The Great War
O F all the causes that tended in Chaucer's time to modify the old ideals of knighthood, none perhaps was more potent than the Hundred Years' War. Unjust as it was on both sides-for the cause of Philippe de Valois cannot be separated from certain inexcusable manceuvres of his predecessors on the French throne-it was the first thoroughly national war on so large a scale since the institution of chivalry. No longer merely feudal levies, but a whole people on either side is gradually involved in this struggle; and its military lessons anticipate, to a certain extent, those of the French Revolutionary Wars. Even in Froissart's narrative, the greatest heroes of Crecy are the English archers; and the Welsh knifemen by their side play a part undreamed of in earlier feudal warfare. " When the Genoese were assembled together and began to approach, they made a great cry to abash the Englishmen, but they stood still and stirred not for all that; then the Genoese again the second time made
another fell cry, and stept forward a little, and the Englishmen removed not one foot; thirdly, again they cried, and went forth till they came within shot; then they shot fiercely with their cross-bows. Then the English archers stept forth one pace and let fly their arrows so wholly together and so thick, that it seemed snow .... And ever still the Englishmen shot whereas they saw thickest press; the sharp arrows ran into the men of arms and into their horses, and many fell, horse and men .... And also among the Englishmen there were certain rascals that went afoot with great knives, and they went in among the men of arms, and slew and murdered many as they lay on the ground, both earls, barons, knights and squires, whereof the king of England was after displeased, for he had rather they had been taken prisoners."