Thomas Montacute, 4th Earl of Salisbury

MONTACUTE or MONTAGUE, THOMAS de, fourth Earl of Salisbury (1388–1428), elder son of John de Montacute, third earl [q. v.], by his wife Maud, was born in 1388. His father’s lands being forfeited for his treason, he received a portion of them from the king, and further increased his possessions by marrying Eleanor, fourth daughter of Thomas Holland, second earl of Kent [q. v.], and coheiress of her brother, Edmund Holland, fourth earl (1384–1408). He was summoned to parliament as Earl of Salisbury in October 1409, but was not restored to the dignity held by his father until 1421 (Nicholas, Historic Peerage). He was made a knight of the Garter in 1414, was in May appointed joint commissioner to treat with France concerning the rights of Henry V and a marriage between him and Catherine, daughter of Charles VI, and was in France on his business from July to October (Fœdera, ix. 130, 190, 204). War being decided upon engaged in June 1415 to serve the king with his retinue for one year in France, being paid 12d. a day for his own services ib. p. 256), and in July was one of the seven peers appointed to try the Earl of Cambridge and other conspirators, and joined in pronouncing sentence on them on 5 Aug. (Rolls of Parliament, iv. 65). On the 11th le sailed from Portsmouth with the king, and took part in the siege of Harfleur and he battle of Agincourt, where his retinue consisted of three knights, thirty-six esquires, forty men-at-arms, and eighty mounted archers (Nicholas, Agincourt, p. 373). The next year, having again engaged to serve the king, he sailed in August with John, duke of Bedford [q. v.], who was sent with reinforcements to Harfleur, and took part in the naval engagement with the French at the mouth of the Seine (Fœdera, ix. 355; Nicholas, Royal Navy, ii. 418-25). In February 1417 ho- attended the privy council, and in July sailed with the king for Normandy. He took part in the siege of Caen and in other operations during that year, being in command of the rear division of the king’s army (Walsingham, ii. 322; Elmham, p. 99; Des Ursins, p. 534), and received from the king the lordship of Auvilliers. After assisting at the siege of Falaise he accompanied the Duke of Clarence in the spring of 1418 on a successful expedition against Harcourt, Courtonne, La Rivière-Thibouville, and Chambrais (Gesta Henrici V, p. 119), and on 1 June received from the king at Bernay the grant of Neubourg and two other lord- ships, to be held by the service of presenting the iron head of a lance every Christmas at the castle of Caen (Norman Rolls, i. 34). During the siege of Rouen, begun 1 Aug., he highly distinguished himself, being posted in front of the strongly fortified abbey of St. Catherine, used as a detached fort, which yielded on 1 Sept. (Titus Livius, p. 61; Chronique de Normandie, pp. 188, 190). He was made warden of the New Forest, lieutenant and warden of Evreux and Alencon ({sc|Doyle}}), and in October was appointed a joint-commissioner to treat with the dauphin (Fœdera, ix. 626). The negotiations which were carried on at Alencon were fruitless. Early in 1419 Salisbury took Fecamp, Monteville, Gournay, Eu, and Honfleur, which he besieged from 4 Jan. to 12 March. In April he was appointed lieutenant-general of Normandy, and was created Earl of Perche by the service of rendering to the king each year at the castle of Caen a sheathed sword. He was engaged at Rouen in negotiations with the ambassadors of John, duke of Burgundy, and in May accompanied the king to the conference which Henry held near Mantes with the queen of France and the Duke of Burgundy (Hall, p. 91). The king sent him in the autumn to lay siege to Meulan, joined him there, and received the surrender of the town on 6 Nov. In May 1420 he was besieging Frenay with a large force when a French army advanced to its relief, and was defeated by John Holland, earl of Huntingdon, afterwards Duke of Exeter (1395-1447) [q.v.], and in July he was present at the siege of Melun, which was not surrendered until November (Elmham, p. 244 ; Gesta Henrici V, p. 144). He attended Henry and his queen, Catherine of France, on their entry into Paris with King Charles and Duke Philip of Burgundy on 1 Dec. (Wavrin, v. ii. 325). In January 1421 he was at the parliament held by Henry at Rouen, and there did homage for the earldom of Perche. When the king returned to England shortly afterwards, Salisbury remained in France to support the Duke of Clarence (Chastellain, p. 204).

