The archers who helped England defeat 30,000 French troops

The British took advantage of the terrain and their elite archers to turn the tide against a six-fold French force at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.

The Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) was a long and bitter conflict between England and France over territorial claims. The war took place during a time of military technological change in Europe, from the war of peasant forces combined with aristocratic knights developing to war between the professional armies of individual nations.

Cannons and infantry guns were also widely used, as both sides sought to use every advantage to defeat the other.

Painting depicting the battle of Agincourt in 1415. Photo: Musée de larmée.

Painting depicting the battle of Agincourt in 1415. Photo: Army museum.

The Battle of Agincourt is best known during the Hundred Years’ War because Britain won a resounding victory over France despite being completely outnumbered by the enemy. The battle also showed a new development in British and European war art.

The Battle of Agincourt took place on October 25, 1415 near Azincourt, in northern France. After a period of siege, French forces with overwhelming numbers began to attack the British army led by King Henry was marching on French soil. At that time, England had about 5,000 knights, gunmen and archers, while France was superior in force with about 30,000-100,000 soldiers.

Outnumbered, the British combined superior tactics and training to turn disaster into victory. The key to Britain’s victory was the muddy terrain and their famous longbow army.

The French were so confident in their victory over the much less British army that they charged forward with great enthusiasm. About 8,000 French armored cavalry troops rushed forward, seeking to maneuver close to the British infantry formation for close combat.

However, the wet autumn weather created muddy roads over the narrow, forested terrain, causing the heavily armored French knights to become bogged down and quickly trapped in the mud on the way. March.

This allowed professional British archers to maneuver within 300 meters and shoot arrows consecutively at the French. The precise rain of arrows caused the first layers of armored cavalry to fall, hindering the movement of the rear army and then in turn preying on the English archers.

The heavily armored French soldiers struggled through the muddy fields, knee-deep in mud making them easy targets for British archers. When they made it through the rain of arrows, they were exhausted and could not engage in close combat with the waiting British infantry. The French army fled in panic.

In this battle, the British longbow proved to be the pinnacle of bow and arrow technology. The arrows were carefully designed with the purpose of penetrating armor. Combined with the high firing power of the longbow, this weapon could easily take down an armored knight. However, that advantage is meaningless without the precision and discipline of well-trained archers.

Most soldiers in the European army were mercenaries or farmers, only a few wealthy people were highly trained and fully equipped with weapons and armor. Meanwhile, British archers were soldiers trained to use weapons and fight professionally, instead of serfs with no combat experience.

“If you want to train an archer, start with his grandfather,” said King Edward III of England, referring to the fact that soldiers recruited in haste could not meet the standards of archery training.

The intensive training brought skills beyond that of any other European archer or crossbowman, making British archers a decisive force on the battlefield.

Duy Son (Follow War History)

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