The Battle of Herrings #OnThisDay

On the 12th of February 1429 The Battle of Herrings took place near Rouvray in France, just north of Orléans. England was at war with France.

The Battle of Herrings Enluminure du manuscrit de Martial d’Auvergne, Les Vigiles de Charles VII, vers 1484, BnF, Manuscrit Français 5054, folio 53 verso. Gallica Digital Library

The town of Orleans had been under siege by the English army since October. A combined force of 3,000/4,000 French troops and about 400 Scots sought to stop a supply train on its way to feed the English army.

According to Régine Pernoud, the supply train consisted of “some 300 carts and wagons, carrying crossbow shafts, cannons and cannonballs but also barrels of herrings


For the much smaller English force it was a case of ‘circling the wagons’ and around this defensive shield they had sharpened wooden stakes. Always a good idea to prevent any charge by mounted troops.

The French used a newish weapon – gunpowder artillery – but the Scots attacked whilst this bombardment will still ongoing and so it had to cease. It had caused some damage but in that charge the Scots also took a lot of casualties. The English archers and cross bowmen killed many Scots.

It was a disaster for the French and Scots who were then attacked from their flank. It was a great victory for the English force who had most of their supplies in tact.

There may be elements of this familiar to you as The Siege of Orleans is the point in history that Joan of Arc emerges as a pivotal character in both fact and legend. It was also on this day, 12th February, that 200 miles away the peasant girl ‘Joan of Arc’ had predicted to the French military leader Robert de Baudricort that they would suffer a great defeat at Orleans.

You can read more about that here: The Scots who marched into battle alongside Joan of Arc

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