View Full Version : French accuse English of war crimes and exaggeration over Agincourt IN 1415

10-25-2008, 12:04 AM
French accuse English of war crimes and exaggeration over Agincourt

The French are using the anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt to accuse England's men of acting like 'war criminals'.

Academics will suggest that the extent of the feat of arms was massively exaggerated.

Exactly 593 years after King Henry V's legendary victory, a revisionist conference will be held at the scene of the triumph.

Academics will suggest that the extent of the feat of arms was massively exaggerated, with claims that the English were hugely outnumbered a lie.

More controversially still, they will say that the foreign invaders used numerous underhand tactics against an honourable enemy.

These included burning prisoners to death and setting 40 bloodthirsty royal bodyguards on to a single Gallic nobleman who had surrendered.

'There's been a distortion of the facts and this conference will attempt to set the record straight,' said Christophe Gilliot, a distinguished French historian who is director of the Medieval History Museum in Agincourt, where the conference will take place.

'We have historians arriving from all over France, and all will produce hard facts concerning the battle, rather than rumours and speculation.

'At the very least the English forces acted dishonourably. The middle ages were a very violent time, of course, but some might accuse the English of acting like what might now be called war criminals.'

It was on Friday October 25 1415 - St Crispin's Day - that a force led by Henry V engaged the French at Agincourt, a small village not far from Calais in northern France.

The English army, made up mainly of archers using longbows, massacred a vast force of noblemen in the most famous battle of the Hundred Years' War.

Immortalised by William Shakespeare in his play Henry V, Agincourt has since become a byword for English heroism in the face of apparently insurmountable odds.

In fact, detailed bureaucratic records of French king Charles VI's army reveal that they were made up of 9000 travelling soldiers, perhaps with another 3000 locals from the Picardy region where the battle took place.

This compares to the total force of 12000 who travelled to France with Henry, although some 3000 were lost during the preceding siege of Harfleur, and through dysentery.

English chroniclers writing in the years following the battle have wrongly claimed that there were as many as 150,000 French, compared to 6000 odd English.

Mr Gilliot said notably horrific acts perpetuated by the English included placing prisoners in a barn and setting in on fire, with the permission of Henry V.

When the Duke of Alençon, who commanded the second division of the French army, had failed to put an axe through Henry, he tried to surrender but was killed by the King's 40-strong bodyguard.

Mr Gilliot said: 'There were numerous heroic acts by the French on the field of battle, but they were met with barbarism by the English.' While, significantly, no English academics have been invited to today's conference in France, the revisionist theories have found support on the other side of the Channel.

Professor Anne Curry, a military historian from Southampton University, admitted that many accounts of the battle have been exaggerated to give the impression of "plucky little England" against the evil French.'

10-25-2008, 12:15 AM
(OCTOBER 25, 1415)

It rained for most of the night turning the ground sodden with ankle deep mud in some places.

Both armies rose before dawn and assembled for battle, the English numbering 5000 archers and 900 men-at-arms and the French between 20-30,000.

The rules of chivalry dictate that the field of battle should favor neither side but the French freely took up a position that was disadvantageous to them. They assembled perhaps 1000 yards apart, separated by a recently ploughed field. A slight dip between them ensured that the armies were in full view of each other. Either side of the field was bordered by forest that narrowed from 1200 yards where the French assembled to only 900 where the armies could be expected to meet. This greatly restricted the free movement that the French would require to exploit their far greater numbers, preventing them from outflanking and enveloping the smaller force.

The English formed into a single line, with no reserves, into three groups of men-at-arms, comprising the advance, mainbody and rearguard, each around four deep.

