One of the most important battles of the middle ages.
Often, the best way to learn history is by reading a good historical novel. History books can be useful to provide facts about the past, but they can often be dry and boring to read. By weaving an interesting story around the historical facts, the historical novelist can make it easier for the reader to learn the history while including the texture and feeling of the historical period. Bernard Cornwell is a master at creating such historical novels. He can make you feel like you are experiencing life in 15th century England and France, while he keeps you on the edge of your seat with interesting action and plot twists throught the book
The battle of Agincourt (the French spell it Azincourt) is a classic example of the importance of leadership in combat. A large, well armed French force was defeated by a much smaller English army in a field near a place called Azincourt in France in the year 1415. King Henry V of England provided the leadership and logistic organization that enabled a small force to prevail over a much larger enemy. Almost two hundred years after the battle of Agincourt, William Shakespeare immortalized Henry's leadership in his play Henry V. One of the most memorable parts of that play is the speech given on St. Crispin's day, sometimes known as the band of brothers speech. A part of that speech contains the following:
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
No one understands the bond of brotherhood that forms between men who fought togeter in combat better than those who actually experienced such combat. But, this story woven by Bernard Cornwell provides as close an understanding as it is possible to convey through the written word. The story is told through the experiences of Nicholas Hook, a young English archer who fought in the Agincourt battle, as well as in other battles and adventures leading up to that famous battle.
In addition to Henry V's leadership compared to the disorganized and decentralized leadership of the French, one of the decisive factors in the battle of Agincourt was the employment of large numbers of English archers with skill in the use of the English long bow. While the French employed large numbers of cross-bows, which could fire as accurately and as far as the long bow, the cross bows could not come close to matching the superior rate of fire of the English long bowmen.
For a historically accurate, and very interesting story about combat in the 15th century, read Agincourt: A Novel
. You won't be disappointed. Get a copy from Amazon