Agincourt + 600 Years

Here is Christopher Hibbert writing in his book Agincourt:

Before dawn on the 25 October 1415 both armies roused themselves and began slowly to adopt the positions in which they were soon to fight. During the night Henry had sent some knights forward to survey the field of battle and had already decided how to best to make use of its advantages.

The ground did favour him.

Indeed it did. I encountered the history of the battle of Agincourt back in the late 1980s like most people do — through William Shakespeare’s Henry V. It was only years later, however, that I learned Shakespeare wasn’t making things up — that is, the battle was not only actual history, it was true that the English were greatly outnumbered by the French that day 600 hundred years ago today. The fact the English prevailed despite the odds is attributed to everything you would expect it to be — luck, a battlefield that was suited to favor the underdogs, and of course the skill of the English soldiers and generals.

There are a number of excellent books on the topic (like Hibbert’s), documentaries available for free on YouTube, and the Wikipedia page seems to do a decent job of giving a summation. We will never run out of amazing stories from history, and the battle of Agincourt is certainly up there on the list.

Today is also St. Crispin’s Day — fans of Shakespeare’s Henry V know that because of the now famous speech given by the king before the battle. While the speech has shown up in movies numerous times, no one has done it better than Kenneth Branagh in his 1989 film. Is the clip below over-used? Maybe. But today it’s worth seeing again. You only get to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt once. Enjoy…

Image credit: “Schlacht von Azincourt” by Chroniques d’Enguerrand de Monstrelet (early 15th century).