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Edward III and the Triumph of England: The Battle of Crécy and the Company of the Garter [Hardcover]

Richard Barber
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

29 Aug 2013

A fascinating recreation of the world of one of England's most charismatic monarchs, from award-winning author and historian Richard Barber

The destruction of the French army at Crécy in 1346 and the subsequent siege and capture of Calais marked a new era in European history. The most powerful, glamorous and respected of all western monarchies had been completely humiliated by England, a country long viewed either as a chaotic backwater or a mere French satellite.

The young Edward III's triumph would launch both countries, as we now know, into a grim cycle of some 90 years of further fighting ending with English defeat, but after Crécy anything seemed possible - Edward's claim to be King of France could be pressed home and, in any event, enormous rewards of land, treasure and prestige were available both to the king and to the close companions who had made the victory possible. It was to enshrine this moment that Edward created one of the most famous of all knightly orders, the Company of the Garter.

Barber writes about both the great campaigns and the individuals who formed the original membership of the Company - and through their biographies makes the period tangible and fascinating. This is a book about knighthood, battle tactics and grand strategy, but it is also about fashion, literature and the privates lives of everyone from queens to freebooters. Barber's book is a remarkable achievement - but also an extremely enjoyable one.

Reviews:

'Barber [has an] infectious passion for and deep knowledge of his subject matter ... elegant prose and rigorous historical analysis ... a valuable and thorough addition to the body of work on this most impressive of English monarchs' Sunday Times

'In Edward III and the Triumph of England [Barber] has written the kind of book that the king would have enjoyed: full of battles, glitter and ceremony ... he has an original eye and an elegant pen' Jonathan Sumption, Literary Review

'Barber share's his hero's love of chivalry ... The book sparkle[s] with some of Edward's own glitz' Telegraph

'This absorbing book is layered rather than linear, sifting with uncommon sensitivity through challenging sources to test the boundaries of what we can and cannot know ... We discover the complexity of the world in which Edward and his commanders lived' Helen Castor, The Times

About the author:

Richard Barber has had a huge influence on the study of medieval history and literature, both as a writer and as a publisher. His major works include The Knight and Chivalry (winner of the Somerset Maugham Award), Edward Prince of Wales and Aquitaine, The Penguin Guide to Medieval Europe and The Holy Grail: The History of a Legend. He lives in East Anglia.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (29 Aug 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713998385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713998382
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.7 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 157,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard  Barber  began his career as a writer in 1961 with the publication of Arthur of Albion, a general introduction to the Arthurian legends. He followed this with Henry Plantagenet, a biography of Henry II, and then the first survey of medieval chivalry for many years, The Knight and Chivalry, for which he was given a Somerset Maugham award in 1971. Medieval history and literature have remained his speciality, although he has also written guidebooks (Companion Guide to Gascony and the Dordogne) and has edited John Aubrey's Brief Lives and other seventeenth century authors. He has also translated and edited medieval sources such as the Bestiary , The Pastons and Life and Campaigns of the Black Prince. He wrote a full scale biography of the latter in 1978, Edward Prince of Wales and Aquitaine. The Penguin Guide to Medieval Europe appeared eight years later. In 1989 he collaborated with Juliet Barker on the first comprehensive history of medieval jousting, Tournaments: Jousts, Chivalry and Pageants in the Middle Ages. This was followed by a series of anthologies, of the myths and legends of the British Isles and of the Arthurian legends, which he edited for the Folio Society. In 2004, his book on The Holy Grail: Imagination and Belief was widely praised: Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times wrote: 'Fascinating ... Barber demonstrates a gift for lucid, lively prose and an ability to make highly complex development both immediate and accessible'. His most recent book is Edward III and the Triumph of England, an attempt to get as close to the extraordinary events surrounding the English victory at Crécy and the foundation of the Company of the Garter.
Since 1963, he has also worked as a publisher, first at Macmillan and at George Bell & Sons, where he oversaw the publication of the first volumes of Robert Latham's great edition of The Diary of Samuel Pepys. In 1969 he and a group of friends founded The Boydell Press, and in 1972 helped Professor Derek Brewer to start D.S.Brewer Ltd, in order to publish books in medieval studies which were beig neglected by the university presses. The two firms merged later to become Boydell & Brewer Ltd, and over the years a number of imprints, all founded by academics for similar reasons in the 1970s, were added to the list: Tamesis Books in Spanish studies, Camden House in German studies, and most recently James Currey in African Studies. In 1993 a music list was started in association with the Britten-Pears Library at Aldeburgh.
In 1989, Boydell & Brewer Ltd, in association with the University of Rochester, started the University of Rochester Press in upstate New York. This has specialised in music studies from the Eastman School as well as historical series; the combined Boydell and Rochester lists in music are probably the most important in the English speaking world.
Richard Barber is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Historical Society, and an Honorary Fellow of the Historical Association. He is currently Honorary Visiting Professor in the department of history at the University of York.
He lives in Suffolk, between the river Deben and the sea. He and his wife Helen sailed there for many years, and also cruised extensively in the Baltic and Mediterranean, until her death in 2013. Helen, whom he met at Macmillan, played a major part in the development of the publishing business, while bringing up their two children.


