Battle of Formigny

Although the French king, Charles VII, did little to save the life of Jeanne d’Arc, he used the succeeding years to strengthen his position in France. In 1444, Charles and the then king of England, Henry VI signed the Treaty of Tours, which guaranteed a temporary truce between the two countries, the marriage of Margaret of Anjou to Henry, and the transfer of the province of Maine to Charles. As happened to so many of the truces of the Hundred Years War, it did not offer the prospect of a permanent settlement. Margaret was only a distant relation to the French throne and she was impoverished therefore coming without a dowry. When Henry attempted to renege on the transfer of territory, Charles threatened by collecting a large army and by 1448 Henry acquiesced.

03f Battle of Formigny 15 April 1450
Département: Calvados
Region: Basse-Normandie
Country: France

A French Battlefields “Virtual Battlefield Tour” [This battlefield is not included in Fields of War.]

Summary: Hostilities recommenced in June 1449 with the reorganized French Army taking advantage of the weakened English by capturing major cities in Normandy including Rouen, Harfleur, Honfleur and Lisieux. Their next objective was Caen.

The English gathered a small army of about 3,000 men under the command of Sir Thomas Kyriell and left Portsmouth for Cherbourg landing there on 15 March 1450. Kyriell marched south to capture Valognes as the 5,000-man French Army, under Charles I de Bourbon, Comte de Clermont, marched towards Carentan. Kyriell circled around Carentan, refusing to offer battle, and was heading for Bayeux when he entered the village of Formigny on 14 April. The main French force under Charles followed from Carentan towards Bayeux along the later famous National Road 13 as a smaller, but French force of 1,200 fully mounted men under Arthur de Richemont was approaching from St-Lô.

View Battle of Formigny: 15 April 1450 – A Virtual Battlefield Tour by French Battlefields ( in a larger map

The English, now numbering about 4,000 men, established defensive positions behind earthworks with their backs to Ruisseau de Formigny, west of the village.  Their formation was the long successful Crécy formation with 800 dismounted men-at-arms between three wedges of longbow men. To their front, stakes had been driven into the soft spring earth and water-filled holes dug to repel mounted knights.

Clermont attacked the English flanks with little effect. After three hours of skirmishing and a perhaps historical first French use of cannon bombardment, Richement appeared over the rise to the south to take the English in their left flank. Kyriell attempted to form an “L” formation partially straddling the stream. The need to defend in two direction substantially thinned the English line and they had no time to prepare fortifications to protect the archers.  The stronger French force shattered the English line and they fled from the field. Kyriell was captured. The English suffered an estimated 2,300 killed with the remainder captured or scattered against an estimated 200 French casualties.

The Battle of Formigny was a major defeat for the English and one from which they never recovered. All English possessions in northern France fell with the exception of Calais. The battle was decisive, and although other engagements occurred in the south, the English had lost France forever.

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