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Book reviews for - Early Medieval

  • The Knights of Islam. The Wars of the Mamluks 1250-1517

    James Waterson
    A truly fascinating book about a very special group of people. James Waterson makes as clear as possible the complex history of the Middle East from 1250-1517 focusing on the Mamluks. So many influences, not least that of religion, were at work over much of Asia which led to considerable flux and conflict. Who was on the move Mongols, Turkomen, Crusaders? Who was leading them? What internal disputes did every group have at what time? For a significant period the Mamluks were unbeatable even when greatly out numbered how was this possible? Their demise is as interesting as their creation and being. This book answers so many important questions which keep the reader interested from cover to cover.
    The well written text is supported by a set of useful maps, some beautiful illustrations and a strong bibliography.
    This is a remarkable book which we highly recommend.

    Greenhill Books, 2021
  • King Stephen and the Anarchy

    Chris Peers
    Although this book covers the whole period of Stephen’s reign it doesn’t set out to be the full political picture but instead focuses mainly on the military aspects and on Stephen’s half of the struggle. Chris Peers brings alive a fascinating period when chivalry and the church reduced battlefield fighting to a necessary minimum, when defence, in the form of castles, was generally stronger than attack.
    The author gives a very good description of the transitional nature of personal weapons, battlefield tactics, and heavy weapons. There is only a little about the fighting in Normandy which is in keeping with Stephen’s strategic blind spot. The involvement in and effect on the war of both the Welsh and the Scots is given its proper weight. Almost as an aside there is an interesting chapter on the power struggle in the Orkney islands. Although how this impinges on Stephen’s kingship is not drawn out and acts mainly to show a general turbulence of the era. There is also, at the end of the book, a really useful glossary of who was who during the Anarchy
    Chris Peers took on a difficult challenge and succeeded as far as the original sources and some intelligent guess work allows.
    We recommend a good story, well told, which has drawn on a very wide range of the sources available.

    Pen & Sword Military, 2018
  • Stephen and Matilda's Civil War

    Matthew Lewis
    As a summation, an over view, Matthew Lewis’s book captures the essence, the ebb and flow, of the Anarchy. It is cleverly structured, moving chapter to chapter from opponent to opponent. The style of writing is lively and engaging which makes it difficult to put down.
    The book is well researched although original sources are not extensive for the period covered. Lewis makes clear the bias in the accounts which are available and draws out some of their discrepancies. He supports his case by describing the actuality of subsequent positions and actions
    The well supported conclusion is that the Anarchy was not as anarchical as the lingering legacy of Victorian writings would have us believe.
    We highly recommend this book for anyone coming new or looking for a refreshing reappraisal of the Anarchy.

    Pen & Sword History, 2019
  • The Age of Chivalry

    Bryant, Arthur

    Messrs. Wm. Collins Sons & Co.Ltd., 1963
  • Chronicles of the Crusades: Eye-Witness Accounts of the Wars between Christianity and Islam

    Hallam, Elizabeth
    Wonderful insights into how the people who were there thought. Their truths and their propaganda are there in their own words.
    Bramley Books, 1997
  • The Book of the Medieval Knight

    Turnbull, Stephen
    This book contains much more than its title suggests. The story of the period of the Medieval knight is illustrated with drawings and photographs of artefacts, buildings and locations.
    Arms and Armour Press, 1995