Agincourt : Great Battles

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Agincourt (1415) is an exceptionally famous battle, one that has generated a huge and enduring cultural legacy in the six hundred years since it was fought. Everybody thinks they know what the battle was about. Even John Lennon, aged 12, wrote a poem and drew a picture headed 'Agincourt'.

But why and how has Agincourt come to mean so much, to so many? Why do so many people claim their ancestors served at the battle? Is the Agincourt of popular image the real Agincourt, or is our idea of the battle simply taken from Shakespeare's famous depiction of it? Written by the world's leading expert on the battle, this book shows just why it has occupied such a key place in English identity and history in the six centuries since it was fought, exploring a cultural legacy that
stretches from bowmen to Beatles, via Shakespeare, Dickens, and the First World War.

Anne Curry first sets the scene, illuminating how and why the battle was fought, as well as its significance in the wider history of the Hundred Years War. She then takes the Agincourt story through the centuries from 1415 to 2015, from the immediate, and sometimes surprising, responses to it on both sides of the Channel, through its reinvention by Shakespeare in King Henry V (1599), and the enduring influence of both the play and the film versions of it, especially the patriotic
Laurence Olivier version of 1944, at the time of the D-Day landings in Normandy.

But the legacy of Agincourt does not begin and end with Shakespeare's play: from the eighteenth century onwards, on both sides of the Channel and in both the English and French speaking worlds the battle was used as an explanation of national identity, giving rise to jingoistic works in print and music. It was at this time that it became fashionable for the gentry to identify themselves with the victory, and in the Victorian period the Agincourt archer came to be emphasized as the epitome of
'English freedom'. Indeed, even today, historians continue to 'refight' the battle - an academic contest which has intensified over recent years, in the run-up to the sixth hundredth anniversary year of 2015.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 148 x 223 x 20mm | 458g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 25 b&w halftones, 5 maps
  • 0199681015
  • 9780199681013
  • 662,340

Table of contents

Introduction ; 1. Agincourt: the Battle in Context ; 2. 'The Noble Beginning' or 'The Accursed Day'. Early Interpretations ; 3. 'Alarms and Excursions'. The Enduring Influence of Shakespeare's Agincourt ; 4. 'France's Bane and England's Glory!' Agincourt, War and National Identity ; 5. 'Agincourt PLC'. Traditions, Myths and Creations ; 6. 'Rival Experts Prepare To Do Battle over Agincourt' ; Conclusion ; Further Reading ; Notes ; Index
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Review quote

Anne Curry analyses the evidence with the authority of the doyenne of Agincourt historians ... [an] excellent narrative of the fighting. * Lawrence James, The Times * Nobody knows more about Agincourt than Anne Curry... Her new work addresses the reasons for Agincourt's enduring fame. Clearly, much of it was down to Shakespeare, who was at his roaring best when he dramatized Henry Vs day of triumph in the late 1590s, a time when the English public was especially hungry for cod-medieval jingo. What is less well known, but illustrated beautifully by Curry's book, is the fact that the immortalisation of Agincourt started long before
Shakespeare. * Dan Jones, The Sunday Times * Interesting, commendably accessible, and admirably well researched. * Susan Elkin, Independent on Sunday * Curry compiles an exhaustive list of Agincourt's resonance throughout French and British letters and art, and she is especially incisive on the 600th anniversary of the battles about its evolving and often ambiguous message to the sometimes allied, sometimes warring French and British. * Victor Davis Hanson, Times Literary Supplement * Gives a good account of Agincourt's after-life in Shakespeare's Henry V, and in myth, legend, literature and propaganda ... * Malcolm Vale, London Review of Books * Wonderfully accessible ... By exploring English history from a truly intriguing angle, Curry's insightful book shows us how the myth of Agincourt, harnessed by jingoism, has been used to convince the country on repeated occasions of its own invincibility. Fascinating stuff. * Tim Williamson, History of War * Entertaining and readable. * Francesca Trowse, Military History * If one accepts that fact can be separated from fiction, Curry's Agincourt can hardly be bettered. * Oxford Journals: French History * What can one learn from a 600-year-old battle? Quite a bit, as it turns out. Anne Curry's telling of the Battle of Agincourt, and her analysis of English King Henry V's leadership in that battle against the French, yields new insights not just about the battle itself, but about how the memories and myths that surround it have influenced both personal and national identities. * Survival: Global Politics and Strategy * does an admirable job of showing how national identity, myth-making, and popular culture can influence the historical narrative ... * New York Journal of Books * This is as much a book for the non-specialist as for the historian or enthusiast. Professor Curry writes in a style that is eminently readable. Highly recommended. * Geoffrey Carter, The Battlefield Trust Magazine * There are many books about Agincourt, but few authors can claim to have contributed as much to the subject as the industrious Anne Curry. * Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter (SALON) * Forget Laurence Olivier or Kenneth Branagh, or even Shakespeare, and instead feast on this historical extravaganza which tells how the battle was fought, how the protagonists lined up and what was actually achieved by the great victory. * Northern Echo, Steve Craggs * Curry is fascinating both on how Shakespeare adapted his source material for Henry V and on how the battle, our perceptions often governed by Shakespeare, has been used, often for propaganda, right through to the present day. * The Stage, Susan Elkin * Anne Curry's brilliant historiographical discussion traces how the myth of Agincourt and the image of a small but doughty force prevailing against incredible odds have become in no small part because of Shakespeare embedded in our national consciousness. Having written on Agincourt before, Curry knows the scholarly debate well... [A] fascinating account of the battle and its mythology. * Literary Review, Mary Wellesley * splendid * Chris Green, Suffolk and Norfolk Life *
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About Anne Curry

Anne Curry is Professor of Medieval History and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Southampton, after teaching for many years at the University of Reading. She has published many books and articles on the Hundred Years War, as well as definitive works on Agincourt itself and an on-line database of all known soldiers between 1369 and 1453 ( ). An historical advisor to the battlefield
centres at Azincourt, Shrewsbury, and Bosworth, she is co-chair of the 'Agincourt 600' committee, tasked with organizing the commemorations of the sixth hundredth anniversary of the battle. President of the Historical Association between 2008 and 2011, she is also a former Vice-President of the Royal
Historical Society.
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Rating details

10 ratings
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3 40% (4)
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