Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 5: Richard the Lionheart - Mediterranean adventures

Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 5: Richard the Lionheart - Mediterranean adventures

Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 5: Richard the Lionheart - Mediterranean adventures

The introduction gives us an overview of Richard's life and career, from his time as a rebellious son, through the crusading period that earned him fame at the time, ending with the disastrous journey home after the crusades and the wars against rebels that cost him his life.

Some of these articles cover rather unfamiliar topics, including Richard's interventions on Sicily and Cyprus during his voyage to the Holy Land. The first saw both Richard and Philip II of France get caught up in a succession crisis on Sicily, a minor conflict that increased the tension between the two rulers. The second saw Richard overthrown a Byzantine usurper on Cyprus, in the process giving the Crusaders a base they were able to use for the next four centuries.

The article on the massacre that followed the successful end of the Crusader siege of Acre is a good reminder that we shouldn't judge historical figures by modern standards. Saladin, whose reputation is generally good, had carried out his own massacre after the battle of Hattin, and by the standards of the time Richard's actions were legitimate at the time. The city had surrendered on terms, but Saladin had failed to live up to his promises, negating those terms. The rules surrounding medieval sieges were always harsh, and this was no different.

The article on Richard's crusading experiences concentrates on the battle of Arsuf, where he successfully defeated Saladin's more mobile army by imposing an unusual level of discipline on his army.

A look at the Muslim view of Frankish warfare is interesting – the general image now is of impetus knights riding into danger and being overwhelmed by more mobile horse archers, but here we see the Franks as heavily armoured, dangerously armed and tactically very capable, helping to explain why the often outnumbered crusaders were able to hold their own for so long.

Away from the theme there is an interesting article on the use of incendiary animals and birds, attempting to work out if there is any truth behind the many stories found across large parts of the world, from China to Scandinavia. There is also a very specific look at one particular type of 14th century arm protection, looking at the problems of providing properly flexible armour to match a suit of plate armour. As a castle historian originally I enjoyed the article on the castles of Cyprus, an impressive set of fortifications with a wide range of influences – individual buildings could have Hellenistic foundations, Byzantine walls, Frankish buildings and Venetian fortifications! Finally there is a sobering look at the evidence for post traumatic stress in medieval sources, which uncovers quite a few clear examples.

Articles
Richard I in the Mediterranea - Historical Introduction
Three is a crowd: The Lionheart's Sicilian adventure
Opportunism or design: The road east and the conquest of Cyprus
Lionheart's massacre: The Siege of Acre
Animals on Fire: On incendiary sparrows and flaming cats
'Crusader King' - From Arsuf to the treaty of Jaffa
Fighting the Frankish knights - Muslim views of tactics and technology
Protecting the arms: The medieval armourer at work
Bitter and sweet: The castles of Cyrpus
The enemy inside: Warfare and the psyche in the Middle Ages


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