Books interview: Edward III and the triumph of England

Richard Barber is the author of a new book exploring the reign of Edward III and the crucial victory over the French army at Crécy in 1346. He spoke to Matt Elton about the king's strengths as a ruler and a strategist, and the reasons why he struggled later in his reign

"The important thing about the battle of Crécy is that Edward was clearly, in my view, using tactics and weapons that had never been seen on a battlefield before," says Richard Barber. (Photo by Leemage/Corbis via Getty Images)

This article was first published in the September 2013 issue of BBC History Magazine 

Do we get a sense of Edward’s personality early in his reign?

You begin to, yes, but really what’s more interesting was the group of people around him and the way in which he interacted with them. What emerges fairly rapidly – and this is a theme throughout the book – is that Edward’s great strength was that he didn’t interact with people in the way that

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