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This is a joint review with Alfred H. Burnes The Agincourt War.The military operations of the Hundred Years War are shrouded with mystery; did Edward III intend a conquest or chevauchée when he embarked on the Crécy campaign? Where was the French army for large chunks of the Agincourt campaign? How many fought in almost any of the battles? Guesswork and conjecture fill many of the gaps, as they must, but some general accounts can be read which give no indication of the extent to which they are presenting, not historical fact, but informed hypothesis. Alfred H. Burne, by contrast, is completely open about this. He fills in the gaps with close study of the primary and secondary sources, an examination of the battlefields in many cases, and his own concept of Inherent Military Probability; essentially just what he, a trained soldier who fought in some of these same fields in World War One, regards as most likely to have happened. These deliberations are documented at length in a number of appendices which can be pretty heavy going. Also, IMP itself has been rather derided. This, however, seems unfair, as all Burne is really doing is flagging up the fact that he is filling in gaps. These two books remain probably the best history of the military aspect of the conflict between the Plantagenets and Valois from 1337 to 1453. Burne identifies two broad schools of thought on the subject. On the one hand are the British, who see the conduct of Plantagent leaders such as Edward III, Henry V, and Sir John Talbot in very positive terms and that of their Valois opponents correspondingly poorly. On the other is the French school, which is the opposite of all that. Burne is very much of the former and, while the truth probably lies somewhere between the two schools, it probably lies closer to the British and Burne than the French. There are weaknesses. Burne’s interest is in battles but much of the fighting of the Hundred Years War took the form of sieges or indirect operations. Burne gives the former less weight in the narrative than their frequency deserve, and as regards the latter, his dismissal of Bertrand du Guesclin’s achievements is surely too brusque. Du Guesclin was, simply, one of the most successful commanders of the war on either side and that he was so without fighting too many pitched battles could be seen as being to his credit. That aside, however, these books remain fascinating and essential reading for anyone with more than a passing interest in the Hundred Years War.

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