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Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Sunday, October 27, 2013
The Future of Storytelling MOOC #1
When I was thinking about this assignment it made me delve deep into what I have enjoyed/ influenced me.I came back to a classic series that shaped my entire literary world. It was filled with intriguing plots and characters My love of reading start with these books because they where The Dick and Jane books that everyone in my generation was taygh to read with.Dick and Jane would run, the dog would run and bark . Dick and Jane also rode bikes without any SAFETY equipment. Bad Dick, Bad Jane..
I remeber very little parental involvment in the book So BAD Dick's mommy The Father would come home after his work was done and play with his son or do manly chores around the hose Until the little lady whipped up a fine home cooked meal. because if she didn't. Run Mom Run. Look back at the books I now see the thin vainer that perfect unattainable family. But hats me being a world weiry adult. But through my child eye it was the beginning of a life fillede with other stories.
Now on to the story of the story as it were. This begins with the story of my parents born in the early 1920's so they were depression child and WW2 vets. both left school early has in grade school level to help their respective families so they were very isolated within their comfort zone. With this new literacy I was able to grow into a veracious read up to this day and with that knowledge I was able to allow them to increasetheir comfort zoneof learn from dick and jane tothe local newspaper to entire enclopias from the grocery store each week as my treat. There with me where my parents asking question about what we had read. So that by giving me access to more and more books of wider topic we we elevating ourselves. Very tricky
Now I am a visual learner that has lost his vision and looking to find a new way to share and communicate..As I say I am a stone age man in a quest for the technologic fire that will lead me to this new age.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
History of the Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empirewas the medieval state that embraced most of central Europe andItaly under the rule of the German kings from 962 to 1806. It wasconsidered to be a restoration and continuation of the ancientRoman Empire, although in fact it had little in common with itspredecessor. Earlier, the Frankish king Charlemagne had revivedthe same name. His Roman Empire lasted from 800 to 925. In 962,Otto I of Germany and Pope John XII cooperated in a secondrevival. Threatened in his possession of the Papal States byBerengar II, king of Italy, John begged Otto to come to his aid.Otto did so, and the Pope solemnly crowned him Emperor of theRomans as a reward. From this time, the German kings claimed theright to rule the empire.
TheTheory of the Empire
In theory, the HolyRoman Empire (the word "Holy" was added during the 12thcentury) reflected two important medieval values: the unity ofall Christians, or at least all Western Christians, in a singlestate as the civil counterpart to the One Holy Catholic Church;and a concept of hierarchical political organisation that calledfor one ultimate head over all existing states. In practice, theempire never fully conformed to either ideal. France and England, forexample, never acknowledged any real subordination to the emperor,although they recognised a vague supremacy in him. The empire's aims varied according tothe program and philosophy of the many emperors and popes whocontrolled its destiny. The German kings - who called themselves kings ofthe Romans, not kings of Germany, as soon as they were elected by the Germanprinces - considered themselves entitled to become Roman emperor assoon as they could arrange the imperial coronation, which wassupposed to take place in Rome at the hands of the Pope. (By laterconvention, they are called kings of Germany, however, and many ofthem never secured imperial coronation.) From the ruler's point ofview, the imperial title established his right to control Italy andBurgundy as well as Germany and was thus a potential source ofpower, wealth, and prestige. The Empire's vast size and thedisparity of its peoples, however, were serious obstacles toeffective rule and good government.
The churchmen whocrowned the emperors, and thus actually sustained the Empire,considered it to be the church's secular arm, sharingresponsibility for the welfare and spread of the Christian faithand duty-bound to protect the Papacy.This view of therelationship between church and state, which dated from the reignof Roman emperor Constantine I, was generally accepted by bothemperors and Popes. In practice, however, this partnership seldomworked smoothly, as one of the partners inevitably tried todominate the other.Frequent fluctuations in the actual power and vitality of eachindividual as well as changes in the prevailing political andtheological theories gave a fluid, dynamic quality to theempire's history.
