A Great and Glorious Adventure

A Great and Glorious Adventure

A History of the Hundred Years War and the Birth of Renaissance England

Book - 2014
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In this succinct history of a conflict that raged for over a century, Gordon Corrigan reveals the horrors of battle and the machinations of power that have shaped a millennium of Anglo-French relationships.
Publisher: New York : Pegasus Books, 2014
ISBN: 9781605985794
Branch Call Number: 944.025 CORRIGAN
Characteristics: ix, 308 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm


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Jul 02, 2017

The French were by far the most powerful nation in Europe...so powerful that they ignored what the rest of Europe thought of them...so arrogant that they held on to out of date concepts while England made advances in military science. The world was changing, but France thought they were too big to fail. The French would suffer huge losses in the war to come. The losses were compounded when the were too afraid to change their minds on policy. The French were left in a frenzy of just-do-something-now-and-we'll-figure-it-out-later mentality that often consumes modern conservatives. As so often happens, they did not figure it out later. It wasn't until the two greatest English kings, Edward III and Henry V, died and Henry VI bad leadership allowed the French to survive the Hundred Years War.
By the time of the Treaty of Brétigny, the French economy was in ruins, the government had broken down, the fields could not be tilled and the people yearned for peace at any costs. The victory at Poiters told the world the English had moved from the back  woods of waging war to the foremost practitioners of it. The professional army on foot flanked by archers were unbeatable. Calvary was dead. The small army even without horses was far more mobile and less prone to being starved out by the defending forces. The world had changed. Edward, the greatest English king ever, had dealt with Scotland, recovered lands in France, led a true revolution in military science, renewed faith in government, stabilized the currency, expanded trade, made England a powerful nation. But by his death, the weaknesses of the small professional army were exposed. While a small skilled army is excellent for invading a territory it is not adept at holding that territory. Edward abandoned his claim to the crown of France, but in return the treaty gave him increased lands in Aquitaine.
While Edward was the greatest king, Henry V was the king, had he not died at age 34, that would have been the greatest. Had he lived, Europe would have been quite different. Henry was greatly concerned with caring for his people and slaughtering French nobles. Outnumbered 6 to 1, Henry and his 'few', his 'band of brothers' slaughtered 10,000 French including 40% of the French nobility at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. Henry suffered about 500 casualties.  The losses were so catastrophic that the French nobility would never recover. Had Henry lived the French might have accepted him as King and his French wife as queen. A united France and England would have meant a different world. Even today, the hatred is strong. Much of the Brexit vote was based on animosity for a union that included France. With Henry's death in 1422, the tide quickly turned.  


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