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Al Murray: Why Does Everyone Hate the English?

All rights reserved. At Shrewsbury on 21 July the year-old Henry, Prince of Wales, lined up alongside his father to face the forces of the rebel lord, Henry Percy. At Shrewsbury Henry led his forces well, and made a major contribution to the victory. In the course of the battle, however, he was shot in the face by an arrow that entered below his eye, missed both brain and spinal cord and stuck in the bone at the back of the skull.

To remove the embedded arrowhead, special tongs had to be designed, made and carefully inserted nearly six inches into the wound to grip and extract the metal. It took a further three weeks to cleanse and close up the hole — and all this in the days before anaesthetics.

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The tactics used by Henry V in his French wars were first tried out in Wales. At about the same time that he became Prince of Wales aged 13 , Owain Glyndwr began a violent rebellion against the English. When, however, in his late teens, Henry was given a freer hand, he changed tactics. Now he concentrated on taking strategic castles which were then garrisoned and held securely, cutting off supply routes and enabling further advances. Gradually Glendower was forced back to two strongholds on the west coast — Aberystwyth and Harlech. Each was besieged and battered by traditional siege weapons, and, for what is thought to have been the first time in Britain, cannon were used.

A few years after this, using the same tactics, Henry conquered first Normandy, and then a large part of northern France. The story is told that, as the last Grand Master died, he laid a curse on Philippe and his descendants, saying the king would die within a year. Eight months later Philippe died in a hunting accident. Two years after that his son, Louis X died, aged 26, after a strenuous game of tennis.

33 Best Owain Glynwr. images in | Welsh language, Ancestry, Cymru

His son, John I, born five months later, lived only five days, and in the next 12 years the last direct male descendants of Philippe also died. Navarre and England, however, were equally unacceptable, and Philippe de Valois, a cousin of the last king [Charles IV], was crowned instead. A large slice of the money needed to pay for the French campaigns was raised by loans rather than taxes.

In May Henry sent letters appealing for money to individuals, and to towns. Typically a town would decide on the amount of the loan, and then every citizen would be assessed to contribute even a few pennies to the sum agreed. Royal jewels, plate and regalia were handed out as security for repayment. Not only did this raise a large amount of money, but it meant almost everyone had an interest in the outcome of the French wars.

He was lord mayor of London three times. In fact there were three different dauphins over this period.

Owain Glyndwr, and the Last Gasp for Welsh Independence

The first was Louis of tennis ball fame, who, though kept away from the battle of Agincourt, died soon after, possibly of dysentery or pneumonia. Louis was followed by his brother John, who was the son-in-law of the Burgundian leader, John the Fearless. This dauphin died suddenly in April , some said by poison, and he was succeeded by his last remaining brother, Charles, who after the death of Henry V, and with a great deal of help from his mother-in-law, Yolande of Aragon, finally became Charles VII in The French plan at Agincourt was to use massed cavalry to charge down the English archers.

Henry V learnt of this from a French prisoner some days before the battle, and immediately took steps to counter it: every archer was to drive a sharpened stake into the ground in front of him on the battlefield to stop a charging horse. The French commander, Marshal Boucicaut, had earlier fought against the Turks at the battle of Nicopolis, and had seen a cavalry charge halted by a similar mass of sharpened stakes.

He had written an account of this and it is possible that either Henry himself, or perhaps one of his commanders, Edward Duke of York, had read it and remembered the effectiveness of the tactic. There are no reliable figures for the size of the French army at Agincourt, but they numbered many thousands, and in their eagerness to get at the English most of the leading figures were crammed into the front ranks. When the action was triggered by a flight of arrows from the English side, the French charged forward in accordance with their battle plan.

The legend of Owain Glyndwr (part 1 of 8)

Funnelled into a narrower part of the field where Henry had taken up his position, the French were crammed together, and though many did not reach the English ranks, many more did. As these were cut down, those pressing behind climbed over them, and anyone who slipped or fell in the muddy ground had little chance of getting up again.

As the battle progressed the pile of bodies rose higher, and any who were wounded or simply knocked over were crushed beneath the weight of those coming behind.