Thursday, June 3, 2021

Battle of Crécy 1346

The Battle of Crécy was the first important decisive action of what is called “The Hundred Years’ War.” On 12th July Edward III landed in Normandy with his army and marching north plundered the countryside. King Philip VI assembled an army to stop Edward and tracked them across the Somme River.

In the Battle of Crecy, fought between the armies of England and France on 26 August 1346, the French dead totaled 1,500 knights and 10,000 foot-soldiers, while the English lost less than 100 men. This war remains one of the most famous battles of the entire Middle Ages.

This battle marked the arrival of the English as the preeminent military power in Europe, it initiated a global revolution in military affairs, and it marked the beginning of the end of the chivalric way of life.

The French had at least three times as many men-at arms as the English, all mounted and of no worse quality, and they matched the English longbowmen with a corps of professional Genoese crossbowmen. Their enemy was aided only by field fortifications and a few primitive cannons. It sounds impossible that the French should lose, and it certainly seemed impossible to Philip of France and his allies on 26 August 1346.

Although out-numbered, the English held a strong defensive position with King Edward's longbowmen deployed along the crest of the hill.

As soon as the King of France came in sight of the English his blood began to boil, and he cried out to his marshals, “Order the Genoese forward, and begin the battle, in the name of God and St. Denis!”

The first attack was delivered by King Philip's Genoese crossbow troops, followed quickly by the French Men-at-Arms. Thrown into confusion by the superior rate of fire of the English longbows, they soon retreated.

Seeing the crossbow troops in disarray, the French cavalry charged. A curtain of arrows filled the sky and the French were repelled. Over and over, they tried and failed to break the English position that day. By nightfall, exhausted and suffering from massive casualties, the French retired from the battlefield.

The battle of Crécy witnessed the defeat of the greatest power in Christendom - a major French army with the king at its head - by an expeditionary force raised by a kingdom which was not yet renowned for its military prowess.

It transformed the military reputation of the English in European eyes. And it provoked a serious political and financial crisis of the French monarchy which provided the essential conditions for England's victories in the following decade.
Battle of Crécy 1346

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