Soon after the king’s departure he marched with Clarence and a large force into Maine and Anjou. On 21 March Clarence insisted on attacking the allied army of the French and Scots at Baugé with his cavalry without waiting for the rear division under Salisbury. He was defeated and slain, and when Salisbury came on the field of battle it was too late to retrieve the disaster. Nevertheless, he and the archers under him pressed so vigorously on the French that he was able to bring off the duke’s body (Wavrin, v. ii. 338). He made an attempt to relieve Alencon, but was intercepted and retreated, not without loss, to Bee. When, however, the besiegers drew off, he again took the field and advanced as far west as the immediate neighbourhood of Angers (Fœdera, x. 131). Henry V having died in France in August 1422, and Charles VI having died shortly afterwards, Bedford, the regent of France, marched with Salisbury to recover Meulan from the French. The siege lasted until 1 March, when Salisbury was appointed to arrange terms for the surrender of the place. In June he was at Paris with the regent, then newly married, who sent him to besiege the castle of Orsay ; he took it after about three weeks, and led the defenders, bare-headed and with ropes about their necks, into Paris (Wavrin, v. iii. 23 ; Journal d’un Bourgeois ap. Mémoires, iii. 238). Bedford appointed him governor of Champagne and Brie, and he went to Champagne and laid siege to Montaguillon, a fortress near Provins. The place was well defended, and he had to employ a large siege-train and much ordnance. Charles intended to relieve it, but was forced to send his army to Crevant-sur-Yonne, which had fallen into the hands of the Burgundians. Salisbury was ordered by the regent to go to the relief of Crevant, and received reinforcements under the earl-marshal and Lord Willoughby. On 30 July he appeared before Crevant, made, it is said, eighty knights, and attacked the French and the Scots under the walls of the town. He commanded the left wing of his army, and crying ‘St. George ! Avant banner !’ dashed into the river, while Willoughby with the right wing forced his way across the bridge. Salisbury gained the bank ; the garrison sallied and attacked the besiegers in the rear, and his victory was complete. The chief loss fell on the Scots. The English and Burgundians entered the town in triumph, and returned thanks for their victory (Wavrin, v. iii. 45; Ramsay, Lancaster and York, i. 334 ; Barante, v. 147-53). Salisbury was joyfully received by the regent and then went back to Champagne, where he carried on the war with success, resuming the siege of Montaguillon, taking Suzanne by assault, and holding the country so vigorously that the French could do nothing against him, specially as north of him Suffolk and John of Luxemburg forced their army to retreat beyond the Meuse (Mémoires concernant la Pucelle ap. Mémoires, iii. 70). In 1424 Salisbury’s success continued, and early in the spring Montaguillon at last surrendered. The French having seized Verneuil in August, he went to the help of the regent, who sent him with Suffolk to Breteuil to watch the movements of the enemy. On the 17th he took part in the battle of Verneuil ; the division under his command was attacked by the Vicomte de Narbonne, who was slain ; he bore the brunt of the battle, and the victory of the English is attributed by a warm admirer to his ability and valour. Verneuil surrendered upon terms, and Salisbury was forced to slay two or three of his men with his own hand, in order to prevent the rest from violating the conditions. He was present in November at the festivities given in Paris by Philip of Burgundy to celebrate the marriage of John de la Tremoille. His wife probably his second wife was with him. She was a very handsome woman, and the duke courted her. Salisbury was deeply offended, and is said to have repaid the duke by taking part with the Duke of Gloucester against him (Fénin, ap. Mémoires, ii. 624). He completed the subjugation of Champagne, receiving the submission of Montaimé in June 1625, he took Étampes, Rambouillet, and other places in the same district, and then made a campaign in the west, taking Beaumont le Vicomte, overrunning Maine, and receiving the submission of Le Mans, Mayenne, St. Suzanne, and other places. He lost some men by surprise near Seez in the course of these successful operations, and met with a stubborn resistance at La Ferté Bernard, which was not surrendered until after a siege of three months (Ramsay, i. 363). When Bedford left France in the winter, Salisbury remained in charge of Upper Normandy and Maine (Stevenson, Wars, vol. i. p. lx ; Ramsay, i. 364), and in 1426 took Mondoubleau, and also acted with John of Luxemburg in the recovery of Moynier in the county of Virtus in Champagne (Journal d’un Bourgeois, p. 246).

In 1427 Salisbury went to England to obtain reinforcements, and took his seat at the council on 15 July. He upheld Gloucester, who was then preparing to send an expedition to Holland [see under Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester], and declared himself ready to take the command, but the scheme was stopped by Bedford. The wages of his retinue in the campaign of 1415 had not yet been paid, and he presented a petition in parliament for payment (Rolls of Parliament, iv. 320). In March 1428 parliament allowed securities for 24,000l. to be given to him and others who advanced money for the war (ib. p. 317). He was busy gathering a force which he mustered at Sandwich in July, and sailed with 450 spears and 2.250 archers (Stevenson, Wars, i. 403-20). ‘it was decided that he should lay siege to Angers, and accordingly, having been appointed’ lieutenant-general for the field,’ he marched south-west from Paris, and took Rambouillet, Nogent-le-Roi, and other places. Then he changed the plan of the campaign, turned towards Orleans, and decided, against the will of Bedford, to undertake the siege of that city. He took Puiset by storm and hanged the garrison, battered Janville with his artillery, and, though it was bravely defended, compelled it to capitulate on 29 Aug., by which date he had gained thirty-eight places ‘of one sort or another’ (Ramsay, i. 381 ; Delpit, Documents Français, p. 237). From Janville he sent an expedition to plunder the rich church of Cléry, and on 8 Sept. marched to Meung, which had already surrendered to him, passing by Orleans, and skirmishing with the Bastard of Orleans, La Hire, and others who sallied from the city to interrupt his march. On the 25th he compelled the surrender of the castle and abbey of Beaugency, and received the submission of La Ferté-Hubert. He sent Sir John de la Pole against Jargeau, which surrendered on 5 Oct., and Pole also received the surrender of Chateauneuf. Salisbury began the siege of Orleans on the 12th, and on the 23rd, in spite of a repulse on the 21st, compelled the French to evacuate a position which defended Tourelles, the fortification at the southern end of the bridge. On the 24th he stormed Tourelles, and ordered Glasdale to fortify and occupy it. While he was surveying the city from a window of Tourelles on the 27th, a stone ball from a cannon shattered the stone and iron work of the window. One of his eyes was destroyed and his face otherwise grievously wounded. He was carried to Meung, and died there on 3 Nov. (Pucelle, pp. 84-6). As he lay dying he exhorted the English captains by no means to give up the siege. His body was conveyed to England and buried with much pomp with his fathers in his priory at Bisham in Berkshire (Hall, p. 145).

