Book Review: The Hundred Years War: A People's History


by David Green

New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. Pp. xx, 340. Illus., maps, chron., stemma, notes, biblio., index. $40.00. ISBN: 0300134517

What Else Happened While the Kings Fought?

Green, author of the fine biography Edward the Black Prince: Power in Medieval Europe and also of The Battle of Poitiers, 1356, gives us a novel look at the Hundred Years War (1337-1453), during which England attempted to conquer France . Rather than a narrative history of the war, Green looks at it from the perspective of its effects on people, peasants, merchants, women, clergy, soldiers, prisoners-of-war, nobles, and others, even kings, and about the war’s effect on the nascent nation-states of England and France. He uses a clever technique. 

Following a concise introduction that sets the stage for the war, Green devotes chapters to critical moments and then explores the effects of the war on a particular class.  So, for example, the chapter on 1358, ostensibly about the French popular uprising known as the Jacquerie, gives Green a chance to discuss the experiences of the peasantry in the war, and the chapter on the Campaign of Agincourt in 1415 is not just that notable battle, but about the changing nature of soldiering during the war. Along the way Green touches on many aspects of life, government, war, religion, commerce, chivalry, the status and roles of women, finance, kingship and royal madness, prisoners-of-war, and more, concluding a discussion of how the war fostered the emergence of England and France as nation states. This provides a more nuanced look at the times and events than is usual in most histories. 

Well written, The Hundred Years’ War is a very good introduction to late medieval Western European history and society, one not without value to the specialist in the field.

Note: The Hundred Years’ War is also available in paperback, $25.00, ISBN 978-0-3002-1610-3


Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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