The night before the Battle of Agincourt, the English priests held Mass. The army received forgiveness for their sins and armed themselves for battle in the morning. Historians disagree on the exact number of combatants on the battlefield on October 25, likely about 6-7,000 English, mostly infantry, and 14-16,000 French troops, mostly knights and men-at-arms. Whatever the actual tally, the English were badly outnumbered, exhausted, and hungry.
The morning of the battle
Henry arrayed his 1,000 or so men-at-arms in three lines, across wet fields between two forests, with about 5,000 archers in between. The battle itself is well documented—the English archers advanced and fired showers of arrows into the French battle line, causing the knights to resent the effrontery. The knights on their huge destriers, bred for battle, charged upon the compacted English line. The fire of the archers brought numbers to the ground, and as the heavily armored men at arms charged on foot, the wounded horses running from the field broke them up and trampled the slow. The casualties mounted as the Frenchmen fell in heaps across their front. The English longbowmen who had done such damage then grabbed axes, hammers, and swords and joined their own men-at-arms, attacking the masses of dying Frenchmen, struggling in the mud and slippery grass. The English had to climb piles of bodies to get at the secondary French attack.
15th Century art depicting French and English archers facing off
Sullen, captured Frenchmen were sent to the rear to await disposition. Henry, fearing an attack by the remaining unbloodied French infantry ordered the prisoners massacred, likely thinking they would take up fallen weapons and attack from the rear. A number of them died at the hands of their captors, thus depriving some of the soldiers of the ransom money they were hoping for.
When the battle finally ceased, the French abandoned the field, leaving behind about 6,000 dead, mostly nobles, including about 120 of the “Great Lords” of France, and 1-2,000 wounded and captured. The flower of the French nobility had been slaughtered on the field of battle. The English lost about 600 men.
King Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt