This is a good article. Follow the link for more information.

Battle of Crécy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Battle of Crécy
Part of the Chevauchée of Edward III in 1346 during the Hundred Years' War
A colourful and stylised picture of a late-medieval battle
The Battle of Crécy, from a 15th-century illuminated manuscript of Jean Froissart's Chronicles
Date26 August 1346
Location
50°15′25″N 1°54′14″E / 50.257°N 1.904°E / 50.257; 1.904Coordinates: 50°15′25″N 1°54′14″E / 50.257°N 1.904°E / 50.257; 1.904
Result English victory
Belligerents
Royal Arms of England (1340-1367).svg Kingdom of England Arms of the Kings of France (France Ancien).svg Kingdom of France
Commanders and leaders
Royal Arms of England (1340-1367).svg King Edward III
Arms of the Prince of Wales (Ancient).svg Edward, Prince of Wales
Arms of the House of de Bohun.svg Earl of Northampton
Arms of the Kings of France (France Ancien).svg King Philip VI +
Alençon Arms.svg Count of Alençon 
BlasonLorraine.svg Duke of Lorraine 
Old Arms of Blois.svg Count of Blois 
Armoiries Jean de Luxembourg.svg King John the Blind 
Armoiries Jean de Luxembourg.svg Charles of Bohemia +
Strength
7,000–15,000 20,000–30,000:[1][2][3]
 • 10,000–12,000 men-at-arms
 • 2,000–6,000 crossbowmen
 • Unknown infantry
Casualties and losses
100–300 killed 1,542–4,000 men-at-arms killed
Infantry losses unknown but heavy

The Battle of Crécy (26 August 1346), also spelled Cressy, took place in north-east France between a French army commanded by King Philip VI and an English army led by King Edward III. The French attacked the English army while it was traversing northern France during the Hundred Years' War. It resulted in an English victory and heavy loss of life among the French.

The English army had landed in the Cotentin Peninsula on 12 July. It had burnt a path of destruction through some of the richest lands in France to within 2 miles (3 km) of Paris, sacking a number of towns on the way. The English then marched north, hoping to link up with an allied Flemish army which had invaded from Flanders. Hearing that the Flemish had turned back, and having temporally outdistanced the pursuing French, Edward had his army prepare a defensive position on a hillside near Crécy-en-Ponthieu. Late on 26 August the French army, which greatly outnumbered the English, attacked.

During a brief archery duel a large force of French mercenary crossbowmen were routed by English longbowmen. The French then launched a number of cavalry charges by their mounted knights. These were disordered by their impromptu nature, by having to force their way through the fleeing crossbowmen, by the muddy ground, by having to charge uphill, and by the pits dug by the English. The attacks were further broken up by the effective fire from the English archers, which caused heavy casualties. The English men-at-arms had dismounted for the battle, and by the time they received the French charges they had lost much of their impetus. Nevertheless, the ensuing hand-to-hand combat was described as "murderous, without pity, cruel, and very horrible". The French charges continued late into the night, all with the same result: fierce fighting followed by a French repulse.

The English promptly laid siege to the port of Calais. The battle crippled the French army's ability to relieve the siege, and the town fell to the English the following year and remained under English rule for over two centuries, until 1558. The battle established the effectiveness of the longbow as the dominant weapon on the Western European battlefield.

Background[edit]

Since the Norman Conquest of 1066, English monarchs had held titles and lands within France, the possession of which made them vassals of the kings of France.[4] Following a series of disagreements between Philip VI of France (r. 1328–1350) and Edward III of England (r. 1327–1377), on 24 May 1337 Philip's Great Council in Paris agreed that the lands held by Edward in France should be taken back into Philip's hands on the grounds that Edward was in breach of his obligations as a vassal. This marked the start of the Hundred Years' War, which was to last 116 years.[5]

In 1345 Edward's main army sailed on 29 June and anchored off Sluys in Flanders until 22 July, while Edward attended to diplomatic affairs.[6] When it sailed, probably intending to land in Normandy, it was scattered by a storm. There were further delays and it proved impossible to take any action with this force before winter.[7] Meanwhile, Derby led a whirlwind campaign through Gascony at the head of an Anglo-Gascon army.[8] He heavily defeated two large French armies at the battles of Bergerac and Auberoche, captured over 100 French towns and fortifications in Périgord and Agenais and gave the English possessions in Gascony strategic depth.[9]

In March 1346 a French army numbering between 15,000 and 20,000,[10] "enormously superior" to any force the Anglo-Gascons could field, including all of the military officers of the royal household,[11] and commanded by John, Duke of Normandy, the son and heir of Philip VI, marched on Gascony. They besieged the strategically and logistically important town of Aiguillon.[12] On 2 April the arrière-ban, the formal call to arms for all able-bodied males, was announced for the south of France.[10][13] French financial, logistical and manpower efforts were focused on this offensive.[14] Derby, now Lancaster,[note 1] sent an urgent appeal for help to Edward.[15] Edward was not only morally obliged to succor his vassal, but contractually required to; his indenture with Lancaster stated that if Lancaster were attacked by overwhelming numbers, then Edward "shall rescue him in one way or another".[16]

