We Happy Few

A Short Tour of the Long 100 Years War

  • Tour a range of iconic battlefields, from Agincourt and Crecy, to Patay
  • Enjoy the many delights of Bordeaux, with free time to sample wine or wander its charming streets
  • Visit sites associated with the iconic Joan of Arc in Rouen

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers...” Shakespeare has King Henry V exhort his troops ahead of their victory over the French at Agincourt in 1415. But that battle, romanticised by the Bard, was just one clash in the savage, century-long struggle for supremacy between England and France, in which the English won most of the battles, but fi nally lost the war.

In this wide-ranging tour across some of France’s most beautiful countryside, staying in her historic cities, top medieval historian Dr. Michael Jones leads us through the main events and major battlefi elds of the 100 Years War: Crecy, Patay, Poitiers, Agincourt and Castillon; explaining what happened and why, and considering both the causes and consequences of the conflict.

We also meet some of the fascinating characters whose exploits in the war have since become legendary: Edward III and his Queen, Philippa of Hainault, as well as their son, Edward, the Black Prince; Henry V himself; and Joan of Arc, among others. For lovers of both France and history alike, this tour is simply unmissable.

Itinerary 2019

Day 1

Meeting at St. Pancras station in London, we take the Eurostar to Calais where we visit Rodin’s sculpture of the Seven Burghers of Calais, and hear Dr. Jones explain their role in England’s siege and seizure of the City early in the war. Calais remained in English hands as her last possession in France right up until the reign of Mary I in the 1550s. We then travel to the nearby battlefield of Crecy. Here, in 1346, Edward III inflicted a decisive defeat on a numerically superior French army and the English longbow proved its worth as a weapon of war. Here too, the King’s young son, Edward, the Black Prince, ‘won his spurs’ for his courage and precocious military ability. We then check into our nearby hotel. 

Hotel: Mercure Abbeville
Meals: Lunch & dinner included

Day 2

After breakfast, we drive to the battlefield of Agincourt, immortalised by Shakespeare in 'Henry V’ where in 1415 the warrior king, leading a bedraggled, starving and outnumbered army, nevertheless utterly defeated a far larger French force; once again utilising the longbow to achieve this famous victory. Guiding us over the remarkably unchanged field of battle, Dr. Jones will explain where Shakespeare got his history right – and wrong. After lunch, we drive to Rouen, capital of Normandy and the centre of English power in France for much of the war, and check into our central hotel.

Hotel: Mercure Centre Cathedral, Rouen
Meals: All meals included

Day 3

Today is devoted to exploring the Medieval centre of Rouen, concentrating on sites associated with Joan of Arc, who was tried and burned at the stake here for heresy in 1431. We visit the contemporary church built on the site of her martyrdom, the Joan of Arc interpretation centre and the city’s cathedral, which contains the heart of King Richard the Lionheart.

Hotel: Mercure Centre Cathedral, Rouen
Meals: All meals included

Day 4

Leaving our Rouen hotel, we drive to the ancient city of Orleans, which, like Rouen, was fiercely contested during the war. In 1429, after a six month siege, Orléans was on the point of falling to the English and their Burgundian allies when a teenage girl, Joan of Arc, claiming to be instructed by angels, arrived at the head of a revitalised French army and lifted the siege. We visit the sites in the city associated with the 'Maid of Orléans’ including the cathedral, the old city hall and the Hotel Groslot.

Hotel: Empreinte, Orléans
Meals: All meals included

Day 5

We drive to Poitiers, via the battlefield of Patay. Here, inspired by Joan, the French cavalry swept through the demoralised English to achieve a rare French victory in 1429, though soon afterwards Joan herself was captured at Compeigne. Arriving in Poitiers, we tour the battlefield where in September 1356, Edward, the Black Prince, achieved a sweeping victory over a pursuing French army led by King John II. The King was taken prisoner and died in London years later.

Hotel: Overnight in Poitiers
Meals: All meals included

Day 6

Leaving Poitiers, we drive through the increasingly beautiful countryside of Aquitaine to the city of Bordeaux, long the capital of English-ruled Gascony. After lunching in the city, we drive to Castillon, scene in 1453 of the final battle of the war. Here the aged English commander John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, was defeated and killed by a revitalised French army using a new weapon of war – cannons with gunpowder – which finally overcame the long dominance of the English longbow.

Hotel: Overnight in Bordeaux
Meals: All meals included

Day 7

After a last chance to explore, shop and sightsee in Bordeaux, we fly transfer to the airport for our individual flights home or onward travel.

Meals: Breakfast included

What's Included

  1. Tour Manager & Guide Lecturer
  2. Meals - Most meals included
  3. Transport - Eurostar to France, return flight to London (UK only) & all local travel
  4. Hand-picked hotels throughout the tour

Shining light on the Dark Ages

The Medieval era was filled with breathtaking artistic achievement spurred on by tremendous religious faith. Alongside the beauty, life could be coarse and cruel; cut short by famine, disease or the religious zeal that spurred on wars that still echo today.

This era is one of the most intriguing yet misrepresented periods of history. Did people really think the world was flat? No, that enduring myth was created by a 19th-century American journalist. Were witches put on trial and burnt at the stake? Yes, but you’d have to wait for the refined Renaissance period to bear witness to that. Travel alongside an expert guide lecturer, and separate fact from fiction in this fascinating period.

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