The Battle of Caen

  • Wars And Conflict
  • 3 mins

By Crusader1307

Part of The Hundred Years War, the battle was fought on July 26, 1346. The English forces of Edward III (numbering 12,000 - but only taking 3,000 with him on this campaign), clashed with the French forces of Count Raoul of Brienne (around 1,500 Men at Arms). Edward's fleet (sailing from England), landed near Cherbourg, France. Edwards forces had allies of some of the French noblemen in the region - having been angered at the French King, Philip). This made his marshaling and supply lines easy to establish as a result. Edward prepared to employ his now "famous" tactic
of "scorched earth" to the surrounding regions. This would deprive the French of supplies and assistance  - and no doubt  they would quickly surrender. Caen was a major cultural, religious and financial center at the time. Taking it would be a major strategic advantage to the English (and a great disaster to the French). Edward quickly set about and marched his armies forward. His main problem was that as fast as his army moved (and this was needed for his tactics) - he could take no siege equipment with him. Another issue was Caen's location. The city was split into two sections (each on separate land portions bisected by the Orne River.  The "older" part of the city was heavily fortified with defensive positions of towers and walls (and not to be undone, a sturdy castle). Reports of only one section of unrepaired wall was known - and this was Edwards only glimmer of hope. The "newer" portion of the city was the center of it's merchant/financial community. It was protected by the Orne River on two sides (meaning no frontal assault). Although there were no major fortifications, there were 2 fortified Abbeys near the front. Any army would have to ford the river - which was not ideal.


Upon arrival to the outskirts of Caen, Edward's scouts reported that the Abbey's were undefended. The city's defenders - commanded by Count Raoul, were persuaded by the wealthy merchants to abandon the older portion of the city. They wanted him to protect them! Raoul left 300 men at the castle and walls of the older section. The English found the weakened walls exactly as they had been told. Their archers mad short work of the French castle garrison. The older city was breached. Meanwhile, Edward's other forces (not fearing the Abbey's) started their wading of the River Orne. The French had drew themselves to the front of the city and began to use their archers as well. - firing into the now drowning army! The French (knowing the the fall of the older portion of the city), so some reason - overstretched their resources. Instead of concentrating their attack on the advancing English at the newer portion of the city, they split their forces to also engage the forces holding the older portion. This action gave the English the opportunity to finally ford the river. The French commanding nobles panicked and made their way to the Abbey's - leaving their city and men to the mercy of the English. The English fell upon the city. They burnt and looted with wanton greed. Destroying chapels, taking food and gold - anything of value. No honor was afforded to the French dead - who were promptly gathered up and cremated. It is estimated that around 5,000 casualties (military and otherwise) -were counted. Edward was said to have gone to the grave of his ancestor William The Conqueror (buried in this town) - and gave his honor. Edward and the English would remain in Caen until August 1. They will move onto Paris - although he did not take it. Caen and subsequent other "captures" would give the English control over the region for about 200 years.