By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 12:49 AM on 25th October 2008
To Shakespeare, it was the moment a feckless youth turned into a great king, leading his army to victory against seemingly impossible odds.
But French academics have a very different view of the Battle of Agincourt - claiming that English soldiers acted like 'war criminals'.
They also accuse King Henry V of giving his permission for captives to be burnt to death and ordering his bodyguards to execute a noble who had surrendered.
Romantic view of history? Kenneth Branagh playing Henry V in a film of Shakespeare's play in which he leads his army to victory against impossible odds
The battle - part of the Hundred Years War - has become a byword for English heroism in the face of insurmountable odds.
But nearly 600 years later, historians will tell a conference at the Medieval History Museum in Agincourt that the stories that Henry's troops were hugely outnumbered are a lie.
The museum's director, distinguished French historian Christophe Gilliot, said: 'There's been a distortion of the facts and this conference will attempt to set the record straight.
Brave or brutal? An illustration of the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 in which the English were always thought to have been hugely outnumbered - but French academics claim they in fact acted like war criminals
'We have historians arriving from all over France, and all will produce hard facts concerning the battle.
Inspired leader: A portrait of Henry V
'At the very least the English forces acted dishonourably. The Middle Ages were a very violent time, of course, but some might accuse the English of acting like what might now be called war criminals.'
The Battle of Agincourt was immortalised by Shakespeare and is the centrepiece of his play Henry V.
It took place on Friday, October 25 in 1415 after a force led by Henry engaged the French at Agincourt, a small village not far from Calais in northern France.
The traditional story is that the English army, made up mainly of archers using longbows, massacred a vast force of French noblemen.
But detailed bureaucratic records from the army of the French king, Charles VI, reveal it was made up of 9,000 travelling soldiers, perhaps with another 3,000 local troops.
This compares with a total force of 12,000 which travelled to France with Henry - although 3,000 were lost during the preceding siege of Harfleur.
English chroniclers writing in the years following the battle wrongly claimed that there were as many as 150,000 French, compared with 6,000 English soldiers.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, no English academics have been invited to today's conference in France.
But Professor Anne Curry, a military historian from Southampton University, admitted that many accounts of the battle have been exaggerated to give the impression of 'plucky little England against the evil French'.