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Ace Cataphract
HG Alumnus
(id: Ace_Cataphract)
posted 02-26-06 11:12 PM EDT (US)         
This thread is essentially a place where you can talk about historical books you are presently reading or ask for book recommendations. You can recommend ANY (good) history book.

I put a dollar in one of those change machines. Nothing changed. ~George Carlin

[This message has been edited by Kor (edited 07-26-2008 @ 10:23 AM).]

AuthorReplies:
Legio Yow
Ashigaru
posted 10-13-07 12:57 PM EDT (US)     101 / 212       
100:1 is roughly the ration of soldiers (Plus National Guard and reserves) to total population in the US.
I like his stress on the fact that the Roman army was a kind of aspirational model for many states and that 'military progress' (for want of a better term) was progressive - that there was no 'great leap backwards' when Rome fell.
But the Roman army was organized in a manner that was far more effective than anything in the Middle Ages. The idea that heavy cavalry made the Roman infantry obsolete has been disproved thousands of times.

"That which we call a nose can still smell!"
-Reduced Shakespeare Company

"Abroad, French transit workers attempt to end a strike, only to discover that they have forgotten how to operate the trains. Everybody enjoys a hearty laugh and returns to the café." -Dave Barry
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 10-13-07 01:10 PM EDT (US)     102 / 212       
The Roman army was also managed in such a way that, even at its greatest height (say 2nd century AD) it was incapable of coping with full-scale revolts at too many places at once. That was, basically, also what brought it down: pressure at too many places at once. The Germanic tribes fighting the Romans had comparatively tiny armies ranging between 10 000 and 25 000 men. The Burgundians probably had only 5 000 men. The Eastern Roman Empire fared better, of course, but the fact remains that the Western Empire's fall is due in part to a military that couldn't compete.
100:1 is roughly the ration of soldiers (Plus National Guard and reserves) to total population in the US.
The US does not have enemies on her borders, a population that might revolt or an army that consists for over 50% of non-native auxiliaries. The comparison is moot and sounds suspiciously like a pretentious student in my year who asked whether the Delic-Attic Naval League could be compared to NATO.
The idea that heavy cavalry made the Roman infantry obsolete has been disproved thousands of times.
Have fun debating yourself, because no one here said anything of the kind.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.

[This message has been edited by Kor (edited 10-13-2007 @ 01:22 PM).]

MisplacedPope
Ashigaru
(id: misplacedgeneral)
posted 10-13-07 02:46 PM EDT (US)     103 / 212       
The Discourses on Livy is Machiavelli's best. It shows that his genius was not just political, but also involved military theory, and he has perhaps a better grasp on human nature than any other philosopher I have ever read, something that doesn't really come out in The Prince.
I like all his work, but I'd say one of his best if the Florentine History

Quite an impressive thing, even if confusing chronologically at first.


Currently reading The Thirty Years War by Cicely Wedgewood (written in 1938, roughly 500 pages of work) which is quite impressive, so far I'm still in the prelude to war period, but her method of writing is easy to follow, she delves into the characters (without using stereotypical exaggeration and calling them all war/glory/sex mongers, in fact, most come out clean looking) frequently and looks at the state of affairs between the separate states. Also goes into the inner-religious conflicts of each side.

Recently read The Art of Renaissance Warfare which is very much an interested and historically experienced but new to the period book, which fits me rather well. Makes for a good companion to Warfare in the Seventeenth Century which I read a few months back. Wish the author would look more at the armies and soldiers, though.

"It's not true. Some have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. Just no one in this car. But, a lot of people, that's their story. Good times, noodle salad. What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you're that pissed that so many others had it good." Jack Nicholson
Legio Yow
Ashigaru
posted 10-14-07 02:59 PM EDT (US)     104 / 212       
Your answer was a touch, well, hostile, Kor.
The comparison is moot and sounds suspiciously like a pretentious student in my year who asked whether the Delic-Attic Naval League could be compared to NATO.
The Roman Empire doesn't have its soldiers stationed all across the world, either (And a rough comparison can be made between the Delian League and NATO). The comparison is better than you realize.
Have fun debating yourself, because no one here said anything of the kind.
I thought that's what you meant.
The Roman army was also managed in such a way that, even at its greatest height (say 2nd century AD) it was incapable of coping with full-scale revolts at too many places at once.
Many of the Germanic tribes did lead rather massive armies, and Rome was certainly not "falling apart" during its height. It was certainly more stable and powerful than the Medieval kingdoms.

But what I was arguing was that the way individual armies fought, heir equipment, and their organization was far better than anything in the Middle Ages. Which it was.

