Agincourt: The King, the Campaign, the Battle
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Agincourt: The King, the Campaign, the Battle

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  681 ratings  ·  73 reviews
Agincourt took place on 25 October 1415 and was a turning-point not only in the Hundred Years War between England and France but also in the history of weaponry. Azincourt (as it is now) is in the Pas-de-Calais, and the French were famously defeated by an army led by Henry V. Henry V's stunning victory revived England's military prestige and greatly strengthened his territ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published (first published 2005)
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Ton
Very good history of "the Agincourt War", and Henry V. Barker is not distracted by the wider perpectives and keeps a tight focus of events as they relate to Agincourt, which is helpful because it keeps things clear and to the point. She gives a strong description of motivations (on both sides) and how those translate to the events as we know them. The key element of French royal paralysis due to a mad king, and uncertain dauphin and the rival factions of Burgundy and Orléans is adequately brough...more
Kat
Apr 17, 2009 Kat rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: British history buffs, readers of Shakespeare's Henry V
The Battle of Agincourt is one of the most, if not the most, famous battles in British history. I didn't know that until reading this book. I'd never read Shakespeare's history plays on Henry IV and Prince Hal, so my knowledge of King Henry V was nonexistent prior to diving into this book.

I recently heard a quote in a British TV mini-series, "A war with France is traditional." How true this was for many centuries. In the midst of the Hundred Years' War, Henry V waged a battle with Charles VI of...more
Bill Rogers
History tells you what happened. Good history tells you why. Great history puts you in that world and makes you feel it, makes you start to understand it. This is great history.

Agincourt was too foreign a battle for me to understand. I had thought it was a rather pointless battle; a great English victory, certainly, but fought for no good reason in a cause that was ultimately futile. Barker's book changed all that. It explained why, in the foreign culture that was England of 1415, the campaign w...more
Mike
While 'Agincourt' is clearly a well-researched work, Juliet Barker breaks little new ground. The organisational and motivational abilities and piety and chivalry of Henry V have never been in doubt; nor have the insanity of King Charles VI of France, the cowardice of his son, the dauphin, or the divided nature of the French aristocracy (many of whom behaved in a remarkably chivalrous way themselves) of the day.

Barker's insistence on disagreeing with recent historians of the period, without givin...more
anna
This was another of my 'essay reads' which has sat on my shelf for years but only started when needed for an assignment. I have not yet read the book in its entirety , but I am already engrossed. What I like best about this book is the way the author devotes as much attention to the background and planning stages of the campaign, as the battle and campaign in France itself. Chapters entitled 'The Diplomatic Effort' and 'Scots and Plots' reveal the broader political situation in Britain and Franc...more
Frederick
This is a well researched book, and I learned much more about 15th century chivalry than I expected. Barker provides ample detail from contemporary sources, usually presenting the reader with the range of accounts provided at the time as well as what the "received" understanding is today. Occasionally, she asserts her own opinion in contrast to general opinion.
I bought the book to learn how Henry was able to win the battle of Agincourt, and I did learn that through this book. My only criticism i...more
Frank
After reading historical fiction novel of the same name by Bernard Cornwell, I felt it prudent to learn the true story and events of the amazing battle that took place in 1415. This answered every question I had, and all of the ones I never thought to ask. I was absolutely amazed by the detail and intricacies of medieval life, chivalry, and combat. It is filled with astounding anecdotes of the lives of the men who were prominent and immortalized and those whose names have been lost to time. I hi...more
A
This is a book that took me a while to get through, mostly because my expectations were out of line with what the book could have provided. I was looking for deep tactical analysis of the battle itself, instead the book proved to be a comprehensive look at all aspects of the campaign which lead to the battle of Agincourt, from its formation to its conclusion and beyond.

Barker does a great job of selling King Henry V's motivations for the campaign, as well as bringing great respect to his politic...more
Josh Liller
This book was published around the same time as of Anne Curry's Agincourt: A New History. While Curry is considered an expert on the subject, she gives alot of attention to historiography and I find her writing a bit dry.

Barker's book is much more readable; if I wasn't in a rush to finish off a university term paper I really would've liked to properly read this cover to cover. It covers not only the Agincourt campaign, but also serves a short biography of Henry V and delves into some of the Arma...more
Suemulvihill
This is a fascinating book. The Henry V of Shakespeare is such a hollow character compared with the reality. This book is well written and well researched. Because the author has done enormous research through the original medieval records, she writes about ordinary people whose names occur in the record and they are seen as people.

