On Easter Monday, 13 th April 1360, a freak hail storm broke over English troops as they were preparing for battle with the French during the Hundred Years' War. So brutal was the storm that over 1,000 men and 6,000 horses lost their lives that night. Convinced it was a sign from God, King Edward rushed to pursue peace with the French, marking the end of the first phase of the Hundred Years' War.

Inheritance Dispute Results in 116 Years of War

The Hundred Years' War was a series of military conflicts between France and England which began in 1337 due to an inheritance dispute over the French throne, and only truly ended in 1453. The 116 years of the war saw the rise and fall of several kings and nobles.

During the course of the war, King Edward III of England was actively attempting to conquer France. In October 1359, he led an invading force of 10,000 men across the English Channel to France. The French avoided direct conflicts and remained sheltered behind protective walls, while Edward's army sacked and burned the countryside.

On 5 th April 1360, Edward led his army to the gates of Paris, attempting to provoke the Dauphine of France (Charles V) into battle, but he refused. Unable to breach the Paris defences, Edward led his army onto the gates of Chartres, where they were again met with heavy fortifications.

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Collage of paintings representing battles of the Hundred Years' War. Clockwise, from top left: La Rochelle, Agincourt, Patay, Orleans.
The Storm Hits

On Easter Monday April 13, the English army made camp outside Chartres in an open plain when a sudden storm materialized. The temperature dropped dramatically and thunder and lightning crashed overhead, striking and killing two of the English leaders. Panic set in among the soldiers, who had nowhere to run or seek shelter, and the horses stampeded. High winds and huge hailstones along with freezing rain began pelting down. Within half-an-hour, more than 1,000 men and 6,000 horses lay dead.
Thus arm'd fierce Edward did his Troops advance
Resolv'd to Wast ye Stubborne Realm of France
But Gracious Heaven stops his enraged Hand
And loudly pleads in Thunder for the Land
Edward obeys his Great Creator's Will
To yield to Heaven is but to Conquer still
These are the words that run along the bottom of the plate below, which appears in 'The History of that Most Victorious Monarch Edward IIId' by Joshua Barnes, (10 January 1654 - 3 August 1712), an English scholar and Regius Professor of Greek.

© public domain
This plate depicts Edward on the battlefield, during the Hundred Years’ War with France. The date shown is Black Monday
A Sign from God

King Edward was convinced that the storm was a sign from God. It is reported that during the climax of the storm, he dismounted from his horse and dropped to his knees, reciting a vow for peace in the direction of the Chartres Cathedral.

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