Monday, October 26, 2009

The Agincourt Controversy

I was doing my daily perusal of the New York Times this morning and noticed an interesting article on the reaction to the Ann Curry's reinterpretation of the Battle of Agincourt. Curry's thesis, for those who haven't been reading along the last couple of years, is that the outcome of the battle was decisive, but the the English were not outnumbered as wildly as Shakespeare suggested, or as historians have represented.

Curry's ideas were covered in her excellent book, Agincourt: A New History, released three years ago. As the President and the army try to make decisions about fighting counterinsurgency and the nature of war in Afghanistan, they've consulted works on the nature of the Hundred Years War and the execution of that conflict by the English. Interesting stuff.

The article also interviews a couple of American medievalists I really respect, Clifford Rogers and Kelly DeVries. Rogers seems to have aligned himself with the traditionalists. There is also a fascinating link to the Soldier in Medieval England database, providing considerable information on those who fought in France during the Hundred Years War conflict (1337-1453.)

What makes all this incredible, to me at least, is how the very active historians have made this really interesting conflict vital, interesting and relevant.

Nice map in the NYT.


Rich K said...

I think part of the numbers problem comes about by confusing how many were in the French army that day and how many actually fought in the battle.We have two primary sources who estimate 5,000 knights in the French van (dismounted). There may have been as many as 10,000 others who were not allowed to join the van and who never participated in the battle.


REDTROOP said...

Or is this just English bashing by liberal historians who hate us for the Empire we had and take pleasure in knocking our achievements in any period?