The story

Morning of the Battle of Agincourt

Morning of the Battle of Agincourt

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The Battle of Agincourt: why did the English win?

Agincourt was an overwhelming victory against the odds. The total French dead may have been more than 6,000, whereas English casualties, dead and wounded, were no more than 500, and may have been as few as 100. In addition, between 1,500 and 1,600 prisoners fell into English hands. Many of the most distinguished members of the French aristocracy were killed or captured.

Little credit belongs to the English high command. King Henry V was a young feudalist out to prove himself by provoking an unnecessary war, and then leading his army on a strategically pointless march through enemy territory. His conduct of the battle was routine: he formed his line in conformity with established English practice, and his tactics were those of a simple defensive.

Still less credit, of course, belongs to the French high command, and herein lies part of the explanation for the outcome of the battle. But the failure of the French to exercise effective command and control probably owed more to the feudal character of their 44 army than to the incompetence of individuals. It was, in essence, an agglomeration of lordly retinues, each eager for glory, renown, plunder, and noble prisoners. Feudal egotism and indiscipline would probably have brought on the battle, and the bungled assault, whatever the most senior Frenchmen had done.

The English men-at-arms, on the other hand, were a small minority of their army, and they had a long tradition of combined-arms ‘bow and bill’ tactics. The missile-shooting of the longbowmen, the defensive staying-power of dismounted men-at-arms, and, when necessary, the offensive shock action of mounted men-at-arms made the English army of 1415 an altogether more sophisticated military machine than that of its opponents.

That such an army was possible was testimony to the feudalism-lite of early 15th-century England more specifically, to the rise of the yeomanry, the rich peasant class, ‘the middling sort’ who would soon be at the forefront of a succession of radical upheavals that would give birth to the modern world.

This article is from the October 2015 issue of Military History Matters. To find out more about the magazine and how to subscribe, click here.

Agincourt: what really happened

Agincourt is legendary as one of England's finest moments, but historian Anne Curry says the facts do not substantiate our rosy view of this victory – and Henry V's conduct may not have been quite as noble as chronicles suggest

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Published: November 6, 2019 at 6:05 pm

Agincourt, Henry V’s famous victory over the French on 25 October 1415, is a fascinating battle not just because of what happened but also because of how its myth has developed ever since. Tudor re-invention, leading to the quintessential Shakespearean portrayal of “we happy few”, has been the most influential, but every century has made its own accretions.

Shortly after the First World War Battle of Mons in 1914, for instance, a journalist created the story that angelic English bowmen, the ghosts of Agincourt archers, appeared in the sky to assist the British. This particular myth-making takes us full circle back to the period itself since several English chronicles speak of St George being seen fighting for Henry’s army. In looking for explanations today, however, a historian must be more circumspect and apply the methods of a detective. The first task is to find as much evidence as possible, the second to assess it critically in search of the truth. Just like the detective, the historian has to be wary of dubious testimony and look for hard evidence. The researches I have conducted over the past decade suggest that commonly held assumptions about Agincourt simply cannot be substantiated.

Detectives are fortunate in being able to interview those involved in the event. The historian has to make do with eyewitness accounts written down in the years following the battle. All raise problems. John Hardyng claimed to have been on the campaign but the accounts he provided in his verse chronicles 40 years later are perfunctory and the captain he claimed to have served under was in Berwick-upon-Tweed during the period of the campaign. Hardyng was therefore himself an early creator of an Agincourt myth.

The anonymous Gesta Henrici Quinti (the deeds of Henry V), written by a cleric with Henry’s army, is the earliest eyewitness account and full of interesting detail. It is not unbiased, however, since it was written as a eulogy of the king, using the battle as manifestation of God’s approval for Henry. The killing of the prisoners, missing from many English accounts, is consciously constructed in the Gesta not to implicate the king at all: “But then, all at once, because of what wrathfulness on God’s part no one knows, a shout went up that the enemy’s mounted rearguard were re-establishing their position … and immediately … the prisoners … were killed by the swords either of their captors or of others following after”.

The Flemish chronicler, Jean de Waurin, tells us that he was 15 years old and with the French army at the battle. He says that he gained information from Jean Le Fèvre, king-of-arms of Duke Philip of Burgundy’s chivalric order of the Golden Fleece, who was “at the time of the battle 19 years old and in the company of the king of England in all the business of this time”. Although their texts are fascinating, they are almost identical with each other and with the well known chronicle of Enguerran de Monstrelet, another writer of Burgundian allegiance. All wrote many years afterwards, and hindsight can be a very dangerous thing in battle narratives.

