Read Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades, 1000 1300 by John France Online


This authoritative and concise work surveys the range of warfare in the high Middle Ages while reflecting on the society that produced these military struggles. The book brings together for the first time a wealth of information on such topics as knighthood, military organization, weaponry and fortifications, and warfare in the East. In 1095 with the launching of the FirstThis authoritative and concise work surveys the range of warfare in the high Middle Ages while reflecting on the society that produced these military struggles. The book brings together for the first time a wealth of information on such topics as knighthood, military organization, weaponry and fortifications, and warfare in the East. In 1095 with the launching of the First Crusade, Europeans established a great military endeavour to save the Holy Land, an undertaking that remained a central preoccupation until the end of the thirteenth century. While the expeditions that went forth to fight the Muslims involved armies of exceptional size, much of the warfare within western Europe itself was conducted by small armies on behalf of landowners who were often neighbours and kin. In his approach to his subject, John France considers political, social, and economic development in the age of the crusades. He emphasizes the significance of four factors in shaping medieval warfare: the dominance of land as a form of wealth, the limited competence of government, the state of technology that favoured defence over attack, and the geography and climate of western Europe. His coverage of the castle and the knight in armour depicts the role of landowners in producing these characteristic medieval instruments of war. In addition, France provides an extensive analysis of battles in which he reconstructs a series of encounters in superb detail....

Title : Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades, 1000 1300
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780801486074
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 344 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades, 1000 1300 Reviews

  • Conor
    2019-02-11 14:20

    Really thorough and interesting analysis of how warfare worked in the high middle ages. Due to my interest in history I had a moderate amount of information on the topic going in but even a basic amount of knowledge would be enough to quickly get into this one. I'd strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in military or medieval history and also to fans of fantasy as the settings in that genre are often based on this time period.

  • elvedril
    2019-02-05 09:19

    A good treatment of medieval armies offering a lot of information and good analysis. It supports ideas by examples well, though the examples are difficult to follow unless the reader has a very good grasp of the historical situation being described since the author does not give much background. As such it often ends up sounding very technical.

  • Suzannah
    2019-02-11 15:33

    Wow. This book was so helpful. A little dry, especially if you weren't familiar with the time period already, but endlessly fascinating if you are.Obviously, this was part of my OUTREMER research, and it solidified a hunch I've had for a while, which is that if you are writing any kind of fiction involving battles, you really need to read something on military history and how warfare was waged in the time period you are using as an inspiration. Two things that struck me reading this book:Decentralisation: the author blames the decentralisation of political power among a host of princes and barons for the constant petty war waged in the Middle Ages. His solution, it seems, is a strong centralised government that would have a monopoly on the waging of war and the building of fortifications. However, there are plenty of other time periods in which government was radically decentralised, and yet a state of constant war did *not* obtain. And as France acknowledges, the reason for this is that in the Middle Ages, war was the province of the same class that waged it for their personal benefit, in a society where control of land was the major source of power. Before the invention of firearms, {which are a) equally effective whether wielded by Hercules or by a weakling; b) able to be used with much less training; and c) nowhere near as expensive as full knightly panoply - even today a firearm is cheaper than even just a horse, let alone three plus attendants and arms} peasants simply couldn't compete on the same level as fully equipped knights, and it was easy for the knightly class to raid, plunder, and otherwise bully the local commoners.In other words, there was a sharp divide between trained fighters and the rest of the population, which made it possible for the armed class to wage war over the heads of the commoners without fear of revolt or reprisal.However, take away that gulf, by arming the commoners or disarming the nobles; make the commoner as effective a fighter as the noble, and suddenly the power to wage war or enforce peace is no longer in the hands of a specific class. Result: a small class of nobles can no longer terrorise the countryside at whim. For example, in medieval Venice, there was no great divide between the nobility and the commoners in terms of wealth, plus trade was the major source of wealth and power, not land. This helped keep Venetian politics fairly peaceful.A second fascination: Mercenaries. I'm not a fan of the concept of the professional state-controlled standing army, and I've always had a hunch that mercenaries and private forces could be a reasonable alternative. I've never understood the bad rap that mercenaries get as a class. I mean, they're like lawyers, only as good as the cause they're hired to represent, but that doesn't mean we should trade in our adversarial justice system for an inquisitorial one.I was fascinated by what this book had to say about mercenaries. First, mercenaries were an answer to the problem of badly-trained local militias. Sure, it was always good for lords to be able to call upon vassals with knightly training and able-bodied peasants to defend their own lands, and Alfred made militias work particularly well against the Danes (France identifies spirit and courage as one of the deciding factors of most medieval battles, and Alfred's militias were fighting for their homes). But like anything else, war is something that you can get better at if you practice it regularly. Bodies that fought regularly together (such as the seasoned warriors in the Crusader States, or the First Crusade itself after its grueling experience on the road) became formidable in battle, but mercenary troops could become an excellent and convenient way for kings or city-states to incorporate some seasoned veterans into their ad-hoc armies. Second, these mercenary troops were often sourced from among the peasantry. I presume that a man might gain some experience in some local war, and then either find himself good at the job or simply in need of the money, and in that case he could hire himself out as a mercenary. It was then one of the few ways a commoner could become a professional soldier, and occasionally it could result in a brilliant career ending in the nobility. This social mobility was the main reason why mercenaries were so hated at the time (and not, contrary to what you might think, that they waged war more brutally than the blue-blooded).

