This post was written for the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the battle of Azincourt, also known by redcoats as the battle of Agincourt.
Here’s how the Hundred Years War ended. It’s not even the same phase of the Lancastrian war but who cares it didn’t last exactly a hundred years either.
Battle of Castillon, 17th July 1453
It was the last act of the war, and Charles VII of France had taken all English territories in France except for Calais and some Channel islands - which admittedly was probably due to a lack of trying on the French part for these ones. This all included Bordeaux, but unlike what you might expect the Bordelais were not too keen on that state of thing after more than three centuries of uninterrupted English rule, and thus they called on their former overlord for help.
As a response, said overlord Henry VI of England sent john Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury and 3000 fighters to retake the city, which was achieved easily thanks to the compliance of the citizens. From this base of operation, much of Western Gascony came back under the Plantagenets’ kittied banner, to the great dismay of Charles VII who was just done reuniting the country. Plus it’s were wine comes from I think. He just couldn’t take the blow and surrendered.
Nah just kidding he sent his best guy to raze the town and every other that had surrendered to English rule.
English commander John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, knight of the Order of the Garter, aka the English Achilles. Captured in 1449, he was released on the promise of never wearing an armour in battle against the King of France again. It however didn’t stop him from keeping on fighting the guy, which he did, often, all the while being 66. Just without armor.
British army : between 6000 and 10000 rosbeefs.
French commander Jean Bureau, governor of the French archers, master of ordinance and master gunner of king Charles VII, receiver of Paris, treasurer of France and mayor of Bordeaux under French rule. Perfection in the process of corning and casting made his culverins all the more deadlier as he was already known as a methodical, mathematical mind and an imaginative technician - basically the guy you’d hate playing risk with, even if you win he’d probably just beat you to death with that stick.
French army : between 7000 and 10000 frogs.
Not the Battle Just Quite Yet
On the 8th of June John Talbot was amassing troops, including one of his own son, when whoever in charge in Bordeaux came to find him. Castillon was under siege not far from here, so he had to do his job and get killing.
Meanwhile in Castillon, Jean Bureau was laying some serious punishment on the city. He set up camp out of reach of the town’s walls, dug massive earthworks in zig-zag patterns that would have made Vauban proud and had his 300 cannons fire at will. Remembering previous events at the battle of Formigny some years earlier, when his guns were lost to an audacious English sally, he sent a small vanguard of archers in the woods nearby.
John Talbot left Bordeaux on the 16th of the same month and arrived by nightfall.
The Actual Thing
On the 17th, John Talbot met the French vanguard with a force of 1300 men-at-arms and mounted archers - he had outpaced the rest of his troops - and promptly fucked it up. At this point the fight had assuredly warned the French army of their presence, and Talbot knew this. He was confronted with two choices : either pressing his advantage and charging straight into the thick of it like a baller, or wait for reinforcement like a sane person. Deciding to stay true to himself -and seeing the cloud of dust coming from the East as a sign that the French were retreating- he and his men yelled a bit to get their blood pumping and marched on.
Little did they know that the cloud of dust was only caused by the sheer amount of camp followers leaving the French camp like as many elephants sensing a tsunami coming down on their stupid trunked face.
What followed was pretty stupid. With Talbot apparently refusing to call off the attack out of pride, and the English army only slowly catching up with its commander’s aggressive tactics, the Britons were torn apart with each cannon shot said to go through six of them. This only stopped when the Duke of Brittany and a thousand knights stomped over what was left of the offensive, and would have sent Talbot and his son running if not for the fact that both of them had been dead for quite some time, the old commander having had his horse shot from under him, pinning him down for a French archer to kill with an axe.
English casualties : 4000 dead, wounded or captured (40-66%)
French casualties : 100 dead or wounded (1-1.4%)
John Talbot dead, Henry VI mad and Charles VII on a roll led to the extinction of English rule in Southern France. Bordeaux surrendered after Jean bureau calmly told their ambassadors that he could raze the city in ten days if they continued sassing him. Angry nobles impoverished by these losses went on to be one of the factors leading to the War of the Roses, and other nobles in France would get hanged, quartered, and cut into small bits for forest critters to eat in a massive royal update on what “loyauté” means. At long last everything was right in Europe.
Except you know there was the fall of Constantinople but that’s no concern of mine.