The history of the HolyRoman Empire can be divided into four periods: the age ofemperors, the age of princes, the early Habsburg period, and thefinal phase.
(I)Age of the Emperors
The first age, from 962to 1250, was dominated by the strong emperors of the Saxon,Salian (or Franconian), and Hohenstaufen dynasties. Theseemperors made serious efforts to control Italy, which inpractical political terms was the most important part of theempire. Their power, however, depended on their German resources,which were never great. Italy consisted of the Lombard area, withits wealthy towns; the Papal States; scattered regions stillclaimed by the Byzantine Empire; and the Norman kingdom of Naplesand Sicily. The emperors generally tried to govern throughexisting officials such as counts and bishops rather than bycreating a direct administrative system. The papacy, weak anddisturbed by the Roman aristocracy, needed the emperors, who,during the Saxon and early Salian generations, thought of theBishop of Rome as subject to the same kind of control that theyexercised over their own German bishops. Henry III, for example,deposed unsatisfactory Popes and nominated new ones as he deemedfit.
During the reigns of Henry IV and Henry V in the late 11th andearly 12th centuries, the papacy was influenced by a powerfulreform movement that demanded an end to lay domination. PopesGregory VII and Urban II insisted on independence for the papacyand for the church in general during the Investiture Controversy.Later Popes continued jealously to guard their freedom, and thisproduced conflict with the Hohenstaufen emperors Frederick I andFrederick II, both of whom wanted to exercise control over all ofItaly. The later Hohenstaufen emperors gained control of the Normankingdom in southern Italy and declared it a fief of the popes, whonevertheless worried about their independence and often supportedthe emperors' Lombard foes. In the 13th century, Popes InnocentIII, Gregory IX, and Innocent IV restricted the authority of OttoIV and Frederick II in many bitter disputes.
(II)Age of the Princes
During the age of theprinces, from 1250 to 1438, the emperors were much weaker. Theyexercised minimal authority in Italy, and many of them were nevercrowned emperor by the pope. Even in Germany their power wasreduced, for Frederick II had dissipated royal prerogatives andresources in his northern lands while struggling to dominateItaly. The emperors were unable to restrain the German nobles orto resist French encroachments on the western frontiers of theempire, and the Slavic rulers in the east rejected all imperialoverlordship. The Guelphs, or anti-imperialists in Italy (seeGuelfs and Ghibellines), spoke of ending the empire or transferringit to the French kings. Political theorists such as Engelbert ofAdmont (1250-1331), Alexander of Roes (fl. late 13th century), andeven Dante, however, insisted that the German emperors were needed.Marsilius of Padua, in his Defensor pacis, argued for theend of all papal influence on the empire.
At this time the practice of electing the German king, oremperor, was given formal definition by the Golden Bull (1356) ofEmperor Charles IV. This document, which defined the status of theseven German princely electors, made it clear that the emperor heldoffice by election rather than hereditary right. The electorsusually chose insignificant rulers who could not interfere with theelectors' privileges, but such rulers could neither governeffectively nor maintain imperial rights. Their power was largelylimited to strengthening their own families. The empireconsequently began to disintegrate into nearly independentterritories or self-governing groups such as the HanseaticLeague.
(III)Early Habsburg Period
After 1438 the electorsalmost always chose a member of the Habsburg dynasty of Austriaas king; the one exception was the election (1742) of theBavarian Charles VII. The Habsburg Frederick III wasthe last emperor to be crowned in Rome; his great-grandsonCharles V was the last to be crowned by a pope.
By this timea few of the more farsighted princes saw the need to strengthenthe empire's central government. From 1485 to 1555 thesereformers strove to create a federal system. The diet, originallya loose assembly of princes, had been organised into threestrata-electors, princes, and representatives of the imperialcities-by the Golden Bull and came to resemble a legislature. In1500 it was proposed that an executive committee (Reichsregiment)appointed by the diet be given administrative authority. A systemof imperial courts was created, and permanent institutions toprovide for defence and taxation were also discussed. The variousstates were organised into ten districts or circles.
