Friday, March 20, 2009

A Dreadful Expense: Lieutenants of Calais and Power in the Realm (1377-1536) Part II: Giles Daubeney

Having surveyed the situation at Calais in the first installment, I would like to turn to the career of Giles Daubeney. When Henry VII won the English crown at Bosworth Field, he may not have been used to governing, but he was used to intrigue. His experiences in exile and the lessons learned from studying the instability of the English monarchy during his lifetime made him seek out his own lord Hastings from among the loyalists that had been with him in Brittany and France. That man was Giles Daubeney. Margaret Condon characterizes Henry VII’s method of appointment by stating that “Henry VII granted such offices as constables of castles generally, though not exclusively, to his household knights and esquires. Military expeditions were conducted largely by and through the household.” Obviously Henry felt that his forces would be more loyal if they were under the command of those he considered personally loyal to him and Daubeney was a good example of a loyal “household man.”

As earl of Richmond and a Lancastrian pretender to the throne, Henry Tudor spent his early years in Wales but spent most of his teens and twenties in exile in Brittany and France before defeating Richard III at Bosworth Field. After supporting Henry Stafford, second Duke of Buckingham, in his rebellion against his cousin Richard III in 1483, Daubeney joined Henry Tudor in Brittany, becoming member of Henry’s inner circle. He was one of the few men ennobled by Henry VII and, among the many royal appointments Daubeney received, he served as lieutenant of the town, castle and marches of Calais, tower of Risbank (in Calais harbor), and castle of Guines (7 Mar 1485/6). As the focus of England’s commercial and military toehold on the continent, Calais was considered vitally important to the security of the realm. Only a very trusted member of Henry VII’s inner circle would have been given this responsibility.

Daubeney was a privy councilor and as lord chamberlain of the household (after 1495), he was in charge of the arrangements for the reception of Katherine of Aragon on the occasion of her marriage to Prince Arthur, then the heir to the throne. According to the Spanish ambassador, Katherine considered Daubeney “the man who could do most in private with Henry VII.” Daubeney was one of the diplomats who arranged the marriage between Henry VII’s son Arthur and the Spanish Infanta, Katherine of Aragon (a daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella), and as the lord chamberlain of the household he was also involved in the marriage preparations. Katherine would have had an excellent opportunity to observe the relationship between Daubeney and the king. As a valued member of Henry VII’s court, Daubeney profited greatly from his prominent position at court as well as from the patronage of a king who parsimoniously doled out favors primarily to those who had paid for the privilege with either service or cash.

While Daubeney’s appointment in Calais was originally for seven years, it must have been renewed since he was still in charge of Calais in 1500, when Henry and Elizabeth of York visited Archduke Philip to arrange the marriage of Prince Arthur to Katherine of Aragon. In the Chronicle of Calais it is reported that in 1500

Kynge Henry the Seventh and quene Elizabeth his wyffe, comynge out of England, landed at Caleis on the 8. day of May, being friday at night, in anno 1500, and in the 15. of his raigne. With hym came the duke of Buckyngham, the erle of Surrey, the erle of Essex, the lorde Dawbeney, being then lorde lyvetenaunt of the towne and marches of Caleis, and lord chamberlayn of the kyng’s howse.

The spending incumbent on the Lieutenant of Calais in entertaining the king and his retinue as well as the archduke and his household would have been substantial. His lieutenancy gave Daubeney many responsibilities. The duties of the captain did not change much over two centuries of occupation. Daubeney knew who was expected in Calais and kept track of whether they arrived. An excuse from an unimpeachable source seems to have been necessary for absenteeism, even in the fifteenth century. In addition, the captain or lieutenant of Calais was responsible for accounting for the gentlemen who were to be garrisoned there. William Paston, the brother of Sir John Paston, was one of the gentry who was to take part in Henry VII’s war in France. He wrote to his brother

Syr, as towardes my jurney to Caleys . . . My lorde [Oxford], seyng me dysesyd, and also none otherwyse purveyd, wyllyd me in ony wyse to tary on tyl hys comying to London, and sent myn excuse to my Lorde Dawbeney undyr thys forme how that I was sore disesyd; notwythestondyng I was welewyllyd to have come to fulfyll my promesse, but he cowde not sofyr me, seyng me soo dysesyd; and so my Lord Dawbeney was sory of my dysese and content that I taryd.

Daubeney's position as lieutenant of Calais gave him a great deal of patronage to dispense among gentry and noble families looking for places for their sons. Not all of these clients were from Somerset or even from the west of England. His clerk, Nicholas Boveton, from Woolwich, Kent, was the war treasurer of Calais and a merchant of the Staple. Some of Daubeney’s patronage was indirect. In 1486, John Fermour received 4d. for writing a letter to Daubeney. In 1491, Edward Hextall received £3 for a chest of sugar given to Daubeney. And in the same year, John Byngham was rewarded with 13s. 4d. for delivering a letter to Daubeney while he was in Calais. Somewhat more directly, Stephen Calmady was given a licence on August 4, 1489, to freight a ship with merchandise for export as remuneration for transporting Daubeney and others to the king.

