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Henry V (Yale English Monarchs Series) [Paperback]

Christopher Allmand
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 20.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

23 Oct 1997 Yale English Monarchs Series
Thanks in part to Shakespeare, Henry V is one of England's best-known monarchs. The image of the king leading his army against the French, and the great victory at Agincourt, are part of English historical tradition. Yet, though indeed a soldier of exceptional skill, Henry V's reputation needs to be seen against a broader background of achievement.This sweepingly majestic book is based on the full range of primary sources and sets the reign in its full European context. Christopher Allmand shows that Henry V not only united the country in war but also provided domestic security, solid government, and a much needed sense of national pride. The book includes an updated foreword which takes stock of more recent publications in the field."A far more rounded picture of Henry as a ruler than any previous study."--G.L. Harris, "The Times"

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Henry V (Yale English Monarchs Series) + Edward IV (Yale English Monarchs Series) + Richard III (Yale English Monarchs Series)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 504 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; New edition edition (23 Oct 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300073704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300073706
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.8 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 474,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Christopher Allmand was Professor of Medieval History at the University of Liverpool. Among his publications is "The Hundred Years War: England and France at War, c.1300-c.1450."

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece of Research 21 Feb 2001
By A Customer
Christopher Allmand has produced a thoroughly researched and well-written account of the life of one of England's greatest monarchs.
I was slightly daunted by the length of the book but it was written in an accessible style: you don't need to be an academic to enjoy it!
The book is not a wholly chronological account. The first section concentrates on Henry's life before he became King, while the second section concentrates on the various French campaigns.
The third, most extensive part of the book is more general & is divided into categories (law & order, religious policy, etc.). Structuring the book in this way means that the King's death is dealt with about halfway through the book. This creates something of an anti-climax & is therefore my only criticism, although I suspect this is a matter of personal taste.
In summary, I would recommend this as the first port of call for anyone with an interest in Henry V. I think it is the best biography around.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By far the best Bio of Henry V 29 Aug 2011
This work is by far the most comprehensive and informative Biography of Henry V I have yet to come across. Unlike quite a few others it covers Henry's life in its entirety, and devoted whole chapters to Henry's early years and upbringing.

Most importantly perhaps it provides a sound, objective, and reasoned analysis of Henry as King and man. Whilst other more and less recent Bios take extreme positions and cite Henry's negative or controversial actions and decisons to demonise him, bash him or prove that he was evil and heartless, (most notably Ian Mortimers) or else take the opposite extreme of Lionising Henry to a near Godlike status akin to theat of his characters in Shakespeare's play.

Allmand does neither of these, instead he takes the Middle ground and examines Henry's actions and motivations in light of his circumstances, criticising when it is justified, but also giving credit where it is due. Overall he builds a picture of a Good and popular King, and talented commander, whose sense of justice, loyalty and duty could lead to excessive, and sometimes ruthless reactions against those who were disloyal to him. In context, this becomes more understandable, when it is shown that Henry was not born ti be King, and that his father's usurpation may have had a profound effect on the young Henry, making him more anxious to secure and protect his position, and maybe causing him to have a more extreme line on the importance of loyalty and obedience on the part of his subjects.

Allamand was one of the foremost experts on the Hundred Years war, and the rule of the Lancasrtians in France of his day, and so perhaps has more insight and knowledge of the reign of Henry, his legacy, and impact on history then most, if not all other biographers.