A final eyewitness was Sir Guillebert de Lannoy who wrote an account of his own experiences in the battle. This is short but useful because he had been captured by the time Henry issued the order to kill the prisoners. Wounded in the knee and in the head, he tells that he was lying on the ground with the dead at the time the fighting stopped and the English came to search through the heaps. He was pulled out and taken to a nearby house with 10 to 12 other wounded prisoners. When the order came that each man should kill his prisoners, which Lannoy claims was occasioned by the arrival of Anthony, Duke of Brabant at the battle, the house was set on fire but he escaped, only to be recaptured and taken to England.

Examining the evidence

Other French writers, however, ascribe the responsibility for occasioning Henry’s murderous order to different French lords. This reminds us of a fundamental truth about the chronicles. All the accounts of battle were partisan. For the French, Agincourt was such a disaster that someone had to be to blame, but exactly who depended on the writer’s political affiliations. Their accounts were highly politicised in the context of on-going tension between Burgundian and Armagnac factions.

To cite but one example: Monstrelet, Waurin and Le Fèvre deliberately included the story that Duke Philip, at the time Count of Charolais, had “desired with his whole heart to be at the battle to fight the English” but that his father Duke John of Burgundy had instructed his governors to keep him in the castle of Aire near Ghent “as securely and secretly as they could so that he could not hear any news nor discover the intended day of the battle”. In this way, Duke Philip’s lifelong embarrassment at his absence could be explained away Duke John was no longer alive to contradict.

Although the eyewitness accounts and the narratives in other chronicles are important in reconstructing the battle, we cannot simply accept what they say at face value any more than detectives should believe what witnesses and suspects tell them. In a desire to tell a good story, many modern writers on Agincourt have fallen into the trap of taking the best bits from each chronicle and stringing them together to produce a seamless narrative. Like a detective, a historian needs to compare the conflicting testimonies to establish possible scenarios. Other kinds of evidence need to be found which do not suffer from the subjectivity of the chroniclers.

We are fortunate to have the field itself to analyse as the scene of crime, but even more to have large quantities of administrative records. Urban records for the towns of northern France, for instance, can help us to be certain of the routes of the armies and on military preparations. But the sources which really enable us to make a breakthrough are the financial records produced by the English and French crowns because these provide totally reliable evidence on the crucial question of army sizes and even provide us with the names of individual soldiers. By this period, all soldiers were paid. Evidence for their service is therefore revealed in the records of the English Exchequer housed in the National Archives at Kew, and of the French chambre des comptes, to be found in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and various regional archives.

Analysing all of this evidence and putting it together with a critical, comparative study of the chronicles, what conclusions can we come to? Thanks to a document concerning the raising of taxes to pay the army, we have clear indication of the size of force that the French were proposing to raise – 6,000 men-at-arms and 3,000 archers. From the musters and payments we can trace the assembly of this army to the middle of September, although not early enough to rescue Harfleur from Henry.

This was the army which harried Henry’s march northwards from Harfleur and for which the French battle plan found in the British Library was devised. The French undoubtedly intended to bring Henry to battle either at the Somme or near Péronne but he moved his army away from any possible interaction. Once he had succeeding in crossing the Somme, the French had to act quickly if they were to intercept him before he reached Calais. Heralds were sent to him on 20 October challenging him to battle. It is possible that the chosen location was Aubigny just to the west of Arras. Henry initially moved in that direction but then turned towards the coast in the hope of eluding his enemy once more.

This meant that the French, hoping to be reinforced by the men of Picardy and the lands of the north-eastern frontier such as Bar and Brabant, now had to communicate the change of location. There is strong evidence that by the morning of 25 October not all of the additional troops had arrived at Agincourt. The Duke of Brabant certainly arrived late in the day, the Duke of Brittany only reached as far as Amiens. The Duke of Orleans may only have arrived on 24 October.

Furthermore, the decision that he should be present and should lead the army was also made late in the day at Rouen, when the King and Dauphin, fearful of the English threat and mindful of the disaster of Poitiers over 50 years earlier, were advised not to risk their presence in battle. Initially, because of concerns about the continuing quarrel between Orleans as leader of the Armagnac party and Duke John of Burgundy, both dukes were told to send troops but not to come in person. Although some troops had joined with the initial 9,000, the French army at Agincourt cannot have numbered more than 12,000. Virtually all the chroniclers tell us that the French delayed giving battle for as long as possible on the day in the hope that the missing troops would arrive in time.

