Tomorrow marks 600 years since the battle of Agincourt, on the 25 October 1415. (For an introduction on the battle and it’s context, click here please see this link.) In this post, you can get to know the key figures that fought on both sides on that day, and find out more about their experience of the historic battle.
Each of these individuals is represented on the Royal Armouries’ Agincourt diorama, a key component of our commemorative exhibition now showing at the Tower of London. The images used below feature these stunning figures, made by Perry Miniatures. To find out more about how the model was made, please see this link.
King Henry V of England
Henry V, the great-grandson of Edward III, became king of England in 1413. On his succession he made his plans to recover English rights under the 1360 Treaty of Brétigny. The victory at Agincourt was followed by further campaigns in France culminating in the Treaty of Troyes in May 1420 whereby Henry was recognised as Regent of France and heir to Charles VI. Henry V died suddenly aged 35 on 31 August 1422 at Vincennes apparently from dysentery. To find out more about the Hundred Years context of Agincourt and Henry’s claim to the French throne please click this link.
Edward, duke of York
Grandson of Edward III and cousin of Henry IV, Edward, duke of York had fought with Prince Henry in Wales. For the Agincourt campaign he undertook to provide 400 troops. He died at the battle of Agincourt. His body was boiled and the bones brought back to England for interment at Fotheringhay in Northamptonshire.
Humphrey, duke of Gloucester
Humphrey, duke of Gloucester – the youngest brother of Henry V – was twenty-five at the time of the 1415 expedition. He agreed to provide 200 men-at-arms and 600 archers for the campaign, the second largest retinue after that of his elder brother, Clarence. Wounded in the battle he was reputedly protected by the King. Upon the death of his brother, King Henry V of England in 1422, Humphrey became Lord Protector to his young nephew King Henry VI. He died suddenly on 23 February 1447 and is buried at the abbey of St Albans.
Thomas, Lord Camoys
Thomas, Lord Camoys was one of the oldest men at Agincourt having been born in c. 1350 (making him 65 years old). A warrior of considerable experience his age gave him natural authority over other captains and soldiers. He commanded the rearguard which was intended to enter the battle slightly later. He died in March 1421.
Sir Thomas Erpingham
Sir Thomas Erpingham contracted to provide 20 men-at-arms, including himself, two knights bachelor and 60 archers. The Burgundian chroniclers Monstrelet, Le Fèvre and Waurin describe him drawing up Henry’s archers ready for battle as well as exhorting everyone to fight well. Riding with an escort in front of the archers, he supposedly threw a baton into the air, which was the signal to attack. These chroniclers then say that he joined the battle of the king. He died in 1428.
Sir John Cornewall (Cornwall)
Married to Henry IV’s sister, Elizabeth, and therefore Henry V’s uncle by marriage, Sir John Cornewall was closely involved in the events of 1415. For the campaign he contracted to provide 30 men-at-arms, including himself as knight banneret, and 90 archers. The battle was very profitable for Cornewall. One of his principal captives was Louis de Bourbon, count of Vendôme (see below).
For a brief period between 1429 and 1432 the duke of Orléans was imprisoned at his castle at Ampthill in Bedfordshire.
Charles, d’Albret had been Constable of France and therefore commander-in-chief of the French royal armies since 1402. He and Marshal Boucicaut (below) advised caution at Agincourt, but their advice was ignored by the young French princes. D’Albret died during the battle while leading the vanguard and was buried in the Franciscan convent of Vieil-Hesdin in Artois.
Jean le Meingre, Marshal Boucicaut
Jean le Meingre, Marshal Boucicaut was a seasoned military commander with experience in the Northern Cusades and against the Turks. In the week before the battle of Agincourt, Boucicaut, Alençon and Richemont apparently drew up a plan for how to tackle the English army in the field. Events of course took a very different course. Boucicaut was taken to England as a prisoner in November 1415 with other leading commanders. Boucicaut remained in custody, his ransom unpaid, probably dying at Metheley in Yorkshire on 25 June 1421 at the age of fifty-six. His body was returned to France and buried at Tours, alongside that of his father. More information on this gentlemen to follow soon…
Jean, duke of Alençon
Jean, duke of Alençon led the central body of the French army and was among the ‘young princes’ who advocated fighting the king of England in a pitched battle. According to the chronicler Monstrelet, Jean attacked the main body of the English army, killing the duke of York and cutting a fleuron (a flower-shaped decoration) from Henry’s crown with his axe, but was then killed by the English king’s bodyguards. The duke’s body was taken for burial in the abbey of Saint-Martin de Sées within his duchy.
Charles, duke of Orléans
Charles, duke of Orléans fought in the vanguard and was found at the end of the battle lying on the battlefield under a heap of dead. He was taken to England where he remained until 1440. During his captivity, Orléans kept himself occupied by writing poetry in French and in English. He is in fact remembered more as a poet than a warrior.
Clignet de Brébant
Clignet de Brébant, Admiral of France was connected to the Duke of Orléans, and as a young man was part of his household. He led the cavalry charge at Agincourt against the English archers on the Tramecourt side of the battlefield. He was not taken prisoner at the battle and remained active in the Orléanist party for some years until his death around 1428.
Arthur, count of Richemont
From 1413 Arthur, count of Richemont, lived in the entourage of the Dauphin Louis, Duke of Guyenne and became one of his favourites. Richemont was in the vanguard at the battle. He was found lying wounded on the battlefield and was taken prisoner by the English. He remained in England until his provisional release in 1419 to collect money for his ransom. He accepted the treaty of Troyes and in 1421 paid homage to Henry V.
To hear about how our Agincourt diorama was created directly from the model-makers David Marshall and the Perry Brothers, please click here. The model forms part of the Royal Armouries Agincourt exhibition at the Tower of London, open from 23 October until the 31 January. During the October half term there will be a lively programme of family events and activities to accompany the exhibition. For all the details please visit our website. To find out more about Agincourt, take a look at our other exhibition blog posts here.