This new website reveals if your ancestor was a medieval soldier
Release Date 10 October 2016
The names of thousands of medieval soldiers who fought in the Hundred Years War have been revealed on a new website thanks to work by a historians from the University of Reading.
The site – www.medievalsoldier.org – allows you to see if your ancestors are listed among more than 3,500 French soldiers linked to the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.
Of these, 550 were killed on the battlefield, while research by Southampton’s Dr Rémy Ambühl has shown more than 300 were taken prisoner and held for ransom.
The new names join the quarter of a million already available for English armies, forming what is believed to be the largest database of medieval people in the world.
They were discovered thanks to a three-year research project by historians from the universities of Reading and Southampton, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
This latest stage of the Soldier in Later Medieval England project has been supported by the charity Agincourt 600 and by both universities.
Project co-director Professor Adrian Bell, head of the ICMA Centre, Henley Business School at the University of Reading, was able to find 58 ‘Bells’ on the database, including a John Bell from Chatham serving in Calais in 1414 and again with the royal household on the Agincourt campaign.
He said: “Our newly developed interface interrogates sources found in many different archive repositories in England and France.
“Without our site, searching for this information would require many visits to the National Archives of both England and France, the British Library and Bibliothèque nationale and all of the Archives Départementales in Normandy.”
Now with added French soldiers
The Hundred Years War consisted of a series of conflicts that raged from 1337 to 1453 between the English and French over control of the Kingdom ofFrance.
Names of soldiers for the website were sourced from archive collections of muster rolls used to audit pay during military campaigns and from evidence of letters of protection, which soldiers bought from the Chancery to prevent legal actions whilst they were absent from home.
Now refreshed and given a new search interface by Russian postdoctoral fellow Dr Aleksandr Lobanov, the website brings together three separate databases to make them searchable as a single resource.
In addition to the names of the French soldiers recently added, the database now also contains details of geographical origins of soldiers and locations of their service – enabling the local life of the medieval soldier to be illuminated more fully. People can search by surname, rank, or year of service.
The site provides biographies of all English captains of 1415 and further insights into the Battle of Agincourt, which was commemorated extensively in the UK and France last year.
Fellow director Professor Anne Curry, Dean of Humanities at the University of Southampton, said: “It is fitting that this new resource has been made available following the major 600th anniversary commemorations of Agincourt in 2015, in which our university played a key role.
“The Medieval Soldier website has already proved an invaluable resource for genealogists and people interested in social, political and military history. This new data will help us to reach out to new users and shed fresh light on the Hundred Years War.”