Many people are familiar with Sir John Falstaff, one of Shakespeare's most popular comic characters, but his real life namesake, Sir John Fastolf of Caister, was a much more serious character. During a long active life he built up substantial estates in England and in France, and spent long years serving Henry V and Henry VI in France and especially in Normandy.
The real Fastolf had an impressive military career. He missed Agincourt (although had been present earlier in the campaign), but was heavily involved in the English victories that came after Henry V's death. He also took part in the Siege of Orleans, generally seen as the turning point in the war, and one of Joan of Arc's most significant successes. After that Fastolf was heavily involved in the government of Lancastrian Normandy, although he also served in Paris. He had returned to England by the time of the English collapse and French recovery, but still continued to offer advice to the government, some of which has survived. The one blot on his record came at the battle of Patay, an English defeat that Fastolf was present at, but escaped from, earning him the hostility of a number of commanders who were captured.
This book is possibly largely because of a number of invaluable sources. These include the Fastolf papers, which contain many of his estate and legal records; the Paston Letters, a rare collection of private letters; a number of memoranda he wrote on the conduct of the war in France and finally a series of literary works that he commissioned, including Basset's Chronicle, commissioned by Fastolf in the last year of his life. These varied sources allow the author to present a much more rounded portrait of Fastolf that would be possible for just about any of his contemporaries. The result is a fascinating biography of a senior English commander, accompanied by a valuable account of the final stage of the Hundred Years War, especially the period after the death of Henry V, which is often rather skipped over.
1 - The Real Falstaff
2 - Early Travels and Campaigns, 1380-1413
3 - In the King's Name of England, 1413-1422
4 - From Triumph to Disaster, 1422-9
5 - Soldiering On, 1429-39
6 - The Army of Occupation
7 - The Fall of the Lancastrian Empire, 1439-53
8 - 'The Old Vulture'
9 - The War of the Dukes, 1447-59
10 - The Legacy
Author: Stephen Cooper
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military