Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Battle of Agincourt & A New Release!

The European nations have often fought with one another for power and land, trying to siege each other’s thrones.

In 1415, (in the midst of the Hundred Years’ War) when Henry V ruled England, things were no different. Already battle seasoned and having taken an arrow through the eye, King Henry wanted what he felt was justly his—France.

Henry V was not afraid to participate in war. He was front row and center, leading his army in combat. (The French King did not.) Probably why his men were so eager to fight for him. And on the morning of October 25, 1415, with a disease ravaged, hungry, low on weapons and vastly outnumber army by nearly 3 to 1, Henry gave the cry for battle.

On a wide open field, between the woods of Tramecourt and the village of Agincourt (Azincourt) the French blocked the English’s way to Calais—the ultimate prize in Henry’s campaign for French domination.

Luck was on the side of the English, or God as Henry V would claim, stating that France was part of his “just rights and inheritances.” The English surprised the French in their intiation of attack, and oddly enough the sheer numbers of Frenchman were their undoing as it was hard to coordinate their rebuttal. They were not positioned correctly, and ultimately their unpreparedness led to their defeat.

Overwhelmed by the number of French troops, the English held out, and the French became weary. The English had the advantage on the terrain, and they held no quarter. It was a desperate and savage battle with much hand-to-hand combat. King Henry even stood watch over his brother who was wounded, without a care for his own safety—even taking an axe to his own head, which cut off one of the fleur-de-lis on his crown.

What followed was not very chivalric…King Henry ordered the killing of the wounded enemy and those who were unarmed. Only men of power were to be held prisoner. Pillaging also ensued…

In the end, roughly 4000-10,000 French were dead, and only 1600 English. The Battle of Agincourt was a massive loss for the French, devastating. Within their dead numbers were many nobles including three dukes—and among prisoners was the Duke D’Orleans and Jean le Mange—the Marshall of France.

The Battle of Agincourt was only the beginning—but not right away. The English had devastated the French enough that they were able to return home to England for over a year to prepare for another battle. By 1420, Henry V was named regent and heir to the French throne—which was further fool-proofed when he married Catherine of Valois, daughter of Charles VI of France.

Ironically, Henry VIII, a descendant of Henry V wanted to emulate his predecessor, and continued the fight for French domination, holding Calais throughout his reign. In the end, his daughter, Mary I, lost France in a crushing blow to England.

In my newest medieval romance release, A LADY’S CHARADE, the Battle of Agincourt, while it doesn’t take precedence in the story, sets the stage.

Excerpt from Chapter Two of A LADY’S CHARADE on the famous battle… (should be noted in fiction, author takes creative license.)

©Eliza Knight, 2011

Calais, France
Mid-October, 1415

The air was crisp and ripe with the scents of battle. The metallic odor of blood wafted in the morning fog. The smell of the dead and the living intermingled to create an aroma that can only come after fierce warfare. Whoops and hollers echoed across the fields from the victorious men. Groans of pain drifted in the wind.

There are some days that remain the same, and some days that change the entire path of your life. Today would be one of those days.

Lord Alexander Drake, Baron of Hardwyck, walked briskly to the ornately decorated tents upon the hill. His heart beat erratically in his chest. The rush from such a fierce fight and jubilation at victory raced through his veins. The guards nodded and stepped aside. King Henry V sat in his high-backed wooden chair, a serene expression on his face.

“Your majesty, I came as soon as I received your message.” Alexander bowed low to his sovereign. He made sure to drop his gaze, as the good king did not like his vassals to look him in the eyes.

Discreetly Alexander sniffed himself. The stench was not as strong as he feared. At least he wouldn’t offend his leader too much.

“Lord Hardwyck. Stand. I am pleased you came so quickly.”

“It is my pleasure to serve you, majesty.” As he stood, Alexander attempted to wipe some of the blood from his hands.

“By the faith I owe to God and Saint George, you Lord Hardwyck, have made your king proud. However, before I can let you return to your holdings in England, I have one last conquest for you, which you will find benefits you greatly.”

“I am humbly at your service, majesty.” From the corner of his eye, Alexander could see his own father, the Earl of Northumberland, enter the tent and nod in approval to the king’s words.

Inwardly he groaned. Although the idea of another conquest excited him, he was disappointed he would not be returning home. His men were tired, he hadn’t seen his lands in months and he was in dire need of a warm, soft and willing wench. How long would this next conquest last?

It had to be nearly four months, since they left England to assist the king in regaining his lands and titles in France. Alexander was only too happy for the king they’d done well. They’d just won the battle of Agincourt. It was a bloody affair, one they weren’t sure at first they’d be able to win, having been outnumbered nearly three to one. Alexander was lucky to have only lost twenty of his men, and only too glad the dysentery epidemic seemed to pass right by his regiment.

“Baron Fergusson crossed the borders from the insufferable Scotland Lowlands and laid claim to South Hearth Castle,” King Henry claimed.

Alexander’s gaze shot to his father. South Hearth was one of his father’s holdings in the north of England, just on the border, and often a seat of great controversy between the Scots and themselves—the former believing the holding was on Scottish lands. He was also aware that Fergusson was the last Scottish chief to rule over South Hearth and its lands.

“Even with our latest treaty, the damnable Scots will act like savages. I have heard on good authority, he is planning a siege against several of our other holdings on the border of Scotland. He is a difficult man, a most treacherous man. I feel he will attempt an attack soon. That cannot happen. We must attack first. You will besiege South Hearth and return it to English rule.” King Henry took a deep breath. The king’s eyes bored into Alexander, causing him to shift with unease. “I wish to further foolproof the deed.”


A LADY’S CHARADE is now available (in ebook) from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. (If you do not have an e-reader, Amazon and B&N both have programs for reading ebooks on your computer.)

Book Blurb…

From across a field of battle, English knight, Alexander, Lord Hardwyck, spots the object of his desire—and his conquest, Scottish traitor Lady Chloe.

Her lies could be her undoing…

Abandoned across the border and disguised for her safety, Chloe realizes the man who besieged her home in Scotland has now become her savior in England. Her life in danger, she vows to keep her identity secret, lest she suffer his wrath, for he wants her dead.

Or love could claim them both and unravel two countries in the process…

Alexander suspects Chloe is not who she says she is and has declared war on the angelic vixen who's laid claim to his heart. A fierce battle of the minds it will be, for once the truth is revealed they will both have to choose between love and duty.

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