Today in 1415: Henry V's Great Agincourt victory

  • 2021 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    October 25th 1415 a small, hungry and weary English army of 6000 defeated a French one possiblyt as big as 36000 men. The English had recently besieged Harfleur, forcing its capitulation on 22nd September, but now the French were mobilising. Henry had hoped to reach Calais 10 days before and to leav e France, but had found every ford blocked, only crossing the Somme on the 21st. It was to prove too late as the French army had caught up with them. The ground suited the French, who had heavy cavalry. Henry had his men place stakes to their front and expecting a night attack they stayed awake. The French drank and gorged themselves confident in victory and looking forward to putting this new upstart English king to flight.
    In the morning Henry moved his small Infantry army of mostly archers closer to the French and to ground 1000 yards wide flanked by impassable trees hoping to bring on an engagement. Time was not on his side, as French numbers would only keep growing and his men were without food. The French took the bait. They wanted revenge for Crecy(1346) and Poitiers(1356). At 11am they advanced. The English line held as 5000 archers put volley after volley in to the French. The French had not sent out scouts or they would have discovered the ground that looked so good was actually muddy and soft. The weak cavalry charge was easily routed and only broke up the advancing 2nd line. Still they advanced blindly; it was too dangerous to lift the visor to see properly. The battle did become a hand to hand affair and the small number of men at arms,fewer than 1000, fought fantastically well. They were joined by the archers fighting with mallets when their arrows ran out. This bloody encounter lasted 3 hours. Things looked bad when the French Duke of Brabant turned up, but he too was killed and added to the mass of bodies piling up in front of the English lines. It was now that a mass killing of prisoners was ordered by Henry, for fear they would turn on them. Though an unpopular decision, because of the loss of revenue from ransom, it was carried out.
    The feared 2nd attack never came. French losses were in the thousands including 3Dukes and 90 Counts. The English ones probably 112.for a long time this English miracle would be known in France as "la malheureuse journee(that unfortunate day).

  • Battlefield detectives did this battle and tried to explain what possibly could have happened and if history was correct. I don’t know if you saw it Wittman it was pretty cool. Maybe Englands greatest victory.

  • 2021 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    Thank you. Have not heard of that and will look it up.
    When you look at the casualties, you do blink. They are so different that they seem wrong, but then Trafalgar’s are similarly huge in difference.
    The victory was great. Then enter  a certain Joan to  reverse the tide.

  • Loved the show Battlefield Detectives.

  • They actually scoured the field with metal detectors to find an arrow tip point from that battle. They wanted to be sure what type of arrows the English were using. When they found it they tested a arrow built the same way and saw if it could penetrate the French armour. I won’t say anymore you need to see it what they surmise about the battle will surprise you. Really cool.

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