Meanwhile, Edward was raising a fresh army, and assembled over 700 vessels to transport it – the largest English fleet ever to that date.[17][18] The French were aware of Edward's efforts, and to guard against the possibility of an English landing in northern France, relied on their powerful navy.[19] This reliance was misplaced, and the French were unable to prevent Edward successfully crossing the Channel.[19]

Prelude[edit]

A map of south east England and north east France showing the route of the English army
Map of the route of Edward III's chevauchée of 1346

The English made land the next day at Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue,[20] 20 miles (32 km) from Cherbourg on 11 July 1346. The English army is estimated by modern historians to have been some 15,000 strong and consisted of both English and Welsh soldiers combined with a small number of German and Breton mercenaries and allies.[18][21] The English achieved complete strategic surprise and marched south.[22] Edward's soldiers razed every town in their path and looted whatever they could from the populace. Caen, the cultural, political, religious and financial centre of north west Normandy, was stormed on 26 July and subsequently looted for five days. Over 5,000 French soldiers and civilians were killed; among the small number of prisoners was Raoul, Count of Eu, the Constable of France. On 29 July Edward sent his fleet back to England, laden with loot, with a letter ordering that reinforcements, supplies and money be collected, embarked and loaded respectively, and sent to rendezvous with his army at Crotoy, on the north bank of the mouth of the River Somme.[23][24] The English marched out towards the River Seine on 1 August.[25]

The French military position was difficult. Their main army was committed to the intractable siege of Aiguillon in the south west. After his surprise landing in Normandy Edward was devastating some of the richest land in France and flaunting his ability to march at will through France. On 2 August, a small English force supported by a large number of Flemings invaded France from Flanders; French defences there were completely inadequate. The treasury was all but empty. On 29 July, Philip proclaimed the arrière-ban for northern France, ordering every able-bodied male to assemble at Rouen, where Philip himself arrived on the 31st.[26][27] On 7 August, the English reached the Seine, 12 miles (20 km) south of Rouen, and turned south-east. By 12 August, Edward's army was encamped at Poissy, 20 miles from Paris, having left a 20-mile wide swath of destruction down the left bank of the Seine.[28]

Philip again sent orders to Duke John of Normandy insisting that he abandon the siege of Aiguillon and march his army north, which they did on 20 August.[29] On 16 August, Edward burnt down Poissy and marched north. The French had carried out a scorched earth policy, carrying away all stores of food and so forcing the English to spread out over a wide area to forage, which greatly slowed them. Bands of French peasants attacked some of the smaller groups of foragers. Philip reached the River Somme a day's march ahead of Edward. He based himself at Amiens and sent large detachments to hold every bridge and ford across the Seine between Amiens and the sea. The English were now trapped in an area which had been stripped of food. The French moved out of Amiens and advanced westwards, towards the English. They were now willing to give battle, knowing that they would have the advantage of being able to stand on the defensive while the English were forced to try and fight their way past them.[30]

Edward was determined to break the French blockade of the Somme[31] and probed at several points, vainly attacking Hangest and Pont-Remy before moving west along the river. English supplies were running out and the army was ragged, starving and beginning to suffer from a drop in morale.[32] On the evening of 24 August the English were encamped north of Acheux while the French were 6 miles (10 km) away at Abbeville. During the night the English marched on a tidal ford named Blanchetaque. The far bank was defended by a force of 3,500 French. English longbowmen and mounted men-at-arms waded into the tidal river and after a short, sharp fight routed the French. The main French army had followed the English, and their scouts captured some stragglers and several wagons, but Edward had broken free of immediate pursuit. Such was the French confidence that Edward would not ford the Somme that the area beyond had not been denuded, allowing Edward's army to plunder it and resupply.[33][34][35]

Meanwhile, the Flemings, having been rebuffed by the French at Estaires, besieged Bethune on 14 August. After several setbacks they fell out among themselves, burnt their siege equipment and gave up their expedition on 24 August.[36] Edward received the news that he would not be reinforced by the Flemings shortly after crossing the Somme. The ships which were expected to be waiting off Crotoy were nowhere to be seen. Edward decided to engage Philip's army with the force he had. Having temporarily shaken off the French pursuit, he used the respite to prepare a defensive position at Crécy-en-Ponthieu.[33][35] The French returned to Abbeville, crossed the Somme at the bridge there, and doggedly set off after the English again.[37]

Opposing forces[edit]

English army[edit]

The English army mainly comprised English and Welsh soldiers, along with some allied Breton and Flemish troops and a few German mercenaries. The exact size and composition of the English force is not known. Contemporary estimates vary widely; for example Froissart's third version of his Chronicles more than doubles his estimate in the first.[38] Modern historians have variously estimated its size as from 7,000 to 15,000.[39] Andrew Ayton suggests a figure of around 14,000: 2,500 men-at-arms, 5,000 longbowmen, 3,000 hobelars (light cavalry and mounted archers) and 3,500 spearmen.[40] Clifford Rogers suggests 15,000: 2,500 men-at-arms, 7,000 longbowmen, 3,250 hobelars and 2,300 spearmen. Jonathon Sumption, going by the carrying capacity of its original transport fleet, believes the force was around 7,000 to 10,000.[41] Up to a thousand men were convicted felons serving on the promise of a pardon at the end of the campaign.[42][43] Many of the English, including many of the felons, were veterans; perhaps as many as half.[44][45]

