Juliet Barker's new book is a magnificently readable account of the last four decades of [the Hundred Years' War] ... I thought Agincourt was a superb book, but Conquest is even better. Once upon a time there was an English kingdom in France and Juliet Barker has brought it to extraordinary life. -- Bernard Cornwell, Mail on Sunday The story is worth telling and Barker tells it superbly well. Her judgements are shrewd. Her understanding of the complex politics of the period is impressive. She writes in a spare, elegant style ... There was a need for a good history of the failed enterprises of the English. Juliet Barker's book supplies it handsomely. -- Jonathan Sumption, Literary Review [T]his is a tale of warlords and ruthless killers ... the ideals of chivalry were left in the mud at Agincourt and this book is inevitably darker in tone than its predecessor. Still, a baffling, tragic and wasteful episode has now been turned into military history of a high order. For England and Saint George! -- Suzi Feay, Independent on Sunday [T]he story of how Henry V swept all before him, how his relatives under the infant Henry VI bickered over his conquests, how Joan of Arc rallied the French and how Charles VII won his country back, makes for engrossing reading. -- Andrew Holgate, The Year's Best History Books, Sunday Times Juliet Barker takes the story to 1450 in her compelling Conquest: The English Kingdom of France ... which tells how England threw away Henry's legacy in a sorry tale of lost battles, political bickering and financial mismanagement. Plus ca change, indeed. -- Dominic Sandbrook, History Books of the Year, Daily Telegraph
Juliet Barker is the author of Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle That Made England, and one of Britain's most distinguished literary biographers and medievalists.
England's little-studied conquest of France during the Hundred Years War is absorbingly recounted by Barker...With her crisp storytelling and meticulous historical research, Barker vividly narrates a tale of political intrigue and military strategy that reveals power-hungry English kings and the fierce defense of France by one of its most famous heroines. Publishers Weekly 20111212 Barker delves deeply into the world of the mentally disturbed Henry VI of England, the indecisive French dauphin who would become Charles VII, and the saintly Maid of Orleans, Joan of Arc. She has produced a first-rate, fluid account of this little-understood period in European history. -- Brian Odom Library Journal 20120201 Barker weaves strands of contemporary evidence into a fluent account of a complex but fascinating era. There is a steady succession of treaties, marriages, murders, massacres, famines, sieges, battles and skirmishes, but Barker has an eye for the kind of detail that can illuminate the mindset of the long-dead. -- Stephen Brumwell Wall Street Journal 20120307 [A] lucid guide to this very complicated period...Barker's narrative combines high drama and low humor. It could be argued that both the origin and end of the English Kingdom of France was a dynastic comedy of errors...Barker is both learned and lucid in bringing alive the characters, the struggle and the ultimate futility of it all. -- Aram Bakshian, Jr. Washington Times 20120608 Barker weaves together the threads of an extremely complicated story, involving infighting among English notables for positions in France, the major roles of Burgundians (creating essentially a French civil war) and Scots in the fighting, and the double-dealing of many French leaders. The continuous fighting caused enormous destruction and population loss, especially in Normandy, and very few participants gained honor in the struggle, although Charles VII comes across here as a more effective leader than how he is usually portrayed. Highly detailed with valuable information on the huge human and financial resources England invested during the war's final decades, the book is nonetheless engaging and well written. -- F. J. Baumgartner Choice 20120801