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Charlemagne's conquest of the Saxons was the hardest fought and most protracted of his wars; it involved 18 campaigns spread across 33 years, a great deal of lower-level fighting and the harshest final peace settlement that Charlemagne ever imposed upon a defeated foe. Rapidly taking on the character of a religious conquest from its outset, it also became the most important of all Charlemagne's wars for the future direction and character of European history and began the long process of uniting the German-speaking peoples. With extensive photographs, full colour artworks, maps and bird's-eye-views, this volume unravels the initial stages of a convoluted sequence of events that led to the conquest of the Saxons and ultimately Charlemagne's consolidation of Saxony into the greater Carolingian Empire.
Crusader castles and other fortifications in Cyprus, the south-western coast of Turkey, and Greece are among the best examples of late medieval military architecture to be seen in Europe. These important fortifications, erected by the Hospitallers during the 15th century to face the growing Ottoman Turkish threat, vary considerably from those in the Middle East. Despite there being many visible remains of fortifications in Cyprus, Greece, and the Aegean, few studies exist of these areas compared to the fortifications of the Holy Land.Providing numerous architectural plans, maps, and color illustrations, this book seeks to redress this imbalance and complement the previous bestselling treatments of Crusader fortifications in the Fortress series.
By about 1260 the steady rise of the European heavily armoured mounted knight to the predominant role in most pitched battles was complete. But though he dominated the actual day of battle, he did not dominate warfare - there were plenty of vital though unglamorous tasks for which footsoldiers were still necessary, 'cleaning up round the edges'. With the development in the 13th century of co-operative tactics using crossbowmen and heavy spearmen, deployed together to compensate for each others' vulnerabilities, circumstance began to arise in which the charge by Muslim horse-archers, and then by European armoured knights, could be defied.Infantry were far cheaper and easier to train than knights, and potentially there were far more of them. Slowly, tactics emerged by which more numerous and more varied infantry played an increasing part in battles. The best-known examples of this 'democratization of the battlefield' are the English longbowmen who won battles against French knights in the Hundred Years' War, and the massed Swiss spearmen and halberdiers who did the same in wars against the Dukes of Burgundy.Illustrated with specially commissioned full-colour artwork depicting the tactical formations of the era, this book traces these and other examples of this 'jerky' and uneven process through its regional differences, which were invariably entwined with parallel cavalry developments - the balanced army of 'mixed arms' was always the key to success. By the time serious hand-held firearms appeared on battlefields in large numbers in about 1500, the face of medieval warfare had been transformed.
For the overwhelming majority of people outside the French-speaking world the Hundred Years War consisted of a sequence of major English victories, above all Crécy, Poitiers and Agincourt. The only significant victor or 'hero' on the French side was Joan of Arc, and she ended up being burned at the stake. Yet somehow the war ended in a French victory and with England's martial energies being turned against itself in the Wars of the Roses. This book is intended to provide some balance. It will describe the campaign that brought the Hundred Years War to a close, with English possessions being confined to Calais and the Channel Islands. It will also explain how the somewhat unprepossessing and unmartial King Charles VII of France succeeded where his predecessors had failed. The campaign consisted of more than battles, of course, but it was marked by two major victories - at Formigny in 1450 and at Castillon in 1453. Formigny is of special interest because it saw French cavalry defeat English archers, in effect a reversal of Crécy, Poitiers and Agincourt, and could be interpreted as one of the last 'medieval' battles. Castillon is of interest because it was a victory of gunpowder artillery in fixed positions over a traditional medieval assault by mixed infantry and cavalry, and thus could be interpreted as one of the first 'modern' battles.
The famous but largely unchronicled Hanseatic League (or simple "the Hanse/Hansa") was a Tuetonic German commercial and defensive federation of merchant guilds based in harbor towns along the North Sea and Baltic coasts of what are now Germany and her neighbors, which eventually dominated maritime trade in Northern Europe and spread its influence much further afield. The League was formed to protect the economic and political interests of member cities throughout a vast and complex trading network. While most members remained basically subject to the local rulers who profited from their prosperity, in a sense the League might be seen as foreshadowing today's ambiguous relationship between global corporations and political nation states.The League continued to operate well into the 17th century, but its golden age was between c. 1200 and c. 1500; thereafter it failed to take full advantage of the wave of maritime exploration to the west, south and east of Europe. During its 300 years of dominance the League's large ships - called "cogs" - were at the forefront of maritime technology, were early users of cannon, and were manned by strong fighting crews to defend them from pirates in both open-sea and river warfare. The home cities raised their own armies for mutual defence, and their riches both allowed them, and required them, to invest in fortifications and gunpowder weapons, since as very attractive targets they were subjected to sieges at various times.
