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Battle of Poitiers

The Battle of Poitiers was fought on September 19, 1356 during the Hundred Years' War.

Battle of Poitiers
Dates of battleSeptember 19, 1356
ConflictHundred Years' War
Battle beforeCrecy
Battle after
Site of battlenear Maupertuis,
3km south of Poitiers
Combatant 1England
led byEdward, the Black Prince
Forces7,000 men
Combatant 2France
led byJohn II of France
Forces20,000 men
resultdecisive English victory

Edward, the Black Prince was laying waste to the area north of the English holdings in Gascony, in the hope of depriving the French of the ability to continue the war in that area. His forces were attacked at the village of Maupertuis, three kilometres south of Poitiers, by a superior French army numbering 15,000-20,000. The English had perhaps 7,000. The French were hoping to destroy the English army and prevent it from retreating to Bordeaux. The English tried to withdraw, but were forced onto the defensive, and managed to maintain a position which forced the French to concentrate their forces in a narrow space, one that was an easy target for massive English longbow attack.

There was a brief attempt at negotiating a peaceful end to the proceedings, but the Black Prince was not co-operative.

The attacking French forces were in four parts: at the front were the German mounted mercenaries; then three groups of infantry commanded by the Dauphin, the Duke of Orleans and King John II. A hasty cavalry charge by the Germans was repulsed by the English archers. This was followed by the Dauphin's infantry, who engaged in heavy fighting, but withdrew to regroup. The next wave of infantry under Orleans, seeing that the Dauphin's men were not attacking, turned back. This left the forces led by the King himself. This was a formidable fighting force, and the English were out of arrows: the archers joined the infantry in the fight.

But the English had a mobile reserve under Captal de Buch[?], who were able to go around and attack the French in the flank and rear. The French were fearful of this encirclement and attempted to flee. King John was captured with his immediate entourage.

Note: The Battle of Tours from 732 is sometimes called 'Battle of Poitiers' as well.

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