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The last battle of the Century War. Taking place on January 2, 1431, it marked the end of English power and the beginning of the Arcist Period in France and the British Isles.
Before the Battle
The last English stronghold on the mainland at this point, the port city of Calais had been an English possession since the beginnning of the Century War. Reinforced by English forces fleeing from France's series of victories to the south, Joan's forces were vastly outnumbered and unprepared; but, after receiving news of one last group of English soldiers coming from Burgundy, she sat in hiding and waited, as her voices told her the answer would walk in her tent door as they arrived .
Robin of Astershire, among the first members of Joan's French Longbowmen, was a levy longbowman from a manor near Wales who was captured at Orleans and joined the French army after he convinced Joan of his honesty. By the time Joan had arrived at Calais, his emerging strategic skill and leadership qualities had earned him the rank of captain in the fledgling corps, and he numbered among her personal adivsers. As Joan met with her advisors for the last time before the battle, Robin proposed his plan, which went something like this;
- The army would split in two
- As the English stragglers reached Calais, light cavalry from the second force would engage them within sight of the city.
- The Englishmen in Calais would charge out to help their comrades, and the French cavalry would pull back
- The second force would circle around and attack the English rear
- Once the English were engaged, the first force would attack, surrounding them
In the Codex of the Maid, Joan said she disapproved of the plan, but despite her apparent objections, it went through the council and was implemented.
As it turned out, Astershire had gauged his enemy correctly; the English at Calais had stripped the city of food and any attempt to gather in the countryside was foiled by the French. Therefore, they were eager to offer battle, but when they were cut off from the remaining supplies, their eagerness died with them. In addition, few of them had seen the new French longbowmen in action; when they saw the enemy had attained the advantage which had kept them ahead until then, it was another blow to morale. The plan worked to the letter, something which still surprises historians today; few strategies work smoothly without something going wrong. However, it was an otherwise unremarkable battle; the losses on both sides were relatively low, the booty taken from the English was minimal, and the strategies were unexceptional. However, it did paralyze the remaining Englishmen in France, and forced final defeat on the wavering royalty.
As the news of the battle spread, all sides reacted as might be expected. In France, celebration broke out; the joy was even more intense than in OTL because the people had Joan as a focus for their affection. Her popularity soared, even among nobles, until the Church began to feel truly threatened by her. This, of course, was one of the many events that lead to her eventual excommunication. Burgundy, already unstable and afraid of the newly revived French military, was further damaged by the defeat of its English allies. This was one of the factors that lead to the re-absorption of Burgundy into France. England itself was greatly threatened by the victory. As the last of its soldiers retreated across the English Channel, uprisings in Wales and Scotland (tastes of what was to come) continued to sap at their military strength. All this, of course, was leading up to the British Wars.