The men-at-arms of both armies wore a quilted gambeson under mail armour which covered the body and limbs. This was supplemented by varying amounts of plate armour on the body and limbs, more so for wealthier and more experienced men. Heads were protected by bascinets: open-faced military iron or steel helmets, with mail attached to the lower edge of the helmet to protect the throat, neck and shoulders. A moveable visor (face guard) protected the face. Heater shields, typically made from thin wood overlaid with leather were carried. The English men-at-arms were all dismounted. The weapons they used are not recorded, but in similar battles they variously used their lances as pikes, cut them down to use as short spears, or fought with swords and battle axes.[46][47][48][49]

a photograph of an iron arrowhead
A modern replica of a bodkin point arrowhead used to penetrate armour by English longbows

The longbow used by the English and Welsh archers was unique to them; it took up to 10 years to master and could discharge up to ten arrows per minute well over 300 metres (980 ft).[note 2] Computer analysis by Warsaw University of Technology in 2017 demonstrated that heavy bodkin point arrows could penetrate typical plate armour of the time at 225 metres (738 ft). However, the depth of penetration would be slight at that range; predicted penetration increased as the range closed or against armour of less than the best quality available at the time.[50][note 3] Contemporary sources speak of arrows frequently piercing armour.[51] Archers carried one quiver of 24 arrows as standard. During the morning of the battle they were each issued with an additional two quivers, for a total of 72 arrows per man. This was only sufficient for perhaps fifteen minutes shooting at the maximum rate, although as the battle wore on the rate of fire would slow. Regular resupply of ammunition would be required from the wagons to the rear; the archers would also venture forward during pauses in the fighting to retrieve arrows.[52] Modern historians suggest that half a million arrows may have been fired during the battle.[53][54]

a pen and ink drawing of a very early bombard
Depiction of an English bombard as used at the Battle of Crécy

The English army was also equipped with several types of gunpowder weapons, in unknown numbers: small guns firing lead balls; ribauldequins firing either metal arrows or grapeshot; and bombards, an early form of cannon firing metal balls 3.2–3.6 inches (80–90 mm) in diameter. Contemporary accounts and modern historians differ as to what types of these weapons and how many were present at Crécy, but a number of iron balls compatible with the bombard ammunition have since been retrieved from the site of the battle.[55][56][57]

French army[edit]

The exact size of the French army is even less certain, as the financial records from the Crécy campaign are lost. However, there is a consensus that it was substantially larger than the English. Contemporary chroniclers all note it as being extremely large for the period. The two who provide totals estimate its size as 72,000 or 120,000. The numbers of mounted men-at-arms are given variously as 12,000 or 20,000.[58] An Italian chronicler claimed 100,000 knights (men-at-arms), 12,000 infantry and 5,000 crossbowmen.[59] Contemporary chroniclers estimated the number of crossbowmen as 2,000–20,000.[60]

a small group of men in Medieval clothing, bearing crossbows
Italian crossbowmen

These numbers have been described as unrealistic and exaggerated by historians, going by the extant war treasury records for 1340, six years before the battle.[2] Clifford Rogers estimates "the French host was at least twice as large as the [English], and perhaps as much as three times".[61] Ayton suggests around 12,000 mounted men-at-arms as the core of the French army; several thousand mercenary crossbowmen, hired from Genoa; and a "large, though indeterminate, number of common infantry".[1] Sumption and Lynn concur, giving 6,000 for the number of Italian crossbowmen.[3][62] Schnerb questions this figure, however, based on the estimates of 2,000 available crossbowmen in all of France in 1340, and doubts that Genoa alone could have recruited several thousand crossbowmen.[63] The number of common infantrymen, militia and levies of variable levels of equipment and training, is not known with any certainty, except that on their own they outnumbered the English army.[64][62]

The French men-at-arms were equipped similarly to the English.[47] They were mounted on entirely unarmoured horses and carried wooden lances, usually ash, tipped with iron and approximately 12 feet (3.7 m) long.[65] Many of the men-at-arms in the French army were foreigners: many joined individually out of a spirit of adventure and the attractive rates of pay offered.[66] Others were in contingents contributed by Philip's allies; three kings, a prince-bishop, a duke and three counts led entourages from non-French territories.[67]

Since Philip came to the throne, French armies had included an increasing proportion of crossbowmen.[68] As there were few archers in France they were usually recruited from abroad, typically in large contingents organised by the major trading city of Genoa; their foreign origin led to them frequently being labelled mercenaries.[66] They were professional soldiers and in battle were protected from missiles by pavises – very large shields with their own bearers, behind each of which three crossbowmen could shelter.[68] A trained crossbowman could shoot his weapon approximately twice a minute.[69]

