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Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle That Made England

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,571 ratings  ·  131 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
Paperback, 445 pages
Published August 23rd 2007 by Back Bay Books (first published 2005)
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  1,571 ratings  ·  131 reviews

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``Laurie Henderson
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 th
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 who 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 th
Bill Rogers
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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, th
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 no
This was not only one of the best books I read in 2017; it was also by far the most fun Historically.

This is one of those books for me personally that I did not want to conclude. Ms. Juliet Barker has that sort of ability with writing, and that sort of gift to convey to others in a crisp and clear form where the flow, wit, and courage of a difficult topic for modern times sails as though it is music as opposed to mere words. I have read some History books this year (and in other year
Jul 16, 2013 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
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gen-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
Apr 10, 2009 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 Charl
Gilda Felt
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t think any book about a battle is ever just about the battle, and this one is no exception. There is a quick history of the events which led to the Hundred Years War between England and France, and then, as the title infers, Henry V’s life is covered from the time of his father’s usurpation of the crown to the time of the battle. Then there’s the campaign, starting with Henry’s first thoughts about his right to the French crown. We’re led through the gathering of the men, their journey ov ...more
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
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.
Jan 27, 2012 rated it liked it
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, w
Sep 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 criti
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
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.
B.J. Richardson
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dan Carlin, the voice of Hardcore History, often says, "History is better than fiction." This book is proof. It is probably the best researched and written book on Agincourt that I have come across. Even as Barker describes Henry V's world with rich detail, she keeps us moving forward in an easily readable book that is expertly written.

I did not want to put it down and as soon ass I reached the final page, I went to look if Barker has a follow-up book on Henry's 2nd campaign. To my d
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
There are some remarkable leadership lessons in the first half of this interesting account of Henry V's Agincourt Campaign. The last third of the book captures the aftermath of war, noting in detail the decimation of a good portion of the French nobility, and the lengthy hostage negotiations for those who were captured. For me, this last bit was a slog, and I'd recommend to the casual reader that it might not be a good investment of time to stay with it until the end. For the more academically i ...more
Mac McCormick III
Nov 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 o
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
Mar 07, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Nov 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
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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
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 t
Feb 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
i really liked this book, if you love medieval history this a must read.
Peter C Lyon
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really wanted to give this book five stars. Barker's level of research and detail, while sometimes a bit much, is striking. Furthermore, she delves deeply into the organizational and leadership advantages that won the day for England and doomed France. Parts of her text should be incorporated into management courses: leadership, organization, morale, and tactics win out over size and bluster. Furthermore, it's fabulous to see a woman writing in this field.

However, some more feature
Nick Lawrence
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On the 25th october 1415 the armies of the French and English met at Agincourt. The French outnumbered the English by at least 4 to 1 (6 to 1 in some sources). It was almost a foregone conclusion that the French would annihilate the English...however, four hours later the English emerged victorious.

The book is broken down into three sections: The events leading up to the battle, the battle itself, and the aftermath. Barker concisely explains why Henry V believed he had a legitimate c
Mark Seemann
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book about the battle of Agincourt, and the events that lead up to it, offers a compelling glimpse of a better book that disappears under long lists of noblemen's names and statistics.

The two to three chapters describing the battle and the events immediately before are exciting, particularly for a Danish reader like me who comes to the material without much prior knowledge of English medieval history. Here, the amount of details is just right to get a sense of the grit, dirt, su
Paula Loud
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well-done! This is a wonderful account of Agincourt, the events leading up to it and some of the key people involved, particularly Henry V. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it the perfect balance of history, research and human interest. Juliet Barker's extensive research and treatment of the time period, the mindset of England towards France and the English monarchy, and the additional background and detail re. Henry V and his role as the "Anointed King of England and France" were fascin ...more
Adam A
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book clears up a lot of myths I'd believed about the Battle of Agincourt. I won't go too deep into it, because I don't want to spoil anything for anyone interested in reading, but if your knowledge of this event is that of your typical, passing-interest history fan, you'll be surprised by how much of what most people know is muddied by propaganda and how many opposing viewpoints there were from eye-witness accounts that really provides a more vivid, well rounded picture of not only the batt ...more
Diego González
Jan 22, 2018 rated it liked it
A great non-fiction book bringing the Battle of Agincourt to vivid life, telling the story of Henry V's buildup to that fated day in 1415 when the English miraculously snatched victory from the jaws of defeat outside the village of Azincourt. Juliet Barker's writing is engaging and detailed and she does an admirable job dispelling some of the more prevalent myths surrounding the battle and its aftermath. It definitely pays off to be familiar with Shakespeare's play in this regard. If I have one ...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, O
“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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