Friday, September 07, 2007

What I'm Reading IV

The Battle of Crecy 1346. Andrew Ayton and Sir Philip Preston, et al. Woodbridge, UK: The Boydell Press, 2005.

I've been on an early and mid 14th century tear. I neglected to note my recent reading of The Perfect King by Ian Mortimer and Queen Isabella by Alisoun Weir, but I'll come back to the first one, at least. Two very worthwhile books, at any rate.

Ayton and Preston, with help from several other authors, conduct a very detailed examination of all the Battle of Crecy, in which Edward III and a relatively small English army heavily defeated the royal army of France on a hillside in the County of Ponthieu. I love this sort of thing, a serious and calm examination of all the arguments and issues, without grinding any axes. Very persuasive, and I'm glad to see that these authors, together with Iain Mortimer and Clifford Rogers, are engaged in rehabilitating the military reputation of one of England's greatest kings, indeed perhaps the greatest, Edward III.

I'm only about half way through, so I may have more comments later. But this is highly recommended. There is a lot more to the story than the usual set of assumptions, which suggest that Edward invaded France, blundered around until being cornered and then beat off the French with tactical brilliance. This always seemed to me to be a rather silly story. Ayton and company demonstrate quite convincingly that Edward was seeking a decisive battle on ground that favored English tactics, as had proved decisive at Dupplin Moor, Halidon Hill and Morlaix.

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