  • Brian
    2019-02-08 08:21

    Here's what I appreciated about the book - France is very systematic, and does an excellent job showing how the economic and social aspects impacted military equipment, training and conduct from 1000 to 1300. He is very careful to point to what we know, what we think we know, and what is unknown from this period. The best parts of the book are the beginning and ending of chapters where he has nice analysis. In between often ends up being laundry lists of information, e.g., in this battle crossbowmen were used this way. In this other battle, another way, etc. Worth a read for the ties between the economic, the social and the military during this period, which also helps to explain the conduct of war and the decisions that were made in this period.

  • Tyler
    2019-02-01 11:38

    An incredibly well researched and detailed work. I'm glad I got the book. Two things potential readers should know going into this. The main theatre that the author concentrates on is the European and not the middle eastern, save for the end. I was expecting most of the book to focus on the latter, based on its title. Also the author expects the reader to have knowledge of the key players of the time. This is not for beginners. I'm pretty well read, but I admit I got lost slightly when he kept mentioning Simon de Monfort. Only to realize that he was referring not only the French crusader that acheived prominence in the fourth and Albigensian crusades but his (arguably) more famous son that faced off against Henry III of England as well. He kept bouncing between the two with very little warning. So be sure to pay attention to the dates. He also does this with Raymond of Toulouse, of which there are three in this particular time frame.But the good outweigh the bad. Each chapter deals with a certain aspect. Castles, Armies, Commanders etc. The author covers the technical aspects of weapons, armor and seige equipment and their haphazard evolvement. A lot of this I did not know and it answered a lot of my questions. But where John France really comes through is that he stresses the mentality and the ideology of warfare during that time. There were social, economic and political motivations for war. As well as those same aspects during war. He uses the Battle of Bouvines as why commanders and cohesion could turn the tide of a battle. He even manages to defend Guy de Lusignan. Using him as an example of an excellent defensive commander before Hattin.A great book that is chock full of info for students and armchair historians like myself. A good intro for this particular field of study, save for the reservations mentioned.

  • Ryan
    2019-02-09 10:36

    Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades, 1000-1300John FranceRead it in a black bound Hardcover at 327 pages with index, bibliography, and notes.While I don't know anything about the author, he seems credible with several well received works in the field. The used bookstore I got this from didn't have the dust jacket and there is no author information within the text itself, his profile on Goodreads isn't filled out and he hasn't made enough of a contribution for anyone to write a Wikki article on him, so all I have is his words.In this simple and short volume Mr. France aims to outline and detail, with plenty of examples from around Europe and the East, the outline of how war was fought, what role fortifications had and the men and equipment used to topple them. The sections are detailed out logically and Mr. France avoids redundancy spectacularly well. Something that's easy to do when you have a 300 year history of warfare that changes very slowly and adopts tactics and ideas as it applies to the situation. France is very keen to only give you examples that apply to the invention or tactic being used and does a good job of summing things up as it applies politically for the example. This is not intended to be a historic text of places, people, etc. This is a demonstration of tactics, weapons, functions, levers/systems, and authority.France handles it all adequately.

  • Owen
    2019-01-21 14:10

    Extremely dry, authoritative description of how war was waged by states and people in the era of the Crusades. John France repeats himself quite often, as is the norm with historical academic studies, but manages to cover such a massive breadth of topics and fields that by the end I had a pretty clear idea of how differently war was conducted in feudal societies. There are a lot of assumptions made on his part that the reader is already aware of major historical figures and conflicts from the time, so there is little context given to some of the information presented.

  • Mark Blackham
    2019-01-29 11:14

    This is a great book. John France demonstrates his considerable knowledge of medieval weapons, fortifications, military organization, and the roles of cavalry and infantry. Considering the often complete disarray of armies and the lack of central authority, it is difficult to believe that any battle could have been won. But France shows us that, over time, the Crusading movement resulted in the first fully organized European armies.

  • Ellis Knox
    2019-01-23 07:27

    France has quite a reputation, but I am repeatedly disappointed in him. There are several books about medieval warfare better than this one.