MILITARY HISTORY DATABASE

BATTLE OF PATAY
(18 June 1429)

Battle of Patay (From Les Vigiles de Charles VII by Martial d'Auvergne, written c.1477-84, held by Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.)

DIRECTORY
Preliminaries First Phase Second Phase
Battle Map
Summary and Analysis

Preliminaries

Strategic:
The strategic context of this battle is so tightly intergrated with the relief of Orléans and the Loire Valley Campaign of 1429 that is strongly recommended one first view the basic webpage Siege of Orléans and Loire Valley Campaign

On the evening of 17 June, the English withdrew to Meung and that night attempted to take the bridge guardhouse south of Meung. They used cannon, but still failed to do so by morning on the 18th. Around 0800 hours, the English learned that Beaugency had been taken by the French the day before. Realizing that the French army was on its way to besiege Meung and that the English would be out-gunned as well as out-manned, Talbot and Fastolf did agree that it was best to withdraw towards Janville.

The English had reached Patay, about 18 miles north of Meung and stopped to rest. It appears that Talbot placed his archers and other of the rear-guard in covered positions among low-lying shrubbery north of where the road they were taking (the 'Old Roman Road') crossed a road running southward from Patay to the northwest.

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First Phase

When the English march from Meung was reported to the French, the military leaders began debating as what to do. Jeanne interrupted the discussion and suggested they use their spurs and drive after and engage the English as soon as possible. The mounted men-at-arms were put in the vanguard, with La Hire and Poton de Xantrailles, and given the instructions to pursue the English. The main-body was led by Alençon, accompanied by Dunois. Jeanne and the constable de Richemont were in the rear-van. It was about mid-day when the French vanguard paused at St-Sigmund, about 6 km south of where the English had stopped, but neither knew how close the other was. The French continued their advance about 1300 hours, this time sending out some advance patrols on foot.

As the French patrols passed through St. Peravy, they flushed a stag from the woods on the sides of the road. The animal dashed north and through the concealed positions of the English rear-guard, which let out a cheer as if in a chase. The sound gave away the position of the English to the French patrols, who quickly reported back to the vanguard. The English, too, were now aware of the closeness of the French. The English hurriedly began to prepare for battle in the usual fashion. About 500 archers, under Talbot's direction, started placing their stakes on a line parallel to the road from Patay. Behind the archer, on the Old Roman Road to the north, Fastolf arranged a bulk of his force on a ridge.

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Second Phase

It was about 1400 hours that the French vanguard of heavy cavalry rode over a ridge to the south of the road from Patay. The French did not pause but drove at full force into and upon the flanks of the English archers. The archers were overpowered within minutes. The momentum of the French drive was maintained by the on rush of the closely following main battle van. The whole struggle was over in less than an hour. Talbot and Scales were captured, Fastolf, seeing all was lost, did not engage and managed to escape in disgrace.


 Battle of Patay (18 June 1429) 

The battle area and specific points of engagement for the Battle of Patay are not known with certainty. The map shown here is based upon the views of the military historians Alfred Burne and Michel de Lombarès. More recently another view has been suggested by Ferdinand de Liocourt. See: an alternative description of battle area for the Battle of Patay webpage.

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SUMMARY
and
ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS:
French commander(s): Alençon, Jeanne d'Arc and Richemont with est 8,000 men.
English commander (s): Talbot and Fastolf with 3,000+ men.
CASUALTIES:
French: less than 5.
English:est 2,000+.

First, there was inadequate time for the English archers to establish their standard tactical defense.
Second, the English position was not sufficiently protected from flanking, as the French cavalry was able to span-out beyond the English line.

For the English to be defeated on an open battle just after losing an important siege campaign was dramatic, even without 'the Maid' being a factor. The reverses stunned both the English regent and the Burgundian duke into working together again -- if even for a short time.

BATTLEFIELD
TODAY

Nothing remains in the area to distinctly mark the battlefield. However, a depression in the modern road, just over a 1 km southeast of Lignerolles, appears to be where the old Roman Road between Paris and Blois crossed another old road between Chartres and Orléans. This intersection is believed to be where Talbot established his archers among some low bushes along side the roads' intersection. Tradition also has named an area on high ground just north of this intersection as 'Le Camp'. This suggests to some that it was where Fastolf positioned the English wagons.

The July 2000 photograph looks northwest over the depression in the modern wheat fields. The small farming hamlet of Lignerolles is in the background. To the west [viewer's left], just off the photo, is a pile of stones that some believe were part of the ancient Roman road [which generally ran southwest-northeast, but is more east-west at this point] that crossed the local medieval south-north road. The medieval road had laid just slightly to the north [viewer's right] of the modern road shown -- both leading to Patay.

SOURCES

The Burgundian, Wavrin, was in the ranks of the English and provided a reliable account of the battle in his chronicle. Other contemporary sources are depositions at the Rehabilitation Trial of Jeanne d'Arc which provide eye-witness statements of Dunois and Alençon. More indirectly, the engagement is covered in the Journal du siège d'Orléans. A fine modern review of the battle is Michel de Lombarès' "Patay, 18 juin 1429," Revue Historique des Armées, Ministère de la Defense, Paris, numéro 4, 22, 1966, pp.5-16. Burne's Agincourt War contains one of the most detailed military accounts in English. Most all the works on Jeanne d'Arc cover the battle, essentially refering to the same basic documents. Expanded bibliographical references are in:

Bibliography for the Hundred Years' War

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This page was last updated 22 November 2000.
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