Amazing statistic - Crecy, Poitiers etc

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Amazing statistic - Crecy, Poitiers etc

Postby admin » 22 Mar 2010 16:08

more aristocrats were killed at Crécy and Poitiers than by the Black Death.


From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward,_the_Black_Prince

I don't know where that stat is taken from, but assuming it's true it's pretty amazing. It took the French army 10 years to recover after Crecy, to a point where it could take the field against the English army again. And the French army at Poitiers was probably pretty small compared to what it had been at Crecy 10 years before.

I wonder why there was such carnage at Crecy? Why did so many French nobles die, and how did the French King and Prince end up as prisoners? I have read several books about that campaign, including the fairly recent ones by Curry etc, but I still don't really understand how this massacre could have occured.
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Re: Amazing statistic - Crecy, Poitiers etc

Postby Harry » 22 Mar 2010 16:19

could it be taken from old texts??? normally some court scribs or poets are fast with such verses and statements. myth become legend, legend become rumor, rumor become truth... happened often enough.
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Re: Amazing statistic - Crecy, Poitiers etc

Postby admin » 22 Mar 2010 16:40

Not where nobles are concerned, because they were named, known people. We actually know who died.
For common people, I would have agreed.
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Re: Amazing statistic - Crecy, Poitiers etc

Postby Harry » 23 Mar 2010 08:48

yes of course... I didn't meant the amount of dead nobles, but the period for refreshening the blood of french nobles.

maybe it just took them 2 years or 5 years and not 10.
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Re: Amazing statistic - Crecy, Poitiers etc

Postby admin » 23 Mar 2010 10:50

Welll maybe, but that wasn't really my point :)
The bizarre part, to me, is that SO MANY French nobles died at Crecy. At Agincourt we know the unusually large bodycount was because the prisoners were massacred and only a few spared (eg. Boucicault). But that didn't happen at Crecy - in fact lots of French nobles were taken prisoner there. Yet many armoured nobles, like the Blind King of Bohemia along with his sons, were killed. How come? Because they were mounted and their horses got shot to pieces and they fell? Because some of them were wearing totally inadequate armour and got shot to pieces by arrows? For a large group of men wearing the best armour available at the time there does seem to have been an amazing death rate.
Of course we can not give all the credit to the longbows - the 'Black Price' (age 16) and his retinue was nearly overwealmed in hand-to-hand combat at one point.
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Re: Amazing statistic - Crecy, Poitiers etc

Postby Harry » 23 Mar 2010 11:29

I would say that one reason can be, that the horses were not protected enough...

also some of the nobles had only chainmails... so a longbow can easily pierce through the chainmail or through the horses chest. and if you kill a horse in the very first row you may have killed instantly 10 people just by collapsing over the dead animal body and breaking their necks.
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Re: Amazing statistic - Crecy, Poitiers etc

Postby Harry » 23 Mar 2010 11:44

as far as I know (I know more about azincourt, but about crecy) the french people had following problems:

* no range weapons, because the crossbowmen fled from the field
* badly protected horses
* the english also had canons
* once again (like in azincourt) terrible ground surface... mud everywhere and so an ineffective charge of the cavalary
* no good armoury against a warbow from short distances
* terrible doctors and many died just because of an infection or to much bloodloss.
* and most important probably... they where attacking, which was there the biggest problem, because the english were in an almost perfect defending position.,


so, because of this reasons the huge loss of people could be easily possible
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Re: Amazing statistic - Crecy, Poitiers etc

Postby admin » 23 Mar 2010 12:47

The English at Crecy were also at the top of a hill.. a hill which was probably bigger 650 years ago. I'd imagine a 'charge' up a hill is pretty slow when you're having arrows rained on you and mass confusion. If you treble the amount of time it takes to cover 200 yards then you treble the number of arrows hitting you. :shock:
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Re: Amazing statistic - Crecy, Poitiers etc

Postby Harry » 23 Mar 2010 13:02

yep... also a decent reason...

so it is most probable, that just a summ of all this "problems" caused this massive need of body bags..
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Re: Amazing statistic - Crecy, Poitiers etc

Postby Michael S » 23 Mar 2010 15:55

I think that both Crecy and Poitiers were 'scrambling fights', with fluid and un-coordinated battle lines that would have made it difficult for noblemen to escape, seek treatment for their wounds or be guarded by their followers. Repeated attacks would have also meant that men were left exposed before the English were certain of victory, and so I would guess that they would have had less opportunity to surrender for ransom.
At Crecy at least the French were unable to make a co-ordinated withdrawal from the battlefield, Bennett for example says that 'Philip had no control over the action and was only involved in the fighting when the English mounted for the pursuit.' At Poitiers there was broken ground and again a lack of co-ordination between the attacks, which would have isolated the Frenchmen after the charges failed.

By Bennett I mean 'Bennett, M., ‘The Development of Battle Tactics in the Hundred Years War’ in Arms, Armies and Fortifications in the Hundred Years War, eds. A. Curry and M. Hughes, (Woodbridge, 1994), pp. 1-20'. It's a really good scholarly article focusing on French attempts to deal with their failures at Crecy and so on, so I'd definitely recommend it if you can get your hands on it.
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Re: Amazing statistic - Crecy, Poitiers etc

Postby admin » 23 Mar 2010 17:14

Yes that seems to have been a large contributing factor, and the way that more and more men kept arriving at the field throughout the day and charging up the hill in an uncoordinated rush. The French numbers may have totalled 3 or 4 times the English, but if they only ever attacked in dribs and drabs then they would have been effectively outnumbered in actual combat every time.
An interesting note in Curry's book is that the English army basically sat and waited on the hill for hours, so they were well rested, whereas the French forces had been on long marches and then had to rush up the hill.
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Re: Amazing statistic - Crecy, Poitiers etc

Postby Viking From the East » 25 Mar 2010 01:01

There is a series of programs on youtube I once found - tests of various medieval armour and weapon.
One is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEQfoKg8ZgQ

For the rest - see the stream of this man who posted this one - there are other parts.
It is interesting to watch it thinking of what had happened to the french at Crecy.
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