Today is St. Crispin’s Day, and on St. Crispin’s Day, 1415, the English won a major victory in its ongoing war with France. (The one called the Hundred Years War, even though it actually lasted, on and off, for one hundred and sixteen years.)
Why were they fighting – this time? Well, in 1414, England’s Henry V decided to gain back some territory England had lost and make another bid for the throne of France, which his grandfather, Edward III, had laid claim to back at the start of the Hundred Years War. Its current king, Charles VI, was mentally unstable, and that meant the country was considerably unstable too. (Always helpful if you want to invade a place.)
Had the King of France been in his right mind, he might have thought to put his soldiers in lighter armour (the weight of it bogged them down while crossing the muddy battlefield) and equip his archers with longbows instead of crossbows. The English archers had longbows, and longbows were better than crossbows. A lot better. Longbow arrows could wound at four hundred yards, kill at two hundred yards, and penetrate armour at one hundred yards. And an English archer could fire off about six of them a minute. With so many arrows whizzing about at speed, the opposition’s horses panicked and trampled some of the troops. *
Those factors, combined with others, enabled the English army to emerge victorious at Agincourt, even though it had been outnumbered four to one when the three-hour long battle first commenced.
* Go, horses! The poor beasts had no say in whether or not they went out onto that field. The English ones should have followed suit.
For a detailed account of the Battle of Agincourt, visit:
And if you’re in the vicinity of the Tower of London, it has a rather impressive miniature recreation on display to commemorate the six hundredth anniversary of Agincourt.