Invasion of Normandy 12 July 1346

On 12 July 1346 an English fleet of one thousand ships appeared on the coast of Normandy. The fleet carried thirty thousand men, horses, fodder, equipment and all of the associated materiel necessary for a full invasion of France. It was personally led by Edward III, king of England; his objective was to land at the harbor of St-Vaast-la-Hougue, capture Caen, and advance his claim to the throne of France. Edward was not seeking a direct confrontation; instead, he was launching a chevauchée, that is, a scorched earth raid into enemy territory where everything of value was to be confiscated and everything not taken was to be destroyed.

01a Invasion of Normandy 12 July 1346
Département: Manche
Region: Basse Normandy
Country: France

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

Summary: Edward landed his fleet in the undefended harbor at St-Vaast on 12 July 1346. By 18 July the troops and supplies were all unloaded and they began their march through Normandy. The main French army was occupied in the south fighting a second English army. A rearguard commanded by the experienced Robert Bertrand fought a delaying effort trying to gain time for the French king, Philippe VI, to gather his forces. Bertrand burned bridges at Carentan and Pont-Hébert; led the English to St-Lô and away from Caen; and proposed a defense of the massive chateau in Caen. Edward’s Army surrounded and quickly captured the city aided by local commander refusal to follow Bertrand’s advice.

Edward III and Philippe VI continued to play a ‘cat and mouse’ game of maneuver until the climactic encounter north of Crécy-en-Ponthieu. (See Battle of Crécy)

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Battle of Poitiers

In 1356, Edward III, the victor at the Battle of Crécy, sent his son, Edward the Black Prince, to lead a chevauchée through northern Bordeaux. This scorched earth warfare was designed to weaken the French populace’s support for their king. John II, king of France and known as ‘the Good’ assembled a force estimated at 16,000 – 20,000 men and forced an engagement south of the ancient city of Poitiers. Edward’s forces were considerably smaller than John’s and he had no wish for a battle. His interests were to escape to Bordeaux. He arrived at the Abbey de Nouaillé.

01b Battle of Poitiers: 19 September 1356
Département: Vienne
Region: Poitou-Charentes
Country: France

A French Battlefields “Virtual Battlefield Tour” [This battlefield is not included in Fields of War.] Unfortunately, the battlefield of Poitiers is not well served by Google Maps streetview. Few of the roadways near the battlefield have been photographed utilizing this process.


Edward positioned his forces with their backs to the Bois de Nouaillé; Earl of Salisbury’s division to the north; himself in the center; and Ear of Warwick’s division to the south. The French ‘battles’ were in four rows with a small group led by Marshals de Clermont, d’Audrehem, and Brienne in front followed by the Dauphine, duc d’Orléans, and King John in the back. The main French body, led by the Dauphine, was unable to break the English line and fell back. Upon seeing this, the duc d’Orléans also withdrew, leaving the battle to King John’s division, which advanced upon the tiring English. Edward sent Captal de Buch in a sweeping arc to the east and north to come upon the French flank. Attacked on two sides, French resistance crumbled and John was captured.

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