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Agincourt: The King, the Campaign, the Battle

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  1,260 Ratings  ·  105 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

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Paperback, 528 pages
Published (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Laurie
I've given this very thorough, breathtaking book about the Battle of Agincourt 5 stars.
I absolutely couldn't put this one down. Juliet Barker covers all the events leading up to the battle, the battle itself and the aftermath so anything you want to know about Agincourt is probably included in this book.

The author explains how Henry V raised the funds for his first campaign in France in great detail for anyone interested in Medieval finances. She has meticulously scoured all the financial detail
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Jan-Maat
Going to war against France, whose king periodically believed himself to have been made of glass, may not have been exactly sporting but does show something of the character of Henry V of England would as Barker tells us in this book had been shot in the face by an arrow at the battle of Shrewsbury, the wound was packed out much as large wounds are today until it healed.

Barker's approach is to delight in the detail available to us from the Royal accounts. We see the amounts of supplies and who
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Bill Rogers
Mar 19, 2013 Bill Rogers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Jeanette
Sep 05, 2015 Jeanette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this after a number of non-fiction books on Charles of Orleans and the 100 Years War, was a great set up. I don't think I would have understood most of these subtle personality and context insults toward secure loyalties, if I had not.

What keeps it being a 5 star is that although the tone and research are 5 star excellent to detail, physical reality, material substances and religion related motivations, there was still strong author assumption, IMHO. "Because I said so" is not conclusive
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Ton
Jul 16, 2013 Ton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 10, 2009 Kat rated it really liked it  ·  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
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Bou
A detailed account of the preparations, execution and aftermath of the Battle of Agincourt, the battle that made England

Henry V, son of the usurper Henry IV, made two promises: first to rule with good governance, in order to show his legitimacy as a good king (after all, he was the son of a usurper) and secondly, to recover Normandy and the lands of Aquitaine. By this, he had made himself a hostage to fortune, and by not living up to his promises this would be used as an excuse for every sort of
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J. Bryce
Great overview of Henry V's first campaign in France, that resulted in the taking of Harfleur and the huge English victory at Agincourt.

The real story behind one of Shakespeare's best remembered History plays!

Highly recommended as a popular account of the Agincourt campaign.
Mike
Jan 27, 2012 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
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Tony
Nov 19, 2016 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A readable, interesting account of the build up, execution and aftermath of Henry V's Agincourt campaign, brought to life with plenty of contemporary accounts and interesting asides (one of my favourites being about Roland le Fartere, a minstrel whose trick was to leap, whistle and... fart). As the subtitle says this is a history of the King, the campaign and the battle, and the battle itself is covered in a single chapter, so if you're looking for a detailed military history of the Battle of Ag ...more
Eva
Jan 05, 2017 Eva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Ένας από τους λίγους ευχάριστους τρόπους που μπορώ να ασχοληθώ με την ιστορία, μια συναρπαστική διήγηση.
(audio book)
Frederick
Sep 30, 2008 Frederick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
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Kerry
Oct 26, 2016 Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh my goodness I just love Juliet Barker's historical writing. Clear lovely sentences, strong narrative pacing, and well chosen examples from primary sources. She straightforwardly corrects myths (and other historians), and/or says, "actually yes the myth is right and here's how we know". Best of all, she points out interesting or important parts of the historical events that aren't in the popular understanding of the story. Never a slog.
Mac McCormick III
Nov 12, 2015 Mac McCormick III rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, military
Although I have always been interested in History, majored in U.S. History in college, and have almost exclusively read History books since, I never knew much about Agincourt except that it was a major English victory during the Hundred Years War. When the anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt passed last month, I decided to learn some more about the battle and chose Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle That Made England by Juliet Barker.

Barker’s Agincourt isn’t just about the Battle of Agincourt
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Stephen
In the fourteenth century, nation-states as we know them did not exist. There was a England, and a France, but their borders were more fluid -- and entangled. The English crown held title to much of France through marriage and ancestry, and because the English royal house descended from a Franco-Norman duke, the king of England was technically a vassal of France. This created the kind of tension released only with knights and massed formations of archers: the Hundred Years War, a series of confl ...more
A
Mar 07, 2012 A rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Ryan
Nov 06, 2008 Ryan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Bettie☯
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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
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Suemulvihill
May 17, 2012 Suemulvihill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Mark
i really liked this book, if you love medieval history this a must read.
Jonathan
Mar 19, 2017 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a great book, narrates the lead up to the battle, and the aftermath, and victorious return home, as well as detailing out the action itself. A little known amazing fact was that Henry V ordered his archers to uproot their defensive stakes and advance to the French army, hammer in the stakes again with their backs to the enemy. The French army even then did not attack, if they did - it would have been a French victory ! A superb read.
Charles Berteau
Jun 08, 2014 Charles Berteau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Caitlin Radonich
Feb 28, 2015 Caitlin Radonich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books
Juliet Barker’s depiction of “the mirror of all Christian kings” is without doubt a masterpiece of military history and biography. Barker, who has written extensively on the Middle Ages, out-does her previous accomplishments in fascinating and detailed account of Henry V and his campaign against the French, culminating in the Battle of Agincourt. The main focus of the work is not merely to recount historical events, but to provide a full portrait of one of the most complex and heroic figures in ...more
Toby
Aug 11, 2016 Toby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medieval-history
"This is how history should be written" is something of a cliche - and often an untrue one - used as a ploy to sell non-fiction to a readership more used to Shardlake and Ellis Peters. The claim on this book, backed up by a Bernard Cornwall quote from the Daily Mail raises a certain scepticism in my mind, but on this occasion the puff was warranted and accurate.

This is how history should be written. A skilled historian using meticulous research with a feel for the period is able to write a serio
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T.J.
Dec 07, 2013 T.J. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Katie
Dec 15, 2009 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Jon
Jun 26, 2016 Jon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read more history than fiction these days; perhaps because the stories are better. This book is an excellent example of that. Barker gives a detailed and very readable account of the Agincourt campaign, shows how and why Shakespeare got Henry V both wrong (no carouser with the Falstaffs, he) and right (yes, he did make an inspiring speech before the battle) and illustrates it all with many delightful asides and illustrations of medieval life. Such as the story of King Henry II's favourite cour ...more
Baal Of
Jan 27, 2014 Baal Of rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
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
Nick Johnson
Feb 12, 2012 Nick Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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“After Chaucer’s death, Henry IV offered his position to Christine de Pizan, no doubt hoping that as she was a widow and her only child, her sixteen-year-old son, was effectively a hostage in his household, she could be persuaded to agree. If so, he completely misjudged this redoubtable woman, who had once replied to criticism “that it was inappropriate for a woman to be learned, as it was so rare . . . that it was even less fitting for a man to be ignorant, as it was so common.” 2 likes
“received a royal pardon, on the grounds that the conspirators” 0 likes
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