25 October 2015 was the 600th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt - a hugely resonant event in English (and French) history. Sir Ranulph Fiennes casts new light on this epic event, revealing that three of his own ancestors fought in the battle for Henry V, and at least one for the French. This is a unique perspective on Agincourt from a trained and decorated soldier.
Ran reveals the truth behind the myths and legends of the battle. He tells how after the battle Henry V entertained his senior commanders to dinner, where they were waited on by captured French knights. There is the story of Sir Piers Legge of Lyme Hall, who lay wounded in the mud while his mastiff dog fought off the French men-at-arms. Then there is the legend that the French intended to cut off the first and second right hand fingers of every captured archer, to prevent him from using his bow. The archers raised those two fingers to the advancing French as a gesture of defiance.
In this gripping study Sir Ranulph Fiennes brings back to life these stories and more, including those of his own ancestors, in a celebration of a historical event integral to English identity.
Fiennes, arguably our greatest explorer...has delved deep into history to tell the story of his family's epic journey. - The Times
Fiennes (Cold), a renowned polar explorer and British military veteran, brings a distinctive point of view to his recounting of the 1415 Battle of Agincourt, further underscored by the astounding number of participants to whom he's related. He begins with a flowing introduction to the period between the 11th century Norman invasion of England and the completion of Henry V's French campaign (which concluded with the Battle of Agincourt), followed by an insightful analysis of the strategy and logistics of the latter. Fiennes's even-handed descriptions of late medieval violence form a solid foundation for his occasional comparisons between Agincourt and various 20th-century war scenes. A nice collection of images of key figures helps readers navigate the various bouts of infighting on both sides, and illustrations of arms and armor give readers a feel for the martial technology of the time. The frequent italicization for Fiennes's many ancestors can distract from the action, but its use powerfully narrates the fortunes of one family's English nobles and the simultaneous destruction of their French cousins. While Fiennes wryly deals with his kinfolk's fates, his knowledge leads to a stylish, substantive account further punctuated by the offhand musing that an English loss at Agincourt could possibly have prevented the Wars of the Roses. Illus.