King Henry VIII’s Army, Part I: Camp

The first of two articles by C.G. Cruickshank describing logistics and pageantry in the reign of King Henry VIII.

In friendly territory the Tudor army might be quartered in the towns and villages through which it passed, on the authority of ‘billets’ issued by the knight harbinger—the quartermaster. This gave the soldier a roof over his head for the night, without impairing his mobility, as he was able to join the company standard the instant the trumpet call sounded in the morning.

There was no question, however, of billeting the troops in France. Tents were the only alternative to sleeping rough; but tents were reserved for the officers. To provide them for the rank and file would have seriously reduced the mobility of the army, partly by increasing the total weight that the baggage wagons had to carry, and partly by lengthening the time taken to strike and pitch camp; and it would, of course, have substantially increased the cost of equipping an expedition.

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