This Day in History: 1296-01-04

On 4th January 1296, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, sailed from Plymouth, as commander of an English relief force for Gascony under Edmund, Earl of Lancaster. Henry was appointed Lieutenant in Aquitaine (king’s representative) under contract for 2000 marks (£1.8 million in today’s money) per year. The sizeable English force included twenty-five barons, one thousand horses and ten thousand infantrymen. After the Earl of Lancaster’s death from illness on the 5th June 1296, de Lacy took sole charge of the relief forces. After mixed fortunes (and particularly the defeat and heavy casualties sustained at Bellegarde), de Lacy spent Christmas 1296 in Bayonne, returning to England around Easter 1297. He was later, in March 1299, given relief from all his debts to the Crown on account of his service in Gascony.