Why did the French lose at Agincourt?

Why did the French lose at Agincourt?

Military History

“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 remembered;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me”
Shall be my brother.

King Henry (act 4 scene 3)

The battle of Agincourt

The Battle of Agincourt was fought on October 25, 1415, during the Hundred Years’ War between England and France. The conflict between England and France had been ongoing for over 75 years at this point, with both sides vying for control of territory in France.

Henry V Miniature.jpg
Henry V of England

In the early 1400s, the English King Henry V launched a campaign to conquer France.

Miniature from Vigiles du roi Charles VII. The battle of Agincourt 1415.

And in 1415, he led an invasion force across the English Channel to lay siege to the port city of Harfleur. After a long and difficult siege, the English were able to capture the city, but their army was weakened by disease and attrition.

As Henry’s army began its march back to England, it was intercepted by a much larger French army near the town of Agincourt. The French army was commanded by several prominent nobles, including the Constable of France, Charles d’Albret, and the Duke of Orléans.

Despite being outnumbered, King Henry V decided to engage the French in battle.

The two armies faced off on a narrow, muddy battlefield, with the French army consisting primarily of heavily armored knights and men-at-arms, while the English army was composed of a large contingent of archers armed with longbows, as well as men-at-arms and cavalry.

The battle began with a barrage of arrows from the English archers, which caused significant casualties among the French ranks. The French cavalry then charged the English lines, but were bogged down in the mud and unable to penetrate the English defenses. The English then launched a counterattack, led by King Henry himself, and were able to rout the French army.

Moreover, the Battle of Agincourt was a significant victory for the English! Furthermore, remembered as one of the most famous battles of the Hundred Years’ War.

Also significant in that it demonstrated the effectiveness of the longbow as a weapon of war, and marked a turning point in the use of archers in European warfare.

There were several factors that contributed to the French defeat at Agincourt.

1833 reconstruction of the banners flown by the armies at Agincourt

One of the most significant was the superiority of the English longbowmen!

The English army was composed primarily of archers armed with longbows, which had a greater range and accuracy than the French crossbows. In addition, the English archers were able to rain arrows down on the French army as it advanced, causing significant casualties.

King Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt.1415, by Sir John Gilbert in the 19th century.

The English longbow is a type of bow that is characterized by its tall, narrow design and long draw length. A highly effective weapon in medieval warfare in addition played a significant role in many English victories, including the Battle of Agincourt.

The use of the longbow in England dates back to at least the 12th century, and by the 13th century, it had become a standard weapon in English armies.

Another factor was the terrain!

1915 depiction of Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt : The King wears on this surcoat the Royal Arms of England. Quartered with the Fleur de Lys of France as a symbol of his claim to the throne of France.

The French army became forced to advance across a narrow, muddy battlefield. Which made it difficult for them to maneuver their troops and their heavy cavalry. As a result, the English army took advantage of the terrain. Deploying their archers and men-at-arms in a defensive formation that made it difficult for the French to attack effectively.

The French army found themselves plagued by internal divisions and leadership problems.

Monumental brass of an English knight wearing armour at the time of Agincourt. (Sir Maurice Russell (d. 1416), Dyrham Church, Gloucestershire)

The French king, Charles VI, was mentally ill and was not able to provide effective leadership for his army. Many of the French nobles were also more interested in advancing their own interests than in fighting for the king and the country.

The coronation of Charles VI

Finally, the English army was highly motivated and disciplined. Furthermore, King Henry V was able to rally his troops and inspire them with a sense of purpose and duty. The English soldiers were also highly trained and experienced, having fought in several previous battles.

In conclusion, the French lost at Agincourt due to a combination of factors. Including the superiority of the English longbowmen, the difficult terrain, leadership problems, and lastly, the highly motivated and disciplined English army.

Military History