The Battle of Agincourt

The battle of Agincourt broke out on 25 October in 1415 after the England King Henry V marched from England to France’s Agincourt territory to fight the French and earn the French kingdoms as his heritage.  When the war began, the French had confidence in numbers since they outnumbered the English knights by five to one. The war had promoted to the current avaricious relationship between the French and the English people. The French and the English marshaled their knights using different strategies, but the English used better tactics to win over the French. 

The Battle of Agincourt cost the French and the English though the former suffered more than the latter even though the battle was waged in a French territory. During the war, the French Constable controlled all the banners associated with the King of France led the French. The aftermath of the war saw the Constable and 12 noble members banner of the French nobility die with 1500 knights who were slaughtered and 4,500 men-at-arms who were killed either by the arrows or the fire of the English arrows. King Henry V wanted to absorb the French monarch into England as a heritage right, led the English to the war and the king lost about500 during the war. The French lost the war to the English because of confusion among French banners, use of poor war tactics that cost the French army and the French used a wet terrain instead of choosing the best field to face the English. England won because they used archers to keep the French at bay.

The Battle of Agincourt was fought in 1415 AD between French troops and English army under King Henry V of England. The English army was outnumber by four or five French men to one English but the English won the war from the grasp of the French in their own territory. Sources reveal that the British had 10,000 solders while the French had about 50,000 troops that outnumbered the English and caused panic (Wavrin, 1864). However, the King of England mustered his army to use bow and arrows to disorganize the French as they huddled in one ground.  The English troops rode into France as knights and struck without the proper war signal and the fighters made a shield wall.

The superior action of English archers demonstrated across the battlefield filled the French with fear. English archers used longbows and staves to move the huge French army that was led by the French constable, Charles d’Albert (Clements & Hughes, 2004). The shield wall tactic worked very well with fighting men armed with shields standing in front and troops armed with two spear and pole axes as hand held weapons formed at the back. Mounted and foot soldiers used the wall to protect the lives of their troops from front war trajectory and highflying arrows.

The battle official began on October 25, 1415 at the eastern village of Agincourt, Abbeville and Calais villages (Wavrin, 1864). The French army bore heavy cross armor and crossbows. Henry V was determined to defeat the French and absolve the French dynasty into English territory but in vain since the war lasted for over a century and the French eventually won the main war. King Henry conceived of a political plan in which he ruled both the English and French territories in order to proof that the English troops and leadership was the best skilled in Europe to control every other territorial power. The intended change on political power and shifting of the axis of power in Europe failed since the French defense action of attacking from narrow frontage and calling for more reinforcement forced the English army to fight for a longer time. The main war occurred among walking men at arms and horseback French solders who met the longbow from English troops in the woods and were easily defeated because of the English advanced use of archery tactics. Archers threw their arrows into the air and the weapons attacked the French soldiers from above and sides causing devastating damage that managed to eliminate the higher ratio of French solders to English troops. Initially, the English King Henry V got to Calais without any action from the French troops, however, the clear weaponry differences between the two rivals allowed English a clear win over the French.

The English used the longbows which were discovered during the 12th century. Unlike the crossbows that were used by the French soldiers, the English longbows allowed the archers precise accuracy when firing with a fire and accuracy of were the arrows landed was guaranteed by the skills of the archer (Wavrin, 1864). Moreover, the rate of firing remained higher and with longbows archers released countless arrows simultaneously while with a crossbows, the archers remained delayed by the process of firing. Since the longbow was 2 meters from tip to tip and made from springy yew sapling, the use of the weapon required more effort to draw and stronger archers were required to train to gain competence of the weapon’s advantages before a war. Strings of the bow were made from hemp or silk which made the weapon very string difficult to draw in face of new users (Clements & Hughes, 2004). That meant that the French were unable to use the longbows that they obtained from fallen English troops. The longbows would throw arrows up to a range of 200 meters with a normal solder but more distance was achieved with more experienced users.  Therefore, the main disadvantage with the English longbow was the immense need of physical strength to draw the bow, the time to draw and the energy output required to master the use of the weaponry system. On the other hand, the French solders used a shorter crossbow, which required lower energy output and because the arrows drawn from these bows covered a shorter distance and had lower rate of fire.

Equally, the French archers fired their arrows without use of much energy and the rate of firing was slower, the soldiers did not require to aim and fire but just fired with the automated system of the crossbow. King Henry V knew that the French arches were disadvantaged compared to the English troops who used the longbow and he thus capitalized on the situation by first laying siege the French territory thus provoking the French to war and he maintained the bowshot distance for effective use of arrows against the French. Use of bowshot range is the main key factor that determined the progress of the war by archery. The French had fewer flanking cavalry to defend against the English archers who used numerous arrows and pointed staves in front of the English archers to prevent man-to-man combat that would have proved fatal to the English because they were out-numbered by one to five French.  The French attack consisted mainly of using heavy armored, dismounted knights who advanced against the English over wet and soaked ground, which detrimentally delayed their defense action. Soaked wet ground hindered the expected faster advancement of the French knights that caused their eminent defeat. The wet soaked ground slowed the French knights from closing their gap to meet the English who rebelled them away b using their expert archers. The terrain worked against the French in that even new knight who joined the war to facilitate the dead and hurt knights were delayed or they were grouped together by the furious English arrows that caused them to remain tightly packed together to barely strike. King Henry V order his army to march once the archers had eliminated the best part of the French knights and he order use of lighter equipment and mobile archers or battle axes and swords to hack down he French. The move was easily executed since the wet ground confounded the French and the quagmire made it easier for the English knights to take French prisoners but many were killed at the battlefield.

