26 August – On this day

An army led by Edward III of England engaged and defeated a much larger army led by
Philip VI of France.

Part of the conflict known as the Hundred Years’ War, this was the first of three decisive major victories (the others being Poitiers and Agincourt) achieved by England over France. In can be argued that greater tactical flexibility and the longbow, helped make it possible for a numerically inferior defensive force to defeat a much larger attacking force.

Battle_of_Crécy,_26_August_1346_-_2

Unlike conventional practise, the English men-at-arms fought on foot as heavy infantry, with the bowmen arrayed flanking each of the three ‘battles’ protected by sharpened stakes to discourage cavalry attacks on the archers. The English archers broke up the first assault by Genoese with crossbows, who retreated into the second wave of French men-at-arms, causing confusion and many deaths. The French never recovered from this initial setback, despite launching repeated cavalry attacks against the English line.

Eventually Philip VI fled the field wounded, and the French host broke up and ran from the battlefield. English losses numbered several hundred, while French losses were in the thousands.

Diorama of the battle at Glenbow Museum, Canada.
Diorama of the battle at Glenbow Museum, Canada.