Henry V Less Virile than Previously Believed

Interesting article in the NY Times--Historians Reassess Battle of Agincourt: "Agincourt’s status as perhaps the greatest victory against overwhelming odds in military history — and a keystone of the English self-image — has been called into doubt by a group of historians in Britain and France who have painstakingly combed an array of military and tax records from that time and now take a skeptical view of the figures handed down by medieval chroniclers."

The revisionist historians have determined that rather than facing thousands of heavily-armed French nobleman, Henry's troops actually fought a couple of char women, a rabid cow, and perhaps a killer rabbit. But what is most interesting in the article is the description of the "new science of military history" that has produced a reevaluation of Agincourt: "The new accounts tend to be not only more quantitative but also more attuned to political, cultural and technological factors, and focus more on the experience of the common soldier than on grand strategies and heroic deeds . . .The approach has drastically changed views on everything from Roman battles with Germanic tribes, to Napoleon’s disastrous occupation of Spain, to the Tet offensive in the Vietnam War. But the most telling gauge of the respect being given to the new historians and their penchant for tearing down established wisdom is that it has now become almost routine for American commanders to call on them for advice on strategy and tactics in Afghanistan, Iraq and other present-day conflicts."

For those wishing to dig further this 1991 article by Peter Paret titled "The New Military History" provides a background.