I've just finished reading Medieval Warfare,
by Terence Wise, and published by Hastings House. Since I enjoy reading others' reviews, and have always loved writing book reports, I thought that maybe I should have a go at blogging my book reviews. ;-)
First off, let me say that I read this book mainly for three reasons: 1) because I just happen to adore Medieval life during the Middle Ages, 2) my brother wanted me to, and 3) I enjoy discussing books with other people who have read them. ;-)
Overall, I enjoyed it very much, and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in exploring this aspect of Medieval life. Everything was interesting, with separate chapters involving weapons, castles and fortifications, armour, battle tactics, siege weaponry, and heraldry, just to name a few. There are two appendixes dealing with the hobby of figure painting and war-gaming, which is a very strange pastime involving men playing with teeny tiny model soldiers, acting out various battles. Think Risk
but with army men. ;-) ( Read more )
~ Generally very informative. Lots of information all in one book, and the author certainly knows his stuff.
~ In the chapter on Armour, he just happens to discuss equine armour -- trappings, bardings, chanfrons, yippee!!
~ Chapter on Castles and Fortification discusses and explains the evolution of the castle defense, from it's origin, and the transition from the early square shaped walls, to the later, more efficient circular system.
~ Heraldry, heraldry, heraldry!!! I adore heraldry; can never get enough of it!! It's kind of complicated, so here is a link to explain it to those interested: the SCA's user-friendly heraldry guide ( Read more )
~ Lack of comma usage. I don't know if this stems from Terence Wise's personal dislike of commas, or the fact that this book was published during the late 1970s, but I found it distracting. I suppose it could just be me, coming from reading G.A. Henty, who has a definite fondness for the comma.
~ The chapter on Battle Tactics was dull. Very dull. But of course I'm a girl, so that can be excused. ;-) I am told, by my brother, that he enjoyed it very much, so you may choose your own opinion. :-)
~ I've already mentioned that this book was written in the '70s, and I am sure that is why all the illustrations are in black and white. Some of the period manuscripts and contemporary etchings would have been so much more lovely in color, and the portions illustrating the various colors and tinctures of heraldry was somewhat difficult to understand; the use of various degrees of cross-hatching being employed to denote the separate colors instead.
I have typed up an excerpt that particularly struck me as fascinating, about the English longbow. I liked the logic used in calculating the arrow figures, and the bold passage, was, IMVHO, eloquently written.
(Note: don't read the excerpt if you are squeamish about battles!!) ( Read more )
Excerpt from Tactics,
The longbow had proved so devastating because, until it was superseded by efficient handguns and cannon in the middle of the fifteenth century, it had a greater penetration power than any other weapon and a rapidity of fire which enabled a skilled bowman to fire a dozen unaimed arrows a minute. Advancing uphill across uneven ground and carrying a heavily armoured knight, a horse might cover aoub a hudnred yards in a minute. Therefore the French cavlary must have been in range of the archers for three minutes before closing to mêlée. Every archer could have fired 36 arrows, although as they only had about 48 arrows each they probably fired about 30, the other being reserved for aimed shots at close range -- capable of piercing mail. At Crécy there were 5,500 archers and during the French advances they must have fired at least thirty volleys of 5,500 arrows - 150,000 arrows, perhaps more since they would have retrieved some arrows between charges. These massive volleys must have darkened the sky and the accompanying howl and drone of arrow and bowstrings must have demoralised an army encountering the weapon for the first time.
Certainly the volleys caused havoc amongst the horses and in furture battles occasionally caused even the most experienced warriors to glance fearfully upwards, to receive an arrow in the face, as did Prince Harry, later Henry V, at Shrewsbury.
Well! I think that is enough boredom for one day. ;-) Here
is a link to Amazon.com for the book in question, just for the heck of it.