On this day in 1429 the Battle of Herrings took place near Rouvray, just north of Orléans, France. The battle of was part of the larger conflict later to become known as the Hundred Years War between England and France and their allies.
The cause of the battle was an attempt by French and Scottish forces to intercept an English baggage train on its way to supply Englis forces laying siege to the city of Orléans. It’s from this train that the battle get’s it’s weird name, as it happened to be carrying a lot of herring at the time
The English army had started the siege on October 12th 1428. The convoy of supplies included cannons, cannonballs, crossbow shafts and herring and consisted of around 300 carts and wagons which had been sent from Paris. The herring were included as Lent was approaching and meat would not be a part of the army's diet during this period. In support of the supplies was a military force led by Sir John Fastolf.
As the convoy approached Orléans a French force, supported by their Scottish allies intercepted them. The force, numbering between 3,000 and 4,000 outnumbered the English and was led by Charles of Bourbon and the Scot Sir John Stewart of Darnley. The English used their wagons to form a defensive barrier with sharped spikes in front to add extra protection, making use of the successful tactic employed at the Battle of Agincourt.
The French attacked first with their gunpowder artillery – a relatively new piece of equipment to warfare at this time - which for its lack of use to date still caused damage to the wagons and English troops. The Scottish infantry then attacked, against the orders of the Count of Clermont, forcing the artillery to stop its bombardment prematurely. Protected by their wagons, the English archers and crossbowmen were able to inflict significant damage on the poorly armored Scots.
This in turn caused the French calvary to attempt to support their allies by a cavalry charge, which was stopped by the stakes and English archers. Those in the French and Scots ranks waiting to join battle were slow in the uptake due to the pummeling their comrades were taking. Consequently, the English took the chance to turn the tables of the battle and went on the counterattack, striking the sides and rear of their opposition and causing the French and Scots to flee.
Once the English were safe, they reformed the convoy and went on to deliver their supplies to the besieging English forces at Orléans. Inside the city the morale reached a new low and the French even considered surrender. However, on the same day a certain Joan of Arc who was meeting with Robert de Baudricourt. During their meeting she informed de that "the Dauphin's arms had that day suffered a great reverse near Orléans”. She would later play a significant part in lifting the siege of Orléans, which occurred on May 8th 1429.
As for John Fastolf, due to his gallantry he was made a Knight of the Garter. He would go onto a more lasting reputation providing a basis for one of Shakespeare's characters Sir John Falstaff and being depicted in the 2019 Netflix film The King, where he is the young Prince Henry's companion at the tavern and later is seen to be responsible for Henry V's victory at Agincourt (for which there is no historical evidence, but you know, TV, yay!).
These scenes were built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on British and European history. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
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