Product Description

Review

Barber [has an] infectious passion for and deep knowledge of his subject matter ... elegant prose and rigorous historical analysis ... a valuable and thorough addition to the body of work on this most impressive of English monarchs (Sunday Times)

In Edward III and the Triumph of England [Barber] has written the kind of book that the king would have enjoyed: full of battles, glitter and ceremony ... he has an original eye and an elegant pen (Jonathan Sumption Literary Review)

Barber share's his hero's love of chivalry ... The book sparkle[s] with some of Edward's own glitz (Telegraph)

This absorbing book is layered rather than linear, sifting with uncommon sensitivity through challenging sources to test the boundaries of what we can and cannot know ... We discover the complexity of the world in which Edward and his commanders lived (Helen Castor The Times)

About the Author

Richard Barber has had a huge influence on the study of medieval history and literature, both as a writer and as a publisher. His major works include The Knight and Chivalry (winner of the Somerset Maugham Award), Edward Prince of Wales and Aquitaine, The Penguin Guide to Medieval Europe and The Holy Grail: The History of a Legend. He lives in East Anglia.

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive.. 12 Oct 2013
By jaffareadstoo TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
Edward III, hero of Crécy, and one of England's most renowned Kings is the focus for this comprehensive and well written historical tome. From the beginning, the book is layered with chivalric honour and tales of military tactics which helped to catapult this small and rather insignificant country towards martial victory on a grand scale.

To be honest I found the book rather heavy going in places, and whilst I cannot deny that the book is packed full of historical content, the prospect of reading the book in linear fashion was a little daunting. I think that this book is something to be dipped into and out of when the mood takes you, and best read in small manageable portions which are then going to be easier to digest and absorb.

I am a huge advocate for the use of e-books but on this occasion I feel that have I missed something by reading it electronically. My opinion is that this book is probably more enjoyable in paper form, not only will it look impressive on a book shelf, but also flipping backwards and forwards is still easier on paper, and this book is definitely one of those books that you need to be able to back track easily.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Focus on the order of the Garter 11 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Like other reviewers I found this book full of interesting insights but quite hard going and a little disjointed in its coverage of Edward the thirds campaigns in France. The book focuses a lot on the Order of the Garter in the context of that campaign but possibly in too much detail in some places. This is not I feel a book for the casual reader.
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3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars heavy going 27 Sep 2013
By R
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
not quite what I expected. There is less on Edward and his triumphs, more on a miscellany of courtiers etc
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant study of Edward III and the English high command/nobility/court 16 Mar 2014
By CA Johnston - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Originally the release date for this book was in January, so as my birthday is in February, I let it be known to my family that this title would make a most welcome addition to my burgeoning collection of books about Medieval Warfare. Unbeknownst to me, apparently the release date has since been pushed back a couple times. Luckily for me I still ended up receiving a copy of this book as a present, albeit it's an "Uncorrected Proof Copy." So I don't know how much will be changed for the final version (besides the inclusion of the maps, maybe pictures, and definitely an index), but what I have seems to be fairly polished so I doubt that much of anything important will be changed for the final copy. With that said, on to the review.

I am so happy that I was given this book, proof copy or not. It is an excellent read, written by an author who has clearly undertaken a great deal of research and work to put this volume together. It's a very scholarly book, but it still remains accessible to the layman thanks to Barber's energetic prose, which very convincingly conveys his enthusiasm for the topic. I don't think I would recommend this book to someone who isn't at least a little familiar with this period of history, but it is by no means reserved only for a select readership.