Initial deployments[edit]

A map showing the positions of both sides during the battle
Map of the Battle of Crécy

Edward deployed his army in a carefully selected position, facing south east on a sloping hillside, broken by copses and terracing, at Crécy-en-Ponthieu.[70] This was in an area which Edward had inherited from his mother and well known to a number of the English; it has been suggested that the position had long been considered a suitable site for a battle.[71][72] The left flank was anchored against Wadicourt, while the right was protected by Crécy itself and the River Maye beyond. This made it difficult for the French to outflank them.[38][73] The position had a ready line of retreat in the event that the English were defeated or put under intolerable pressure.[74] While waiting for the French to catch up with them the English dug pits in front of their positions, intended to disorder attacking cavalry, and set up several primitive gunpower weapons.[75][76] Edward wished to provoke the French into a mounted charge uphill against his solid infantry formations of dismounted men-at-arms, backed by Welsh spearmen and flanked by archers.[77] The army had been in position since dawn, and so was rested[78] and well-fed, giving them an advantage over the French, who did not rest before the battle.[38][73] Having decisively defeated a large French detachment two days before, morale was high.[79][80]

The English army was deployed in three divisions, or "battles", with two forward and one in reserve. Edward's son, Edward, the Prince of Wales, aided by the Earl of Warwick, commanded the largest of the frontline battles. The other was led by the Earls of Northampton and Suffolk and positioned to the left of the Prince of Wales. The King commanded the reserve battle. Each division was composed of men-at-arms in the centre, all on foot, with ranks of spearmen immediately behind them, and with longbowmen on each flank and in a skirmish line to their front.[81][82] Many of the longbowmen were concealed in small woods, or by lying down in ripe wheat.[83] The baggage train was positioned to the rear of the whole army, where it was circled and fortified, to serve as a park for the horses, a defence against any possible attack from the rear and a rallying point in the event of defeat.[38][84]

Around noon on 26 August the French van, advancing north from Abbeville, came in sight of the English. The crossbowmen, under Antonio Doria and Carlo Grimaldi, formed the French vanguard. Following was a large battle of men-at-arms led by Count Charles of Alençon, Philip's brother, accompanied by the blind King John of Bohemia. The next battle was led by Duke Rudolph of Lorraine and Count Louis of Blois, while Philip commanded the rearguard.[85] As news filtered back that the English had turned to fight, the French contingents sped up, jostling with each other to reach the front of the column. The Italians stayed in the van, while the mounted men-at-arms left their accompanying infantry and wagons behind.[3][86] Discipline was lost; the French were hampered by the absence of their Constable, who was normally responsible for marshalling and leading their army, but who had been captured at Caen.[87][88] Once it halted, men, especially infantry, were continually joining Philip's battle as they marched north west from Abbeville.[3][81]

After reconnoitring the English position, a council of war was held where the senior French officials, who were completely confident of victory, advised an attack, but not until the next day.[89] The army was tired from a 12-mile (19 km) march, and needed to reorganise so as to be able to attack in strength.[90] It was also known that the Count of Savoy with over 500 men-at-arms was marching to join the French and was nearby.[91] (He intercepted some of the French survivors the day after the battle.[2]) In the event the French attacked later the same afternoon; it is unclear from the contemporary sources whether this was a deliberate choice by Philip, or because too many of the large number of French knights kept pressing forward and the battle commenced against Philip's wishes.[92] Philip's plan was to use the long-range missiles of his crossbowmen to soften up the English infantry and disorder, and possibly dishearten, their formations, so as to allow the accompanying mounted men-at-arms to break into their ranks and rout them.[93][94] Modern historians have generally considered this to have been a practical approach, and one with proven success against other armies.[95]

Battle[edit]

Archery duel[edit]

A black and white engraving of a mounted knight charging
Battle of Crécy (19th-century engraving)

The French army moved forward late in the afternoon, unfurling their sacred battle banner, the oriflamme, indicating that no prisoners would be taken.[96][97] As they advanced, a sudden rainstorm broke over the field. The English archers de-strung their bows to avoid the strings becoming slackened; the Genoese with their crossbows did not need to take precautions, as their bowstrings were made of leather.[98] The Genoese engaged the English longbowmen in an archery duel.[99] The longbowmen outranged their opponents[100] and had a rate of fire more than three times greater.[101][102] The crossbowmen were also without their protective pavises, which were still with the French baggage, as were their reserves supplies of ammunition.[103][104][94] In addition the mud impeded their ability to reload, which required them to press the stirrups of their weapons into the ground, and thus slowed their rate of fire.[98] The Italians were rapidly defeated and fled;[105] aware of their vulnerability without their pavises, they may have made only a token effort.[106] Modern historians disagree as to how many casualties they suffered, but as some contemporary sources suggest that they may have failed to get off any shots at all and the most recent specialist study of this duel concludes that they hastily shot perhaps two volleys, then withdrew before any real exchange with the English could develop, they were probably light.[106]

