“The Hundred Years War: Volume 1, Trial by Battle; Volume 2, Trial by Fire”

Jonathan Sumption

Volume 1: $27.50 paper, 670 pages; Volume 2: $45 cloth, 630 pages

A “masterpiece,” said Oscar-winning screenwriter (“Darling,” “Eyes Wide Shut”) Fredric Raphael of Jonathan Sumption’s multi-volume history of the Hundred Years War.

Sumption, former history fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, has just completed Volume 2, and complementing the publication of this second volume is a new paperback edition of the first volume.

The Hundred Years War, one of the central events in the history of England and France, was fought from 1337 to 1453 in a series of protracted engagements where alliances shifted and clear winners were often hard to immediately discern.

The war is known to military and political historians for some of the most important battles in the history of Europe, including Crecy, where English troops armed with longbows decimated French troops armed with short-range crossbows; Poitiers, where the French king, John II, was defeated and captured by the Black Prince; and Agincourt, chronicled in Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” where the English monarch triumphed over numerically superior forces.

Sumption’s treatment of this complex history has been praised for its “balanced and seamless presentation” by the American Historical Review, and called “the best available account of the war” by History. According to the Sunday Telegraph, “Sumption has the rare ability of writing about the distant past in a sparklingly fresh manner.”

“The Hundred Years War” is part of Penn Press’s Middle Ages Series, a scholarly series originally edited by Penn professor Edward Peters and now guided by Ruth Mazo Karras of Temple University.

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Originally published on September 16, 1999