On 23 April 1430, Sir Ralph Rochford III set sail for Calais with the nine-year-old King Henry VI of England and an imposing retinue of lords, knights and bishops. They were heading for Reims, where they intended to crown the boy as king of France behind enemy lines, and put an end to the Hundred Years’ War. As Henry’s personal guardian and mentor in chivalry, Sir Ralph’s task was to get him there alive.
Ralph was not the only member of his family to lead a remarkable life. Through a series of individual biographies, this book tells the story of a family who emerged from a dank and swampy corner of Lincolnshire in the early 1100s, and rose over the course of 300 years to become pre-eminent knights of the royal household.
The story involves much medieval savagery – an almost continuous churn of battles, sieges, coups d’état, feuds, murders, plagues, imprisonment and even hostage taking. But there were peaceful moments too. Family members travelled across Europe, made pilgrimages to the Holy Land and led embassies to negotiate peace treaties. They studied the histories of the Romans and the Jews, they built monuments to the departed, and they left gifts of gold, rubies and sapphires to loved ones.
Yet within just 100 years of Ralph’s momentous journey to France, the family name was obliterated by a tragic sequence of events, and their lives all but forgotten.
Read online below, or download Volume One as a PDF
Read Volume One online
- Early Fenne and Scrane
- Ralph of Fenne (died 1185-1190)
- Waleran de Rochford & Albreda of Fenne (died c1224 & 1227)
- Ralph de Rochford I of Fenne (died c1237)
- John de Rochford I of Fenne (died c1266)
- Sir Ralph de Rochford II of Fenne (died c1315)
- Sir Sayer de Rochford (died c1372)
- Sir John de Rochford II of Fenne (died c1392)
- Sir Ralph de Rochford of Walpole (died c1391) and his heirs
- Sir John de Rochford the Younger of Boston (died 1410)
- Sir Ralph Rochford III of Fenne (died 1440)
- Ralph Rochford IV & John Rochford III (both died 1444)
- Henry Rochford of Fenne (died 1470)
- John Rochford IV of Fenne (died c1502)
- Ralph Rochford V of Stoke & Arley (died c1512)
- John Rochford V of Fenne (died c1534)
- Joan Rochford (died by 1510) and her heirs
- Unfinished business
Next: Introduction →