Agincourt: Myth and Reality 1415-2015, Stephen Cooper

Agincourt: Myth and Reality 1415-2015, Stephen Cooper

In some respects this feels like the published results of a research conference, except that here all of the articles are by the same person. Each chapter looks at a particular aspect of the battle, from its location to its historical reputation. The book is thus organised by topic rather than chronologically, and doesn't include a narrative account of the battle. The nearest to that comes in the section on Tactics, but even here the focus is on individual questions - how were the English archers arranged, what formation did the French cavalry use? The lack of a narrative account of the battle does mean that the reader either needs to be familiar with the battle, or have a more traditional account to hand.

I found it refreshing to find a book of this nature that doesn't automatically follow the most radical line on each issue - this starts with the section on the location, where the author concludes that the evidence for the traditional location is stronger than the evidence for any alternatives. This makes the author's views elsewhere all the more credible. Perhaps the only false step is a conclusion comparing Agincourt and Bannockburn, written before the Scottish 'no' vote and thus demonstrating the perils of making a topical comment in a work of history.

This book covers a wide range of interesting topics, and the author comes to convincing conclusions on each of the key topics. The section on the historical reputation of the battle in England, Britain and France is of great interest, as it the chapter on the important role of London in the English war effort. Overall this is a useful addition to the literature on this well studied battle.

1 - Location
2 - English Victory or French Defeat?
3 - The General and the Army
4 - Casualties and Survivors
5 - Who Started It?
6 - Kingdom and Capital
7 - Strategy, Tactics and Morale
8 - The Memory of Agincourt
9 - A Decisive Battle?
10 - History, Legend and Myth
Conclusion: From Bannockburn to Agincourt, 2014-2015

Author: Stephen Cooper
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 256
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2014

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