Hundred Years War

Battle of Caen
Medieval battle. ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1346 Jul 26

Battle of Caen

Caen, France

After landing in Normandy, Edward's aim was to conduct a chevauchée, a large-scale raid, across French territory to reduce his opponent's morale and wealth. His soldiers razed every town in their path and looted whatever they could from the populace. The towns of Carentan, Saint-Lô and Torteval were destroyed as the army passed, along with many smaller places. The English fleet paralleled the army's route, devastating the country for up to 5 miles (8 kilometres) inland and taking vast amounts of loot; many ships deserted, their crews having filled their holds. They also captured or burnt more than a hundred ships; 61 of these had been converted into military vessels. Caen, the cultural, political, religious and financial centre of north west Normandy, was Edward's initial target; he hoped to recoup his expenditure on the expedition and put pressure on the French government by taking this important city and destroying it.

The English were virtually unopposed and devastated much of Normandy before assaulting Caen. Part of the English army, which consisted of 12,000–15,000, commanded by the Earls of Warwick and Northampton, prematurely attacked Caen. It was garrisoned by 1,000–1,500 soldiers, who were supplemented by an unknown, large number of armed townsmen, and commanded by Raoul, the Count of Eu, the Grand Constable of France. The town was captured in the first assault. More than 5,000 of the ordinary soldiers and townspeople were killed, and a few nobles were taken prisoner. The town was sacked for five days. The English army moved off on 1 August, southwards to the River Seine and then towards Paris.

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Last Updated: Wed Mar 15 2023