Friday, May 8, 2009

Treaty of Bretigny

It was on this day in 1360, in Bretigny, France that a treaty was agreed between Edward and the Dauphin of France, Charles. This agreement gave Edward 1/3 of France, through inheritance or conquest.

Since 1354, Edward had been looking for a permanent peace agreement between England and France. He had sent his greatest friend, Henry, duke of Lancaster, chief general and diplomat of the Hundred Years War to try and negotiate a permanent peace settlement; so far each side had not been able to compromise. Edward was around 42, and had been fighting France for 17 years. For the last 4 years, since his battle with the Castilian fleet in August 1350, he had been relatively passive, staying in England and building splendid palaces: Windsor, Westminster, Henley, Sheen, and Eltham. The War had gone on in many territories, mainly Brittany since 1352. John II, son of Philip, had wanted to outdo his father and had launched multiple attacks that had been, on the whole, successful.
In 1354, Charles of Narrave and his brother, Philip had murdered a close friend of John: the Constable, Charles of Spain. When John retaliated, Charles fled to the duke of Lancaster, imploring for Edward's help. When Edward heard this, he gave orders for an army to muster, only to find out that Charles had been payed off by John.
Edward was not to be outdone. In 1355, he launched an attack from Calais, while his son, the Black Prince, launched one from his territory of Aquitaine. Edward spent his three weeks in France milling around and accomplishing nothing, and having to eventually to return to England to protect it from Scotland. His son had more success when he fought John at Poitiers in 1356, capturing the French king himself. This gave Edward a chance to reclaim all his ancestors had lost.
Edward demanded the following territories: Aquitaine, Saintonge, Angoumois, Poitou, Limousin, Quercy, Perigord, Bigorre, Guare, the Agenais, Ponthieu, Calais and Guines. In January 1359, John added Normandy, Brittany, Maine, Touraine and Anjou. Edward was impressed and set John's ransom down from 666,667 pounds to 500,000 and threw in all the other French prisoners for free.
In 1359, Edward, outraged at the French not accepting his proposal, laid siege to Rheims, and then failing that, Paris. After much deliberation, on May 8, 1360 Edward and the French came to agreement. On May 18, he landed at Rye harbor. He had returned in triumph.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

New Warfare

Edward's military exploits still invoke awe to this day. He did more than any other individual in history to take war from hand-to-hand fighting to projectile warfare. His methods were kill or be killed. He encouraged chivalry, yet he Edward, the great knight, with his new methods, brought about the end of the knightly age.

Gunpowder had been known in Europe for around eighty years by the time Edward started using it in 1333. The first test of a cannon had been in 1326. This cannon fired a full three quarters of a mile (or so modern test show).
Edward wanted to combine the use of guns with another element: archery. His fabled grandfather, Edward I, had conquered Wales and in his conquest he had acquired a very valuable asset : Welsh longbowmen. A longbow reached a full six feet in height and an expert at this bow could get of 10 to 12 shots every minute. They could fire seven arrows before a crossbowman could fire one bolt.
The first real test of the of the longbow came in 1332, when Edward Balliol, who was being supported as King of Scots by Edward, found himself trapped at a place called Dupplin Moor. The English were outnumbered by 10 to 1, yet through a last ditch defense by archery, the English won the day. Edward heard about this and when he seiged Berwick in 1333 and was given battle at Halidon Hill on July 19 he put the same work into effect.
Edward's army was 9,000 strong. The Scots were about 20,000 strong. They charged up the hill to the English position and found themselves facing English longbowmen. The Scots couldn't muster their courage and were beat down the hill.
Edward hadn't watched the carnage. He was to busy being the first man to throw himself into the fray and cutting down Scots with his sword.

It was in 1346 that Edward met his greatest military success at Crecy, in northern France. The English army was 10,000 strong while the French army, under Philip VI was 30,000 strong( there may have been as many as 80,000). The English were divided into three battalions: The Earl of Northampton on the left, Edward in the middle( really in reserve), and Edward, Prince of Wales, Edward's son, on the right. The crossbowman advanced forward, but their bowstrings were wet and they couldn't fire. The longbowmen ripped the 6,000 crossbowmen apart. Almost all of them were killed.
The knights were horrified when they saw the crossbowman run, but they quickly steadied their nerves and charged at the English. A total of fifteen charges were beaten back by the archers. At one point the French broke through the vanguard. The prince was in command, and although only sixteen, rushed at the knights, slashing at them with his sword. He was knocked to his knees, and his standard-bearer was forced to put his standard down so he could draw his sword and defend his master. A knight was sent back to Edward to ask for help. Edward asked the Bishop of Durham to lead twenty knights to help his son. The prince was laughing and leaning on his sword by the time the knights found him.
About 100-300 Englishmen died. The entire French army was gone, with nearly 30,000 men killed.
Edward did not fight at Crecy. There was no need to. He had commanded operations and become Edward the Conqueror. His new war policy had helped make him a legend.