The numbers game

What then of Henry’s army? We can easily trace the size of the army with which he left England. The Exchequer records show that he had entered into contracts with 320 men to provide troops. Adding in the 500 archers each from Lancashire and South Wales (North Wales was still seen as uncertain in loyalty in the aftermath of Glyn Dwr’s revolt), and likely 650 from Cheshire, we have an army of 11,850 or so. To this we can add men who indented but for whom no full record survives, as well as the carpenters, miners etc, although interestingly, the gunners were all recruited from the continent, suggesting that the English had lagged behind in the supposed “artillery revolution”.

Since those who provided troops submitted accounts to the Exchequer after the campaign with details of what had happened to their men, we can track how many died at Harfleur, how many were invalided home with dysentery, and how many were placed in garrison. The gunners, for instance, were left in Harfleur, proof that Henry did not intend to attempt any further conquests. Taking this evidence together, the army on the march and hence at the battle was around 9,000 strong.

The real contrast between the armies was their composition rather than their size. Of the 12,000 French, around 75 per cent were men-at-arms. The corresponding proportion for the English was 20 per cent, much as it had been at the start of the campaign. Knowledge that the English had such a small number of men-at-arms heartened the French and led to their placing more troops in the vanguard in anticipation of winning the day with a huge first clash. Ignorance, or a lack of understanding of the strength of the English archers, made them underestimate the danger that the latter posed.

At over 7,000, and defended by stakes and by the lie of the land, there were too many to knock out by a cavalry charge. The French do not seem to have deployed their own archers and crossbowmen in counter-actions even though we can show from pay records that such troops had been raised. As a result, the vanguard had little choice but to keep marching into the barrage of arrow fire, an experience for which there could be no prior training. Most were killed or wounded in the melee when they were already helpless, many by a swift dagger in the neck. Their fate dissuaded other French troops from entering the fray. Agincourt was therefore characterised by accusations of cowardice and treason as well as exceptionally high mortality rates for the French along with equally low rates for the English.

Slaughter of the nobles

It is doubtful that the French death rates would have been so high had it not been for King Henry’s panic after he had stood his army down. Whether the threat of French regrouping was real or not – and there is no evidence at all that any attack was ever made – Henry’s response was to slaughter soldiers who had already surrendered.

In the words of the chronicler Peter Basset, who himself served in later English campaigns, “that was the reason so many nobles were killed”. The number of prisoners who can be identified from the English royal records – since the crown had a right to a share in ransoms – is much smaller than the chroniclers claim. Henry’s reaction was symptomatic of his behaviour in the campaign as a whole. Whilst there is evidence of military skill, for instance in protecting the archers, overall he displayed a lack of confidence because he was afraid of failure. That was why he had avoided engagement until the French finally forced his hand.

It was Agincourt which transformed him and his kingship. He had invaded in 1415 as the son of a usurper and with his own title insecure. There was even a plot to depose him on 1 August, the very day he had chosen for embarkation from Southampton. He returned with confidence as God’s chosen king and warrior. No one could now challenge his royal title or his obsession with France. The English entered one of the most heavily taxed periods in their entire history as well as one of the most militarily demanding. In France, the Armagnacs were sullied by the defeat since their commanders had been captured, whilst the leading Burgundians had died a martyr’s death.

Anne Curry is the author of Agincourt: A New History (Tempus Publishing, 2005). This provides a narrative of the whole campaign and discussion of the battle. She has also written The Battle of Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations (Boydell, 2000). This includes translations and discussions of the chronicles and literary sources as well as of the administrative records.

Agincourt: a timeline

1259: Treaty of Paris. Henry III (king of England 1216–72) gives up his claim to Normandy, Anjou and Maine and pays homage as Duke of Aquitaine to Louis IX.

1328: Death of King Charles IV. His cousin is crowned as Philip VI despite the claim of Edward III (king of England 1327–77) as the son of Charles’ sister, Isabella.

1337: Philip confiscates Edward’s lands in Aquitaine. The Hundred Years War begins. Three years later, Edward formally declares himself king of France.

1346: Edward invades Normandy and defeats the French at Crécy, subsequently taking Calais after a long siege.

1356: Edward, Prince of Wales, defeats the French at Poitiers and captures John II.

1360: The treaty of Brétigny gives Edward III full sovereignty in Aquitaine, Calais and Ponthieu in return for dropping the claim to the throne and releasing John II.