These reform efforts seldom worked, however, because the princeswould not relinquish their jurisdiction. The situation was furthercomplicated by the advent of the Reformation, which fosteredreligious conflicts that divided the principalities against oneanother. In addition, the princes became alarmed at the sudden growthof power of the Habsburgs when that dynasty acquired Spain. Under theguise of the Counter-Reformation, Ferdinand II and Ferdinand IIItried to concentrate power in their hands, but defeat in the ThirtyYears' War undid their efforts and proved that the empire could notreform itself.
After the Treaty ofWestphalia (1648) the Holy Roman Empire was little more than aloose confederation of about 300 independent principalities and1,500 or more semi-sovereign bodies or individuals. Threats fromthe Ottoman Empire or from Louis XIV of France occasionallystimulated imperial cooperation, but usually each stateconsidered only its own welfare. The Austrian-Prussian wars,Hanover's acquisition of the English throne, and Saxony's holdingof the Polish crown exemplify the particularism that prevailed.
Napoleon I finally destroyed the empire. After defeating Austriaand its imperial allies in 1797 and 1801, he annexed some Germanland and suggested that the larger territories compensate themselvesby confiscating the free cities and ecclesiastical states. By theDiet's Recess (1803), 112 small states were thus seized by theirneighbours. Three years later Napoleon compelled 16 German statesto form the Confederation of the Rhine and to secede from theempire. On March 6, 1806, Francis II, who had previously assumed the titleof Emperor of Austria, abdicated as Holy Roman Emperor and declaredthe old empire dissolved.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Ra Vincent, who heads up the set decoration on the films with Simon Bright, each a part of the art department led up by Academy Award winner Dan Hennah, showcased the work that goes into city and world building.
“So in this room, we kind of put little hints of each society or culture, just so that everyone knows generally which way the esthetic is headed,” he said during a tour for TheOneRing.net.
It is simply geektacular.
Next is Lake-town, a significant part of film two. Many of the items are nautical, or related to or, are manufactured fish. We also see on the wall the dwelling of a certain bowman, where much of the embed action happened.
(A prop hangs on a post as set dressing on the Lake-Town set of “The Hobbit.”) [/caption]He knows every object on the remarkable set. Hanging outside a boatsman’s house are some glass floats — either old Chinese pieces or the duplicates made by the art department’s manufacturing arm. Nobody knows the difference now.
In another section rests a magnificent oversized leather book. While nearly every object is made, including books and paperwork, Vincent remembers that this one isn’t.
It feels a bit run down and weathered and used.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Friday, October 18, 2013
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Richard Barber examines recently unearthed sources to construct a convincing scenario of Edward III’s inspired victory over the French in 1346.
The Genoese crossbowmen halted at the foot of the slope. It had been a long hot day, marching to encounter the English army, which at last was in sight. Giovanni could see a group of men on the hill and to his surprise they were all dismounted. He had expected a mounted army, small perhaps, but very like the French troops coming up behind him, with their splendid steeds and banners. Instead there were rows of men, whose armour did not show whether they were knights or not and whose shields he could not make out at a distance. On either side of the group there were carts, as so often on a battlefield, and he assumed these were simply parked as a rough barrier to prevent an attack from the flank. An easy job, he thought, and it should soon be over, with some booty to take home, particularly as the English had been in the field for weeks and were said to be short of supplies.
The order was given to move forward. The ground was wet from a recent shower and men slipped and stumbled on the chalk, but they went on confidently, knowing that their weapons were the most powerful on the battlefield. Knights feared and disliked the crossbow, but could not do without them: they could break up a defensive formation with their deadly fire, leaving the enemy at the mercy of a cavalry charge.
As the crossbowmen closed on the English, they halted to draw their weapons: with the point of the bow on the ground they put their foot in a kind of stirrup to steady it as they wound the string back to give a massive tension before loading the bolt. But the slipperiness of the ground betrayed them and it was some minutes before they could resume their march. To reload again was going to be very difficult, thought Giovanni.
