The Soldier in Medieval England originated from a major project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). This Research Grant was worth just under £500,000 and was awarded jointly to Professor Adrian Bell of the Henley Business School and Professor Anne Curry of the University of Southampton to challenge assumptions about the emergence of professional soldiery between 1369 and 1453. The original project ran from 1/10/2006 – 30/9/2009 and the team was made up of Adrian, Anne and Dr Andy King, Dr David Simpkin and Dr Adam Chapman (who completed his PhD during the course of the activity).
Since the end of the official project we have continuously developed this sustainable website and its searchable database. We have welcomed our many interactions with colleagues, academics and ‘citizen’ historians and now host a number of soldier profiles resulting from this use of our datasets.
In the Summer of 2016, working with Dr Aleksandr Lobanov we refreshed the website and database following feedback from users. We look forward to continuing our conversations with all those who value this resource as we do.
Our database contains the names of soldiers serving the English crown between 1369 and 1453. Most were fighting the French. In this second phase of the Hundred Years War major invasions of France were launched, including that of 1415 which culminated in Henry V’s victory at Agincourt 1415. We have also included soldiers serving in other theatres (Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Spain, Calais etc), and in all types of service (expeditions on land and sea, garrisons, escorts, standing forces).
Why do we know so many names? The simple explanation is that soldiers received pay and this had to be audited. The financial officials of the crown were keen to check the soldiers were present and correct. The main way of doing this was by checking off their names at a muster, at the beginning of a campaign or during it, or every few months for troops in garrison. Thousands of muster rolls survive in archive collections in England, France and beyond. We also have the evidence of letters of protection which soldiers bought from the Chancery to prevent legal actions whilst they were absent from home.