Battle of Formigny

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Battle of Formigny
Part of the Hundred Years' War
Vigiles du roi Charles VII 32.jpg
The Battle of Formigny from Les Vigiles de Charles VII by Martial d'Auvergne
Date15 April 1450
Location
Formigny, Normandy, France
Result Decisive French victory
Belligerents
France moderne.svg Kingdom of France
Armoiries Bretagne - Arms of Brittany.svg Duchy of Brittany
Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg Kingdom of England
Commanders and leaders
Armoiries Comtes Clermont Beauvaisis.png Jean de Clermont
Blason Arthur III de Bretagne (1393-1425) comte de Richemont.svg Arthur de Richemont
Coat of Arms of Sir Thomas Kiriell, KG.png Thomas Kyriell   (POW)
Strength
3,000 French
1,200–2,000 Bretons
(reinforcements)
4,000–5,000
Casualties and losses
500–1,000 killed 2,000–3,754 killed
900–1,400 captured

The Battle of Formigny, fought on 15 April 1450, was a major battle of the Hundred Years' War between England and France. The destruction of England's last army in Normandy in the battle and the decisive French victory paved the way for the capture of the remaining English strongholds in Normandy. [1] [2]

Hundred Years War Series of conflicts and wars between England and France during the 14th and 15th-century

The Hundred Years' War was a series of conflicts waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Plantagenet, rulers of the Kingdom of England, against the French House of Valois, over the right to rule the Kingdom of France. Each side drew many allies into the war. It was one of the most notable conflicts of the Middle Ages, in which five generations of kings from two rival dynasties fought for the throne of the largest kingdom in Western Europe. The war marked both the height of chivalry and its subsequent decline, and the development of strong national identities in both countries.

Contents

Background

The French, under Charles VII, had taken the time offered by the Treaty of Tours in 1444 to reorganize and reinvigorate their armies. [3] The English, without clear leadership from the weak Henry VI, were scattered and dangerously weak. [4] When the French broke the truce in June 1449 they were in a much improved position. Pont-Audemer, Pont-L'Evêque and Lisieux fell in August and much of Normandy was retaken by October. Cutting north and east the Bureau brothers oversaw the capture of Rouen (October 1449), Harfleur (December 1449), Honfleur and Fresnoy (January 1450), before moving on to invade Caen. [5]

Charles VII of France 15th-century king of France

Charles VII, called the Victorious or the Well-Served, was King of France from 1422 to his death in 1461, the fifth from the House of Valois.

Treaty of Tours

The Treaty of Tours was an attempted peace agreement between Henry VI of England and Charles VII of France, concluded by their envoys on 28 May 1444 in the closing years of the Hundred Years' War. The terms stipulated the marriage of Charles VII's young niece, Margaret of Anjou, to Henry VI, and the establishment of a several years' truce between the kingdoms of England and France. In exchange for the marriage, Charles wanted the English-held area of Maine in northern France, just south of Normandy.

Henry VI of England 15th-century King of England and Duke of Aquitaine

Henry VI was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. The only child of Henry V, he succeeded to the English throne at the age of nine months upon his father's death, and succeeded to the French throne on the death of his maternal grandfather Charles VI shortly afterwards.

The English had gathered a small army during the winter of 1449. Numbering around 3,400 men, it was dispatched from Portsmouth to Cherbourg under the command of Sir Thomas Kyriell. Upon landing on 15 March 1450, Kyriell's army was reinforced by Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset and lieutenant general of Normandy with forces drawn from Norman garrisons under Sir Matthew Gough, Sir Robert de Vere and Sir Henry Norbury. [5]

Portsmouth City & unitary authority area in England

Portsmouth is a port city in Hampshire, England, with a total population of 205,400 residents. The city of Portsmouth is nicknamed Pompey and is mainly built on Portsea Island, a flat, low-lying island measuring 24 square kilometres in area, just off the south-east coast of Hampshire. Uniquely, Portsmouth is the only island city in the United Kingdom, and is the only city whose population density exceeds that of London.

Cherbourg-Octeville Delegated commune of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin in Normandy, France

Cherbourg-Octeville is a city and former commune situated at the northern end of the Cotentin peninsula in the northwestern French department of Manche. It is a subprefecture of its department, and was officially formed when the commune of Cherbourg absorbed Octeville on 28 February 2000. On 1 January 2016, it was merged into the new commune of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin. The city is a Maritime prefecture and sub-prefecture of la Manche. Due to its union, it is the most populated city in its department with 37,121 inhabitants making it the first city of the department before the Saint-Lô prefecture and the second in the region after Caen.

Sir Thomas Kyriell (1396–1461) was an English soldier of the Hundred Years' War and the opening of the Wars of the Roses. He was executed after the Second Battle of St Albans.