"That which we call a nose can still smell!"
-Reduced Shakespeare Company

"Abroad, French transit workers attempt to end a strike, only to discover that they have forgotten how to operate the trains. Everybody enjoys a hearty laugh and returns to the café." -Dave Barry
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 10-14-07 03:48 PM EDT (US)     105 / 212       
Your answer was a touch, well, hostile, Kor.
I get annoyed when people try and put words in my mouth and/or do not take the time to read what I'm saying and just fire arguments away.
The Roman Empire doesn't have its soldiers stationed all across the world, either
Comparatively, taking into account the communications of the time, it did.
(And a rough comparison can be made between the Delian League and NATO). The comparison is better than you realize.
The similarities are superficial. Both leagues were meant, theoretically, to guard against an outside threat, but the Delic-Attic league had pretty much a master-slave relationship and was not on equal footing, as NATO was. The few similarities cannot prevent the comparison from being pointless and, as any vague comparison of present and past, a waste of time.
Many of the Germanic tribes did lead rather massive armies
I'm sorry, but the numerical superiority of Germanic armies has been dismissed since the 1920's.

"The Barbarian warriors who brought down the Empire in the West never constituted a very numerous force. The Alamans, for example, disposed of a maximum of 25,000 combatants at the battle of Argentoratum in 357; at Adrianople in 378, the coalition of Huns, Alans, Ostro- and Visigoths which crushed the army of Valens totalled about 18,000 men, of whom perhaps 10,000 were Visigoths; in 429 Genseric crossed into Africa with some 16,000 fighting men, a third of these coming from the remaining Siling Vandals, Alans and Goths, the rest from the Hasding Vandals. In the first years of the reconquest of Italy by Justinian, Witiges may have had some 25-30,000 men to oppose the army of Belisarius, which was smaller. In the second phase of that war 20 years later, Totila at best commanded only 25,000 men. In short, each of the principal Barbarian peoples could muster forces of between 10,000 and 30,000 men. In addition, because of the demographic weakness of the invaders, who lacked sufficient men, losses could not easily be made good and the recourse was had, in order to avoid fighting with skeleton forces, either to other Barbarians or to subject populations whose enthusiasm was evidently lukewarm."¹

Again, I don't know what post you're replying to, as I also nowhere said Rome was falling apart during its height (even though you put it in brackets to make it look like I said it, ta for that) but the fact remains that the Roman army was too small to deal with serious wars on all fronts, and history proves that. Luckily for the empire's citizens, it didn't face wars on all fronts at the time, but incidents as early as 70 AD show that the empire could be brought into serious problems if minor tribes like the Batavians (who didn't even constitute a proper cultural unity) revolted; it took, thanks to the troubles in Rome, a good while before the rebels were forced to submit and it caused the loss and destruction of many important Roman army camps (including fortresses as important as Xanten, Cologne, Neuss and Mainz) and the evacuation of the entire north-western limes. That was one tribe.
So no, Rome wasn't falling apart. But the reasons why it would fall apart later on were already visible.
But what I was arguing was that the way individual armies fought, heir equipment, and their organization was far better than anything in the Middle Ages. Which it was.
I suggest you study medieval warfare. Certainly the Roman army was vastly superior to the Barbarian tribes it faced. But by 1300 at the very latest the armies of Europe had become more advanced technologically and were significantly more adaptable, seeing as they drew their troops from a wider social group and had, therefore, more diverse armies. And the Roman military itself was not uniform throughout the ages, either. It had periods of incredible strength and periods of incredible weakness.

¹ Contamine, Philippe, War in the Middle Ages (Oxford, 1984).

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.

[This message has been edited by Kor (edited 10-14-2007 @ 03:48 PM).]

Legio Yow
Ashigaru
posted 10-15-07 03:23 PM EDT (US)     106 / 212       
I suggest you study medieval warfare./q]
I'll get to the rest later, but I'll deal with some stuff now. One, you can't say "because x had better technology that y, x had a better army organization". The militia armies of Whateveristan have more technologically advanced armies than the Romans, and could easily defeat a Roman army simply because of their technological advantage, but that doesn't make the army organization better.

Two, one legion could wipe the floor with any comparably sized pre-gunpowder army. The Swiss armies were pretty dominant in the Middle Ages, and the legions would have crushed them underfoot.
the fact remains that the Roman army was too small to deal with serious wars on all fronts, and history proves that.
Well, yes, I agree. After all, the US army is too small to properly fulfill its current duties. My point is that it is hardly "astounding".
The similarities are superficial. Both leagues were meant, theoretically
Were we not talking theory? Because I was. I meant the organizations themselves, not how they are used.

