Medieval Warefare, Military History from Primary Sources

B1840

Illustrated in monochrone by drawings of tools and weapons of the period, the book paints a vivid picture that took body armour and weapons to their pre-firearm heights. The picture most familiar for the period is the Moate and Baillie castle with its massive curtain walls, towers, gatehouse and keep, usually surrounded by a water-filled ditch or located on an island in a lake. The reality for much of the period was different. The wooden fort and the peel were more common. The Normans arrived in English shores with prefabricated wooden forts, but then began to build castles in stone as centres of administration, prisons and refuges form passing armed bands.

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NAME: Medieval Warefare, Military History from Primary Sources
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
FILE: R1840
DATE: 240613
AUTHOR: Editor Bob Carruthers, Source James Grant
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 224
PRICE: £12.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Weapons, edged weapons, blunt-force weapons, axes, swords, daggers, long bows, cross bows, guns, trebuchet, ballister, siege weapons, undermining, castles, moate & baillie, curtain walls, towers, gatehouses, moat, dry moat, chain mail, scale armour, plate armour, great helm, bassinet
ISBN: 1-78159-224-1
IMAGE: B1840.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/lefdygw
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: The source of this book is James Grant, a Victorian author and historian who was a distant relation of Sir Walter Scott, and a prolific author, responsible for some 90 books. This new primary source book draws together from Grant’s writings a series of studies from the Battle of Hastings, in 1066, to the Wars of the Roses Battle of Barnet in 1471. This covers what is generally regarded as the Medieval Period between the late Saxon period, the new enlightenment and the Tudor period of English history.

Illustrated in monochrone by drawings of tools and weapons of the period, the book paints a vivid picture that took body armour and weapons to their pre-firearm heights. The picture most familiar for the period is the Moate and Baillie castle with its massive curtain walls, towers, gatehouse and keep, usually surrounded by a water-filled ditch or located on an island in a lake. The reality for much of the period was different. The wooden fort and the peel were more common. The Normans arrived in English shores with prefabricated wooden forts, but then began to build castles in stone as centres of administration, prisons and refuges from passing armed bands.

Many of the weapons in use dated back thousands of years. Swords were frequently old blades with a new guard, hilt and pommel. Axes were distinctly Viking hooked blades that also appeared in several societies at an even earlier time. The shield and spear date back into antiquity. Body armour is similarly ancient in chain mail, scale and plate armour. Even the mighty siege engines date back to Roman times and into the ages before.

What the Medieval period achieved was refinement of weapons, new combinations and new tactics. The castle evolved through the period into the massive fortifications, employing defence in depth and serving as a method of attrition. Each layer of defences could be abandoned during a fight, ending with the final defence from the keep, with its dungeons holding prisoners who would be killed before the keep fell. At each stage, the enemy was worn down, giving the defenders an advantage in the final stages where they defended relatively short walls against an enemy who had been worn down by the outer defences. The most vulnerable point was the main gate and this was strongly fortified with facilities to pour hot or flaming fluid down onto the attackers, in addition to the stocks of spears, arrows, bolts and rocks that could be aimed down onto their heads.

Siege engines were employed to attack walls in the hope of forcing a breach, or to rain down stones, fireballs, and even plague infected corpses on the areas inside the castle or town walls. Similar engines were mounted on castle walls to return the compliment. Towards the end of the period, the first guns were being deployed to increasing effect and accuracy. To assist or replace these siege weapons, miners were also employed to undermine fortifications in a manner employed by ancient Rome.

It is debatable how far this book can be considered a primary source because it was written so long after the events it refers to and the technology then employed. It is certainly a well-researched study of medieval warfare and the weapons employed. By collecting together material written by Grant into a sequential study from 1066 to 1471, the publishers have produced an intelligently edited collation of the works. That results in a book that can be considered a thorough introduction to the subject that can be relied on, making it a primary source.

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