This book covers all of the campaigns/wars of Edward III's reign, with some particularly good detail about the Battles of Crecy, Poitiers, and Najera. Crecy especially gets a great treatment thanks to Barber's use of the often neglected account of Giovanni Villani, an Italian who provides the most detailed and satisfactory description/explanation of the battle. However, this study of the beginning phases of the Hundred Years War is most concerned with telling the story of the Company/Order of the Garter, and how this knightly association fit into Edward's world and what it meant for his war-fighting capabilities. Barber's contention (and I believe he does a great job of proving his thesis) is that Edward III worked hard to create a special relationship with both the nobles and magnates (including members of his own family such as Henry of Grosmont, one of my favorite of Edward's generals) of his realm and the knights of his household. The bonds he forged with these men allowed Edward to reverse the disastrous course of his father's reign, and even excel his grandfather Edward I's abilities to wage war effectively. Through the use of martial display, tournaments, jousts, pageants, games, and ultimately the Company/Order of the Garter, Edward III formed very powerful ties with the men of his realm who in some cases, were already and in others, were to become his leading soldiers and generals.

So this book provides the reader with an in depth look at the early phases of the Hundred Years War, an examination of Edward III's personality and style of rule, Edward's and his subjects' generalship and martial conduct, the ideal versus the practice of chivalry, a very detailed history of the Company/Order of the Garter, biographies of many of the Garter's members, and much, much more than I can tell you here. Suffice to say, if anything I've written has garnered your interest then you should buy the book. Richard Barber has written a great book that covers a lot of ground, and this book belongs on the shelf of any self-respecting medieval enthusiast/scholar.

Other books that I would recommend to go with this one are The Wars of Edward III by Clifford Rogers; War Cruel and Sharp by Clifford Rogers; The Battle of Crecy, 1346 by Andrew Ayton and Philip Preston; Infantry Warfare in the Early Fourteenth Century by Kelly DeVries; Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages: The English Experience by Michael Prestwich; Knights and Warhorses: Military Service and the English Aristocracy under Edward III by Andrew Ayton; Arms, Armies and Fortifications in the Hundred Years War by Anne Curry; and any of Richard Barber's other books such as Edward, Prince of Wales and Aquitaine, The Life and Campaigns of the Black Prince, and his book on the Knight and Chivalry. Those are just a few suggestions, but there are plenty more great books about this subject that I just couldn't think of off the top of my head.

Lastly, here's the table of contents. If I was in a bookstore, looking at a book its one of the first things I would look at, and the table of contents usually gives a fairly good idea of what the whole book is going to be about. (Again, this is from a proof copy, so there might be some changes to the final edition)

Contents
List of Illustrations
Maps and Diagrams
A Note on Terms
Companions of the Garter Elected 1349-1361
Preface and Acknowledgements

Different Voices: Reading the Evidence

Part One: The Rise of English Power
1. Edward, Philippa and their Comrades 1327-1330
2. 'A jolly young life': Tournaments, Festivals, Display
3. Apprenticeship in War: Scotland and Flanders 1332-1340
4. The Kingdom of France
5. 'As it was in the days of King Arthur'
6. The Crecy Campaign
7. The Battle at Crecy

Part Two: The Company of the Garter
8. The Royal Chapels and the College of St George at Windsor
9. 'The company of knights of Saint George de la gartiere'

Part Three: The World of the Garter Companions
10. Knightly Associations: Orders, Companies, Fraternities
11. Knights in their Own Words
12. Laws of War and the Reality of Warfare

Part Four: A Question of Honour
13. The Garter Companions at War
14. The Most Noble Order of the Garter
Epilogue: The Legends

Appendix 1. The English Battle Formation at Crecy: A Hypothetical Reconstruction
Appendix 2. Eustace (Sauchet) d'Auberchicourt
Appendix 3. Sources for Biographical Material on the Companions of the Garter Elected before 1361
Appendix 4. Chronological List of Royal Tournaments of Edward III
Appendix 5. The Statutes of the Garter

Abbreviations
Bibliography
Notes
Index
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit stodgy 17 April 2014
By Jude the Obscure - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a lover of history, I found this a little hard-going. I am fascinated by Edward III, who was possibly our greatest king, but somehow the detail and the descriptions did not grab me quite enough to keep me going. I gave up round about the Battle of Poitiers.
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