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Thursday, 28 July 2011

Battle of Agincourt

The Battle of Agincourt was fought on is St Crispin’s Day, October 25, 1415 at Agincourt during the Hundred Years' War, between King Henry V of England and a much larger force of French under a divided command.

Henry V is said to have chosen St Crispin’s Day to avenge the death of English archers killed by the French in a garrison at Soissons which was dedicated to the saints Crispin and Crispian.

The French mainly consisted of dismounted knights who were weighed down with heavy armor. They were packed too closely together in a narrow, newly plowed field between two woods. Three times they squelched through the sludge trying to attack in a narrow pass between the woods. Each time the English archers rained them with arrows. The French lost 6000 men to about 1600 English casualties.

The Battle of Agincourt, 15th-century miniature, Enguerrand de Monstrelet

The arrows used by English longbowmen at Agincourt were a ‘clothyard’ long, (just over 3 feet).

A knight, Sir Dafydd Gam, was hit by an arrow in his eye at Agincourt. From this comes the expression “gammy” meaning “lame or crippled”.

Henry V himself fought alongside his men on foot in the centre of the fray. He personally rescued his younger brother, the Duke of Gloucester in victorious hand to hand fighting though his helmet was dented with a battle-axe.

The English king was deeply religious as a child when he attended Mass every day, and he maintained his Christian faith into adulthood. On the morning of battle he rose at dawn and took Mass three times. He ascribed his victory to the intercession of the eight century bishop of York, St John of Beverley, who converted many heathen with his powerful eloquence.

The village of Agincourt is now known as Azincourt and can be found 48 km/30 mi south of Calais, in northern France.

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