The Fourth Crusade was the first and most famous of the 'diverted' crusades, that is, ones diverted from their originally intended target. It was also the first to be directed against a fellow Christian, though Orthodox, state. Initially preached (from 1198 onwards) as a campaign against Ayyubid Egypt, which was correctly seen as the most potent threat to the Latin or 'Crusader' Kingdom of Jerusalem, its first Christian target was the city of Zadar in what is now Croatia. The greater part of the crusading army then attacked the Byzantine capital of Constantinople, again as part of their obligations to Venice. The result was a siege and the first capture of that great city in 1203. This title will highlight all the intrigue, deception, and betrayal of this tumultuous Crusade.From the Trade Paperback edition.
In 1373, John of Gaunt set off from Calais on a great raid to strike at the heart of France. Driven by the high ideals of chivalry, the raiders left with epic pageantry. However, the reality soon overwhelmed the raiders. Beset on all sides by French ambushes and plagued by disease and starvation, the raiders battled their way through Champagne, east of Paris, into Burgundy, across the Massif Central and finally down into the Dordogne. Unable to attack any major fortifications, John of Gaunt's men plundered the countryside, raiding towns and villages, weakening the French infrastructure. While the military value of the raid is debatable, the English knights who finally made it home were hailed as heroes. This book charts the course of the raid from beginning to end, studying all the battles and skirmishes the raiders fought along the way in this bloody example of chivalric warfare.
Few, if any, centuries in world history have had such a profound and long-lasting impact as the first hundred years of Islamic history. In this book, David Nicolle, a former member of the BBC's Arabic service, examines the extensive Islamic conquests between 632 and 750 AD. These years saw the religion and culture of Islam, as well as the Arabic language, erupt from the Arabian Peninsula to spread across an area far larger than that of the Roman Empire at its greatest extent. It also saw the abrupt collapse of the Persian Empire, as well as the permanent withdrawal of the Romano-Byzantine Empire and its associated cultures, along with Christianity as a ruling faith, from the Middle East and North Africa. Virtually all the lands "opened" by their armies remain Islamic - and in many cases Arabic-speaking - to this day, in contrast to the often ephemeral achievements of better-known conquerors, such as Alexander the Great and several Roman Caesars, and the effects of this rapid expansion was to shape European affairs for centuries to come.
The dilemma of the young Italian kingdom and the experience of her army in World War I (1914-1918) were unique among the combatant nations. Late to enter the war against the Central Powers, she faced a massively defended Austro-Hungarian front in the north, including strong mountain features, as well as distractions in the Balkans and a simultaneous rebellion in her Libyan colony. Costly and repeated battles on the Isonzo front culminated in the disaster of Caporetto in October 1917, followed by a remarkable revival and eventual victory in 1918. This concise study describes and illustrates the Italian Army's campaigns, organisation, uniforms, weapons and equipment - including the famous 'death companies' and Arditi assault troops.
The Second Italo-Abyssinian War began in October 1935, when Mussolini ordered the invasion of Ethiopia from Italian-held Eritrea and Somaliland, thinking that he would easily crush an ill-prepared and badly equipped enemy. The Italians, in the face of widespread condemnation from the League of Nations, spread terror and destruction through their indiscriminate use of air power and poison gas against an enemy more used to Medieval methods of warfare. David Nicolle examines in detail the units, equipment and uniforms of the forces on both sides of this conflict that unrealistically bolstered Il Duce's colonial ambitions. A great read ably supported by Raffaele Ruggeri's detailed full-page colour plates.
New archaeological material and research underpin this extensive, detailed and beautifully illustrated account of the famous Mamluk Askars.The Mamluk army is credited with finally defeating and expelling the Crusaders from the Middle East, with defeating and halting the Mongol invasion of the Islamic Middle East, and with facing down - though not defeating - Tamerlane. Their state was an essentially military one but was for centuries also the Protector of the Holy Places, which gave it supreme prestige within the later medieval Islamic world.The mamluk troops (askaris) of the Mamluk Sultanate in Egypt and Syria were probably the ultimate professional soldiers of the medieval period. They were supposedly recruited as adolescent slaves, though recent research has begun to undermine this oversimplified interpretation of what has been called the "mamluk phenomenon".The Mamluk Sultanate and its army lasted for a remarkably long time, from the mid-13th to early 16th century, long enough to resist the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean and Red Sea, before finally being defeated and overthrown by the Ottoman Sultanate. Indeed the mamluk phenomenon lasted even longer in Ottoman-ruled Egypt, until the final years of the 18th century. It was so embedded in Egyptian, and to a lesser extent Syrian, society and politics that the modern Egyptian army of the 19th century has, during its first decades, been described as a neo-mamluk force.
On 26 August 1071 a large Byzantine army under Emperor Romanus IV met the Saljuq Turk forces of Sultan Alp Arslan near the town of Manzikert to the far east of the Byzantine Empire. The battle ended in a decisive defeat for the Byzantine forces, with the wings of the army routing following withering Turkish arrow fire, and the centre overwhelmed, with the Byzantine emperor captured and much of his fabled Varangian guard killed. This battle is justifiably regarded as a turning point in Middle Eastern, European and to some extent even world history. It is seen as the primary trigger of the Crusades, and as the moment when the power of the East Roman or Byzantine Empire was irreparably broken. The Saljuq victory opened up Anatolia to Turkish-Islamic conquest, which was eventually followed by the establishment of the Ottoman state which went on the conquer south-eastern and much of central Europe, the entire Middle East and most of North Africa. Nevertheless the battle itself was the culmination of a Christian Byzantine offensive, intended to strengthen the eastern frontiers of the empire and re-establish Byzantine domination over Armenia and northern Mesopotamia. Turkish Saljuq victory was in no sense inevitable and might, in fact, have come as something of a surprise to those who achieved it - at least in proving to be so complete. It was not only the battle of Manzikert that had such profound and far-reaching consequences, many of these stemmed from the debilitating Byzantine civil war which followed and was a direct consequence of the defeat.