They were a hundred yards or more short of the range at which they could attack the enemy. They could now see that the carts were not simply on the flanks, but formed a great horseshoe round the whole army, with two wings that came out so that the attackers would be funnelled into a narrow opening. The nearest carts were covered, which surprised Giovanni, but as he puzzled over this the covers were thrown back. Archers using bows of a kind he had never seen before, like large hunting bows, stood up on the carts and began to fire. A hail of arrows, deadly at a much longer range than that of the crossbows, began to fall. The crossbowmen fired back, only to see their bolts fall short. They reloaded, slipping on the chalk again, but the English arrows were finding their mark and the archers could keep up an almost continuous attack. Giovanni turned and fled, only to find that the French behind him, furious at the failure of the Genoese, were shouting ‘Traitors!’ and trying to force them to retreat. Somehow he escaped and when he turned to look back he saw the French cavalry mown down in the trap that the English had set, their horses terrified by strange explosions, which he had never heard before. Later he learnt that these were from the first guns to be used on a battlefield in Europe.
This account may read like fiction, but it is based on an extraordinary discovery: a long description of the 1346 Battle of Crécy, written in Rome within ten years of the event, which appears to draw on the experiences of one of the Genoese crossbowmen at Crécy and also on a report on the battle given by a knight in the retinue of King John of Bohemia. Italian merchants maintained a network of correspondents throughout Europe and an eyewitness report of the battle would have been important political news for their business. This was probably the route by which the crossbowman’s experiences found their way back to Italy and they were used by the anonymous author of the chronicle. Even more surprisingly, this account was ignored by historians until five years ago.
Edward III’s victory over the formidable French army at Crécy in 1346 shocked Europe. The French had suffered serious defeats before, as in the Battle of the Golden Spurs against the Flemish at Courtrai in July 1302, and had in turn inflicted a similar defeat on the Flemish at Cassel in 1328. These were both battles of cavalry against infantry, with a mounted army of French knights attacking the pikemen of the Flemish towns, and the tactics were relatively orthodox. Crécy was a contest between two armies, which, on the face of it, were of similar composition: knights supported by infantry. The English had no particular reputation as formidable fighters: their victory over the Scots at Halidon Hill in 1333 was seen as a minor affair and scarcely reported outside the British Isles. The size of the armies was very uneven, with the English severely outnumbered. The English archers had never been involved in a major battle on the Continent before and the slaughter they inflicted on the French nobles was a major sensation.
Yet there is more to Crécy than the use of a new secret weapon. The tactics on the battlefield, particularly the disposition of the archers, have been the subject of endless debate. John Keegan’s The Face of Battle (1976), the classic modern account of the difficulty of determining what happens in the course of a battle, is echoed in the chronicle of Gilles le Muisit, abbot of St Martin at Tournai, writing about the battle five years after the event:
The events of war are uncertain: the conflict is between deadly enemies, with each fighting man intent on conquering rather than being conquered. No one can take account of all those fighting around him, nor can those present form a good judgement of these matters. Only the result of their deeds can be judged. Many men say and record many things about this conflict. On the side of the French king and his men some maintain things that cannot be known for certain. Others, on the part of the English king, also maintain things about which the truth is not known. Because of these disparate opinions I will not enquire after the event about what cannot be proved. Instead I have tried to satisfy the understanding of those who come after me by setting down only those things which I have heard from certain people worthy of belief, even if I cannot be totally sure that they are what happened.
What really happened?