"That which we call a nose can still smell!"
-Reduced Shakespeare Company

"Abroad, French transit workers attempt to end a strike, only to discover that they have forgotten how to operate the trains. Everybody enjoys a hearty laugh and returns to the café." -Dave Barry
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 10-16-07 08:30 AM EDT (US)     107 / 212       
Enjoy your dreams.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
Legio Yow
Ashigaru
posted 10-16-07 11:27 AM EDT (US)     108 / 212       
Kor, if you don't want to argue the point you can just say so. I do it often, and I don't consider it to be conceding anything. But you don't need to be condescending abgout it.

"That which we call a nose can still smell!"
-Reduced Shakespeare Company

"Abroad, French transit workers attempt to end a strike, only to discover that they have forgotten how to operate the trains. Everybody enjoys a hearty laugh and returns to the café." -Dave Barry
Gaius Colinius
Seraph Emeritus
posted 10-16-07 06:43 PM EDT (US)     109 / 212       
Guys
No need for this kind of carry on please.

-Love Gaius
TWH Seraph, TWH Grand Zinquisitor & Crazy Gaius the Banstick Kid

Got news regarding Total War games that should be publicised? Then email m2twnews@heavengames.com. My blog.
Nelson was the typical Englishman: hot-headed, impetuous, unreliable, passionate, emotional & boisterous. Wellington was the typical Irishman: cold, reserved, calculating, unsentimental & ruthless" - George Bernard Shaw
Vote for McCain...he's not dead just yet! - HP Lovesauce

Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 10-17-07 07:09 AM EDT (US)     110 / 212       
I have already argued my point. You have, however, consistently ignored my arguments and read only what you wanted to see, taking no heed of source material. And that's the last I'll say on this subject.

Back to topic: War in the Middle Ages by Philippe Contamine is indeed an invaluable work and a great read.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.

[This message has been edited by Kor (edited 10-17-2007 @ 07:11 AM).]

Legio Yow
Ashigaru
posted 10-28-07 08:29 PM EDT (US)     111 / 212       
Is the Venerable Bede worth a look? I'm not only asking whether he is important as a historian, I know he is, but does his writing put men to sleep?

"That which we call a nose can still smell!"
-Reduced Shakespeare Company

"Abroad, French transit workers attempt to end a strike, only to discover that they have forgotten how to operate the trains. Everybody enjoys a hearty laugh and returns to the café." -Dave Barry
Cordyceps
Naphal
(id: ArchDruid)
posted 10-28-07 08:58 PM EDT (US)     112 / 212       
Bede is quite good when he focuses on the history and the conversion of Britain, however the second half of his major work is mostly the lives of Saints and can get quite tedious until he starts talking about the Frisians. Part of Bede's problem is that he was very much alive for a lot of what he describes, but as a monk he never really connected with some of his subject matter like a soldier would have. Chronology's a bit confusing sometimes too.

Just as some bodies, from the moment of birth, are endowed with beauty, while on others nature from their very beginning bestows blemishes and wrinkles, so with souls too, some are distinguished at once with extreme grace and attractiveness, while others leave a trail of sombre and deep gloom. ~Michael Psellus, Chronographia
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 10-29-07 05:05 AM EDT (US)     113 / 212       
Things always get heaps better when there's Frisians involved.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
Cordyceps
Naphal
(id: ArchDruid)
posted 10-29-07 05:29 AM EDT (US)     114 / 212       
Especially pagan Frisians.

Just as some bodies, from the moment of birth, are endowed with beauty, while on others nature from their very beginning bestows blemishes and wrinkles, so with souls too, some are distinguished at once with extreme grace and attractiveness, while others leave a trail of sombre and deep gloom. ~Michael Psellus, Chronographia
Legio Yow
Ashigaru
posted 11-05-07 08:18 PM EDT (US)     115 / 212       
Is Pausanias entertaining?

"That which we call a nose can still smell!"
-Reduced Shakespeare Company

"Abroad, French transit workers attempt to end a strike, only to discover that they have forgotten how to operate the trains. Everybody enjoys a hearty laugh and returns to the café." -Dave Barry
MisplacedPope
Ashigaru
(id: misplacedgeneral)
posted 11-06-07 06:12 PM EDT (US)     116 / 212       
Is Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthy really worth the hefty price for someone who has read Adrian Goldsworthy's In the Name of Rome and numerous other works (including the man's own writing, and those of his contemporary historians)?

"It's not true. Some have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. Just no one in this car. But, a lot of people, that's their story. Good times, noodle salad. What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you're that pissed that so many others had it good." Jack Nicholson
D Furius Venator
HG Alumnus
posted 11-17-07 01:59 PM EDT (US)     117 / 212       
Yes it is. Paperback's not too expensive though, surely?

The central thrust of his argument is that Caesar really wasn't a radical in the sense that virtually nothing he did was unprecedented (and it was often his enemies who acted unconstitutionally and created dangerous precedents). Caesar was flamboyant, unscrupulous in some ways and certainly a (calculated) risk taker but was not really an atypical member of the aristocracy, merely very talented and successful.

