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St. Crispin's Day
"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 remember'd;
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 accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day."
~ Henry V, Scene III, William Shakespeare, 1599
The Battle of Agincourt, fought this St. Crispin's day in 1415, is remembered for the victory of King Henry V's depleted, exhausted, outnumbered and outmaneuvered forces over a fresh army many times bigger. In this much studied 3 hour battle, King Henry’s forces made impressive use of the longbow while the French were seriously impeded by heavy amour and mud both on the way to and on the site of the battlefield. The massively powerful longbows wielded by the Anglo-Welsh contingent of Henry's army 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, are said to let fly a total of seventy five thousand arrows in one minute: an arrow storm that was said by eye witnesses to have blocked out the light of the sun! 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 - a series of conflicts waged from 1337 to 1453 by England against France. 🏴 👑 🇫🇷 🏹
Agincourt is one of England's most celebrated victories and was one of the most important English triumphs in the Hundred Years' War, along with the Battle of Crécy (1346) and Battle of Poitiers (1356). It forms the centrepiece of William Shakespeare's play Henry V, written in 1599.
The Battle of Agincourt is well documented by at least seven contemporary accounts, three from eyewitnesses. The approximate location of the battle has never been disputed, and the site remains relatively unaltered after 600 years.
Immediately after the battle, Henry summoned the heralds of the two armies who had watched the battle together with principal French herald Montjoie, and they settled on the name of the battle as Azincourt, after the nearest fortified place.
This battle is remembered for the English defeat of French forces with a diminished number of 8,000 men -
having lost a third of their forces, mainly to dysentery- to the French forces of around 30,0000. These numbers are disputed by some historians who have calculated different ratios of English to French forces, though all agree the English were outnumbered with unequal proportions of longows to men-at-arms.
King 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 were cut down by arrows fired at a rate of 1,000 a second and even more French suffocated in the mud as they were pulled down by their own armour.
For more on this famous battle, click the The Battle of Agincourt, from a 15th-century miniature, from a chronicle by Enguerrand de Monstrelet.