The Legend of Bouvines: War, Religion, and Culture in the Middle Ages

The Legend of Bouvines: War, Religion and Culture in the Middle AgesThe Legend of Bouvines: War, Religion and Culture in the Middle Ages by Georges Duby

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

I bought Georges Duby’s The Legend of Bouvines to learn about the impact this battle had on the history of France. Duby’s does excellent work in bring out knowledge from the sources concerning the battle and giving an as accurate detail of the battle that he could. Duby’s also gives an account of the battle in the social and cultural, not just political, context that helps give the reader a full sense of how to view the battle.

However, while all those things are positives for the book, the major negative was how Duby’s structured his book from beginning to end. Duby’s chooses to begin his book with the actual battle itself with political background interlaced throughout the account. Then after the battle he starts shaping the social and cultural worlds in which the historical players came from then referring back to sections of the battle a particular point can be shown in action. It wasn’t until the end of the book which Duby’s then discussed the “Legend” of this battle to conclude his book.

While all the information that Duby’s research and prose brought forward was excellent, it lost a lot of it’s impact with how he decided to give structure to his text. Whether it is because the time at which this book was published (1973) or the historiographical conventions of the French, I do not know, but many days to found myself losing concentration on the text. I can only recommend this book to more academically inclined historians.

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