Did you know that the average archer could fire twelve arrows a minute? Therefore, at the Battle of Agincourt (which had 6,000 English archers against 30,000 French cavalry) those 6,000 archers fired around 72,000 arrows a minute. If 20,000 archers were deployed, they would launch 240,000 arrows a minute! That many arrows would eclipse the sun!
One of my favorite battles in medieval history would be the Battle of Pilleth during the Welsh Revolt of 1402. It pitted the Welsh rebel Owain Glyndwr and his 1,500 men against Sir Edmund Mortimer and his 2,000 men. Mortimer had Glyndwr outnumbered by 500 men and the Welsh only specialized in guerilla warfare instead of open warfare. Although a risky tactic, Glyndwr divided his army in half with 750 men on top of the hill and the other 750 men hidden in a valley on the other side of the hill. Meanwhile, Mortimer’s much larger army was marching towards the 750 men on the hill. The hill was very steep and Mortimer’s men were exhausted from carrying heavy armor and weapons up as they marched. Once the two hosts were in position, they fired on one another with arrow fire. Due to the steepness of the hill, the Welsh archers fired their arrows further downhill than the English could fire their arrows uphill. As a result, the English were taking all the casualties and the Welsh were untouched. With none of his arrows reaching the enemy and his men dying left and right, Mortimer changed tactics and attempted to take the fight to Glyndwr. However, because the battle was turning out so badly for the English, the archers on the left flank of Mortimer’s army mutinied and started firing arrows at their former allies at point blank range. Some say these archers were double agents Glyndwr infiltrated into Mortimer’s army while others believe that they switched sides when they thought Glyndwr would win. Either way, this unexpected treachery disrupted the integrity of Mortimer’s host. Glyndwr saw his chance and charged at the English from on top of the hill. As the battle progressed, the archers switched their longbows for daggers so they could finish wounded enemies off. When Mortimer was on the verge of defeat, the other half of Glyndwr’s army emerged from the valley on the other side of the hill and ambushed them from the right flank and rear. This resulted in the Welsh’s first victory in open warfare against the English. For the second volume of my fantasy series, I am thinking of combining elements from this battle with the Battle of Towton in a major battle.
In Numen the Slayer, I depicted a major battle that unfolds throughout the story. It takes place at the castle of Foxden and pits 500 archers and crossbowmen and 700 men-at-arms against 14,000 infantry, 2,000 archers, and 2,000 cavalry. I drew inspiration for this battle by researching the various weapons and tactics used in medieval sieges. I did not base this battle on any one historical battle. I will not say if the defenders will receive a relief force or the invaders will conquer the castle. All I can say is that it is the best collection of battle scenes I have ever written. I am expecting to write more battle scenes like this as the Magnus Dynasty Saga progresses.
The main war in my fantasy series will be fought on many fronts from land, sea, and air. Because I am modeling the main protagonists after Henry Tudor and William the Conqueror, I will be modeling some of the battles they fought after historical battles Henry and William fought. For example, during the Norman Conquest of 1066 A.D. ten thousand vikings under Harald Hardrada invaded England around the same time as William the Conqueror. In order to stay true to my viking roots and draw inspiration on Hardrada’s raids, I am thinking of including some sea and coastal battles in the second volume of my fantasy series. The first of Hardrada’s raids was the Battle of Fulford, where the vikings won their first and only victory in the Conquest of 1066.
While the Battle of Fulford allowed the vikings to conquer and sack Fulford and York, their victory was short lived. Soon the vikings wandered too far away from their ships and became trapped behind enemy lines. This misfortune really hurt their war effort when they fought the Battle of Stamford Bridge. By this time King Harold Godwinson of England raised an army to beat back the viking host and he had them outnumbered two to one. The losses the vikings took were so severe that only two dozen of their three hundred ships made it back to Norway.
However, while Harold Godwinson defeated the vikings in the north, William the Conqueror and his Norman army landed in the south. After landing, William and his Normans wasted no time in consolidating a foothold on their future kingdom. In an attempt to defend his crown from the second invading army, Harold and his English army ran south to meet William in open battle. By the time they reached Hastings, Harold and his men were exhausted from running from one side of the country to another. William and his Normans, on the other hand, were well rested and ready for battle. This was one of the factors that ultimately led to Harold’s defeat at the hands of William the Conqueror. This chain of events ultimately led to crowning William king of England and establishing a dynasty that has lasted for almost a thousand years.
In the second volume of my fantasy series, I am thinking of depicting a similar series of events, but with several unique changes of my own. This collection of battles and skirmishes will be even more intense and epic than what happened in real life.
For the second volume of my fantasy series, I am planning on depicting a very epic and bloody battle that will pit two armies that are each roughly one hundred thousand strong. To make the battle as believable as possible, I will be drawing inspiration on the Battle of Towton from the War of the Roses. The Battle of Towton was the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on British soil where sixty thousand men fought one another. Of those sixty thousand only half of those men survived the bloodbath. This skirmish was a crushing defeat for the Lancastrians and also consolidated Edward IV’s position as a strong and charismatic leader, which would eventually crown him King of England. While I will be basing my battle on some of the tactics of Towton, I will also be making it even larger and more epic as new weapons of war are deployed.
Here is a medieval scenario I would like you to consider. Imagine a siege battle in which you hold up in a castle with thirty foot stone walls with a garrison of about one thousand men and enough food and provisions to last you two years. Now imagine the battle being invaded by an army that is about twenty thousand strong. There is a fifty-fifty chance help will come. What do you think your odds of winning or surviving would be? Please share your thoughts.
I thought of something chaotic to survey you on. Imagine if you were in an army of eight thousand men, which includes one thousand cavalry, one thousand archers, and six thousand infantry. Now envision being ambushed by a larger army of twelve thousand men, which includes two thousand cavalry, two thousand archers, and eight thousand infantry. To make matters worse, this enemy army has cut off your only escape route. What do you think your chances of survival or winning would be?
I also visited the Smithsonian American History Museum and I came across this World War II propaganda cartoon. It kind of was a mix between Superman and Looney Tunes.
I just had a fun thought I may toy with in future volumes of my fantasy series. Imagine being charged by over ten thousand men on horseback. All of these men will be fully armored knights and hardened survivors of a hundred battles. Now imagine being in an army that is larger than the cavalry force, but fresh and inexperienced. What do you think your odds of winning or surviving are?
I have started the epic conclusion of the siege battle and have reached the 290 page marker. This is where the suspense will be at its greatest. Will the defenders survive? Will the invaders be defeated? Will the relief force arrive in time? So many factors are falling into place and it is keeping me on edge. I will keep you updated on any further developments.