Battle of Sluys

Having obtained additional funding from Parliament, King Edward III set about solving the threat posed by the large French Invasion Fleet that King Philip had assembled at Sluys . On the 22nd of June Edward set sail from the little port of Orwell in Suffolk and was joined at sea by Lord Morley with another fifty vessels of the Northern Fleet. In all Edward had about 147 ships, mostly converted merchantmen known as Cogs. Excellent Troopships but outclassed by the more manoeuvrable Mediterranean Galleys of their enemy.

The English fleet anchored off the Zeeland coast on 23 June. Scouts were sent ashore to reconnoitre. They returned to report that they had seen a forest of masts. After consulting with his commanders Edward proposed to attack on the next morning. During the night King Edward divided his fleet into four squadrons. Three of these squadrons being further sub-divided into groups of three ships-two filled with archers and the third with men-at-arms. The Fourth Squadron consisting of ships containing only archers would form a reserve.

At 9 o’clock on the next morning the English fleet sailed directly towards the anchored French fleet . The French ( also containing contingents from France’s Ally- Castille and mercenaries from Genoa led by the veteran captain Barbanera) were under the joint command of Admirals Hue Quiéret and Nicholas Béhuchet , a former tax collector. They were deployed in three lines, chained together and barricaded with planks and small boats weighted with stones. On the flanks of the front line a number of captured English Cogs mounted cannon. The first line of vessels were defended by crossbowmen and manned by Flemings and Picards. The second line was manned by men from Boulogne and Dieppe, and the third line by men from Normandy. Most however , of the 20,000 Frenchmen present had been press-ganged into service . There being only some 150 knights and around 400 professional crossbowmen aboard the French ships.

As the English ships rammed into the French line the English Men-at-Arms sprang across onto the French vessels beating down the defenders with sword, axe or half-pike. The archers and Seamen added to the slaughter with missiles from deck and masthead.. All morning the battle raged. Edward was in the thick of the fighting and was wounded in the leg. There was a particularly vicious fight to regain the great cog Christopher , defended by Genoese crossbowmen, and the English had a difficult time capturing the Castilian ships due to their tall sides. Eventually however, Edward’s men gained the advantage , for their longbows could fire faster than the enemy’s crossbows. The first French squadron was overwhelmed. The fleeing French jumping overboard with the English throwing the corpses of the slain after them. Hue Quiéret, badly wounded, surrendered and was immediately beheaded. Béhuchet ,also captured, was hung from the yardarm of Edward’s flagship-Thomas. Seeing this the French aboard the second squadron were seized by panic. Many jumped overboard rather than resist further.

By dusk the English were victorious. Only the Saint Jacques continued to resist, until finally taken by the Earl of Huntingdon . Aboard were more than 400 corpses. With the sea ablaze with burning ships the remaining French vessels found themselves attacked in the rear by Flemish fishermen in barges. With the exception of thirty French ships that managed to escape to Dieppe, with Johan Crabbe, sent by Edward, in pursuit, the entire invasion fleet had been either captured or sunk.

Pages with the same tags

Page Tags
Battle of Breakneck Ridge battle wwii
Operation MacArthur battle military-operations vietnam
Battle of Otterburn battle
The 100 Year War hundred-years-war wars
Battle of Wake Island battle wwii
Battle of Gettysburg battle battlefield confederate gettysburg pennsylvania union
Battle Of Flodden battle
Battle Of Agincourt battle
Battle Of Poitiers battle
Battle Of Stirling Bridge battle
page 1 of 212next »
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under GNU Free Documentation License.