Medieval Maritime Warfare, by Charles D. Stanton
When looking for my latest book to review for the Naval Historical Institute , I was intrigued by an account of medieval maritime warfare, one of my more obscure interests in that it combines my interests in medieval history and naval history, and anywhere such interests combine there is a fair chance that there will be some interest in those nodes. At any rate, having received the book, I was further intrigued by its combination of a classic parchment-style dust cover with what appears to be a tapestry of people fighting by crossbow and dagger and other weapons braining and firing at each other in impossibly small vessels with towers and sales on them and figures with rows and occasionally wearing chain mail armor with a place for readers to scan with their smart phones additional titles by the publisher, Pen & Sword. In short, this book certainly has the look of a classic and also contemporary work on the Middle Ages. The back cover text is also worthy of interest, expressing the fact that each chapter contains a reconstruction of a key medieval naval engagement, that this book covers a neglected aspect of medieval history, which is true, and that it covers the ships, navigation, crew conditions, maritime strategy, and naval tactics of the Byzantines, Normans, Muslims, Crusaders, Italian city-states, Vikings, English, French, and the Hanseatic League. All this the book manages to do in about 290 pages of main text with extensive scholarly endnotes.
In looking through the book briefly, the table of contents reveals a regional division of history with ten chapters on various naval engagements in the Middle Ages, the first six chapters dealing with the Mediterranean and Black Sea and the last four chapters dealing with Northern Europe in the North Sea, Baltic Sea, and English Channel. Flipping through the pages there are some pictures and maps but mostly solid text detailing wars, diplomacy between wars, and focused battle studies. In short, the book looks greatly entertaining and worthy of investigation. At about 300 pages it does not present an overwhelmingly challenging read, but at the same time it promises to be a worthwhile book to add to my collection and a good way to encourage other people to read about an area of medieval history that has not gotten its proper due, something that is very pleasing. I look forward to being able to read and review this book.
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