Jonathan Sumption

After Agincourt

Conquest: The English Kingdom of France, 1417–1450


Little, Brown 485pp £20 order from our bookshop

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.

Sign Up to our newsletter

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

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,