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Better rewrite St. Crispin’s Day speech – historians reassess Agincourt

Henry V’s St. Crispin’s Day Agincourt victory has been a staple of British pride for half a millennium. Shakespeare turned it into one of his great plays and a film version of the storied battle rallied Britons during World War II. But Agincourt is again under examination by British and French historians who have combed military and tax records for a troop numbers handed down by English chroniclers. As a result, the English were probably outnumbered no more than 2 to 1, and it may have been an even fight, says Anne Curry of the University of Southampton. The revisionist work is garnering both praise and criticism from other historians as Agincourt has become the most striking account to come under the scrutiny of the  new science of applied military history. This is changing opinions about everything from Roman battles to the Tet offensive in 1968. Revisionism has even led American commanders to call on the historians for advice on Afghanistan, Iraq and other conflicts. General David Petraeus, the man behind the 2006 “Counterinsurgency Field Manual,” drew on academic historians for the manual’s prime conclusion - insurgencies cannot be defeated without protecting and winning over the general population. Now how about that rewrite, William?Read more: New York Times


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