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'It was the machine gun of its age,' expert longbower explains how humble weapon won the Battle of Agincourt

Linda Davies is an expert longbower Credit: ITV News

The first national commemoration of the Battle of Agincourt was held today, 600 years on from the epic victory.

Henry V's helmet and the sword he wielded in hand-to-hand combat were put on display for the service at Westminster Abbey, where an actor recited the famous Shakespearean monologue to more than 2,000 guests.

The commemoration inside Westminster Abbey today Credit: ITV News

The Anglo-Welsh archers were ordinary men who won an 'unwinnable war' against the French nobility. Their weapon - the humble longbow - was key to winning the battle, say historians.

Modern reports claim the French had around 12,500 men to England's 8,500 - the key difference was the English ranks were filled with around 7,000 archers.

The accuracy of the longbow raining arrows down on the French - up to 1,500 a minute - proved crucial to England's victory.

Linda Davies, who is an expert longbower and author of Longbow Girl, told ITV News those who fought for England were the "butchers, bakers and candlestick makers of the shires."

They were ordinary men with an extraordinary talent and an extraordinary weapon and they were massed against the cream of the French nobility.

– Linda Davies

Davies calls the longbow the "machine gun of its age".

Myths and legends from the Battle of Agincourt

  • V-sign - the rude gesture is said to have originated from English archers who waved their fingers defiantly at the French, who threatened to chop them off
  • 'Keep it under your hat' - the saying is said to have originated from archers keeping their bowstrings under their helmets to keep them dry
  • English soldiers were thought to be outnumbered 6-1, this is now thought to be an exaggeration