1369: Charles V restarts the war. Edward III reassumes the title King of France, and it is retained by his successor, Richard II (king of England 1377–99).

1399: Richard deposed by Henry IV (king of England 1399–1413). Over the next decade, civil war develops in France between the Armagnacs and Burgundians.

1415: Henry V (king of England 1413–22) launches the biggest invasion of France since 1359. Agincourt takes place on 25 October. Two years later he begins a systematic conquest of the whole of Normandy.

1419: John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, is assassinated by the Armagnacs, led by the Dauphin Charles in Paris.

1420: In the treaty of Troyes Henry V is recognised as heir to Charles VI, and a few days later marries Charles’s daughter Catherine. Henry dies a few weeks before his father-in-law in 1422.

1431: Henry VI (king of England 1422–61) is crowned king of France.

1450: The English are driven out of Normandy, and three years later, Aquitaine. Only Calais remains in English hands.

Boucicaut was one of the greatest jousters of his day and a skilled tactician. He was also aware of the past defeats the French had suffered at English hands at both Crecy and Poitiers the previous century and was determined to avoid a similar outcome.

A self-yew English longbow. Credit: James Cram / Commons.

These men trained every single week and were highly-skilled professional killers. This was no doubt helped by English law, which made archery practice compulsory every Sunday to ensure the king always had a steady supply of archers available.

Battle of Agincourt

In 1413 King Henry IV of England died and was followed on the throne by Henry V. The Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) continued, with English kings claiming the throne of France and its territory and the French kings seeking to expel the English. In prosecuting the war, Henry V concluded an alliance with Duke John of Burgundy, who promised to remain neutral and be Henry V’s vassal in return for territorial gains at the expense of France. In April 1415 Henry V declared war on King Charles VI of France, assembled a force of 12,000 men at Southampton, and crossed the English Channel to land at the mouth of the Seine on August 10.

Beginning on August 13, Henry laid siege to the Channel port of Honfleur. Taking it on September 22, he expelled most of its French inhabitants, replacing them with Englishmen. Only the poorest Frenchmen were allowed to remain, and they had to take an oath of allegiance. The siege, disease, and garrison duties all depleted Henry V’s army, leaving only about 6,000 men.

For whatever reason Henry V then decided to march overland from Honfleur to Calais, moving without baggage or artillery. His army departed on October 6, covering as much as 18 miles a day in difficult conditions caused by heavy rains. The English found one ford after another blocked by French troops, so Henry V took the army eastward, up the Somme, to locate a crossing. High water and the French prevented this until he reached Athies (10 miles west of Péronne), where the English found an undefended crossing.

At Rouen the French raised a force of some 30,000 men under Charles d’Albert, constable of France. This force almost intercepted the English before they could get across the Somme. Henry V’s trail was not hard to find, marked as it was by burning French farmhouses. (Henry once remarked that war without fire was like “sausages without mustard.”)

D’Albert got in front of the English and set up a blocking position on the main road to Calais near the Chateau of Agincourt, where Henry’s troops met them on October 24. Henry’s force faced an army many times his own in size. His men were short of supplies, and enraged local inhabitants were killing English foragers and stragglers. Shaken by the prospects, Henry V ordered his prisoners released and offered to return Honfleur and pay for any damages he had inflicted in return for safe passage to Calais. The French, with a numerical advantage of up to five to one, were in no mood to make concessions. They demanded that Henry V renounce his claims in France to everything except Guyenne, which he refused to do.

The French nobles were eager to join battle and pressed d’Albert for an attack, but he resisted their demands that day. That night Henry V ordered absolute silence, which the French took as a sign of demoralization. Daybreak on October 25 found the English at one end of a defile slightly more than 1,000 yards wide and flanked by heavy woods. The road to Calais ran down its middle. Open fields on either side of the road had been recently plowed and were sodden from the heavy rains.

Drawing on English success in the battles of Crécy and Poitiers, Henry V drew up his 800 to 1,000 men-at-arms and 5,000 archers in three major groups, or “battles.” The “battles,” in one line, consisted of men-at-arms and pikemen, while the archers were located between the three “battles” and on the flanks, where they enfiladed forward about 100 yards or so to the woods on either side.

About a mile away d’Albert also deployed in three groups, but because of French numbers and the narrowness of the defile these were one behind the other. The first rank consisted of dismounted men and some crossbow men, along with perhaps 500 horsemen on the flanks the second was the same without the horsemen and the third consisted almost entirely of horsemen. Each commander hoped to fight a defensive battle, Henry in particular so that he might employ his archers.

