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By Juliet Barker

While Henry V and his ‘band of brothers’ defeated the assembled could of French chivalry on a wet October day in 1415 it was once a defining second in English heritage. The conflict of Agincourt grew to become a part of the nation’s self-image. for 6 centuries it's been celebrated because the triumph of the under-dog within the face of overwhelming odds, of self-discipline and backbone over conceitedness and egotism, of stout-hearted universal males over dissolute aristocrats. yet what's the fact in the back of the conflict upon which such a lot of legends were built?

In this landmark research of Agincourt, prize-winning writer Juliet Barker attracts upon a major diversity of assets, released and unpublished, English and French, to offer a compelling account of the conflict. yet she additionally seems in the back of the motion at the box to color a portrait of the age, from the logistics of getting ready to release one of many greatest invasion forces ever visible on the time to the dynamics of everyday life in peace and conflict. She exhibits how the chivalry and piety which underpinned medieval society, and the contradictions inherent in attempting to uphold them, have been mirrored within the destiny of these stuck up within the brutal energy struggles of the interval. A mad king, murderous dukes, scheming bishops, knightly heroes, surgeons, heralds, spies and pirates, the tale of Agincourt has all of them.

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Then there was the Anglo-Boer War, 1899–1902, which dragged it through the gutter. Both events generated unprecedented public debate. As a baby he was brought to England in the year that ‘Empire Day’ was inaugurated—24 May 1904. He spent his schooldays in the time of the greatest imperial war the world had seen, he came of age in the time of T. E. Lawrence, a new imperial hero, and he returned home in 1927, the year of the Simon Commission, charged with India’s future. He lived to see the British Empire’s greatest military defeat, at Singapore in 1942, and he lived to see Indian independence, in 1947, the British Empire’s first great secession, followed by its first great post-colonial crisis, between India and Pakistan.

93 In 1903 Jack London published The People of the Abyss, a study of poverty in all its manifestations (‘I was open to be convinced by the evidence of my own eyes’), with a few of the author’s own ideas thrown in as well, including the new race science of eugenics. W. H. 95 Blair saw his integrity as a writer and the integrity of his subject as one and the same. 96 In writing about the lives of the poor Blair had joined a literary tradition of telling it like it was. His findings echoed Mayhew’s findings (1848), and Jack London’s findings (1903), even down to the detail.

At the same time, he noticed the exploitation, including the exploitation of impecunious private schoolmasters like him. So, after a year of hypocrisy in Hayes, and a spot of sunbathing in Suffolk, Orwell went in search of happiness in Hampstead. He wasn’t much happier working at Booklover’s Corner—more bowing and scraping, never enough respect, never enough money. Who were these English anyway? When they weren’t thrashing their children or sending them away to school, as he had been, aged 8, they were holding down foreign natives and lecturing them about liberty.

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