But there's other good stuff. Three examples: Goldsworthy makes clear that Caesar's first campaign in Gaul showed he was still getting to grips with commanding a force much larger than he had previously, Pompey was far more unconstitutional in his actions than Caesar and Caesar defied Sulla whilst a mere teenager when everyone else in Rome was boot licking with zeal.

Civile! Si ergo fortibusis in ero.
Wassis inem causan dux?
Gnossis vile demsis trux!

I suggest that before badgering for a translation you take the time to read it out loud. Thankyou.
Legio Yow
Ashigaru
posted 11-17-07 04:07 PM EDT (US)     118 / 212       
Must...resist...

"That which we call a nose can still smell!"
-Reduced Shakespeare Company

"Abroad, French transit workers attempt to end a strike, only to discover that they have forgotten how to operate the trains. Everybody enjoys a hearty laugh and returns to the café." -Dave Barry
Chalupa Batman
Centurion
(id: ccsantos)
posted 12-06-07 01:53 AM EDT (US)     119 / 212       
I really have to recommend:

Q
by Luther Blissett

From Wikipedia
Q is a novel by Luther Blissett first published in Italian in 1999. The novel is set in Europe during the 16th century, and deals with Protestant reformation movements.
What is amazing is that the characters in the novel are all actual people from the primary documents during the German Peasants War 1525. The only fictional character is Q. History people would love this novel.

As-Salaam-Alaikum
Psycho Dan
Ashigaru
posted 12-08-07 04:02 PM EDT (US)     120 / 212       
Hi guys, haven't been on Heaven Games for while but hope you're all well...

I've mostly been reading modern history lately but after having read (a translation of) La Reine Margot by Alexandre Dumas and seeing the 1994 French film I'm quite curious about the French Wars of Religion and Early Modern French history in general. Does anybody know any good books on this subject? Thanks.

P.S. These books are good - The Hundred Years War: vol 1 Trial by Battle by Jonathan Sumption and vol 2 Trial by Fire - two very well researched and interesting accounts of the wars between France and England - if mainly narrative.
Gaius Colinius
Seraph Emeritus
posted 12-10-07 01:28 PM EDT (US)     121 / 212       
The biography of Catherine de' Medici by Leonie Frieda is an entertaining read and it deals broadly with the wars of religion. It does attempt to rehabilitate her reputation so bear that in mind when reading it. Balance may be required.

Btw Dan, don't forget to get back to Yak about the writing competition. You have "winnings" to collect.

-Love Gaius
TWH Seraph, TWH Grand Zinquisitor & Crazy Gaius the Banstick Kid

Got news regarding Total War games that should be publicised? Then email m2twnews@heavengames.com. My blog.
Nelson was the typical Englishman: hot-headed, impetuous, unreliable, passionate, emotional & boisterous. Wellington was the typical Irishman: cold, reserved, calculating, unsentimental & ruthless" - George Bernard Shaw
Vote for McCain...he's not dead just yet! - HP Lovesauce

Psycho Dan
Ashigaru
posted 12-12-07 12:45 PM EDT (US)     122 / 212       
Thanks Gauis I will be sure to check it out - and yes I've emailed Yak about my prize
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 12-12-07 05:23 PM EDT (US)     123 / 212       
I've just finished Lodewijk van Velthem's description of the battle of Kortrijk; he wrote about a decade after the event and, while he was not personally present, spoke with witnesses and lived at the time of the fight. He has created a very vivid depiction of the battlefield, including more gruesome battlefield details, such as horses running around with entrails hanging out, and gives a good vision of both the way in which infantry and cavalry interlocked and the way in which popular retelling added to a story. The omens predicting the French disaster are a good example of the latter, including a toad leaving the Flemish ranks and spitting venom at the French army, before withdrawing unmolested. A more exciting omen is the count of Artois's dog, Brune, taking off his master's armour to try and stop him from going to the fight.
It's a great read.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
Tryhildor
Ashigaru
posted 01-15-08 05:51 PM EDT (US)     124 / 212       
I'm just finishing Valerio Massimo Manfredi's Alexander trilogy, which narrates the Conqueror's life from his birth to his death, and explains in intricate detail his battles and friendships. Very good stuff. The books are called, in chronological order: Child of a Dream, Sands of Ammon and Ends of the Earth. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in Alexander and the Diadochi, or who simply wants to expand their knowledge in that area.
Cordyceps
Naphal
(id: ArchDruid)
posted 01-28-08 05:02 PM EDT (US)     125 / 212       
I've finally got my teeth into 'Byzantium and the Slavs' by Dimitri Obolensky. I must say it's one of the most satisfying reads I've had recently. Thoroughly enjoyable, especially if you have an interest in the 'barbarians'. I'm watching carefully for bias and the like, but haven't come across anything glaring yet, which makes it that much more pleasant to read.

