Depth 2 - Henry V and the conquest of France, 1413-21


What was the significance of renewing war with France and the campaign of 1415?

The significance of renewing the war with France

Henry V's military and political experience prior to becoming king in 1413

  • Suppressed Welsh revolutions as Prince of Wales
  • Fought Hotspur's rebellion whilst wounded
  • Became influential in council after Henry VI's illness - improved relations with parliament
  • 1411 - mistrust between Henry VI and his son - foreign policy, too much support
  • 1411-12 Henry excluded - made up when Henry VI died in 1413

Background to the 1415 invasion of France

  • 100 years war started by Edward III, Richard II reduced it, Henry IV renewed it
  • English started losing under Henry IV
  • Henry V sent ambassadors to France - demanded lands and Catherine of Valois for marriage. These demands rejected - Henry prepared for invasion
  • Charles VI, king of France, mental - caused political tensions in France
  • Used the invasion to silence critics

Diplomacy and preparations for war, 1413-15

  • Henry used diplomatic tactics to secure himself and isolate France:
  • Conciliatory attitude towards Welsh - pardons etc. - ensured they didn't attack while he was away, also some fought in his amy
  • Reinstated the Percy family as earls of Northumberland - ensured protection from Scottish
  • Held James I of Scotland prisoner - meant less likely to attack
  • 10 year truce with duke of Brittany - isolated France
  • 1415 Southhampton plot - Edward Mortimer told Henry - he crushed rebellion -made him more aggressive towards France because they lent support to Southhampton

The campaign of 1415

  • Army from 10,500-12,00 , mostly archers, some heavy guns from Dutch
  • Placed Halfleur under seige - took longer than expected for a little town - French eventually surrended
  • English suffered many losses - fighting, dysentry - Henry sent lots home and left garrison in Halfleur
  • Henry led army to Calais - English stronghold
  • Was a very difficult march because had to cross the Somme
  • Large army protecting most obvious crossing - all bridges blocked - likely to be attacked in water
  • Henry's army outmarched the French and they rebuilt broken crossing
  • French spread out along the river so hard to attack the English
  • Battle of Agincourt 25 October:
  • Henry took central fighting position - inspiring leader
  • High proportion of archers (80%) - French were many heavily armoured men-at-arms
  • Most archers placed either side with stakes protecting then - horses ran into them and died
  • French in 3 large divisions - narrow formation on narrow muddy ground meant tripping over eachother
  • English shot arrows, provoked small charges of French - these charges failed because of stakes
  • Main French charge unsuccessful - lots of arrows caused death and confusion - overcrowding in the line - difficult to move - couldn't retreat because cavalry behind them
  • English archers fought with poleaxes - light and easy to move
  • Henry gave order to kill prisoners - feared French attack from behind - contreversial because denied his men ransoms
  • English suffered few losses - a few hundred
  • French suffered lots


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