I just read The Hundred Years War by Desmond Seward who wrote in the style of Barbara Tuchman. It tells of Edward III who started the war as he was the son of Isabel, the sister of King Charles IV of France. He felt he should have inherited the French Throne. He had been taken to France when his father Edward II was having an affair with a French courtier. Isabel sought refuge in her brother's French Court. Edward III got to love the French Court and encouragement from his mother that he had every right to the French throne when Charles died, made France a definite desire.
When Charles IV died he had no heir so Philip of Valois was chosen as King of France. To make it short Edward III invaded France and a chevauchee i.e. he set everything in his path to fire and slit the throats of man and beast. He was successful in the Battle of Crecy. He captured prisoners for ransom and his contractual soldiers conducted patis or protection racket. England was a relatively poor nation and to raise the money for war taxes were raised. The English territories in France bore the brunt of the taxes. This carried on for a hundred years. I can now see why the French look at the English in less friendly manner.
If you are refering to the "Saint Crispen's Day" jingoism from Henry V by Shakespeare, it hardly rates as anything to do with "Agincourt" in the minds of the users. Indeed, given the state of British Education I would imagine that the number of people who are familiar with the speech is small, and those who connect it with an actual historical event even smaller.
henvy v's st crispin speech is the best motivational speech there is.
my high school football coach and high school history teacher used to quote it as well as the speech before the walls of Harfleur regularly.
Tue 18 Aug, 2009 02:32 am
I hope to see some of you on the "blood lust" thread.
Tue 18 Aug, 2009 07:54 am
When Charles IV died he had no heir so Philip of Valois was chosen as King of France.
This is not exactly accurate, and it misses a major matter of contention in the succession issue. Charles had no male heir. Philip III had two sons (of any importance), Philip who became King Philip IV, and Charles of Valois. Philip IV had four children (of any importance): John, who succeeded him, and who had no issue; Philip V, who had no living male issue; and, Charles IV, who had no male issue; and Isabella, affectionately known to the English as "the She-Wolf of France." The French came up with this claim about a Salic Law, which was very likely a convenient fiction (the claim--Salic Law was very real). The French claimed that Salic Law, codified in the reign of Clovis, prohibited female succession, or succession by female descent. Actually, the first time this came up was in the 14th century, after the death of Philip V, when it was decided that Charles would become King, rather than the crown leaving the Capetians due to the marriages of his daughters. Since Charles of Valois was a Capetian, choosing Philip of Valois to become King Philip VI meant that a "cadet branch" of the Capetians took the throne.
Because the father of Edward III was a Plantagenet, the fact that his mother was a Capetian meant nothing to the French. At all events, come Hell or high water, they weren't about to accept an English King--although, of course, Henry V forced that on them in 1420. That **** didn't last long, though.
Thanks. Yes, all that is in the book but I just skipped all that in my writing. It was just that I was surprised of all the actual events that took place during the 100 years war. The author got all the details, the politics, cajoling of Parliament for funds, the costs, the number of soldiers, bow men, knife men, horsemen, the amount of wine, poultry, goats, even beef loaded onto ships on their way across the channel. The book was like an historical novel. Sometimes when reading a novel I just glaze over the seemingly endless details - interesting historically but it got got in the way of a good read. France was like an El Dorado expedition to the English as the author wrote. Yes, the book deals with the Salic Law but no mention of the Capetian line regarding Philip of Valois. There was mention of Edward III wanting to challenge that Salic Law. All I knew of the 100 years war were battles - Crecy and Edward III, Poitiers and the Black Prince and Agincourt and Henry V, Joan of Arc or the 'Witch of Orleans' and Castillion and Bureau and the end of Talbot. The book details the events leading to these battles and it be seen why the French lost the early battles. Philip even had an invasion plan of England. Philip was an old man when the Battle of Crecy occurred while Edward III was bristling with vigor and youth. Philip was a tournament jouster not a general and lost control of his soldiers before the battle and also he was over confident with his numerically superior army. On the other hand Talbot was over confident and thus he lost his life at Castillion and spelled the end of the long bow as firearms was used that day.
Tue 18 Aug, 2009 10:27 pm
Well, firearms were around a lot earlier than that. The Arabs were familiar with gunpowder, and the earliest known treatise on gun powder in the west was in Arabic and written in the late 11th or early 12th century (it's known when it was written, i just don't recall for certain). Two Englishmen were at a battle in Iberia in the 13th century and witnessed the use of cannon by the Muslims, and were impressed. They reported back to their king, although i don't recall if that was Henry III or Edward I (either the great-grandfather or the grandfather of Edward III). The defeat of Talbot made firearms significant in a way that they had never been before in Europe. Incidentally, the main reason that Talbot lost was because he repeated the same stupid mistake the French chivalry had repeatedly made, and charged an entrenched infantry. He was suffering from a bad case of hubris.
That is what defeated the French over and over again. The French had the Beauvais archers, every bit as good as Welsh longbowmen, and they hired Genoese crossbowmen, too. But the mounted aristocracy looked down their noses at these "peasants," and would charge the English Hell bent for leather, sometimes even riding down their own bowmen, and you know what the result was. At Poitiers, Jean le Bon could simply have surrounded the Black Prince on his little hill, and could have starved him out in a few days. Agincourt was the biggest crime, though. Henry V was truly in bad shape, and he could have been trapped. The charge of the French chivalry was stupid, stupid, stupid.
The French weren't always that stupid, though. Charles V, son of Jean le Bon, fought a Fabian war against the English, and was uniformly successful. For most of his reign, the English were content to make truces with him. Dunois, the Bastard of Orleans, was also very savvy about that, and would never fight the English on their own terms. If he found a body of Englishmen prepared to fight him on what appeared to him to be unfavorable terms for them, he wouldn't attack, suspecting a trap--and he was usually right. Dunois was the bastard half-brother of le Duc d'Orleans who was among those captured at Agincourt.
It's a fascinating period in history, and it created the nations of England and France. I know it seems that they were already there, but they didn't think of themselves that way until that war, and before that war, it was a case of feudatory sqabbles and deals, and a pretty free movement between the Norman English and the French. The Hundred Years war changed all that, and the English stopped thinking of themselves as French, while the French woke up to the fact that they were all French, and had a common cause. If i get the chance, i'll check out the book.
The inetersting thing about firearms, of course, is that the very primitive weapons that were available at this time were far inferior to the English long bow. As a killing machine, those pathetic muzzle-loaders just couldn't compete with a skilled English bowman. The reason that firearms eventually displaced the bow completely was that any fool could be taught to load and point a gun (and these were guns, rifling wasn't developed until much later). To become an archer took a hell of a lot of practice, not to mention that you needed quite a bit of strength in your shoulders and upper arms to even be able to pull the bowstring, let alone become skilled. But a skilled archer could fire off arrows a hell of a lot faster than any gun. His weapon also had a far greater range and, if the bowman was competent, was a far more accurate weapon.
(I cite no specific single reference for this. It's common knowledge, universally accepted by military historians and writers on the subject.)