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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The White Company  
Author Arthur Conan Doyle
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Historical novel
Publication date 1891
Media type Print (Hardback)

The White Company is a historical adventure by Arthur Conan Doyle set during the Hundred Years' War. The story is set in England, France, and Spain, in the years 1366 and 1367, against the background of the campaign of Edward, the Black Prince to restore Peter of Castile to the throne of the Kingdom of Castile. The climax of the book occurs at the Battle of Nájera. Doyle became inspired to write the novel after attending a lecture on medieval times in 1889. After extensive research, The White Company was published in serialized form in 1891 in Cornhill Magazine.

The novel is relatively unknown today, though it was very popular up through the Second World War. In fact, Doyle himself regarded this and his other historical novels more highly than the Sherlock Holmes adventures for which he is mainly remembered.

The "White Company" of the title is a free company of archers, led by one of the main characters. The name is taken from a real-life 14th-Century Italian mercenary company, led by John Hawkwood.



At the age of twenty, the young Alleyne Edricson, intelligent, skilled, and well-liked, though sheltered and naive, leaves the Catholic abbey where he has been raised and goes out to see the world, in accordance with the terms of his father's will. He falls in with the rough but good-hearted Sam Aylward, a veteran archer, who has returned to England from France in order to recruit for the White Company of mercenaries, and to bring a letter to Sir Nigel Loring of Christchurch, asking him to take command of the company. Edricson and Aylward make friends with Hordle John, a hugely strong man lately expelled from the abbey for worldly behavior. Aylward and John continue to Christchurch, while Edricson detours to visit his older brother, the socman of Minstead, whom he has not seen since infancy.

However, Edricson's brother is an anti-clerical, and he sets his dogs on Edricson to drive him away. Edricson heads for Christchurch intending to join Aylward and John and proceed to France to join the White Company. At Christchurch he meets Sir Nigel Loring, who takes a liking to him and takes him as a squire. Edricson also meets Sir Nigel's daughter, Maude, and they fall in love. Sir Nigel decides to accept the leadership of the White Company, and the group sails for France, where they report to the court of the Prince of Wales.

After various adventures, Sir Nigel and his followers meet with the White Company and bring it to join the army of the Prince of Wales. They fight in the Battle of Nájera, an English victory. In this battle both Sir Nigel and Edricson display great courage and valor, and the White Company makes a stand to hold an important position and is destroyed almost to the last man. John and Edricson survive, though badly wounded, but Sir Nigel and Aylward are among the missing and presumed dead. Edricson is knighted by the Prince of Wales and returns to England to marry Maude, taking John as his squire. After the wedding they set out again for the continent, hoping to find news of their friends, but before they reach the coast they meet Sir Nigel and Aylward, returning to England after escaping from captivity. All return home to Christchurch and the novel ends happily for everyone.



Main characters

  • Alleyne Edricson - through the wishes of his father, he has been raised by monks. Upon reaching the age of twenty he leaves the Abbey and goes into the world. During the next two years, Alleyne becomes a squire to Sir Nigel Loring. He then travels to France to join the White Company, a band of archers. When Alleyne performs a great feat of valour, he himself becomes a knight. Upon returning to England, as one of the sole survivors of the White Company, he weds Sir Nigel's daughter.
  • Sir Nigel Loring
  • Samkin Aylward - An elite archer who has spent most of his life as a soldier. His excellent shooting skills, hardy constitution, sense of humour, and good luck have seen him through many battles, allowing him to pursue his chief pastime - wooing and flirting with women. His valour saves Sir Nigel's life on numerous occasions.
  • John of Hordle, or Hordle John - A former monk who was kicked out of the monastery for his unfitting behavior. A man of great strength and also a sarcastic wit.

