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Agincourt: The King, the Campaign, the Battle [Paperback]

Juliet Barker
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 July 2006

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 territorial claims in France. The exhausted English army of about 9,000 men was engaged by 20,000 Frenchmen, but the limited space of battle favoured the more compact English forces. The undisciplined charges of the French combined with the exceptional skill of the English archers contributed to a pivotal moment in European warfare. Not more than 1,600 English soldiers died; the French probably lost more than 6,000 men.

Juliet Barker's shimmeringly brilliant narrative commemorates and analyses a canonical battle in British history.

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Agincourt: The King, the Campaign, the Battle + Conquest: The English Kingdom of France in the Hundred Years War + A Brief History of the Hundred Years War: The English in France, 1337-1453
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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (6 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034911918X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349119182
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 58,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


... a lively, stimulating account of this bloody day of battle. It is full of both serious research and entertaining gems. Barker makes the politics of the Hundred Years (War lucidly comprehensible.')

Erica Wagner, The Times ('History writ fine, overflowing with extraordinary details...a milestone in Agincourt studies')

Independent ('She brings vividly to life scenes such as the ceremonial surrender of Harfleur at the outset of the campaign, or the extraordinary pageant mounted by the city of London to celebrate the victorious king's return.')

Richard Barber, Literary Review ('Juliet Barker tells this story beautifully. If you buy just one book of history this year, choose this one. It will make a wonderful Christmas present for it is a handsome book, well illustrated, but above all, it is a great story and Juliet Barker has w)

Book Description

One of the most successful history hardbacks of 2005/6. A stunning chronicle of the Battle of Agincourt -- with Hastings, Waterloo and Trafalgar, one of the four great battles in Anglo-French history.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Most Famous Battles of All 20 July 2006
By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER
I found this book extremely readable and very entertaining. Not something you can say about a lot of historical tomes.

The author gives a compelling account of the actual battle. So much so that the smell of the horses, the blood and gore and all the other noxious smells that are part and parcel of a battlefield seem to pervade the readers nostrils.

However the book is not just about the battle itself but also about the participants particularly the English King, scheming churchmen and murderous Dukes. The knightly heroes, cowards, surgeons and spies. The book has them all.

The author has made it possible for history to be enjoyed by a wider audience, rather than the academic. History has always been interesting. Books written like this one will make many more readers aware of that fact.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Getting there is half the fun 23 Dec 2012
I bought this book on a whim - I knew nothing of Agincourt beyond the name. Now I know where the battle took place and when, why it took place and how it was fought who was involved (and who was not involved). However the book covers the battle itself in only a few pages towards the end of the book. Subtitled: The King, The Campaign, The Battle. This book tells you more than just the events of the famous battle of Agincourt. It introduces you to King Henry V and tells of the uncertainties of the time in his early battles against his renegade Dukes and constant watchfulness on the Scots.

Most of the book is about the preparation and funding and includes some fascinating details on the following topics:
Henry V was a great King, and a very religious man who believed he had God on his side and was fighting a Just War.
War was made a national pass time with everyone training in the long bow and the nation always fighting the French, Scots or Welsh rebels.
Chivalry. This enabled Henry to take someone prisoner and release them to find their ransom (if he chose) or to keep them prisoner without ransom if it better sought his purposes.
The role of heralds of both sides on the battle fields as reporters of who did what.
The ordinances or rules of invasion by which Henry controlled the behaviour of his soldiers and for which the English were reknowned (morality of war).

Despite covering fascinating topics in detail I found the book overlong and as another reviewer has pointed out - A good few paragraphs get bogged down with number crunching ... throughout the whole book. History buffs may well give if 5 stars for such meticulous detail, but this doesn't suit the casual reader like myself. Mind you those topics I found interesting I found very interesting and am likely to investigate further. Just remember this book is about more than the battle of Agincourt alone.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb! 14 Jun 2012
This is simply a superb book or history as it should be written for a wide audience. Unsurprisingly, it has attracted many reviews and about 80% of them rate this book a well-deserved five stars.

