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Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Distant Mirror - The Calamitous 14th Century

Thể loại: Lịch Sử
Language: English
Giới thiệu

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Barker, a British biographer (_The Brontës_) and accomplished medievalist, brings an excellent synergy of academic and literary skills to this study of the 1415 British campaign in France and the battle that was its climax, around which she elaborately reconstructs the conflict's antecedents. Henry V spent years preparing the ground: asserting initially shaky authority in England, exploiting domestic strife in France and isolating the disorganized kingdom from its traditional allies. During the campaign itself, a train of artillery manned by foreign gunners supplemented the men-at-arms and the longbowmen, who were the British army's real backbone. But the French were not the vainglorious incompetents of English legend and Shakespearean drama. Many in northern France made a brave effort, often putting aside personal and political differences to stand together at Agincourt, where they came closer to success than is generally realized. Barker shows that the battle hung by a thread: French numbers against English desperation, with courage a common virtue. She also illustrates how Agincourt was decisive—not only for its consequences in France. An English defeat would have meant chaos, perhaps civil war. Destiny on both sides of the Channel turned on the outcome of St. Crispin's Day. (June 14)
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The Battle of Agincourt of 1415 has endured in popular awareness on the strength of Shakespeare's Henry the Fifth. The historical Henry V bears scant resemblance to Falstaff's royal drinking buddy: in Barker's lushly detailed account, Henry V was a pious warrior, an able administrator, and an aggressive diplomat. Barker dwells extensively on Henry's rapid intensification, after ascending to the throne in 1413, of the Hundred Years' War, the English attempt to control the crown and territory of France. As a result, her emphasis on the organization of the campaign that culminated at Agincourt delivers a superb description of how a medieval military force was raised. Founded on feudal precepts of lord-and-vassal obligation, Henry's army and that of France were personalistic, a trait Barker turns to positive advantage in portraying the combatants. From longbow men to men-at-arms, Barker successfully individuates the Agincourt battle so that readers perceive actual people, not just a melee of thousands, engaging in the battle. With fluency and empathy, Barker delivers a superior performance that should capture avid history readers. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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