Foreign military adventures also came about through Daubeney’s position as Lieutenant of Calais and caused attendant expenses, not always reimbursed by the crown. When Henry wished to shore up the weak and vacillating Maximilian, the future Holy Roman Emperor, in his bid to marry Duchess Anne of Brittany, Daubeney was sent to help. While he was successful in winning the battle of Dixmude, “all was in vain. Maximilian was soon bought off by Charles VIII.” Henry’s real, although ultimately unsuccessful goal, was to keep Brittany from being absorbed by France and he saw aiding Maximilian in his marriage plans as one way of succeeding in that quest.

Francis Bacon, in history of the reign of Henry VII says of Daubeney and his Calais troops at the battle of Dixmude

While they [the French] lay at this siege [Dixmude], the King of England, upon pretence of the safety of the English pale about Calis, but in truth being loth that Maximilian should become contemptible, and thereby be shaken off by the states [estates or Parlement] of Britain [Brittany] about this marriage [to Duchess Anne of Brittany], sent over the lord Morley with a thousand men, unto the lord Daubeney, then deputy of Calis, with secret instructions to aid Maximilian, and to raise the siege of Dixmude. The lord Daubeney, giving it out that all was for the strengthening of the English marches, drew out of the garrison of Calis, Hammes and Guines, to the number of a thousand men more. So that with the fresh succours that came under the conduct of the lord Morley, they made up to the number of two thousand or better. wich forces joining with some companies of Almains, put themselves through the town with some reinforcement, from the forces that were in the town, assailed the enemies’ camp negligently guarded, as being out of fear; where there was a bloody fight, in which the English and their partakers obtained the victory, and slew to the number of eight thousand men, with the loss on the English part of a hundred or thereabouts; amongst whom was the lord Morley. They took also their great ordnance, with much rich spoils, which they carried to Newport; whence the lord Daubeney returned to Calis, leaving the hurt men and some other voluntaries in Newport.

However, being lieutenant of Calais carried risks as well as prestige. Late in the reign, Daubeney was accused of illegal embezzlement and was made to turn over his French pension to the king as well as being fined £2,100. Daubeney’s guilt is doubtful. Bonds and recognizances were forms of coercion that Henry used on powerful men in his kingdom to ensure their loyalty, even if he had no reason to doubt it, although Polydore Vergil, among others, ascribes these acts to simple greed. However, since Daubeney's brother John may have been among the rebels during the uprising in the west of England in 1497 that Daubeney himself was sent to quell, the bond may have also been a guarantee of his brother's continued good behavior.

Daubeney had paid some of this debt before his death and had arranged in his will for the payment of the rest as a charge on land in Dorset, Wiltshire, Goucestershire, Hampshire, and Lincolnshire. In the petition Edmund Dudley wrote before being executed by Henry VIII for doing his job too well under the new king’s father, he obviously felt the punishment was too severe—“Item the Lord daubeney had a hard end for his matter of Calais[.]” Evidently the examiners investigating under Henry VIII’s charge agreed because John Yong, keeper of the Rolls and Records in Chancery was ordered to cancel a recognizance of 2,100l., made by Giles lord Daubney, chamberlain to Hen. VII., 5 Dec. 22 Hen. VII., to Sir Thomas Lovell and others; it being found before executors of Henry VII.’s will to have been unjustly obtained. Greenwich, 12 April, 1 Hen. VIII.

Being lieutenant of Calais made Daubeney an obvious choice as an ambassador–which would have occasioned even more expense. He was sent on various diplomatic missions, especially a series for missions to the French king before and after Henry VII’s military foray to the continent. James Gairdner, in his Dictionary of National Biography entry for Daubeney, describes these maneuvers.

In 1490 he was sent to the Duchess Anne in Brittany to arrange the terms of a treaty against France. . . . In June 1492, Brittany having now lost her independence, he was again sent over to France . . . as an ambassador, with Fox, then bishop of Bath and Wells, and four others to negotiate a treaty of peace with Charles VIII. No settlement, however, was arrived at, and the king four months later invaded France and besieged Boulogne. The French then at once agreed to treat, and Daubeney was commissioned to arrange a treaty with the Sieur des Querdes, which was concluded at Etaples on 3 Nov. Daubeney immediately after went on to Amboise, where, the French king having meanwhile ratified the treaty himself, he arranged with him for its future ratification by the three estates of either kingdom. [This was the treaty where Henry VII received his £50,000 yearly French pension and Daubeney received a pension as well.]

Calais was an important and dangerous place. Daubeney was an excellent military leader and a trusted friend and councilor of the king. He was the right man at the right time, and Henry VII put him in the right job as lieutenant of Calais. But his close ties to the kind did not protect him from the king’s penchant for intimidation. In addition, for all the prestige and patronage conferred by the office, Daubeney would probably have spent more than he took in—which would make the charge of fraud seem that much more plausible to Henry.

In the final installment of this series of essays on Calais, I will turn to the career of Henry, Lord Lisle as Lieutenant of Calais, whose fate was much less enviable than that of Giles Daubeney.

Tomb photograph of Giles and Elizabeth Daubeney from Westminster Abbey.
Copyright 2009 Sharon D. Michalove. All rights reserved.