Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Fastolf, Sir John, is one of those historical characters that have been cruelly misrepresented in literature. Shakespeare chose to transform him, as Falstaff, into a swaggering, disreputable, broken down soldier of fortune; but he was in reality one of the most capable and successful warriors of his age. Born about 1378 of a good Norfolk family, he entered the service of the Duke of Clarence, with whom he went to Ireland. He next joined Henry V.'s expedition into France, took the town of Meulent, was knighted, and received the companionship of the Garter. His retreat at Patay was falsely ascribed by Monstrelet to cowardice, and this may have led the great dramatist astray. In reality the conduct of Fastolf appears to have been highly commendable, and he remained in the public service until 1440. He then retired to his estates near Caister, in Norfolk, and the references to him in the "Paston" Letters and other records show that he was a remarkably wealthy man. Some attempt was made to implicate him in Cade's insurrection, very likely with a view to extorting blackmail, but he escaped this attack, and, dying at a good old age, in 1459, was buried in the Abbey of St. Bemute, Norwich.