The knights and nobles following in Alençon's division, hampered by the routed mercenaries, hacked at them as they retreated. By most contemporary accounts the crossbowmen were considered cowards at best and more likely traitors,[107] and a large number were killed by the French.[108] The clash of the retreating Genoese and the advancing French cavalry threw the leading battle into disarray. The longbowmen continued to discharge their bows into the massed troops. The discharge of the English bombards added to the confusion, though contemporary accounts differ as to whether they inflicted significant casualties.[109][102]

Cavalry charges[edit]

Alençon's battle then launched a cavalry charge. This was disordered by its impromptu nature, by having to force its way through the fleeing Italians, by the muddy ground, by having to charge uphill, and by the pits dug by the English.[110] The attack was further broken up by the heavy and effective shooting from the English archers, which caused many casualties.[111] It is likely that the archers preserved their ammunition until they had a reasonable chance of penetrating the French armour, which would be a range of about 80 metres (260 ft).[112] The armoured French riders had some protection, but their horses were completely unarmoured and were killed or wounded in large numbers.[113] Disabled horses fell, spilling or trapping their riders and causing following ranks to swerve to avoid them and fall into even further disorder.[114] Wounded horses fled across the hillside in panic.[115] By the time the tight formation of English men-at-arms and spearmen received the French charge it had lost much of its impetus.[116]

A colourful and stylised picture of late-Medieval cavalry battle
Battle of Crécy, as envisaged 80 years after the battle

A contemporary described the hand-to-hand combat which ensued as "murderous, without pity, cruel, and very horrible".[117] Men-at-arms who lost their footing, or who were thrown from wounded horses, were trampled underfoot, crushed by falling horses and bodies and suffocated in the mud. After the battle, many French bodies were recovered with no marks on them. Alençon was among those killed.[118][119][120] The French attack was beaten off. English infantry moved forward to knife the French wounded, loot the bodies and recover arrows.[121][122] Some sources state that Edward had given orders that, contrary to custom,[123] no prisoners be taken; outnumbered as he was he did not want to lose fighting men to escorting and guarding captives. In any event, there is no record of any prisoners being taken until the next day.[97][124]

Fresh forces of French cavalry moved into position at the foot of the hill and repeated Alençon's charge. They had the same disadvantages as Alençon's force, with the addition that the ground they were advancing over was littered with dead and wounded horses and men.[111][120] Ayton and Preston write of "long mounds of fallen warhorses and men ... add[ing] significantly to the difficulties facing fresh formations ... as they sought to approach the English position".[114] Nevertheless, they charged home, albeit in such a disordered state that they were again unable to break into the English formation. A prolonged mêlée resulted, with a report that at one point the Prince of Wales was beaten to his knees. One account has the Prince's standard-bearer standing on his banner to prevent its capture. A modern historian has described the fighting as "horrific carnage".[125] Edward sent forward a detachment from his reserve battle to rescue the situation.[126] The French were again repulsed. They came again. The English ranks were thinned, but those in the rear stepped forward to fill the gaps.[117][127]

The number of separate French charges is disputed, but they continued late into the night,[81] with the dusk and then dark disorganising the French yet further.[125] All had the same result: fierce fighting followed by a French retreat. In one attack the Count of Blois dismounted his men and had them advance on foot; the Count's body was found on the field.[128] The French nobility stubbornly refusing to yield. There was no lack of courage on either side.[125] Famously, blind King John of Bohemia tied his horse's bridle to those of his attendants and galloped into the twilight; all were dragged from their horses and killed.[127][129] There are accounts of entire English battles advancing on occasion to clear away broken French charges milling in front of them, then withdrawing in good order to their original positions.[130]

Philip himself was caught up in the fighting, had two horses killed from underneath him, and received an arrow in the jaw.[100] The bearer of the oriflamme was a particular target for the English archers; he was seen to fall but survived, albeit abandoning the sacred banner to be captured.[131] Finally, Philip abandoned the field of battle, although it is unclear as to why. It was nearly midnight and the battle petered out, with the majority of the French army melting away from the battlefield.[132][133] The English slept where they had fought. The next morning substantial French forces were still arriving on the battlefield, to be charged by the English men-at-arms, now mounted, routed and pursued for miles.[134][135] Their losses alone were reported as several thousand,[136] including the Duke of Lorraine.[137] Meanwhile, a number of wounded or stunned Frenchmen were pulled from the heaps of dead men and dying horses and taken prisoner.[138][139]

Casualties[edit]

A colourful late-Medieval depiction of Edward III counting the dead after the battle
Edward III counting the dead on the battlefield of Crécy.

