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We Happy Few, We Band of Brothers

Agincourt 600

Emeritus Professor Anne Curry’s pioneering research continues to transform our knowledge and understanding of Agincourt, a battle which occupies a central place in the popular psyche.

Curry’s Agincourt. A New History (revised ed. 2015) provided a reconstruction of the battle as an event, set fully in its historical context and based on a comprehensive study of governmental records on both sides of the Channel. Examination of financial archives indicated that the English army was 12,000 strong, one of the largest ever to be raised for a campaign in France, and that even with losses at Harfleur, dysentery and the installation of a large garrison in Harfleur, Henry V still had 8,500-9,000 men at his disposal.

Curry found that the names of most of these soldiers could be retrieved, along with the structure and size of individual retinues, the resulting data being placed within a special Agincourt section on her database of late medieval soldiers, www.medievalsoldier.org. Through research in French archives Curry was able to derive a reliable figure for the French at the battle at c. 12,000, as well as to create and place online databases for the French army in 1415. To date, c. 550 alleged dead and 320 proven prisoners have been identified, along with c. 3,000 French combatants.

 

Agincourt

 

In the lead up to the 600th anniversary in 2015 Curry developed a second theme of research on the cultural legacy of Agincourt, investigating why this battle has come to enjoy distinctive fame and significance in the English-speaking world. Her researches ranged far beyond the fifteenth century, including study of newspapers, the visual arts, music, literature and popular culture, among other things assessing the extent to which the Agincourt of popular memory is Shakespeare’s battle rather than that of 1415. The resulting Great Battles: Agincourt (2015) received plaudits in both academic and public domains.

As the Sunday Times concluded, “Nobody knows more about Agincourt”. Professor Curry’s expertise lead to her being invited to serve as academic co-chair of Agincourt 600, an organization established to encourage and co-ordinate commemoration of the 600th anniversary. For the wide range of public-facing activities this organization made possible, see the “Media” tab above.

Curry’s research shaped national commemorations in 2015 and beyond, across the UK and in France, from advising on the design of a Royal Mint commemorative coin to advising on protocol for ceremonies involving members of the Royal Family and ambassadors. As academic co-chair of the Agincourt600 charity, she was charged with distributing a £1m award by the British government to fifty local heritage groups, who in turn organized over a hundred events, exhibitions and activities. Many of those public-facing events were in turn shaped by her advice. The Agincourt600 website generated over 70,000 hits on the anniversary itself (25 October 2015), with associated media coverage on the day reaching more than 25m people.

The legacy of these projects includes a number of resources for learners inside and outside formal education. A manual on Teaching Medieval History was prepared under the aegis of the Historical Association and distributed to all UK secondary schools. Curry was the director, designer and lead contributor of a Future Learn course entitled “Agincourt 1415: Myth and Reality”. The course ran for the first time in 2015 and was expanded in 2016 with further modules on the legacy of the battle, generating twenty thousand enrolments in all.

Curry has assisted museum professionals in designing temporary as well as permanent displays related to the battle. She was historical advisor to the Royal Armouries for an exhibition in the Tower of London (October 2015-January 2016), working closely with model maker David Marshall to produce a 4m x 2m model of the battle featuring 4,500 figures. After the exhibition the model was moved to the War Gallery at the Royal Armouries Leeds, where it is accompanied by dedicated touch screens enabling visitors to search among 9,000 individual soldiers by name, rank and fate.

At the site of the battle itself, Curry has worked closely with the Centre Historique Médiéval at Azincourt on the new battlefield memorial, commemoration ceremonies and a new and larger museum. A €3.2m initiative intended to regenerate this deprived rural area, Curry has shaped layout and displays, providing a completely new scenography of the battle, within the broader context of life in the later middle ages. Recognizing a relationship which has extended over two decades, in August 2019 Curry was guest of honour when the new museum was opened by Brigitte Macron, wife of French president Emmanuel Macron. Fittingly, the museum’s introductory gallery is named the “Salle Anne Curry”.

List of all staff members in
Staff MemberPrimary Position
Anne CurryEmeritus Professor of Medieval History
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