Agincourt, where Chivalry died
The French and the English, what would they have done without each other during the middle ages and beyond. Commerce and trading recipes, inviting each other over for beer and cheese would have been the wise thing. And the English would says; “your beer tastes like shit” and then the French would reply: “Mais alors! your footbal doesn’t travel!” And its true. Instead of this exchange of pleasantries, they engaged in war with each other and it was a Hundred years’ war.
This hundred year war, actually lasted 116 years (1337 to 1453), and got both countries in the Guinness Book of records. Oh, and during the first couple of years of this war, the Black Plague raged through Europe as well. Then, when the English were fed up taking the ferry over to Calais on more than regular basis, and possibly also because there were no French left anymore, they started to turn to each other between 1455 and 1487 in the War of the Roses.
War was simple in those days, men were called Charles, Edward, Philip or John and women were mostly called Isabelle. And people were either nobles, knight, noble knight or peasant. If you were a noble you received taxes, if you were a pheasant, you were paying them.
So what was this battle all about? The battle took place near modern day Azincourt in the northern part of France (departement of Pays de Calais). The English were led by Henry V. The French king Charles VI, although head of the french army, did not participate in the battle. Alledgedly, because he was mentally incapacitated. So instead he send various prominent French noblemen of the Armagnac party to command his troops. Sporadic warfare had taken place between the Armagnacs and Burgundians for a number of years. And the Burgundians allied themselves with the English in 1419. So relations were, to say at least, militarily incestual in those days. And there certainly wasn’t a great sentiment of great Frenchness.
The battle is most notable for it’s prominent deployment of long bow archers, from English and Welsh descent, some of them were down right criminals that were freed from prison by Henry V to fight in his army. A far cry from the perfection persuing French knights, they were the fighting elite; the green berets of medieval Europe.
The reason why Henry V took his army over to France was not to get cheap liquor an cigarettes. It was because of failed negotiation with the French, as Henry V claimed the title of King of France. and to stabilise support for him and reunite nobility at home, what better way than to wage a war overseas. In those days, feudalism was pretty much the way the world worked and the more land, the bigger the fiefdom (well at least in France it was) and the bigger the reward.
Back to the bout itself, in the right corner, wearing the fleur-de-lis, estimated between 12,000 and 36,000; the French. In the left corner wearing the 3 lions, estimated between 6,000 and 9,000; the English. The fact that the English invaded France, rallied the troops and allowed the French to gather a large army, to fight in, what they thought was going to be a glorious battle.
Battles like these were no slapping contest, they were fierce, they were sticking ‘your head in a meat grinder’ fierce. Weapons of choice: swords, knives, palings, axes, maces, mauls and morning stars. Death of choice: decapitation, pierced by an arrow or having a horse fall on top of you. Really, that shit that ISIS has been doing lately, just history repeating. Soldiers knew that if the were not of noble descent no ransom would be demanded for them, they would be killed if captured. And this was how they rolled in medieval Europe.
In previous battles, such as the one on Poitiers, the French cavalry charges had been decimated, by English archers fighting along armored knights and men at arms. Having lost a substantial number of soldiers by dysentry, the English were eye to eye with the French army being outnumbered roughly 3 to 1. On the 25th of October 1415, the French nobility buried their differences and faced the English. Apparently the English archers, in a attempt to enrage the French by raising two fingers in the air, in that famous modern salute. This because the French had threatened to cut over two of any captured archer’s fingers, so he would never use the cross bow again. Ignoring lessons learned, the French cavalry still charged straight into the English line, and were cut to ribbons. Because of the limited battlefield size and boggy ground, the French got swamped and, unable to move, the French knights were attacked with daggers and malice.
It is thought that 8,000 French knight were killed in the first hour of the battle.
Even thought the Duke of Brabant, who arrived at the battle ground fashionably late, nearly turned the tables around. The English won the battle and, as predicted, killed all prisoners (2,000 plus men). Only the nobles were spared, ending the age of chivalry. This ended the battle of Agincourt. What ended the hundred Year’s war? A peasant girl; Joan of Arc.
Share this Post