agincourt, battle of
agincourt, battle of defined in 1939 yearagincourt, battle of - Agincourt, battle of;
agincourt, battle of - Fought between the English and the French, Oct. 25, 1415. It takes its name, sometimes spelt Azincourt, from a village in the Pas-de-Calais, about 14 m. from St. Pol.
The English, under Henry V, had marched from Harfleur, and with some difficulty had crossed the Somme. They came into touch with the French about Peronne, and thence marched on parallel lines N.W. towards Agincourt. On Oct. 24, when they were closing in, the English being short of provisions, Henry offered generous concessions for permission to leave France, but these were rejected. After a wet night both armies were arrayed in battle order, the French "confident and over-lusty," the English sad and weary. The English were in three sections, vanguard, battle, and rearguard, but owing to numerical weakness, all were in line four deep with the archers in front. The French were crowded in three sections between Trame-court and Agincourt, about 7,000 dismounted men-at-arms and a few cavalry forming the vanguard, wherein everyone clamoured to be in anticipation of victory.
The English opened the attack. Sir Thomas Erpingham gave the word "Now strike," and with a shout the whole line advanced. When near the foe they paused; to protect themselves against charging horsemen the archers drove sharp stakes into the ground and let go their arrows. The French vanguard then advanced, and, although the cavalry on the wings were foiled by the archers, the heavy mud, and the stakes, the footmen reached the English men-at-arms, and in hand-to-hand fighting King Henry was hit.
Soon, however, the French realized that they were worsted, and many surrendered where they stood. The victors advanced against the second line of their foes, but this and the third offered feeble resistance. The final stage of the battle was the plundering of the unguarded baggage of the English and a temporary rally by the French, events which led Henry to order the slaughter of the prisoners. After this he drove the remnants of the enemy from the field.
As to the numbers engaged, while the English may be put at about 9,000, the French are stated to have been 60,000 strong, but were probably 30,000. While the English losses were only a few hundreds, the French may have lost as many as 8,000, of whom 1.000 were made prisoners. See History of the British Army, J. W. Fortescue, vol. 1, 1910.
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