Now reading Jonathan Sumption's Divided Houses; The Hundred Years War volume III. Just released in March, I've been waiting for this for a considerable time, ever since I finished the second volume of this all-encompassing history of the wars in about 2004. That volume was released in 1999, so it took the author about a decade to finish this one, but it's excellent. Starting off where the previous volume left off, at the outbreak of hostilities in 1369/1370, the book takes us through much of Western Europe: the British Isles, France, Flanders, Brittany, Scotland, Portugal, Castile, Navarre, Guelders, the Papal States and even the kingdom of Sicily, for a little while, yet this doesn't seem to be a problem to the author. To the backdrop of overtaxation, peasant revolts and devastation by war, the reasons for the utter English failure in this period become quite clear: the defeats of the last decade of Edward III and the entire reign of Richard II were not the exception to the general balance of power between England and France; rather, they were the rule. Edward III's early reign had been surprisingly successful, but had thereby in itself become an enemy of the preceeding years. Parliament was expecting similar achievements, but when they stayed out, they lost faith in the government and further undermined the already flagging tax system. France faced similar taxation issues after Charles V's death but, by violently suppressing the revolt in Flanders, managed to do away with parliamentary control over most of these taxes, giving them a major advantage.
The account of the war is enlivened by many anecdotes and incredibly readable. Furthermore, dealing with a much neglected phase of the war (it ends in 1399), it is a very welcome book. It does have 1000 pages so I can only suggest buying it if you're interested/have some time on your hands.
| The Age of Chivalry
is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
[This message has been edited by Kor (edited 05-15-2009 @ 03:18 AM).]