The Road to Crécy by Marilyn Livingstone and Morgen Witzel – A Review


The Road to Crécy is almost a step by step account of the Crécy campaign from the moment Edward III set foot in Normandy on 12 July 1346  up to the immediate aftermath of the battle on 26 August.  The first chapter includes some background as to how the invasion came to take place and what its aims might have been, and the second describes the types of soldiers he took with him. Thereafter we’re marching with them across the north of France.

No one is quite sure whether Paris was Edward’s real goal,  or whether he intended to meet up with another English army further south. Either way, Edward and his army spent six weeks marauding through France, narrowly escaping being trapped and wiped out more than once. He came to within 20 miles of Paris then turned northeast, managing to cross the Seine without being seen by the larger French army which was shadowing the English army on the other side of the river. Most of the bridges had been destroyed or were heavily guarded. This wasn’t the last time the English were trapped on the wrong side of a river. A few days before the battle, the French pinned them down between the River Somme and the sea. Once again Edward’s men crossed a river against the odds and were able to choose the location of the battle.

Those are the bare bones of the campaign. Livingstone and Witzel fill in the gaps with details about who was in the army; what kinds of soldiers there were; how they were armed; what happened at each town or settlement they came to; and, most interesting of all to me, what the king ate on most days. One of my favourite aspects of the book is the account of the supplies taken to France. The army didn’t travel lightly, not did it expect to live off the land, although there was a lot of pillaging, especially towards the end when supplies were running low.

I love detail and this book gave me that. Livingstone and Witsel have pieced together a coherent narrative of events from various contemporary sources, most of which focus on the battle itself. I’m sure this made it more difficult to work out the logistics of the journey to Crécy.

As you would expect from a book about a military campaign, there are many maps and these are very useful. Less useful are the photographs. They’re all in black and white and are not terribly clear. It’s not always obvious why they’ve been included.

This is a very good book if you want to understand everything that was involved in a medieval campaign. I found it both interesting and useful.


April Munday is the author of the Soldiers of Fortune and Regency Spies series of novels, as well as standalone novels set in the fourteenth century.

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Filed under Book Review, Fourteenth Century, Hundred Years War, Medieval Kings, Medieval Warfare

13 responses to “The Road to Crécy by Marilyn Livingstone and Morgen Witzel – A Review

  1. Oooo I must read this, sounds like a good one. Thanks April.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Does sound good, I like history books that do the small stuff as well as the big.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. That does sound interesting. I’ll add it to my To Read list.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. One more added to my extensive TBR list. 👍

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I, too, now want to read this gem! I don’t think I’ve seen you do a book review before on this blog; I enjoyed the change of pace.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Oh! I LOVE maps! Then I can get online & look for vestiges and landmarks which may still exist. Being oriented is so critical to understanding conflicts.

    B&W photos are puzzling, especially if color is available. We’re so used to color these days, even colorized B&W movies & such. It was easier to discern B&W, sepia, tintypes, etc., back in the days when we ourselves took B&W photos. Now they make it hard to project my mind into the photo. Blood is red, not black. Skies are often blue, not perpetually drab & sullen. Pastels are not white or pale gray. Etc. & etc.

    Still want to read the book, but I’ll have to beg the library to obtain it, as I’m strapped until we know if the family will have a crop. July drought just about ruined things.

    Ah well, good things come to those who wait! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you have to have an eye for it if you’re taking black and white photographs. I think these were probably colour photographs printed as black and white, which is the worst way of doing it.

      I’m sorry you’re having worries about the crop. Although we’re having the odd day of abnormaly high temperatures, we’ve also had some rain, making it more what you’d expect from an English summer.

      Liked by 1 person

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