The losses in the battle were highly asymmetrical. All contemporary sources agree that English casualties were very low.[140][77][141] Three give specific figures for the number of English men-at-arms killed: 3; 30; and 300.[142] No contemporary source estimates the number of non-notable English dead.[142] While some consider the English casualty figures given to be improbably low, Rogers argues that they are consistent with reports of casualties on the winning side in other medieval battles. To date, only two Englishmen killed at the battle have been identified: the squire Robert Brente and the newly anointed knight Aymer Rokesley.[143] Two English knights were also taken prisoner, although it is unclear at what stage in the battle this happened.[144]

Similarly, all contemporary sources consider the French casualties to have been very high. According to a count made by the English heralds after the battle, the bodies of 1,542 French knights were found;[145] Jonathan Sumption assumes another few hundred men-at-arms were killed in the pursuit which followed. Sumption describes the total French losses as "catastrophic".[141] Ayton refers to the "extraordinarily heavy casualties suffered by the French" and "breathtaking losses"; he estimates that at least 2,000 French men-at-arms were killed, noting that over 2,200 heraldic coats were taken from the field of battle as war booty by the English.[146] An estimate by the chronicler Geoffrey the Baker, deemed credible by modern historians, states that 4,000 French knights were killed.[140][145] Among the known knightly dead were two kings, nine princes, ten counts, a duke, an archbishop and a bishop.[147] According to Ayton, the heavy losses of the French can also be attributed to the chivalric ideals held by knights of the time; nobles would have preferred to die in battle, rather than dishonourably flee the field, especially in view of their fellow knights.[148]

No reliable figures exist for losses among the common French soldiery, although they were also considered to have been heavy. Jean le Bel estimated 15,000–16,000.[77] Froissart writes that the French army suffered a total of 30,000 killed or captured.[149] The modern historian Alfred Burne estimates 10,000 infantry, as "a pure guess",[150] for a total of 12,000 French dead.[145]

Aftermath[edit]

The scale of the English victory is described by Ayton as "unprecedented" and "a devastating military humiliation".[151] Sumption considers it "a political catastrophe for the French Crown".[101] The battle was reported to the English Parliament on 13 September in glowing terms as a sign of divine favour and justification for the huge cost of the war to date.[152] A contemporary chronicler opined "By haste and disorganisation were the French destroyed".[153] According to Ayton "England’s international reputation as a military power was established in an evening’s hard fighting".[154]

Edward ended the campaign by laying siege to Calais, which fell after eleven months; the Battle of Crécy having crippled the French army's ability to relieve the town.[155] This secured an English entrepôt into northern France which was held for two hundred years.[156] The battle established the effectiveness of the longbow as the dominant weapon on the Western European battlefield.[81] English and Welsh archers served as mercenaries in Italy in significant numbers, and some as far afield as Hungary.[157] Modern historian Joseph Dahmus includes the Battle of Crécy in his Seven Decisive Battles of the Middle Ages.[158]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ During the 1345 campaign he was known as the Earl of Derby, but his father died in September 1345 and he became the Earl of Lancaster. Sumption 1990, p. 476
  2. ^ This range is given by material scientists and is supported by most modern historians. Some historians argue that the range of a longbow would not have exceeded 200 metres (660 ft). Mitchell 2008, p. 242
  3. ^ When computer modelling from 2006 was matched against the performance of replica bows, these were found to be "in good agreement with experimental measurements". Pratt 2010, p. 216

