The Bowmen of Ware tell the story of Azincourt and its famous battle between the French and the English
During 2015, a party of re-enactment archers travelled to Agincourt to celebrate the 600th anniversary of a Battle that was fundamental to mediaeval history and in which archers played a decisive role, where on Saint Crispin’s day the cream of French aristocracy was destroyed by a few, a happy few, a band of brothers.
5000 starved, dysentery ridden and exhausted archers faced between 12,000 and 25,000 (chroniclers vary) French knights, cavalry and men at arms. They expected to die and would not sell their lives cheaply. In the end, the English lost only 112 men, the French in the top estimate, over 20,000 but probably 10,000 is a more accurate figure.
At a two-day competition on the battlefield itself we shot with archers from all over the world, the spirit of camaraderie being excellent, especially from the French who are extremely proud of their part in this chapter of history.
Azincourt is a tiny hamlet, about the same size as Horkstow but it does have a state of the art museum that celebrates the battle, well worth a visit.
Local Connections with Azincourt
Beverley has great ties with Azincourt through Saint John of Beverley, and who’s standard King Henry V took into battle with him, Saint John being known as a successful Saint and good to have on your side, King Athelstan took this standard successfully into campaigns in the 900’s.
The Battle of Azincourt took place on the anniversary of Saint John’s translation, and a grateful Henry dedicated the miracle of the victory to Saint John.
In the ensuing peace, Henry did not immediately claim the crown from King Philip the mad, (who did not lead his Knights into the fray believing that he was made of glass) but he did after months of negotiation broker a deal where Philip VI, (who was not expected to survive for long), that on his death the crown would accede to Henry. To seal the deal, he married Philip’s daughter, Catherine of Valois, and in 1420 they came as pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint John in Beverley to give thanks for the victory. The King presented a war axe used at Azincourt as thanks to the people of Holderness.
The irony is that Henry died of sickness some weeks before Philip expired, his infant son Henry VI could not further the advantages gained by his father and all hopes of the French crown were subsequently dashed by a great rallying of the French led by the maid of Orleans, Joan of Arc.
On Saint Crispin’s day October 25th 2015, the 600th anniversary of this battle, our retinue of archers served as welcomers to Beverley Minster and guards to the Dean of Westminster who came to celebrate this occasion indicating the importance of its significance to English history.
Celebrations in Beverley
A weekend of celebration was held throughout Beverley including demonstrations, examples of arms and general aspects of Medieval life. A magnificent mediaeval banquet was held in the Minster and a display of our arms, armour and archery equipment was put on show, the celebrations culminating in a procession through the town and the service in the Minster; an actor powerfully delivering the lines from Shakespeare’s Henry V St Crispin’s day speech.
Greetings were sent to our compatriots in Azincourt. Three days later on the anniversary of the day the news of the victory reached London, the Dean held a similar service in Westminster abbey with the Queen in attendance, the St Crispin’s speech given by Robert Hardy, the actor and longbow expert.
Local Research into the Muster for Azincourt
Given the feudal system at the time of the King appointing his Barons who vowed an oath of allegiance, (Sire, I become your man), to provide knights in time of war, the Barons appointing their knights who were also bound by oath to fight when called upon, and Knights controlling the peasantry from whom the men at arms and archers were drawn and had no rights whatsoever.
With this system, men from this area would have been recruited for the campaign which culminated at Azincourt and we are doing research into finding out how many and if possible, who was mustered from here.
As enactors it would be important to be able to centre our retinue on actual archers of the period, so if anyone has any information, factual or anecdotal we would love to hear from you.
Invitation from The Bowmen of Ware
We shoot as Bowmen of Ware and are based locally at Elsham where we have magnificent facilities in woods and field of around 120 acres.
Anyone who would like to come and have a try would be warmly welcome, families especially and equipment can be provided. Most people thoroughly enjoy the experience, not only of shooting, but of being in a beautiful place, from Spring time leading to the joy of summer and into the colourful autumn and brisk winter.
Contact E-mail: email@example.com for details.