Battle of Patay

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Battle of Patay
Part of the Hundred Years' War
Vigiles du roi Charles VII 42.jpg
Date18 June 1429
Location
Near Patay, slightly north of Orléans, France
48°02′54″N1°41′45″E / 48.0483°N 1.6958°E / 48.0483; 1.6958 Coordinates: 48°02′54″N1°41′45″E / 48.0483°N 1.6958°E / 48.0483; 1.6958
Result French victory [1]
Belligerents
Arms of France (France Moderne).svg France Royal Arms of England (1470-1471).svg England
Commanders and leaders
Armoiries des compagnons de Jeanne d'Arc - La Hire.svg La Hire
Armoiries des compagnons de Jeanne d'Arc - Jean Poton de Xaintrailles.svg Jean de Xaintrailles
Blason Riom-es-Montagnes 15.svg Antoine de Chabannes
Coat of Arms of Sir John Fastolf, KG.png John Fastolf
Talbot arms.svg John Talbot   White flag icon.svg
Blason Thomas de Scales.svg Thomas Scales   White flag icon.svg
Sir Thomas Rempston, KG.png Thomas Rempston   White flag icon.svg
Strength
1,500 (mostly mounted knights and men-at-arms) 5,000 (predominantly longbowmen)
Casualties and losses
100 dead or wounded [2] [3] 2,500 dead, wounded or captured [2] [4]

The Battle of Patay (18 June 1429) was the culminating engagement of the Loire Campaign of the Hundred Years' War between the French and English in north-central France. The French cavalry inflicted a severe defeat on the English. Many of the English knights and men-at-arms on horses were able to escape but crippling losses were inflicted on a corps of English longbowmen, which was not reconstituted after the battle. This victory was to the French what Agincourt was to the English. Although credited to Joan of Arc, most of the fighting was done by the vanguard of the French army as English units fled, and the main portions of the French army (including Joan herself) were unable to catch up to the vanguard as it continued to pursue the English for several miles.

Contents

Background

After the English abandoned the Siege of Orléans on 8 May 1429, the survivors of the besieging forces withdrew to nearby garrisons along the Loire. A month later, having gathered men and supplies for the forthcoming campaign, the French army, under the command of the Duke of Alençon, set out to capture these positions and the bridges they controlled. On June 12 they took Jargeau by storm, [5] then captured the bridge at Meung-sur-Loire and marched on, without attacking the nearby castle, to lay siege to Beaugency on 15 June. [6]

An English reinforcement army under Sir John Fastolf, which had set off from Paris following the defeat at Orléans, now joined forces with survivors of the besieging army under Lord Talbot and Lord Scales at Meung-sur-Loire. Talbot urged an immediate attack to relieve Beaugency, but was opposed by the more cautious Fastolf, who was reluctant to seek a pitched battle against the more numerous French. The garrison of Beaugency, unaware of the arrival of Fastolf's reinforcements and discouraged by the reinforcement of the French by a Breton contingent under Arthur de Richemont, surrendered on 18 June. Talbot then agreed to Fastolf's proposal to retreat towards Paris. Learning of this movement, the French set off in pursuit, and intercepted the English army near the village of Patay.

The battle

In this battle, the English employed the same methods used in the victories at Crécy in 1346 and Agincourt in 1415, deploying an army composed predominantly of longbowmen behind a barrier of sharpened stakes driven into the ground to obstruct any attack by cavalry.

Becoming aware of the French approach, Talbot sent a force of archers to ambush them from a patch of woods along the road. [7] Apparently dissatisfied, Talbot attempted to redeploy his men, setting up 500 longbowmen in a hidden location which would block the main road. [7] However, they were faced with a sudden cavalry assault by 180 knights of the French vanguard under La Hire and Jean Poton de Xaintrailles before they had a chance to prepare their position and were swiftly overwhelmed, leading to the exposure of the other English units, which were spread out along the road. [8] Earlier, the English longbowmen had inadvertently disclosed the position of the English army to French scouts when a lone stag wandered onto a nearby field and the archers raised a hunting cry. With the threat of an ambush dealt with, the French knights were soon joined by the rest of the vanguard of about 1,300 mounted men-at-arms. They then charged at the English positions on the flanks, which were left unprotected by sharpened stakes. Fastolf's unit attempted to join up with the English vanguard but the latter fled, forcing Fastolf to follow suit. The rest of the battle was a prolonged heavy cavalry mopping-up operation against the fleeing English units, with little organized resistance. [9]

During the course of the battle, the English lost over 2,000 men out of a force of about 5,000 according to Barker, [10] with a loss of 2,500 men being the numbers specifically given by Grummitt, [2] many of them longbowmen. By contrast the French lost only about one hundred men. [2] Fastolf, the only English commander who remained on horseback, managed to escape. Talbot, Scales and Sir Thomas Rempston were captured. Talbot later accused Fastolf of deserting his comrades in the face of the enemy, a charge which he pursued vigorously once he had negotiated his release from captivity. Fastolf hotly denied the charge and was eventually cleared of the charge by a special chapter of the Order of the Garter.

The French and English Clashing. The English, however, did not fight on horseback Patay.JPG
The French and English Clashing. The English, however, did not fight on horseback

Consequences

The virtual destruction of the English field army in central France and the loss of many of their principal veteran commanders (another, the Earl of Suffolk, had been captured in the fall of Jargeau, while the Earl of Salisbury had been killed at the siege of Orléans in November 1428), had devastating consequences for the English position in France, from which it would never recover. During the following weeks the French, facing negligible resistance, were able to swiftly regain swathes of territory to the south, east and north of Paris, and to march to Reims, where the Dauphin was crowned as King Charles VII of France on 17 July.

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References

  1. Leveel 2002, p. 80.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Grummitt 2010, p. 108.
  3. Tucker, Spencer C. (2015-09-22). Wars That Changed History: 50 of the World's Greatest Conflicts: 50 of the World's Greatest Conflicts. ABC-CLIO. p. 139. ISBN   978-1-61069-786-6.
  4. Tucker, Spencer C. (2015-09-22). Wars That Changed History: 50 of the World's Greatest Conflicts: 50 of the World's Greatest Conflicts. ABC-CLIO. p. 139. ISBN   978-1-61069-786-6.
  5. Barker 2009, p. 120.
  6. Green 2014, p. 177.
  7. 1 2 Barker 2009, p. 122.
  8. Barker 2009, pp. 122–123.
  9. Pernoud & Clin 1998, pp. 61–62.
  10. Barker 2009, p. 123.

Bibliography