Finally, in late morning when the French had failed to move, Henry staged a cautious advance of about a half mile and then halted, his men taking up the same formation as before, with the leading archers on the flanks only about 300 yards from the first French ranks. The bowmen then pounded sharpened stakes into the ground facing toward the enemy, their tips at breast height of a horse.

Henry’s movement had the desired effect. D’Albert was no longer able to resist the demands of his fellow nobles to attack the English and ordered the advance. The mounted knights on either flank moved forward well ahead of the slow-moving and heavily armored men-at-arms. It was Crécy and Poitiers all over again, with the longbow decisive. A large number of horsemen, slowed by the soggy ground, were cut down by English arrows that caught them in enfilade. The remainder were halted at the English line.

The cavalry attack was defeated long before the first French men-at-arms, led in person by d’Albert, arrived. Their heavy body armor and the mud exhausted the French, but most reached the thin English line and, by sheer weight of numbers, drove it back. The English archers then fell on the closely packed French from the flanks, using swords, axes, and hatchets to cut them down. The unencumbered Englishmen had the advantage, as they could more easily move in the mud around their French opponents. Within minutes, almost all in the first French rank had been either killed or captured.

The second French rank then moved forward, but it lacked the confidence and cohesion of the first. Although losses were heavy, many of its number were able to retire to re-form for a new attack with the third “battle” of mounted knights. At this point Henry V learned that the French had attacked his baggage train, and he ordered the wholesale slaughter of the French prisoners, fearing that he would not be strong enough to meet attacks from both the front and the rear. The rear attack, however, turned out to be only a sally from the Chateau of Agincourt by a few men-at-arms and perhaps 600 French peasants. The English easily repulsed the final French attack, which was not pressed home. Henry V then led several hundred mounted men in a charge that dispersed what remained of the French army. The archers then ran forward, killing thousands of the Frenchmen lying on the field by stabbing them through gaps in their armor or bludgeoning them to death.

In less than four hours the English had defeated a force significantly larger than their own. At least 5,000 Frenchmen died in the battle, and another 1,500 were taken prisoner. Among those who perished were many prominent French nobles, including d’Albert. The Duke d’Orléans and Marshal Jean Bouciquan were among the captured. Henry V reported English losses as 13 men-at-arms and 100 footmen killed, but this figure is too low. English losses were probably 300 killed. Among the badly wounded was Henry V’s brother, the Duke of Gloucester.

Henry V then marched to Calais, taking the prisoners who would be ransomed. The army reached Calais on October 29. In mid-November Henry V returned to England.

The loss of so many prominent French nobles in the Battle of Agincourt greatly increased Duke John of Burgundy’s influence to the point of dictating French royal policy. Henry V returned to France in 1417 and went on to conquer Normandy by the end of 1419, with the exception of Mont St. Michel. In 1420 at Troyes he concluded peace with Charles VI, who agreed to the marriage of Henry to his daughter Catherine. The French king also disowned his son, the dauphin Charles, and acknowledged Henry as his heir. Over the next two years Henry consolidated his hold over northern France, but unfortunately for the English cause he died in 1422, leaving as heir to the thrones of England and France a son just nine months old.

References Hibbert, Christopher. Agincourt. New York: Dorset, 1978. Keegan, John. The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo & the Somme. New York: Vintage Books, 1977. Seward, Desmond. The Hundred Years’ War: The English in France, 1337-1453. New York: Atheneum, 1978. Sumption, Jonathan. The Hundred Years’ War: Trial by Battle. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988.

The Battle of Agincourt & A New Release!

The European nations have often fought with one another for power and land, trying to siege each other’s thrones.

In 1415, (in the midst of the Hundred Years’ War) when Henry V ruled England, things were no different. Already battle seasoned and having taken an arrow through the eye, King Henry wanted what he felt was justly his—France.

Henry V was not afraid to participate in war. He was front row and center, leading his army in combat. (The French King did not.) Probably why his men were so eager to fight for him. And on the morning of October 25, 1415, with a disease ravaged, hungry, low on weapons and vastly outnumber army by nearly 3 to 1, Henry gave the cry for battle.

On a wide open field, between the woods of Tramecourt and the village of Agincourt (Azincourt) the French blocked the English’s way to Calais—the ultimate prize in Henry’s campaign for French domination.