The right was commanded by the Duke of York, the center by Henry and the left by Lord Camoys. There is some debate as to the formation of archers. The traditional view is that each the three groups of men-at-arms were separated by a large wedge of archers with a body of archers on each flank. This would allow the archers to fire on the French not only from the front but also the flank. More recent research suggests that this would have considerably weakened the line. If heavily armed men-at-arms were to come in contact with a body of lightly armed archers, they could be expected to quickly disperse them breaking the line. As such, the archers would have been positioned on the flanks, in accordance with usual English practice, 2,500 to a side, angled forward to allow converging fire on any attack to the lines center.1. This formation was to have important consequences later in the battle.

It is possible that a small formation of archers may have been positioned in the Tramcourt woods to the rear of the French lines.

Its role would be to cause confusion in the French ranks and divert troops from the main battle. As the French advanced to make contact with the main English body, they would also have been in a position to provide flanking fire. The existance of such a force has been vigorously denied by English chroniclers.

The French formed three lines, the first two made up of dismounted men-at-arms and the third mounted. Cavalry was placed on each flank, 1600 commanded by the Count of Vendome on the left and 800 commanded by Clignet de Brebant on the right.

On the flanks to the rear, some ineffectual cannon were placed that never fired more than a few shots during the battle. Between the first and second lines were placed the archers and crossbowmen. The reality of the French lines, however, was far different. Every French nobleman wanted to be in the first line and to have his banner prominently displayed. This resulted in much jostling for position, crowding out the archers and crossbowmen to the flanks so that the first two lines became more or less one large chaotic mass. "The strength of the armies of Philip and John of Valais was composed of a fiery and undisciplined aristocracy that imagined itself to be the most efficient military force in the world, but was in reality little removed from an armed mob"2.

The two sides thus assembled, waited unmoving for four hours from about 7am to about 11am.

The wise counsel of d'Albret and Boucicaut prevailed, at least temporarily, arguing that they should let the English attack where their inferior numbers would have placed them at a greater disadvantage. In fact, it was argued that they should not attack at all and let the English starve. In such a way, the English would be defeated without having to give battle. The French, still confident of victory, used this time to jostle for position, eat, settle quarrels and throw insults at the English. While many sat, some remained standing as not to muddy their armor. One thousand yards away, Henry knew that they would have to fight that day as his troops, without food, would only get weaker. On council from his advisors, he ordered the English advance

The English quietly and steadily advanced on the French position to within extreme longbow range (approx. 250 yards). To advance in good order, this would have taken up to ten minutes.

If the French had attacked during this period, it would have been disatrous for the English. Having gained information that the French intended to attack his archers with massed cavalry, Henry had ordered each archer to carve an eight foot long stake, pointed at each end. Upon reaching their position, the archers drove their stakes into the ground at such an angle as to impale a horse as it charged. These stakes would have been planted in a thicket in the archers positions; dangerous for a mounted rider to enter but offering enough space for a lightly armed archer to freely move. Within this thicket, the archers would have stood in a loose belt with their flanks resting against the woods.

At the order, the archers let loose the first arrow strike. The "air was darkened by an intolerable number of piercing arrows flying across the sky to pour upon the enemy like a cloud laden with rain.

5000 archers and as an English archer could loose up to ten flights a minute THAT MAKES 50,000 ARROWS per minute !And the French between 20-30,000 men !

" While this may not have caused too much damage, having been fired from extreme range, it must have produced a deafening thunderclap of noise as it hit the French lines. As an English archer could loose up to ten flights a minute, by the time the first landed another would have been in the air. In the confusion of what had just happened, amidst the noise of outraged Frenchmen, injured animals and soldiers, the French cavalry on the flanks charged forth, followed by the first line of dismounted men-at-arms.


10-25-2008, 12:42 AM
Last update: May 4, 2005.

- Gallic Wars
- Lost. In a war whose ending foreshadows the next 2000 years of French history, France is conquered by of all things, an Italian. [Or at ths time in history, a Roman -ed.]

- Hundred Years War
- Mostly lost, saved at last by female schizophrenic who inadvertently creates The First Rule of French Warfare; "France's armies are victorious only when not led by a Frenchman." Sainted.