Effects of the war

The war cost the French their constable and 12 top members of the French nobility while in the filed over 1500 knights were slaughtered and 4,500 men-at-arms were killed while the English lost only about 450 to 500 men in the course of war and later on their journey back home (Gilbert, n.d.).  Confusion and use of poor tactics cost the French army and they were criticized for taking the wrong terrain in their own country in which they were supposed to be familiar with since the wet ground cost them the war. The battle of Agincourt demonstrates the efficiency use of longbow archers against mounted horsemen since the archers were more experienced to fire accurately unlike the French who fire aimlessly using their crossbows. King Henry used the archers to create a bow range distance away from the French who were numerous in numbers and if they went for a direct combat, the French would have easily defeated the English (Clements & Hughes, 2004). King Henry advised the archers to maintain the bow shooting range distance by using mobile archers who attacked French knights who tried to breach the distance. Decimation of all French troops that approached the English line worked effectively to seal off the English base from attacks even through they were in a French territory in which there was a danger of being attacked from all sides.  Another tactic that helped clear the French from successful surrounding and attacking the English is the use of fire. The archers used volley fire against the French troops because the longbow unlike the crossbow would efficiently carry fire across 200 meters and hit the accurate target.

The French were defeated because their Constable packed the army into one wet place that remains the main undoing during the war. The Constable was unable to organize his troops to increase mobility but because of the urgency of the war, the reinforcing troops rushed in and packed together creating an easier target for the fired arrows from the English army (Clements & Hughes, 2004). Reduced mobility due to packing together of French troops and reduced mobility due to the wet ground hampered the French from repulsing the English attacks and they were easily defeated. The French usually made little forward movements but retreated each time to avoid more injury from the arrows. Eventually, the majority of the advancing troops were disabled by wounds from the arrows and fires. Equally, whenever the French had a chance to attack, they were so pressed together that they would not lift their arms and strike the English who easily used arrows to strike the disabled French (Gilbert, n.d.). The slow movement towards the English troops is the main cause of the defeat. However, the constable was too engaged in the war, lacked a clear vision of how to organize his army to surround the English and easily engulf them in instead of attacking from one direction only. Equally, the French constable should have retreated with the packed army in order to redistribute them and attack from all directions to avoid losing big numbers in one spot.        

The advanced managerial skills of the English King V cannot be underestimated during the war compared to the Constable’s approach to the war. The King organized his men before the war and each was appointed to a special place according to his banner, level of professionalism and state of health. Sick people were left to guard the king’s property and the army’s supplies and were protected by one lance man and 12 noble archers (Gilbert, n.d.). The king himself mustered the banners of the King of England including the banner of Trinity, the banner of Our Lady, the banner of St George, the banner of St Edward and the banner of his arms. Later, the following banners joined the King in the war: The Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of York, the Earl of March, the Earl of Huntingdon, the Earl of Oxford, the Earl of Kent, the Lord of de Ros and the Lord of Cornwall as fighting men ((Wavrin, 1864)). The king himself checked on the ranks and arranged the banners according to their level of expertise. Before the war began, the king extorted the banners to fight to win since France was according to King Henry his rightful heritage to inherit from the French and the action was guaranteed to succeed since England was much prepared fro the war unlike the French.

The French stayed in the field between Agincourt and Tramecourt arranging to attack King of England should he cross the Calais on Thursday 24 October 1415 (Clements & Hughes, 2004). The Constable rallied support for the French monarchy using his banner. At the end of the day of the war preparations, the French had marshaled marshals, admirals, royal officers and their troops made huge fires while assembling their wagons, baggage and artillery. Accordingly, on Friday 25th 1415, the Constable and officers of the King met armed and formed three battalions according to the instructions of the king (Wavrin, 1864). The French army had to put aside their age-old avarice arising from serving the king of France as the awaited the English to make the first throw. The banner associated with the Lord of Croy made a surprising attempt at the crown of the King of England, but the 18 men were cut to pieces as they had vowed never to return without kicking the crown off the king’s head. The leaders of the 18 men attached to Lord of Croy who dared to approach the English camp were Louvelet de Massinguehem and Garnot de Bornouille (Wavrin, 1864).

The French divided their battalion to two main thicket areas; one was a thicket near Agincourt and the second place was near Tramecourt (Wavrin, 1864). Unfortunately, the ground the French choose remained quite detrimental to their campaign against the English who stayed on dry ground. French troops used narrow paths that gave an advantage to the British archers who used their experience to close the narrow paths by disabling the incoming French troops using arrows. Three main issues caused the French disorganization; the first cause was that the French troops kept burning fires throughout the night anticipating the British to attack that in the morning of the battle, they suffered from sleep. The second cause of defeat was the use of heavy armour with long coats of steel that reached the knees and hooded helmets that made the army heavy to walk through the wet ground and with difficult to maintain the high speed of attacks from the English archers. The lastly cause of defeat was that the French banners were disorganized and ordering them posed a challenged besides using short lances that needed close combat while the English kept a distance (Clements & Hughes, 2004).

On the contrary, the English banners were organized with leaders to oversee their movement and attacking strategy. Sir Thomas Erpingham organized the front two wings of the archers and the King trusted his expertise. Sir Thomas initiated the war and got on feet like his king as the attacked the French who were on horses or on feet (Wavrin, 1864). The English attacking strategy engaged use of excess noise and loud cries that disturbed the French who still waited for the English to attack before they would retaliate. Therefore, the French wasted time the whole night of 24th October when they should have attacked the English before they formed their lines. The battle was completed within two days and on Saturday, 26th October, the King passed through the castle of Agincourt and turned to Maisoncelles and back to England with victory.

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