Battle of Cravant, 31st July 1423
On 31st July 1423 a Franco-Scottish army met an Anglo-Burgundian force in battle at Cravant, Burgundy. The Dauphinist army was part of a force that had been assembled to try and seize the initiative in the Low Countries following the deaths of King Charles VII of France, and Henry V of England.
The Dauphin recruited many Scots for this campaign. Under the command of Sir John Stewart Darnley some 4000 men had gone to the continent to fight alongside the French. As summer began, the army besieged the town of Cravant in Burgundy.
The garrison at Cravant made urgent requests for assistance. It was a message that the Burgundians relayed to their allies, the English, to raise a force as quickly as possible. It resulted in a 4000 strong force, roughly half Burgundian, half English, meeting at Auxerre on 29th July.
When they arrived near Cravant, it was clear that the Anglo-Burgundian force was massively outnumbered, possibly by as much as three times. The Earl of Salisbury, commanding, found the enemy sat on the opposite side of the river Yonne, between himself and the town.
There was something of a standoff as the onus was on the relief force to break through but Salisbury was reluctant to undertake an assault across a river against a far larger force. Eventually, archers from the Franco-Scottish force began to take aim at the relieving force. The response was to respond in kind, English archers letting loose and the artillery being brought to bare.
The aerial assault on the Franco-Scottish lines created an opportunity. Casualties seemed to be mounting and the Earl could see that the defensive line was in disarray. Using the English archers as a means of providing cover, the men-at-arms forded the river and stormed the bridge. The disarray of the Franco-Scottish lines resulted in the advantage falling to Salisbury’s assailants, rather than the more numerous defenders. Seeing this, the garrison of Cravant sallied on horseback, crashing into the rear of the Scottish infantry, and crushing them: the French having already begun to flee the battlefield.
The battle resulted in heavy losses for the Dauphinist army and the capture of its commanders, Darnley and the Comte de Vendóme
Les Vigiles de Charles VII, manuscrit de Martial d’Auvergne, vers 1484, BnF, Manuscrit Français 5054, enluminure du folio 29 verso.