chapter  4
46 Pages

God’s chosen warrior, 1415

Towards sunset on Saturday 6 July, Henry V and his courtiers had fi nally left Winchester to join the greatest fi ghting force assembled on English soil since the siege of Calais in 1347. Throughout the previous week, the night skies for more than twenty miles around Southampton were brightly lit by campfi res, as the king’s men gathered for action. On Southampton Common and in the fi elds around Portsmouth, not to mention a host of other mustering points like Wallopforth, Hampton Hill and Swanwick Heath, royal offi cials had been busily checking the retinues of Henry’s captains, while all along the Hampshire coast, opposite the Isle of Wight, every suitable creek and inlet continued to fi ll with ships. Henceforth, as the fi nal tired moves in the diplomatic game were being dutifully played out, the king would be gearing his troops for war and closely supervising the many complex movements and preparations now nearing completion.1