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A movie about Agincourt!

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  • bluecat@neo.rr.com
    Cross posted from Medieval Trivia. http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/134472/The-heroes-of-Agincour t
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 4, 2010
      Cross posted from Medieval Trivia.

      t <http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/134472/The-heroes-of-Agincourt>
      rt <http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/134472/The-heroes-of-Agincourt>>


      UNTO THE BREACH: Laurence Olivier starred in the 1944 film Henry
      [[]] <http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/134472//myexpress/

      Saturday October 17,2009

      By John Triggs [Comment Speech Bubble] Have your say(0)

      IT WAS a battle that, according to Shakespeare, would be
      remembered till “the ending of the world”.

      And almost six centuries after the exhausted and disease-ridden
      army of Henry V defeated the much larger French forces at the
      Battle of Agincourt, it is still seen as one of this
      country’s greatest victories.

      A triumph of the humble English and Welsh longbowmen over the
      arrogant French knights, it remains a vivid demonstration of the
      bulldog spirit, ingenuity and bravery against the odds we like to
      see as some of the finest qualities of our nation.

      This week it was revealed that a film is to be made based on
      those legendary events at Agincourt on October 25, 1415 - 594
      years ago next week. Michael Hirst, the screenwriter behind TV
      series The Tudors and the Cate Blanchett film Elizabeth, is
      working on the screenplay of the £28million British movie
      called Azincourt, after the French spelling of the battle site.

      Filming is due to begin next year and the story will be based on
      a novel of the same name by Bernard Cornwell. Instead of focusing
      on Henry V, as Shakespeare did, it will look at the battle from
      the point of view of one of the king’s archers, Nicholas

      ‘Henry’s men had just a wooden bow and a dagger each’

      While many of the details of Hook’s life have been imagined,
      the name at least is authentic. It was taken from a newly
      discovered list of all the names and duties of the 6,000 men who
      fought for King Henry on that day. The list has since been
      analysed and put on the internet by historians from the
      University of Reading and the University of Southampton.

      The database, based on the payment records of the soldiers
      involved, means that anyone with an internet connection can visit
      .org <http://www.medievalsoldier.org/ <http://www.medievalsoldier.org/>>
      to see
      if any of their ancestors were among the “band of
      brothers” that fought alongside Henry. It also offers
      insights into exactly what happened on that historic day.

      “Henry V really was every bit the inspirational military
      leader, there’s no doubt about that,” says Dr Adrian Bell
      from the University of Reading, a historian and expert in
      medieval history who helped to compile the database.
      SEARCH for:

      “When he was the Prince of Wales he was shot in the face
      during the battle of Shrewsbury against the rebellious Earl of
      Northumbria and his life was only saved by a skilful surgeon, who
      managed to remove the arrow with the help of some special honey.
      It left him with a prominent scar for the rest of his life but a
      legendary reputation as a warrior.”

      Two years after coming to the throne, Henry found himself
      embroiled in what would become known as the Hundred Years War, a
      massively destabilising conflict over who was the rightful king
      of France that had been going on since Henry’s
      great-grandfather Edward III had claimed the French throne in

      By the time Henry was crowned King of England at 27, the much
      older King of France, Charles VI, was almost completely insane.

      “He genuinely believed his body was made out of glass,”
      says Dr Bell. “In fact he was so convinced of this that he
      had special, rigid clothing made for him to keep him upright and
      protect him from shattering.”

      Charles VI’s insanity meant that his uncles and brother were
      battling for power and Henry decided to use the uncertainty to
      settle the Hundred Years War once and for all. He crossed the
      Channel with an army of around 10,000 and lay siege to the
      fortress of Harfleur on the Normandy coast.

      The conflict lasted longer than expected, however, and thousands
      of his men died from dysentery. Though Henry captured Harfleur,
      he knew that his troops would not survive the winter and needed
      to get back to Calais, where boats were waiting to take what was
      left of his beleaguered force back across the Channel. On his
      way, however, he found his route cut off at a field near the town
      of Azincourt by an enormous French army.