If you wish to truly understand Henry, read this book, it is not the easist read but is well worth the effort.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 6 Aug 2014
A fascinating insight into the life of one of the legendary figures of English history. Shakespeare made him an icon,but this biography shows him to be human. Slight catch in that he dies mid way through the book.Im sure the succeeding chapters on the machinery of government during his reign could have been slid in earlier. This is an unfortunate flaw. Otherwise i would have given it a full 5 stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I wanted, well pleased 27 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well constructed book giving all the facts I needed. an enjoyable and easy read for anyone interested in this period of history
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars *The* biography on Henry V 22 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Prof. Allmand's biography of Henry V is the first coherent work on the subject for our generation. It is also the best bio on Henry V in the past 60-70 years. Allmand gives a fairly bare-bones analysis of King Henry V's brilliant but short life, and then expands in later chapters on several themes such as the royal family, law + order, and the like. Allmand's work is scholarly but does not drown the reader in details. Is a good read and moves along in a coherent manner. If you are looking to learn more about the man Shakespeare called "the Mirror of all Christian Kings" Allmand's deft work is a good place to start and a valuable resource.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Medieval CEO 10 Jan 2001
By Alex Lukic - Published on
As brilliantly portrayed by Mr. Allmand, Henry V personifies not only the fearsome and powerful character of a dark ages monarch, but also that one of a business-sound and strategy-aware leader. Whereas Shakespeare stresses Henry's prowess as a soldier and a hero, Allmand throws in unbeknownst traits: goal-oriented business planner, egalitarian political strategist, tireless academician, merciless warrior and fearing christian. Even though Mr. Allmand's prose teems with passive verbs and endless sentences, sometimes puzzling and even confusing the reader, his book is one of its kind.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent analysis and flat narration 17 Jun 2011
By Daniel Putman - Published on
Allmand's Henry V follows the pattern of most of the Yale English Monarchs books in having the first part being a chronological narrative and the rest an analysis of different aspects of the reign. So the first 182 pages are Henry's life, with much of it in France. The last 261 pages are analysis. Henry had an amazing reign. He took it upon himself to do "justice" and conquer France and had the English nation unified behind him until near the very end of his short life. His victory at Agincourt against huge odds, no matter what one thinks of the war itself, is one of the most famous in English history and a brilliant exercise in medieval military leadership. But Allmand, while getting all the details correct, has a surprisingly flat narration of these events. Henry was one of the most charismatic leaders in the Middle Ages but the excitement of his exploits is never gotten across to the reader. The details are never woven into an engaging storyline which, if anything, the chronological part of the book should be. It is adequate but Henry himself was, if anything, never just adequate.

After reading the first part I expected the last 60% of the book to be dry as dust. But it is decidedly not. Almost all the chapters are sharply written and bring both details and life to Henry's reign. This twist, flat narration of events and highly interesting analysis of the details, is unusual to say the least. The real heart of this book, its finest moments, are in the middle. His chapter on "Lollardy and Sedition" is the best I have seen on the early "heretics" in England. It makes much more sense of the religious aspects of the reigns not only of Henry V but of Richard II and Henry's father, the fourth Henry. It also sheds much light on the events in England a hundred years later. It is analytical history that is well done and interesting. The same goes for a chapter with the exciting title of "Order," which turns out to be about Henry's attempt to control what today might be called "gangs" in rural England. These groups of thugs and corrupt gentry came complete with their own liveries (or symbolic clothing), again not unlike today's militias or gangs. The book does a great job of talking about Henry's successes and failures in trying to regain central authority after Richard and Henry IV lost much of it. His chapter called "Sigismund and the Council of Constance" is a first rate discussion of the schism in the Church and England's role in ending it. What Allmand does in almost all these chapters is set Henry's role into context which really helps. The book repeats itself somewhat in the last couple chapters and it helps to keep in mind that, for example, his brother John and "Bedford" are the same person. But overall the last 260 pages are an example of superb historical writing in which analysis is NOT dull but highly enlightening. Good stuff.

Allmand also does an excellent job of seeing both Henry's strengths and weaknesses. It would be easy either to hero worship this ambitious and dynamic leader or to treat him as a thoughtless and self-centered adventurur who invaded a country that (we now see) he never had a chance of completely controlling. But Allmand is careful to present both sides and only at the very end does he give a modern perspective. If you want a thrilling narrative of the Battle of Agincourt, this is not the book. But if you want an insightful analysis that will shed light on the larger picture of life in Henry's time and his role in those events, this is a good choice.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Historically complete but a dull read 19 Jun 2009
By D. Burns - Published on
I had some trouble rating this book. As a historical, factual, and detailed record of Henry V's reign, it is excellent. It is an outstanding reference text. However, as an enjoyable read, it's painfully boring. It's obvious from the text, that the author poured over many 15th century documents and he lists many of the facts from those documents in excrutiating detail. For example, listing dozens of the more prominent citizens of the realm, how much each of them contributed in taxes, etc. The author follows the same course on many other topics in order to paint a complete picture of Henry's reign and to describe certain historical trends. The book is complete and informative, but it's not an enjoyable read. The author is an excellent historian but not a great writer. He brings no life or excitement to the narrative. So four/five stars as a reference text, 2 stars as a history book that I'd actually like to read.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not great 6 July 2006
By M. Richards - Published on
As mentioned in a previous review, Mr. Allmand's narrative is not strictly chronological. Roughly the first half of the book is the chronology of Henry V's life (yes - Henry dies half way through the book), while the remainder touches on various aspects of royal life and a description of the late 14th and 15th centuries (for example, the second half of the book discusses Henry's military establishment, his relationship with his family, court life, and the Lollard movement).

Personally, I did not care for the bifurcated structure. I believe Allmand could have incorporated the themes from the second half of the book into his chronological life of Henry in a seamless manner. As written, the book is disjointed and can be difficult to follow in some places.

Overall, this is a good read, but not great.
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