By Craig Lee Lambert
PhD Dissertation, University of Hull, 2009
Abstract: In the fourteenth century England’s kings embarked on a series of wars in Scotland and France. The ensuing campaigns ushered in a new era of warfare, both in its scale and scope. From a claim made by Edward I to be the rightful overlord of Scotland England’s kings gradually extended their ambitions until, in 1340, in a market place in Ghent, Edward III laid claim to the throne of France. Because the series of wars known to posterity as the Hundred Years War drew in most of the kingdoms of Europe as allies of Edward or the French it has been an area of fruitful and immense research. However, the majority of the studies completed thus far have tended to favour the grand personalities, such as the duke of Lancaster and the Black Prince. And to a certain extent the land-based operations that resulted from daring acts of chivalry have dominated the research.
Consequently, the naval element of the wars has received little attention over the last twenty years and has failed to capitalise on the new methodological approaches that have been adopted by some land-based historians. We are still uncertain, for example, how large the fleets were that operated in the Scottish and French wars, which ports contributed the ships, what was the service record of shipmasters that sailed on board these ships. Indeed, such a study should be seen as the first step towards a large comparative study between the army and navy payrolls and the particulars of the custom accounts.
This present thesis aims to provide this foundation. The study will analyse the involvement of the English merchant marine in the wars of Edward II and Edward III. The study will examine the fleet raising procedures adopted by the English government. It will also individually reconstruct each of the major fleets of the period, noting its size and structure. Finally it will examine some of the administrative and organisational changes that were developed by successive kings in order to exploit the kingdoms merchant marine.