Battle

Kyriell advanced south, laying siege to Valognes, which blocked Cherbourg from the rest of the Cotentin peninsula. Valognes fell on 27 March after a short siege and Kyriell continued his advance toward French-held Carentan. [5]

Valognes Commune in Normandy, France

Valognes is a commune in the Manche department in Normandy in north-western France.

Carentan Delegated commune of Carentan-les-Marais in Normandy, France

Carentan is a small rural town near the north-eastern base of the French Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy in north-western France near the port city of Cherbourg, with a population somewhat over 6,000. It is a former commune in the Manche department. On 1 January 2016, it was merged into the new commune of Carentan-les-Marais. The town was a strategic early goal of the World War II landings as capturing the town was necessary to link the lodgements at Utah and Omaha beaches which were divided by the Douve River estuary. The town was also needed as an intermediate staging position for the capture of the cities of Cherbourg and Octeville, with the critically important port facilities in Cherbourg.

The battle of Formigny. Formigny.jpg
The battle of Formigny.

When the English army circled Carentan on 12 April, the French declined to sally although there were a number of smaller skirmishes. Kyriell turned east towards Bayeux, reaching the village of Formigny on 14 April. A French army of 3,000 men under Jean de Bourbon, who was also Comte de Clermont, advanced east from Carentan to intercept the English force. On the same day a force of 1,200–2,000 Breton cavalry, under Arthur de Richemont, had reached Saint-Lô from the south. [5] [2]

Bayeux Subprefecture and commune in Normandy, France

Bayeux is a commune in the Calvados department in Normandy in northwestern France.

Formigny Part of Formigny La Bataille in Normandy, France

Formigny is a former commune in the Calvados department in the Normandy region in northwestern France. On 1 January 2017, it was merged into the new commune Formigny La Bataille.

John de Bourbon, Duke of Bourbon, sometimes referred to as John the Good and The Scourge of the English, was a son of Charles I of Bourbon and Agnes of Burgundy. He was Duke of Bourbon and Auvergne from 1456 to his death.

On 15 April, Clermont's forces were sighted by the English. The armies faced each other on the Carentan-Bayeux road, near a small tributary of the Aure, the English with their backs to the stream. The English formation was 4,000–5,000 strong and gathered in a long line behind a thicket of stakes and low earthworks. [5] [2]

Aure (river) river

The Aure is a river in northwestern France in the region of Lower Normandy. Its source is in Caumont-l'Éventé, and it flows into the river Vire in Isigny-sur-Mer. The largest town on the Aure is Bayeux.

In the afternoon, the French opened the engagement with a failed assault on the English position with their dismounted men-at-arms. French cavalry charges on the English flanks were also defeated. Clermont then deployed two culverins to open fire on the English defenders. Unable to withstand the fire, the English attacked and captured the guns. The French army was now in disarray. [6] [5]

At this moment the Breton cavalry force under Richemont arrived from the south, having crossed the Aure and approached the English force from the flank.

As his men were carrying off the French guns, Kyriell shifted forces to the left to face the new threat. Clermont responded by attacking again. Having abandoned their prepared position, the English force was charged upon by Richemont's Breton cavalry and massacred. Kyriell was captured and his army destroyed. A small force under Sir Matthew Gough was able to escape. [7] [5]

Aftermath

Kyriell's army had ceased to exist, with 2,000–3,754 killed and 900–1,400 taken prisoner, while French and Breton casualties were less than 1,000. [5] [8] With no other significant English forces in Normandy, the whole region quickly fell to the victorious French. Caen was captured on 12 June and Cherbourg, the last English-held fortress in Normandy, fell on 12 August. [7]

The battle is often cited as the first in which cannons played a pivotal role (the first decisive use of cannon is generally considered to have been the following battle, at Castillon). This is rather difficult to judge; contemporary accounts are dubious and it can be seen that the arrival of the Breton army of Arthur de Richemont, future duke of Brittany, Arthur III, with his powerful force of cavalry on the flank of the English, forcing them to leave their prepared defensive position, was more significant, although the early artillery fire from the two French guns played a role in that as well.

The cannon may have been decisive, not so much for the effect they had themselves, but in that they alerted Richemont to the fact that there was a battle going on, and so caused his appearance on the field. It was fortunate for Clermont that this was so because one of his captains wrote shortly afterwards that if the Constable (Richemont) had not come when he did, Clermont's army would have suffered "irreparable damage".

Images

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References

  1. Wagner 2006, p. 34.
  2. 1 2 3 Wagner 2006, p. 127.
  3. Roberts 2004, p. 206.
  4. Bradbury 1992, p. 176.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Rogers 2010, p. 54.
  6. Wagner 2006, pp. 127–128.
  7. 1 2 Wagner 2006, p. 128.
  8. Tucker 2010, p. 340.

Sources

Coordinates: 49°20′N0°54′W / 49.333°N 0.900°W / 49.333; -0.900