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A Brief History of the Hundred Years War: The English in France, 1337-1453 (Brief Histories) Paperback – 27 Mar 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Robinson (27 Mar. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841196789
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841196787
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 212,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Shows us all the famous sights of those roaring times ... and illuminates them with an easy scholarship, a nice sense of detail. (New Yorker)

A well-written narrative, beautifully illustrated, and which takes into account most recent scholarship. It is also a good read. (Richard Cobb, New Statesman)

About the Author

DESMOND SEWARD was born in Paris and educated at Ampleforth and Cambridge. He has written numerous history books including Napoleon and Hitler, The Wars of the Roses, Richard III: England's Black Legend and The Monks of War-the first general history of the military religious orders, from their foundation until the present day, to appear since the eighteenth century


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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The book does exactly what it says on the cover... it's a brief (but suprisingly detailed) look at a very long, very bloody conflict between two great nations in a period of many changes. He handles the political events of the period with care, never overpowering the reader with to much data.
The battle descriptions are fantastic, some of the best I've read outside of historical fiction. The Hundred Years War is in my opinion one of the most interesting periods of history and Seward does it justice, describing in detail the colourful characters of the period including Edward the Black Prince, Henry V and the mad Charles VI of France (he thought he was made of glass... not to good a conviction when in battle)...
This book will leaving you desperate for more information on the period, I would recommend any of the Osprey books to do with the period (in particular that on Crecy), The Bowmen of England by Featherstone is also a good light read... and of course the Jonathon Sumption epic histories...
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Like many (maybe most?) of us I had only vague notions about the Hundred Years' War. Perhaps it's different if you're born in England or France, I can well imagine that both for the English and the French it's one of those defining moments in their national history, but if you're born - as I was - in a small provincial town in Flanders, well... it's different let's just say. Anyway, as I have a keen interest in history I felt this just wouldn't do, so I decided to try and remedy my lack of knowledge. Desmond Seward's book is excellent for this purpose: it's short (just 265 pages, not including the chronology, index and select bibliography), and in 11 short chapters plus an epilogue gives you a very broad but lively overview of this seminal conflict in Western European history. The major battles such as Crécy and Agincourt are there of course, but there's a lot more (happily): all major characters (and quite a few perhaps less important but all the more colourful too) and the reasons behind their politics and decisions are succinctly described, in a clear and fluent style. For a short introduction this book can hardly be bettered!
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Format: Paperback
As the typical student of history at school, I found the subject tedious and irrelevant. Not so with this book. The years flew past as the author gave us enough information to identify with the main characters, enough details of the main events without becoming overwhelming and enough of the gory details to keep us interested! Holidays to South western France will never be the same again. This is history without the corderouy jackets, without the essays, warts and all. Fascinating.
PS It is no wonder the French still do not trust us as a nation.
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This is a superb introduction to the Hundred Years War. Seward sets the background clearly and takes the reader stage by stage through the tragic, unfolding drama. Characters are well described and the sequence of events is clear. The only screaming need for this book is maps! (Hence four, not five stars) Apart from a couple of battle diagrams, there are none, at all! Why not?
A book intended to provide an introduction to the subject is going to be read by people as yet unfamiliar with all the geography. I, for one, do not have a perfect knowledge of where all the dukedoms, castles, kingdoms and battlefields of 14th and 15th century France actually were. Many places have changed their names since then and some no longer exist in their old form. There are many excellent accounts of the ravaging expeditions of the English through huge areas of France, described by sequences of place names, but how can I find where they all are without maps! The text is excellent and the detail made memorable. Let no-one ever again wonder why the French hold no great affection for the English. Our savagery, inhumanity and greed were almost beyond belief. Hooray for Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt! Weep for the common people of France who were robbed and butchered in their thousands. These were apocalyptic days, and the book is a highly recommendable account of them. I shall read it again too. But please, publishers, put in the maps!
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Format: Paperback
The perfect companion for all ancient military history enthusiasts is the ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

For a hundred years, a less populated, but militarily and financially superior England takes on a larger but weaker France. Living in northern France in the - using Barbara Tuchman's phrase - calamitous 14th Century must have been the most miserable place on Earth. Successive waves of roving bands of marauding Englishmen terrorised the inhabitants. Lowly English knights amassed fortunes in France. Gentlemen in England abed enjoyed the extra cash flow into the country bleeding their neighbours dry. War was popular.

And the English were good at it (Crécy, Agincourt). Militarily, the English combined arms (men-at-arms supporting bowmen) dominated the French knights. The problem lay in a muddled strategy: The English king wanted both to raid and to annex the country. The smaller English population ruled out large-scale colonisation (undertaken in Calais). Furthermore, raiding was necessary to pay for the troops undermining loyalty. Despite the bad English manners, their rule was accepted quite well by parts of France (Normandie, Brittany, Gascony). Although English rule lasted over a generation, the transition and acculturation from Frenchman to English never happened.

On the French side, the main problem was disunity. The French king not only had to fight against the English but also against a range of contenders. Often, the English were seen as the lesser evil. The French king let them ravage parts of France to keep his French enemies in check.
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