Hundred Years War Vol 2 : Trial by Fire, Paperback Book

Hundred Years War Vol 2 : Trial by Fire Paperback

5 out of 5 (1 rating)


In the second volume of his celebrated history of the Hundred Years War, Jonathan Sumption examines the middle years of the fourteenth century and the succession of crises that threatened French affairs of state, including defeat at Poitiers and the capture of the king.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: European history
  • ISBN: 9780571207374

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Part 2 of a narrative history of the 100 years war. Sumption superbly marshals his facts and thoughts to provide an exciting and readable account of this period of history. From the extensive references and bibliography supplied this has been a tremendous undertaking. it is a complicated history and Sumptions achievement here is to make some sense of it all.It is however more than just a narrative history. Sumption is also able to some extent to leave the reader with an idea of how and why men thought and acted as they did. Portraits of the principle characters such as Edward III, The Black Prince, John II, Charles V, and the King of Navarre emerge from the narrative. There are insights into the rules of chivalry, which somehow existed at the same time as some of the most brutal hand to hand fighting and lack of respect for human life. There is also plenty of space given to the important battles and their aftermath: Poitiers, the capture of the French King, Najera, the great company's of 1360 and 1367 are all vividly brought to life. Plenty of maps with troop movements are supplied to enable one to follow the storyA major thread running through this period is the issue of financing an army and getting into a position to be effective. Logistical and supply problems more often than not were instrumental in the success or failure of a campaign and Sumption is able to provide much of these details and still keep the narrative flowing. The war of course spread to Scotland, Flanders, Spain, the Papal states and all this is coherently woven into the story.My only slight quibble is that the proof reading could have been a bit better and Dax is not in the foothills of the Pyrenees. (My goodness I sound like a reviewer from the TLS)On now to part 3 which I believe has recently been published.

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