Battle of Sluys
The 24th of June 1340 AD
The campaigns carried on by surrogates that preceded the opening of that lengthiest of conflicts the Hundred Years War had developed into open conflict between Edward III ’s England and the France of Philip VI by 1337. One of the most decisive English victories came early on, at the naval battle of Sluys in 1340.
Philip had gathered an invasion fleet of around 200 vessels at the sheltered roads off Sluys in Flanders. When Edward’s fleet probably just inferior in numbers to Philip’s threatened the French the latter foolishly formed lines that blocked much of their strength off. This was another victory, though less famous than Agincourt and Crecy , for the English longbow, rapid fire raining on the French ships defended by Genoese crossbowmen able to get off one shot to five or six by their English opponents.
Sluys was a land battle fought at sea, arrows exchanged and ships boarded for hand-to-hand combat (in which Edward may have been wounded) over many hours. In the end the English won decisively.
Decisive, however, is here a relative term: the conflict obviously continued, but significantly French naval power was damaged for years – the war, barring a few raids, would be fought in France not England.
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