on 27 November 2012
History is usually focused on the men who made it rather those who lived it but in the case of Hugh Kennedy we find a man who thoroughly deserves his own spotlight. Leaving behind his religious duties in the Friary of Ayr, he became a mercenary solider in France. Fighting against the English in the Hundred Years War he eventually came to serve under Joan of Arc, loyal to her cause until the Maid of Orleans was to fall into English hands. He is even mentioned in a mystery play first performed in 1435 (during his lifetime) in which his character has several speeches as well as being referenced by Joan.
However Hugh's story is about much more than even his place at the side of one of history's giants. Tales of royal intrigues, pilgrimages and murders form the background of the story which delivers not only the remarkable tale of it's eponymous hero but also a flavour of the turbulent 15th century and the seemingly ceaseless hostilities between England and France. It is a world of monastic orders, warrior knights and regicide, an age of battles, sieges and charismatic leaders.
With comprehensive genealogical research and a full bibliography, this life of Hugh Kennedy has been impeccably researched and delivered in a style that will make you wonder what happens next, meaning you will find it hard to put down and find yourself invoking that 'one more page' rule time and again.
The author's love for the subject and her corner of the world is evident. It is in parts a love letter to the splendid region of Carrick in West Scotland, where the Kennedy clan have had a presence for centuries and an affectionate and honest presentation of a life less ordinary.
The rich details of the places and lands featured and the many photographs that accompany them may well inspire you to visit them for yourselves and retrace Hugh Kennedy's footsteps as the book does a fine job of invoking a sense of place and time.
Recommended as an important piece of Scottish history, to all with an interest in Joan of Arc or the 15th century in general and to anyone who enjoys reading a well structured and well researched work.
on 2 December 2012
I have been researching the Kennedy family history in Scotland and England for about 9 years and was delighted to find out about this book from the author herself.
It covers the otherwise sketchily-documented mediaeval period of the Scottish Kennedys. In the 1400s the northern Kennedy branch, Cassilis, married into the Stewart royal family and gained pre-eminence over their southern cousins which were led by the house of Bargany, who were understandably miffed. This led a to centuries-long feud which ended at the pitched battle of Pennyglen outside Maybole at the end of the 1500s when Thomas the young chief of the Bargany Kennedys was mortally injured by the forces of the Earl of Cassilis.
Hugh Kennedy, the central figure in this book, was a key figure in the founding of Bargany and his valour whilst fighting for Joan of Arc lent a special greatness to to the origins of that house.
This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the Scottish Kennedys, a family of massive importance to Scottish history.
on 6 December 2012
Priest, solidier, ambassador, counsellor - Sir Hew,master of reinvention! murder, intrigue, war - and wonderful
illustrations! fascinating insight by author.