THE news that the UK’s new Astute-class submarine will bear the name HMS Agincourt will surely upset a few history-minded Scots and many, many more French people.

For the eponymous battle in 1415 was a wondrous victory for England over the French. England’s Lancastrian King Henry V led an army mainly made up of archers to a decisive win over the knights of France who were decimated on that October day.

The French call the battle Azincourt, and are taught (the truth) that Henry ordered the slaughter of prisoners captured by the English. One wonders how our Auld Allies will feel at learning that their fellow Nato country is going to name its new vessel after arguably France’s greatest defeat other than Waterloo – there were two Royal Navy ships of that name – and the fall of the country to Nazi Germany in 1940. Some Scots will also no doubt point out that Agincourt was an English win, that this is now the UK Royal Navy, and that we were on the French side in the Hundred Years’ War.

Indeed, in furtherance of the Auld Alliance, the Scots raided into England while King Henry V and his army were in France and fought and lost the small Battle of Yeavering in July 1415. Agincourt is correctly remembered as a great English victory, but Henry did not press home his advantage and went back to England.

Agincourt then became a crucial moment in the Hundred Years’ War, although not for the reasons taught in history classes.

The National:

It was because the defeat at Agincourt caused the French to turn to their ancient allies and an army of Scots led by John Stewart – the Earl of Buchan and son of the Duke of Albany, the then Regent of Scotland in place of King James I who was a captive of the English – went over to France and soon earned a reputation for bravery. In 1421, the Scottish army joined up with the French forces and won the ferocious Battle of Bauge, credited as being the turning point of the century-long conflict which, lest it be forgotten, England lost. Still, it could have been worse – if the current Tory Government had been in power two decades or so ago when the Astute-class was first mooted, we could have had a new submarine and maybe a whole lot of other Royal Navy vessels called HMS Union. The first to bear that name was HMS Albemarle, renamed Union in 1709, two years after the Act of Union. There have been six Navy ships of that name. There’s never been an HMS Bannockburn.