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Agincourt: My Family, the Battle and the Fight for France

3.30  ·  Rating details ·  138 ratings  ·  35 reviews
25 October 2015 is the 600th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt - a hugely resonant event in English (and French) history. Sir Ranulph Fiennes casts new light on this epic event, revealing that three of his own ancestors fought in the battle for Henry V, and at least one for the French. This is a unique perspective on Agincourt from a trained and decorated soldier. Ran ...more
Hardcover, 326 pages
Published September 25th 2014 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published January 1st 2014)
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Margaret Sankey
Considering that there are several very good new studies of Agincourt, there is absolutely no reason for this book to exist. Fiennes reminds us multiple times that he's an explorer, dammnit, not a historian, which is why he uses not a single citation from the tired 1970s secondary sources, uses the first 150 pages of the book as a glib, irresponsible tour through English history (no, the Normans did not operate "like the STASI"), focusing on the roles of his ancestors, who are helpfully always l ...more
Jul 20, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This guy really doesn't want you to forget that he's talking about his ancestors. We get it. ...more
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book, while interesting in a general sense, quickly becomes apparent that it is a monument to the authors ego. The history itself is rather generalized in the interest of time, but for a casual reader is plenty to understand what is happening.

My problem with this book is that I just don't care about the author. I'm sure he is an interesting and fine person; but his insistence on telling barely relevant personal anecdotes comes off as bragging. Really. In a book posing as a historical analys
This was not at all what I was expecting. I was expecting a more in depth analysis of the battle itself, and perhaps some detailed history leading up to the battle. Instead, we had a very light touch on about four hundred years of history, with details being saved for focusing on the author's ancestor's involvement. I am not sure why I care about the author's family - I realize some of them were key players, but not more than any others. To highlight them, with italics always, seemed to be a ver ...more
What are the words people usually use to point out that the English can be quirky, eccentric etc.? Either the author or the publisher who put him up to this fits the bill. Fiennes may be the best explorer who ever lived--Arctic and Antarctic not to mention Everest, 7 marathons on 7 continents, OBE (of course) and huge amount of money raised for the Heart Foundation. So this non-historian is treating us to speeding through English history from 1066 (actually he is related to Charlemagne but doesn ...more
Jun 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The long long history of separation between France and Britain. Agincourt was one battle over the decades, I'm still not sure why it is singled out.

The read however is fascinating, if for no other reason than the author Fiennes describes his ancestors on both sides of the channel - fighting each other, for one royal member or another.

It puts into perspective just what OLD Money really is.
Robert Nugent
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fiennes' English-epic, 'Agincourt: The Fight for France' is a worthwhile read for anyone seeking an overview of English royal affairs circa 1066-1450 AD. From William the Conqueror to Edward III and Henry V, Fiennes' presents an easy-to-read overview of England from the Battle of Hastings to the end of the Hundred Years' War.

That said, the text was really anything but Agincourt, which was hardly a chapter of the entire book, and doesn't go into any greater detail than most works which include th
Tom Emory Jr.
Place this book somewhere between history and ancestry since the author, Ranulph Fiennes, traces the The 100 Years War through the participation of his ancestors, both English and French. Agincourt, widely seen as a climactic battle in history (thank you, William Shakespeare), is almost a footnote in this book. The Fiennes family (damn large and damned involved in everything) appears on nearly every page as warriors, leaders, advisors, friends, bureaucrats, battle casualties, execution victims, ...more
Kieran Lancaster
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-books
I think those complaining about the main feature of the book are being a bit too harsh. Yes, he mentions his ancestors a fair bit, they do seem to be very prominent in the course of history. But that's pretty much a given, its in the title of the book.

Personally, I thought it was a unique slant on telling the story of the battle, the hundreds year war and previous events. It was pretty easy to understand, and I didn't get confused with name dropping here there and everywhere as is possible in o
Paul Langenwalter
A cliff notes version of the Plantagenet dynasty, written through the lens of the Fiennes family. A bit self serving and aggrandizing. You don't actually get to Agincourt untill about 3/4 the way through the book. Not a particularly serious peice of historical non fiction although in the authors favor he notes that several times. Wasn't what I had set out to read, but was still worth the time spent. ...more
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent version of a rather personal part of the Fiennes family history!
Ross Whitford
Jul 08, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Quiet, slow and dull. A love letter to his own family more than anything else. Do yourself a favor and pass.
Steven Batty
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed the book for what it is.
Nigel Rennie
I was really looking forward to reading this book, but must confess that I was disappointed in the end.

The book is no doubt an accurate historical reflection of events, but the constant reference to the Fiennes family grew heavy and I am sure that others must have been involved.

To give the account a story, then perhaps a single character should have been followed but in the end, there were so many references to so many different people, that I was frequently confused and had to go back to rerea
Sep 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Randolph Fienes has reached both poles and the summit of Mt. Everest. He has seen action as a soldier. His life (See: "Mad, Bad, and Dangerous") is on a par with people like Wilfred Thesiger. Though he isn't a particularly able historian, his book about Agincourt (2/3 family history intertwined with a general history of Saxon-Norman-French conflict) has a couple of strengths. One is the family connection. His family was involved in English history in a way that few are; e.g., one of the Fiennes ...more
Colin Darby
I knew of Ranulph Fiennes as an eccentric but renowned explorer and SAS veteran and expected his take on Agincourt to reflect this background. I was instead deeply disappointed. the battle itself only occupies about fifty pages of about three hundred, and much more space is given to the conduct of his ancestors and relatives, sometimes including tangential information that makes it sound like his own family is the only reason anything ever gets done in western Europe. If it had been written as a ...more
Graham Tapper
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Though the book is primarily titled "Agincourt", it is mostly about Fiennes' ancestors and their relationship to royalty, from Charles Martell in the 8th century through Charlemagne and, to the point where the family divided at the time of Duke William of Normandy and his bid for the throne of England, with William's descendants. From which you will gather that the Fiennes are a "French" family, from the town of that name, in Northern France (Pas de Calais).

