Most will be familiar with the battle of Agincourt as an example of the few defeating the many. In times of war, leaders have often sought inspiration from Henry 5th’s victory. Arthur Machen’s The Bowmen of England, Winston Churchill after the Battle of Britain and the D Day Landings Band of brothers are all examples.
Peter Lawton’s brilliant talk set the scene by explaining the political background to the French and English monarchies from Philippe III and Edward II for 100 years before 1415. Henry 5th reign (1413-1422) started with an unsubstantial claim to the throne as had Charles 6th of France and he needed a victory to show that God was on his side. Earlier, Henry had been badly wounded by an arrow that penetrated his head by his left eye emerging behind his ear. At the time, it was claimed that the arrow had been successfully removed but Peter suspects that his brain was damaged making him a religious maniac.
Henry gathered a total of 11,651 men including 650 archers to invade France. His navy had only 9 ships and he arrested 740 more ships for the 2 day journey to cross the Channel to Harfleur where the garrison fell to his army. With 2,000 dead and 1693 men invalided, Henry set out apparently for Calais. He might not have been surprised to be intercepted by a French army, but the ensuing march around this army exhausted his supplies. When Charles’ main army links up with his other army, he outnumbered Henry’s force by at least five times.
Peter explained the battle events and how the French aristocracy ignored the French King’s General battle plan. This resulted in the equivalent of crowd crushing and a relatively easy target for Henry’s men to slaughter their opponents.
The talk was spell bounding and the questioning session displayed Peter’s enormous knowledge of the subject. Peter is a lecturer of the highest calibre.