their own muster.

King Philip chose 8th August as the date of his army’s muster. It provided enough time for men to travel from many parts of the kingdom. A large French army could then confront the English and her allies.

However, it was well known that diplomats were still negotiating. Proposals were being made and senior churchmen from England in the form of the Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop of Durham were met by the King of France in Paris in early August.

With many nobles expecting a treaty to be agreed, turn out on 8th August was well below the numbers of men-at-arms or archers that the French king had hoped for. It contributed to 1338 being a year in which much was threatened but with little in the way of the expected warfare happening.

Dan Moorhouse

Dan Moorhouse graduated in History and Politics and has since undertaken postgraduate studies in Medieval History and Education. Dan is a member of the Royal Historical Society and has previously been a member of the Historical Association’s Secondary Education Committee. Dan’s early publishing was in the Secondary School History Education field. This included co-authoring the Becta Award shortlisted Dynamic Learning: Medicine Through Time series for Hodder Murray and contributing to the Bafta Award winning Smallpox Through Time documentary series by A former teacher, Dan now concentrates on research and writing, predominantly in Medieval English history. Books by Dan Moorhouse On this day in the Wars of the Roses On this day in the Hundred Years War

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