Henry V was crowned as King of England on April 9, 1413, and set his eyes on a military campaign in France shortly thereafter. Knowing an invasion of France would require a rather large naval and land force he began bolstering the English military. Henry saw an opportunity to invade while France was seemingly vulnerable. The French were bogged down in a civil war, and king Charles VI was mentally unstable. Henry V put great importance on having a sizeable archer force in his military, even using archers from his own earldom at Chester for his personal bodyguard. On March 10, 1413, less than two months after Henry’s coronation he ordered that no more longbows be sold to the Scots, and began recruiting archers for his campaign.
The longbow is considerably more powerful than the Welsh bows made of elm that were used in the 13th century and prior. The longbow was made out of ash, which is much stronger than elm, and provides a 127% increase in bending strength. The longbow was two feet longer and the bow string was drawn to the archer’s cheek, rather than his chest, giving a few more inches to the draw and increasing the arrow’s velocity and penetrating force.
Henry off for Harfleur, a port town in Normandy with 6,000 to 9,000 men, with every five out of six men being a longbow archer, the rest being men-at-arms. The usual composition of Henry...
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...en cheek bone during the siege of Harfleur but still pushed on to Agincourt where he took a crossbow bolt to the eye at the battle, and continued to serve in the royal army for years later. He wrote a letter to Henry VI which survived to this day. In old age he asks the King for assistance, as he was never rewarded for any of his military service. Hostell describes his injuries in the letter and goes on to write “…as a result of which he is much enfeebled and weakened, and now being of great age has fallen into poverty, being much in debt and unable to help himself…” Such has often been the fate of soldiers from the ranks.
Six hundred years after the battle it is still celebrated by the English and studied widely. The English being severely outnumbered, tired and weakened from a lengthy siege and march through Normandy, by most accounts should have lost the battle.
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