If we are to discover ‘what really happened’ we have to look first at who might have been able to observe the events in more general terms and also at whether there were fixed details, such as the position taken up by the English, which can be found in the comments of a number of witnesses. In terms of the action we can say no more than that the French onslaught seems to have been disordered and impetuous and, therefore, no French witness is likely to have been able to form ‘a good judgment’ of what took place. On the English side, Edward and his commanders would have known exactly how they had drawn up their troops: but the king’s report home about the battle tells us almost nothing, except that there was ‘a small area’ where most of the slaughter took place. The only other people who would have seen the English array clearly and at relatively close range were the Genoese crossbowmen, who advanced confidently, certain that their deadly weapons would rapidly dispatch the dismounted English knights and their infantry.
The anonymous Roman chronicle, where the new account is to be found, is famous for its dramatic account of the republican politics of Rome in the 1350s; the information on Crécy was not of great interest to the Italian historians, who originally edited it. It is a difficult text to analyse. Written by a well-educated author, it is in a broad Roman dialect, but has many aspects of popular oral literature, particularly the repetition of key phrases in the manner of a ballad singer. The content, however, is another matter. The striking aspect of this account is that it is in parts very detailed in a way that would be difficult to invent. To take a single instance: the attack by the crossbowmen failed and another Italian chronicler attributes this to the crossbow strings being wet. He is right about the battle being fought in showery weather, but the Roman chronicle tells us that the rain had made the ground so slippery that the crossbowmen could not draw their bows, because, when they put their foot in the stirrup that had to be planted firmly on the ground so that the string could be wound upwards and tensioned, it was impossible to hold the bow still.
The land at Crécy is chalk, with a thin covering of topsoil and, like all chalk hills, is ‘slick as silk’ after rain. Other aspects of the Roman account are wildly off the mark, but these concern matters which a member of the army would only have known by hearsay. I believe this is one of those moments when, for once, we can actually ‘see’ the reality of medieval battle: a man at arms struggling with his weapon in adverse conditions.
If this is the case, then we need to pay close attention to what the chronicle has to tell us. Until now the battle has largely been described in terms of a chivalric encounter, Edward’s advantage being his use of the archers who had proved so effective in the Scottish wars ten years earlier. The disposition of the archers has been the subject of endless debate and it is only by looking carefully at what the sources say that we can discover the surprising truth. Edward fought the battle from within a fortified laager of carts, a fact that is confirmed by many of the other chroniclers but which has been ignored until now because it did not correspond with the accepted image of chivalric warfare. Indeed, the cart was a notoriously shameful object in chivalric literature: knights were taken in carts to meet their end if they had been condemned to death; Lancelot was held to have been shamed by stepping into a cart in order to rescue Guinevere when his horse had been killed; and Philip VI of France shamed the earls of Salisbury and Suffolk by taking them in a cart to Paris when they were captured near Lille in 1340.
The anonymous Roman chronicler tells us that Edward watched them and knew for certain that he could not escape giving battle:
Considering the number of the French it is not surprising that he was a little afraid. He was doubtful and said aloud: ‘God help me!’ Then, quickly, he surrounded his host with strong iron chains and a number of iron stakes stuck in the ground. This surround was made in the shape of a horseshoe, closed all round except for a larger space behind, like a gateway for the entrance and exit. Then he had deep ditches dug where there were weak points. All the English were set to work. Then this chain was surrounded by carts which they had brought with them. They put one cart beside the next with the shafts up in the air. It looked very like a walled city, with the carts stood in a row.
Then the king arranged his troops. On the left flank, on the side towards Crécy, there was a little hill. On this was a piece of woodland. The corn was also standing, which had not been harvested. It was September and because it had been very cold, the corn had only just ripened. In the wood and in the cornfield he arranged 10,000 English archers in hiding. Then he placed a barrel of arrows in each cart. He allocated two archers to each barrel. He selected 500 well-equipped horsemen, whose captain was Edward, Prince of Wales, his son. This was the first battalion. Behind them he placed two wings each of 500 knights, one on the right and one on the left. A further 1,000 knights were placed behind them, who were the third battalion. He placed himself at the rear with all the other knights, behind the host and behind the chains. When he had done this he comforted his men and commended himself to God and said: ‘Oh God, defend and help the righteous cause!’ Thus he set out his army, which made a fine array. It was Saturday, September 3rd.
