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  1. #1
    What is human nature? Demon's Avatar
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    Question Medieval Warfare

    I was hoping someone could direct me to some thoroughly documented and researched books on Medieval, Fuedal, Ancient, and pre-Roman warfare based on the most notable military tactics, i.e.: European, Middle-Eastern, Asia minor, Persian, Serbian, Even Islander or African guerilla warfare would be helpful.

    I'm having trouble distinguishing between the sea of books and don't know which are true historical accuracies, and which are more based on fables and embellished victories? (victors write history). They'd have to be printed in english, translated versions of foreign material is fine, if any exists.

    Also, since my novels are based largely on the economical-political-military trinity like Earth, I'm looking for things that resemble or portray the most accuracy when it comes to the truth on military tactics, how to transport vast armies across huge distances, dealing with illness, rations, funds, how drafting was enforced... I was wondering since I'm going that route if I should read Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince? And if that would help shed some light where I seek enlightenment, where would I obtain an english print?

  2. #2
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    Certainly you should read The Prince, though it's not about bashing in heads. His Art of War is heavy on battlefield tactics, if I recall correctly (diagrams of pike phalanxes and that sort of thing).

    It's not Medieval, but Julius Ceasar's writing on his campaigns against the Gauls is very interesting reading, as much for the details of the campaign as for the unreliability of the narrator.

    If some realism is important to you, vast armies involve vast logistics. The story about Napoleon's campaigns in Europe is as much about the huge baggage train following his army as about the battles. Medieval European armies were puny compared to those of Asia, so I would look for sources on China and Japan. You might look into historical fiction for these. In my experience, English language historical scholarship covering Asia is exceptionally dry.

  3. #3
    What is human nature? Demon's Avatar
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    Shortly after posting this, I found a copy on amazon of The Art of War and The Prince for really cheap, so I'm obviously going to be giving those a read a few times.

    suboptimal
    If some realism is important to you, vast armies involve vast logistics. The story about Napoleon's campaigns in Europe is as much about the huge baggage train following his army as about the battles. Medieval European armies were puny compared to those of Asia, so I would look for sources on China and Japan. You might look into historical fiction for these. In my experience, English language historical scholarship covering Asia is exceptionally dry.
    Yeah, the internet has been my only access, and even then, it's not much. I'm assuming it's just because there isn't enough demand for english translations of oriental writers? Like the only accounts of the mongol invasion tactics I can find are based on european sources...

    It's not Medieval, but Julius Ceasar's writing on his campaigns against the Gauls is very interesting reading, as much for the details of the campaign as for the unreliability of the narrator.
    Thanks for the tip, his era fascinates me to no end be due to untold controversies surrounding the Roman Empire.

  4. #4
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    The Art of War is... meh. If you want to gain a better understanding of War, the phenomenon and how it is waged and directed, read On War, by Carl von Clausewitz. It is required reading in almost every officer school, or military academy on earth and is a fantastic book. It is a book for generals and scholars. Covering things like 'initiative" "center of gravity" (critical points in structure of armies and nations). The interplay of politics on military campaigns. Logistics and supply concerns. The book is very widely available through electronic or print sources and given its small size it is quite cheap.


    Pre-roman warfare... well that is most of human history. To complicate the matter even more, there are almost as many ways of thinking about war as their ore countries. The Greeks and early Romans favored phalanxes. While the Persians very light infantry, war-chariots, and cavalry. The Japanese combined highly skilled and equipped samurai with peasant conscripts into some truely unique systems. Additionally just about every section of Europe had different preferences, levels of organization, and organizational systems (for instance the organization of the roman government in the republic was largely organized on military organization). African and Native American, Southeast Asian, Russian.....so many systems!


    Every military organization has its own methods and internal structures, and protocols (how to organize a supply train, how to protect a supply train, how to defend a border). For example: the mongols would dominate an area with high mobility tactics, covering ground faster than their adversaries could anticipate (and thus were positioned where the enemy did not expect them) but after conquest would co-opt the local systems of governance. Resistance was treated harshly, but many rulers kept their systems of government intact and their positions. The Romans on the other hand might replace the system of government, but often prominent members of the community would still be prominent after the transition to roman systems (time period dependent).

    If you have a specific time period in mind I am sure we can direct you to key reads on the subject.
    Last edited by Hobbles105; November 4th, 2014 at 11:51 AM.

  5. #5
    Dreamer and Author K.S. Crooks's Avatar
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    Try to find a book about the strategies of Alexandre the Great, Sparta and Genghis Khan. A more modern influence could be Russian warfare of the early 20th century. Of course looking at the British system over the previous 200 or 300 years would be helpful, especially if you are going to have battles at sea. Good luck.

  6. #6
    What is human nature? Demon's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for the insight, thorough explanations and hints where I should look. If anything else comes to mind you feel would help, I'd be even more appreciative of anything. Always welcoming new information.

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    Not on tactics per se, but I found the 'Mount and Blade' games interesting for a first-hand view of just how chaotic medieval battles must have been. You charge in on horseback, stomp on a few peasants, then spend much of the rest of the battle trying to figure out who's on your side and who's on the other as everyone is trying to hit or run over everyone else. I could soon see exactly why they needed all their heraldry and flags and fancy armour to tell them who they should try to kill and who they shouldn't.

  8. #8
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    On Medieval warfare try The Face of Battle by John Keegan.

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