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10 thoughts on “Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages: The English Experience

  1. says:

    Armies and Warfare of the Middle Ages The English Experience by Michael PrestwichPrestwich s history opens with the observation that it is not easy to recapture the reality of the medieval war E A Greening Lamborn said something similar in Medieval England, when he wrote that They cannot come to us, and our imagination can but feebly penetrate to them Prestwich s book begins with an overview of the nature of medieval warfare That was very handy for a fledgling fantasy writer like myself I Armies and Warfare of the Middle Ages The English Experience by Michael PrestwichPrestwich s history opens with the observation that it is not easy to recapture the reality of the medieval war E A Greening Lamborn said something similar in Medieval England, when he wrote that They cannot come to us, and our imagination can but feebly penetrate to them Prestwich s book begins with an overview of the nature of medieval warfare That was very handy for a fledgling fantasy writer like myself It was a desire to ensure that my battle scenes were credible and accurate that had led me to buy his book in the first place He then moves on to examine of each facet of medieval warfare in greater depth with chapters on military obligation, infantry, chivalry, siege warfare, battle and the navy He also addresses command, mercenaries, the logistics of war, and strategy and intelligence The concluding essay considers the extent to which a military revolution took place in warfare during the medieval period.I found the topic of strategy and intelligence fascinating Prestwich says that historians have often been reluctant to accept that medieval commanders had any strategic grasp The author then goes on to debunk this fallacy and establish beyond doubt that they did, saying that there is no doubt that the value of proper intelligence was fully appreciated, and that every effort was made to find out all that could be discovered.Prestwich discusses spies, reconnaissance and the use of agents who were paid for their intelligence For example, intelligence was so important in the medieval world that the military planning for Edward III s expedition to France in 1369 was in a state of constant flux as fresh intel arrived about the French plans.Mercenaries were used extensively throughout the medieval period and Prestwich examines the reasons for this Civil wars were particularly likely to lead to their use on the battlefield to help stiffen the resolve of those being asked to fight their own Unpopular kings like John found it easier to pay foreigners to fight for them than to motivate and enthuse his own subjects to fight The efficiency with which mercenaries were employed varied depending on the canniness and sagacity of the king choosing them, with Henry II doing a much better job of using mercenaries effectively than John.An army marches on its stomach and the chapter on the supply chain was fascinating, with a thorough treatment of the difficulties of keeping greedy merchants in check and a foray into how armies lived off the land The details of poor victualing were pretty vivid but they certainly brought to life what the soldiers endured After this chapter, with its emphasis on the everyday lives of fighting men, I had no hesitation in concluding that Prestwich had masterfully overcome his initial concerns about recapturing the reality of medieval war.Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages The English Experience is available from Yale University Press.Enjoy


  2. says:

    Academic style history of English warfare, including analysis of payroll records and similar approaches to understand what was going on Relatively little narrative history but quite readable Memorable to me mainly for the argument that English longbowmen often had mounts though they fought on foot of course.


  3. says:

    In recent years, the discipline of military history has moved away from the study of battles and campaigns and has concentratedon the role of the military in society, and just how those societies organized themselves for war Michael Prestwich s fine book is an example of this approach a thorough survey of how English armies were organized, supplied, led and how they fought in the 13th, 14th and beginning of the 15th centuries up to the campaigns and battles of Henry V The chapters ar In recent years, the discipline of military history has moved away from the study of battles and campaigns and has concentratedon the role of the military in society, and just how those societies organized themselves for war Michael Prestwich s fine book is an example of this approach a thorough survey of how English armies were organized, supplied, led and how they fought in the 13th, 14th and beginning of the 15th centuries up to the campaigns and battles of Henry V The chapters are thematic, covering different types of soldiers, castles and siege warfare, chivalry, naval warfare, strategy, intelligence and other topics While not exactly a ripping great read, Prestwich does display occasional flashes of dry wit, and the book is thoughtfully endowed with various period illustrations, maps and charts If you ve a hankering to understand the nuts and bolts of Medieval warfare, or to know what it was like for the English soldier when he invaded Scotland or fought at Crecy, this is a good place to start


  4. says:

    This is as good an introduction to medieval warfare as I have found Oman, Contamine and the others are good for strategy and tactics and a bit on logistics, but Prestwich pays good attention to all areas of the military, from the details of combat to how soldiers got paid It s only weakness is that it is specifically on medieval England, but much of what you will read here is readily transferrable to other countries This will be the one I recommend to any of my students.


  5. says:

    I learned that it i m lucky to have been born now instead of during the medieval ages The author paints a picture not of glory and cavalry charges, but of armies huddling in the mud, starving, unable to actually engage their enemy in battle because the enemy was avoiding the army at all costs Read this if you want to feel good about having indoor plumbing and electrically lit light sources.


  6. says:

    I didn t actually finish this book not because it is not well written, but because it s no longer an area of history that I am interested in and life is too short to read books that you are not entirely enthusiastic about


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Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages: The English Experience summary pdf Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages: The English Experience, summary chapter 2 Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages: The English Experience, sparknotes Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages: The English Experience, Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages: The English Experience 2f9c675 Medieval Warfare Was Hard, Gruelling And Often Unrewarding While Military Life In This Era Is Sometimes Pictured In Terms Of Knights Resplendent In Armour And Bearing Colourful Standards And Coats Of Arms, The Reality Often Consisted Of Men Struggling Against Cold, Damp And Hunger, Pressing Elusive Foes Who Refused To Do Battle In This Fascinating Book, Michael Prestwich Re Creates The Real Experience Of Medieval Warfare, Examining How Men Of All Ranks Of Society Were Recruited, How Troops Were Fed, Supplied, And Deployed, The Development Of New Weapons, And The Structures Of Military Command Michael Prestwich Challenges Many Common Assumptions About Medieval Warfare He Shows That Medieval Commanders Were Capable Of Far Sophisticated Strategy Than Is Usually Assumed Spies Were An Important Part Of The Machinery Of War, And The Destruction Of Crops And Burning Of Villages Were Part Of A Deliberate Plan To Force A Foe To Negotiate, Rather Than An Indication Of Lack Of Discipline Sieges, Often Lengthy And Expensive, Were Prevalent Than Physical Battles And In Actual Engagement The Mounted Knight Was Never As Dominant As Is Often Supposed Even In The Twelfth Century, Many Battles Were Won By Unmounted Men Medieval Warfare Was Not, On The Whole, Any Chivalric Than Warfare Of Other Periods, Although There Were Many Instances Of Individual Heroism, Particularly During The Hundred Years War, That Brought Glory And Renown To Those Who Performed Them.

  • Paperback
  • 352 pages
  • Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages: The English Experience
  • Michael Prestwich
  • English
  • 13 November 2019
  • 0300076630

About the Author: Michael Prestwich

Michael Charles Prestwich OBE born 30 January 1943 is an English historian, specialising on the history of medieval England, in particular the reign of Edward I He is retired, having been Professor of History at Durham University, and Head of the Department of History until 2007.