“A clash of arms to be eternally remembered”: The depiction of war and chivalry during the Hundred Years War in “Le Trône d'Argile” and “Crécy”’

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War has long been a central issue in graphic novels, and the exploration of conflict in this medium has been subject to increasing academic study. This focus has been mainly concentrated, however, on contemporary conflicts. Whilst understandable, this paper argues that temporal distance from conflict does not negate its significance nor does it mean that the issues raised by the graphic novel’s treatment of the genre are of little or no relevance to the contemporary reader.
Accounts of medieval conflict have long been immortalised on the page: only the medium has changed over the centuries. Chroniclers of the period have long been recognised for their stylised descriptions of both individuals and battle, and so the graphic novel would appear a natural successor. As with any fictional rendering, however, historical veracity may at times cede to the demands of narrative or aesthetics, and readers and critics must bear in mind that modern depictions of the medieval are informed by the style, mores and culture of the present day and therefore have the ability to also misrepresent medieval warfare, or at least to portray it through a modern lens.
This paper will focus therefore on two texts depicting the Hundred Years War. While this conflict, fought in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries between the kingdoms of England and France, is not a ‘small war’ as such, the conflict can be seen as a complex series of individual campaigns that had an important impact on medieval society and on the French countryside. Indeed, the graphic novels chosen facilitate this approach by focusing on specific, short periods of the war.
Warren Ellis’s Crécy provides a warts-and-all depiction of one of the pivotal battles of the conflict focalised through an English archer who narrates his experiences in the war to the reader. More than a simple account of the battle itself, the novel also provides a depiction of medieval warfare in the Middle Ages from an English perspective. The series Le Trône d'Argile, conversely, is a product of the French bande dessinée which provides this paper with a counterpoint view of the conflict. Focusing on the fifteenth century phase of conflict this series also provides a vivid depiction of medieval warfare and combat. Both texts emphasise the violence of contemporary war, but it is important to consider the nature of this portrayal and its relevance to both medieval and modern understanding of warfare.
This paper will therefore consider the depiction of warfare in these works, focusing on the visualisation of medieval warfare and medieval behaviour. In particular, by considering conduct in war, the importance and place of chivalry, and the impact of war on both individual and society, it will provide a thorough analysis of these works and the view of the medieval that they provide to a modern audience.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication"Cultures of War in Graphic Novels"
EditorsTatiana Prorokova, Nimrod Tal
Place of PublicationNew Brunswick, New Jersey
PublisherRutgers University Press
Number of pages40
ISBN (Print)9780813590967
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2018


  • Comics
  • Graphic Novels
  • Medieval
  • Military History
  • Crecy
  • Warren Ellis
  • Le Trone d'Argile
  • Hundred Years War


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