- Italian Wars
- Lost. France becomes the first and only country to ever lose two wars when fighting Italians.

- Wars of Religion
- France goes 0-5-4 against the Huguenots

- Thirty Years War
- France is technically not a participant, but manages to get invaded anyway. Claims a tie on the basis that eventually the other participants started ignoring her.

- War of Revolution
- Tied. Frenchmen take to wearing red flowerpots as chapeaux.

- The Dutch War
- Tied

- War of the Augsburg League/King William's War/French and Indian War
- Lost, but claimed as a tie. Three ties in a row induces deluded Frogophiles the world over to label the period as the height of French military power.

- War of the Spanish Succession
- Lost. The War also gave the French their first taste of a Marlborough, which they have loved every since.

- American Revolution
- In a move that will become quite familiar to future Americans, France claims a win even though the English colonists saw far more action. This is later known as "de Gaulle Syndrome", and leads to the Second Rule of French Warfare; "France only wins when America does most of the fighting."

- French Revolution
- Won, primarily due the fact that the opponent was also French.

- The Napoleonic Wars
- Lost. Temporary victories (remember the First Rule!) due to leadership of a Corsican, who ended up being no match for a British footwear designer.

- The Franco-Prussian War
- Lost. Germany first plays the role of drunk Frat boy to France's ugly girl home alone on a Saturday night.

- World War I
- Tied and on the way to losing, France is saved by the United States [Entering the war late -ed.]. Thousands of French women find out what it's like to not only sleep with a winner, but one who doesn't call her "Fraulein." Sadly, widespread use of condoms by American forces forestalls any improvement in the French bloodline.

- World War II
- Lost. Conquered French liberated by the United States and Britain just as they finish learning the Horst Wessel Song.

- War in Indochina
- Lost. French forces plead sickness; take to bed with the Dien Bien Flu

- Algerian Rebellion
- Lost. Loss marks the first defeat of a western army by a Non-Turkic Muslim force since the Crusades, and produces the First Rule of Muslim Warfare; "We can always beat the French." This rule is identical to the First Rules of the Italians, Russians, Germans, English, Dutch, Spanish, Vietnamese and Esquimaux.

- War on Terrorism
- France, keeping in mind its recent history, surrenders to Germans and Muslims just to be safe. Attempts to surrender to Vietnamese ambassador fail after he takes refuge in a McDonald's.

The question for any country silly enough to count on the French should not be "Can we count on the French?", but rather "How long until France collapses?"

"Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion. All you do is leave behind a lot of noisy baggage."

Or, better still, the quote from last week's Wall Street Journal: "They're there when they need you."

With only an hour and a half of research, Jonathan Duczkowski provided the following losses:

Norse invasions, 841-911.
After having their way with the French for 70 years, the Norse are bribed by a French King named Charles the Simple (really!) who gave them Normandy in return for peace. Normans proceed to become just about the only positive military bonus in France's [favour] for next 500 years.

Andrew Ouellette posts this in response:

1066 A.D. William The Conquerer Duke and Ruler of France Launches the Largest Invasion in the history of the world no other was as large until the same trip was taken in reverse on June 6th 1944 William Fights Harold for the Throne of England Which old king Edward rightfully left to William but Harold Usurped the throne Will fights the Saxons (English)wins and the French Rule England for the Next 80 Years. then the French start the largest building and economic infrastructure since the fall of the Roman Empire the Norman Economy skyrockets and the Normans inadvertantly start England to become a major world Power Vive La France-

Matt Davis posts this in response to Andrew Ouellette above:

Oh dear. We seem to have overlooked some basic facts. Firstly, Philip the First (1060 - 1108) was King of France at the time of the Norman invasion of 1066 - William was Duke of Normandy and, incidentally, directly descended from the Vikings. William was, therefore, as alien to France as the experience of victory. Since Philip did not invade England, the victory at Hastings was Norman - not French. Normandy may be a part of France now but it most certainly wasn't in 1066. Therefore, William's coronation as King of England had nothing whatsoever to do with the French. As usual, they were nowhere near the place when the fighting was going on. The mistaken belief that 1066 was a French victory leads to the Third Rule of French Warfare; "When incapable of any victory whatsoever - claim someone else's".

