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Battle of Crecy 1346-Massacre of French Knights.

Battle of Crecy 1346 (Battle of Cressy) was one of the most important battles of of the Hundred Years’ War. French knights and their allies were terribly defetead by English army.

Battle Of Crecy 1346 - Hundred Years War

Battle Of Crecy 1346

Battle of Crecy statistics

12,000 – 16,000 Englishmen against 35,000 – 100,000 French army and allies.

English side:
Kingdom of England,
Allied knights from the Holy Roman Empire and Denmark.

Edward III of England
Prince Edward – the Black Prince

4,000 knights/men at arms
7,000 longbowmen
5,000 spearmen
5 cannons

French side:
Kingdom of France, Genoese Mercenaries, the Kingdoms of Navarre, Bohemia and the Balearic Islands.

Philip VI of France

6,000 crossbowmen
29,000 – 70, 000 knights and men at arms

Battle of Crecy result

English casualities

2 knights killed
100–300 killed

French casualities

11 Noblemen killed
1,542 Knights killed
2,300 Genoese killed
10,000 infantry killed

Killed in action:

King John of Bohemia
Duke of Lorraine
The Count of Flanders
The Count of Alençon
The Count of Blois
The Viscount Rohan
The Lord of Laval
The Lord of Chateaubriant
The Lord of Dinan
The Lord of Redon

Battle of Crecy weapons and equipment

Battle of Crecy Map

Battle of Crecy map - 1346 - Hundred Years War

Battle of Crecy map 1346

The power of the medieval feudal army lay in the charge of its mass of mounted knights. After the impact delivered with the lance, the battle broke into hand to hand combat executed with sword and shield, mace, short spear, dagger and war hammer.

Depending upon wealth and rank a mounted knight of wore jointed steel armour incorporating back and breast plates, a visored bascinet helmet and steel plated gauntlets with spikes on the back; the legs and feet protected by steel greaves and boots, called jambs. Weapons carried were a lance, shield, sword and dagger. Over the armour a knight wore a jupon or surcoat emblazoned with his arms and an ornate girdle.

The French King commanded a force of Genoese crossbowmen, their weapons firing a variety of missiles; iron bolts or stone and lead bullets, to a range of some 200 yards. The crossbow fired with a flat trajectory, its missile capable of penetrating armour.

Medieval Weapons

The weapon of King Edward’s archers was a six foot yew bow discharging a feathered arrow a cloth metre in length. Arrows were fired with a high trajectory, descending on the approaching foe at an angle. The rate of fire was up to one arrow every 5 seconds against the crossbow’s rate of a shot every two minutes; the crossbow requiring to be reloaded by means of a winch. For close quarter fighting the archers used hammers or daggers to batter at an adversary’s armour or penetrate between the plates.

Charge of French knights-Battle of Crecy

Charge of French knights-Battle of Crecy

Battle of Crecy

The French army, commanded by Philip VI, was much more disorganized, due to overconfidence on the part of his knights. Philip stationed his Genoese mercenary crossbowmen in the front line, with the cavalry in the back. French chronicler Froissart gives an account of the action:

“The English, who were drawn up in three divisions and seated on the ground, on seeing their enemies advance, arose boldly and fell into their ranks…You must know that these kings, earls, barons, and lords of France did not advance in any regular order…There were about fifteen thousand Genoese crossbowmen; but they were quite fatigued, having marched on foot that day six leagues, completely armed, and with their crossbows. They told the constable that they were not in a fit condition to do any great things that day in battle. The earl of Alencon, hearing this, said, ‘This is what one gets by employing such scoundrels, who fail when there is any need for them.'” Amt, p. 330.

The first attack was from the crossbowmen, who launched a shower of volleys with the purpose of disorganizing and frightening the English infantry. This first move was accompanied by the sound of musical instruments, brought by Philip VI to scare the enemy. But the crossbowmen would prove completely useless. With a firing rate of three to five volleys a minute, they were no match for the longbowmen, who could fire ten to twelve arrows in the same amount of time. Furthermore, their weapons were damaged by the rain that had preceded the battle, while the longbowmen were able to simply unstring their bows until the weather improved. The crossbowmen did not have their pavises (shields), which were still in the baggage train. Frightened and confused, the Genoese crossbowmen retreated after heavy losses, some of them killed by the French cavalry, who thought they were cowards. According to Froissart, the King of France himself ordered their slaughter. The English continued firing as Cornish and Welsh infantry advanced and many French knights fell.Amt, p. 331.

English longbowmen - Battle of Crecy

English longbowmen

Seeing the poor performance of the crossbowmen, the French cavalry charged, organized in rows. However, the slope and man-made obstacles disrupted the charge. At the same time, the longbowmen fired a curtain of arrows upon the knights. The French attack could not break the English formation, even after 16 attempts, and they took frightful losses. Edward III’s son, The Black Prince, came under attack, but his father refused to send help. The latter claimed that he wanted him to ‘win his spurs’. The prince subsequently proved himself to be an outstanding soldier.

At nightfall, Philip VI, himself wounded, ordered the retreat. It was a disastrous and humiliating defeat for France.

French army repeated their mistakes later in Battle of Poitiers in 1356 and were defeated again. However it was French side who won the Hundred Years’ War.

John of Luxemburg, Czech king – Hero of Battle of Crecy

King John, was one of the most known knight and figter of 14th century, a veteran of numerous battles around the medieval Europe.

John was blinded for decades (previous battle wound),  attacked English positions.

And the king has died together with all of his knights.

Edward ordered to locate his body and to return the dead king with honor to his son Charles (also wounded in the battle).

After the battle, the Black Prince, according to tradition, adopted the emblem of the King of Bohemia, the three white feathers, and his motto “Ich Dien” (I serve); still the emblem of the Prince of Wales.

Emblem of John of Bohemia-Battle of Crecy 1346

Emblem of John of Bohemia

Battle of Crecy phrases:

“Let it never be the case that a Bohemian king runs from a fight!”

John of Luxemburg

Medieval Weapons