The Battle of Valmont – “Tell your master that Englishmen do not surrender”

Having accepted the surrender of Harfleur in Sep 1415, Henry garrisoned the town with 900 men-at-arms and 1500 archers. Harfleur today is a quiet suburb of Le Havre, with little to show for the vists by Henry. However, the church still stands and the altar where Henry prayed in thanks for this victory is still there as it was in 1415, although minus all the stained glass blown out when the nearby exposives factory expolded.

Henry V continued his long march towards victory at Agincourt and his return to England via Calais through the counrtyside north of Harfleur. His army was not the first army however to march through this area. About half way to Fécamp, he came across the remains of the Roman occupation at Lillibonne.

His last stop before arriving at Fécamp was the Abbey of Valmont. Still today a thriving convent, beautifully restored with much of the 15th century church still intact.

Finally he reached Fécamp and gave thanks at the church both for his safe arrival and the resupply opportunities that the harbour there would bring.

This was of course only half of the story. A few months later, on March 9th 1416, the Earl of Dorset marched out of Harfleur with 1100 of his troops looking for food and other goodies.

He looted and burnt several villages, reaching as far as Cany-Barville. The English then turned for home. They were intercepted near Valmont by the French led by the Duke of D’Armangac. The English had time to form a fighting line, placing their horses, cows and baggage to the rear, before the French launched a mounted attack. The French cavalry broke through the thin English line but, instead of turning to finish the English, charged on to loot the baggage and steal horses and cows. This allowed Dorset, who had been wounded, to rally his men and lead them to a small hedged garden nearby, which they defended till nightfall. The French withdrew to Valmont for the night, rather than stay in the field, and this allowed Dorset to lead his men off under the cover of darkness to take shelter in woods at Les Loges. English casualties at this stage of the battle were estimated at 160 killed.

The following day, the English struck out for the coast. They moved down onto the beach and began the long march across the shingle (pebbles) to Harfleur. However, as they neared Harfleur, they saw that a French force was awaiting them on the cliffs above.

The English deployed in line and the French attacked down the steep slope. The French were disordered by the descent and were defeated, leaving many dead. As the English looted the corpses, the main French army came up. This force did not attack, instead forming up on the high ground, forcing the English to attack. This they successfully did, forcing the French back. The retreating French then found themselves attacked in the flank by the sallying garrison of Harfleur and retreat turned to rout. The French are said to have lost 200 men killed and 800 captured in this action. D’Armangnac later had a further 50 hanged for fleeing from the battle.

The battle of Valmont was remembered afterwards by English chroniclers for an act of defiance. At some point in the battle, D’Armangnac is said to have offered Dorset terms of surrender. Men-at-arms would be made prisoner but archers would have their right hands cut off. Dorset is said to have replied to the French herald “Tell your master that Englishmen do not surrender”.

(With thanks to Wikipedia for the backgound on the Battle of Valmont and my blatant plagarism of their text)

One thought on “The Battle of Valmont – “Tell your master that Englishmen do not surrender””

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.