What a treat! Today I have Laurel O'Donnell at Conversations to talk about research she did for her book The Angel and the Prince. If you've been to my blog before then you know I love to learn about history. I include the "On this day in history" link on the sidebar below mostly so I can learn a little something every day. Okay, I'm a little weird that way. But you never know where ideas are going to come from. So I'm pleased today to have Laurel tell us about her research for her medieval romance.
****Giveaway*** Laurel is giving one lucky commenter a copy of her book Lost Souls: Resurrection. So don't be shy. Leave a comment for a chance to win!
Hi everyone! Thanks for having me, Lisa. I wanted to tell you a little about some of the research I did for my medieval romance, The Angel and the Prince. It takes place during the one Hundred Years War between England and France. All of the battles during the war were fought on French soil. One of these battles was the Battle of Agincourt. This battle is one of the turning points in The Angel and the Prince as well as the war.
The battle of Agincourt was fought in a narrow strip of open land between the woods of Tramecourt and Agincourt. The English were hopelessly outnumbered, with some estimates being the French army having 50,000 men and the English army 10,000. The English were tired from marching and illness. The night before the battle, King Henry V ordered all his men to silence in order to stay focused.
The French were confident of victory, not merely because of the size of their army, but also because of the number of nobles who considered themselves better then the English archers. The chronicler Edmond de Dyntner states there were “ten French nobles against one English.”
On the morning of the battle, King Henry gave a speech, rousing the spirits of the weary Englishmen. He told them the French had boasted they would cut off three fingers from the right hand of every archer, so he could never draw a longbow again.
The field of battle, that narrow strip of open land, was muddy from recent heavy rains. This favored the English whose armor was lighter. The French monk of St. Denis describes the French troops “marching through the middle of the mud where they sank up to their knees. So they were already overcome with fatigue even before they advanced against the enemy". Once knocked to the ground, the fully armored French knights would have a hard time getting back to their feet to fight. Some knights, so overly encumbered by their armor, actually drowned in their helmets.
In The Angel and the Prince, Ryen de Bouriez, the heroine and French knight, voices her concerns of the coming battle to her brother, Andre:
As banners were furled around lances and knights began to remove their rain-drenched armor, Andre returned to Ryen’s side, nudging his horse up beside hers. “You’re shivering. You should get out of those wet clothes,” he murmured.
Ryen barely heard him. She felt her horse slide and looked down. Thick mud sucked at the animal’s feet, engulfing his hooves. She scanned the field to see that all around them the ground was wet, and as the men and horses trod through the camp they created even more mud. On either side of them, rows of trees stood tall and majestic, encroaching upon the field as if they were anxious to see the upcoming battle. “This field is not suitable to battle the English. We should retreat to more solid ground,” Ryen said.
Andre was silent for a moment as his gaze swept the field.
“The ground is slick and with the weight of our armor, let alone our horses, I’m afraid that we will have trouble,” she added.
He looked across the field to the English camp. “Henry’s men have traveled a long way. They are tired and far from home. They will be easy to defeat.”
“The field is too narrow, the men packed in too tightly. We will have trouble using the archers. I can’t see what the constable is thinking, waging battle here,” Ryen mused.
“I disagree with you. With all our men, how can we possibly lose?”
Ryen glanced at him, her brow creased.
“Do not worry, Ryen. The coming morn will bring our victory.”
That arrogance will be the downfall of the French, Ryen thought.
She looked away from the messengers to study the French positions. The constable had placed the army between Tramecourt on their left and Agincourt on their right, thus firmly blocking the English army’s route to Calais. But the field before them was restricted to about three quarters of a mile by the woods that fringed the two villages.
She frowned as she noticed that most of the French nobility seemed to have pushed themselves to the front of the line in their eagerness to participate in the expected massacre of Henry and his army. The dukes, counts, and barons had displaced many of the lowborn archers and crossbow men who were so crucial to the successful execution of the battle plan; how could they be effective if they were too far back from the line of attack? She shook her head.
“Did you hear that the constable has promised to cut off three fingers of the right hand of every archer taken prisoner so that none of them will ever draw a bow against us again?”
Ryen turned to see Andre stepping out of the tent. She pretended she hadn’t heard his query. The idea turned her stomach. “I have an ill feeling about this battle, Andre,” Ryen said, staring into the distance toward the enemy.
Ryen was right. On October 25th, 1415, the English defeated the French in one of the most famous battles in the one Hundred Years War, the battle of Agincourt.
You can check out Laurel O'Donnell's books by visiting her at her website: http://www.laurel-odonnell.com/ or her blog http://herstorycalls.com/author/laurelodonnell/.