It has many qualities and I am quite sure that I am going to miss at least a few of them in the next few paragraphs.

One is that it is not only about the battle itself. Rather, it replaces it in the much wider context of a whole campaign conducted by a recently drown king who needed a victory to establish his somewhat controversial claim to the throne of England.

Another is that it helps to explain what is one of the most crushing and well known of all victories won largely against the odds (at least on paper), whith the English army being outnumbered more than 2 to 1, cornered and force to fight for its survival - a somewhat similar scenario as that of the battle of Crécy in 1346 but with an even more devasting outcome perhaps (for the French, of course).

A third is that this book is also in a way the introduction to the author's next book which tells the rest of the story - largely what happened after Azincourt - in her "English Kingdom of France" which is just as superb a read as this one.

A fourth quality is that this book almost reads like a novel despite being a high quality and highly researched piece of scholarship. I bought this book some 6 years ago and could not put it down when reading it. I picked it up again quite recently to write a review on it and ended up rereading it from cover to cover and still unable to put it down before I had finished it once again.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Agincourt a battle to be proud of 11 Mar 2010
I bought this book after reading Bernard Cornwell's brilliant Azincourt. He used it as a reference and I can see why. It's unputdownable and full of facts and references presented in a most authoritative and interesting way.

If you only like historical stories and find non-fiction a chore this book will change your mind.

Cornwell's book is like being on the battlefield itself - Juliet Barker's book tells the whys and the wherefores, before during and after, and recounts the suffering and difficulties of middle-ages logistics.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars juliet barker 16 Dec 2009
My first choice was the book by Bernard Cornwell, Azincourt , which tells the story of Nick Hook a forester, very skilled with the English long bow, and his quarrel with the Perrill family of the same village . He is accused of murder and is sent to France to fight with king Henry V , lots of adventures and a very telling story of the battle at Agincourt.

Juliet Barkers book Agincourt the King,the Campaign, the Battle,
Gives a lot more insight to Prince Henry , how he learns the trade of apprentice king and soldier , how money is obtained for campaigns and how the English and French monarchy intertwined and how his own father Henry IV kept monies back for his own use instead of paying his men.
A very good read, over 450 pages and lots of notes
my next book to read will be Agincourt A new history, by Anne Curry
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great trader
So quick and a great book too.

Am slightly put off by Amazons need for more words, I'm a man of few and this is a stupid waste of effort.
Published 3 months ago by Mrs B
5.0 out of 5 stars Review
The book says what it does in the title .passion of the time and place with wonderful descriptive powers.Brilliant. Exciting
Published 6 months ago by Jennie Branson
3.0 out of 5 stars too much of a hagiography for my taste
Although the book was very readable and contains lots of interesting details concerning the organisation behind and conduct of the 1415 campaign, I think it was all a little too... Read more
Published 12 months ago by DavidT
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Book
Many interesting historical facts, kept my interest throughout, very good book would recommend to anyone interested in the history of this period
Published 12 months ago by Margaret dearlove
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Stirring stuff. A usurper king doing his bit in France to show the people that even when you've not been born to rule, you can still kick ass on the battlefield! Read more
Published 15 months ago by Mark Gingell
5.0 out of 5 stars Agincourt
Bought this to contrst against Ann Curry's history of Agincourt. I certainly gives another perspective on the make up of the numbers involved in the Battle and the make up ie Welsh... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Alan Hayes
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent detail
Excellent detailed history of events and very well researched . This book gave me a really good insight into the political and social circumstances at the time
Published 16 months ago by Villan
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books about Henry V, and the best for "starters" who...
I suppose my username says it all... I own I guess almost all biographies of Henry V (and plenty more of his father, his son, and brother Humphrey duke of Gloucester) - but this is... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Rose of Lancaster
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Friend, render what you owe'
I have to confess that this book has been in my possession for some time and has been read and re-read many times. Read more
Published 17 months ago by JANEITE
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Brilliant
This must be my favourite book of all time. I've bought three copies, the first that I lost, it's replacement and a signed hardback copy. Read more
Published 18 months ago by M. T. Fisher
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