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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

1 - Military Service


The surviving testimony in Scrope v. Grosvenor, Lovel v. Morley and Grey v. Hastings provides ample evidence of the militarisation of the English gentry during the final two-thirds of the fourteenth century. Witnesses collectively recalled over 20 individual campaigns, spanning more than eight decades, from the devastating rout of the English army at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 to Reginald, Lord Grey of Ruthin's Welsh campaigns of the early 1400s. Twenty elderly deponents detailed their service in Scotland during the 1330s, and as many as 46 outlined at least one Scottish expedition on which they had served prior to 1385. Even more impressively, more than 350 witnesses described their participation in the first phase of the Hundred Years War (1337–60). According to their testimony, 98 men served on the Crécy-Calais expedition in 1346–7; 109 on the Rheims campaign in 1359–60; and 92 in Gascony in 1369. Smaller numbers of deponents were present at most of the key battles of the high Edwardian age, including 22 at the battle of Sluys (1340), 32 at the battle of Winchelsea (1350), and nine at the battle of Poitiers (1356), whilst handfuls were also present at the battles of Buironfosse (1339), Morlaix (1342), Auberoche (1345) and Mauron (1352). Additionally, 28 and 22 deponents respectively fought in Spain under Edward, the Black Prince in 1366–7 and John of Gaunt in 1386–8, and at least 135 deponents accompanied Richard II into Scotland in 1385 (a not unexpected figure, since both Scrope v. Grosvenor and Lovel v. Morley had their genesis on this expedition).

Quite apart from all of this, more than a dozen witnesses – ranging from great knights to obscure esquires – outlined their participation on crusading enterprises, whilst a few others even alluded to their years in garrison service. These figures, it should be noted, represent an underestimate. They include only those witnesses who detailed specific expeditions on which they had participated. A significant body of veterans made vague declarations in their depositions of having served in France or elsewhere, without specifying where or when, whilst most, obviously, refrained from mentioning aspects of their military records unrelated to the case at hand.