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The Hundred Years War Vol 5: Triumph and Illusion (Hundred Years War, 5)

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There is a great service in this, and a great necessity in the stabilization of ground that it provides for the next generations of scholars to build against and upon. It tells the story of the collapse of the English dream of conquest, from the opening years of the reign of Henry VI, when the battles of Cravant and Verneuil consolidated their control of most of northern France, to the loss of all of England’s continental dominions except Calais thirty years later. Shortly after the fall of Normandy the French were once again attacking the south and east coasts of England, “so bold”, as the Paston family of Norfolk complained, “that they come up to the land and play… as homely as they were Englishmen”.Her chief achievement was of boosting morale; her legend was built on her successful prophecy that the Dauphin would be crowned King of France at Reims.

This is not to deny the fact that the Hundred Years War was nominally about the bloodshed between France and England. The Battle of Formigny, April 1450, was a decisive French victory and destroyed the last significant English field army in Normandy. Thus the great English victory at the Battle of Agincourt receives much detailed and breathless (though hardly revelatory) attention in the book, while the great Franco-Scottish victory at the Battle of Baugé is something to be dealt with in far more summary terms. While Sinn Fein still remains the most popular party in the Republic, it has dropped seven points since October 2023. Britain’s institutional development is visible, though not explicitly addressed, in this volume at least.The claim to the French crown was more tenuous and was initially advanced as a bargaining chip, but was made a partial reality by the victories of Henry V.

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