600 years after the Battle of Agincourt

23 Oct 2015

Under a sky that was said to have grown ‘dark with arrows’, the Battle of Agincourt took place on 25 October 1415Under a sky that was said to have grown ‘dark with arrows’, the Battle of Agincourt took place on 25 October 1415. It is still regarded as one of history’s greatest military victories for England’s King Henry V, and a pivotal moment in the Hundred Years’ War between the Kingdoms of France and England.

Now The Royal Mint, one time maker of coins for King Henry V himself, has struck limited edition ‘Alderney’ £5 coins in gold and silver marking the 600th anniversary of The Battle of Agincourt, available at   www.royalmint.com/agincourt.

Characterised by the muddy terrain, the deadly longbows used by the English and Welsh archers, and the strategic tactics employed by King Henry V, the Battle of Agincourt story may date back six centuries, but it is still documented to this day in literature and on stage in William Shakespeare’s Henry V.

The coin has been designed by Royal Mint Engraver, Glyn Davies, whose design for the Battle of Agincourt coin places the audience right at the heart of the scene:

The idea behind my approach to the design was to show the overwhelming odds against the diseased and weakened English army that defeated that of the French. Although the battle is famed for the use of the Longbow, much of the disaster that befell the French army was, however, due to their belief in a chivalrous code of conduct.

I tried to get a sense of the mayhem and confusion that the French forces fell into and the significant role the archers performed in the battle. The design shows a lightly armoured archer in the foreground with a hatchet or hammer, weapons thought to have caused damage and deaths to the French knights as did suffocation in the mud. The French are depicted in heavy armour and on horseback. Trees surround the field as they also played a significant role in the French defeat.”

The Royal Mint’s Director of Commemorative Coin, Anne Jessopp, said, “The Royal Mint has been producing coinage for the kings and queens of Britain for over 1,000 years, including coins from the reign of King Henry V, so it is apt that in 2015 we should mark this important anniversary in celebration of the peace and reconciliation that has come to pass in the 600 years since it took place.”

The design and its designer - Glyn Davies An engraver at The Royal Mint since 2012, Glyn Davies already has a medal for the Zoological Society and the ‘Portrait of Britain’ Collection to his name. Another of Glyn’s recent coin designs is a poignant image for the Remembrance Day £5 coin. Glyn worked as an animator before gaining a Master’s Degree in Post Production at Bournemouth University. He subsequently worked as a set designer, video editor and motion graphic designer before joining The Royal Mint.

For further information please visit www.royalmint.com      

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The Royal Mint retains copyright ownership © of all images. These may only be used for editorial purposes and cannot be sold or used for other marketing purposes without the permission of The Royal Mint.

About the Battle of Agincourt

Historians estimate that the French army had 12-15,000 soldiers gathered at Agincourt, mainly men at arms. By contrast, Henry V’s English army had only 8-8,500, the majority being archers.

Considering the victory to be theirs, the French celebrated the night before the battle, their frivolity heard by Henry’s men who, under their king’s orders, waited for the sunrise in silence. On the day of the battle the French were unprepared, and quickly fell into disarray when they faced the arrow storm of Henry’s archers - the longbow was a formidable long-range weapon.

The French had planned to knock the English archers out of the fight with a cavalry charge but they could not find enough men to join the attack on horseback, fearing that arrows would harm their horses. King Henry, meanwhile, had ensured his archers were protected by a wall of stakes, and by flanking woodland.  The French charge failed, but the retreating cavalry clashed into the French men-at-arms advancing on foot. The arrow storm slowed down their advance, causing the men to crowd in on each other. They were so tightly packed they could not raise their weapon arms. Some fell, others piled on top of them and in the mud some suffocated, and some fell at the mercy of Henry’s archers.

After the victory, Henry V made for Calais and then returned to England, greeted by fanfare at his entry to London on 23 November.

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