ABSTRACT

English fighting methods in the mid-fifteenth century, like English military organization, were heavily influenced by the experiences of the Hundred Years War. In the fourteenth century one classic form of attack perfected on expeditions in France and Scotland was la chevauchée – the ‘ride’ through hostile terrain by swiftly moving, unencumbered columns of mounted men-at-arms and archers. Such expeditions varied greatly in size, from armies of several hundreds or thousands down to raiding parties from garrisons of a few score. Besides specific strategic objectives, chevauchées had the general ones of undermining the enemy’s resources and morale by destroying crops, beasts, buildings and chattels, and of enjoying the pickings of war – victuals, booty, prisoners. Unhampered by the drag of siege equipment or a long tail of non-combatants, the force on chevauchée cut a swathe through the fields, less concerned than more elaborately constituted armies about scarcity of victuals or the proximity en route of menacing enemy forces and garrisons. 1