Fire Swords, England’s History

In 1337, Edward and the country of maybe 4 million people, against the most powerful country in Christendom. A country five times it’s size. Edward was never to gain a reputation as a stay-at-home kind of lad. He was confident bullish aggressive, a warrior. He would bend the world to his will. Edward had a plan. In a letter to the pope, he wrote the best way to avoid the inconvenience as a war, is to pursue it away from one’s own country. It is more sensible for us to fight our notorious enemy in his own realm. Edward would attack. He would follow the strategy of the Chevauchee, French word for raid on horseback He would impose what he called fire and sword on the French countryside Marching on a wide 20-mile front a hideous wave of destruction and death burning and killing everything in their way His ship also would cause enormous economic damage. It would humiliate the opposing Valois King Philip and show Philip subjects He could not protect them and that they should instead choose Edward as their King Philip would be forced to come and fight a set battle where Edward was sure he could win or at least that was the plan England was small and insignificant so Edward started by getting himself some big friends including the Holy Roman Emperor and Holy Roman Emperor did not come cheap, but in 13:39 Edward could march with his army into France head held high banners flying towards glory In fact, his banners were flying towards humiliation and failure. The Holy Roman Emperor liked his gold very much He was less enthusiastic about doing anything for it such as supporting a balmy English loser So he chilled out her home spent a quiet night in with his gold instead Edwards campaign of 1339 went nowhere he’s useless allies had cost a fortune and by 1340 Edward had a pile of debt So high he could hang glide off it and he was forced to borrow more and more from Italian banking houses in Gascony the war was going badly worse the French took control of the English Channel with a large well-equipped Fleet against which the English could throw up only merchant ships Edwards councilors his naval captain’s and his Nobles told him he could not break the French blockade But Edward was angry and would not listen he snored at his council I will cross and you who are frightened where there is no fear You may stay at home and so in 1340 the King of England Edward the third Against the advice of all his experts attacked a navy almost twice his size Head-on near the town of slice off the coast of Flanders to the amazement of France and all Christendom Edward one 18,000 French sailors lost their lives But whilst loys was a great victory which gave England back control the English Channel success on land still seemed a long way away The only way Edward could get the money he needed to carry on was by Parliament voting him a special tax So Edward went to Parliament to ask for the money the Parliament was tired of the expense of Edward’s war and Refused but Edward would not give up in two small battles in Brittany The English achieved stunning victories against absurd odds Edward had two advantages the first was aggression and superior leadership Edward was lucky to gather around him captains of extraordinary ability Walther money a wildly enthusiastic Aggressive and talented tactical commander who would charge into every battle with incredible courage in the battle Cry mani on his lips Henry of Lancaster a cultured man who had write a book called the book of holy medicines Lamenting his misspent youth of wine women and song and advocating the religious life who was also a visionary military Strategist and winner of another absurdly unlikely victory in the South of France the capital de bouche a gas Co was the leading cavalry commander of his age Together these men around Edward would make history The second was that the English had taken the rulebook of medieval military tactics torn it into tiny tiny little pieces rewritten the rules stamped on the tiny pieces of the old rules ground them into the mud and danced on them every Medieval army knew the battles were won by heavily armoured Chivalric aristocratic Knights who sat on horseback and who by the sheer weight of their charge? Irresistible smashed through any opposition but Edward made English Knights fight on foot They did not charge they waited for their enemy then Archers were set on the flanks and between the units of knights all other European Armies used the crossbow because it needed little scale to anybody could be trained to use it English and Welsh archers were armed with the deadly longbow The longbow was a six foot bow of you massively difficult to draw and requiring a life of training from boyhood to use effectively Handily, that’s exactly what they had since in all the villages and towns fathers and sons practiced every week The longbow had a longer range than the crossbow hit like a truck and could penetrate all but the best plate armor It had a much faster rate of fire than a crossbow Each longbow could fire a deadly storm of six arrows a minute Edward would teach the French that the most powerful weapon on the battlefield Was a lightly armored lowborn peasant But Edwards cause looked lost his debts were so massive that he defaulted sending to italian banking houses into bankruptcy England had now been fighting for eight years and had very little to show for it And edward could find no one to lend him money were still in 1346 King Philip of France Gathered a massive army and prepared to drive the English out of France once and for all so Edward did the only sane and rational thing when broke a massively outnumbered he spent every last penny he had Raised an army and invaded he landed in Normandy with a small army and a plan He would burn and destroy French countryside as he marched north towards Flanders pulling Philip behind him and then he’d join it with a Flemish army and with the combined Army, turn fight and destroy the French in battle but as he marched north He was in danger of being trapped by the rivers before he could meet the army of Flanders and it was critical that Edward found A way over the river Somme desperately the English marched the French snapping at their heels again And again the Fords and bridges were held against them and then one night as the French were closing in he found an Englishman living In France, and he told them of a secret fort marked by a white stone It was called blanched tack in the dead of night the English slipped over the ford and were away but the next day Disaster the army of Flanders were not coming. The only reasonable thing to do now was to run for the coast England and safety But Edward didn’t like to do the reasonable thing and so at a place called Cressy without the Flemish he turned his army to face the French it was time to fight to his son and heir the sixteen year old Edward known to History as the Black Prince he gave command at the left wing as Philip marched his army towards Crecy The roads were lined with French shouting kill kill on the 26th of August 1346 Philips army drew near the English force The French was strung out for miles Phil its best commanders advise caution put on this comfy jim-jams the Queen gave you last Christmas Don the Royal slippers get a goodnights news and everyone catch up send around the English in a river of their own blood After a light breakfast, but Philip look to the puny English army now less than one-third his size He looked at the contemptible English peasants and their bows He heard the cries of kill in his ears and he ordered the attack A wave of crossbowmen came forward to soften the English up with thousands of bolts But before they could get him range the English bent through fired and unleashed a storm the crossbowmen ran or died Furious philip ordered the cream of French chivalry to attack as they thundered towards the English lines They brutally cut down any of their own cross women in the way and the flower of friendship weary started to die even where the finest armor protected them Horses were vulnerable and the chaos and screams of men and horses as the arrows struck home was terrible between waves of attacks English and Welsh archers Sprinted into the field retrieved arrows and thrust daggers into the exposed eyes or necks of the helpless. Fallen French knights but the courage of the French was undeniable the blind King John of Bohemia ordered two of his Companions to tie their horses to his and lead him into the fray All three were found at the end still linked together in death and despite Horrible losses through sheer courage and weight of numbers many French Knights did make it to the English lines finally there They could crush their tormentors, but the tiny contingent of English Knights would not break at one point The young black prince was so hard pressed The one of his commanders begged Edward to send reinforcements ed would turn to his good parenting guide teaching self-reliance section Tell my son this is his chance to win his Spurs The Black Prince was on his own and the Black Prince did not break eventually Edward knew it was time to finish this as the massive French army milled in shock and chaos and pain and confusion the English Knights mounted their horses and leveled their Lance’s and the French fled and Europe reeled with shocked at the news the flower of Christendom lay dead in a field of blood slaughtered by English peasants

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