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Review for King Stephen and the Anarchy

Author/Director : Chris Peers

Format : Book

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.

Published by : Pen & Sword Military, 2018
ISBN : 978 147386 367 5

Review last updated : 2020-01-04 12:19:27

See also : other "Early Medieval" reviews