Saturday, 23 July 2011

FACTUAL REVIEW: The Great Chevauchée – John of Gaunt’s Raid on France 1373 - David Nicolle, Ill. Peter Dennis

Release Date: 20/05/11


In 1373, John of Gaunt set off from Calais on a great raid to strike at the heart of France. Driven by the high ideals of chivalry,the raiders left with epic pageantry. However, the reality soon overwhelmed the raiders. Beset on all sides by French ambushes and plagued by disease and starvation, the raiders battled their way through Champagne, east of Paris, into Burgundy, across the Massif Central and finally down into the Dordogne. Unable to attack any major fortifications, John of Gaunt’s men plundered the countryside, raiding towns and villages, weakening the French infrastructure. While the military value of the raid is debatable, the English knights who finally made it home were hailed as heroes. This book charts the course of the raid from beginning to end, studying all the battles and skirmishes the raiders fought along the way in this bloody example of chivalric warfare.


At school I was never that interested in history as to me the teacher wanted to spend a lot of time on the Industrial Revolution which kept me fairly bored. As such it felt, at the time, that history really didn’t have that much to teach me as a lot of the stuff I was shown kept me fairly catatonic. That is, of course until I started finding things out on my own and wondered how the guy could still be teaching and boring the hell out of kids when there was so many rich veins to mine to keep the minds active with facts, figures and adventure. After all why do people want to spend days on the Spinning Jenny when they can strike out on campaigns for wealth, riches and fame with characters like John of Gaunt and his Raid of 1373?

What authors like David Nicolle brings to the reader is the facts and figures in a way to help the reader understand the events not only behind why they occurred but also brings together all the facts as if the reader were on campaign with no real risk. Its beautifully written, it has great prose and when its added to the wonderful artwork of people like Peter Dennis, Donato Spedaliere and Mariusz Kozik it all comes to life especially with the maps of the campaign added.

All in this range of books are thrilling, entertaining and of course wonderfully expressive which make these a great gift to give to the young or old historian. Cracking stuff.

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