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Poitiers Supper 21 November 2012

Andy Barnsdale

On Wednesday evening 21 November 2012, 33 Bowyers and guests gathered at Davy's 'Bangers' EC2 wine bar for the Poitiers Supper, whose annual format is a short talk on an archery-related topic followed by a convivial supper. The speaker this year was Court Assistant Andrew Barnsdale, on the Battle of Poitiers itself.

The Battle of Poitiers, in 1356, was famously won by the Edward the Black Prince, son of King Edward III, victor at the Battle of Crecy ten years earlier. Poitiers is located on the other side of France, some 50 miles south of Saumur in the Loire Valley; it is generally less familiar than the other great Hundred Years' War victories. It had been popularly supposed there was nothing there to see, but a visit to the site by Eurostar and TGV earlier that month had confirmed that the battlefield site (10 miles outside the town, near the Abbey of Nouaille) was largely intact.

The battlefield at Poitiers

In September 1356 the Black Prince's army was based in Aquitaine, conducting raids into French territory in the Loire and Normandy, and was on its way back to Aquitaine when the French King, John II, brought a large force from Chartres to try to cut him off.

The English archers overcame the initial French cavalry charges, and an intense and complicated hand-to-hand battle ensued. Some of the French aristocracy withdrew, causing confusion in the French lines, and the Black Prince master-minded an encircling movement with his Gascon ally, the Captal de Buch, leading to the final phase of the battle. The remaining French fought bravely, but the battle culminated in the capture of the French King and his youngest son Philippe. France afterwards suffered a period of near-anarchy in the absence of their king.

Andy's excellent illustrated presentation was warmly received, thanks were expressed by the Master, and a most enjoyable 3-course supper ensued.

Tony Kench

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