King Henry V of England invaded France in 1415 with the proclaimed intention of snatching the crown of France from the brow of the sick and feeble Charles VI. Though he was probably sincere enough in his desire to gain the French crown, Henry's immediate objectives were more prosaic. A successful foreign war would strengthen his political position in England and bring valuable territories under his authority. War also offered the prospect of taking noble prisoners who would pay ransoms, and it might also prove possible to extort money from the French King as the price of peace.
The campaign of 1415 began well for the English, but by the autumn of that year Henry's army was sick, hungry, exhausted and closely beset by a much larger French force. The King would have preferred to avoid a battle, but the skillful maneuvering of the French commander, Charles d'Albret, Constable of France, left him with no choice in the matter. On October 25Saint Crispin's Day—Henry arrayed his troops on the field of Agincourt. He had about 1,000 knights and men-at-arms, 3,000 other infantry and 6,000 archers, the latter armed with the deadly English longbow. The French army, numbering some 40,000 men, was utterly confident of victory.
But instead Agincourt was one of the most startling and brilliant victories in the warlike history of England. Against all expectations the proud chivalry of France were routed with great slaughter, some 5,000 Frenchmen of noble birth losing their lives on the muddy battlefield under a storm of English arrows. "This was a royal fellowship of death," Shakespeare has Henry remark as the King is read the tally of the slain enemy. Though English casualties were comparatively trivial, among them was Edward Plantagenet, Duke of York and grandson of King Edward III. His banner of arms is illustrated below.
The army of Henry V had no fixed organization. Soldiers mustered under the command of the great nobles, whose banners served in effect as company and regimental colors. The closest equivalents to a national flag, borne by selected knights, were the banner of St. George and the royal banner, the latter marking the King's own position on the battlefield. Reflecting Henry's claim to the French crown, it displayed the arms of France quartered with those of England. The Banner of St. George could be either square or swallowtailed.
Images Added September 2012
Banners of Saint George


King Henry V


Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester


Thomas, Duke of Clarence


Edward Plantagenet, Duke of York



Banners of St. George


Edward Mortimer, Earl of March


John de Holland, Earl of Huntingdon


John Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham


John De Vere, Earl of Oxford


Gilbert, Baron Talbot


John , Lord Camoys


BACK to UK Page