previous post next post  

Saint Crispin's Day, 1415 and 1854


One is a battle still being fought.  Heh.  And snarked, based on the comments in the post above this one.  Theo Spark, at Last of the Few, notes that today , "...we smacked the crap out of the French at Agincourt and the Light Brigade rode into history at Balaclava and took the Russian Guns."

The early winners, Henry the V and his Army - here, the words Shakespeare put in Henry's mouth:
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

The losers?  And *still* pissed about it?  Constable of France Charles d'Albret and a bunch of panties-in-a-twist modern-day French historians who accuse the English of war crimes, imposing a modern sensibility what was a much more brutal time in the history of the conduct of war.
Exactly 593 years after King Henry V's legendary victory, a revisionist conference will be held at the scene of the triumph.

Academics will suggest that the extent of the feat of arms was massively exaggerated, with claims that the English were hugely outnumbered a lie.

More controversially still, they will say that the foreign invaders used numerous underhand tactics against an honourable enemy.

These included burning prisoners to death and setting 40 bloodthirsty royal bodyguards on to a single Gallic nobleman who had surrendered.

'There's been a distortion of the facts and this conference will attempt to set the record straight,' said Christophe Gilliot, a distinguished French historian who is director of the Medieval History Museum in Agincourt, where the conference will take place.

'We have historians arriving from all over France, and all will produce hard facts concerning the battle, rather than rumours and speculation.

'At the very least the English forces acted dishonourably. The middle ages were a very violent time, of course, but some might accuse the English of acting like what might now be called war criminals.'
No doubt there will be calls for reparations. 

I'm all for correcting the historical record, actually.  I've never been one to accept the contemporary chronicler's numbers as gospel.  They were far more Public Affairs people than they were historians as we understand the term.  Of course, I'm not one to necessarily accept the bean-counter's numbers, either, as Professor Curry did.  The truth, I rather suspect, lies somewhere in the muddle.  But it's bemusing to watch serious people get all twitchy and moralizing when applying today's standards to people from a 20 generation remove.  H/t, CAPT H.

The Charge of the Light Brigade, Balaclava, Crimea, 1854, from the Russian perspective.

Now, the 1854 edition of Saint Crispin's Day didn't go so well for the British participants, as noted by Alfred, Lord Tennyson:
Charging an army while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack & Russian
Reel’d from the sabre-stroke,
Shatter’d & sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse & hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

If you'd like all the words to both bits of literature, go visit Jules Crittenden..

You want stuff on the naval battles today - go see Neptunus Lex and CDR Salamander.


Talk about short shrift to the Navy..........
I have to say that visit to the historic memorial on the Crimean War in Sevastopol area used to be a very interesting experience...
as to the French accusing the English of war crimes during the St. Crispin Day, one of my 'highly educated' co-workers called George Washington a war criminal on Friday.  And she was NOT talking from the English perspective... These are the interesting times we live in...
The middle ages were a very violent time...

Okay, that's typical Gallic understatement. Unmentioned is the fact that only noblemen from a defeated army stood a chance of surviving surrender -- most battles fought during the past umpty-thousand years of recorded history ended in complete routs or complete massacres...


What?  It's short shrift to send people to real sailors than to just slap something up?  Puh-leeze.

Well, from an English perspective, he was a terrorist and rebel, too.  Helps to win.  What was George's crime, in your co-worker's mind?

Olga's co-worker was probably referring to an incident at the start of the French and Indian War.

Washington said the French commander was killed in the battle, the French reported that he was wounded, tried to surrender and was killed by the war-chief of Washington's Indian allies.

Historian Joseph Ellis posits that the French account was probably the true one, but then again, Ellis wasn't totally honest with his *own* history before he wrote Washington's.
Olga's co-worker was probably referring to an incident at the start of the French and Indian War.

Washington said the French commander was killed in the battle, the French reported that he was wounded, tried to surrender and was killed by the war-chief of Washington's Indian allies. Historian Joseph Ellis posits that the French account was probably the true one

But then again, Ellis hasn't exactly been honest with his *own* history, let alone George's...
Well, of course, it is always good to take advantage of real Sailors whenever and wherever possible........


Umm, sorry what are we talking about? I drifted off there for a moment. Oh, yes, this post. I suppose you have a bit of a point, but we didn't even get a picture. You had pictures for the foreigners.

Maybe something like................
HMA Ships, Shropshire and Australia taken from USS Phoenix (CL-46) at Leyte in 1944.

No, she just kept saying 'for killing people'... and refused to clarify when and where except that she was not talking from the English perspective...
I just cannot believe that I heard her statement on the same week I read the French accusation of war crimes back in the 15th century...                                                                                                    I think the Russians should file the war crime charges against the Mongols  for the 4-century-long occupation and against the current Teutons for the massacres of the 13th century,  the current Ukraine should file war crime charges against Sweden and Russia for the damages done during the Poltava battle, and the descendants of the Templars should file the henocide charges against the modern French, while the Poland should file war crime charges against everybody who ever participated in the four Polish divisions.  And everybody files request for reparations against everybody.  That would keep the old Europe and the International Criminal Court busy for the foreseeable future leaving us a clear field to finish the war on terror quickly and efficiently.   

The nice old lady who used to live around the corner, who poured such excellent whisky, and whose cat is now mine (cat's choice) had a grandfather at Balaclava, in the Blues. (the Heavy Brigade) She said that he was never the same after that. Had an uncle blown to smithereens (he was Irish) in the Retreat from Mons. A very old-fashioned lady, she.
Whenver I hear someone citing Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade," I always want to follow it up with Kipling's 1891 sequel, "The Last of the Light Brigade."  And herewith a short excerpt:

The old Troop-Sergeant was spokesman, and "Beggin' your pardon," he said,
"You wrote o' the Light Brigade, sir. Here's all that isn't dead.
An' it's all come true what you wrote, sir, regardin' the mouth of hell;
For we're all of us nigh to the workhouse, an, we thought we'd call an' tell.

"No, thank you, we don't want food, sir; but couldn't you take an' write
A sort of 'to be continued' and 'see next page' o' the fight?
We think that someone has blundered, an' couldn't you tell 'em how?
You wrote we were heroes once, sir. Please, write we are starving now."