Agincourt 1415 – 2015
Lecture by Anne Curry
Given at the Society of Antiquaries of London on October 27, 2015
Introduction: A medieval spur, found in a tree root, allegedly discovered on the battlefield of Agincourt – been there so long that it is grown into the tree root so it must be authentic. The problem is that there are two others! They say it is a forgery of the early 20th century, the wood was softened and the spur put into it. And it takes me right to the problem of Agincourt: that it is the thing of which myths are made. We have no surviving objects from the battle, and not surprisingly then, there has been a great desire to invent things.
There is a quite famous manuscript illumination as well, it is used in newspapers and book covers – in fact that was also a forgery of the early 20th century.
The other famous myth about Agincourt is the V-sign, with the V-sign invented there. I can’t find the origins of that story. We know that one of the chronicles of the time actually gives a battle speech for Henry – there are many battle speeches incidentally given for Henry – and it is if the archers are caught they will have their fingers cut off. I think again it is an early 20th century myth.