Battle of Poitiers 1356

The Battle of Poitiers was one of the most significant battles between the French and English armies during the Hundred Years’ War.

Battle of Poitiers

The battle took place in 1356 on French territory near Poitiers. It resulted in a decisive victory for the English side with the French suffering a humiliating defeat with French leaders, including the French King, being captured by the English forces.

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The battle turned the scales in favor of the English for the time being, leading to the weakest period of French supremacy during the Hundred Years’ War.

Battle of Poitiers Prelude

As part of the Hundred Years’ War, the French and English were already at war over English territories on the Continent.

In 1356, Prince of Wales, Edward began a campaign to rally his supporters in the French territories, moving out from the English-held region of Aquitaine.

Battle of Tours and Poitiers

Raiding along the way, Edward led his forces to the castle at Tours. Before he could take the castle, French King John II reached the site to relieve the castle.

After attempts at negotiations failed between the two sides, they prepared for battle on September 19.

Medieval King Edward III Black Prince

 Edward the Black Prince


Edward the Black Prince

French & English Armies

The English army, led by Edward, was significantly smaller than the French army. According to medieval sources, the English army numbered 5000 while the French army totaled 11000.

English enemy fire their arrow bolts at French Enemy

English longbowmen fire their arrow bolts at the enemy

However, the English had a crucial advantage in that they had 1000 archers in their midst who proved vital during the fighting.

Apart from them, the English had 3000 men-at-arms and 1000 infantry. In contrast, the French had 8000 men-at-arms and 3000 infantry.

Medieval Ranged Weapons List Archers

Fighting at the Battle of Poitiers

At the beginning of the fighting, the French cavalry charged at the English side.

They were checked by the English archers successfully who, positioned at the side, rained arrows on the sides and backs of the horses, piercing the vulnerable armor points.

This prevented the French cavalry to make any significant advancements to the English side.

Battle of Poitiers

The Battle of Poitiers was one of the more significant battles during the 116 years – 100 years war!

The French infantry then advanced but after fierce fighting, withdrew to reorganize for a second attack. However, other parts of the French army thought the infantry was retreating and panicked, leading to disorganization on the French side.

Medieval Crossbow Weapon

This ultimately proved a vital disadvantage to the French as Edward summoned his reserve forces stationed in the forest nearby to complete his victory over the French army, more than half of which had been sent away from the battlefield.

Battle of Poitiers Aftermath

The Battle of Poitiers was the second major victory for the English forces during the Hundred Years’ War.

One of the most devastating losses for the French was that the King was captured and a large number of leading noblemen fell on the battlefield.

King John II of France consequently spent many years as a hostage in England.


King John II of France


His son Charles ruled as regent but had to contend with the unrest in Paris, the lack of support from the non-noble population, and the pressure of reaching a negotiation with England.

Ultimately, France had to agree to pay a vast sum of ransom to the English and give up several of its territories in Western France.