"Like the great fourteenth-century chronicler Jean Froissart, to whom [Sumtion] is a worthy successor, the value of his work lies at least in part in the fact that he includes so much that others leave out. There is no other book which tells the story of this phase of the war so graphically, "the savagery, the utter savagery," to say nothing of the sheer pointlessness, of it all. Divided Houses is a compelling, sustained exercise in original research: all in all, a remarkable achievement."—Times Literary Supplement
"This will become the standard account of the War."—ChoiceA succession of catastrophes in the middle years of the fourteenth century brought France to the brink of destruction. The bankruptcy of the French state and a bitter civil war within the royal family were followed by the defeat and capture of the King of France by the Black Prince at Poitiers. A peasant revolt and a violent revolution in Paris completed the tragedy. In a humiliating treaty of partition France ceded more than a third of its territory to Edward III of England. Not for sixty years would the English again come so close to total victory.
"A classic of sharp scholarship and dust-dispelling energy. . . . Throughout his vigorous narrative, Sumption displays an effortless command of sources."—Times Literary Supplement
"Sumption is bringing together so many different stories from so many countries and telling them with such close attention to detail that the chronicles of confusion become a trustworthy record of the time."—New York Review of Books
"A superb narrative history."—Military History
Praise for The Hundred Years War, Volume I: Trial by Battle—
"A rich book, filled with detail and incident, yet never losing a sense of the overall sweep of events."—Times Literary Supplement
"In a balanced and seamless presentation, the origins and first decade of the Hundred Years' War unfold before the reader."—American Historical Review
"Without any doubt, this book immediately takes its place as the best available account of this phase of the war. . . . It is compulsively readable, in part the consequence of a lucid style and apt choice of detail, but mainly the result of a masterly overall grasp, acute judgement, fresh insight, and a compelling sense of immediacy that fully justifies the author's preference for a predominantly narrative approach. Throughout, there is a sense of a luminous intelligence working on the material."—History
Yet the theme of the volume is not destruction, but survival. France's great cities, provincial towns and rural communities resisted where its leaders failed. They withstood the sustained savagery of the soldiers and the free companies of brigands to undo most of Edward III's work in the following generation. England's triumphs proved to be brittle and short-lived.
Based on a wide range of contemporary sources, both printed and unprinted, The Hundred Years War, Volume 2: Trial by Fire is the absorbing continuation of Jonathan Sumption's monumental history of the Hundred Years War.
A former history fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, Jonathan Sumption is the author of The Hundred Years War, Volume 1: Trial by Battle, The Hundred Years War, Volume 3: Divided Houses, and The Hundred Years War, Volume 4: Cursed Kings, all available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.