Salisbury was the most famous and skilful captain on the English side ; well skilled in war, and specially, it would seem from the records of his sieges, in the use of artillery. His support of Gloucester was the result of his anger at a personal grievance ; but this, combined with his apparently headstrong determination to besiege Orleans, seems to suggest that he was less great as a politician than as a commander. Courteous, liberal, and brave, he was beloved by his followers, and was, it seems, generally popular with his countrymen. Though French writers charge him with cruelty, he seems not to have acted otherwise than in accordance with the usages of war, or than other leaders on both sides. His death was held to be an event of supreme importance in the course of the war, the French regarding it as a divine judgment on their most puissant and cruel enemy, the English, as a mark of God’s anger, and the presage of many calamities (Pucelle, p. 86 ; Wavrin, v. iii. 246 ; Polydore Vergil, p. 598). He married (1) Eleanor, daughter of Thomas, earl of Kent, by whom he had a daughter Alice, who married Richard Neville, afterwards Earl of Salisbury [q. v.], and (2) Alice, daughter of Thomas Chaucer [q. v.], by whom he had no issue. He left a natural son named John (Dugdale, Baronage, i. 652, which see for his will). A portrait of him is given in Harl. MS. 4826, and is engraved in Strutt’s ‘Regal Antiquities’ and Doyle’s ‘Official Baronage.’

[Gesta Henrici V, with Chronique de Normandie, pp. 119, 188, 190, 204 (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Elmham’s Vita Henrici V, pp. 99, 244, ed. Hearne ; T. Livii Vita Hen. V, pp. 32, 34, 61, 70, ed. Hearne ; Redman’s Vita Hen. V, ap. Memorials of Hen. V, p. 56 ; Walsingham’s Hist. Angl. ii. 322; Wavrin’s Recueil des Chroniques, vols. ii. iii. (ii. 325, 338, iii. 8, 23, 41, 45, 68, 88, 125, 133, 230, 246) (Rolls Sep.); J. des Ursins, ap. Mém. ii. 534, 565 (Michaud) ; P. de Fénin, ap. Mémoires, ii. 624, 627 (Michaud) ; Journal d’un Bourgeois, ap. Mém. iii. 238, 246, 251 (Michaud); Mémoires concernant La Pucelle, ap. Mém. iii. 70, 74-6, 84-6 (Michand) ; Stevenson’s Wars of the English in France, i. Ix, ii. 43, 80, 88 (Rolls Ser.) ; Monstrelet’s Chron. i. cc. 238, 239, ii. cc. 9, 49, 52, ap. vol. i. 459, 498, 543, 545 ( Johnes’s transl.); Polydore Vergil, pp. 588, 598, ed. 1651 ; Hall’s Chron. pp. 91, 145, ed. Ellis; Hardyng’s Chron. p. 393, ed. Ellis; Delpit’s Documents Français, ap. Doc. Inedits, p. 327; Norman Rolls, i. 34, 157, 283 (Hardy) ; Rymer’s Fœdera, ix. 150, 190, 204, 256, x. 131, ed. 1709; Rot. Parl. iv. 65, 320; Acts of P. C. iii. 213, 274, 279, (Nicolas) : Ramsay’s Lancaster and York, i. 334, 363, 364, 376-84 ; Barante’s Dues de Bourgogne, v. 147-52, 155, 180, 249, 250, 256-8; Nicolas’s Hist. Peerage, p. 438 (Conrthope) ; Nicolas’s Agincourt, pp. 127, 373 ; Nicolas’s Royal Navy, ii. 418-25 ; Dugdale’s Baronage, i. 652 ; Doyle’s Official Baronage, iii. 241.]

Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 38
Montacute, Thomas de by William Hunt

Leave a Reply