Normandy, Ponthieu (and Calais) and the duchy of Aquitaine (later Gascony/Guyenne) were all administered by the English crown at various dates from the 11th to the 16th century; and these connections are represented in a variety of sources in The National Archives.
A legend that is totally unfounded, but which is still widely prevalent in France, has it that the record office in the Tower of London (which was a precursor of The National Archives) was for many centuries full of French material looted by the English kings. The earliest version of the story seems to be the preface of T. Carte, Catalogue de Rolles Gascons, Normans et Francois dans les archives de la Tour de Londres (1743). However, neither The National Archives nor the Tower of London houses French royal records or private title deeds for the lands held by the English kings: such as survive should be sought in the Archives Nationales or the relevant Archives Departmentales in France.
Original documents and enrolments concerning the administration of the French lands of the English kings are to be found in many of the main series of Chancery and Exchequer records as outlined below. All the records mentioned in this leaflet are held in The National Archives.
2. Diplomatic documents and treaties
Many diplomatic documents were printed in T. Rymer, Foedera ..., ed. A. Clarke and others, 4 vols. in 7 parts (1816-69). Diplomatic Documents preserved in the Public Record Office. Vol 1. 1101-1272 , ed. P. Chaplais (HMSO, 1964) and Treaty Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Vol I, 1234-1352 and Vol II, 1337-1339, ed. P. Chaplais and J. Ferguson (HMSO 1955-) give transcripts of many relevant records. For unpublished treaties see E 30 and C 47/27/1-15 (diplomatic documents), and C 76 (treaty rolls, calendared in part in Carte, and in Deputy Keepers Reports, nos. XLIV and XLVIII). The Liber A and Liber B (E 36/274-275) contain transcripts of diplomatic documents, and there are references to records about Ponthieu in Bishop Stapleton's Calendar (E 36/268).
3. Chancery rolls
The English Chancery kept separate series of rolls, recording administrative instructions of many kinds, for both Normandy and Gascony. The Norman Rolls (C 64) are partially calendared in Carte and in Deputy Keepers Reports, XLI and XLII. In addition a transcript of C 64/1 was published in Pipe Roll Society, new ser., XXI (1943), and C 64/2-8 in Rotuli Normanniae, 1200-1205 and 1417-18, ed. T. D. Hardy, Record Comm. (1835).
The Gascon Rolls (C 61) are again calendared in Carte. In addition C 61/1 was printed in Recueil des travaux offerts à M. Clovis Brunel , ed. J. P. Trabut-Cussac (1953). C 61/2 and 4-23 are calendared, with related documents, in Rôles Gascons - Vol I. 1242-1255 ed Francisque-Michel (Paris, 1885), Vol I supplement 1254-1255 ed. C Bemont, (Paris, 1886), Vol II 1273-1290 ed. C Bemont (Paris, 1900) and Vol III 1290-1307 ed. C Bemont (Paris, 1906). C 61/3 in Bulletin Philologique et Historique (1915), ed. C. Bémont; and C 61/24-31 in Gascon Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office 1307-17 , ed. Y. Rénouard (HMSO, 1962). A project is currently in progress to calendar the remaining rolls to 1468, providing online access to images of the original text, accompanied by an English translation.
There are a few entries relating to France on the Roman Rolls (C 70), and on the Close Rolls (C 54), the Fine Rolls (C 60) and Patent Rolls (C 66). Most were found and calendared by Carte; the printed calendars of the last three series contain indexes to help locate the rest.
Fine rolls, C 60/8-C60/69 covering the period, 1216-1272, are being made available as facsimile images and searchable English translations at Henry III fine rolls as part of a free resource at King's College, London.
4. Exchequer accounts
Exchequer Various Accounts (E 101) include a wealth of useful material, which appears in the list under the headings 'France', 'Army', 'Nuncii', 'Works', and 'Wardrobe and Household'. Descriptions in the list such as 'subsidiary documents' conceal the fact that the files contain unique information in the form of warrants, receipts and indentures. Some of the Declared Accounts (E 351) also contain French material, as do the Foreign Accounts (E 364). The Memoranda Rolls (E 159 and E 368) include scattered references to French matters.
The Norman Pipe Rolls (E 373), which cover the years from Henry II to John, were transcribed in Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae , ed. T. Stapleton, 2 vols. (1840, 1844). The Pipe Rolls themselves (E 372) also contain some Norman material. Accounts of the treasurer of Ponthieu and Montreuil, temp. Edward III, are in E 315/437 and E 315/438; and see also Ministers' Accounts (SC 6).
From 1453 to 1558 Calais and its march were the last English outpost in France: a wealth of information about this valuable port and trading centre dating from c. 1350 onwards is to be found amongst the public records. The Augmentation Office Miscellaneous Books (E 315) include accounts of the Treasurer of Calais, 11-13 Henry IV (E 315/335); surveys of Calais, 2-3 Philip and Mary (E 315/371 to E 315/372); and a rental and terrier of Calais, 22 Edward IV (E 315/407). E 36/269 to E 36/272 give the controller's accounts, Henry VII - Henry VIII, and the Exchequer Foreign Accounts (E 364) include the accounts of the mayor of the Calais staple. Some of the Staple Rolls (C 67/22-25), include appointments of mayors and constables of the staple, Edward III to Henry VI. There are Declared Accounts of the treasurer of Calais, 1542-45, in E 351/530-535. There is also material in the Customs Accounts (E 122). Indentures covering the safe passage of the wool fleet are enrolled on the Memoranda Rolls (E 159).
LR 2/88 is a survey of parishes within the march of Calais (draft, with LR 2/59 a fair copy); Rentals and Surveys (SC 12) include several items on the march, Henry V to Henry VIII; and Ministers' Accounts (SC 6) contain accounts for Calais. DL 28/2/1-11 comprise the accounts of the treasurer and controller, 8-19 Henry VII, and DL 41/407 includes a transcript, temp. Henry VIII, of laws and charters for Calais. A valuable collection of material about Calais in Henry VIII's reign is listed in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, 22 vols (1864-1932). It includes the correspondence of Arthur Plantagenet, Lord Lisle, when deputy of Calais (SP 3) which has been published separately by M. St. Clare Byrne in The Lisle Letters, 6 vols (1981).
For Calais under Edward VI and Mary - until its loss to France early in 1558 - see Calendar of State papers, Domestic, 1547-1580 (1856); and Calendars of State Papers Foreign, Edward VI, 1547-53 (1861), and Mary, 1553-58 (1861). SP 46 (State Papers Domestic, Supplementary) includes a few official and private papers relating to Calais, and is not listed in these calendars.
There are some deeds relating to Calais among the various series of Ancient Deeds; and see also the sources listed above under 'Diplomatic documents'; 'Chancery rolls'; and 'Exchequer accounts', especially E 101 and E 364.
6. Other sources
As its title suggests, Chancery Miscellanea, France (C 47/24/1-17) contains a variety of material. Ancient Petitions (SC 8, available to download via our catalogue) include a great many petitions from Gascony; and Exchequer, Treasury of Receipt, Books contain several useful volumes on France (E 36/78-83). Ancient Correspondence (SC 1, indexed in Public Record Office Lists and Indexes, Supplementary, XV) is also worth consulting for letters relating to rights in France.
Duchy of Lancaster Miscellanea (DL 41) includes a few scattered documents on various French possessions. There is an isolated writ of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, concerning an expedition of Gascony, 44 Edward III, in PRO 30/26/71/16. Finally, the wills of many people dying in France or having property there are recorded amongst the registers of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PROB 11). All Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills are available on online. They are searchable by name, place, occupation and date.