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War in the Middle Ages by Philippe Contamine


War in the Middle Ages by Philippe Contamine

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.


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 Contaminea 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

About the Author

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Book Info

Publication date

10th April 1986


Philippe Contamine

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Blackwell Publishers an imprint of John Wiley and Sons Ltd


408 pages


European history
Early history: c 500 to c 1450/1500
Warfare & defence



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