Amazing facts emerge - There were women blacksmiths and women surgeons in London in 1415.
Henry V endured the removal of an arrow from his face due to the skill of a m...more
Charles Berteau
On our military history tour of France, Christian and I plan to visit the site of the battle of Agincourt, the classic victory of Henry V's army - and especially its archers - over a much larger French host, in 1415. I was of course aware of the broad brush of this battle, but it had been a long time since I examined any details. Luckily, my (very long) books-to-be-read list had this Agincourt title on it!

A book only on the Battle of Agincourt itself would be brief - and so this book undertakes...more
Mary Brinkman
Sep 26, 2008 Mary Brinkman rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone in the military or who likes military history
Recommended to Mary by: found it in the library
I absolutely love this book, and recommend it to anyone who loves military history. This is the true source of the famous "band of brothers" line, even if Henry himself didn't say it. I have mailed this to Iraq in care packages, and to all my nephews, nieces, and cousins on active duty. It's not long, and there are parts that I must admit I sped through--I am not a big fan of logistics. But the book is more than worthwhile--it's a jewel!
Baal Of
In general, I have difficulty reading history, but a lot of that comes, I think, from being forced to read incredibly dull history texts in school as a child, and being forced to memories names and dates. As opposed to The Guns Of August, I actually enjoyed this book. Perhaps it's because I like pre-modern history more than WWI. Perhaps this author just communicates in a way that appeals to me more. She did go into a lot of depth about the mechanics of making the invasion of France work, includi...more
T.J.
Meticulously researched, which is both its highest accomplishment and my biggest criticism.

On one hand, Barker recreates not just the battle and the larger campaign in incredible detail, but also what life was like as the Age of Chivalry came to its end. We learn about the English financial calendar, French court life, medieval hunting practices, Welsh rebellions, fifteenth century religious movements, arrow production (best bow-staves were cut from a single piece of straight-grained yew, import...more
Katie
This book took me forever to finish! Not because it wasn't good or anything, but just because I was so busy with school that I never had time with it. Of course, because the political situations that the book discusses are so complicated, it was a little difficult for me to remember all that was going on and who everyone was with since I spent so much time not reading the book.

Putting my confusion aside, I really thought this was a great book. The politics behind the battle were complicated, bu...more
Ryan
A detailed story of the first French campaign of Henry V and the Battle of Agincourt. Includes the rise of Henry V, the usurper's son, raising taxes and forming his army, crossing the Channel and capturing the French town of Harfleur, and then facing overwhelming odds on a field outside the village of Agincourt in northern France. The English were outnumbered about five to one, were tired and hungry and wet, and stricken with dystentery (many of Henry's archers reportedly tore holes in their bri...more
Nick Johnson
This is thoroughly enjoyable read, concerning the near mythical battle in which Henry the Fifth and a diseased , starving English army fought and defeated a far superior (in terms of numbers at least) French force. We all know the story but Barker sheds new light on how it all got started, the story of the preparation for the invasion and the challenges overcome.

One also gets a better view of what Henry must have been like and how talented a ruler, general and manager he was. I also now appreci...more
Caroline
I don't usually find military history all that interesting, but Henry V was enough of an inducement, and this book turned out to be very readable (and relatively concise). The author is an expert on chivalry and on medieval combat, and I appreciated that the book gave explanations for a lot of things that had always been mysterious to me (the division of labor between archers and men-at-arms on the battlefield, how the whole prisoner exchange system worked, and what coats of arms and heralds are...more
Lorna
I'm not a reader of military history, and I picked this book up at the local library more because of my familiarity with Shakespeare's Henry V (and the Olivier film of it, which I first saw when in infant school) than through any particular interest in battle formations or weaponry.

This is a superb book, clearly structured, well written and informative. There's tons of background - both to the usurpation of the throne of England by Henry's father and Henry's consequent need to prove himself as a...more
Gregory C Krause
Great Read

Definitely worth one's time if one is even remotely interested in the subject matter. I came to this text as it was listed by Bernard Cornwell as his primary resource for the writing of his novel on Agincourt.
John Bianchi
I wanted to like Juliet Barker's book more than I did. I'd been promised new information, and there was plenty in the form of records on recruitment, and payment statistics on armorers', fletchers' and blacksmiths records. All os this shed light on the scope of the invasion - and therefore on the cost of similar English cross channel enterprises. But, as interesting and informative as that was, the battle itself is treated somewhat perfunctorily and the issue of the Herce, which i think ad been...more
Jamal
It's less of a military history than it is a general anthropological survey of the Agincourt period. This isn't a critique as much as it is a warning to those seeking battle plans, descriptions of armament and the like.

