On this day : The 29th of August 1350

Battle of Winchelsea

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The Battle of Winchelsea in the seas off that Sussex port, in common with many other medieval sea fights is poorly recorded, and we do not know the exact extent of losses on either the English or Spanish sides. But that it was a victory for Edward III is not disputed, a triumph on the water for England to match those on land in the earliest part of the Hundred Years War .

Spanish ships had fought for France, reason enough to attack a fleet due to return from Flanders to the North West Coast of Spain: but on its journey north the fleet had taken some English merchant vessels and thrown their crews overboard to drown. Edward III, assisted by the Black Prince, organised a fleet of some 50 ships to anchor at Winchelsea and await the passing of the Spaniards through the Channel. But aware of the threat, the Spanish commander de la Cerda instead chose to attack rather than run.

The battle was apparently a bloody one, crossbowmen recruited by de la Cerda able to wreak havoc on the English soldiers crowding the decks of Edward’s fleet. The Spanish vessels, perhaps 10 fewer in number, were however larger; one rammed Edward’s own craft, sinking it, though the monarch and his men took another just before she went under. The Black Prince also saw his ship sunk, but it is thought more than 20 of de la Cerda’s ships were sunk or captured before the rest fled unpursued.

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