England, France and Aquitaine (Hardback)
From Victory to Defeat in the Hundred Years War
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This is a narrative history of England and France during the Hundred Years War, from the triumphs of Henry V to the defeat of England and the loss of Gascony and Bordeaux – a huge blow to English prestige. It is a military history with technical detail, linked to high politics, courtly intrigue, dynastic ambition, and economic interest(the Bordeaux wine trade). The story develops after the death in 1422 of two kings: Henry V of England, soon after his military triumphs, and Charles VI of France. Both had historic claims to the French crown. Henry V was succeeded by Henry VI, still an infant, and Charles VI by Charles VII. The contrast could hardly have been greater between Henry VI, a scholarly and religious figure, often suffering from mental illness, in an age when kings were expected to be aggressive leaders and effective military commanders, and Charles VII – an increasingly able politician, soldier and, in modern parlance, a ‘hard man,’ who personified the 15th century concept of kingship. Intermittent but constant warfare continued until the English defeat at Castillon and the complete loss of Gascony after the siege of Bordeaux, both in 1453. The Peace of Picquigny in 1476 between the next kings, Edward IV and Louis XI, brought an end to this decisive episode in the Hundred Years War, foreshadowing England’s future total withdrawal from France.
I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the period. It will also be a worthwhile read for the casual reader as it's not overly academic and is not a dry history as some tend to be. I think it deserves 4 mushrooms.Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)
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Richard Ballard looks at the fortunes of Richard II and Charles VI of France in a fascinating account of that war...Books Monthly
I certainly knew more coming out than going in while enjoying the journey, which I think is the test for narrative history.Beating Tsundoku
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This is an absorbing book that filled in so many gaps in my knowledge of the relationship between France and England in this period. It succeeds wonderfully in bringing us the many characters who were involved in the often confusing machinations to gain power, prestige, land and riches. In the same way as the difficulties that characterised the Lancastrian – Yorkist disagreement in England we find the key players changing sides, avoiding commitment, losings lands and titles and being forgiven as the realities of the situation demanded diplomacy and pragmatism on both sides. The striking point is that the participants, especially Charles VII, were ready to play the long game to build the necessary alliances. Recommended.Michael McCarthy
Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide