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Books - Middle Ages

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The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England, Hilda Ellis Davidson. One of the first serious studies of the Anglo-Saxon sword, comparing the literary and archaeological records, examining the physical nature of the swords and their accessories in some detail, and including an early example of experimental archaeology, a successful attempt to recreate the pattern welded swords of the period, a lost technique until then. Does a really good job of linking the surviving swords to their literary cousins, suggesting that the language used to describe swords was accurate [read full review]
Warfare in Tenth-Century Germany, David S. Bachrach. A look at warfare under Henry I and Otto I, two of the most successful of the medieval Kings of Germany, and argues convincingly that warfare during their reign was both more professional and carried out on a larger scale than many historians are willing to admit. Makes an excellent use of a wide range of sources to paint a picture of a sophisticated kingdom, capable of maintaining large armies, and carrying out operations across much of central and southern Europe, including a series of expeditions across the Alps. [read full review]
The Vikings and their Enemies: Warfare in Northern Europe 750-1100, Philip Line. Looks at who the Vikings were, how and why their fought and how they compared to their neighbours and victims. Does a good job of dealing with the limited sources, which were either written by the Viking's victims, or produced in Scandinavia centuries after the events they portray. Makes good use of contemporary accounts of warfare elsewhere in Europe, and the limited reliable sources for the Vikings, to produce a detailed picture of their military world [read full review]
The Vikings, R Chartrand, K Durham, M Harrison & I Heath. A nicely organised overview of the Vikings, looking at Viking society, the Hersirs (medium ranked men who played a key part in early raids), the Vikings in battle and finally Viking ships. More than an introduction to the topic, there are some excellent sections, in particular on the various types of ships used by the Vikings and on their voyages to North America [read full review]
Medieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 4: The Norman Invasion of Ireland - Contesting the Emerald IsleMedieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 4: The Norman Invasion of Ireland - Contesting the Emerald Isle Focuses on the 12th century Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland, a fateful step that began with the English invited into Ireland by a defeated king of Leinster but that led to a direct royal intervention by Henry II. Includes interesting material on the Irish military system of the period, as well as the invasion itself, one of our main sources, and the fortifications built by the Normans. Also looks at the much earlier Irish ringworks and other fortifications, the Book of Kells and the value and pitfalls of battlefield archaeology.. [see more]
Medieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 2: Two Kings Duelling - The War of the Sicilian Vespers . Medieval Warfare Vol VI, Issue 2: Two Kings Duelling - The War of the Sicilian Vespers . Focuses on one of the most important wars in the Mediterranean during the Middle Ages, a clash that helped undermine the political authority of the Holy Roman Emperors, and the moral authority of the Papacy, while also causing devastation in the formerly prosperous areas of southern Italy and Sicily. This was a very varied war, with naval battles, political crusades and even a potential duel between the two original claimants to Sicily. Also looks at the Anarchy, the battle of Shrewsbury and the Anglo-Scottish conflict.. [see more]
Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 6: The Lombard Invasions: The Loss of Byzantine Italy .Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 6: The Lombard Invasions: The Loss of Byzantine Italy . Focuses on the Lombard invasion of Italy and the various failed Byzantine attempts to regain control of the country. Although earlier waves of invaders had been responsible for the collapse of the Western Empire, it was the Lombards who made that loss permanent, defeating a series of Byzantine expeditions to Italy and slowly capturing most of the remaining Byzantine positions across northern Italy.. [see more]
The Norman Campaigns in the Balkans 1081-1108, Georgios Theotokis . Having established themselves in the south of Italy and on Sicily, the Normans then turned east and began a series of attacks on the Byzantine Empire. This book traces their land campaigns in the Balkans, where they came up against Alexius I Comnenus. Over several campaigns both sides showed an impressive ability to adapt to circumstances and their opponents. [read full review]
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Swords of the Viking Age, Ian Peirce. Combines a catalogue of key surviving Viking blades with an explanation of the types of blade and hilt and the methods used to construct them. A valuable reference work on the Viking Sword, with enough supporting information to give it more general interest. The heart of the book is the heavily illustrated catalogue of swords, which includes some in amazing condition. [read full review]
