Agincourt 1415: The Battle
Paper by Matthew Bennett
Given at the 600th Anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt Conference, University of Southampton, on August 1, 2015
Excerpt: This is a dismounted battle – it is largely dismounted – the French when they attempt their cavalry attacks find that people have not turned up. Never let it be said that the French don’t turn up, but on this occasion they did not turn up, and it is very clear from the French side that those people who were supposed to be 800 on one side and 1200 on the other, they do not. Why not? Because command and control is not there. The French nobility and their retainers are very excited that they are going to capture the English king, that they outnumber the English and are going to march and capture Henry and his travelling treasure. All the sources say that they pushed into the front rank, there was so many in the front rank that they had to furl their banners and put them away, because otherwise they couldn’t see where they were going.
You’ve got this great mass of dismounted knights who were going to trudge a couple of hundred metres because that was the range – maybe 300 – in order to come to grips with the men-at-arms. And they were only interested in fighting the men-at-arms, not the archers. Now we know that in fact what happens when they get there, the cavalry have been defeated by the archers with the stakes who happen to be on the flanks, and they run back into the middle of this mass of people. What you haven’t got is an ordered advance – you’ve got complete and total chaos.