Medieval Warfare: A History

Medieval Warfare: A History

Medieval Warfare: A History

Medieval Warfare: A History

Synopsis

This richly illustrated book explores over seven hundred years of European warfare, from the time of Charlemagne to the end of the middle ages (c.1500). The period covered has a distinctive character in military history. It was an age when organization for war was integral to social structure, when the secular aristocrat was by necessity also a warrior, and whose culture was profoundly influenced by martial ideas. Twelve scholars, experts in their own fields, have contributed to this finely illustrated book. It is divided into two parts. Part I seeks to explore the experience of war viewed chronologically with separate chapters on, for instance, the Viking age, on the wars and expansion of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, on the Crusades and on the great Hundred Years War between England and France. The chapters in Part II trace thematically the principal developments in the art of warfare; in fortification and siege craft; in the role of armoured cavalrymen; in the employment of mercenary forces; the advent of gunpowder artillery; and of new skills in navigation and shipbuilding. In both parts of the book, the overall aim has been to offer the general reader an impression, not just of the where and the when of great confrontations, but above all of the social experience of warfare in the middle ages, and of the impact of its demands on human resources and human endurance.

Excerpt

Warfare was a formative influence on the civilization and the social structures of the European middle ages. Its history in that period is in consequence of high significance alike for those who are interested in the middle ages for themselves and for their legacy, and for those whose interest is in war and its place in the story of human development. The twelve of us who have collaborated in the writing of this book have sought to bear both these parties in mind. We have also borne much in mind the richness of the material that can illustrate visually the importance of warfare to lives and minds in the medieval age: castles which still stand; artefacts and archaeological remains; tombs and monumental brasses depicting warriors in their armour; vignettes of battle and campaign in illuminated manuscripts. Our book has been conceived and planned not just as a history, but as an illustrated history.

The book is divided into two parts, the first chronological, the second thematic. In the first part a series of chapters explores the impact of wars and fighting over time, from the Carolingian period down to the end of the Hundred Years War. There follow in the second part thematic discussions of specific aspects of warfare and its conduct: castles and sieges; war-horses and armour; mercenaries; war at sea; and the fortunes of the civilian in wartime.

In the process of putting the book together a great many obligations have been incurred, which must be gratefully acknowledged. We are all of us indebted to the successive editors at the Oxford University Press who watched over our work, Tony Morris, Anne Gelling, Anna Illingworth, and Dorothy McLean. We owe a major debt of gratitude to Sandra Assersohn, for her wise and patient help in the quest for apposite illustrations; and to Frank Pert who . . .

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