The Hundred Years War by Robin Neillands; The Hundred Years War: Trial by Battle by Jonathan Sumption - review by Richard Cavendish

Richard Cavendish

A Brave Tale

The Hundred Years War


Routledge 315pp £20 order from our bookshop

The Hundred Years War: Trial by Battle


Faber & Faber 670 £20 order from our bookshop


Is it a pity that the English didn’t win the Hundred Years War? If the English kings, who ruled more of France than the French kings, had made good their claim to the lot, there might have been no French Revolution, no Napoleon, no Russian Revolution and perhaps no world wars . The French would now play cricket, with the same panache as they play rugby. The English would hold their liquor better, wear berets and enjoy a sensible education system.

The English and French national identities are generally agreed to have been the principal products of the longest war in the history books, as the rival dynasties of England and France wrangled like obstinate dogs over the bone of succession to the French throne.

The Plantagenets were descended from the Devil, according to a widespread belief which the behaviour of the family did much to substantiate. On the other side, the Capets were under a curse, levied on them by the Grand Master of the Knights Templar as he was burned alive in agony

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

East of the Wardrobe

Follow Literary Review on Twitter