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Conquest: The English Kingdom of France 1417-1450


Conquest: The English Kingdom of France 1417-1450

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    Available in PDF Format | Conquest: The English Kingdom of France 1417-1450.pdf | English
    Juliet Barker(Author)

Author of the best-selling AGINCOURT, Juliet Barker now tells the equally remarkable, but largely forgotten, story of the dramatic years when England ruled France at the point of a sword.

Henry V's second invasion of France in 1417 launched a campaign that would put the crown of France on an English head. Only the miraculous appearance of a visionary peasant girl - Joan of Arc - would halt the English advance. Yet despite her victories, her influence was short-lived: Henry VI had his coronation in Paris six months after her death and his kingdom endured for another twenty years. When he came of age he was not the leader his father had been. It was the dauphin, whom Joan had crowned Charles VII, who would finally drive the English out of France.

Supremely evocative and brilliantly told, this is narrative history at its most colourful and compelling - the true story of those who fought for an English kingdom of France.

** 'Juliet Barker's new book is a magnificently readable account of the last four decades of that war, and a reminder that the reality was much nastier than the myth ... Barker disentangles the dark threads to tell a story that never flags. I thought Agincourt was a superb book, but Conquest is even better. Once upon a time there was an English kingdom in France and Juliet Barker has brought it to extraordinary life' Bernard Cornwell, Mail on Sunday ** 'There was a need for a good history of the failed enterprises of the English. Juliet Barker's book supplies it handsomely' Literary Review ** 'Barker's kaleidoscopic narrative of Henry VI's reign reveals the brutal realities of medieval warfare that lay behind the chivalric ideals to which the leading men of the time paid lip service' Nick Rennison, Sunday Times ** 'This book is as gripping as its predecessor' Independent ** 'It is easy to fall in love with Henry V and his achievements rather than to question the responsibility of conquest. Barker keeps a steady head. Her prose is snappy and elegant' Evening Standard ** 'Immensely well-researched account' Financial Times Magazine ** 'Any historical novelist looking to set a swords'n'arrows actioner in a time and place not already hackneyed to death should read Juliet Barker's brilliant account' Mail on Sunday

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Book details

  • PDF | 512 pages
  • Juliet Barker(Author)
  • Abacus; 2010 edition (3 Jun. 2010)
  • English
  • 10
  • History
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Review Text

  • By An Englishman abroad on 29 October 2009

    Juliet Barker's 'Conquest' aims to provide a coherent narrative of a remarkably dramatic, but strangely neglected, era in Anglo-French history. This is no easy task. In contrast to her best-selling 'Agincourt', which essentially focused on a single campaign waged over a few months, 'Conquest' spans more than three decades. With this time-frame, it's a formidable challenge to make sense of the twist and turn of military and political events, let alone do justice to a vast and ever-changing cast of characters. The author has certainly achieved her stated objective: a careful scholar and an accomplished writer, she tells the complex story clearly, in measured and elegant prose.So, why four stars rather than five? The dust-jacket shows a gore-flecked man-at-arms defending the banner of St George. This striking image is appropriate to the book's subject, but, in my opinion, gives a less accurate idea of its contents. 'Conquest' is as much concerned with the financing and organisation of the rival war efforts as with the fighting itself. Such material, which reflects the interests of academics who've worked on 'Lancastrian Normandy' since the 1920s, has a place within a narrative pitched at a broader readership, but not to the extent where loans and subsidies edge out the cut and thrust - the drama of raid, siege, ambush and battle.Even the descriptions of the war's major clashes, while crisply written, tend to be frustratingly concise: Verneuil in 1424, the 'second Agincourt' won by Henry V's younger brother, John Duke of Bedford, which left more than 7000 enemy dead in exchange for a handful of Anglo-Normans, rates a few paragraphs; the catastrophic English defeat at Patay in 1429, which Barker convincingly argues was more significant than Joan of Arc's legendary relief of Orleans that same year, fares no better. Given that credible eye-witness testimony survives for both episodes, the author might have made more of it. Perhaps, with so much to cram into the book, there was simply not the space to do so. Possibly for the same reason, some of the personalities thrown up by the conflict - for example, La Hire and Poton de Xaintrailles on the French side, and John Talbot and Matthew Gough among the English - remain rather two-dimensional. Joan of Arc, inevitably, is an exception to this rule. Here, she receives detailed and thoughtful coverage that assesses her emergence and impact realistically, within the context of her own times.Despite my criticisms, I'm not suggesting that 'Conquest' is a dry book - far from it. Plenty of stories, taken from a wide range of sources, illuminate the experiences of those caught up in the ill-fated venture. It also creates a strong sense of how, after the premature death of Henry V, his cause was increasingly championed by a bunch of tough, professional soldiers whose own stake in Normandy was not shared by most of their countrymen. Their story, and that of their equally-determined opponents, is a fascinating one. 'Conquest', which is also handsomely produced and illustrated, tells it well, and will certainly reward the reader willing to stray off the well-trodden road to Agincourt.

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