|Battle of Poitiers|
|Dates of battle||September 19, 1356|
|Conflict||Hundred Years' War|
|Site of battle||near Maupertuis, |
3km south of Poitiers
|led by||Edward, the Black Prince|
|led by||John II of France|
|result||decisive English victory|
A veteran of Crécy, which he fought with only sixteen years old, the Black Prince decided for the same tactical scheme. He adopted for his troops a strongly defensive position, in a plane ground surrounded with natural obstacles, such as a creek on the left and a wood on the back. The luggage wagons were placed along an old Roman road, to insure protection on his weak right side. All men dismounted and were organized in two, perhaps three units, with the English longbowmen placed in a V-formation in both flanks. The Black Prince kept a small cavalry unit, commanded by Captal de Buch, hidden in the woods at the rear.
The attacking French forces were divided in four parts. At the front were around 300 elite knights, commanded by general Clermont and accompanied by German mercenaries (pikemen). The purpose of this group was to charge on the English archers and eliminate the threat they posed. These were followed by three groups of infantry (dismounted cavalry, in this case) commanded by the Dauphin, the Duke of Orleans and King John II.
Right at the beginning of the battle, the English simulated flight on their left wing. This provoked a hasty charge by the French knights against the archers. However, they were expecting this and quickly attacked the enemy, especially the horses, with a shower of arrows. Results were devastating and proved once more that the days of heavy cavalry charges were gone. This attack was followed by the Dauphin's infantry, who engaged in heavy fighting, but withdrew to regroup. The next wave of infantry under Orleans, seeing that the Dauphin's men were not attacking, turned back and panicked. This left the forces led by the King himself. This was a formidable fighting force, and the English were out of arrows: the archers joined the infantry in the fight and some of both groups picked up horses to form an improvised cavalry. Combat was hard but the Black Prince had still a mobile reserve hidden in the woods, which were able to go around and attack the French in the flank and rear. The French were fearful of this encirclement and attempted to flee. King John was captured with his immediate entourage.
The result was a decisive French defeat, not only in military terms, but also economical: France was forced to pay a ransom equivalent to the yearly income of the country times two to have her king back.
Note: The Battle of Tours in 732 is sometimes called 'Battle of Poitiers' as well.