The History of the Battle of Agincourt
By Duchess Bridget Lucia Mackenzie(10/07)
Each year Altavia hosts an Agincourt Archery & Thrown Weapons Tournament.
There will be Archery of course, Thrown Weapons, the Fretted Fork cooking contest, and more!
Please Join Us this year!
As we prepare to celebrate theBattle of Agincourtat our Altavian Archery Champion Tournament. I am minded to recall the historical details of this battle and recommend some reading fromWikipedia:
The armies involved were those of the English King Henry Vand Charles VI of France. Charles did not command his army himself, as he was incapacitated. The French were commanded by the ConstableCharles d’Albretand various prominent French noblemen of theArmagnac party.
The Hundred Years’ War was a series of conflicts waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Plantagenet,rulers of the Kingdom of England,against the French House of Valois,over the right to rule the Kingdom of France. Each side drew many allies into the war. It was one of the most notable conflicts of the Middle Ages,in which five generations of kings from two rival dynasties fought for the throne of the largest kingdom in Western Europe. The war marked both the height of chivalry and its subsequent decline, and the development of strong national identities in both countries.
Tensions between the crowns of France and England can be traced back to the origins of the English royal family itself, which was French (Norman, and later, Angevin) in origin. For this reason, English monarchs had historically held not only the English crown, but also titles and lands within France, the possession of which made them vassals to the kings of France. The status of the English king’s French fiefs was a major source of conflict between the two monarchies throughout the Middle Ages. French monarchs systematically sought to check the growth of English power, stripping away lands as the opportunity arose, particularly whenever England was at war with Scotland, an ally of France. Over the centuries, English holdings in France had varied in size, at some points dwarfing even the French royal domain; by 1337, however, only Gascony was left to the English.
In 1316, a principle was established denying women succession to the French throne (later retroactively attributed to the ancient Salic law). In 1328, Charles IV of France died without sons or brothers. His closest male relative was his nephew Edward III of England,whose mother, Isabella of France,was sister of the deceased king. Isabella claimed the throne of France for her son, but the French rejected it, maintaining that Isabella could not transmit a right she did not possess. Furthermore, political sentiment favored a Frenchman for the crown rather than a foreign prince. The throne passed instead to Philip, Count of Valois, a patrilineal cousin of Charles IV, who would become Philip VI of France, the first king of the House of Valois. The English had not expected their claim to meet with success, and did not press the matter when it was denied. However, disagreements between Philip and Edward induced the former to confiscate the latter’s lands in France, and in turn prompted Edward III to reassert his claim to the French throne.
Several overwhelming English victories in the war—especially at Crécy, Poitiers, and Agincourt—raised the prospects of an ultimate English triumph, and convinced the English to continue pouring money and manpower into the war over many decades. However, the greater resources of the French monarchy prevented the English kings from ever completing the conquest of France. Starting in 1429, decisive French victories at Orléans, Patay, Formigny, and Castillon concluded the war in favour of the House of Valois, with England permanently losing most of its possessions on the continent.
Historians commonly divide the war into three phases separated by truces: the Edwardian War (1337–1360), the Caroline War (1369–1389), and the Lancastrian War (1415–1453). Local conflicts in neighbouring areas, which were contemporarily related to the war, including the War of the Breton Succession (1341–1365), the Castilian Civil War (1366–1369), the War of the Two Peters (1356–1369) in Aragon, and the 1383–85 crisis in Portugal, were availed by the parties to advance their agendas. Later historians adopted the term “Hundred Years’ War” as a historiographical periodization to encompass all of these events, thus constructing the longest military conflict in European history.
The war owes its historical significance to multiple factors. By its end, feudal armies had been largely replaced by professional troops, and aristocratic dominance had yielded to a democratisation of the manpower and weapons of armies. Although primarily a dynastic conflict, the war gave impetus to ideas of French and English nationalism. The wider introduction of weapons and tactics supplanted the feudal armies where heavy cavalry had dominated, and artillery became important. The war precipitated the creation of the first standing armies in Western Europe since the time of the Western Roman Empire, thus helping to change their role in warfare. With respect to the belligerents, in France, civil wars, deadly epidemics, famines, and bandit free-companies of mercenaries reduced the population drastically. In England, political forces over time came to oppose the costly venture. The dissatisfaction of English nobles, resulting from the loss of their continental landholdings, as well as the general shock at losing a war in which investment had been so great, became factors leading to the Wars of the Roses (1455–1487).
The battle is notable for the use of the English longbow, which the English used in very large numbers, with longbowmen forming the vast majority of their army. The battle was also immortalized by William Shakespeareas the centerpiece of his play Henry V.
“It is generally believed that the main factor responsible for the English victory at the battle the Agincourt in 1415 was the longbow. Gareth Rees describes from a physicist’s point of view why we believe this simple weapon was so devastatingly effective.”
Photo Credit: All photos on this page taken by Lady Maile Fergusson, used with permission
Prior Agincourt Tournaments