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Crécy, battle of

Crécy, battle of, 1346. The first great English land victory of the Hundred Years War was the high point of a campaign which began with the sack of Caen, and ended with the successful siege of Calais. Edward III landed unexpectedly in Normandy, and was forced by the French strategy of destroying bridges across the Seine to march almost up to Paris. He was able to repair the bridge at Poissy; challenges to meet the French in open battle yielded no results, and the English army marched northwards. The Somme was crossed at Blanche-Taque, and at Crécy in Ponthieu (département Somme) the English prepared for battle. Edward drew up his force on 26 August with knights and men-at-arms dismounted, flanked by archers. The French first sent forward Genoese mercenary crossbowmen, whose weapons, their bowstrings slackened by a shower of rain, proved no match for the English longbows. Cannon, used for the first time in a major battle, helped to terrify the French. The French cavalry charged through their own retreating crossbowmen. The English archers brought down many of the French horses; the dismounted men-at-arms stood firm. Edward III commanded his men from the height of a nearby windmill; his son the Black Prince, in the forefront of the fighting, provided charismatic leadership. The final stages of the battle witnessed moments of pointless chivalric heroism from the French, notably when the blind king of Bohemia was led into the mêlée, his knights bound to him by ropes. All were slain. At the close, the English horses were brought forward, those who were still capable mounted, and the battle turned into a rout. After the victory, Edward laid siege to Calais, which surrendered in August 1347, giving the English a vital line of communication to the continent, which they kept for more than 200 years.

Michael Prestwich

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Crécy, Battle of

Crécy, Battle of a battle between the English and the French in 1346 near the village of Crécy-en-Ponthieu in Picardy, at which the forces of Edward III defeated those of Philip VI. It was the first major English victory of the Hundred Years War.

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Crécy, Battle of

Crécy, Battle of (1346) First major battle of the Hundred Years' War. The English led by Edward III and his son, Edward the Black Prince, defeated the French of Philip VI. The English longbow and superior tactics produced the victory.

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