      Estimates of the size of the French forces vary but French and
      English eyewitnesses and chroniclers stated the English were
      vastly outnumbered. One French chronicler described 6,000 English
      troops facing an army 36,000 strong.

      What’s more, most of the French were men at arms, fully
      armoured knights and squires, many of them noblemen, who were
      well trained and fresh. The roll call of Henry’s forces has
      revealed that the vast majority of them, at least 5,000 of the
      6,000 men, were yeoman archers: ordinary men from England and
      Wales equipped with only a wooden bow and a small dagger. Their
      armour was a light leather jerkin and possibly a helmet that
      would have offered pitiful resistance to the swinging sword of a
      French knight.

      In total there may have been only 900 English men at arms
      including Henry, an inspired fighter at the very centre of the

      H OWEVER, although the French had a massive advantage in numbers,
      the battlefield they had chosen didn’t allow them to make the
      most of it. Heavy woodland on both sides acted like a funnel,
      corralling them closer together as they attacked and preventing
      them from attacking Henry from the sides.

      “Some say Henry was extraordinarily lucky that the battle
      ended up being fought in such favourable terrain,” says Dr
      Bell. “But there’s also evidence that he may have
      deliberately chosen this site and cleverly tempted the French
      into attacking him there.”

      Yet the French remained confident and began with a cavalry charge
      of knights which they expected would decimate the English. It
      turned out to be a fatal mistake. “Their armour was probably
      strong enough to protect against the arrows of the English
      archers but it couldn’t protect the horses, who became
      larger, easier targets for the bowmen,” says Dr Bell. “As
      they struggled to reach the English they churned up the already
      freshly ploughed field with their hooves and turned it into a mud

      Those members of the French cavalry that did make it to the
      English lines ran straight into a barrier of sharpened wooden
      staves. Learning from their mistake, the French knights
      dismounted to march up to the English. The mud made the job slow
      and exhausting, however, and the funnelling effect meant they
      were easily picked off by archers.

      Some of the French ended up in piles of bodies so deep they
      suffocated, others drowned in the mud and yet more were killed
      once they were on the ground. The English archers either beat
      them to death with the wooden mallets they had used to drive in
      the protective wooden staves, or lifted the enemy’s visors
      and stabbed them through their eyes with daggers.

      Many knights begged for mercy and were taken prisoner but when,
      at the end of the battle, the French re-formed for one final,
      futile cavalry charge, Henry began to worry that he did not have
      enough men to repel the charge and prevent prisoners from
      escaping and attacking his troops from behind their lines. He
      decided to kill the prisoners. “At first he asked his
      noblemen to do it but they refused as they had hoped to gain a
      ransom for many of the French nobility that had been
      captured,” says Dr Bell. “So instead he asked a group of
      the archers to do it and they had no such qualms. They locked the
      prisoners in a nearby barn and set it alight.” It was an
      action that has recently seen Henry vilified by French academics
      as a war criminal.

      One scholar has also cast doubt on just how big the odds against
      Henry were. Professor Anne Curry from the University of
      Southampton recently concluded that rather than the English being
      outnumbered six to one it was more likely that around 9,000
      English faced an army of 11,000 French. Other historians disagree
      with her figures but what nobody doubts is the sheer scale of the
      English victory. While the English deaths numbered 113, more than
      5,000 Frenchmen were killed.

      T hanks to his incredible victory, Henry was later able to force
      Charles VI into allowing him to marry his daughter, Princess
      Catherine. It was also agreed that Henry would inherit the French
      throne upon Charles’s death.

      But Henry never did become King of France because King Charles VI
      outlived him. Though he had made peace with the French king,
      Henry had to fight more battles against Charles VI’s
      rebellious son, the Dauphin, and in 1422, seven years after
      Agincourt, he died aged 35.

      Henry had fallen victim to an old enemy that killed many more of
      his men than the French had ever managed: he died of dysentery.
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