Just as some bodies, from the moment of birth, are endowed with beauty, while on others nature from their very beginning bestows blemishes and wrinkles, so with souls too, some are distinguished at once with extreme grace and attractiveness, while others leave a trail of sombre and deep gloom. ~Michael Psellus, Chronographia
Essayons89
Ashigaru
posted 02-18-08 06:38 AM EDT (US)     126 / 212       
I'm currently reading and enjoying Caesar: Life Of A Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthy.

I've read a bunch of books since I last visited:
1776 by David McCullough
The Day of Battle by Rick Atkinson
The Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodard
Ivan's War by Catherine Merridale
The Spartans by Paul Cartledge
Thermopylae by Paul Cartledge
Men Of Fire by Jack Hurst
Soldiers and Ghosts JE Lendon (haven't finished this one yet)
Rome's Greatest Defeat by Adrian Murdoch

I think I may be missing a few.

A few I have waiting:
An Army At Dawn by Rick Atkinson
The Guns Of August by Barbara Tuchman
Team Of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 07-26-08 10:36 AM EDT (US)     127 / 212       
I recently finished Bolwerk der Nederlanden, a book about the fortifications of Maastricht throughout the centuries. This city is arguably the most fortress-like of Dutch cities, as being a garrison city was its principal purpose from the 1570s and before that the city also had consistently modern defences. Apart from that, rather than replace/modernise the old walls, the citizens/government preferred to build new walls outside the old ones, meaning that in effect pieces of every city wall have survived (apart from the earliest, probably wooden, walls).

The book is very readable and incredibly detailed. I only read the part about the medieval developments as I only need this info for research, and it's surprising how much we know. There's info on almost everything - the way in which the gates and fences were constructed and positioned, the tower roofs, the gatehouses, groundplans of still existing buildings, and pretty much every pre-18th century picture showing (part of) the defences is included (after this period there is an upsure in illustrations, especially in the 19th century).

I now bought Sprookspreker in Holland. Leven en werk van Willem van Hildegaersberch, which is a monography on the life and work of Willem van Hildegaersberch, a Middle Dutch poet who served at the court of the county of Holland approx 1380-1408. He wrote sproken or short poems, often about topical issues. While his poetry was long disliked by literary historians, he is now being viewed more positively. He was, as far as we can make out, the most popular Dutch language poet of his times and is therefore deserving of in-depth study. Also, he was not highly schooled, but mostly self-educated, and so his works and visions reflect an intellectual level attainable by the 14th/15th century common man.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
D Furius Venator
HG Alumnus
posted 07-27-08 11:19 AM EDT (US)     128 / 212       
I'd thoroughly recommend McLynn's Lionheart and Lackland which does a nice job of explaining exactly why the modern myth of Good King Richard being a gadabout absentee king who lived only for battle is just that. A must read for Gaius... better than Gillingham's Richard the Lionheart because it's newer and includes the more recent scholarship but also because it covers the reigns of both Richard and John (and also a goodly amount of Henry II's reign too of course).

Civile! Si ergo fortibusis in ero.
Wassis inem causan dux?
Gnossis vile demsis trux!

I suggest that before badgering for a translation you take the time to read it out loud. Thankyou.
LordTaeglan
Ashigaru
posted 07-27-08 11:30 AM EDT (US)     129 / 212       
God's War (Christopher Tyerman) Is a great history of the m ain crusades.

Nobody knows exactly where the entity known as Stephen Hill came from. He was found fully formed at the height of a storm and is believed to have come to Earth from a distant world where human qualities of fashion and beauty did not exist, which explains a lot. Constructed mostly of hatred and contempt, wrapped up in a pathetic human shell, Stephen comes fully equipped with his Antarian death coat, his Pen of Rage +2, and a variety of useful headgear
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 07-27-08 12:21 PM EDT (US)     130 / 212       
Furius, I checked out some reviews on that book (unfortunately no JSTOR ones available) but it doesn't look like an altogether unbiased account.

This review gives a nice overview, concluding that, while the book makes some good points, the author gets too caught in a good king/bad king mindset as well as bringing up completely unrelated subjects (like, apparently, a rant against liberalism).

And this review gives a few examples of basic factual errors by the author. This is another article (in Google cache as it is no longer viewable for free on the page where it was posted) which wipes the floor with the personification of John and Richard, which is apparently based entirely on chroniclers, with no regards to information drawn from charters etc:
An intriguing entry in the surviving records of the Exchequer shows that John possessed a copy of Pliny, which he lent to the abbot of Reading in exchange for Augustine of Hippo's City of God and other improving books. If Roger of Wendover had lived at Reading Abbey, we might today have a very different image of King John.
(...)
King John, although undoubtedly a most unpleasant adversary, looms large in the building of the English state. There is some evidence that this was recognised even at the time. Magna Carta has done for John's historical reputation, but it is a striking fact that for years before it was sealed people had been prepared to pay special fees to have their cases removed to the king's own court, where they obviously thought that they would get better justice.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
D Furius Venator
HG Alumnus
posted 07-27-08 12:53 PM EDT (US)     131 / 212       
As England was the only kingdom in his collection of lands, the best placed in terms of defence against the rising power of France, and the least rebellious, one might have expected it to be a more major focus of his attention
From the first review completely misses the point I'm afraid. And his concentration on Aquitaine had little to do with him being born there either. Quite simply it was the richest part of his holdings and that most under threat. England was generally quiescent and was largely governed well by his proxies. As McLynn makes clear. To be honest I think this reviewer just takes against McLynn's style. Yes, he does bash the feminists a bit. But only while making arguments against theirs, and he does so in a fair way really (pages 42-44 for instance on the reason Eleanor fomented revolt against Henry II, dismisses not only the two feminist arguments but also the rather patronising 'woman scorned' one).

The second review is better in some respects - but not others. Eleanor is generally (though not always) depicted as having dark hair, though a reddish colour is sometimes shown. but I do not thnk any images draw from contemporary portraits or descriptions, though I could be wrong. McLynn includes two portraits where her hair is distinguishable. One from a manuscript (the Chronique de St Denis), the other from a C12 or C13 fresco. He makes a fair point about the Christian name of William Marshal's father (but not his surname because he was known as both FitzGilbert and Marshal in his lifetime).

However:
I was further astounded to discover that little William himself was threatened with beheading but was saved when King Stephen took pity on him when he saw the lad playing with the headsman's sword. Where does it say this in any of the sources Mr McClynn? I assume you used l'Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal for this detail? William Marshal was actually threatened with hanging and at some point he enjoyed playing with the Earl of Arundel's fancy spear. Nowhere is a headsman or a sword mentioned.


Is just bizarre. McLynn gives the source for his statement - it's in Howden. The reviewer can't even be bothered to read the footnotes...

Primary sources (see above) are mauled, distorted and misquoted throughout
Well, he alleges one. And it turns out he was quite wrong.

As for him 'ignoring' charters etc, that's not really true either. What he says is that he draws the personalities of the protagonists from (various) chroniclers, and he is usually careful to note their bias too). Not that he ignores evidence from pipe rolls and such.

By the way, he cites original source material (from a variety of sources, including pipe rolls and charters) on average about 70 times per chapter. Or say about three times per page on average. Which is good going for popular history I think.

The third review says, amongst other things,

Richard was the better soldier, and John the better administrator.
John as a better administrator was rather exploded by Gillingham in the 70s. It is very hard to see how John was in any way a better administrator than Richard - even if one anachronistically considers England alone.

Civile! Si ergo fortibusis in ero.
Wassis inem causan dux?
Gnossis vile demsis trux!

I suggest that before badgering for a translation you take the time to read it out loud. Thankyou.

[This message has been edited by D Furius Venator (edited 07-27-2008 @ 01:51 PM).]

Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 07-27-08 02:01 PM EDT (US)     132 / 212       
I know the reviews have their flaws, but I couldn't actually find any on JSTOR. The best review among these is the one in google cache, which I think you ignored? It made the most convincing academic points.
It has to be said that I didn't look selectively, either. Apart from positive reviews on Amazon (which were all so bland that I wasn't sure whether the reviewers had any prior knowledge of the subject) I didn't find any other positive reviews, despite looking through a few pages of google search results.

In any case, the writer to me seems a bit like Paul Murray Kendall, who I didn't quite like, yet who is also quite popular with some people. I wrote a review of one of his books, a biography of Louis XI, a while ago. You can read it here.
(Although McLynn clearly has not avoided proper annotation like Murray Kendall did.)

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.

[This message has been edited by Kor (edited 07-27-2008 @ 02:03 PM).]

D Furius Venator
HG Alumnus
posted 07-27-08 02:12 PM EDT (US)     133 / 212       
The best review among these is the one in google cache
That was the Spectator one, was it not? The third. He's Anglo-centric as the last paragraphs show - the book's not about Angevin England.
John was just as treacherous, greedy, badtempered and immoral as his brother, and raised as much in taxation, but the same allowances were not made for him. He did not go on crusade and lost all his wars.
Is part of his argument.

Well, I'm not certain Richard was bad tempered (though even John's staunchest defencer, W.L.Warren acknowledges John's temper was egregiously bad) but personality aside, John raised more in taxation - to less effect - and alienated most of his subjects to boot. He also lost most of his inheritance. His modern revisionist reputation rests on his legal and administrative reforms which were, as Warren points out 'remarkable in that they [were] unecessary. the English administration had learnt to run itself' (King John p109). In fact his personal interventions in English administration led to years of unecessary conflict and upheaval.

Civile! Si ergo fortibusis in ero.
Wassis inem causan dux?
Gnossis vile demsis trux!

I suggest that before badgering for a translation you take the time to read it out loud. Thankyou.
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 07-27-08 02:19 PM EDT (US)     134 / 212       
Okay. I must admit, I know very little about either king and I don't really want to pick the revisionist side here. My knowledge of the English monarchy only comes in full swing from Henry III onwards (and even there mostly from reading about his opponents). I'm just saying that, would I want to find out more about them, I'd prefer to read modern biographies of the men dedicated to only one of the two, as even the more positive reviews on Amazon have pointed out this author seems rather biased from the outset.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
D Furius Venator
HG Alumnus
posted 07-27-08 02:31 PM EDT (US)     135 / 212       
Richard, so far as we can judge, was a philistine of the first degree
I should add that this is just drivel as a cursory examination of Richard's life shows.

For academic pro-John then Warren's King John (1960) is pretty good. Gillingham's Richard the Lionheart is the best academic pro-Richard bio. Though both of them are pretty readable.

To be honest though McLynn just sets out his stall as: 'I have looked into this and to my surprise I found modern revisionism was bollox' (I paraphrase). Not so much inherent bias as having looked at both sides and found Richard much the better king. Some people don't like that...

What is telling is that even John's most ardent supporters amongst academics have to make considerable excuses for his many failures and humiliations, and even Warren says that his administrative and legal reforms caused centuries of unrest (though of course they were not the exclusive cause). What John's supporters do do is make him seem less of a twit (and that's fair). His great mistake was to think that power lay with the treasury and not in his vassals. That cost him most of his French lands and resulted in civil war against him in England. Richard was wiser in that respect.

Civile! Si ergo fortibusis in ero.
Wassis inem causan dux?
Gnossis vile demsis trux!

I suggest that before badgering for a translation you take the time to read it out loud. Thankyou.
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 07-27-08 03:07 PM EDT (US)     136 / 212       
Ironically Warren's the one I had in mind as a potential purchase, as it's from a good series on the English monarchs. Still though, as you say, I don't think the King John revisionism has lasted, as we got the 'bad king' story in university, still (and they're fairly quick in going with the times here).

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
D Furius Venator
HG Alumnus
posted 07-27-08 03:19 PM EDT (US)     137 / 212       
It is a very good book (and as you say it's a generally decent series). What I like is the fact that he doesn't overdo the gloss, admitting freely that Richard would likely not have lost Normandy, and even if he had 'Richard would have been urging the citizens of Rouen to arms and parrying the first assault with blows from his great sword.' His next sentence is shattering... 'John stayed in England biting his nails.'

This from an admirer...

I don't think the King John revisionism has lasted
It still seems pretty obstinate in some places, though it is generally modified to 'Oh John may have been bad, but Richard was worse'. As I think you remarked elsewhere, Richard is really damned because the lands he ruled are no longer under a single ruling power and split between two nations, one of which was merely part of his holdings, the other which has subsumed the rest. So the French regard him as an enemy of national unification and the English as an absentee landlord. Perhaps he'd get his due if the 'Angevin Empire' were resurrected...

Civile! Si ergo fortibusis in ero.
Wassis inem causan dux?
Gnossis vile demsis trux!

I suggest that before badgering for a translation you take the time to read it out loud. Thankyou.

[This message has been edited by D Furius Venator (edited 07-27-2008 @ 03:25 PM).]

D Furius Venator
HG Alumnus
posted 07-30-08 12:42 PM EDT (US)     138 / 212       
I'm bound to add that the very highly regarded W.L. Warren (whose book certainly would win the approval of some of the reviewers who were so critical of McLynn's work) himself describes Eleanor of Aquitaine as a 'black-eyed beauty' - surely he must be chastised also!

Civile! Si ergo fortibusis in ero.
Wassis inem causan dux?
Gnossis vile demsis trux!

I suggest that before badgering for a translation you take the time to read it out loud. Thankyou.
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 07-31-08 08:53 AM EDT (US)     139 / 212       
I've just ordered The Book of Deeds of Arms and of Chivalry by Christine de Pisan. It's basically a guide on conducting war, written in 1410. Looking forward to reading it.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
LordTaeglan
Ashigaru
posted 07-31-08 09:00 AM EDT (US)     140 / 212       
Anna Comenus/Comena/Komenus/Komena's Alexiad, and a history of the Hashishin By WB Bartlett

Nobody knows exactly where the entity known as Stephen Hill came from. He was found fully formed at the height of a storm and is believed to have come to Earth from a distant world where human qualities of fashion and beauty did not exist, which explains a lot. Constructed mostly of hatred and contempt, wrapped up in a pathetic human shell, Stephen comes fully equipped with his Antarian death coat, his Pen of Rage +2, and a variety of useful headgear

[This message has been edited by LordTaeglan (edited 07-31-2008 @ 09:05 AM).]

D Furius Venator
HG Alumnus
posted 07-31-08 09:13 AM EDT (US)     141 / 212       
I've just ordered The Book of Deeds of Arms and of Chivalry
Oooh, oooh, that sounds interesting.

Civile! Si ergo fortibusis in ero.
Wassis inem causan dux?
Gnossis vile demsis trux!

I suggest that before badgering for a translation you take the time to read it out loud. Thankyou.
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 07-31-08 09:35 AM EDT (US)     142 / 212       
Link
It's a new translation and surprisingly cheap. I ordered it within minutes of finding out about this edition, as I'd heard of it before - and only positively.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
D Furius Venator
HG Alumnus
posted 07-31-08 10:53 AM EDT (US)     143 / 212       
I've actually ordered it already. It's a snip isn't it?

Civile! Si ergo fortibusis in ero.
Wassis inem causan dux?
Gnossis vile demsis trux!

I suggest that before badgering for a translation you take the time to read it out loud. Thankyou.
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 07-31-08 01:26 PM EDT (US)     144 / 212       
Yeah. Source text translations are either relatively cheap (in which case they're almost always Penguin classics, which are generally abridged and sometimes far too old) or in fine edition but incredibly expensive. This is a very nice exception to the rule. You'll probably get it before I do, as you're in the UK and all, whereas for some odd reason Amazon always ships to the Netherlands through Deutsche Post, which isn't very fast.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
D Furius Venator
HG Alumnus
posted 07-31-08 02:15 PM EDT (US)     145 / 212       
Penguin classics, which are generally abridged
Are they? I've got most of the Classical era ones and none of them are as I recall.

Civile! Si ergo fortibusis in ero.
Wassis inem causan dux?
Gnossis vile demsis trux!

I suggest that before badgering for a translation you take the time to read it out loud. Thankyou.
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 07-31-08 02:21 PM EDT (US)     146 / 212       
True, those that are well known enough (or short) are not abridged, but unfortunately it is impossible to get something like Froissart unabridged. Although translating that would be an incredible task, the version on the market by Penguin is incredibly brief and the selection is somewhat strange; although the most important bits for the British are included, like Crécy, Richard II and the Anglo-Scots wars of Edward III.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
D Furius Venator
HG Alumnus
posted 07-31-08 03:08 PM EDT (US)     147 / 212       
Indeed. Though as they are (or were) essentially British publisher you can sort of see why. Not much demand in the (relatively) mass market for obscure foreign wars...

Most of the longer classical works don't have a penguin edition and one must generally rely on the rather tedious Loeb. Tedious to read because the print and books are so damn small.

Civile! Si ergo fortibusis in ero.
Wassis inem causan dux?
Gnossis vile demsis trux!

I suggest that before badgering for a translation you take the time to read it out loud. Thankyou.
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 07-31-08 03:19 PM EDT (US)     148 / 212       
Yes, I suppose it's a miracle altogether that Penguin published Froissart. The most recent select translation of his works into Dutch is from the 19th century and has never had a reprint...

Though I think there are more Middle Dutch texts in publication at present than Middle English, so we're not actually that bad off altogether.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
D Furius Venator
HG Alumnus
posted 08-06-08 09:15 AM EDT (US)     149 / 212       
I'm just glancing through The Book of Deeds of Arms and Chivalry now.

I just thought Kor might like to know that...

At a quick glance, the best bit seems to be the chapters on 'how to conduct a successful siege' (I paraphrase). There also seem to be some 'legalistic' questions and answers regarding honour, loyalty and so forth which are interesting. for instance, if given a 'safe conduct' for yourself and (say) ten other persons, it is not reasonable to include those of higher rank in the 'ten persons' - they would not be considered as having 'safe conduct' were they recognised.

Civile! Si ergo fortibusis in ero.
Wassis inem causan dux?
Gnossis vile demsis trux!

I suggest that before badgering for a translation you take the time to read it out loud. Thankyou.
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 08-06-08 09:40 AM EDT (US)     150 / 212       
That's interesting, thanks! As you might have guessed, the book hasn't arrived here yet. I had heard there was a lot in the book about sieges and I am most interested in reading that, especially as many modern general works about the medieval art of war glance over siege warfare. Hopefully this can be of assistance for my novel.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
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