Still, it's authoritative and well researched. The writing is fluid and compelling and accurately portrays the inherent scale and drama of the campaign as well as exposing the motivations, social and personal (and interpersonal) that drove and drive HIStory.

Though her descriptions...more
Brian Clapper
This book thoroughly details the events leading to the historic battle at Agincourt; the battle, itself; and the political and social aftermath, both in England and in France. Juliet Barker also pays great attention to the chivalric ideals of the period, explaining how they influenced behavior on both sides of the long-running conflict between the two countries. This history is every bit as much a page-turner as Bernard Cornwell's fictional retelling of the same battle, Azincourt. Together, Corn...more
Ty
For three-hundred odd pages on a single battle, Barker manages a remarkably engaging narrative with a very human edge. I don't know the historiography of Agincourt, but Barker claims to refocus on the people behind the English invasion of Normandy, and that approach is clear. Since this is early Modern Europe, it is also kind of a pain, because I can only keep track of so many Dukes, Earls, and Counts. Ultimately, though this book is enjoyable if only for the historical perspective it places Sha...more
Gabriel Aguilera
Aug 27, 2009 Gabriel Aguilera is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: statecraft
A guide to my rating system
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5 Stars: This book is a timeless classic and undisputed member of the literary canon. I read and loved it.

4 Stars: This book is a personal classic. A book I am happy to read again and again and think you would enjoy it too.

3 Stars: This is a book I read and thoroughly enjoyed. I recommend only if you are interested in the subject matter.

I do not list books that I would not eagerly pick up and read aga...more
Paul Byrne
Concise History of possibly the most important battle of pre-War of the Roses British History.
Margaret
I associate Juliet Barker mostly with the Brontës, but she's also a medieval historian. I found this an engrossing, scholarly account of the battle of Agincourt. Barker sets the stage with Henry V's ascent to the throne of England and decision to press his claim to the throne of France; she provides excellent background on the political scenes in England and France. Her analysis of Henry's march through Normandy and of the battle itself is well-researched and vivid, and I particularly liked her...more
Rob
This historical account of the Agincourt campaign really read more like historical fiction. Juliet Barker did a wonderful job of telling a story and weaving in various tid-bits of medieval history. The chivalry examples are pretty cool... so much bloodshed but still a knight is a knight.

Bernard Cornwall's Agincourt is one of my favorite all-time novels and he based a large portion of his material on Barker's account of Henry V's expedition. Can't help but fall in love with Henry. I will need to...more
Leslie
Sep 03, 2007 Leslie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes english history
I was a sucker for Shakespeare's "Henry V," what can I say. I wanted to learn how much poetic license the Bard took with the real battle. Turns out, not much-- which in an of itself, is remarkable. The battle of Agincourt was to 15th Century Europe what WWII was to America-- we say "we whooped their asses in WWII"-- change the dates and places, and essentially you have the same sentiment. The English were outnumbered by the French 6 to 1, and still beat them-- this book tells us how. Makes it al...more
Raymond Brown
This is a remarkably rich (in terms of detail) regarding this important battle in France. I had no idea of the effort led by Henry V to reclaim his inheritance. This story was very personal in that one of my wife's ancestors co-led Henry's vanguard into France from Harfleur to Agincourt - Gilbert Umfreville. Based on well noted references the author provides a tremendous story of the campaign that Henry conducted.

I also recommend her sequel recently released called "Conquest". This book picks up...more
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Juliet R. V. Barker (born 1958) is a British historian, specialising in the Middle Ages and literary biography. She is the author of a number of well-regarded works on the Brontës, William Wordsworth, and medieval tournaments. From 1983 to 1989 she was the curator and librarian of the Brontë Parsonage Museum.

Barker was educated at Bradford Girls' Grammar School and St Anne's College, Oxford, where...more
More about Juliet Barker...
The Brontës The Brontës: A Life in Letters Conquest Wordsworth: A Life The Tournament In England, 1100 1400

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