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  • Print publication year: 2018
  • Online publication date: October 2019

1 - The Preparations for the Chevauchée: England's Existing System of Purveyance


On 1 June 1355 Edward III addressed the archbishops of Canterbury and York, among other clerical leaders, requesting their prayers, and through them the prayers of the people, for himself and his men for the upcoming campaigns. The king explained that he had sought peace while Jean II of France had used the peace negotiations to delay and cost him (Edward III) large sums of money, even as the French king was ‘preparing for war.’ His request concluded: ‘therefore the king [Edward III] is compelled to renew the war.’ Edward III could have done little else that would have so quickly published the upcoming campaign to his subjects. He meant for the news to spread. The request directed the clergy to share the information throughout England and further instructed them to pray publicly for the success of the expedition, thus enabling the king to reach the majority of his subjects. While this may have been the first time many of his subjects learned of the expeditions, for others it was old news as the actual preparations had been underway for some months.

The future success of the 1355 campaign rested upon careful preparations in England, and these preparations encompassed a wide variety of necessary tasks. Money had to be raised; food had to be purveyed; horses had to be purchased; ships had to be manned. Men also needed to be recruited, as we shall discuss in the next chapter. All of these tasks took time to complete, and the planning and preparations began – had to begin – well before the Prince and his company sailed from Plymouth. The process began with the decision to send an English army to Gascony. Logically, discussions of finances, supplies and the Prince's fleet followed. All of these preparations took place within the larger context of the existing purveyance structure in England and benefitted from England's experience in transporting men, horses and supplies to France.

The Decision to go to War

Henry of Grosmont (c.1310–1361), the duke of Lancaster, left England for the papal court in November 1354 ‘on the weighty business of the king and his realm,’ namely the negotiation of a suitable peace (pace competenti) with France before the existing truce expired on 5 April 1355.