Crècy 1346: A Tourists’ Guide, by Peter Hoskins with Richard Barber
Continuing my recent tour of the first part of the Hundred Year’s War , this book aims to help those English language tourists traveling to France to see one of the most glorious victories of the English longbow against the French chevaliers during one of the formative wars of English history. Of course, as any historian with an interest in battlefields would know  , there is often a great deal of difficulty in siting a battlefield correctly. This is especially true when one comes to the battles of the Middle Ages, where there was far less interest in setting up precise battle monuments than there is today, and where all we have to site battles are the often contradictory chronicles written about the battles, the reigns of the rulers who ruled, and of the biographies of the largely elite leaders of men in such battles. It should also be somewhat obvious that the correct siting of a battle is important because it makes sense of what the various parties did–and this is important especially in a battle like Crècy where the French outnumbered the English by a considerable margin and yet still lost because of factors related to the superior tactical skill of the English, the relationship of the longbow to the crossbow, and to an incident where the French knights apparently cut down some of their Italian mercenary crossbowmen and refused to pay them in the aftermath of a shocking and serious defeat.
Anyway, that is enough context as to why I would be greatly interested in this particular battle myself, although I have never been in the part of France where the battle was fought. Looking at the book itself, it is a paperback of small to moderate size with 200 pages. There are a lot of beautiful photographs of the various monuments and areas on the field, and the book includes a historical introduction and six different tours that can be taken in the area of the battle: one from St-Vaast-la-Hougue to Caen, one from Caen to Elbeuf, one from Celbeuf to Poissy, one from Poissy to Abbeville, one from Abbeville to Calais via Crècy-en-Ponthieu, and the final a tour of the battlefield itself. As a fond fan of touring battlefields and of well-crafted works in the travel genre, this looks like it will be an enjoyable read, and one I will have a fun time reading and reviewing. Here’s hoping the book lives up to my hopes and expectations.
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