Do you have a medieval solder in your ancestry?

When teaching European history one of my favourite questions was:  How long was the Hundred Year War?  Answer:  116 years.  And better than that it really wasn’t a single war but rather a series of conflicts between England and France.

What’s this got to do with family history?  Didn’t you ever wonder if one of your ancestors held a longbow at the Battle of Agincourt?  Now you can find out!  And there is no charge for using this web site.

Dick Eastman started me on this quest – so thank you Dick  – when he reported on 7 October 2016 that the names of 3,500 French soldiers who took part in the Battle of Agincourt have just been added to the online database.  For those of you whose history is a little rusty the Battle of Agincourt was 1415.

Where’s the website and what records are available?  http://www.medievalsoldier.org/   This large database is a joint project of the Universities of Reading and Southampton in England.  The 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.” (http://www.medievalsoldier.org/ )

It might be interesting to search some of your British or French surnames.  I found 27 Darbys!  There was even a Peter Darby who was an archer. Unfortunately this is a little further back than my present family tree goes, but maybe I can find a link.  I have a French Huguenot line of refugees who fled to England in the early 1600s but no sign of them here.

I have started looking for military records after finding one of my ancestors away from home for several years during the Napoleonic Wars – early 1800s. 

This website was a wonderful find.  I hope you enjoy using it.

Hint:  TNA means The National Archives at Kew in England

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