Due to impending bad weather tomorrow, John and I spent today, Wednesday, touring the highlight of our trip, the scene of the Battle of Agincourt, which took place 600 years ago, on October 25, 1415. On that fateful day, about 4,000 English knights and archers under King Henry V (played by Kenneth Branagh or Lawrence Olivier in the movies) beat FIVE TIMES that number of French knights and Cavalry on the open field that we walked, and around which we cycled and cycled. The French lost the battle, many, many lives, the right to rule Western France, but retained the road below, calling it Rue de Charles VI, ironically.
Hereinafter the story became somewhat amazing. Today happened to be the rehearsal day for a Reinactment to be held in October. I was able to convince one of the Observer Pilots to take us up in his biplane for a few minutes as the action was taking place.
King Henry’s line of Knights was across the field you see above, Knights in the center, and thousands of archers on each flank. The French, with many Cavalrymen, formed an opposing line.
Henry had moved his line up to halfway across the field when the French attacked. The archers stood their ground and fired, according to reports, at 50,000 arrows a minute. Sorry about the picture; the plane was bumping.
The knights were brave, but the armor of the day could not protect them. Wave after wave was repulsed, and the fighters, turning in that muddy field, ran into the next wave coming in.
The fighting was close and fierce. From the air, even with the telephoto lenses we could not tell knights of one army from the other.
But finally it became clear that the French, despite their higher numbers, were too crowded to effectively fight, and also were being bogged down in the mud. Henry ‘s men were giving chase. The English won an astonishing and complete victory.
Also interestingly, as we were landing, we noticed some of the participants using what seemed to look like cannons. Were they really available in 1415?
Some day, if we go back again to see the marvelous Information Center, the movies, and the cool miniature exhibition of the battle, we’ll have to ask.
The plane landed safely, and then we went cycling.