Azincourt is a historical book written by Bernard
Cornwell. The book connects to the events leading to
the Battle of Agincourt, through its protagonist
Nicholas Hook. In the United States, it was
published under the title Agincourt.
Nicholas Hook, a forester and archer, fights with
Tom and Robert Perrill and their father, the priest
forced to take part in the hanging and burning of a
community of Lollard heretics. One of them, an
archer himself, asks Hook to defend his
granddaughter after he (the condemned man) is gone.
Father Martin makes up his own mind to take the girl
for himself, and in a failed effort to protect, Hook
assaults the priest.
is then held for trial and probable execution.
Father Martin and Tom Perrill rape and kill the
girl, and Hook's feelings of guilt at not saving her
constantly pursues him throughout the novel.
Hook escapes and joins an expedition to Soissons, in
Burgundy, as a mercenary archer. Burgundy and France are in
bitter conflict and the French attack, win easily, sack the
town, and torture and kill the English archers. Hook manages to
conceal himself in a house and save a girl, Melisande, from
rape. Hook believes he is guided in their escape by the voices
of Saints Crispin and Crispinian. Melisande becomes Hook's
companion and lover. Later, he discovers she is the bastard
child of the powerful French Lord Ghillebert, seigneur de
Lanferelle (called the "Lord of Hell").
By returning alive from Soissons, and reporting the treachery
of the English man-at-arms Sir Roger Pallaire, who conspired
with the French and sacrificed his own archers, Hook earns good
stead with King Henry V and his new lord, Sir John Cornewaille.
Hook returns to France with the royal army to win Henry the
crown of France. The campaign starts horrendously with the siege
of Harfleur. Capturing Harfleur takes too many weeks, and
disease decimates Henry's army. During a failed attack, Hook
kills Robert Perrill by thrusting a crossbow bolt through the
Henry, against the advice of his Lords, decides to march his
ragged army along the coast of France to Calais as an insult.
The Hook - Perrill feud reignites during the march as Tom
Perrill frames Hook's brother Michael for stealing a religious
pyx. Henry hangs Michael in public for the crime. To reach
Calais, the English army must cross the River Somme. But the far
larger French army blocks the fords and the two opposing armies
meet at Agincourt. Torrential rain soaks the newly ploughed
land, turning it into a treacherous morass, especially for the
French knights in full plate armour. The French foolishly allow
the English to advance within range of the English longbows. The
archers launch volleys as the French begin a difficult advance
toward the English.
The first attack is driven back by the English. During the
mayhem, Father Martin attempts to rape Melisande. Melisande
kills Martin using her crossbow. The English repel the second
attack through a combination of the remaining arrows and the
surprising skill of the archers in hand-to-hand combat. The
French are unwilling to launch a third attack and they retire,
leaving thousands of French dead, and many French lords in
captivity. Hook takes Lanferelle prisoner, and Lanferelle kills
Tom Perrill. The English claim a famous victory, and Hook
returns to England with Melisande, a promotion, and the feud
I bought this book recently and couldn't put it down. It's a very good history in dramatised form of the battle of Agincourt, one of the most famous battles in English history. Bernard Cornwell takes you right into the battle of Agincourt and into the very minds of the people who did the fighting.