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Records of the Medieval Sword, Ewart Oakeshott. A detailed study of hundreds of surviving Medieval swords, looking at their physical form, known history and any surviving decoration, almost all supported with a photo of the weapon. Invaluable if you are interested the Medieval Sword, useful if you are interested in Medieval Warfare or weaponry, perhaps a bit specialised otherwise. [read full review]
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Edgar: King of the English, 959-975, ed. Donald Scragg. A series of articles that use the limited available evidence to look into the reign of King Edgar, one of the more obscure Anglo-Saxon monarchs. Shows how much can be learned from sources such as coins or lists of charter witnesses in a period when the chronicles don't provide much evidence. [read full review]
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Medieval Maritime Warfare, Charles D Stanton. Mainly a narrative history of the main periods of naval warfare during the Middle Ages, covering the slow decline of Byzantine naval power, the brief Norman dominance of the central Mediterranean, the Crusades, the clashes between Genoa and Pisa and Venice and Genoa, the War of the Sicilian Vespers, the Vikings, Normans and the Hanse and the battles of the Hundred Years War. [read full review]
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The Knight who Saved England, Richard Brooks. A biography of William Marshal, the most famous English knight of his day and a key figure in the chaos at the end of the reign of King John. Starting as a famous competitor in tournaments, Marshal married a major heiress and moved into the top rank of Medieval society, where he played an important role in securing the throne for the infant Henry III. [read full review]
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Forces of the Hanseatic League 13th-15th Centuries, David Nicolle . Looks at the very varied armed forces that served the network of trading cities that formed the Hanseatic League, at its peak a powerful naval force capable of taking on major European powers and on land of fighting off its aristocratic neighbours. Covers both land and sea forces, so has a lot of ground to cover. [read full review]
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Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 1: Alexander Nevsky Prince of NovgorodMedieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 1: Alexander Nevsky Prince of Novgorod. Focuses on the life of one of Medieval Russia's great national heroes, a leader who fought off attacks from the Catholic west while allying himself with the more powerful Mongols. Also looks at Saladin's attitude to hostages, the battle of Montlhéry and the poem Y Gododdin. [read full review]
Medieval Warfare Vol V Issue 1: Treason and Treachery - Betrayal in the Medieval World. Looks at some of the most famous cases of medieval treachery, from the battle of Manzikert to the fall of Richard III. Also looks at the problems involved in moving a museum collection, fragments of an Anglo-Saxon poem and the Swiss Pike.. [read full review]
Medieval Warfare Vol V Issue 2: Carolus Magnus: Frankish heir to Ancient Rome. Focuses on the military career of Charlemagne, the greatest of the Frankish kings and the first Holy Roman Emperor. Looks at several of his major wars as well as the organisation of his army. Away from the theme looks at the Hussite victory at Aussig, and the English law of treason. . [read full review]
England's Medieval Navy 1066-1509: Ships, Men & Warfare, Susan Rose. An excellent detailed examination of the early days of English naval power, the period before the establishment of a permanent Royal Navy, when most warships were impressed merchant ships taken over for the duration of a campaign.  Excellent material on the men, their ships, skills, weapons and the battles they fought. [read full review]
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Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 4: Downfall of the Bold: The Burgundian Wars. Focuses on the unsuccessful military career of Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, a warlike leader more famous for his willingness to fight rather than for his successes in battle. Instead he became best known for his defeat and death at the hands of the Swiss pikemen, who earned a reputation that lasted into the sixteenth century. [read full review]
Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 2: Queens and Valkyries Women as warriorsl. Focuses on a number of very different examples of female warriors in the Medieval period from the familiar Joan of Arc to almost legendary Viking warriors. Demonstrates that gender roles in the Middle Ages weren't quite a rigidly defined as we sometimes think. [read full review]
Medieval Warfare Vol III Issue 6: Myths and Legends in the Medieval World. Looks at the figures who gave rise to legends and how those legends differed from reality, covering heroes ranging from Theoderic the Great to the mysterious Prester John. The choice of heroes and how their exploits were altered tells us much about the attitudes of the societies involved. [read full review]
Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 3: The First War of Independence - Scotland's Struggle for survival. Focuses on the First Scottish War of Independence, a very live topic in the year of the 700th anniversary of the crucial Scottish victory at Bannockburn. Covers a good range of topics and avoids the nationalist pitfalls of the topic. [read full review]
