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|Battle of the Herrings|
|Part of the Hundred Years' War (1415–53 phase)|
Illumination adorning La Cronicque du temps de Tres Chrestien Roy Charles, septisme de ce nom, roy de France by Jean Chartier, c. 1470–1479
| Kingdom of France |
Kingdom of Scotland
|Kingdom of England|
|Commanders and leaders|
| Charles de Bourbon |
John S. of Darnley †
| John Fastolf |
|Casualties and losses|
|500–600||Unknown but presumably light|
The Battle of the Herrings, also called the Battle of Rouvray, was a military action near the town of Rouvray in France, just north of Orléans, which took place on 12 February 1429 during the siege of Orléans in the Hundred Years' War. The immediate cause of the battle was an attempt by French and Scottish forces, led by Charles of Bourbon and Sir John Stewart of Darnley, to intercept a supply convoy headed for the English army at Orléans. The English had been laying siege to the city since the previous October. This supply convoy was escorted by an English force under Sir John Fastolf and had been outfitted in Paris, whence it had departed some time earlier. The battle was decisively won by the English.
According to Régine Pernoud, the supply train consisted of "some 300 carts and wagons, carrying crossbow shafts, cannons and cannonballs but also barrels of herring". The latter were being sent since the meatless Lenten days were approaching. It was the presence of this stock of fish which would give the somewhat unusual name to the battle.
The field of battle was an almost featureless, flat plain. The French army, numbering between 3,000 and 4,000, confronted the much smaller English force who had set up defensive positions by drawing up the supply wagons into a makeshift fortification. 61 The entire defensive formation was then further protected by the placement of sharpened spikes all around to prevent the French cavalry from charging, a tactic which had been employed, with great success, at the Battle of Agincourt. The French attack began with a bombardment using gunpowder artillery, a relatively new weapon for the time and one whose proper usage was not well understood although it was damaging to the wagons and caused English casualties. : 61–62:
The 400-strong Scottish infantry, contrary to the orders of the Count of Clermont (Pernoud states that "Clermont sent message after message forbidding any attack") went on the attack against the English formation. This, according to deVries, forced the premature cessation of the artillery bombardment out of fear of striking their own forces. The Scots were not well protected by armour and great damage was visited upon them by the English archers and crossbowmen who were shooting from behind the protection of their wagon fort. 62:
French cavalry went in support of the Scottish infantry but were stopped by the archers and stakes. At this point, the English, seeing that the remaining French infantry forces were slow to join the Scots in the attack (Pernoud quotes the Journal du siege d'Orléans to the effect that the remaining French forces "came on in a cowardly fashion, and did not join up with the constable and the other foot soldiers"), decided themselves to go on a counterattack. They struck the rear and flanks of the disorganized French/Scottish forces and put them to flight. 62:
The convoy reformed and continued on to supply the besieging English soldiers. The morale effect of the battle affected both sides.
There are two places called Rouvray in the region in question. In his biography of Sir John Fastolf, Stephen Cooper gives reasons why the battle probably took place near Rouvray-Sainte-Croix, rather than Rouvray-Saint-Denis. Pernoud states that the combined French/Scottish forces lost about 400 men, including Stewart, the leader of the Scots. Among the wounded was Jean de Dunois, known also as the Bastard of Orléans, who barely escaped with his life and who would later play a crucial role, along with Joan of Arc, in the lifting of the siege of Orléans and the French Loire campaign which followed.
While it is generally felt today that the Battle of the Herrings was lost by the French because of the failure to continue the artillery bombardment to its full effect, such was not the view at the time, at least in the besieged city of Orléans. Within the city walls, as can be seen from the passage in the Journal du siege, the Count of Clermont was generally blamed for the disaster, being considered a coward and held in disdain. Soon thereafter, Clermont, together with the wounded Count Dunois, left Orléans together with about 2000 soldiers. 62 Morale within the city and among its leaders was at a low point, so much so that consideration was given to surrendering the city.:
The Battle of the Herrings was the most significant military action during the siege of Orléans from its inception in October 1428 until the appearance on the scene, in May of the following year, of Joan of Arc. Even so, it was, to all appearances, a rather minor engagement and, were it not for the context in which it occurred, would most likely have been relegated to the merest of footnotes in military history or even forgotten altogether.