However at that time, France, as such,
Dan Vine
Oct 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I think the best phrase to describe this book is 'learned but batty'. Much of the book is a straightforward and quite enlightening chronicle of events leading up to Agincourt, starting in 1066 with the Norman conquest. Every now and then, it is punctuated with a few paragraphs of 'he was the grandson of Maud Fiennes and the third cousin of five or six other people called Fiennes of whom you were supposed to be keeping track' or 'Henry's situation reminds me of when my wife and I had to equip a p ...more
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: french-books
Indeed before the description of the actual battle of Agincourt starts you have to work your way through a lengthy description of the history up to that point starting around 1066. In general informative, I had to take other history books next to this text to find the logic of some developments and to keep track of the main lines. It is true that this part of history gets pretty complicated because of the many opposing clans and interests, but it is not getting any clearer by introducing many ch ...more
Michael Brown
An easy and reader friendly study of the events that led up to the battle of Agincourt. We start prior to 1066 when most of the leading families rose to power in France and England. And we follow the various leaders and power brokers through the steps that led to England and France being again at war. But this is also a rah-rah book about the Fiennes family and how it fought on both sides, ruled Jerusalem for a time and almost single handedly created the English and French countries. ( That is a ...more
Dec 26, 2014 rated it liked it
As 2015 marks the 600th anniversary of the legendary battle, a slew of books have been released to coincide with this. Fiennes is more known as an explorer but he now turns his hand to writing military history. Fiennes is descended from Norman invaders and his family therefore fought on both sides of the Hundred Years War. Reading about his ancestors, I was amazed at how many were connected to royalty and were present during key moments in medieval history. Enjoyed this for the different angle o ...more
Harry Cunningham
Enjoyable and interesting account of the hundred years war leading up to and after the battle of Agincourt. As it focuses on the journey of the Norman Fiennes family on both sides of the war, the writing could be heavy with family detail but as sir Ranulfs family were so entwined, at the highest levels and played important parts throughout the key stages of the war it is quite an engaging read. The most fascinating aspect of the book is how family dynasties can stay so influential over such long ...more
*I won this book in a GoodReads Giveaway*

Ranulph Fiennes has that blunt, snarky, thoroughly British style that I adore. He starts with William the Conquerer and goes through Agincourt to the end of the Hundred Years War. Usually I loathe histories where the author refers to his own family's part but in this case it works really well. Fiennes were all over medieval English and French history and it's amazing to me to read about it from their descendent.

Excuse me while I go read 50 more books on
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ranulph Fiennes is connected to just about every family who fought as knights in this battle. His telling of history is precise and very readable. Perhaps the most useful reason for reading this was that for the first time I understood why some family histories are so important and so linked to place. Fiennes is no snob but he is clearly and properly, proud of, and emotionally connected to, a genealogy that has helped make him who he is. I enjoyed this book very much.
Alastair Hill
Aug 10, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting look into the reasons behind the Hundred Years War but lack of focus and clarity doesn't give a clear picture. Brings up that he is an explorer far too often and flits between over detailing portions alongside skipping past certain events with barely a mention.

I didn't read the last few chapters as I'd just had enough at that point which is very rare.

There are far more interesting and engaging books about Agincourt.
My first book in 2016 is sadly, the rare DNF. Just too much of the 'look at me, I'm related to Charlemagne' about it. The author might not realize that many of us are, and we don't need to make a fuss about it. Perhaps there was something new, something revealing in these pages, but this was so off-putting that I couldn't keep going.
(DNFs get no rating from me)
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Chatty and personal best describe the author's approach to depicting the Battle of Agincourt. Fiennes uses his own many experiences to explain the preface to the battle, the terrible battle itself, and also its aftermath. This book is especially interesting because Fiennes traces his own ancestors' role in the historical events. The details presented are never boring but rather entertaining. ...more
Sue Robinson
Feb 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-books
Thank goodness this book is readable, because keeping up with Fiennes' extended family of ancestors involved is daunting enough. It's an interesting take on the whole lead-up to the battle of Agincourt, and I can understand what happened more clearly now, but some of his facts differed to my understanding of the current thinking. But that may just be me. ...more
Scott Wilson
An excellent look , not just at the battle of Agincourt, but at the entire history of the Hundred Years War. Fiennes, who is descended from many of the major players on both the English and French sides, relates the convoluted history of the Anglo-Norman monarchy in an interesting way, bringing out the personalities of those who shaped history. Perhaps the best history book I've read this year. ...more
Jan 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
There was no flow to this book. It read mostly like an old history text book and took until 1/2 through the book to even start talking about Agincourt.
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Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, 3rd Baronet, OBE, better known as Ranulph (Ran) Fiennes, is a British adventurer and holder of several endurance records.

Fiennes has written books about his army service and his expeditions as well as a book defending Robert Falcon Scott from modern revisionists. In May 2009, aged 65, he climbed to the summit of Mount Everest. According to the Guinness Book o

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