The most reliable account of the tactics of the English battle formation is probably that of Giovanni Villani, the great Florentine chronicler, who undoubtedly used contemporary letters of bankers from Florence as his source. According to him the English defences were centred on a formation of carts and what follows is a reconstruction based on his description.
Reconstructing the battle
First, in the open chalk country of Crécy such an artificial defensive structure would be valuable. The only natural defences mentioned by the chroniclers are a wood on the left flank and hedges. The northern French countryside was different from the terrain of battles such as Halidon Hill, Morlaix (1342) and Poitiers, where formations were determined by the substantial presence of woods and hedges. The contours of the landscape do present some features which were potentially useful. It is reasonably probable that Edward’s position was above the modern village of Crécy, on the ridge which overlooks the valley of the River Maye; and he may well have placed his men so that the one obstacle on this hillside, the steep 16ft-high bank of the Vallée des Clercs, forced the French to attack from a particular direction. No attacking army could cross this obstacle at speed.
In such circumstances Villani’s declaration that ‘they enclosed the army with carts, of which they had plenty, both of their own and from the country’ and his description of the creation of an artificial fortress of carts rings true. The formation would probably have faced more or less due south, at the head of one of the valleys that run up to the ridge from the river. The carts were probably drawn up in a roughly circular formation and may have been two or more deep, chained wheel to wheel judging from the evidence from the battle of Mons-en-Pévèle in 1304 and from the Hussite Wars fought in Bohemia in the 15th century.
Use of carts to provide a fortified encampment to protect the baggage is widely attested in the 13th and 14th centuries and Philip Preston has suggested that the practice of surrounding the army with carts might also have been used when encamping for the night. Certainly there were men with the army who were practised in manoeuvring the four-wheeled carts into an array of some kind and Edward had arrived at the battlefield two days before. He had more than enough time to ride over the ground, select a suitable position and organise the arrangement of the carts. Furthermore, the evidence points to the availability of enough carts to create such a circle. The anonymous Roman chronicler’s assertion that Edward brought 3,000 carts with him on the expedition is definitely too high. As a working figure let us take a recent estimate of a ratio of carts to men of 1:20, giving 700 carts for an army of 14,000 men.
The probable length of each cart when drawn up in formation would be not less than six feet. They were positioned lengthways around the perimeter, with the shafts raised to close the gaps that would otherwise be left between the carts. If the carts were arranged in a double row, this would give a ring 700 yards in circumference, to which we have to add the gap of 100 yards at the entrance. This gives an enclosed area of about 20,000 square yards. The historian Andrew Ayton estimates the total army at around 2,800 men-at-arms, 3,000 mounted archers and 8,000 infantry – about 14,000 men in all. The archers were deployed on the carts, or outside on the wings. Also within the ring were the horses for the men at arms, giving a total of about 11,000 men and 3,000 horses. The only available calculation for the space occupied by a medieval army drawn up in battle formation is for the Swiss army at the battle of Morat in 1476, where 10,000 men are thought to have occupied an area of 3,600 square yards. If we allow an increased space of half a square yard for each man and an estimated two square yards for each horse, this gives a total of 11,500 square yards, leaving adequate room for formation and manoeuvre. These are of necessity theoretical calculations, but they indicate that there is nothing impossible about the idea of the cart fortification with the bulk of the English army inside it. The entrance of 100 yards or less, while open enough to invite the enemy to attempt an attack, would be a death trap, given the covering fire from the archers on the carts. The carts were probably not in an exact square, but in a diamond or circle to provide a better forward line of fire for the archers. The diagram below is a suggestion as to how this might have worked.
Villani makes it clear that there was a substantial opening in the array, sufficient to allow the passage of numbers of men at arms; equally, this opening created ‘a narrow place’. This imitated artificially a feature found at Halidon Hill, and to a lesser extent at Morlaix and Poitiers, a valley which acted as a narrowing funnel, compressing the attacking force into a front which meant that they could not maintain their formation. Nor were superior numbers a striking advantage under such conditions, as only a relatively small number of men would be engaged at any one time.
