19 April, 2006

A Perfect King (biography of Edward III), by Ian Mortimer, and others

Some of you may be interested to know that Ian Mortimer was on Radio 4's Start the Week discussion programme on Monday 17 April, talking about his new biography of Edward III, A Perfect King. If you missed it, or if you're not in the UK, you can get the programme from the BBC's Listen Again page. You can listen to the programme directly or download it as an MP3 file to listen to at your leisure. The full programme lasts 45 minutes and the discussion of A Perfect King is the last 15 minutes.

Ian Mortimer makes the interesting point that the battle of Crecy was the first full-scale battle of the Middle Ages that was won by projectile weapons (longbow archery) rather than by hand-to-hand combat. He also said that Edward III was the first king to make significant use of archery. I'd always thought that although archery came to its fullest flowering in Edward III's reign, it had already been used to great effect by Edward I, who used South Welsh mercenary archers in his wars with Gwynedd and then took them to Scotland for his Scottish campaigns. Does anyone know if this is a myth?

And a couple of comments from Joe Roesch that may have been missed because they were added recently to posts that have rolled off the end of the blog. In the Boudica post he notes that Discovery Channel is running a 5-part series on Warrior Women, including Boudica, on May 3-7 (more info here), and in the Pompeii post he recommends a book on Roman engineering: J.G. Landels, "Engineering in The Ancient World" (1978/1997).

8 comments:

ali said...

I know Edward I had them in Scotland, though I don't know how well he used them.

This might be a myth, but apparently Sir James Douglas (friend of Robert Bruce) used to cut off the right hands of any archers he caught - which, if true, suggests they were considered a threat.

They were at Bannockburn, but that would have been Edward II.

Susan Higginbotham said...

Thanks for the tip, Carla! I have this biography (thanks to repeated and extremely unsubtle hints to hubby). I've been reading bits and pieces of it and so far am quite impressed.

Carla said...

Ali - Would that be the Black Douglas? It sounds like a close cousin to the story that the French cut off the forefinger and middle finger of any captured archer in the Hundred Years War, thereby giving rise to the V-sign from archers who still had their fingers intact. Both quite possibly true (and a good story, even if not).

Susan - I saw one of your unsubtle hints on your blog; glad to see they worked! I thought of you as soon as I heard the programme. It sounds a really interesting book and it's now on my own wish-list.

ali said...

Yes, the Black Douglas! There are lots of good stories about him :).

Gabriele C. said...

That Boudica topic is still alive? Yikes, I missed those last posts.

Carla said...

Ali - he was one of my favourite characters in Nigel Tranter's Bruce trilogy :-)

Gabriele - it's not really still alive, which is why I mentioned the extra comments here because otherwise no-one would see them

wil said...

Finally got around to listening to Start the Week. Great program (so many good radio programs, so little time). Thanks for the heads-up.

Carla said...

Glad you found it useful, Wil