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Crecy, 26 August 1346

On 26 August 1346, Edward III of England gave battle to a large French army near the village of Crecy.

Edward landed in northern France with an army of 16,000 men, claiming the throne of France after the death of king Phillip IV in 1337. This was the begining of what was later known as the Hundred years War.

After the sacking of Caen, the capital of Normandy, the English moved eastwards, crossing the Seine and the Somme rivers, all the while being shadowed by an enormous army commanded by the French King Phillip VI. At a ridge between the villages of Crecy and Wadicourt Edward decided to stand and fight.

Edward drew up his force of less than 10,000 men-at-arms and archers on sloping ground in three divisions, the right being commanded by his 16 year old son, the Black Prince.

The battle started at around 4pm, when Genoese crossbowmen led the French attack,however their bolts fell short due to their bowstrings being ruined because of the rain (English archers removed their bowstrings and kept them dry under their hats) and were driven back. This infuriated the French cavalry who advanced, riding down any of the Genoese who got in the way, and into a hail of English arrows which threw their attacks into confusion.

There were numerous French assaults but they could not break a strongly defended front. The battle continued into the evening until King Phillip finally quit the field at midnight leaving behind at least 30,000 French casualties.

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