Agincourt controversy 593 years later

Medieval illumination of Battle of AgincourtYou know the story immortalized by Shakespeare’s Henry V: a small force of scrappy but proud Englishmen (we few, we happy few) beat the arrayed force of French nobility on October 25, 1415, St. Crispin’s Day.

Well, some French historians beg to differ, and they’re holding a conference at the Medieval History Museum in Agincourt on October 25th, the 593rd anniversary of the battle, to rewrite the history the victors claimed.

First, the few:

In fact, detailed bureaucratic records of French king [sic] Charles VI’s army reveal that they were made up of 9000 travelling soldiers, perhaps with another 3000 locals from the Picardy region where the battle took place.

This compares to the total force of 12000 who travelled to France with Henry, although some 3000 were lost during the preceding siege of Harfleur, and through dysentery.

Then, the happy:

Mr Gilliot said notably horrific acts perpetuated by the English included placing prisoners in a barn and setting in [sic] on fire, with the permission of Henry V.

When the Duke of Alençon, who commanded the second division of the French army, had failed to put an axe through Henry, he tried to surrender but was killed by the King’s 40-strong bodyguard.

Forty to one. I like them odds.

No British academics were invited to the conference; I can’t imagine why. This isn’t an exclusively French nationalist revision, though. The article cites a British professor, Anne Curry, who has written a book debunking the pro-England propaganda surrounding Agincourt.

9 thoughts on “Agincourt controversy 593 years later

  1. Good god, what next?

    Queen Elizabeth is a man! Prince Charles is a faggot! Winston Churchill was full of shit! Shakespeare’s French!

  2. As an Army Brat I lived in Orleans, south of Paris for 4 years and spent a year at the Sorbonne but am of Saxon English descent. The victor writes the history and nobody doubts they fought there on that date and that the French went down. The English beat them like a drum, same as at Crecy and Poitiers. The longbowmen used flights of arrows to bunch the French cavalry in the middle of the field where the mud was the deepest. When the horses went down, the riders were killed by English footsoldiers. Even the Brits dismounted. That Picardy mud would drown alot of men in WWI. I like the French but they are understandably sensitive about their fighting ability. You can’t tell them what to do and this ruins military cohesiveness. Between Napoleon I and WWI they lost too many young men and fear other such men rising to urge them to war. But France is where the Europeans fight. In two World Wars they were reduced to eating their pets, farm horses, rats and are touchy about past battles. You can’t blame them.

  3. Yet, despite all of that, they are a great democratic nation, a leader in European affairs today.

    Something which the French should be proud of: despite many of their military defeats, in the end, they are one of the nations on top.

  4. Am currently reading a book on the longbow written by the English actor Robert Hardy who is a master of the bow and an acknowledged authority on the weapon. There are color photos showing the relatively small Agincourt battlefield with notes that the French family who owns and farms there do not like visitors traipsing off the public road that bisects it. One of their ancestors died fighting the English and there is a small memorial to the fallen French defenders. Glad they let us help in WWI & 2.

  5. I don’t think they had any choice, than to “let us help them” in both world wars. :giggle:

    (And by “us,” I mean the British and Americans. I’m not a Brit. lol.)

  6. There’s a wonderful scene in “Elizabeth R” where Robert Hardy who plays Dudley, Earl of Leicester was shooting against the young Queen at the archery butts. She did OK but was nervous when it was his turn. He matched her and was about to put an arrow into the center to win the contest when he slipped a look aside at her. She was all Henry VIII, red hair, edgy and frightened she might be bested by a man in her court. He did the right thing by deliberately missing the shot, giving her the match. She never realized he had thrown the contest. I’m glad they gave Hardy a chance to show his prowess with the bow. It is still a fearsome weapon.

  7. I like those little stories, though I imagine that was probably more legend than truth.

    I’ve tried my hand at archery one time. Takes a LOT more skill than pointing a gun and shooting it. With shooting a rifle the first time in my life, I was at least able to hit the target. When I was like 9 or 10.

    When I went to shoot a bow for the first time in my life at the age of twenty, it took the better part of 3 hours to finally begin hitting the target. (Although, to be fair, we were using an old-style yew bow. Not one of them fancy modern-day ones. Hell of a lot more fun than shooting a gun, for some reason. Probably the sense of accomplishment for hitting the target. lol. )

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