The wars of the English in fifteenth-century France have never found their historian. In England, the stigma of failure hangs over the whole period: a tale of triumphant beginnings, followed by missed opportunities, unrealistic ambitions, discord, treachery and greed. Shakespeare has always seemed a better read. Even in France, Charles VII has proved to be an unlikely hero. Branded as a murderer at the outset of his public career, the French king was indolent, unmilitary and periodically vicious. The fact that he was intermittently well-advised and fortunate in his enemies has done little to redeem him.