Press-ganged into the Lancastrian Affinity

Just a quick update on what I have been doing recently on my novel.

At the moment I am “just” doing research for my novel. This means I am reading a lot of books, making notes etc. The book I am reading at the moment is The Lancastrian Affinity 1361-1399 by Simon Walker. It describes in a lot of detail the retinue of John of Gaunt, son of Edward III and also Duke of Lancaster. After the death of the Black Prince, he was the most important noble in England, an important military commander and diplomat. Thus he also had the largest retinue in the land except for the King.

One thinks of English armies of the Hundred Years War as being professional volunteer armies hired for money, but the Duke still had the right to effectively press-gang soldiers via a commission of array, and he did this in Lancashire and Yorkshire to fill the ranks in campaigns such as the ill-fated expedition of 1373. The 300 archers raised were accompanied by men of Gaunt’s retinue on their way to the ships so that they didn’t try to escape. Some even paid money so they didn’t have to serve!

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