Luck was on the side of the English, or God as Henry V would claim, stating that France was part of his “just rights and inheritances.” The English surprised the French in their intiation of attack, and oddly enough the sheer numbers of Frenchman were their undoing as it was hard to coordinate their rebuttal. They were not positioned correctly, and ultimately their unpreparedness led to their defeat.

Overwhelmed by the number of French troops, the English held out, and the French became weary. The English had the advantage on the terrain, and they held no quarter. It was a desperate and savage battle with much hand-to-hand combat. King Henry even stood watch over his brother who was wounded, without a care for his own safety—even taking an axe to his own head, which cut off one of the fleur-de-lis on his crown.

What followed was not very chivalric…King Henry ordered the killing of the wounded enemy and those who were unarmed. Only men of power were to be held prisoner. Pillaging also ensued…

In the end, roughly 4000-10,000 French were dead, and only 1600 English. The Battle of Agincourt was a massive loss for the French, devastating. Within their dead numbers were many nobles including three dukes—and among prisoners was the Duke D’Orleans and Jean le Mange—the Marshall of France.

The Battle of Agincourt was only the beginning—but not right away. The English had devastated the French enough that they were able to return home to England for over a year to prepare for another battle. By 1420, Henry V was named regent and heir to the French throne—which was further fool-proofed when he married Catherine of Valois, daughter of Charles VI of France.

Ironically, Henry VIII, a descendant of Henry V wanted to emulate his predecessor, and continued the fight for French domination, holding Calais throughout his reign. In the end, his daughter, Mary I, lost France in a crushing blow to England.

In my newest medieval romance release, A LADY’S CHARADE, the Battle of Agincourt, while it doesn’t take precedence in the story, sets the stage.

Excerpt from Chapter Two of A LADY’S CHARADE on the famous battle… (should be noted in fiction, author takes creative license.)

The air was crisp and ripe with the scents of battle. The metallic odor of blood wafted in the morning fog. The smell of the dead and the living intermingled to create an aroma that can only come after fierce warfare. Whoops and hollers echoed across the fields from the victorious men. Groans of pain drifted in the wind.

There are some days that remain the same, and some days that change the entire path of your life. Today would be one of those days.

Lord Alexander Drake, Baron of Hardwyck, walked briskly to the ornately decorated tents upon the hill. His heart beat erratically in his chest. The rush from such a fierce fight and jubilation at victory raced through his veins. The guards nodded and stepped aside. King Henry V sat in his high-backed wooden chair, a serene expression on his face.

“Your majesty, I came as soon as I received your message.” Alexander bowed low to his sovereign. He made sure to drop his gaze, as the good king did not like his vassals to look him in the eyes.

Discreetly Alexander sniffed himself. The stench was not as strong as he feared. At least he wouldn’t offend his leader too much.

“Lord Hardwyck. Stand. I am pleased you came so quickly.”

“It is my pleasure to serve you, majesty.” As he stood, Alexander attempted to wipe some of the blood from his hands.

“By the faith I owe to God and Saint George, you Lord Hardwyck, have made your king proud. However, before I can let you return to your holdings in England, I have one last conquest for you, which you will find benefits you greatly.”

“I am humbly at your service, majesty.” From the corner of his eye, Alexander could see his own father, the Earl of Northumberland, enter the tent and nod in approval to the king’s words.

Inwardly he groaned. Although the idea of another conquest excited him, he was disappointed he would not be returning home. His men were tired, he hadn’t seen his lands in months and he was in dire need of a warm, soft and willing wench. How long would this next conquest last?

It had to be nearly four months, since they left England to assist the king in regaining his lands and titles in France. Alexander was only too happy for the king they’d done well. They’d just won the battle of Agincourt. It was a bloody affair, one they weren’t sure at first they’d be able to win, having been outnumbered nearly three to one. Alexander was lucky to have only lost twenty of his men, and only too glad the dysentery epidemic seemed to pass right by his regiment.

“Baron Fergusson crossed the borders from the insufferable Scotland Lowlands and laid claim to South Hearth Castle,” King Henry claimed.

Alexander’s gaze shot to his father. South Hearth was one of his father’s holdings in the north of England, just on the border, and often a seat of great controversy between the Scots and themselves—the former believing the holding was on Scottish lands. He was also aware that Fergusson was the last Scottish chief to rule over South Hearth and its lands.

