Lambert, Craig L.
Edward III’s siege of Calais: a reappraisal
[in special issue: Waging War in the Fourteenth Century]
Journal of Medieval History, 37, (3), . (doi:10.1016/j.jmedhist.2011.05.002).
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In September 1346, Edward III brought his victorious army to the gates of Calais to begin a siege that over 12 months developed into the largest military operation conducted by the English on French soil during the fourteenth century. It is also perhaps the least understood campaign of Edward III’s reign, because of the loss of the army pay records. We know from chronicles that the men of Calais conducted a heroic defence of their town, and we know too that the English created and maintained an enormous logistical operation first to besiege and then to capture the port. What is little understood, however, is the scale, scope and chronology of the siege. The role played by English naval forces has received little attention, yet there is a series of pay records relating to their service which can compensate for the loss of the vadia guerre accounts and which can enrich understanding of the campaign. Using this evidence, this article reappraises the whole expedition, highlights the numbers of ships and mariners involved in the siege, and draws attention to periods of intensive military activity. Edward III’s ultimate objective was to capture, hold and use the town as a safe port of disembarkation for future invasions.
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