The Medieval Soldier, Vesey Norman

The Medieval Soldier, Vesey Norman

The book looks at the development of the medieval warrior, starting with the barbarian war bands that overthrew the Roman Empire, and ending with the Military Orders and crusaders. This is an ambitious work, looking at tactics, arms, armour, recruitment and command, pay and even transport.  

The main problem with this book is that it was first published forty years ago. At the time it was a solid piece of work, well based on documentary and artistic evidence. Vesey Norman was already an acknowledged expert of medieval arms and armour in 1971, and went on to serve as Master of the Royal Armoury from 1977 to 1988 (with a residence in the Tower of London), and his level of expertise shows throughout the text.

In the four decades that have passed since it was written a vast amount of research has been carried out (some of it by Norman himself) - new documents unearthed, old documents rediscovered or better understood, new artworks have been found or noticed - and as a result our understanding of many of the topics covered here have changed. In some cases this has only changed minor details - the date that a type of sword or armour was first seen, or the discovery of a new type of equipment, but in the later periods whole new schools of thought have risen (and in some case sunk again!) since this book was written.

This is still a useful book, but it is now best seen as a starting point for further reading, providing a solid base for a look at more recent discoveries.

Part I: The Beginnings of Feudalism
1 - The Lombards
2 - The Franks
3 - The Vikings
4 - The Saxons

Part II: Feudalism and Chivalry
5 - Feudalism
6 - Organisation
7 - Chivalry and Knighting
8 - The Military Orders
9 - The Crusades
10 - Crusading Campaigns
11 - Arms and Armour of the Crusaders
12 - Crusader Ships
Conclusion: The Decline of Feudalism and Chivalry

Author: Vesey Norman
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 288
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2010 edition of 1971 original

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