Battle of Crécy 1346

walwyn Tue, 02/02/2016 - 18:32
Friday, August 26, 1346

The Battle of Crécy (August 26th 1346) was the first major land battle between King Edward III of England and King Philip VI of France. The battle proved the superiority of English longbows, firing from a defensive position, against heavily armoured knights.

On the 24th of August the English had managed to cross the Somme at the Blanchetaque ford some 5 miles west of Abbeville where the French King Philip VI was garrisoned.1 The ford was defended by 500 French men-at-arms and 3000 infantry, however aided by the English longbow men the Earl of Northumberland with 100 men established a bridge head on the northern bank and within 90 minutes the rest of the army had cross the river.2

The Edward then marched northwards, while a part of the army led by Hugh le Despenser began foraging along the coast,  and sacked Noyelles-sur-Mer. Meanwhile the main part of the army reach the forest of Crécy on the 25th of August and established defensive positions.1 On the 26th Philip VI left Abbeville to cut off Edward's retreat. By late morning the French scouts found the English army waiting for them.3

The battle started with an advance of some 6,000 Genoese crossbowmen towards the English lines, as they came within range of the longbow the English archers caused carnage among them, whilst the crossbow bolts fell short of the English lines, and the Genoese fell back towards their own lines. Rumours spread through the French ranks that the Genoese were cowards, traitors in the pay of the English and the Count of Alençon charged forwards with he second French battalion running the fleeing Genoese down.4

The French mounted knights charged towards the English lines and were killed as they came within range of the archers. Fallen horses and riders impeded other riders coming behind.5 Towards the end of the battle the English cavalry were brought forward and attacked the surviving groups of French knights and infantry. The battle ended with 2000 French knights and 1000s of French infantry killed, the English dead number 40 knights and fewer infantry and archers.6

Many of the infantry, who escaped the battle, were killed as the English came upon isolated groups in the following days.5 Philip VI rode back to Amiens where he ordered the killing of the 'Genoese traitors' many of whom were killed in Amiens and surrounding towns before he countermanded his orders.5