Saint Crispin’s Day

It is 602 years since King Henry V of England, at the head of a small army (certainly less than 10,000 soldiers ~ most likely about 7,500) faced a HUGE French force (most likely 30,000 to 40,000) commander by Charles d’Albert, the Constable of France and a noted, veteran soldier in his own right, at Agincourt.

henry-vShakespeare is the primary source for most people who can even slightly recall one of the most famous battles of the little understood 100 Years War, and this video clip is what most of that small number recall best. “We few, we happy few …” and all that.

The English won.

EnglishLongbowmen_thumbMost accounts agree that the English lost only 100± dead ~ the French never got near to the 5,000± English longbow men who were (along with the mud) decisive. The French losses were much, much larger ~ thousands, almost certainly, perhaps as many as 10,000!

The 100 Years War left England decidedly and decisively i5xLEuCEnglish, and that was a huge change. All that was left of the Angevin Empire in France was Calais and Mary Tudor, Bloody Mary, would lose that 100 years later. That, separating England and France, was, I suggest, a major albeit unintended strategic victory blessing for England: it forced the English to, finally, look to themselves and their own resources for their success. The English, eventually, adopted a maritime strategy, which, coupled with “balance of power” politics and “splendid isolation” proved remarkably successful against Spain, the Dutch and France and was only resisted, effectively, by the equally seafaring and far distant Americans.

 

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