War in the Middle Ages New ed Edition

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0631144694
ISBN-10: 0631144692
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is, quite simply, the best book on medieval European warfare available in any language ... War in the Middle Ages is not only required reading for all medieval or military historians; it is also enjoyable, clear and crisp ... it must rank as the best buy among history books." History Today

"The best survey of the period in French or English. This is military history at its finest, relating its subject to society at large. There is much to glean on society and organization for war in a crucial thousand years of European history." International History Review

"Philippe Contamine's indispensable survey ... [is] now available in a welcome and clear English translation by Michael Jones... What should be emphasized is how useful it is to have so much information between one pair of covers, and that this information is provided by a careful historian who has here produced both a work of reference and a stimulus to further research." London Review of Books

From the Back Cover

Covering the ten centuries following the fall of Rome, War in the Middle Ages engages all aspects of its subject, including the military customs and conditions of the various Western European states; armor and weaponry recruitment; and rules of combat developed to limit bloodshed.

Philippe Contamine writes with an awareness that, in both theory and fact, medieval warfare was constantly evolving. He opens with a chapter on Roman military disintegration and the practice of warfare in the barbarian kingdoms erected on the empire's ruins. He then shows how feudalization multiplied conflicts, and describes the resulting growth of the "great stone civilization" of the castle. In the area of military method, he emphasizes three innovations: gunpowder, standing armies and the increased use of infantry, supplying in each case a wealth of data and documentation.

Contamine traces the rise of a new literature of strategy and changes in the concept of courage which he puts in the context of actual risk. He points out that the chivalric ideals of the later Middle Ages operated within narrow limits, outside which aristocrats and commoners freely slaughtered each other. Contamine also analyzes the theories of just and unjust war that developed at this time, and illustrates a phenomenon more typical of the period; the religious glorification of the warrior.

Ever mindful of the chaos and devastation that war brings, War in the Middle Ages nonetheless offers a clear and consistent picture of the military ethos of a millennium.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; New ed edition (January 8, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631144692
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631144694
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #459,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 6, 2004
I've read both the French and English editions of this book. The style is difficult, but the scholarship is excellent. The two previous comments do not give enough credit for the depth of the work. Yes, it is not an introduction. But the book definitely adds to the knowledge of those who have already studied the subject.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Davis on April 2, 2013
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I am a bit of a history buff particularly where the middle ages and the renaissance are concerned and this book was fantastic. Tremendous depth and insight into the feudal structures and legal systems around warfare in the middle ages. It also gave me some real insights into how the nobility owed their position to their military obligations and how the rise of currency-based economies eventually led to their obsolescence in society. It may not have been an easy read, but I found it engrossing.
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12 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 23, 2004
This book contains a wealth of information about warfare and weapons in the Middle Ages, but it reads like it was written for an academic audience. Therefore, I believe that non-specialists (like myself) will find the material dry and filled with far too many details of little interest, even for those who are genuinely interested in learning more about the way that warfare was conducted in the Middle Ages.
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10 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 9, 2003
While the author surely knows his material, the presentation is dry, tedious and completely uninspired. It is not a book for beginners either--readers need quite a background before even going into this book.
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