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The Battle of Agincourt was a major English victory, taking place on Friday 25th October 1415 in Azincourt, northern France.
Henry V deployed an army of 1,500 men-at-arms and 7,000 longbow men, organised into three divisions led by the Duke of York, Henry himself and Lord Camoys.
Two months previously, Henry crossed the English Channel with 11,000 men and laid siege to Harfleur in Normandy. After five weeks, the town surrendered but Henry lost half his men to disease and battle wounds. He made the decision to march upto Calais where he would meet with his English fleet and return to his homeland, but standing in his way was an angry French army – thus starting the Battle of Agincourt. Due to a vast array of army men, equipment and tactics, the English managed to defeat the French leading to 6,000 Frenchman losing their lives.
It wasn’t just archers who took part in the Battle; Miners were a key component in Henry V’s forces, using their underground expertise to weaken and undermine the enemy. The Forest of Dean, was a well-known place from which to recruit these miners, thanks to a history of iron and coal. To this day, the Forest’s freeminers hold special prospecting rights, reportedly as a result of their service in battle during the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries.
According to a local freeminer, 120 of them left for the battle and only 63 returned. Though hard evidence of the freeminers’ involvement in Agincourt is difficult to come by, there are a few connections that back up claims of a link.
Local nobleman Sir John Greyndour signed an indenture with Henry V providing a company of 30 archers and 120 miners. Given the close connection the Greyndours had with the area in which the freeminers operated in the Forest of Dean, plus the wealth of local folklore, it seems highly probable that the miners in the indenture came from the area.
St Micheal’s Church in Abenhall, Mitcheldean shows us more evidence of a prominent link. The church’s fine front, dating back from the 15th century, is carved with symbols of local miners and blacksmiths. There was a carved stone over the tower door displaying the arms of the miners, as well as the head of a miner sporting the famous Monmouth cap; a popular item at the time.
St. Michael’s Church, Abenhall
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license. Source Pauline Eccles
The Wales Legacy group is obtaining a fund of £50,000 to support projects developing the story of the Welsh archers and the battle itself. Donated by the Agincourt 600 Commemorative Fund, the purpose is to carry out eight small projects in Breconshire, Monmouthshire and Forest of Dean to expand the knowledge of the battle, communicating better with schools and visitors to the region. To find out more about this amazing project, go to their website: http://agincourt600wales.com/agincourt-600-wales-legacy-group-announces-new-projects-for-2016/
The Forest of Dean’s connection with the Battle of Agincourt is even more reason to visit or take a short break – find out more about the vast array of things to see, the history and heritage on our website: http://www.wyedeantourism.co.uk/