'Divided Houses' is the third volume of Jonathan Sumption's history of the Hundred Years War. It is unlikely to be the last, since the author set out, twenty years ago, to write a history of the entire War, and he has only reached the Revolution of 1399. The fact that the author has now been made a judge of the Supreme Court is unlikely to stop him.
As he told us in the Preface to his first volume, Sumption's objective is to write a grand narrative, based primarily on documentary rather than chronicle sources: he considers the chronicles `episodic, prejudiced, inaccurate and late'. He also aimed to eschew analysis, as well as the scholarly debates which so often sidetrack historians. He appears to have explored all the printed primary sources (together with a good number of the unprinted ones) and to have read all the secondary authorities; and to have pursued his researches in several countries: England, France and Spain at the least.
The author's style is not that of Edward Gibbon: he is too much the modern, workmanlike barrister for that, driving home his case by the patient accumulation of detailed evidence; but he paints a fine picture. Read this book.