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Thread: Medieval Warfare Source Book

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Macungie, Pennsylvania

    Medieval Warfare Source Book

    Medieval Warfare Source Book, vol. 1: Warfare in Western Christendom
    David Nicolle

    Brockhampton Press, 1999 (original edition, 1995)
    ISBN 1860198899

    Medieval Warfare Source Book, vol. 2: Christian Europe and its Neighbors
    David Nicolle

    Arms and Armour Press, 1996
    ISBN 185409307x

    This is a two-volume set - I got the books at different times so I have mismatched editions, but aside from looking funny on the shelf there's nothing wrong with that. Anyway, I find Nicolle to be an excellent researcher when it comes to military matters. His references are always clearly cited, and he provides plenty of illustrations to augment the text. The first volume deals mainly with Western Europe, basically what's traditionally considered medieval European warfare, and the second book focuses on European-style warfare in foreign lands - namely, the Crusades. It does a great job of linking both Western and Eastern fighting traditions and shows how they interacted with each other. A good all-round resource for the Medievalist.
    Praemonitus, praemunitus.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Ljubljana, Slovenia
    I do agree that the Medieval Warfare Source Book is a valuable compilation of decades of serious research. Nonetheless, it has several flaws that detract from its overall value. I would actually expect better citations. The text is often quite condensed, understandably so when considering the width of the topic. Still, Nicolle frequently throws in data without proper reference or primary sources. Secondly, his scholarship seems somewhat biased against Western Europe. He seems to treat Western European warfare with certain contempt, especially in comparison to Byzantium. This bias is especially apparent during the discussion of military technology, which in his opinion the Western Europeans largely copied from the Byzantines though there is in many cases solid evidence to the contrary.

    Having only read the first 1995 edition I am not sure whether any of those problems were addressed in the later ones. However, it should be respectfully pointed out that as much as Nicolle's work strives very hard to give a good broad picture of medieval warfare, his interpretation cannot be entirely trusted.


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