I was searching for…something, can’t remember what…yesterday, and came across this thread on Agincourt from the Armchair General forum. The exchange has lasted for about a month, from October 27 through November 22, 2010, and has a lot of good back-and-forth argument, some of fairly high quality. The initial post adopts the “revisionist” view of Agincourt, in which French and English numbers were about equal, and the longbow, while important, was not decisive in the battle. This position (in general, if not in all particulars) is that of Dr. Anne Curry, a wonderful scholar and, if I may say so, a gracious lady; opposed to this interpretation is that of Dr. Clifford Rogers, an equally wonderful scholar, who argues that the traditional view holds up remarkably well, when all is said and done. This is the immediate context for the thread, where as you will see the first post references Dr. Curry.
For those of you not familiar with the literature, the following are some of the leading books and articles on the Battle of Agincourt–and they will lead you to the rest of the relevant literature:
Anne Curry–Agincourt: A New History; The Battle of Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations; Agincourt 1415: The Archers’ Story. All of these are fantastic studies; the last is a collection of essays. The source book is invaluable for the scholars, students, and casual readers all (I”m using it in my writing class now). And of course the first one is Dr. Curry’s revision of our standard view of the battle.
Clifford Rogers’ 100-page article on Agincourt can be found in The Hundred Years War (Part II): Different Vistas. This is perhaps the single most important piece published on the battle, and is well-written, passionately argued, and as always meticulously researched–a great resource for discovering current scholarship.
Robert Hardy is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the longbow (most of you will know him as the Minister of Magic from the Harry Potter movies). I had the honor of meeting him at a conference in 2009, and he sounds in real life just like he does in film. A forthright gentleman of the old school: The Longbow: A Social and Military History.
Juliet Barker’s study is one of my all-time favorite books; a tour-de-force of analytical narrative history: Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle that Made England.
Matthew Strickland and Robert Hardy wrote another of my favorite books, The Great Warbow. It contains a lot of analysis of the Mary Rose bows (conclusions now under revision), and a great assessment of the longbow in the battles after Agincourt, as well as Strickland’s analysis of the battle.
John Keegan’s was long the greatest account of the battle, though it has been essentially revised by later scholarship: The Face of Battle.
And, just for kicks, Bernard Cornwell’s great novel on the battle: Agincourt.
So, there it is. Happy reading!