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    Medieval is a period that I don’t know much about.

    If anyone has suggestions for some introductory books on this (long) period, I’d love to add them to my Amazon wishlist.


    Not Connard Sage

    It’s not only long, it’s wide. Geographically that is.

    It’s old, and rather outdated, but I’d start with Oman’s ‘A History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages’ in two volumes, because it’s a darn good read. The last reprint was Greenhill Books’ edition about 25 years ago.


    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."


    Years ago there was a book put out by Terrence Wise ‘Medieval Warfare’. Not a scholarly treatment but fairly wide ranging and, IIRC a decent introduction. Furthermore, the appendices included a set of war gaming rules. Perhaps a bit dated by now, though. I also remember being sorely disappointed in the Osprey ‘German Medieval Armies’. Just sayin… nice pictures, though.

    Self taught, persistently behind the times, never up to date. AKA ~ jeff
    More verbosity: http://petiteguerre.blogspot.com/

    Tony Hughes

    Oman is rather dated now, many concepts about warfare in the period that have been superseded by modern research BUT I’d agree it is a good read. You might be able to pick it up cheap and second hand copies do come up.

    To be honest it is almost impossible to come up with any decent work that covers more than a part of the period any better than Oman. I enjoyed the Oxford histories but they are quite deep and not all that focussed on the military side – and are even more out of date than Oman.

    Another quite general (date-wise) work but geographically limited is A H Burne’s Battlefields of England. Runs from Badon to Flodden & beyond and often seen in cheap bookshops.

    For the ‘Baron’s Wars’ I liked Jim Bradbury’s book ‘Stephen & Matilda ….’. Not deep but quite evocative of the period with adequate detail on military matters. His works are often well written so a pleasure to read.

    Contamine’s ‘War in the Middle Ages’ is a scholarly (and rather dry) work that I found fascinating. Mostly about how war was waged from pre-Feudal times through to 1500. Not a lot of stirring battle scenes though but you do get comparative statistics and costs !!! I liked it but it isn’t for everyone.

    Some of the more recent Ospreys on specific battles are OK but avoid the general ones, particularly the older ones, they are often dire.



    Guy Farrish

    Oman- yes but if you read it first you’ll spend the rest of your life mentally correcting and updating your memory as you read newer and frankly better researched stuff.      I’d definitely read it though if only for the sweep of the thing and insight it gives you into the Eurocentric (not to say British!) bias of the period it was written in.

    Definitely Contamine (I still think of him as up to the minute – but he isn’t of course).

    Helen Nicholson ‘Medieval Warfare: Theory and Practice of War in Europe, 300-1500’ for a comprehensive modern position (although actually it was written 14 years ago)

    If you want to take a step back in historiography to the 1950s the Verbruggen’s ‘The Art of Warfare in Western Europe during the Middle Ages ‘ is good – looks at sources first and is a bit picky/dry. He builds up the art of war from the nuts and bolts (literally in the case of armour!) up through knights footsoldiers etc to putting the lot together as a fighting force.

    ‘Warfare in Medieval Europe c.400-c.1453’ by the Bachrachs is okay – good on social contextualisation but very much slanted to the early Middle Ages (Dark Ages).

    Anne Curry’s stuff is all good – English armies only really – ‘The Soldier Experience in the Fourteenth Century’ is a good collection of authors from digging in soldiers’ records of the period – bit dry.

    Kelly de Vries on ‘technology’ – generally academic – stuff on infantry warfare in the fourteenth century is good and affordable, unlike some of his bigger academic works.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by Guy Farrish.

    For me it would be the great Sir Stephen Runciman. But then the crusades are the beginning and end of my medieval gaming.

    Guy Farrish

    I wondered last night whether I should ramble on and confuse you about the period with my version of the changing nature of interpretation of Medieval warfare. Then I remembered this, which explains it succinctly and shouldn’t confuse as much as I would (albeit it was written 23 years ago).

    Myths of Medieval Warfare

    There has been much continued research into a different approach to medieval military warfare in the intervening years (one of the ‘boring’ things from a wargamers point of view is how much more organised the logisitics were than we used to think. The French in particular had procurement agents buying up weapons, armour and shields around Europe and storing them in caches around France and neighbouring territories. Not something you would associate with Oman’s amateurs). There are obviously lots of war, campaign and battle specific books out there but you will get more out of them generally if you read someone like Verbruggen first. Hope you enjoy the period.




    • This reply was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by Guy Farrish.

    Thanks for all of these.

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