Other characters

  • Abbot Berghersh
  • Sir Oliver Buttesthorn
  • Simon Edricson, Socman of Minstead
  • Walter Ford, esquire
  • Goodwin Hawtayne
  • Sir Claude Latour
  • Lady Mary Loring
  • Maude Loring
  • Black Simon of Norwich
  • Peter Terlake, esquire
  • John Tranter

Historical figures who appear as characters in the novel

There was also a real knight named Sir Nigel Loring at the time the novel is set, but the historical record supplied few details and his role in the book is largely Doyle's invention. He is known to have been an original member of the Order of the Garter, and to have been in the Black Prince's bodyguard, particularly at the Battle of Poitiers on 19 September 1356. He was also, as a member of the Prince's war council, and his chamberlain, part of the delegation that negotiated a truce at Bordeaux, following that battle. As a reward for his role in that battle, he was granted 83 Pounds per annum by the Prince.


Amory Blaine, the protagonist in F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise reads The White Company early in the book. Several of the characters in S. M. Stirling's Emberverse novels share names with characters from this book and are apparently descendants and/or reincarnations of the characters, and Stirling has acknowledged its influence on his own writing.

External links

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

The White Company
by Arthur Conan Doyle
The White Company by Arthur Conan Doyle is a historical adventure set during the Hundred Years' War. In 1889, Doyle attended a lecture on medieval times and began to seriously think about writing a novel set in the fourteenth century. It was written after extensive research, and initially published in serialized form in 1891 in Cornhill Magazine.

Excerpted from The White Company on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


  • Chapter I: How the Black Sheep came forth from the Fold
  • Chapter II: How Alleyne Edricson came out into the World
  • Chapter III: How Hordle John cozened the Fuller of Lymington
  • Chapter IV: How the Bailiff of Southampton Slew the Two Masterless Men
  • Chapter V: How a Strange Company Gathered at the "Pied Merlin"
  • Chapter VI: How Samkin Aylward Wagered his Feather-bed
  • Chapter VII: How the Three Comrades Journeyed through the Woodlands
  • Chapter VIII: The Three Friends
  • Chapter IX: How Strange Things Befell in Minstead Wood
  • Chapter X: How Hordle John Found a Man whom he Might Follow
  • Chapter XI: How a Young Shepherd had a Perilous Flock
  • Chapter XII: How Alleyne Learned More than he could Teach
  • Chapter XIII: How the White Company set forth to the Wars
  • Chapter XIV: How Sir Nigel sought for a Wayside Venture
  • Chapter XV: How the Yellow Cog sailed forth from Lepe
  • Chapter XVI: How the Yellow Cog fought the Two Rover Galleys
  • Chapter XVII: How the Yellow Cog crossed the Bar of Gironde
  • Chapter XVIII: How Sir Nigel Loring put a Patch upon his Eye
  • Chapter XIX: How there was Stir at the Abbey of St. Andrew's
  • Chapter XX: How Alleyne Won his Place in an Honorable Guild
  • Chapter XXI: How Agostino Pisano Risked his Head
  • Chapter XXII: How the Bowmen held Wassail at the "Rose de Guienne"
  • Chapter XXIII: How England held the Lists at Bordeaux
  • Chapter XXIV: How a Champion came forth from the East
  • Chapter XXV: How Sir Nigel wrote to Twynham Castle
  • Chapter XXVI: How the Three Comrades Gained a Mighty Treasure
  • Chapter XXVII: How Roger Club-foot was Passed into Paradise
  • Chapter XXVIII: How the Comrades came over the Marches of France
  • Chapter XXIX: How the Blessed Hour of Sight Came to the Lady Tiphaine
  • Chapter XXX: How the Brushwood Men came to the Chateau of Villefranche
  • Chapter XXXI: How Five Men held the Keep of Villefranche
  • Chapter XXXII: How the Company took Counsel Round the Fallen Tree
  • Chapter XXXIII: How the Army made the Passage of Roncesvalles
  • Chapter XXXIV: How the Company Made Sport in the Vale of Pampeluna
  • Chapter XXXV: How Sir Nigel Hawked at an Eagle
  • Chapter XXXVI: How Sir Nigel Took the Patch from his Eye
  • Chapter XXXVII: How the White Company came to be Disbanded
  • Chapter XXXVIII: Of the Home-coming to Hampshire
PD-icon.svg This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain). Flag of the United States.svg


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