The Battle of Poitiers
The Battle of Poitiers was fought between the Kingdoms of England and France on 19 September 1356 near Poitiers, resulting in the second of the three great English victories of the Hundred Years' War: Crécy, Poitiers, and Agincourt.
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, the English were expecting this and quickly attacked the enemy, especially the horses, with a shower of arrows. Belgian chronicler Jean Froissart writes that the French armour was invulnerable to the English arrows, that the arrowheads either skidded off the armor or shattered on impact. English history of the battle disputes this, as some claim that the narrow bodkin point arrows they used have been proven capable of penetrating most plate armour of that time period. While tests have been done to support this with fixed pieces of flat metal, armour was curved, so the point is debatable. Given the following actions of the archers, it seems likely Froissart was correct. The armour on the horses was weaker on the sides and back, so the archers moved to the sides of the cavalry and shot the horses in the flanks. This was a popular method of stopping a cavalry charge, as a falling horse often destroyed the cohesion of the enemy's line. The results were devastating.
This attack was followed by the Dauphin's infantry, who engaged in heavy fighting, but withdrew to regroup. The next wave of infantry under Orléans, seeing that the Dauphin's men were not attacking, turned back and panicked. This stranded the forces led by the King himself. This was a formidable fighting force, and the English archers were out of arrows: the archers joined the infantry in the fight and some of both groups mounted horses to form an improvised cavalry. Combat was hard, but the Black Prince still had a mobile reserve hidden in the woods, which were able to circle around and attack the French in the flank and rear. The French were fearful of 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 economically: France would be asked to pay a ransom equivalent to twice the country's yearly income to have the king returned. John, who was accorded royal privileges whilst being a prisoner, was permitted to return to France to try to raise the required funds. He subsequently handed himself back to the English, claiming to be unable to pay the ransom, and died a few months later. In many ways, Poitiers was a repeat of the battle of Crécy showing once again that tactics and strategy can overcome a disadvantage in numbers.
…it was agreed that we should take our way, flanking them, in such a manner that if they wished for battle or to draw towards us, in a place not very much to our disadvantage, we should be the first… the enemy was discomfited, and the king was taken, and his son; and a great number of other great people were both taken and slain…”— The Black Prince