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The Battle of Crécy, 1346

The Battle of Crécy, 1346

Andrew Ayton
Philip Preston
Françoise Autrand
Christophe Piel
Michael Prestwich
Bertrand Schnerb
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 404
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  • Book Info
    The Battle of Crécy, 1346
    Book Description:

    With additional contributions from Françoise Autrand, Christophe Piel, Michael Prestwich, and Bertrand Schnerb. The battle of Crécy is of huge significance for both the course of the Hundred Years War and the continent of Europe as a whole. It witnessed the defeat of the greatest power in Christendom - a major French army with the king at its head - by an expeditionary force raised by a kingdom which was not yet renowned for its military prowess. Yet it is Agincourt which has engaged the popular imagination, and Crécy has been neglected. This book to fills this gap in knowledge. It outlines the events of the campaign in Normandy and Ponthieu of which Crécy was the culmination, and offers new analyses and interpretations of all aspects of the battle, from the composition of the armies to the place of the battlefield. It will therefore be of major interest for any student of medieval or military history.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-370-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Preface and Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Andrew Ayton and Philip Preston
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  6. Introduction

    • 1 The Battle of Crécy: Context and Significance
      (pp. 1-34)

      At dawn on 12 July 1346, a vast armada of ships appeared off the coast of Normandy. Their destination was St Vaast-la-Hougue, a small port on the north-eastern corner of the Cotentin peninsula. The size of the fleet and the presence of ships bearing the quartered leopards and lilies of the royal arms of England indicated that this was no mere raid. In fact, it was to be the largest amphibious operation of the Hundred Years War, and it had achieved complete surprise. The consternation of the local population can easily be appreciated. Robert Bertran, Marshal of France and commander...

  7. The Campaign

    • 2 The Crécy Campaign
      (pp. 35-108)

      Why did a major pitched battle take place in August 1346 at Crécy-en-Ponthieu? The question has two elements, concerning time and place. The significance of the ‘place’ of battle, the immediate locality and the region, will be examined later in this chapter; but at this stage it should be noted that, prior to August 1346, Ponthieu had felt little of the impact of the war. The county had been occupied, it seems without resistance, in 1337 when Philip VI confiscated the king of England’s continental lands. Since then there had been no land-based operations in this part of France.¹ From...

  8. The Battle

    • 3 The Traditional Battlefield of Crécy
      (pp. 109-138)

      The precise geographical placement of many battlefields is anchored by tradition rather than established fact, there being no more than anecdotal evidence, and perhaps an association with existing place names, to ‘authenticate’ their location. Such is the case with the traditional site of the battle of Crécy. That the battle certainly occurred close by Crécy is supported not only by the adoption of the name of the village, but also by accounts and letters written very shortly after the battle.² However, attempts through documentary research to pinpoint the battlefield run headlong into the vagaries of chroniclers who offer no precision;...

    • 4 The Battle of Crécy
      (pp. 139-158)

      It is impossible to reconstruct the past. The historian can, at best, do no more than present a crude outline, a sketch in which many of the details are missing. Medieval battles present particular problems. Even contemporaries would have found it impossible to gain a full picture of events that were inevitably confused and confusing. Individual participants will have had vivid stories to tell about their part in a conflict, but will not have been in a good position to know what happened overall. Communications on the battlefield were difficult, and commanders must have found it impossible to know what...

  9. The English

    • 5 The English Army at Crécy
      (pp. 159-252)

      The battle of Crécy was by any standards a momentous event, and it has certainly not been neglected by historians. It is, therefore, a little curious that few of those who have studied this battle have devoted much attention to the composition of the English army. While a great deal has been written about weaponry and tactics, the men who fought and won at Crécy have been left in the shadows. Until recently, the only historian to examine the army in detail and publish the results was Major General the Honourable George Wrottesley, whoseCrecy and Calaisappeared a little...

  10. The French

    • 6 The Nobility of Normandy and the English Campaign of 1346
      (pp. 253-264)

      The great battles of the middle ages have often been viewed by traditional historiography as formative moments in the emergence of the first national identities in western Europe.¹ Thus the two greatest engagements of the Hundred Years War, Crécy and Agincourt, have been construed not essentially in terms of dynastic rivalries, but as confrontations between two new-born nations. More recently, political history has sought to reassess the claim that national feeling existed at the end of the Middle Ages,² and in this respect, this chapter, which will examine the political behaviour of the Norman nobility at the time of Edward...

    • 7 Vassals, Allies and Mercenaries: the French Army before and after 1346
      (pp. 265-272)

      The celebration of our great defeats is one of the oldest traditions in French historiography. And the battle of Crécy – as well as those of Poitiers and Agincourt – is one of the disasters that is deeply etched on our national memory. For a long time, French scholars have tried to explain this sad event. All too often they have contrasted the high quality of English military organisation with the disorder of a French ‘feudal army’, and in explaining the outcome of the battle have given precedence to political and social considerations over tactical and purely military ones. Typical...

    • 8 The Battle of Crécy: A Hard Blow for the Monarchy of France
      (pp. 273-286)

      The ‘déconfiture de Crécy’, which opens a series of three black years – Crécy in 1346, Calais in 1347 and the Black Death of 1348 – holds bitter memories for the French. The disaster of the following year, the fall of Calais, at least had its heroes – the burghers of Calais. Very early on, even before the ‘History of France’ of the Third Republic, and the sculptures of Rodin, Eustache de Saint Pierre and his five companions had a place of honour in the national memory. From the Ancien Régime, a school book,l’Instruction sur l’histoire de France, by...

  11. Sources and Problems of Interpretation

    • 9 Crécy and the Chroniclers
      (pp. 287-350)

      Three questions were posed in the opening chapter of this volume. The third – ‘how significant an event was the battle of Crécy’? – was explored in that chapter; indeed, it is perhaps the central theme of the book. In Chapter 2, the discussion turned to the first question: ‘why did the battle of Crécy take place?’ Having reviewed the evidence, a new interpretation was offered that suggested that the battle of Crécy can perhaps best be understood in the context of its geographical location in the county of Ponthieu; that one of the strategic options that Edward had in...

    • 10 Topography and Archery: Further Reflections on the Battle of Crécy
      (pp. 351-378)

      Given the problems that are attendant upon reconstructing the battle of Crécy from the narrative sources, it is small wonder that there has been so much inconclusive debate about the battle. In particular, no consensus has emerged concerning English tactical deployment, the role played by archery and the combat relationship between the archers and the men-at-arms in Edward III’s army. Yet these appear to be precisely the issues that are central to an understanding of how the English brought off their remarkable victory in a battle in which so many of the aristocracy of the greatest military power in Europe...

  12. INDEX
    (pp. 379-390)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 391-392)