Middle Ages

Middle Ages

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The great battles of history

The greatest battles of the Middle Ages: Poitiers, Hastings, Bouvines, Crécy, Grunwald, Azincourt, Orléans, Constantinople.

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The battle of Crécy, August 26, 1346, is the prelude of a dynastic quarrel which will oppose for more than a century the kings of France and England. Act I of the Hundred Years 'War, which had the effect of a thunderclap in Christendom, will take place on a battlefield in northern France, near Crécy-en-Ponthieu (today' hui in the Somme). First major engagement of the war, this Franco-English battle takes place after the second invasion of France by the King of England Edward III. It will be the start of a long series of defeats for the French knighthood.

The battle of Bouvines, which took place on July 27, 1214 in the North, opposed the army of the King of France Philippe Auguste to a German-Flemish coalition around Emperor Otto IV. The unexpected rout of the allies will offer a brilliant victory to the Capetian, who will extend the royal domain and consolidate his power against his European rivals. It is one of the first battles, like Hastings, where a sovereign "tempts God", that is to say takes the risk of being stained with blood, and of losing his life in combat. . Bouvines also marks a milestone in the history of France because, following this victory, a "national feeling" would have developed.

Multiple defeats, humiliations and clashes find their conclusion at the battle of Castillon, ultimate commitment of the Hundred Years War where the fate of the two great kingdoms of Christendom is played out. In 1453, all that remained of the prestigious continental empire formed by the Plantagenets were illusions and the wealthy Guyenne. Henry VI of England did not give up his claims to the throne of France and Charles VII now wishes to kick them out of the south of the Loire. The small town of Castillon will wash away more than a hundred years of French humiliations in one day.

April 23, 1014 the battle of clontarf rages near Dublin, between the armies of the Irish king Brian Boru and the men of Leinster associated with Vikings. We remember that the victory made Brian Boru a national hero having driven the Vikings out of Ireland. Is this really what happened? What is myth and reality? More than 1000 years after this landmark episode in Irish history, it is appropriate to return to the circumstances of the battle.

To the battle of'Azincourt, in the midst of thousands of men and the best of French chivalry, the ideal of chivalrous war would have died. Moreover, this battle opens an uncertain era which threatens the very existence of the France of the time. In full Hundred Years War, but also in the midst of civil war between Armagnacs and Burgundians, the French knighthood suffered its greatest defeat there against the English army of Henry V on October 25, 1415.

The battle of Poitiers in 732 and the victory of Charles Martel would have marked the confrontation between a “Merovingian Gaul” in full mutation and an Islam which is celebrating its first century of existence, but also the emergence of a new dynasty and the appearance of an “identity” that some consider to have been constructed “ in opposition ”to Muslims. We must therefore try to put this battle for Poitiers, its challenges and its consequences, into context, in order to analyze the impact it may have had subsequently, up to the present day.

The battle ofLas Navas de Tolosa in 1212 is a decisive step for the success of the Reconquista of southern Spain by the Christian kingdoms. After a first phase which culminated during the capture of Toledo in 1085, the Reconquista had to stop in the face of the Almoravid counter-offensive from the battle of Zallaqa in 1086. It was not until the middle of the 12th century that the Christian kingdoms resume their walk; but this time they meet on their way another Berber dynasty, the Almohads.

When battle of hattin, on July 4, 1187, Saladin defeated the army of the king of Jerusalem, Guy de Lusignan, and his turbulent ally Renaud de Châtillon at the place called the Horns of Hattin, near Lake Tiberias. This is the last step in Saladin’s recapture of Jerusalem since he succeeded in uniting Muslims under the banner of jihad. With the Crusader army exterminated in Hattin, the Holy City fell like ripe fruit on October 2, 1187.

Among the reasons given to justify the First Crusade, the Turkish conquest in the East figures prominently. First slaves in the Abbasid armies, the Turks gained political importance during the tenth century, and some of them, thanks to the title of sultan given by the caliph, managed to carve out principalities and to extend Turkish influence to Syria and Anatolia. Among these Turkish peoples, the Seljuks, who during the 11th century asserted their authority over the region, going so far as to threaten Byzantium. It is precisely this struggle between the Seljuks and the Byzantines that culminates with the battle of Manzikert. For what consequences?

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