For all intents and purposes, medieval warfare was a grueling, gruesome, dysentery provoking pastime for the common foot soldier. But for the mounted, more well-to-do, sometimes noble knight, it could be an opportunity to increase land holdings, do some social climbing, cash in on ransomed prisoners, and enjoy the genteel accoutrements of a pillaged village.
Of course, there were drawbacks to being a mounted knight as well. For instance, at Agincourt, in 1415 (think Shakespeare’s Henry V), the English defeated a French army five times its size. Due in part, to the poor judgment of a good number of acquisitive French equestrians who could hardly wait to get their hands on the cream of English nobility and ransom them to the highest bidder.
Wearing heavy, steel, state-of-the-art armor in what must have seemed like a “shock and awe” moment; the French raced on horseback through the narrow, muddy swamp. French foot soldiers felled by the famous English longbow turned the constricted battlefield into an outright bottleneck. Undeterred, the ransom-hungry equestrians galloped on over their broken bodies—in many cases, drowning their fellow Frenchmen in the mud. Though English arrows were no match for their fancy French steel; the knights failed to appreciate (with disastrous consequences) that their horses could still be shot out from under them. (When you fall from your horse into the mud wearing 66-110 lb’s of steel, suffice to say, it’s not easy to get up no matter how good you look!)