“Even with our latest treaty, the damnable Scots will act like savages. I have heard on good authority, he is planning a siege against several of our other holdings on the border of Scotland. He is a difficult man, a most treacherous man. I feel he will attempt an attack soon. That cannot happen. We must attack first. You will besiege South Hearth and return it to English rule.” King Henry took a deep breath. The king’s eyes bored into Alexander, causing him to shift with unease. “I wish to further foolproof the deed.”

A LADY’S CHARADE is now available (in ebook) from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. (If you do not have an e-reader, Amazon and B&N both have programs for reading ebooks on your computer.)

From across a field of battle, English knight, Alexander, Lord Hardwyck, spots the object of his desire—and his conquest, Scottish traitor Lady Chloe.

Her lies could be her undoing…

Abandoned across the border and disguised for her safety, Chloe realizes the man who besieged her home in Scotland has now become her savior in England. Her life in danger, she vows to keep her identity secret, lest she suffer his wrath, for he wants her dead.

Or love could claim them both and unravel two countries in the process…

Alexander suspects Chloe is not who she says she is and has declared war on the angelic vixen who's laid claim to his heart. A fierce battle of the minds it will be, for once the truth is revealed they will both have to choose between love and duty.

Military History: Oct 25, Saint Crispins Day speech by Henry V and the Battle of Agincourt

On October 25, 1415 — England was at war with France during the latter part of the 100 years war, and King Henry V had led his men into France after negotiations broke down following a relative peace between the two countries. It was in this battle that several important observations could be made about warfare. First, it is thought by many that it was at this battle that chivalry died. Second, it proved the effectiveness of the English longbow against the overwhelming numbers and odds they faced.

After the invasion of France by Henry V, the English decided after a few months on the campaign that they would head back to England, and were marching back to the French town of Calais to be taken back to England across the English channel. That was when they were blocked by the French at Agincourt. King Henry V decided it best to stand and fight as it was thought the French had reinforcements on the way to add to the already overwhelming numbers in strength the French had that day.

On October 25, the French army attacked. However, due to the mud from the field being both currently plowed and soaked from a recent rain, the French had mobility trouble due to their numbers and better armor. They were slaughtered by the English and many French were taken prisoner. They had effectively demonstrated the efficiency and lethality of the English longbow. However, both weather and terrain were a significant factor in the English victory. The French were forced into somewhat of a funnel from which they could not escape given the number of men charging towards the English in the mud. Their armor did not make it any easier as they were easy targets for the English and whoever was able to escape the longbow were killed or captured by the English. It was a stunning defeat for the French.

After taking prisoners, Henry ordered the execution of many high ranking prisoners contrary to the chivalric code, in which the norm at that time was to take the prisoners back to England for ransom. Before the battle, it was customary for knights, nobles, and other high ranking members to be taken prisoner for ransom. A good ransom would have been a considerable amount of money for the common soldier in the English army, however, and perhaps given that the English were already outnumbered Henry ordered the execution of the French prisoners. This is thought by many to be the end of chivalry.

Other notable battles on October 25 are the Battle of Balaclava (The Charge of the Light Brigade) in 1854, and the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which took place in 1944.

Morning of the Battle of Agincourt on 25th of October, 1415.

St Crispins Day Speech from “Henry V” by William Shakespeare

Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.”
Old men forget yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words—
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester—
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.


It may be difficult to pinpoint exactly when the middle finger gesture originated, but some historians trace its roots to ancient Rome. In Nature Embodied: Gesture in Ancient Rome, Anthony Corbeill, Professor of Classics at the University of Kansas wrote:

“The most familiar example of the coexistence of a human and transhuman element is the extended middle finger. Originally representing the erect phallus, the gesture conveys simultaneously a sexual threat to the person to whom it is directed and apotropaic means of warding off unwanted elements of the more-than-human.” ( here )

In the book, Corbeill points to Priapus, a minor deity he dates to 400 BC, which later also appears in Rome as the guardian of gardens, according to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Greece and Rome ( here ). The decorative use of the image of Priapus matched the Roman use of images of male genitalia for warding off evil. The Roman gesture “made by extending the third finger from a closed fist”, thus made the same threat, by forming a similarly phallic shape.

A BBC News Magazine report similarly traces the gesture back to Ancient Greek philosophers ( here ).

In a book on the battle of Agincourt, Anne Curry, Professor Emeritus of Medieval History at the University of Southampton, addressed a similar claim prescribed to the “V-sign”, also considered an offensive gesture:

“No chronicle or sixteenth-century history says that English archers made any gesture to the French after the battle in order to show they still had their fingers. There is no evidence that, when captured in any scenario, archers had their finger cut off by the enemy” ( ).