Medieval Warfare Vol III, Issue 5 - King Alfred the Great and the Great Heathen Army. Main focus is on the career of Alfred the Great, his battlefield victories, military reforms and the strategies of his enemies. Also looks at the birth of the noble infantry, the halberd and the concluding part of the 14th century invasion of the kingdom of Naples. [read full review]
The Anglo Saxon Age - An Alternative History of Britain, Timothy Venning. Contains a huge number of possible alternative histories, covering the period from the early Anglo-Saxon settlement or conquest period to the dramatic events of 1066, with each chapter starting from a genuine historical point in time and working forward. A fun read and a valuable reminder of how little we really know about the early stages of the Anglo-Saxon period and how big a part chance played in the events of the period. [read full review]
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The Book of the Order of Chivalry, Ramon Llull, trans. Noel Fallows. A translation of a popular thirteenth century guide to chivalry, intended to be read by squires on their way to knighthood to explain their duties and establish a single united Order of Chivalry. A fascinating guide to the late Medieval view of knighthood, as represented by one of the most popular contemporary guides to chivalry. [read full review]
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The Portuguese in the Age of Discovery, c.1340-1665, David Nicolle. Looks at the military organisations that allowed the Portuguese to create and then hold onto a world-wide empire despite a forced merger with Spain and a length war with the Dutch. An interesting examination of what became one of the most integrated and multi-racial armies of its time, and a key element in the long-term success of Portugal [read full review]
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The Longbow, Mike Loades. A super look at the longbow as a military weapon, covering the development of the bow, how it might have been used in battle (taking into account the number of arrows we know to have been available, physical stamina etc), and the way in which the multi-level armour of the period coped with the threat. An excellent guide to this iconic English weapon and its role in battle. [read full review]
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Medieval Warfare Vol III Issue 4 - The Albigensian Crusade: Catharism condemned. Focuses on the early thirteenth century crusade against the Cathar heresy in southern France, a bloodthirsty episode that greatly expanded the definition of a crusade. Also includes a look at the fate of disabled warriors and the Hungarian campaign in Italy in 1348-50. [read full review]
Medieval Warfare III 3 - The advance of the Seljuq Turks: Byzantine power in decline. Looks at both sides in the clash between Byzantium and the Seljuq Turks, with articles on Manzikert and Myriokephalon, the rise of the Seljuqs, Seljuq technology, the Byzantine army of the period and the Byzantine sources. Also looks at the Scottish invasion of England of 1138 and late Medieval Irish warriors. [read full review]
Medieval Warfare II 6: Frustrating the Fatimids: Basil II and the conquest of Syria. Looks at the clash between Byzantium and the impressive Fatimid Empire, which had expanded from north Africa to include Egypt and much of Syria, before being halted by the able Byzantine emperor Basil II. Also includes articles on rural revolts in Burgundy, the siege of Harlech, the siege of Rouen and the naval commander Eustace the Monk. [read full review]
Italian Rapier Combat: Capo Ferro's 'Gran Simalcro', ed. Jared Kirby. A translation of a classic Italian manual on fighting with the rapier, complete with reproductions of a mix of illustrations from two early editions of this famous work. Most technical terms have been left in Italian, with clear explanations at the start, so the book is best suited to someone with an interest in fencing or authentic period fighting methods. [read full review]
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Medieval Warfare Vol II Issue 5: Turmoil in northern Italy: France and the Holy League at War. A look at the early sixteenth century wars that are often seen as marking the boundary between Medieval and Early Modern warfare, with some of the first successful uses of gunpowder weapons on the battlefield. Also looks at the Anglo-Saxon mead hall, the battle of Evesham and medieval sappers. [read full review]
Knight: The Warrior and the World of Chivalry, Robert Jones. A study of the Knight, from their humble origins in the 11th century through their dominance of society and battlefield in the high Middle Ages to their decline in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Looks at their arms and armour, role on the battlefield, place in society and eventual decline. An excellent overview of a complex issue. [read full review]
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Medieval Warfare Vol II Issue 4: The Steppe warrior defeated: Otto I versus the Magyars. Combines an overview of the Magyar's impact on early Medieval Europe with an examination of their early successes and the sequence of German victories that ended their raids and indirectly led to the foundation of the Hungarian kingdom. Also looks at Glyn Dwr in Wales, the fortifications of the Bosporus and Dardanelles and the Byzantine Empire's attitude to the Armenians. [read full review]
Medieval Warfare Vol II Issue 3: Pikes, bows and war wagons: The rebirth of infantry. Focuses on the revival of infantry in the late middle ages, a trend that ended a period where the mounted knight had dominated warfare, and that possibly played a major part in changes in wider society. Also looks at the diseases of siege warfare, fortifications of Tunisia and the Mongol invasion of the Khwarazmian Empire. [read full review]
