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3 - The portrayal of war in the M 9 chronicle

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 May 2022

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Summary

Despite offering a relatively short and truncated account of the war between 1415 and 1429, the M 9 chronicle stands out, as we have shown in the previous chapter, through its choice of content, thereby making an original contribution to the recording and memorialisation of this phase of the Anglo-French war. Clearly the M 9 chronicle belongs to the ‘chivalric genre’, but, at the same time, its tight focus on deeds of arms in war, its unmatched naming practice as well as its patriotic tone single it out. In this present chapter we will endeavour to situate it in the chronicling landscape of the period by looking closely at how it portrays war. We have attempted to keep this analysis as comprehensive as possible, addressing the chronicle's take on virtually all aspects of war, even those which it neglects.

THE JUSTIFICATION OFWAR

Just as the M 9 chronicle is disengaged with politics, it also shows no real interest in proving the justice of the English cause within the context of contemporary ideas of just war. The English claim to France is taken for granted. Such a stance is hardly surprising since the chronicle was written for a veteran who had committed his life to the English cause. As Sir John Fastolf himself wrote in 1435, if Henry VI should renounce his title to the French crown, ‘it might be said, noised and deemed in all Christian lands where it should be spoken of that not Harry the King nor his noble progenitors had, nor have, no right in the crown of France and that all their wars and conquest have been but usurpation and tyranny’. The justification of the war in the chronicle is through the celebration of victory, as we see emphasised specifically in the case of Henry V who at every mention is called ‘the victorious prince’. Victories proved that God was on the English side yet even this a posteriori justification through divine providence is not extensively exploited in the chronicle.

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A Soldiers' Chronicle of the Hundred Years War
College of Arms Manuscript M9
, pp. 75 - 102
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2022

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