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ayton 2007a, p. 18.
  2. ^ a b c Schnerb 2007, p. 269.
  3. ^ a b c d Sumption 1990, p. 526.
  4. ^ Prestwich 2007, p. 394.
  5. ^ Sumption 1990, p. 184.
  6. ^ Lucas 1929, pp. 519–524.
  7. ^ Prestwich 2007, p. 315.
  8. ^ Gribit 2016, p. 1.
  9. ^ Sumption 1990, pp. 476–478.
  10. ^ a b Wagner 2006, p. 3.
  11. ^ Sumption 1990, pp. 485–486.
  12. ^ Fowler 1961, p. 215.
  13. ^ Sumption 1990, p. 485.
  14. ^ Sumption 1990, p. 484.
  15. ^ Harari 1999, p. 384.
  16. ^ Sumption 1990, p. 493.
  17. ^ Rodger 2004, p. 102.
  18. ^ a b Burne 1999, p. 138.
  19. ^ a b Sumption 1990, p. 494.
  20. ^ Oman 1998, p. 131.
  21. ^ Allmand 2005, p. 15.
  22. ^ Rodger 2004, p. 103.
  23. ^ Harari 1999, p. 387.
  24. ^ Ayton 2007b, p. 75.
  25. ^ Sumption 1990, pp. 507–510.
  26. ^ Sumption 1990, pp. 512–513.
  27. ^ Livingstone & Witzel 2004, pp. 73–74.
  28. ^ Sumption 1990, pp. 514–515.
  29. ^ Rogers 2010, p. 12.
  30. ^ Sumption 1990, pp. 520–521, 522.
  31. ^ Ormrod 2012, p. 277.
  32. ^ Sumption 1990, p. 521.
  33. ^ a b Curry 2002, pp. 31–39.
  34. ^ Hardy 2010, pp. 64–65.
  35. ^ a b Burne 1999, pp. 156–160.
  36. ^ Sumption 1990, pp. 512, 524.
  37. ^ Sumption 1990, pp. 524–525.
  38. ^ a b c d DeVries 1998, p. 161.
  39. ^ DeVries 1998, p. 157 n. 6.
  40. ^ Ayton 2007c.
  41. ^ Sumption 1990, p. 497.
  42. ^ Ayton 2007b, p. 69.
  43. ^ Ayton 2007c, p. 195.
  44. ^ Rogers 2000, pp. 234–235.
  45. ^ Ayton 2007c, pp. 203, 207, 217.
  46. ^ Edge & Paddock 1988, pp. 68–83.
  47. ^ a b Prestwich 2007, p. 155.
  48. ^ Rogers 2008, p. 90–91.
  49. ^ Mallett 1974, p. 37.
  50. ^ Magier et al. 2017, pp. 73, 77, 81, 84.
  51. ^ Rogers 1998, p. 239.
  52. ^ Strickland & Hardy 2011, pp. 31, 278–279.
  53. ^ Hardy 2010, p. 69.
  54. ^ Ayton & Preston 2007, pp. 360, 362.
  55. ^ Livingstone & Witzel 2004, pp. 58–59.
  56. ^ Burne 1999, pp. 187–198.
  57. ^ Sumption 1990, p. 528.
  58. ^ DeVries 1998, p. 164, n. 50.
  59. ^ DeVries 2015, p. 314.
  60. ^ DeVries 1998, p. 164.
  61. ^ Rogers 2000, p. 265.
  62. ^ a b Lynn 2003, p. 74.
  63. ^ Schnerb 2007, pp. 268–69.
  64. ^ Curry 2002, p. 40.
  65. ^ Edge & Paddock 1988, p. 88.
  66. ^ a b Schnerb 2007, p. 267.
  67. ^ Ayton 2007a, p. 18–19.
  68. ^ a b Livingstone & Witzel 2004, p. 61.
  69. ^ Magier et al. 2017, p. 70.
  70. ^ Ayton 2007b, p. 77.
  71. ^ Ayton 2007b, pp. 40, 78, 83.
  72. ^ Ayton & Preston 2007, p. 364.
  73. ^ a b Livingstone & Witzel 2004, p. 263.
  74. ^ Harari 1999, p. 389.
  75. ^ DeVries 1998, pp. 161, 163, 164.
  76. ^ Bennett 1994, p. 8.
  77. ^ a b c DeVries 1998, p. 174.
  78. ^ Rothero 1981, p. 6.
  79. ^ Burne 1999, p. 162.
  80. ^ Ayton 2007c, p. 190.
  81. ^ a b c d Rogers 2010, pp. 438–440.
  82. ^ Ayton & Preston 2007, p. 359.
  83. ^ DeVries 2015, p. 317.
  84. ^ Livingstone & Witzel 2004, pp. 277, 278.
  85. ^ Neillands 2001, p. 100.
  86. ^ Strickland & Hardy 2011, p. 31.
  87. ^ Sumption 1990, pp. 507–511.
  88. ^ Livingstone & Witzel 2004, pp. 282–283.
  89. ^ Prestwich 2007b, p. 147.
  90. ^ Schnerb 2007, pp. 270–271.
  91. ^ Schnerb 2007, pp. 269, 271.
  92. ^ DeVries 1998, pp. 166–167.
  93. ^ DeVries 1998, p. 175.
  94. ^ a b Ayton & Preston 2007, p. 369.
  95. ^ Mitchell 2008, pp. 248–249.
  96. ^ DeVries 1998, p. 166.
  97. ^ a b King 2017, pp. 109–110.
  98. ^ a b DeVries 2015, pp. 318–319.
  99. ^ DeVries 1998, p. 167.
  100. ^ a b Rogers 1998, p. 238.
  101. ^ a b Sumption 1990, p. 532.
  102. ^ a b Ayton 2007c, p. 148.
  103. ^ Bennett 1994, p. 10.
  104. ^ Wailly 1987, p. 66.
  105. ^ DeVries 1998, pp. 168–169.
  106. ^ a b Mitchell 2008, p. 249.
  107. ^ Mitchell 2008, p. 250.
  108. ^ DeVries 2015, p. 319.
  109. ^ Mitchell 2008, p. 242.
  110. ^ Bennett 1994, p. 7.
  111. ^ a b Rogers 1998, p. 240.
  112. ^ Ayton & Preston 2007, p. 371.
  113. ^ Livingstone & Witzel 2004, p. 290.
  114. ^ a b Ayton & Preston 2007, p. 373.
  115. ^ Sumption 1990, pp. 528–529.
  116. ^ DeVries 1998, pp. 170–171.
  117. ^ a b DeVries 1998, p. 171.
  118. ^ Livingstone & Witzel 2004, p. 292.
  119. ^ DeVries 2015, p. 313.
  120. ^ a b Prestwich 2007b, p. 150.
  121. ^ Livingstone & Witzel 2004, p. 289.
  122. ^ Ayton 2007c, p. 192.
  123. ^ King 2002, pp. 269–270.
  124. ^ DeVries 1998, p. 163.
  125. ^ a b c Prestwich 2007b, p. 157.
  126. ^ Ayton & Preston 2007, p. 368, 376.
  127. ^ a b Sumption 1990, p. 529.
  128. ^ Ayton & Preston 2007, p. 375.
  129. ^ DeVries 1998, p. 172.
  130. ^ Ayton & Preston 2007, pp. 375, 376.
  131. ^ Livingstone & Witzel 2004, p. 299.
  132. ^ DeVries 1998, pp. 172–173.
  133. ^ Burne 1999, p. 182.
  134. ^ DeVries 1998, p. 173.
  135. ^ Oman 1998, p. 145.
  136. ^ Burne 1999, p. 185.
  137. ^ Ayton 2007a, p. 20.
  138. ^ Livingstone & Witzel 2004, p. 304.
  139. ^ Prestwich 2007b, p. 151.
  140. ^ a b Prestwich 1996, p. 331.
  141. ^ a b Sumption 1990, p. 530.
  142. ^ a b DeVries 1998, p. 174, n. 102.
  143. ^ Rogers 2007, p. 215.
  144. ^ Ayton 2007c, p. 191.
  145. ^ a b c Wagner 2006, p. 80.
  146. ^ Ayton 2007a, pp. 19–20.
  147. ^ DeVries 1998, pp. 173–174.
  148. ^ Ayton 2007a, pp. 25–26.
  149. ^ Froissart 1908, pp. 99–107.
  150. ^ Burne 1999, p. 184.
  151. ^ Ayton 2007a, pp. 7, 20.
  152. ^ Ayton 2007a, p. 33.
  153. ^ Schnerb 2007, p. 271.
  154. ^ Ayton 2007a, p. 107.
  155. ^ Wagner 2006, p. 73.
  156. ^ Burne 1999, pp. 207–217.
  157. ^ Ayton 2007a, p. 30.
  158. ^ Dahmus 1983, p. 169.

