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The Hundred Years War Continues: The Black Prince After Crécy

Military History

The Hundred Years War Continues: The Black Prince After Crécy

In the spring of 1356, Edward the Black Prince launched another chevauchée north from Gascony to attack King John.

In the spring of 1356, Edward the Black Prince launched another chevauchée north from Gascony to attack King John.

by Robert Suhr

In the spring of 1356, Edward the Black Prince launched another chevauchée north from Gascony to attack King John. With Paris under threat from the south, the king had no choice but to lead his army south to face Prince Edward.

The English marched to the Loire River near Tours, then fell back. Historians cannot agree if Prince Edward retreated to a better defensive position, or if King John forced him to withdraw by threatening his line of communication. Whatever the reason, the morning of September 19, 1356, found 6,000 English on a ridge behind a hedge. Advancing toward them were 20,000 to 30,000 French in four columns.

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Edward Black PrinceOnly the French vanguard was mounted, the other three columns having left their horses in Poitiers. Firing from a marsh, English archers drove off the mounted French men-at-arms. Then the first column of dismounted French fought the English for hours. Ultimately they fell back. The second battle fled without taking part in the fight.

“St. George!”

The English thought they had won, until King John appeared on a far ridge with 6,000 men and slowly advanced toward them. With his lieutenants crying that the battle was lost, Edward ordered his men-at-arms to mount and charge. At the same time, he ordered a flanking attack by his small mounted reserve.

The English charge brought the French to a halt. Having expended all their arrows, the English archers drew their swords and advanced on foot. To the battle cry “St. George!” the flanking force struck the French left.

The French line held for a while but eventually collapsed. However, this was also when English battle discipline failed. The mounted men chased the French all the way to Poitiers before returning to the Black Prince.

The battle took another terrible toll on the French chivalry—2,000 dead and 2,000 prisoners. Among the latter was King John, who would spend the remainder of his life as a captive.

The Hundred Years’ War Continues

Like Crécy, Poitiers gave the English no lasting advantage. King Edward campaigned against Paris, yet could not induce the regent to give battle.

In 1360, England and France agreed to the Treaty of Britigny, but it did not resolve the major issues of the struggle. The Hundred Years’ War would last another 90 years.

Originally published April 27, 2014

Add Your Comments

3 Comments

  1. John
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    WOW -AFTER OBTAINING AN MA IN HISTORY CLASS OF 2012 I FEEL LIKE i HAVE DISCOVERED A GOLD MINE. THANKS

  2. Claire
    Posted January 14, 2015 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    What manuscript is the header image from?

    • Claire
      Posted January 14, 2015 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      Found it. It’s MS Laud Misc. 653, f. 001r

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