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
Region: Basse Normandy
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)