In 1999, Snopes debunked more of the historical aspects of the claim, as well as the component explaining how the phrase “pluck yew” gradually changed form to begin with an “f” ( here ).

4. Makeup of the Forces

Henry deployed an army of approximately 7,000 longbowmen and 1,500 men-at-arms. Henry divided his army into groups of three - he led the main battle, Duke of York led the vanguard and Lord Camoys led the rearguard. Thomas Erpingham marshaled the archers. The French army was larger than the English. The number of the men-at-arms were 8,000, as well as 1,500 crossbowmen and 4,000 archers. It also had two wings that comprised of 800 and 600 men-at-arms and the main battle having many knights. Thousands of troops were also in the rearguard. The French force was organized in three lines. Charles d’Albretled was in the first line. Dukes of Bar led the second line and the third line led by Counts of Dammartin.

Why the Battle of Agincourt is still important today

Outnumbered and outmanoeuvred, when Henry V won the Battle of Agincourt it was a famous victory in the Hundred Years War between the English and the French. And it was all because of the humble longbow. Now, on the 600th anniversary of the Battle, Linda Davies explains how it her new book, Longbow Girl, plus shares some fun facts about the longbow that we bet you never knew!

Laurence Olivier in his film version of Henry V. Photograph: ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

Laurence Olivier in his film version of Henry V. Photograph: ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

Last modified on Thu 22 Feb 2018 14.23 GMT

The Battle of Agincourt has caught the imagination of many writers over the centuries and it was one of the inspirations behind my novel, Longbow Girl. Why does it have such power?

Along with the battle of Crécy in 1346 and the Battle of Poitiers in 1356, the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 was one of the three legendary victories for the English against the French during The Hundred Years’ War. This long-running war was a series of conflicts waged from 1337 to 1453 by England against France as the English Kings tried to win French territory and the French throne for themselves

In the lead up to the Battle of Agincourt, it looked as if King Henry V was leading his army to disaster.

Two months earlier, the King had crossed the English Channel with 11,000 men and put siege to Harfleur in Normandy. After five weeks the town surrendered but half of Henry’s men had died in battle or of disease. Henry needed to flee back to England. He headed northeast to Calais where he aimed to meet the English fleet and sail home. But on the way he marched into a trap! At Agincourt, a massive French army of twenty thousand men were waiting, hugely outnumbering the exhausted English archers, knights, and men-at-arms.

And it wasn’t just any old army waiting for him. The cream of the French Aristocracy had gathered to inflict what they thought would be a massacre on the English. The great prize was to be King Henry himself who they aimed to capture and ransom for a fortune.

Only it didn’t work out that way.

Against all the odds, King Henry V triumphed over a fresh army four times bigger than his own because, arguably, King Henry’s forces had the longbow. The massively powerful longbows were the medieval equivalent of modern machine guns. They could wound at four hundred yards, kill at two hundred and penetrate armour at one hundred yards. The five thousand longbowmen, each loosing fifteen arrows a minute, let fly a total of seventy five thousand arrows in one minute: an arrow storm that was said to have blocked out the light of the sun. It caused thousands of casualties directly but also indirectly, by maddening the French horses, which trampled the close-packed ranks of French foot soldiers.

So if one thing could be said to have won the “unwinnable” Battle of Agincourt, it was the Anglo-Welsh Longbowmen. Traditionally, the glory of victory had always been assumed by the aristocracy, the Knights and the Men-at Arms, not by the yeomen or peasant archers. The Battles of Crécy, Poitiers and Agincourt changed the martial balance of power between the nobility and the yeomen, or peasant farmers who wielded the longbow. The idea that strength and skill could triumph over wealth and status was a revolutionary one.

I loved the idea of these humble men changing the course of history with a simple piece of wood. Particularly since from the age of eight, I’d been practicing with my own simple piece of wood.

Linda Davies and her longbow

That was when my father gave me my first longbow. I loved shooting at targets, honing my skill. There’s something very visceral about shooting a bow and hearing the thwack as your arrow hits the bull’s eye (or the Gold as archers call it.) As an adult, shooting my bow, I wondered about a young girl, a longbow girl, and what it would have been like for her to have had to use her weapon for real, maybe to save her life, maybe to save her whole family’s life. And so began Longbow Girl.

Watch the video: Long Live the Revolution. Crescit eundo (August 2022).