Mary Wellesley

Henry the Myth

Agincourt

By Anne Curry

Oxford University Press 272pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

The Battle of Agincourt has given its name to a ship, a racehorse, a locomotive and several towns in pioneer societies. Today, when you stick two fingers up at someone, it’s supposedly a cultural relic of Agincourt. Yet as a generator of myths, the battle more often than not appears to be sticking two fingers up at historical accuracy. Agincourt was the first military engagement of an unprovoked attack on France by Henry V, who thought the country ‘rightfully’ his and who saw a foreign war as one way to unify support for him at home. The son of a usurper, his kingship was in need of legitimacy. Even as he set off, some of his barons were

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