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Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle That Made England
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Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle That Made England

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  890 ratings  ·  88 reviews
Waged almost six centuries ago, the Battle of Agincourt still captivates. It is the classic underdog story, and generations have wondered how the English--outmanned by the French six to one--could have succeeded so bravely and brilliantly. Drawing on a wide range of sources, Juliet Barker paints a gripping narrative of the October 1415 clash between the outnumbered English ...more
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Published December 21st 2008 by Back Bay Books (first published 2005)
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Talon Wightman
A rather good history of not only just the titular battle, but also of the time period and, especially, the people who lived the events (particularly with regards to Henry V, but also many of his compatriots and enemies). There's a great amount of information here, but importantly it is quite focused and important to the narrative that Barker weaves. For the most part it is entertaining as well as informative, though sometimes (as with nearly any history) the amount of people involved can be ove ...more
Caitlin Radonich
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
Joshua Horn
A good introduction to the Hundred Years war, and the Agincourt campaign. Barker lays the groundwork really well, and goes off onto a lot of interesting asides. Her emphasis is on recounting the backstory on the different characters involved. Their is an entire chapter going through those killed at Agincourt, and giving the interesting stores of their lives.

However, the section on the battle was a bit disappointing. It was only one chapter long, and John Keegan's The Face of Battle gives a far d
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
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
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
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
Matt Muggeridge
A compelling yet detailed narrative of the Agincourt campaign and its immediate historical context. A few parts of the book, particularly early on, are akin to long lists: who brought how many archers, or lent to the crown, and are therefore pretty dry. That said, the author generally tells a thoroughly human story, using vignettes about the individuals involved in the campaign. Probably not one for those military enthusiasts interested in detailed troop dispositions or the weapons used.
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
A really good book written with colour and passion. Bringing to life one of the momentous battles of the Middle Ages. Juliet Barker knows her subject and clearly loves it enormously. Engaging and highly readable and full of learning!
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
Brian Morris
I enjoyed learning about the culture of chivalry during this time period, but the detail about the histories of all of the dukes, earls, and counts and how much they were paid and ransomed for was overwhelming much of the time.
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
A really interesting look at not only the battle itself, but medieval warfare and the politics of the time. Reading a broader history of the 100 years war first,might help to put this subject in context though.
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
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
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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 about Juliet Barker...
The Brontës The Brontës: A Life in Letters Conquest Wordsworth: A Life England, Arise: The People, the King and the Great Revolt of 1381

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