Battle of Crécy Facts & Worksheets

Battle of Crécy facts and information plus worksheet packs and fact file. Includes 5 activities aimed at students 11-14 years old (KS3) & 5 activities aimed at students 14-16 years old (GCSE). Great for home study or to use within the classroom environment.

Battle of Crécy Worksheets

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Table of Contents
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    • Beginning of the Hundred Years’ War
    • Prelude to the battle
    • Account of the battle
    • Aftermath of the battle

    Key Facts And Information

    Let’s find out more about the Battle of Crécy!

    Edward III counting the dead at the Battle of Crécy

    A series of disagreements between Edward III of England and Philip VI of France resulted in the outbreak of the Hundred Years’ War in 1337. The Battle of Crécy was one of the important battles of the Edwardian War. It took place on 26 August 1346 in northern France. The English king and Edward the Black Prince successfully led the English army to victory owing to effective strategy and weaponries. This victory improved the position of England over France.

    Beginning of the Hundred Years’ War

    • The aftermath of the Norman Conquest of 1066 saw the English monarchs possessing titles and lands within France, hence making them vassals of the French king. English holdings in France had varied in size, at some points dominating even the French royal domain. In the 14th century, the right to the French throne became the subject of the conflict that was to become the Hundred Years’ War.
    • At the beginning of Edward III of England's reign in 1327, only the Duchy of Gascony in France remained in his hands.
    • To maintain control over the duchy, Edward III paid homage to the successor of Charles IV, Philip VI of France, in 1329.
    • Even after this display of honour, France continued to pressure the English administration. This, however, was not the only point of conflict between Edward III and Philip VI.
    • In the early 1330s, Edward III acted on re-establishing English control over Scotland. With his assistance to the exiled Scottish barons, the Scottish king was deposed.

      A depiction of Edward III
    • Philip VI then allied himself to David II of Scotland, providing refuge to the deposed king.
    • Meanwhile, Edward III gave shelter to Robert III of Artois, a French fugitive who later urged him to start a war against France and provided extensive intelligence on the French court.
    • In May 1337, Philip VI’s Great Council decided that the French lands held by Edward III should be taken back into the French king’s hands for sheltering Robert III.
    • Instead of seeking a peaceful resolution, Edward III responded by laying claim to the French throne as the grandson of Philip IV. 
    • The English king’s claim was rejected by the French, based on the precedents for agnatic succession in France set in 1316 and 1322. 
    • The French upheld the right of Philip VI. This set the stage for the war.
    • In the early stages of the first phase of the Hundred Years’ War known as the Edwardian War, Edward III sought alliances with other Continental rulers.
    • In fact, he successfully secured the backing of the Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV in 1338. The king’s alliances failed to measure up to France’s.
    • The only major English triumph during this period was a naval victory at Sluys in June 1340, which secured English control of the Channel. 
    • In early 1345, the English king attempted another campaign to land in Normandy. However, his army was scattered by a storm and conditions proved difficult for the expedition to continue.
    • In that same year, an army led by Henry, Earl of Derby, successfully recaptured Gascony for England.
    • In response, a huge French army marched to Gascony in early 1346.
    • This led Derby to appeal for assistance to Edward III.
    • Meanwhile, a fresh army and a large fleet were assembled by the English king. The French depended on their powerful navy to prevent Edward III from landing in northern France. This failed to stop the English king from crossing the Channel.

    Prelude to the battle

    • On 12 July 1346 Edward III, with an army of some 16,000 knights, men-at-arms, archers and foot soldiers landed at St Vaast la Hougue in Normandy whilst a second English army landed in south-western France at Bordeaux to seize Aquitaine. Immediately following the English landing in France was the knighting of Edward III’s heir, Edward the Black Prince.
    • Edward the Black Prince was charged with torching as many French towns and villages as he could along the Seine Valley. This strategy was known as chevauchée and had the following aims:
      • Inflict terror into the locals
      • Collect booty and ransom for noble prisoners
      • Provide free food for an invading army
      • Ensure the economic base of the opponent was severely weakened
    • Several French towns were razed and looted by the English army, including Caen.
    • A number of French soldiers and civilians were killed in the chevauchée.
    • By 29 July, the English army, now laden with loot, was sent back to England.

