Thomas Montagu, 4th Earl of Salisbury
Born: June 13, 1388
Died: November 3, 1428
Orleans, France (Age 40)
Salisbury in History
The fortunes of the eleven-year-old Thomas Montagu did not look to be rising in 1400 when his father, the Earl of Salisbury, was killed during the Earls Rebellion, a plot to murder the newly crowned Henry IV and his sons and put the deposed Richard II back on the throne. Despite Salisbury being proclaimed a traitor, the younger Montagu gained the favor of King Henry and was slowly but surely given the inheritance his father had left behind, including his earldom. The new earl was a loyal supporter of Henry IV throughout his reign, but it was not until the reign of Henry V that Salisbury made a name for himself. Salisbury was made a Knight of the Garter in 1414, and for the rest of his life, he intermittently fought in the wars in France. He fought at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 and was present at many important battles throughout the reign of Henry V, including the highly significant siege of Rouen. For his loyal services, he was awarded a whole slew of positions within the newly conquered French territories. One of the only failures Salisbury took part in was when he accompanied the king's brother Thomas, Duke of Clarance, into Maine and Anjou in 1421. The English army was routed and Clarence himself was killed. Salisbury's military successes and rewards continued into the reign of the Henry VI, who succeeded his father as king in 1422 at the age of nine months. He reconquered several territories that the French had won back, and with the help of men such as the new king's uncle John, Duke of Bedford, and the Earl of Suffolk, he made further progress in conquering France. Unfortunately, Salisbury became the victim of a random cannon attack at the siege of Orleans in 1428. He died of his wounds shortly after the attack, ending the life of one of England's most brilliant military strategists at the time. His earldom was inherited by his son-in-law Richard Neville.
Salisbury in Shakespeare
Appears in: Henry V; Henry VI, Part 1
Salisbury plays a minor role in Henry V as supporter of the king. He is made into a hero in 1 Henry VI when he is killed at Orleans by a cannon shot (shot by a young boy) which knocks out one of his eyes. The English hero John Talbot speaks highly of Salisbury in his eulogy of the fallen soldier and is highly distressed over his death. After the English fictionally take Orleans, it is announced that Salisbury will be provided with a proper funeral, fit for a man of his honor and prowess.
Curry, Anne. ‘Montagu, Thomas , fourth earl of Salisbury (1388–1428)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/18999, accessed 9 Nov 2009]