Clio Edition 4 - page 41

move, however the French had every reason to wait, as with
every passing hour their strength would increase and that of
the English would weaken. And it was this realization that
prompted Henry to make his first move. It was a calculated
gamble as he ordered his men to pull up their stakes, move
forward in full view of the enemy, and erect a new line
of stakes closer to the French, hoping to goad them into
attacking. This narrowed the front considerably – a change
which favored the English and tore up the French plan. The
French had initially considered a shower of arrows from a
distance followed by the sending of their cavalry to attack the
flanks of the English line. But now they were forced to make
a frontal assault – exactly what they had wanted to avoid.
The French realized that the ground sloped downwards to
the English line and that the field tapered off into a funnel
shape the closer they got to the stakes. Furthermore it was
only now, quite belatedly that the French – who had in their
arrogance failed to send scouts – realized the ground was
dangerously muddy and soft. Yet they committed to a full
on frontal assault to open the battle. The French begun with
a cavalry charge that proved too weak – of 1200 knights on
horse and only a third of the men (420) actually attacked.
Their noble colleagues on foot were quickly in trouble as
their heavy armor pulled them into the mud below. As they
floundered and sunk into the mud on their knees Sir Thomas
Erpingham (in command of the archers) gave the dreaded
command - “Now strike!” Strong arms nocked arrows, pulled
the bow strings to their maximum extent and sought the
greatest elevation before loosening the first volley of arrows.
Thousands of arrows whined through the air like a cloud
before hitting their targets or dropping into the muddy
ground. Enough steel-tipped arrows struck home to break up
the French advance. The French horses, injured by this volley
went wildly running through the French lines trampling the
dismounted knights in the mud. Yet the French continued
advancing in their thousands.
Hand-to-hand combat:
This victory came mainly due
to the small number of English men at arms who halted and
bloodied the French advance that reached right up to their
lines. They were joined by squires, camp followers and an
increasing number of archers who had run out of arrows,
who, using any weapon at hand cut, thrust and gouged at the
faltering French. The French were now so close the English
archers could fire at them from point blank range. In this
confused and grim hand-to-hand combat many of the English
lost their lives.For three gruesome and bloody hours the
slaughter carried on, with the French dead piling up in heaps
on the English front lines. The English were growing weary
with their deadly task. There was however a last minute
flurry among the French when Duke Brabant arrived in the
afternoon. It came to nothing though as Brabant was kiled
with all of his men. Alarmed by this and with the concern
that French prisoners might take up arms if there was to be
another attack; Henry broke all rules of chivalry and ordered
the death of all the French prisoners.
There was no French rally or second attack
as feared, instead the remaining French soldiers fled the
battle leaving thousands dead, wounded and captured to the
mercies of the English. The English had lost merely 112 men
compared to the 10,000 French, securing their miraculous
victory against all expectations. A month later Henry
returned to England, his men were amply paid and England
celebrated St Crispin’s day. Meanwhile the battered French
simply referred to Agincourt as “that unfortunate day” for
generations to come. The hundred years’ war continued for
another four decades.
By Leonidas Morales-Joannou
1...,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40 42,43,44,45,46
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