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Agincourt 1415: Myth and Reality
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The Battle of Agincourt, in 1415, is one of the most famous battles in the history of warfare, and one of the most important and memorable English victories. It still captures the imagination today, but why are stories still told about Agincourt? And do these stories represent what really happened on the battlefield?
This free online course will explore the myths and realities about the battle, which marked its 600th anniversary on 25 October 2015. The three weeks will be led by the foremost academic expert on the battle, Professor Anne Curry.
Understand Agincourt’s place in the Hundred Years’ War
With Anne, you will learn about the preparations for the battle and its context within the Hundred Years’ War between England and France. You will consider the legitimacy of Henry V’s claim to the French throne and whether his actions in going to battle were justified.
Using original archive documents, you will also learn more about the soldiers who met on the field of battle. Who was in the English army and what was it like to be a medieval soldier? Which places in England have significance for the battle? Where was the army recruited from and could YOUR ancestor have taken part in the battle?
Learn what happened on the medieval battlefield
You will then learn about what happened during the battle itself, and examine how myths about the battle have built up over subsequent years. Dan Spencer, one of Anne’s PhD researchers, will examine the kinds of guns and other weaponry which could be found on the medieval battlefield. He will explore how and why the longbow was used at Agincourt with such devastating effect.
Finally, we will visit the battlefield itself, to examine what remains at Agincourt today. You will learn about the modern site of the battle and how scientific historical research can transform our understanding of an event which took place 600 years ago.
Join us to learn the exciting and enthralling story of the Battle of Agincourt!
Image from the ‘Chroniques d’Enguerrand de Monstrelet’ (early 15th century). Used with permission from the Bibliotheque Nationale de France © BNF)
What topics will you cover?
- The context of the 100 Years’ War between France and England and the legitimacy of Henry V’s claim to the French throne
- Analysis of historical research methods and original documents relating to the medieval period
- The medieval army, its armour and weaponry
- Transporting the army to France and the ‘Southampton plot’ to assassinate Henry V
- The early part of Henry V’s early campaign in France, including the siege of Harfleur and the significance of guns and fortifications
- The battle of Agincourt: myth vs. reality in how events played out on the day. Why did the English win?
- The aftermath of the battle including the killing of POWs at Agincourt, and Henry’s triumphal return to England
- The legacy of Agincourt from Shakespeare to modern film interpretations, and connections to other famous battles (Waterloo)
- The challenges of historical research into Agincourt: finding the battlefield and the dead
- The appropriacy of commemorating and remembering the battle over time
Learning on this course
On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.
What will you achieve?
By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...
- Investigate the context of the battle of Agincourt in relation to the legitimacy of the war and Henry’s claim to the French throne
- Explore how historians work with primary sources to discover information about past events
- Compare examples of primary sources (muster rolls and indentures) and different interpretations of these sources
- Identify the types of weaponry used at Agincourt and understand how this weaponry was used in action
- Discuss the issues surrounding the ‘Southampton plot’ to assassinate Henry V, and consider, predict and discuss what possible outcomes may have arisen if the plot had succeeded
- Experiment with a database of English soldiers to discover information about potential ancestors who served in the army
- Reflect upon the implications of the use of guns and fortifications during the march through northern France
- Evaluate how different historical sources affect our understanding of what happened at the battle at Agincourt.
- Discuss different interpretations of the battle by modern historians
- Assess modern interpretations of the battle of Agincourt and of Henry V (expressed through recent films)
- Debate how far it is appropriate for Agincourt to be remembered and commemorated
- Identify the links between the battles of Agincourt and Waterloo
- Investigate the challenges historians over the last 600 years have faced in discovering and excavating the battlefield
Who is the course for?
This course is aimed at both early undergraduate-level students and those with an interest in the Battle of Agincourt, medieval history in general, and medieval guns and other weaponry. It does not require any previous knowledge of the subject.
Who will you learn with?
I am Professor of Medieval History and Dean of Humanities, University of Southampton. My research focuses on the Hundred Years War, Agincourt and English armies in the 15th century. Tw: @AnneAgincourt
I was awarded my PhD in July 2016 on the development of gunpowder weapons in late medieval England. I'm also one of the Lead Educators for the Agincourt 1415 course @GunpowderDan
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