Sources[edit]

  • Allmand, Christopher (2005). The Hundred Years War: England and France at War c.1300–c.1450. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521319232.
  • Ayton, Andrew (2007a) [2005]. "The Battle of Crécy: Context and Significance". In Ayton, Andrew & Preston, Philip (eds.). The Battle of Crécy, 1346 (PDF). Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press. pp. 1–34. ISBN 978-1843831150.

Neillands, Robin (2001). The Hundred Years War. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415261319.

Further reading[edit]

  • Rogers, Clifford (1993). "Edward III and the Dialectics of Strategy, 1327–1360". Transactions of the Royal Historical Society. 6th series. 4: 83–102. doi:10.2307/3679216. JSTOR 3679216. OCLC 931311378.
  • Hewitt, H.J. The Organization of War under Edward III. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1966. OCLC 398232
  • Keen, Maurice (editor), Medieval Warfare: A History. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 0198206399 OCLC 41581804
  • Livingston, Michael, and Kelly DeVries, eds. The Battle of Crécy: A Casebook (2016). ISBN 978-1781382646
  • Matthews, Rupert (2007). The Battle of Crecy: A Campaign in Context. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Spellmount (published 20 May 2007). ISBN 978-1862273696.
  • Reid, Peter. A Brief History of Medieval Warfare: The Rise and Fall of English Supremacy at Arms, 1314–1485. Philadelphia: Running Press, 2007.
  • Rogers, Clifford J. Essay on Medieval Military History: Strategy, Military Revolution, and the Hundred Years War. Surrey, UK: Ashgate Variorum, 2010. ISBN 978-0754659969 OCLC 461272357

Primary sources[edit]

  • The Anonimalle Chronicle, 1333–1381. Edited by V.H. Galbraith. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1927.
  • Avesbury, Robert of. De gestis mirabilibus regis Edwardi Tertii. Edited by Edward Maunde Thompson. London: Rolls Series, 1889.
  • Dene, William of. Historia Roffensis. British Library, London.
  • French Chronicle of London. Edited by G.J. Aungier. Camden Series XXVIII, 1844.
  • Froissart, Jean. Chronicles. Edited and Translated by Geoffrey Brereton. London: Penguin Books, 1978.
  • Grandes chroniques de France. Edited by Jules Viard. Paris: Société de l'histoire de France, 1920–53.
  • Gray, Sir Thomas. Scalacronica. Edited and Translated by Sir Herbert Maxwell. Edinburgh: Maclehose, 1907.
  • Le Baker, Geoffrey. Chronicles in English Historical Documents. Edited by David C Douglas. New York: Oxford University Press, 1969.
  • Le Bel, Jean. Chronique de Jean le Bel. Edited by Eugene Deprez and Jules Viard. Paris: Honore Champion, 1977.
  • Rotuli Parliamentorum. Edited by J. Strachey et al., 6 vols. London: 1767–83.
  • St. Omers Chronicle. Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, MS 693, fos. 248-279v. (Currently being edited and translated into English by Clifford J. Rogers)
  • Venette, Jean. The Chronicle of Jean de Venette. Edited and Translated by Jean Birdsall. New York: Columbia University Press, 1953.

Anthologies of translated sources[edit]

  • Life and Campaigns of the Black Prince. Edited and Translated by Richard Barber. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press, 1997.
  • The Wars of Edward III: Sources and Interpretations. Edited and Translated by Clifford J. Rogers. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press, 1999.