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A fascinating recreation of the world of one of England's most charismatic monarchs, from award-winning author and historian Richard Barber
The destruction of the French army at Crécy in 1346 and the subsequent siege and capture of Calais marked a new era in European history. The most powerful, glamorous and respected of all western monarchies had been completely humiliated by England, a country long viewed either as a chaotic backwater or a mere French satellite.
The young Edward III's triumph would launch both countries, as we now know, into a grim cycle of some 90 years of further fighting ending with English defeat, but after Crécy anything seemed possible - Edward's claim to be King of France could be pressed home and, in any event, enormous rewards of land, treasure and prestige were available both to the king and to the close companions who had made the victory possible. It was to enshrine this moment that Edward created one of the most famous of all knightly orders, the Company of the Garter.
Barber writes about both the great campaigns and the individuals who formed the original membership of the Company - and through their biographies makes the period tangible and fascinating. This is a book about knighthood, battle tactics and grand strategy, but it is also about fashion, literature and the privates lives of everyone from queens to freebooters. Barber's book is a remarkable achievement - but also an extremely enjoyable one.
'Barber [has an] infectious passion for and deep knowledge of his subject matter ... elegant prose and rigorous historical analysis ... a valuable and thorough addition to the body of work on this most impressive of English monarchs' Sunday Times
'In Edward III and the Triumph of England [Barber] has written the kind of book that the king would have enjoyed: full of battles, glitter and ceremony ... he has an original eye and an elegant pen' Jonathan Sumption, Literary Review
'Barber share's his hero's love of chivalry ... The book sparkle[s] with some of Edward's own glitz' Telegraph
'This absorbing book is layered rather than linear, sifting with uncommon sensitivity through challenging sources to test the boundaries of what we can and cannot know ... We discover the complexity of the world in which Edward and his commanders lived' Helen Castor, The Times
About the author:
Richard Barber has had a huge influence on the study of medieval history and literature, both as a writer and as a publisher. His major works include The Knight and Chivalry (winner of the Somerset Maugham Award), Edward Prince of Wales and Aquitaine, The Penguin Guide to Medieval Europe and The Holy Grail: The History of a Legend. He lives in East Anglia.