Medieval wargamers and rules writers have continually over-emphasised the value of the full frontal assault by deep ranks of pike during the Hundred Years War. That tactic belongs to the period before Christ and after Henry VIII. Between those times, the long spear was used for infantry clashes, whilst the pike was used to finish-off opponents, without getting within reach of their dying sword swing.
Posts Tagged ‘ Geoffrey d’Harcourt ’
The feudal Frenchmen, having never encountered the longbow before, were staggered by the vast numbers of casualties caused by an enemy who was still so far away as to be out of crossbow range. They stood and watched clouds of arrows rising into the sky and then plunging into their ranks hitting them in the thighs and shoulders at steep angles. The peasantry and militia turned and ran leaving the wounded to the mercy of the pikemen, and the nobility to face the blades of their English counterparts.
That the English were trounced at Abbeville and chased from the field, therefore indicates they used the longbow from horseback and lost all advantage from the weapon. It could also be that the town had artillery in use, that was not recorded in chronicles. The combined effects, of poor weapon deployment on horses being made skittery by artillery, could explain their losing this battle.
Having marched through France, even to the gates of Paris, Edward IIIs army met their first real resistance and defeats on the River Somme. A greedy peasant, and traitors in the French camp, allowed him to evade a massive opposing army.
Before long, the raiding army gained a reputation for terror, pillage, rape, murder, and arson, which then preceded their route. It was this reputation that led to the immediate and uncontested surrender of Barfleur and then Cherbourg. Only the pleading of d’Harcourt prevented the complete destruction of Caen.