Edward added the archers to this defensive formation, which restricted the area of action of his most effective long-range weapon. According to the evidence of Villani and the anonymous Roman chronicler, which is supported in general terms by other chronicles, there were two wings of archers outside the circle. These were concealed, one in an unidentified wood and the other in tall standing corn. The distance between these wings, according to the longbow expert Robert Hardy, should have been no greater than 500 yards to give proper covering fire and the suggested size of the array of carts fits well with this calculation. Furthermore, Edward placed archers on the carts. Villani’s evidence on this is detailed and controversial. It would seem that they were concealed and protected by the canvas of the carts, which would have been supported on wooden hoops (as in an illustration from the Luttrell Psalter of an admittedly luxurious royal travelling wagon). These carts were perhaps placed at an angle to the entrance to the array of carts, so that the crossfire would cover the gap to deadly effect; their supplies of arrows were in barrels on the carts, within easy reach. Furthermore – and this is a speculation – if the front row of carts were empty it would be extremely difficult to reach the archers with a lance if a knight did penetrate to the carts themselves. Men on foot would have to clamber up the wheels to get at them. Later Bohemian battle wagons carried ladders for the occupants to get up and down.
The guns were, according to Villani, positioned beneath the carts. They would have been relatively small, probably the mobile cannons called ‘ribalds’, and such a placing would be perfectly possible. They would probably have been better at causing panic among the horses than actually inflicting serious injury, except at a relatively short range. About a hundred were shipped with the expedition, but Edward did not necessarily deploy them all.
Once the archers were in position, and the men at arms drawn up in battle order within the array, the archers would conceal themselves. From the foot of the hill the approaching French would have seen a small army standing in an array of carts, which looked like the traditional method of guarding the rear of a defensive position. The carts would have served to conceal the true numbers within the ring and would have made the English army seem a tempting target.
As soon as the first French forces came within range the archers on the wings would have stood up and begun their deadly volleys. This was what the Genoese crossbowmen encountered. A commander with some control over his troops would have halted the attack to consider how to deal with the archers. Instead, the uncontrolled French cavalry rode over the crossbowmen, wasting their energy on attacking their own men, and into the second trap, the archers concealed at the entrance under the canvas of the carts.
Even so, the sheer mass of the French cavalry enabled them to force their way into the ‘narrow place’, where the Prince of Wales’ men awaited them. It was in this ‘small area’ that, according to Edward himself, the real slaughter took place. The defensive array and the ambush had done their work and the superior numbers of the French army were no longer an advantage. The battle was not won, however. In the struggle that ensued, the discipline and battle experience of the English were the decisive factors. It is possible that the manoeuvre used at Poitiers ten years later, an encircling movement from the rear of the English army to attack the enemy from an unexpected quarter, may have been employed. There would have been time to disengage a couple of dozen carts once it was clear that the main action was at the front of the array, so the existence of the circle would not have prevented such a manoeuvre.
If we are to accept this reconstruction as a possibility, it would mean that the emphasis of Edward’s military thinking went beyond the creation of an army which was well organised and formed of men who had fought together. It extended to the deployment of the latest technology and a genuine understanding of tactics and of the need for a specific type of site in order to make the most effective use of his archers. When he could not find the terrain that he needed, Edward was prepared to create, by artificial means, the necessary obstacles and constraints that would hinder the enemy.
Recent biographies have rescued Edward III from the image of a classic chivalric monarch and from the neglect of his long rule by historians more interested in the political dramas of the reigns of his father and grandson. It seems dangerous to add yet more reasons to regard Edward III as the greatest of all English medieval monarchs, but the picture that this interpretation paints shows him as an innovator and a tactician who responded to a dangerous situation with inspired thinking.
Game of Thrones Season One has done by Bad Lip Reading.