Elis Gruffydd and the 1544 Enterprises of Paris and Boulogne

£12.99
Elis Gruffydd and the 1544 Enterprises of Paris and Boulogne

transcribed by M. Bryn Davies with an introduction by Jonathan Davies

Booklet published by the Pike and Shot Society in 2003, 78 pages. A5 size booklet (N7450X1)

From the rear side cover: Elis Gruffydd's remarkable journal contains a wealth of detail - military, social and political; and from a viewpoint that is hardly ever recorded. Elis was a fully paid up member of the "Poor Bloody Infantry" and, despite attaining the rank of Captain, his sympathies were with the suffering soldiery rather than their aristocratic commanders. His harshest criticisms are directed at those in command although he has little time for "idle" soldiers unable to shift for themselves. Opinionated, well informed and thoroughly experienced in the ways of the world, his commentary on the expedition is a delight in its vigour, freshness and well-developed sense of irony.

From the introduction: Elis Gruffydd's remarkable journal contains a wealth of detail - military, social and political; and from a viewpoint that is hardly ever recorded. Elis was a fully paid up member of the "Poor Bloody Infantry" and, despite clearly attaining the equivalent rank of Captain, I his sympathies were with the suffering soldiery rather than their aristocratic commanders. His harshest criticisms are directed at those in command although he has little time for "idle" soldiers unable to shift for themselves. Opinionated, well informed and thoroughly experienced in the ways of the world his commentary on the expedition is a delight in its vigour, freshness and well-developed sense of irony.

The main features of his account for us would, I think, be; firstly the lack of strategic sense of the commanders; secondly the complete failure of the logisitical system to effectively supply the besieging army at Montreuil.

Elis recognised the siege of Montreuil for the sham it was from the very beginning. He records that "There was an agreement between the King of England to meet the Emperor, who in the meantime was in France with his host in fulfilment of his pledge, the King of England having promised to send a host on horse and foot to open the way to come to meet him in person near Paris this harvest time." This grand strategic enterprise soon broke down and Henry determined to limit his offensive actions to the siege of Boulogne. To ensure the security of his presence and that of his army it was essential to provide another focus for French activity namely the siege of Montreuil.

This was not in itself an ignoble choice if it had been the primary objective of the campaign. As a defensible port Etaples was far superior while Montreuil was of much greater strategic significance as the chief marshaling ground of Western Picardy, and would have helped reduce pressure on the permanently beleaguered Calais. Boulogne was chosen as the objective; firstly, because of its proximity to the bolthole of Calais; secondly, with a limited budget it was affordable and, thirdly, as a weakly defended medieval town its capture was achievable. By 7th July when his expedition had already embarked Henry declared himself secretly in favour of an attack on Boulogne, which he thought worth "ten Parises". Yet as Elis reported "To return to the camps that were laying a half siege to Montreull for indeed sixty thousand fighting men were not enough to keep it so diligently that no one could either go outfrom inside to the country or come in from the country to the town, and no such diligence was shown during this siege, during which if the truth be told, there was no effort to perform one praiseworthy deed."

Elis was well aware that the siege of Boulogne was a worthless project as "the King, indeed, could have placed the host against the town of Ardrei or some such place where they would have done better service, for indeed they could not have done any less service there than they did and could have done within forty days of their arrival, namely to plunder the country and take the town by assault which, had it been done the first week or the first fortnight could have been achieved with less loss than those who died or were killed around it from all causes...

The condition of the booklet is generally very good. The cover has one or two very minor scuffs but is clean and tidy, the staple spine is intact, and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound.