Art of War in the Middle Ages: A.D. 378-1515 / Edition 1

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This history of medieval warfare, originally written in 1885 when its author—later one of the great medievalists—was still an undergraduate at Oxford, remains for students and general readers one of the best accounts of military art in the Middle Ages between Adrianople in 378 A.D. (the most fearful defeat suffered by a Roman army since Cannae in 216 B.C.) and Marignano (1515 A.D.), the last of the triumphs of the medieval horseman. It was extensively revised and edited by John H. Beeler in 1953 to incorporate many new facts uncovered since the late nineteenth century.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"It deals with the period of 379–1515 A.D., a period in military history which saw the domination of the heavy cavalry, and does so in a fast-paced prose which makes the book every bit as exciting as an adventure novel."—Brooklyn Daily

"Oman traces here with great skill the broad lines of European military history from the Late Roman Empire to the Renaissance . . . . An authoritative and highly readable study."—Virginia Quarterly Review

"Rare and readable . . . brilliant history, ingeniously researched and cleanly written."—New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801490620
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1960
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 194
  • Product dimensions: 5.02 (w) x 7.56 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Table of Contents

FOREWORD, by Edward W. Fox
PREFACE, by John H. Beeler


The Transition from Roman to Mediaeval Forms in War (A.D. 378–582)
Disappearance of the legion—Constantine's reorganization—The German tribes—Battle of Adrianople—Theodosius accepts its teaching—Vegetius and the army at the end of the fourth century—The Goths and the Huns—Army of the Eastern Empire—Cavalry all-important.

The Early Middle Ages (A.D. 476—1066–1081)
Paucity of data for the period—The Franks in the sixth century—Battle of Tours—Armies of Charles the Great—The Franks become horsemen—The Northman and the Magyar—Rise of feudalism—The Anglo-Saxons and their wars—The Danes and the fyrd—Military importance of the thegnhood—The Housecarls—Battle of Hastings—Battle of Durazzo.

The Byzantines and Their Enemies (A.D. 582–1071)

Character of Byzantine Strategy
Excellence of the Byzantine army—Scientific study of the art of war—Leo's Tactica—Wars with the Frank—With the Turk—With the Slav—With the Saracen—Border warfare of Christendom and Islam—Defense of the Anatolic themes—Cavalry as a defensive force—Professional and unchivalrous character of Byzantine officers.

Arms, Organization, and Tactics of the Byzantine Armies
Reorganization of the army of the eastern empire by Maurice—Its composition—Armament of the horseman, A.D. 600–1000—Armament of the infantry—Military train and engineers—The officers—Cavalry tactics—Leo's ideal line of battle—Military machines and their importance.

The Supremacy of Feudal Cavalry (A.D. 1066–1346)
Unscientific nature of feudal warfare—Consequences of headlong charges—Tactical arrangements—Their primitive nature—Nonexistence of strategy—Weakness of infantry—Attempts to introduce discipline—Rise of mercenaries—Supreme importance of fortified places—Ascendancy of the defensive—The mediaeval siege—Improvement of the arts of attack and defense of fortified places—General character of campaigns—The Crusades.

The Swiss (A.D. 1315–1515)

Character, Arms, and Organization
The Swiss and the ancient Romans—Excellence of system more important than excellence of generals—The column of pikemen —The halberdier—Rapidity of the movements of the Swiss—Defensive armor—Character of Swiss armies.

Tactics and Strategy
The captains of the Confederates—The echelon of three columns—The wedge and the hedgehog formations.

Development of Swiss Military Supremacy
Battle of Morgarten—Battle of Laupen—Battle of Sempach—BattIe of Arbedo—Moral ascendancy of the Swiss—Battle of Grandson—Battle of Morat—Wars of the last years of the fifteenth century.

Causes of the Decline of Swiss Ascendancy
The tactics of the Swiss become stereotyped—The Landsknechte and their rivalry with the Swiss—The Spanish infantry and the short sword—Battle of Ravenna—Fortified positions—Battle of La Bicocca—Increased use of artillery—Battle of Marignano—Decay of discipline in the Swiss armies and its consequences.

The English and Their Enemies (A.D. 1272–1485)
The longbow and its origin, Welsh rather than Norman—Its rivalry with the crossbow—Edward I and the battle of Falkirk—The bow and the pike—Battle of Bannockburn and its lessons—The French knighthood and the English archery—Battle of Crécy—Battle of Poitiers—Du Guesclin and the English reverses—Battle of Agincourt—The French wars, 1415–1453—Battle of Formigny—Wars of the Roses—King Edward IV and his generalship—Barnet and Tewkesbury—Towton.

Ziska and the Hussites—The wagon fortress and the tactics depending on it—Ascendancy and decline of the Hussites—Battle of Lipan—The Ottomans—Organization and equipment of the Janizaries—The timariot cavalry—The other nations of Europe—Concluding remarks.



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