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Henry V: The Rebirth of Chivalry by Malcolm Mercer

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating


The Bottom Line

Simple, concise and highly illustrated, this book is perfect for the younger historian, but older ones will find the twenty reproduced documents of interest, if only to see what these 'originals' look like.
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  • Text particularly suited to the beginner.
  • Highly illustrated in full colour.
  • Reproductions of twenty documents.
  • Good Who’s Who.


  • Too much focus on events post-Henry V.
  • Not enough focus on Henry V's government.


  • Published by The National Archives, 2004
  • ISBN: 1903365716
  • 118 pages, including Who's Who and Timeline.
  • Over fifty illustrations.

Guide Review - Henry V: The Rebirth of Chivalry by Malcolm Mercer

Henry V: The Rebirth of Chivalry is part of the British National Archives' 'English Monarchs' series, a set of texts designed to combine short biographies of important kings and queens with full colour excerpts from the Archives' considerable collection. For this book Malcolm Mercer has written a solid, straightforward biography of Henry V – albeit one which omits discussing controversies in preference for stating the orthodox view - and illustrated it with an excellent range of portraits, pictures, illuminations and more. Interwoven through this are twenty documents, each photographed and accompanied with full transcription and commentary. The selection is slightly eccentric, as few relate directly to Henry himself, instead revealing the lives he affected. Of course, many will find this preferable!

The book's only weakness is focus. Roughly ten per cent of the text is used to trace the decline and fall of Lancastrian France, events after Henry V's death. While such a discussion is useful - the period certainly impacts upon our view of Henry's legacy – I do not consider it preferable to an explanation of Henry's impact on England and English society, topics given only fleeting attention.

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