The history of Poland is a fascinating study of a people struggling to achieve nationhood in the face of internal and external enemies. Poland became a unified Christian state in AD 966 and by the 12th century a knightly class had emerged - a force that was integral to the defense of Poland against increasingly frequent foreign invasions. Intent on crushing rival Christian states, the Templars, Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights all mounted attacks but were beaten back by the Poles, as were invading Mongols and Turks. This book reveals the organization, equipment and battle histories of the medieval Polish armies as they developed and modernized to emerge as one of the dominant powers of Eastern Europe.
This text explores a range of devices and details the changes in medieval siege warfare brought about by the mixing of traditions from Greece, Rome, Persia, India and China.
During medieval era, the pre-existing military-technological traditions from the ancient worlds were brought together. Three civilizations were primarily responsible for this evolution: the Late-Roman or Byzantine Empire, the Islamic World, and latterly the Mongol 'World Empire'. This book examines the resulting stone-throwing machines from torsion 'energy storage' systems, to manpowered and counterbalance sling devices, rockets and others.
From humble beginnings, in the course of three centuries the Portuguese built the world's first truly global empire, stretching from modern Brazil to sub-Saharan Africa and from India to the East Indies (Indonesia). Portugal had established its present-day borders by 1300 and the following century saw extensive warfare that confirmed Portugal's independence and allowed it to aspire to maritime expansion, sponsored by monarchs such as Prince Henry the Navigator.Intent on finding a sea route to the source of the lucrative spice trade, the Portuguese discovered a route down Africa's western coast, employing the innovative caravel, a vessel that could be sailed closer to the wind than any other in use at the time. In 1488 Bartolomeu Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope and ten years later Vasco da Gama reached India. In 1500 Pedro Álvares Cabral discovered Brazil and the Portuguese began to exploit the fabulous natural wealth of the Americas.Victory over the Mamluks at the Battle of Diu (1509) handed the Portuguese control over the Indian Ocean and allowed them to capture a succession of key ports such as Ceylon, Goa and Malacca. Portuguese sailors continued to explore the coasts and islands of East Asia, and by 1580 a network of outposts linked Lisbon to a vast trading empire that stretched as far as Japan. The period closed with Portugal and its empire passing to Spanish control for 60 years from 1580.During this nearly 300-year period, the Portuguese fought alongside other Iberian forces against the Moors of Andalusia; with English help successfully repelled a Castilian invasion (1385); and fought the Moors in Morocco, Africans, the Ottoman Turks, and the Spanish in colonial competition. The colourful and exotic Portuguese forces that prevailed in these battles on land and sea are the subject of this book.
This Osprey Command book looks closely at the early life, military experiences and key battlefield exploits of Al-Malik al-Nasir Yusuf Ibn Najm al-Din Ayyub Ibn Shahdi Abu'l-Muzaffar Salah al-Din - or Saladin as he is more commonly known outside the Islamic world - who is broadly regarded as the greatest hero of the Crusades, even in Europe. Most chroniclers present him as a man of outstanding virtue, courage and political skill. More recently, however, efforts have been made to portray Saladin as an ambitious, ruthless and even devious politician, and as a less brilliant commander than it normally thought. This book sets out to reveal that the truth is, as usual, somewhere in between.From the Trade Paperback edition.
The Islamic world developed its own highly sophisticated, effective and varied style of fortification. It drew upon pre-existing Romano-Byzantine, Iranian, Central Asian and Indian traditions of military architecture, plus influences from China, to produce something new and distinctive. In turn, Islamic concepts of military architecture influenced fortifications throughout the Byzantine Empire and, to an even greater extent, in Western Europe. One key point of distinction with the latter in particular was that Islamic fortifications were primarily focussed upon defending cities and frontiers, rather than being associated with royal and feudal elites, as was the case in most of Europe. Despite this highly practical role, medieval Islamic military architecture went beyond the merely functional, and the finest surviving examples are imbued with a sense of symbolic magnificence. This title, the first of several proposed volumes in the Fortress series, takes a look at early Islamic fortifications in the central and eastern lands. It covers the historical background, socio-political circumstances, and purposes of early military architecture; the incorporation of several different traditions and the development of a distinctive character; and the fortifications' role in protecting industry, trade and the frontiers of the Islamic world. Subsequent volumes will deal with the 12th to 16th centuries in the center and east, and the western Islamic lands of North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula, respectively.
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