Sunday, October 25, 2015

Saint Crispin's Day

It's a good day to be English.

600 years ago today, on October 25 1415, the English army led by King Henry V defeated a much larger French army at the Battle of Agincourt.

There's an excellent account of the battle by Bernard Cornwell at The Telegraph today - The Battle of Agincourt: Why we should remember it.

"The few had destroyed the many, and most of those few were archers. They were not lords and knights and gentry, but butchers, bakers and candlestick-makers from the shires. They were the ordinary men of England and Wales, and they had met the awesome power of France in hand-to-hand fighting and they had won. 
The battle of Agincourt is part of the binding of England, the emergence of the common man as a vital part of the nation. Those common men returned to England with their stories and their pride, and these stories were told in taverns over and over, how a few hungry trapped men had gained an amazing victory. The story is still remembered, even six hundred years later, because it has such power. It is a tale of the common man achieving greatness. It is an English tale for the ages, an inspiration and we can be proud of it."


JP said...

Hurrah! Huzzah! For King Harry and St. George!!!

If you have access to iPlayer then there's been an interesting series of BBC4 about the 100 years war:

For example, one thing I learnt was that the flag and Henry's tunic in that clip was a message as it shows the emblems of both England and France: by wearing it he was claiming the thrones of both.

Tillerman said...

Hear, hear! Thanks for the tip. I will see if I can access that series.

Of course, today is also the 161st anniversary of the Charge of the Light Brigade but we won't mention that.

JP said...

Or the rugby...

Tweezerman said...

Chance have it but today I had a long conversation with several American Revolutionary War reenactors who happily represent the "wrong" side, being British Redcoats; British Marines, the Kings Guards, privates and officers. Like it or not, the American Revolution was just as improbable victory over a superior foe as was Agincourt. We talked about National mythologies vs the actual history, the underlying nastiness in War so it was interesting reading the Telegraph piece about Agincourt. It is interesting seeing the same meme being expressed in two entirely different contexts - that of the common man, the common foot soldier, the militia man, Green Mountain Boy's shaping the national identity.

Tillerman said...

Oh come on. The American revolters couldn't and didn't win their rebellion on their own. They enlisted the French on their side. According to Wikipedia - which is never wrong -"in all, the French spent about 1.3 billion livres (in modern currency, approximately thirteen billion U.S. dollars) to support the Americans directly, not including the money it spent fighting Britain on land and sea outside the United States."

If it hadn't been for the French, all you Americans would still be speaking English. And we English wouldn't be celebrating our Thanksgiving Day on July 4.

Andrew Burton said...

Interesting to note that Benedict Arnold went over to the English not because he didn't believe in the revolution, but because he thought the continental congress were trading one master (the English) for another, much worse one (the French).
This was after he has slowed Howe at the battle of Lake Champlain so much that he could reach NY to reinforce Cornwallis before winter set in. If he had, Washington would have been toast along with all hope of gaining independence. The bottom line is that if not for Benedict Arnold we would not have this marvelous country to live in.

Tillerman said...

Interesting Andrew. I hadn't heard that story before.

Andrew Burton said...

Read an excellent book called Benedict Arnold's Navy.

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