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Hundred Years War Vol 1: Trial by Battle [Kindle Edition]

Jonathan Sumption
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

'Compulsively readable' (History), this is the first volume in a series that details the long and violent endeavour of the English to dismember Europe's strongest state, a succession of wars that is one of the seminal chapters in European history. Beginning with the funeral of Charles IV of France in 1328, it follows the Hundred Years War up to the surrender of Calais in 1347. It traces the early humiliations and triumphs of Edward III: the campaigns of Sluys, Crecy and Calais, which first made his name as a war leader and the reputation of his subjects as the most brutally effective warriors of their time.

Trial by Battle is an account of the events of a pivotal period in both French and British history, from Wolfson History Prize-winning author and historian Jonathan Sumption.

'A new and immensely impressive history of the war.' Daily Telegraph

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Amazon Review

What do most of us know of the Hundred Years War? The famous victories at Agincourt, Crecy and Poitiers and that it actually went on--intermittently--for a great deal longer than a hundred years. Fortunately, Jonathan Sumption is on hand to remind us that there was a great deal more to this period of medieval history that was instrumental in establishing the national consciousness of both England and France.

Trial By Battle is not for the faint-hearted. Its 650 pages only cover the period from the death of Charles IV, the last Capetian King of France to the surrender of Calais to the English in 1347. At this rate, it will take at least another six volumes to get to the end. But for those who take a deep breath and just decide to go for it, Sumption more than repays the effort. He takes a decidedly old-fashioned approach to history, being short on analysis and long on narrative, but there is nothing old-fashioned about his style. He has avoided the academic pitfalls of turgid prose and inaccessibility to produce a work of great readability that challenges many traditional assumptions.

To read many historians, the Hundred Years War was a glorious period of nobility and chivalry. Sumption gives the lie to this. He shows the war to be venal, savage and mercenary. Soldiers often gave more thought to their captives than they did for their cause, as huge ransoms could be extracted for their release. We're only talking noble hostages, mind. The ordinary foot soldier had no monetary value and was usually butchered on the spot. The same applied to civilians. This wasn't a war where human life was sanctified and the fighting was restricted to the battlefield. It had all the subtlety of the bombing of Dresden as both sides, and England in particular as the fighting was almost entirely restricted to mainland France, created a wave of terror to force the locals into submission. "Not a man or woman of substance dared to wait in the towns and castles or in the country around; wherever our army appeared, they fled away", wrote one English observer. Sumption's readers are likely to have precisely the opposite reaction. --John Crace

Book Description

Trial by Battle by Jonathan Sumption is an enthrallingly detailed account of the background and first years of the Hundred Years War.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4549 KB
  • Print Length: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Non Fiction; 2nd Revised edition edition (5 May 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #146,493 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sumption and his War 28 Mar. 2010
Sumption's first book on the Hundred Years War is great. He protrays his subjects with such vigor and imagination. Edward III, Philip VI, William of Hainualt...all of these men fly off the page onto a storyboard that is bloody, but is great. Edward III is a military leader who is a calculating politican who makes disatrous mistakes in the first phase of the war, then remerges as the aribtor of Europe after Crecy and Calais; Philip VI is the weak minded, suspicious King of France who is victorius at first but then is draw downhill by his mistakes and Edward's impending greatness. Truly this is a superb work.

This book gets five stars all the way. It is the greatest book on the first phrase of the Hundred Years war. Everything was simply fascinating. At to it readability and you can't deny that Sumption has skill. I just wish he would quit his court job and produce more of these wonderful books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serious stuff. 24 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Was pointed to this by Bernard Cornwell's thrill-a-minute novels. Was shocked to learn that the general reality was just as savage and insane. A read which should cure any reader of patriotism and make him/her appreciate life in the west even in what we think of as difficult times. (But it'll be too slow for you if you just want a thrill-a-minute read - it's thorough gives full background).
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable, scholarly account of the 100 years war. 14 Dec. 1999
By A Customer
This is a highly readable and well written account of the 100 years war. It is detailed (this volume stops just after the battle of Crecy) - not boring - yet a well informed read. The opening chapter describing medieval Paris is great (especially if you know modern day Paris).The book gives you a very good feel for the machinations of medieval politics and the difficulties of campaigning in war.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb stuff; not to be missed 16 Mar. 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Trial by Battle is even more capivating than Trial by FIre. Sumption's text is a dream to follow, always engaging and thoroughly human. While I have always been interested in the Hundred Years War I had never really appreciated the depths to which the French crown had sunk, a catastophe to equate with many modern day disaster areas..
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stranger than fiction 5 Aug. 2012
By David
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful history book, better than any fantasy story I've read. As Sumption says in his intro, he believes that the facts can speak more clearly than reams of analysis and this is proven completely true. The narrative of events is clear and fast, and is always a joy to read. I'm not widely read in history, and completely new to this period, but I love the legal and economic details Sumption brings to and focuses on in this book, it gives a reality to the players and events that I would otherwise find completely unbelievable but instead find just damn amazing.

On the Kindle there is the extremely rare (scanning?) error, like "Edward III" becomes "Edward Ill" (ill), but nothing serious. Maps are quite readable, though the family trees might need good eyes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Vol 1 of 'The Hundred Years War' J. Sumption 1 Feb. 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have all three volumes-a Christmas present! So far I have almost finished Vol 1 and I have enjoyed reading it since it goes into rather more detail than a single volume can hope to achieve. A flowing narrative style with, where necessary, detailed analysis of a financial/political/tactical situation/problem.
A fine book and I am confident that Vol 11 and 111 will prove equally interesting, enjoyable and illuminating of a fascinating period of our history.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't recommend it highly enough 17 Mar. 2015
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Sumption's history of the Hundred Years War is absolutely superb; it's deeply engaging, and as informative about dynastic politics, medieval law and the 14th century economy as it is about warfare. I couldn't recommend it highly enough.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The complete story of the hundred years war 15 Mar. 2013
By Brian
Format:Kindle Edition
This is the first volume of a three volume of sumptom s account of the war and is very detailed and readable it covers the period from the start of the war to the fall of Calais
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