Welsh author-journalist Arthur Machen had already written several articles about the British in the First World War when, on September 29th, 1914, a short story of his appeared in a London newspaper. A fictional treatment of the Battle of Mons, Machen wrote a story so convincing that it was taken for truth.
British forces in retreat sought heaven’s intervention. Calling out to St George, their prayers were answered with the appearance of Medieval archers, the Angels of Mons, the very forces who triumphed at the Battle of Agincourt four hundred and ninety-eight years before. Before it could be confirmed as fiction, the story assumed legendary proportion in the pages of several newspapers and magazines. Agincourt, Iowa’s link with the events of 1415 intensified when the U.S. finally entered the conflict in 1917. The image of a Medieval bowman on Machen’s book became the model for the weather vane atop the Fennimore county courthouse.
I hope we’ll be able to replicate that weather vane for the October exhibit — an important artifact in its own right (a survivor of the 1966 lightening strike that burned the courthouse itself) and a potent reminder of Agincourt’s unusual connection with the Middle Ages.