Tag Archives: Agincourt Henry

Medieval Men-at-arms vs Archers at Agincourt

To continue my debate about why men-at-arms on foot would not attack archers, there is another reason as well, which I believe is the one that Anne Curry might support – that they would be put off by the hail of arrows coming from the archers. This might be analogous to the problems that infantry would have charging down other infantry who are firing at them heavily – so for instance infantry charging other gunpowder infantry. This did happen, but the infantry often had to be supported by artillery and cavalry to succeed. Also they would be well-drilled.

Medieval men-at-arms, although organised into groups and individually well equiped and trained to fight, might lack the unit organization, drilling and collective discipline to advance on command and charge down an enemy shooting at them. 
This might be one possibility, but I still favour my belief that it was also a class and status thing. And also to do with how it was believed that one won battles. It wasn’t by outflanking the enemy, killing more of them, but by destroying his best fighters, and in particular by killing of capturing his leaders. Thus the targetting by the French of the English men-at-arms. In particular it could well be the case that the Duke of York and many of his retinue were killed at Agincourt because his standard would have been similar to Henry’s. 
There is also evidence that at Agincourt Henry had others dressed as him. This is an acknowledgement that he as leader would be targetted, and that if he died the battle would be lost.