Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New Osprey: The Fall of English France 1449-53

Ever wonder how the English managed to lose the Hundred Years War?  I mean there's all those wretched French defeats at Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt.  French soldiers drown at Sluys and are shot to pieces at the less well known Verneuilles.  Why don't those silly Frenchmen speak English and eat bangers and mash instead of snails?
In his last Osprey Campaigns book on the Battle of Orleans in 1430, David Nicolle began to tell the story of how the tide began to turn against the English in France.  Nicolle wraps up the story of the English in France with this volume.  Nicolle primarily focuses on the Battle of Formigny and the fall of Normandy in 1450, and the collapse of English Gascony after the battle of Castillon in 1453. Nicolle has a fine narrative style and tells the story well, within the constraints of his limited space.  Would love to see an accompanying Men-at-Arms book on the evolution of the French army from a feudal force to a royal army, with emphasis on the development of the Bureaus' mobile artillery arm.

The book is good and useful for the wargamer for a number of reasons.  To the degree possible, Nicolle provides details about forces present.  There are a few good color plates of the battles, but not a lot. There are accounts of the battles and maps as well.  There are also a lot of contemporary photos of the location, some in color, which are nice if one is able to visit the battlefields.

If I have a complaint, it isn't the diminishing number of color plates in the Campaign series, it is the maps.  They are much better at showing movements of bodies of troops, rather than showing the battlefield itself.  Both Formigny and Castillon are relatively small.  The former likely had less than 5,000 men total.  Why not a battlefield map rather than a campaign map which really shows very little.