Mexico, 1863-1864.
France attempts to take advantage of Mexico's weakness following its thorough thrashing by the U.S. 20 years earlier ("Halls of Montezuma"). Not surprisingly, the only unit to distinguish itself is the French Foreign Legion (consisting of, by definition, non-Frenchmen). Booted out of the country a little over a year after arrival.

Panama jungles 1881-1890.
No one but nature to fight, France still loses; canal is eventually built by the U.S. 1904-1914.

Napoleonic Wars.
Should be noted that the Grand Armee was largely (~%50) composed of non-Frenchmen after 1804 or so. Mainly disgruntled minorities and anti-monarchists. Not surprisingly, these performed better than the French on many occasions.

Haiti, 1791-1804.
French defeated by rebellion after sacrificing 4,000 Poles to yellow fever. Shows another rule of French warfare; when in doubt, send an ally.

India, 1673-1813.
British were far more charming than French, ended up victors. Therefore the British are well known for their tea, and the French for their whine (er, wine...). Ensures 200 years of bad teeth in England.

Barbary Wars, middle ages-1830.
Pirates in North Africa continually harass European shipping in Meditteranean. France's solution: pay them to leave us alone. America's solution: kick their asses ("the Shores of Tripoli"). [America's] first overseas victories, won 1801-1815.

1798-1801, Quasi-War with U.S.
French privateers (semi-legal pirates) attack U.S. shipping. U.S. fights France at sea for 3 years; French eventually cave; sets precedent for next 200 years of Franco-American relations.

Moors in Spain, late 700s-early 800s.
Even with Charlemagne leading them against an enemy living in a hostile land, French are unable to make much progress. Hide behind Pyrennes until the modern day.

French-on-French losses (probably should be counted as victories too, just to be fair):

1208: Albigenses Crusade, French massacared by French.
When asked how to differentiate a heretic from the faithful, response was "Kill them all. God will know His own." Lesson: French are badasses when fighting unarmed men, women and children.

St. Bartholomew Day Massacre, August 24, 1572.
Once again, French-on-French slaughter.

Third Crusade.
Philip Augustus of France throws hissy-fit, leaves Crusade for Richard the Lion Heart to finish.

Seventh Crusade.
St. Louis of France leads Crusade to Egypt. Resoundingly crushed.

[Eighth] Crusade.
St. Louis back in action, this time in Tunis. See Seventh Crusade.

Also should be noted that France attempted to hide behind the Maginot line, sticking their head in the sand and pretending that the Germans would enter France that way. By doing so, the Germans would have been breaking with their traditional route of invading France, entering through Belgium (Napoleonic Wars, Franco-Prussian War, World War I, etc.). French ignored this though, and put all their effort into these defenses.

Thomas Whiteley has submitted this addition to me:

Seven year War 1756-1763
Lost: after getting hammered by Frederick the Great of Prussia (yep, the Germans again) at Rossbach, the French were held off for the remainder of the War by Frederick of Brunswick and a hodge-podge army including some Brits. War also saw France kicked out of Canada (Wolfe at Quebec) and India (Clive at Plassey).

Richard Mann, an American in France wants to add the following:

The French consider the departure of the French from Algeria in 1962-63, after 130 years on colonialism, as a French victory and especially consider C. de Gaulle as a hero for 'leading' said victory over the unwilling French public who were very much against the departure. This ended their colonialism. About 2 million ungrateful Algerians lost their lives in this shoddy affair.

10-25-2008, 12:59 AM
(snip.No need to repost the entire list - S)

]Funny stuff ,Good work on the research !