Henry V (1387–1422)
King Henry V, Shakespeare’s ‘Harry of Monmouth’, was born in the tower above the gatehouse at Monmouth Castle in 1387. The town is referred to several times in Shakespeare’s celebrated play, praising its Wye salmon and – through the soldier Fluellen – the ‘goot service’ provided by the Welsh during the Agincourt campaign, where they patriotically wore ‘leeks in their Monmouth caps’. Of his military successes, Agincourt was by far the most famous. Despite an army that was outnumbered, malnourished and exhausted, his victory was decisive, in no small measure down to the skills of the Welsh and English archers.
Dafydd Gam (d. 1415)
A Welsh warrior, landowner and member of one of the most prominent families in Breconshire. Dafydd inspired love and hate, regarded as a hero by some but a traitor by others. In Welsh, ‘gam’ means ‘lame or deformed’, a possible reference to his characteristic squint. His daughter Gwladys married Sir Roger Vaughan of Bredwardine who, like Dafydd, was a loyal supporter of Henry V. Both men died at the Battle of Agincourt where, according to legend, they were knighted by the king before succumbing to their injuries.
Sir Roger Vaughan of Bredwardine (d. 1415).
Roger was a loyal Lancastrian who fought with Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt, along with his son (also Roger) and father-in-law Dafydd Gam. His seat was at Bredwardine Castle just across the Welsh border, though the family later became associated with Tretower Court and Castle in the Usk Valley. Roger (the elder) and Dafydd Gam were mortally wounded at the Battle while personally defending the king, a sacrifice that, according to legend, was rewarded by both men being knighted on the battlefield before they died.
The role of the Welsh archers in securing victory at the battle of Agincourt is the stuff of legend. The archers were led by Watkin Lloyd, who lived at Tir Marchog (Land of the Knight) near Trecastle, now renamed Ynys Marchog (Watermeadow of the Knight).
Sir John Greyndour (d.1416)
A significant local landowner in the Forest of Dean, Sir John was closely associated with the local freeminers who travelled to France as part of the war effort. He had a long military career before Agincourt, notably in the wars against Welsh king Owain Glyndwr in battles at Shrewsbury, Grosmont and Pwll Melyn in the early 1400s. The indenture signed by Sir John in 1415 supplied Henry V’s forces with a company of 30 archers and 120 miners, believed to be from the Forest of Dean. It is not certain that Sir John reached Agincourt himself, but records show that he was part of the Harfleur garrison between December 1415 and April 1416.