Celebrating the Battle of Patay (18 June 1429) – Joan of Arc Victory

Today we celebrate the anniversary of Joan’s great victory at the Battle of Patay, which was the most overwhelming victory that she achieved in her brilliant military career.

After the battle of Orleans the English military leaders were concerned but still confident they could defeat the French when they engaged in combat. After the overwhelming victory by Joan of Arc at Patay the English leaders realized they were in serious trouble and that Joan was a real military commander to be feared.


The Battle of Patay (18 June 1429) was the culminating engagement of the Loire Campaign of the Hundred Years’ War between the French and English in north-central France. It was a decisive victory for the French and turned the tide of the war. This victory was to the French what Agincourt was to the English. Although credited to Joan of Arc, most of the fighting took place at the vanguard of the French army and the battle was over before the main body could arrive.

The Battle

An English reinforcement army under Sir John Fastolf departed from Paris following the defeat at Orléans. The French had moved swiftly, capturing three bridges and accepting the English surrender at Beaugency the day before Fastolf’s army arrived. The French, in the belief that they could not overcome a fully prepared English army in open battle, scoured the area in hopes of finding the English unprepared and vulnerable.

The English reconnoitered with remaining defenders at Meung-sur-Loire. The French had taken only the bridge at this location, not the neighboring castle or the town. Retreating defenders from Beaugency joined them. The English excelled at open battles; they took up a position whose exact location is unknown but traditionally believed to be near the tiny village of Patay. Fastolf, John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury and Sir Thomas Scales commanded the English.

The standard defensive tactic of the English longbowmen was to drive pointed stakes into the ground near their positions. This prevented cavalry charges and slowed infantry long enough for the longbows to take a decisive toll on the enemy line. However, the English archers inadvertently disclosed their position to French scouts before their preparations were complete when a lone stag wandered onto a nearby field and the archers raised a hunting cry.

On hearing the news of the English position, about 1,500 men under captains La Hire and Jean Poton de Xaintrailles, composing the heavily armed and armoured cavalry vanguard of the French army, attacked the English. The battle swiftly turned into a rout, with every Englishman on a horse fleeing while the infantry, mostly composed of longbowmen, were cut down in droves. Longbowmen were never intended to fight armoured knights unsupported except from prepared positions where the knights could not charge them, and they were massacred. For once the French tactic of a large frontal cavalry assault had succeeded, with decisive results.

Captain Jean Dagneau captured the famous General John Talbot. After this feat of arms, Dagneau was ennobled in March 1438 by Charles VII, King of France, which is at the origin of the family name of Dagneau de Richecour. As for the English, Talbot accused Fastolf of deserting his comrades in the face of the enemy, a charge which he pursued vigorously once he negotiated his release from captivity. Fastolf hotly denied the charge and was eventually cleared of the charge by a special chapter of the Order of the Garter.

While this was indeed Joan’s most overwhelming victory where she annihilated an English army of a least six thousand while losing only a handful of men I have never felt that she receives proper credit for this great victory by the French by most modern historians. I wrote a good article a few years back about Joan of Arc and the Battle of Patay that relies heavily upon the words of the people present and clearly shows just how much Joan was responsible for the victory at Patay.

 

Please read it and decide for yourself exactly how much credit Joan deserves: Joan of Arc & the Battle of Patay

Speak Your Mind

*

Copyright 2014 @ A Celebration of Women™ The World Hub for Women Leaders That Care