Battle of the Herrings

Last updated
Battle of the Herrings
Part of the Hundred Years' War (1415–53 phase)
Battle of Herrings.jpg
Journée des Harengs (from Les Vigiles de Charles VII by Martial d'Auvergne, written c. 1477–84, held by Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris)
Date12 February 1429
LocationNear Rouvray, France
Result English victory
Belligerents
Blason France moderne.svg Kingdom of France
Royal Arms of the Kingdom of Scotland.svg Kingdom of Scotland
Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg Kingdom of England
Commanders and leaders
Blason duche fr Bourbon (moderne).svg Charles de Bourbon
Blason-John-Stuart-of-Darnley.svg John S. of Darnley  
Coat of Arms of Sir John Fastolf, KG.png John Fastolf
Blason ville fr Villiers-le-Morhier (Eure-et-Loir).svg Simon Morhier
Strength
around 4,000 1,600 [1]
Casualties and losses
500–600 4 [2]

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.

Rouvray-Saint-Denis Commune in Centre-Val de Loire, France

Rouvray-Saint-Denis is a commune in the Eure-et-Loir department in northern France.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Orléans Prefecture and commune in Centre-Val de Loire, France

Orléans is a prefecture and commune in north-central France, about 111 kilometres southwest of Paris. It is the capital of the Loiret department and of the Centre-Val de Loire region.

Contents

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.

Régine Pernoud was a French historian and archivist.

Herring forage fish, mostly belonging to the family Clupeidae

Herring are forage fish, mostly belonging to the family Clupeidae.

Lent is a solemnity religious observance in the Catholic liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and denial of ego. This event is observed in the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, and Catholic Churches. Some Anabaptist and evangelical churches also observe the Lenten season.

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. [3] :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. [3] :61–62

Battle of Agincourt English victory in the Hundred Years War

The Battle of Agincourt was one of the greatest English victories in the Hundred Years' War. It took place on 25 October 1415 near Azincourt in the County of Saint-Pol, in northern France. England's unexpected victory against a numerically superior French army boosted English morale and prestige, crippled France, and started a new period in the war during which the English began enjoying great military successes.

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. [3] :62

Wagon fort

A wagon fort is a mobile fortification made of wagons arranged into a rectangle, a circle or other shape and possibly joined with each other, an improvised military camp. It is also known as a laager.

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. [3] :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.

Rouvray-Sainte-Croix Commune in Centre-Val de Loire, France

Rouvray-Sainte-Croix is a commune in the Loiret department in north-central France.

Jean de Dunois 15th-century French noble

Jean de Dunois, born under the name "Jean Levieux Valois des Orléans", then better known by his noble titles as Jean de Dunois, also called John of Orléans and Jean de Duno, was the illegitimate son of Louis I, Duke of Orléans, by Mariette d'Enghien. His nickname, the "Bastard of Orléans", was a term of higher hierarchy and respect, since it acknowledged him as a first cousin to the king and acting head of a cadet branch of the royal family during his half-brother's captivity. In 1439 he received the county of Dunois from his half-brother, Charles, Duke of Orléans, and later king Charles VII made him count of Longueville.

Joan of Arc French folk heroine and Roman Catholic saint

Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans", is considered a heroine of France for her role during the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years' War, and was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint. She was born to Jacques d'Arc and Isabelle Romée, a peasant family, at Domrémy in north-east France. Joan claimed to have 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 uncrowned 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 coronation at Reims. This long-awaited event boosted French morale and paved the way for the final French victory.

Aftermath and significance

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. [3] :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 Rouvrey 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.

See also

Notes

  1. Wavrin 1891, pp. 162, 164–5.
  2. Barker 2012, p. 101.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Devries, Kelly. Joan of Arc a military leader. The History Press 2003. ISBN   978-0752460611.

Related Research Articles

The 1420s decade ran from January 1, 1420, to December 31, 1429.

Year 1429 (MCDXXIX) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar.

Siege of Orléans Turning point and French Victory in the Hundred Years War

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 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.

La Hire French noble

Étienne de Vignolles, called La Hire, was a French military commander during the Hundred Years' War.

John Fastolf 14th/15th-century English knight

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 consider, 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.

Battle of Patay A battle during the Hundred Years War

The Battle of Patay was the culminating engagement of the Loire Campaign of the Hundred Years' War between the French and English in north-central France. It was a decisive victory for the French and with heavy losses inflicted on the corps of veteran English longbowmen. 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 were unable to catch up to the vanguard as it continued to pursue the English for several miles.

Jean II, Duke of Alençon 15th-century Duke of Alençon

John II of Alençon was the son of John I of Alençon and his wife Marie of Brittany, Lady of La Guerche (1391–1446), daughter of John V, Duke of Brittany and Joan of Navarre. 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, who called him "le beau duc".

Robert de Baudricourt, Seigneur de Baudricourt, Blaise, Buxy and Sorcy was a minor figure of 15th century French nobility. The son of the Chamberlain of the Duke of Bar, his principal claim to fame is to have been the first stepping stone in the career of Joan of Arc.

Battle of Jargeau

The Battle of Jargeau took place on 11–12 June 1429. It was Joan of Arc's first offensive battle. Shortly after relieving the siege at Orléans, French forces recaptured the neighbouring district along the Loire river. This campaign was the first sustained French offensive in a generation in the Hundred Years' War.

Battle of Beaugency (1429)

The Battle of Beaugency took place on 16 and 17 June 1429. It was one of Joan of Arc's battles. Shortly after relieving the siege at Orléans, French forces recaptured the neighboring district along the Loire river. This campaign was the first sustained French offensive in a generation during the Hundred Years' War.

Alternative historical interpretations of Joan of Arc

There are a number of revisionist theories about Joan of Arc which contradict the established account of her life. These include the theory that she was in fact guilty of the heresy for which she was condemned; that bones and other alleged relics come from her; that she escaped death at the stake and lived out her life in secret.

Siege of Compiègne

The Siege of Compiègne (1430) was Joan of Arc's final military action. Her career as a leader ended with her capture by the Burgundians during a skirmish outside the town on 23 May 1430. Although this was otherwise a minor siege, both politically and militarily, the loss of France's most charismatic and successful commander was an important event of the Hundred Years' War.

Events from the 1420s in England.

Loire Campaign (1429) A military campaign during the Hundred Years War

The Loire Campaign was a campaign launched by Joan of Arc during the Hundred Years' War. The Loire was cleared of all English and Burgundian troops.

Events from the year 1429 in France

References

Coordinates: 48°04′N1°44′E / 48.067°N 1.733°E / 48.067; 1.733