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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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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

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I was impressed by the book, but hugely underwhelmed by the personality of its subject!

Let me start by saying this book was well written, involved a serious amount of research and was well read. Very interesting epilogue where Mortimer explains his approach to making judgement calls on a historical character. This is a minefield which most historians have had to navigate and involves trying to avoid subjectivity, anachronistic thought processes, and personal likes and dislikes. My own preference is to be led by the judgement of the subjects contemporaries with one exception in the case of Henry V. The people who really counted, in my opinion, were the archers who did most of the heavy lifting at Agincourt and were left unpaid and swinging in the wind on their return to England, but unfortunately they left no written accounts. One would imagine if they had their judgment would have been damning. I sometimes wish The Peasants Revolt had succeeded as our history might have been more inclusive and not dominated by Kings like Henry V. Still this is an excellent audible book and well worth a listen.

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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.