PATAY, BATTLE OF (1429). King Henry V. of Eng land died in August 1422, and though of ter his death the English won several battles, the siege of Orleans, in 1428, saw a turn of the tide due to the smallness of the English army, its dispersion, the uncertain support of the Burgundian faction, and the en thusiasm aroused by the appearance of Joan of Arc.
In February 1429, accompanied by six men-at-arms, the Maid set out for the dauphin's court at Chinon. Having convinced him of her divine mission, clothed in a coat of mail and carrying a sword, said to have belonged to Charles Martel, she headed for Orleans. The siege was badly maintained, the English force being far too small for the purpose. In place of raising the siege and meeting Joan and her 5,000 followers, the English held on, with the result that their lines were broken, for all the French garrison required was enthusiasm to rouse them into activity. Suffolk, a most incapable leader, then distributed his army in small detachments to hold certain towns on the Loire, namely, Jargeau, Meung and Beaugency, and this in spite of the fact that Bedford, the regent, was sending him reinforcements from Paris under Lord Talbot. The garrisons of these towns, utterly de
moralized by superstitious terror, surrendered them, and Talbot hearing of these disasters determined to retreat to Paris and hold the city. At Patay on June 18 he was surprised by Joan and her captains the Duke of Alencon and Lahire. The English archers, who throughout the Hundred Years' War had depended for their success on defensive tactics, attempted to fix their stakes and deploy behind them, but the French fired by a religious en thusiasm gave them no time, and charging down on them slew more than a third and captured Talbot. The strategical results of this victory were great ; not only were the English driven beyond the Loire, but Charles, the dauphin, took Chalons, Troyes and Reims, and entering the last mentioned city at the head of 12,000 men was crowned king of France. The moral effect was still greater, because Bedford, fearing the demoralizing influence of the Maid's miraculous banner, dared not take the offensive.
See A. Lang, The Maid of France (1908) ; Michelet, Histoire de France; C. Oman, The Art of War in the Middle Ages (1924).