After their victory at Rouen in October 1449, Charles VII continued the French offensive and pressed the English back into the town of Formigny. French artillary blasted out the most of the English army and the English were badly defeated losing more than 4000 men out of a force of 5000. Formigny marked the end of the fighting in Northern France.
The Duke of Suffolk now stood alone at the head of the government, for Beaufort and Gloucester were dead. Already under attack from his numerous enemies at home, Suffolk did what he could to stem the French advance, and in 1450 sent out a force of 3,000 men under Sir Thomas Kyriel, which landed at Cherbourg on 15th March. Advancing South, aiming to relive Bayeaux, which was now under attack, Kyriel recaptured several castles and having linked up with a force of 2,000 men all that was left of the Duke of Somerset's command at Caen, he continued his advance towards Bayeux. Marching hard to the East on 15th April 1450, this considerable English army encountered a much smaller French force of about 2,000 men, commanded by the Count of Clermont, near the little village of Formigny.
Clermont decided to give battle, but sent gallopers to contact another French force under Constable de Richemont, which was said to be marching towards Caen from Saint-Lo. The two armies faced each other astride the Carentan-Bayeux road, the English in their Agincourt formation of dismounted men-at-arms and archers in a line.
The French attacked at about three in the afternoon, suffering severely from the English archers for about two hours, until they brought two cannon into play on the flank, which severely galled the English line until the archers threw caution to the winds, left the protection of their stakes and trenches and went over to the attack, charging across to capture the two enemy cannon. They were preparing to drag them back to their own line when a fresh French force, 2,000 mounted men led by Constable de Richemont, suddenly appeared on rising ground to their left.
With victory against Clermont almost in his grasp, Kyriel hesitated, a not unreasonable action in the circumstances. Then he hastily attempted to reform his line to the flank to meet his fresh threat but, even while he was doing so, Clermont's men rallied and struck back, while Richemont's cavalry came thundering down from the left. Taken on two flanks, Kyriel's force was swiftly overwhelmed, broken up by cavalry charges from the gens d'ordonnance and destroyed piecemeal.
Many groups of archers, fearing slaughter or the loss of their string fingers after capture, died fighting to the last man in a walled garden by the church at Formigny, and little knots of English knights and archers fought until killed or captured all across the field, until nightfall put an end to the killing.
Nearly 5,000 English were lost, dead or captured, with Sir Thomas Kyriel being among the prisoners. The news of defeat at Formigny threw the English into the deepest gloom. In one short campaign the French had destroyed their only remaining field army in Normandy, and now both John Talbot and Thomas Kyriel, their best captains, were prisoners in French hands.
|Date: 15 Apr 1450
Outcome: French victory.
English Leadership: Thomas Kyriel and Matthew Gough.
English Strength: 5000 men
English Casualties: 5,000 English were lost, dead or captured,.
French Leadership: Charles VII, Compte de Clermont
French Strength: 5,000 men
French Casualties: 300 men