Battle of Agincourt: The decisive battle of the Hundred Years’ War

At the Battle of Agincourt, two European monarchies—France and England—faced off during the Hundred Years’ War.

One of the most significant military achievements of the Hundred Years’ War was the Battle of Agincourt. On October 14, 1415, King Henry V of England’s forces, although being vastly outnumbered, decisively defeated French chivalry. After the devastating loss, the war raged on for another three decades, finally ending in 1453. The already mentally unstable King of France, Charles VI, was severely damaged by the loss, and the whole military strategy of the period was called into question. The Battle of Agincourt effectively put an end to the French tradition of chivalry in a country on the verge of dissolution.

Why did the Battle of Agincourt take place?

In 1337, the first shot was fired in what would become known as the “Hundred Years War,” which would last until 1453. There were temporary ceasefires during this war, which pitted the English crown against the French. Major political turmoil plagued both kingdoms in the years leading up to the Battle of Agincourt. Though he was crowned King of England in 1413, Henry V faced questions about his right to the throne. In order to assert his dominance, he issued an ultimatum to the French, in which he requested the recovery of all English territory that had been lost on French land since Philip Augustus. After being turned down, he decided to take up the arms of over 10,000 troops and go to Normandy in August 1415. Although his force was big enough to capture Harfleur, it was too small to invade. When the French army came across him at Agincourt, he marched to Calais to re-embark.

What is the link between the Hundred Years War and the Battle of Agincourt?

There were numerous pivotal moments throughout the Hundred Years War, and the Battle of Agincourt was certainly one of them. The English had the upper hand in the war’s early stages. They were victorious in two pivotal engagements, at Crécy (1340) and Poitiers (1356). The French monarch, King John the Good, was apprehended towards the close of the latter. The Treaty of Brétigny, signed in 1360 after the invasion’s crushing defeat, ceded a great deal of territory to the invaders. Troops from France, commanded by Bertrand du Guesclin, managed to turn the tide between 1364 and 1370. But in 1415, King Henry V of England arrived and won the Battle of Agincourt by capitalizing on King Charles VI’s illness and the country’s deteriorating political stability.

What role did the King of France play in the battle?

The French King, Charles VI, surprisingly didn’t participate in the Battle of Agincourt. Truth be told, his health prevented him from doing so. The first several months of his rule were successful. When his father, Charles V, passed away, he was only 11 years old when he was crowned king. Charles the Beloved was his affectionate moniker when the populace recognized his efforts to restore peace and safety. However, on August 5, 1392, while on the road with his regiment, he lost his mind and murdered four of his bodyguards. His mental breakdowns would recur often until his death in 1422, even though he was able to pull from the first one after just two days. To the point that others refer to him as “Charles the Mad.” Charles I of Albret, his cousin and the Constable of France, led the French army at Agincourt.

How did the Battle of Agincourt take place?

The French suffered a major strategic defeat in the Battle of Agincourt. However, they have an overwhelming numerical advantage. Against 8,000 English, estimates place the French at between 13,000 and 20,000 strong. The choice of terrain was a mistake. A flat area bounded by two woodlands that the French army couldn’t use for deployment. They had to move in a single file line to make progress. Wet conditions are not ideal for a mounted assault. But the French will do just that, sending their most noble knights into the fray in a last-ditch effort. The English deploy thousands of archers, who slay the French cavalry with a barrage of arrows. Slain steeds and armored knights stand in the way of the oncoming waves. The English flank the enemy from behind and keep the slaughter going.

Who won the battle of Agincourt?

With a military doctrine so at odds with the terrain and, more importantly, the new fighting tactic—the enormous employment of ranged weapons—the French could only lose. Henry V of England lost just a few hundred troops in the battle, while the French lost an estimated 6,000. As Henry V did not want to be saddled with an excessive number of captives, many were killed during the conflict and others were put to death thereafter.

What is the list of notable deaths from this battle?

A few knights fought and died for the English at Agincourt. About a dozen members of the upper class were killed, the most notable being Duke Edward of York, the grandson of King Edward III. The French suffered a greater loss of life. Charles I of Albret, Constable of France and leader of the allied forces, was killed in action. In addition to the dukes of Bar, Alençon, and Brabant and the counts of Vaucourt, Dammartin, and Nevers, other nobility of high rank were slain. Charles of Orleans, the king’s nephew, was taken prisoner and held in England for 25 years.

How did the Dauphin Louis die after the Battle of Agincourt?

The Dauphin is an important figure in the French monarchical system. If the king should pass away, he is the one who would take over. This honor goes to the oldest son of the monarch, although his younger brother would succeed to it in the case of his demise. Charles VI’s son, Dauphin Louis of Guyenne, became King of France in 1415. His older brother, Charles of Guyenne, died on January 13, 1401, and he took over as ruler after his birth in 1397. He was still a child at the time of Agincourt, hence he was not there. The circumstances of his death on December 18, 1415 are unknown, but if he did not perish in the fight, he likely did so shortly afterwards. Jean de Touraine, their brother, took over after him.

What were the results of the Battle of Agincourt?

Many noblemen in France were killed, and that was the first effect. There was a huge loss of bailiffs and seneschals, which hampered the kingdom’s administration. The disastrous loss at Agincourt made the already volatile situation between the Burgundians and the Armagnacs, who had been at each other’s throats for years, much worse, which worked to Charles V of England’s advantage since he had allied with the former. Cavalry assaults and the age of armored knights were put to rest during the Battle of Agincourt, when armies shifted to relying on long-range firearms. A few decades down the road, the introduction of artillery would prove this to be true. Therefore, Agincourt was the last act of the French chivalric era.

How does Shakespeare talk about the Battle of Agincourt?

William Shakespeare, the great English poet and playwright, based one of his most well-known plays, “Henry V”, on the legend of the Battle of Agincourt. As this book was written and released 184 years after the war, the author was free to embellish the historical record as they saw fit. Despite his reputation for being severe and even violent toward his soldiers, King Henry V of England is shown here as a great lord who was close to his warriors. However, for Shakespeare, the most important point was to celebrate the English people coming together as a nation and achieving triumph against a French aristocracy he found to be too haughty.


  1. Curry, Anne (2006) [2005]. Agincourt: A New History. UK: Tempus. ISBN 978-0-7524-2828-4.
  2. Wason, David (2004). Battlefield Detectives. London: Carlton Books. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-233-05083-6.
  3. Phillpotts, Christopher (1984). “The French plan of battle during the Agincourt campaign”. English Historical Review99 (390): 59–66. doi:10.1093/ehr/XCIX.CCCXC.59. JSTOR 567909.
  4. Hibbert, Christopher (1971). Great Battles – Agincourt. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 978-1-84212-718-6.

By Hrothsige Frithowulf

Hrothsige works at Malevus as a history writer. His areas of historical interest include the ancient world and early Europe, as well as the history of modern culture.