On 27 October, a wave of Agincourt fever spread through The National Archives. With a series of fun, quirky and educational events, we made ourÂ own contribution to commemorating the monumental English victory on French soil on 25 October 1415. Moments from the day wereÂ captured byÂ resident photographer JoaoÂ Dos Santos – I’ve collected some of my favourites here.
The morning events included a superb family-friendly event, organised by the Education Team, making weaponry and shields out of craft materials in the public restaurant area.
With their newly furnished arms, the children were invited into the Keeperâs Gallery to listen toÂ a storyteller tell them what happened on the campaign and at the battle, through the eyes of individuals who were there. There was not one face that didnât look engrossed!
Finally there were lessons in hand-to-hand combat and archery outside in the park, where parents sawÂ the graduationÂ of their children as expert archers and knights!
Stuart, Dean and Wayne, interpreters from the Royal Armouries in Leeds, unveiled a show and tell display of armour worn and weaponry wielded by soldiers at Agincourt, from the comical pig-snouted bascinet helmet to the lethal poleaxe. And of course, no display would be complete without the dreaded longbow or great war bow.
Perhaps the most anticipated event of the day was the afternoonâs exuberant demonstration of the arming of an English archer, man-at-arms and lord. Stuart, Dean and Wayne did not fail to entertain as they talked through with dry humour the armour they were donning and the weapons at their disposal to an enraptured audience. No doubt King Henry would have approved!
A further bonus was witnessing the event being introduced by Chief Executive Jeff James dressed in a 15thÂ century âkettleâ helmet with chain mail neck guard.
VisitorsÂ couldÂ explore the history through an exhibition of original records in the Keeperâs GalleryÂ and a panel display in the public restaurant. Our records provide a significant insight into the battle, and many of these records are not known to the public. It was a wonderful opportunity to reveal records that, for instance, provide the names of ordinary archers and men-at-arms who fought at Agincourt, or records that reveal the effect of battle on soldiers and their families. Both exhibitions will be available for the public to view until early next year.
To round off a wonderful day, guest speaker Professor Anne Curry, aÂ world expert on Agincourt, discussed with customary finesse and expertise the battle and the surrounding myths that have developed through the centuries. The audience wereÂ certainly interested, asÂ the questions and discussion went on for 50 minutes! To whet the appetites of visitors coming to hear the lecture, the Medieval Team organised a display of documents,Â includingÂ financial records such as the âAgincourt Rollâ (E 358/6), which is concerned with settling outstanding wages; retinue rolls of men serving under one captain; bonds for prisoners to be ransomed; and much more.
The 600th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt was commemorated in style at The National Archives! ItÂ could not have been possible without the dedication of many individuals across the organisation, but particular recognition should be reservedÂ for the impeccable work of ourÂ Facilities team. Without themÂ the events could not haveÂ taken place.
Besides the dayâs events, other efforts had been made to makeÂ the fascinating records we hold at The National Archives accessible. Members of the Medieval Team in collaboration with the Web Team created anÂ illuminating online exhibitionÂ showcasing various records and putting them into context. More detailed discussions of the records relating to how the English army was raised and paid,Â the siege of the town of Harfleur and the battleÂ itself can be found on our blog.
Speaking on behalf of the Medieval Team, it has been a privilege to be a part of a collective effort across The National Archives to commemorate the 600thÂ anniversary of the battle of Agincourt in such a significant way. It has also successfully pushed the boundaries of ways we can engage peopleÂ with the fascinating history to be found in our records.
This effort, like the achievement of Henry and his army at Agincourt, has been aÂ victory!