Medieval Warfare Vol 1 Issue 4: Mercenaries and mighty warlords: The Normans in the MediterraneanMedieval Warfare Vol 1 Issue 4: Mercenaries and mighty warlords: The Normans in the Mediterranean. Focuses on the Norman conquests in southern Italy and Sicily, a period that saw the Hauteville family dominate the central Mediterranean and even conquer parts of North Africa. Also looks at the medieval fire arrow, the fate of English archers after the battle of Morat, head wounds and the work of a duelling master. [read full review]
Norman Naval Operations in the Mediterranean, Charles D. Stanton. Based around a narrative history of the Norman's maritime empire in the central Mediterranean, this interesting book looks at the naval operations involved in the Norman conquest of a kingdom in southern Italy and Sicily, in the maintenance of that kingdom and during increasingly grandiose campaigns in the eastern Mediterranean. [read full review]
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The Teutonic Knights - A Military History, William Urban. Traces the Teutonic Knights from their origins in the Holy Land, through a brief period in Transylvanian and on to the area they are most famously associated with, Prussia and Livonia, where they fought against Pagans, Orthodox Russians, Tatars and eventually Catholic Poles and Lithuanians. [read full review]
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Ancient Warfare Magazine: Volume III Issue 2: Alexander's Funeral Games Medieval Warfare Vol II, Issue 2: The Thirteen Years War: The end of the Teutonic Order. This issue focuses on one of the less well known orders of crusading knights and the war that effectively destroyed their state on the shores of the Baltic. Also covers a major chronicler of Eastern Europe, the Church's attempt to ban the crossbow, the fighting skills of mounted troops and the battle of Worringen. [read full review]
Ancient Warfare Magazine: Volume III Issue 2: Alexander's Funeral Games Medieval Warfare Vol II Issue 1: Creating a Viking Empire: The Campaigns of Cnut the Great.. Focuses on the career of Cnut the Great, one of the great conquerors of the Medieval World and a man who created an empire all around the North Sea. Also looks at Hunedoara Castle, the late medieval armour industry and the Battle of Tewkesbury. [read full review]
Cross and Crescent in the Balkans - the Ottoman Conquest of Southeastern Europe, David Nicolle. Partly chronological and partly thematic, this book looks at the Ottoman conquest and retention of the Balkans, overcoming the remnants of Byzantium, a number of powerful Balkan states, before  recovering from the devastation caused by Tamerlane. Looks at Ottoman culture, architecture, urban and rural life as well as the military campaigns that established an empire that lasted into the Twentieth Century. [read full review]
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War for the Throne: The battle of Shrewsbury 1403, John Barratt War for the Throne: The battle of Shrewsbury 1403, John Barratt. A military history of the turbulent early years of the reign of Henry IV, including his seizure of the throne, early conflicts with Scotland, the Glyn Dwr revolt in Wales and the rebellions by Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland, and his son Hotspur, with a special focus on the battle of Shrewsbury [read full review]
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The Medieval Soldier, Vesey Norman. A solid but now somewhat dated look at the fighting men of Medieval Europe, from the early Lombards and Franks to the Crusaders. Well researched at the time, and written by a respected expert on medieval arms and armour, this is now best seen as a starting point for further reading, especially in the sections on chivalry, a subject on which views have changed significantly over the last forty years [read full review]
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Galloglass 1250-1600: Gaelic Mercenary Warrior, Fergus Cannan. An account of the life, equipment and battlefield experience of these mercenaries of Scottish descent who fought in Ireland between the mid 13th and early 17th centuries, taking part in battles between Irish lords and fighting both for and against the English. [read full review]
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A History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages:.378-1278 , Sir Charles Oman, a great two volume history of war covering over a millenium. While his conclusions may have been challenged, the level of detail in these two volumes is invaluable.
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A History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages: 1278-1485 , the second volume of Sir Charles Oman's great work on medieval warfare.
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English Longbowman 1330-1515 , Clive Bartlett A very detailed book covering a long period of history. Contains information on all aspects of the bowman including weapons, training , equipment and pay. Good colour plates fill the centre pages and good black and white photographs and illustrations are contained throughout the book.
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Castles

Bradbury, Jim, The Medieval Siege , Boydell Press, 2002, 378 pages. A much needed survey of the most important form of warfare in the middle ages, a period that saw far more sieges than battles.
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