France 1346: The army of King Philip VI is Europe’s pre-eminent killing machine. It is used to crushing any force stupid enough to oppose it, and now fully expects to annihilate a motley band of English invaders on a field near the village of Crecy.
Except as night falls, it is Philip’s army that lies broken and bleeding in the mud. What went wrong? The French knights, it seems, had failed to update their corporate culture.
Cautionary Tales is written by me, Tim Harford, with Andrew Wright. It is produced by Ryan Dilley, with support from Courtney Guarino and Emily Vaughn.
The sound design and original music is the work of Pascal Wyse. Julia Barton edited the scripts.
Thanks to the team at Pushkin Industries, including Mia Lobel, Jacob Weisberg, Heather Fain, Jon Schnaars, Carly Migliori, Eric Sandler, Emily Rostek, Royston Beserve, Maggie Taylor, Nicole Morano, Daniella Lakhan and Maya Koenig.
Further reading and listening
Thomas Schelling Micromotives and Macrobehavior
Warren Ellis Crecy
Lynn White Jr. Medieval Technology and Social Change
Andrew Ayton and Philip Preston The Battle of Crecy
Saul David Military Blunders
Julian Humphrys The Battle of Crecy History Extra
Boris Groysberg, Jeremiah Lee, Jesse Price, and J. Yo-Jud Cheng “The Leaders Guide to Corporate Culture” Harvard Business Review
Marty Baron speech at the Reuters Institute