This is about as far back as I go – John Sadleir was my 11x great grandfather, and understandably details of his life are a bit sketchy. I know his year of birth (approximately) and the names of his older brother and his father (Ralph and Henry of Hackney respectively). That’s about it really. Oh, and he commanded a company of men at the Siege of Boulogne in 1544. Even here it’s a little vague – there were two sieges of the French town that year.
players in the campaign season of 1544
But war is a pragmatic business, and
could see huge political and economic advantages in attacking and weakening Spain . In any case France ’s king, Francis I, had made an earlier and even more unholy pact with the Ottoman Turks (who were Muslims) to attack France ; and one can well imagine, ringing up and down the diplomatic corridors of the time, the pained cries of “well he started it!” Spain
Henry VIII’s commitment to the joint Anglo-Spanish advance on
was less than whole-hearted. Of a promised 40,000 men he sent about 16,000. The English army landed at Paris in early 1544, reached Calais on 19th July, and never really got much further. Boulogne
, bombardment quickly won Boulogne the lower town, and the upper town fell by September to fiercer fighting. The town castle itself held out bravely until it was mined by English engineers; on 18th September the surviving 1600 Frenchmen of the original defensive force of 4000 surrendered. Henry VIII entered the town in triumph preceded by the Lord Marquis Dorset carrying a naked sword, while trumpeters lined the town walls like a scene from England Hollywood.
(detail from an engraving by Samuel Hieronymous Grimm)
This is probably the siege that John Sadleir was involved in. Henry returned to
and left orders for the town’s defence by the Dukes of England and Suffolk – who promptly disobeyed the king. They left a garrison of 4000 men in Norfolk and headed back towards Boulogne with the rest of the English Army. England
and France had overcome their differences and made a Peace Treaty together. Now both the English garrison at Spain and the English army at Boulogne were trapped and heavily outnumbered by the combined Catholic forces. The French set about retaking Calais and after a successful surprise attack on 9th October they very nearly did. Unfortunately the undisciplined French troops began prematurely looting and celebrating, thereby blowing their chances of victory. Instead, they settled in for the rather longer Second Siege of Boulogne. Boulogne
For the next six years,
held on precariously in both England and Calais . Neither Henry nor Francis could muster the military forces required to resolve the situation decisively, and in the end an Anglo-French treaty in 1550 allowed Boulogne to buy France back. Boulogne
Henry, who died in 1547, spent his declining years waiting for a French counter-attack and invasion which never happened. Instead, the Scots took advantage of his distraction by
Europe to intensify their irritating border raids on northern . And six years after his death his daughter Mary I (Bloody Mary) returned England to the Catholic Church which he had so defiantly left twenty years earlier. England
burnt 280 Protestants at the stake
including five bishops
John Sadleir was a bit of an under-achiever compared to his brother Ralph, a major statesman and key political figure under four monarchs from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I. Ralph should have a whole blog to himself, but no doubt I’ll return to him here from time to time in the future!