Agincourt 1415


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Agincourt 1415

  1. 1. Dave Martin History 141 Tuesday, July 19, 2011Agincourt 1415 and the Long BowDr. David Chandler of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst tells us Edward III first developedtactics against the Scotts using the English Long Bow. It was the number one most devastatingweapon until the development of the more accurate forms of firearms. The English Long Bow isa six foot long, one hundred fifty pound pull piece of ash that can propel a cloth yard shaft,pulled back to the ear nearly 1000 feet per second, which can penetrate solid plate armor six totwelve inches. The arrows were provided with a whole range of arrow heads for differentrequirements. The most usual point was the narrow steel point for armor piercing. This pointcould be three to eight inches long.The effective range of the Long Bow ranged from 400 hundred yards maximum to 200 yardsnormal and at 60 yards was absolutely lethal. A good archer can fire ten shots per minute. Atany one minute, a single archer could have three arrows in the air. Multiply this by 5,000archers and an army could have 15,000 arrows in the air at one time. This type of massed aerialattack would decimate mounted heavy cavalry and infantry alike.Archers took a longtime to train. A bowman starting as a boy was trained to hold out his armwith a small weight hanging from his hand. Over time this weight would be increased so as anadult, the archers arm and shoulder would be very strong, able to hold the bow straight outfrom the shoulder. This was the secret to the use of the long bow. Archers were the moreexpensive members of the common members of the army at 6p 3f. Archers were used at sea aswell, firing from long distances to clear both the rigging and decks of an enemy ship.
  2. 2. Dave Martin History 141 Tuesday, July 19, 2011King Henry V 1413 – 1422, an experienced soldier whose father usurped the thrown, needed todivert his nobles to a cause that would unite Englishmen behind him. Henry V resolved topursue his claim to the French thrown by force. A single minded and ruthless politician, Henrycreated an army of 2000 knights and men at arms, 8000 archers. Using over 1500 ships, hisarmy took three days to cross from Southampton to Harfleur. It is interesting to note thesimilarity to the Allied invasion of Europe, “D-Day”, 550 years later.Using tactics that took full advantage of the Long Bow, Henry V was able to defeat Frenchforces numbering well over three times his numbers. Henry formed his army into three phalanxseparated between and flanked by delta shaped groupings of his archers. The French noblestended to charge using their knights mounted on war horses and would be wiped out bymultiple volleys of arrows long before they reached Henry’s lines. They were often caughtexposed to crossfire from the English archers.The battle of Agincourt was a complete disaster for the French. Henry V, using his superiortactics and weaponry, the English Long Bow, was able to defeat a much larger French force in aseries of running battles from Harfleur to Agincourt. Henry was expecting reinforcements fromCalais, however, the French King Phillip with his overly confident nobles caught up with Henry’sexhausted forces, forcing Henry into a defensive battle. Refusing to wait for the full army toassemble, the impetuous French nobles charged recklessly into the waiting ranks of the Englisharchers. Horses and Knights were pinned under hails of raining death. The French Nobility wasdestroyed for generations and Henry gained control of more French territory than anyone.