The Portuguese in the Age of Discovery, c.1340-1665, David Nicolle

The Portuguese in the Age of Discovery, c.1340-1665, David Nicolle

Men at Arms 484

This is a vast topic. The time period takes us from the start of the Hundred Years War (where Portugal allied with England) to the recovery of Portuguese independence in the Seventeenth Century, while the Portuguese Empire included outposts in Brazil, all around the coasts of Africa and India and into south-east Asia, China and Japan. In most cases there were small enclaves or trading posts, but some in some areas the Portuguese ended up with quite sizable holdings.

This is a study of a very varied military. In most areas of its empire the Portuguese used a mix of European and local troops, with local men able to reach high rank. This is the most intriguing area of the book - by the seventeenth century the Portuguese army in Brazil was probably the most integrated and multi-racial in the world at the time, and it was impressively effective.

Inevitably given the size of the topic and the book this is very much an overview of a much larger subject, but it is interesting and effectively organised. The illustrations are excellent, with contemporary art, pictures of surviving artefacts and useful maps in the main text and Osprey's high quality colour illustrations in a dedicated plate section.  This is an interesting introduction to the military underpinnings of the Portuguese Empire.

Portuguese Armies before the Hundred Years' War
Organization and Recruitment, c.1400-1560
Mercenaries and Colonial Forces
Motivation, Training and Morale
Strategy and Tactics
Warships, Equipment and Weapons
Select Bibliography

Author: David Nicolle
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 48
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2012

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