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Summary

Henry V is regarded as the great English hero, lionised in his own day for his victory at Agincourt, his piety and his rigorous application of justice. But what was he really like? 

In this groundbreaking audiobook, Ian Mortimer portrays Henry in the pivotal year of his reign. Recording the dramatic events of 1415, he offers the fullest, most precise and least romanticised view we have of Henry and what he did. At the centre of the narrative is the campaign which culminated in the battle of Agincourt: a slaughter ground intended not to advance England’s interests directly but to demonstrate God’s approval of Henry’s royal authority on both sides of the Channel. The result is a fascinating reappraisal of Henry which brings to the fore many unpalatable truths as well as the king’s extraordinary courage and leadership qualities.

©2013 Ian Mortimer (P)2017 Tantor

What listeners say about 1415: Henry V's Year of Glory

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Impressively scholarly but dull at times

I enjoyed the author's biographies of Edward III and Henry IV which are equally scholarly as the present book but to my surprise are more engaging. All the more surprising as Henry V is the monarch with a more heroic reputation. Perhaps it's the structure of the book in that the early chapters deal exhaustively with the theological schism within the Catholic church resulting in there being three Popes, two of whom were ultimately disposed. Thereafter the book becomes an almost day by day account of the King's life during 1415 in the run up to his 'triumph' at Agincourt with details about his manoeuvrings to get money to pay for his forays into France and exhaustive preparations for war that involves the descriptions of inventories and lists. All is worthy erudition but makes for a somewhat dull listen. The best section is from the siege of Harfleur up to and including the battle of Agincourt.

My previous favourable image of Henry V, largely based on Shakespeare's play, has been overturned by this book and I now see him as a vain man driven by a religious zealot's belief that he is doing God's Will and that God is on his side even when he's killing prisoners of war and murdering completely innocent women and children and children. In his selfish pursuit of power and self-aggrandisement he invaded France but impoverished England in the process He gave lavishly to fellow nobles but disgracefully reneged on the last payments payments to his soldiers who bore such hardships trekking across France and fought so bravely to give him his victories yet he regarded them as merely his chattels obliged to obey his will.

The book ends with the author's arguments in favour of his novel approach to telling history.

The narrator is excellent.

11 people found this helpful

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Mainstream history for people who like detail

At the start, I found myself wondering if I'd get into this book. By the end I wanted more history in this format.

The day by day style has it's dull moments, mainly at the beginning, but its strength is that it gives an extremely honest account of history. The attention to detail sheds brighter light upon historical figures from this incredible year. It builds a picture of Henry V almost free of the bias of nationalism.

This is history for people who want to know EXACTLY (as close as we can get) what happened.

5 people found this helpful

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Henry V reassessed

I along with a lot of people always considered Henry V to be an English national hero. This book has made me reconsider who he was and although there are still things to admire, this book shows his flaws and weaknesses.

I would recommend this book to help you understand the man and not the legend

1 person found this helpful

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A day by day history

This is a unique history in my experience. The day by day approach allows for a precision and inclusion of seemingly mundane facts that in fact become quite important in the author's analysis.
This is I consider a balanced, warts and all account which allows us to see a deeply flawed character who achieved more than could be imagined.

but then that is humanity. capable of great achievement and great flaws in the same person.

1 person found this helpful

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Simply brilliant.

No author recreates life in the medieval period quite as vividly as Ian Mortimer. His books encourage us to think about history in new ways, and the format of this book is an examination of the person and policy of Henry V, through a diarist approach to 1415 - the year of the battle of Agincourt.

Entertaining and thought provoking in equal measure.

1 person found this helpful

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Fascinating

This was one of those titles that made me impatient for the next opportunity to pick up where I had previously left off. Rather than obscure the bigger picture, the approach taken by the author of forensic examination of day by day details was both fascinating and illuminating. In particular it provided great weight of evidence to dispel both the contemporaneous and subsequent historical propaganda. The work is as much a study of human nature as it is of history. Although concentrated in one year, the commentary during the body of the work and in the epilogue places the events of the year both in the context of events that had led up to it and the role it played as a catalyst for paradigm shifting changes in the years and centuries that would follow it.

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Great content

Great content and you really do come to understand the king not just throughout the year but his reign. In parts the language comes across as arrogant when arguing his position against other historians which can take away from the focus of the book.

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Great and informative

I have read the book a number of times many years ago and saw this on offer. A great overview of Henry's life with great use of sources.

Reading kept me interested and listened in blocks of 3 or 4 hours at times. Will listen to again.

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excellent

thoroughly enjoyed this different approach- such minutiae of everyday makes the dramatic and large scale elements of the events around Agincourt really come alive. I also enjoyed the balanced, yet scholarly assertions of the author, who applies a more contextual view of Henry V to humanise a flawed human being without justifying and pardoning his flaws. I imagine Mortimer would have been dealt with harshly for his heresy by Henry.
Good reading as well.