But not only was it part of one of the most famous siege actions in history, the story also gained currency that it played a pivotal role in convincing Robert de Baudricourt in Vaucouleurs, to accede to Joan's demand for support and safe conduct to Chinon. For it was on the very day (12 February 1429) of the battle that Joan met with de Baudricourt for the final time. According to the story, recounted in several places (for example, in Sackville-West), Joan gave out the information that "the Dauphin's arms had that day suffered a great reverse near Orléans". When, several days later, news of the military setback near Rouvray did in fact reach Vaucouleurs, de Baudricourt, according to the story, relented and agreed to sponsor her journey to the Dauphin in Chinon. Joan finally left Vaucouleurs for Chinon on 23 February 1429.
Polish fantasy writer, Andrzej Sapkowski described the battle in his novel, Lux perpetua . The novel is part of the Hussite Trilogy , which takes place in 15th century Silesia, during the Hussite Wars. The short description of the battle is not connected with the main plot. Sir John Fastolf is shown as a comical figure who wins the battle thanks to rumours he may have heard about the Bohemian heretics and their commander, Jan Žižka (whose name he pronounces as "Sheeshka"). Fastolf, feeling hopeless in the face of the enemy, forms his wagons into a wagenburg and surprisingly wins.
The Battle of the Herrings also appears as a vignette in Robert Nye's novel, Falstaff, told through the eyes of the English commander himself.
Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" or "Maid of Lorraine", is considered a heroine of France for her role during the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years' War, and was canonized as a saint. She was born to Jacques d'Arc and Isabelle Romée, a peasant family, at Domrémy in the Vosges of northeast France. Joan said that she received visions of the archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War. The as-yet-unanointed King Charles VII sent Joan to the siege of Orléans as part of a relief army. She gained prominence after the siege was lifted only nine days later. Several additional swift victories led to Charles VII's consecration at Reims. This long-awaited event boosted French morale and paved the way for the final French victory at Castillon in 1453.
Year 1429 (MCDXXIX) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar.
The siege of Orléans was the watershed of the Hundred Years' War between France and England. It was the French royal army's first major military victory to follow the crushing defeat at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, and also the first while Joan of Arc was with the army. The siege took place at the pinnacle of English power during the later stages of the war. The city held strategic and symbolic significance to both sides of the conflict. The consensus among contemporaries was that the English regent, John of Lancaster, would have succeeded in realizing his brother the English king Henry V's dream of conquering all of France if Orléans fell. For half a year the English and their French allies appeared to be winning, but the siege collapsed nine days after Joan's arrival.
Charles VII, called the Victorious or the Well-Served, was King of France from 1422 to his death in 1461.
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Joan of Arc is a 1948 American hagiographic epic film directed by Victor Fleming, and starring Ingrid Bergman as the eponymous French religious icon and war heroine. It was produced by Walter Wanger. It is based on Maxwell Anderson's successful Broadway play Joan of Lorraine, which also starred Bergman, and was adapted for the screen by Anderson himself, in collaboration with Andrew Solt. It is the only film of an Anderson play for which the author wrote the film script. It is the last film Fleming directed before his death in 1949.
Sir John Fastolf was a late medieval English landowner and knight who fought in the Hundred Years' War. He has enjoyed a more lasting reputation as the prototype, in some part, of Shakespeare's character Sir John Falstaff. Many historians argue, however, that he deserves to be famous in his own right, not only as a soldier, but as a patron of literature, a writer on strategy and perhaps as an early industrialist.
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John II of Alençon was a French nobleman. He succeeded his father as Duke of Alençon and Count of Perche as a minor in 1415, after the latter's death at the Battle of Agincourt. He is best known as a general in the Last Phase of the Hundred Years' War and for his role as a comrade-in-arms of Joan of Arc.
The Battle of Jargeau took place on 11–12 June 1429. It was part of the Loire Campaign during the Hundred Years' War, where Charles VII's forces successfully recaptured much of the region following their victory at the siege of Orleans. The battle ended in victory for Charles VII and is notable as Joan of Arc's first offensive battle.
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Rouvray-Saint-Denis is a commune in the Eure-et-Loir department in northern France.
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Events from the year 1429 in France
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