Historians estimate that the French army had 12-15,000 soldiers gathered at Agincourt, mainly men at arms. By contrast, Henry V’s English army had only 8-8,500, the majority being archers.
Considering the victory to be theirs, the French celebrated the night before the battle, their frivolity heard by Henry’s men who, under their king’s orders, waited for the sunrise in silence. On the day of the battle the French were unprepared, and quickly fell into disarray when they faced the arrow storm of Henry’s archers – the longbow was a formidable long-range weapon.
The French had planned to knock the English archers out of the fight with a cavalry charge but they could not find enough men to join the attack on horseback, fearing that arrows would harm their horses. King Henry, meanwhile, had ensured his archers were protected by a wall of stakes, and by flanking woodland. The French charge failed, but the retreating cavalry clashed into the French men-at-arms advancing on foot. The arrow storm slowed down their advance, causing the men to crowd in on each other. They were so tightly packed they could not raise their weapon arms. Some fell, others piled on top of them and in the mud some suffocated, and some fell at the mercy of Henry’s archers.
After the victory, Henry V made for Calais and then returned to England, greeted by fanfare at his entry to London on 23 November.