      A map of the route of Edward III's chevauchée of 1346
    • They were then sent to meet with the king’s army at Crotoy, on the north bank of the mouth of the River Somme.
    • On 1 August, the English marched out towards the River Seine.
    • On 2 August, a small English force backed by many Flemings invaded France from Flanders.
    • Meanwhile, the main French army was under the command of John, Duke of Normandy, the son and heir of Philip VI. They were committed to the uncontrollable siege of Aiguillon. 
    • In late July, Philip VI announced the arrière-ban for northern France, commanding every able-bodied male to gather at Rouen.
    • Upon reaching the Seine, the English army found that the bridges across the river destroyed.
    • They were forced to march up the left bank of the Seine as far as Poissy, destroying the villages along the way.
    • Philip VI’s army in turn encamped north of Paris, where it was continuously reinforced.
    • Preparations were made in Paris to defend the capital street by street.
    • Philip VI then ordered John to abandon the siege of Aiguillon and march his army north. His reinforcement would fail to arrive in time to change the course of events in the north.
    • On 16 August, the French moved into position whilst Edward III immediately burnt down Poissy, destroyed the bridge there, and marched north.
    • The French, who had carried out a scorched earth policy, effectively trapped their enemies in an area which had been stripped of food.
    • The English finally crossed at the mouth of the River Somme at low tide, narrowly escaping the clutches of the pursuing French. 
    • The area beyond Somme had not been denuded, enabling Edward III’s army to plunder it and resupply. The English troops encamped in the Forêt de Creçy on the north bank of the Somme and began to prepare a defensive position.

    Account of the battle

    • On 26 August, the English army took up position at Crécy-en-Ponthieu in anticipation of the French attack. On the other hand, the French crossed the Somme at the bridge in Abbeville and set off after the English again.
    • Edward the Black Prince commanded the right division of the English army, which lay forward and would bear the brunt of the French attack. Each division composed of spearmen in the rear, dismounted knights and men-at-arms in the centre. The archers stood in a jagged line in front of the army whilst many of the longbowmen were concealed in small woods. 
    • Philip VI’s army came north from Abbeville, arriving at around midday. A party of French knights surveyed the English position and believed that victory was certain if they were to encamp and give battle the next day. The French king agreed, but too many of the French knights kept pressing forward. The battle commenced later the same afternoon against Philip VI’s wishes.
    • As the French advanced, a sudden rainstorm broke over the field. The English longbowmen were engaged by the opponents, comprise mostly of Genoese, in an archery duel. Outranged by the English, the Genoese were rapidly defeated and fled. 
    • A large battle of men-at-arms headed by the French king’s brother, Count Charles of Alençon then launched a cavalry charge. The retreating Genoese, the muddy ground, the charge uphill and the pits dug by the English got in the way of the French attack.  Furthermore, the English archers effectively broken up the armoured French riders, with horses killed or wounded in large number.

      Depiction of the Battle of Crécy
    • When the French charge reached the tight formation of English men-at-arms and spearmen, much of their impetus had been lost hence they were beaten off. The English infantry advanced to knife the wounded French troops, loot the bodies and recover arrows. Alençon was among those killed.
    • A fresh cavalry charge repeating Alençon’s was launched. Facing the same difficulties as Alençon’s force, the French charged home resulting in a skirmish. Edward the Black Prince was beaten to his knees. Consequently, Edward III commanded a detachment from his reserve battle to rescue the situation, successfully repulsing the opponents.
    • The battle continued late into the night as the French made repeated attempts to charge up the slope. These had the same result: fierce fighting followed by a French retreat. Nevertheless, the French nobility stubbornly refused to yield. Philip VI himself was caught up in the fighting. The oriflamme, the battle standard of the king of France, was abandoned by its bearer hence was taken by the English.
    • The battle concluded soon after Philip VI abandoned the field followed by the departure of the surviving French knights and men-at-arms from the battlefield. Meanwhile, the English stayed and slept where they had fought.
    • In the morning, French forces were still arriving at the battlefield but they were fought off by the English men-at-arms. The Welsh and Irish spearmen moved across the battlefield killing and pillaging the wounded. A significant number of French losses were reported. A few wounded or stunned Frenchmen that seemed worth a ransom were spared by the English and pulled from the heaps of corpses and dying horses and taken prisoner.
    • The result of the battle was already clear by nightfall: Edward III emerged victorious.

    Aftermath of the battle

    • English casualties were very low whilst the French suffered significant losses. Reports of French casualties varied but at least 4,000 were killed, including more than a thousand nobles.
    • Among the French casualties were King John of Bohemia, the King of Majorca, the Duke of Lorraine, the Count of Flanders, the Count of Blois, eight other counts and three archbishops.
    • According to legend, it was after the battle that Edward the Black Prince adopted the emblem of the fallen King of Bohemia - an ostrich feather. This became three ostrich feathers over time, and continue to be the symbol of the Prince of Wales.
    • Following the battle, Edward III marched his army north to Calais and began the siege of the town. Calais surrendered after almost a year.
    • The English victory at Crécy left the French king unable to relieve the important French port. More importantly, this victory marked that England turned up to be no longer inferior to France.