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Battle of Crecy

The Battle of Crécy took place on August 26, 1346, near Crécy[?] in northern France and was one of the defining combats of arms of the Hundred Years' War. It established the logistical supremacy of the English longbow over the French combination of crossbow and armoured knights, and was to significantly alter the way in which war was conducted for a considerable period of time thereafter. (NB. The principal reason for the success of the longbow was its significantly greater rate of fire and a longer range in the hands of a skilled user.)

Crécy was a battle in which an English army of approximately 12,000, commanded by the son of Edward III of England, the Black Prince, outnumbered by Philip VI of France's force of between 30,000 and 40,000, was victorious as a direct consequence of superior weaponry and tactics.

More than half of Edward's army were longbowmen, mostly recruited from his Welsh dominions. The Black Prince arrayed them in a V-formation along the crest of a low hill. The archers built defences against cavalry charges by digging holes in the ground, the setting of sharpened stakes, and the liberal deployment of caltrops to maim and bring down the horses. As the French forces charged up the incline, waves of English armies fired vollies of arrows in the air which rained down on the oncoming forces.

French casualties, along with those of the Genoese mercenary crossbowmen in their employ, were estimated to be in the order of 8,000 to 10,000 with those of the English numbering fewer than a thousand.

The battle is seen by many commentators as being the beginning of the end of chivalry; during the course of the battle many of the prisoners and wounded were dispatched contrary to chivalric codes of warfare.

The site of the battle can nowadays be overlooked from a special viewing tower.

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The prelude to the battle is the subject of a poem by the 19th century English poet William Morris, The Eve of Crécy.



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