Book Review: The Agincourt War

Reviewer: Michael W Cook

Title: The Agincourt War
Author: Lt Col Alfred H Burne DSO FRhistS
Publisher: Wordsworth Military Library
Publication Date: 1999
ISBN: 1-84022-211-5

The Agincourt War by Lt Col Alfred H Burne was first published in 1955 and is accompanied by an earlier volume entitled The Crecy War.

Up until a couple of years ago, the only way of getting a copy of these books was through a second hand agent or search company. Prices I was quoted were around the region of $100 US, but even then they were extremely hard to get hold of.

These two titles have recently been taken on by a military book publisher in the UK called Wordsworth Military Library, who in the summer of 1999 made them both available in PB for an excellent price of £4-99, an unbelievable bargain. Although the books are now nearly 50 years old, the research Burne has done, in my opinion, has yet to be surpassed by a modern day author covering the details and events Burne does.

It does do not cover the political detail of the war much at all, but deals mainly with each battle, skirmish and major siege in quite some detail, using all the available sources which were known to have existed.

The Agincourt War, covers the period Burne calls the Dugeusclin war from 1369 -96 through the Agincourt campaign, Conquest of Normandy, Treaty of Troyes, Fresnay, Bauge, Verneuil to Orleans, Joan of Arc, the end in Normandy, and finally to the last English stand in Castillon in 1453.

Although Burne has a somewhat 'Old School' style, which I can only put down to his military background, they are both highly interesting to read and I found myself having difficulty in putting them down once started. In fact I read both books while on a break in Spain for a week and have not stopped referring to them since.

Burne knows much of the land and terrain he talks about, and constantly likes to tell the reader so, which I found a little annoying at times, but this in no way distracts from his business of describing and building a picture of the events. There are many maps included, which I always find useful, and his full sources for each event are listed and discussed after each chapter, where he also tries to unravel numbers involved, at times a quite difficult and complex task.

I wouldn't say they are a book for the beginner, as a little background work on the Political situation and leading players would be a great help in understanding the reasons why certain events happened. This is certainly true in the position of the complex alliances between France-Burgundy-Burgundy England which features much during the campaigns of Henry V

Another thing which always used to confuse me when reading about the HYW was how I used to always get confused when authors referred to this and that Duke or Earl. I had great difficulty in keeping up with which one would be dead and who was still alive. In some cases two or three inheriting a title over a 25 year period. These two books helped me a great deal in understanding this and certainly made things a little clearer.

All in all, if you are interested in the military aspect of the Hundred Years War, then these two books are a must have for the collection, especially as they are now both available for only £4-99.

I know stocks them both and last time I looked they were going as a special offer for £3-99.

Separate review for The Crecy War also available.

Reviewer Rating: 5-Excellent

Original review submitted: Jan 5, 2001

Return to review index.REVIEWS
Return to main index.HOME