Damien, do you or anyone else know of any good books or websites that may be related on this subject? I would like to know more. Thanks.
Many of the former, very few of the latter. I tend to stay away from websites because, well. . anyone can make a website. Information therein has, at best, a much higher likelihood of being incorrect or incomplete.
For books, the first place I point to for beginners to the subject is Osprey Publishing (www.ospreypublishing.com
). They produce books dealing with relatively narrow subjects each, and thus in a pretty small package you can get a lot of specific information. They're rather famous for going to great lengths to get as much information as possible into very small page counts.
I do have to qualify that by saying that Osprey itself is just the publishing company. They contract writers to get the subjects out that they want, and so each book has to be considered on its own. Some books are VERY good and solid, with few, if any, mistakes. Armies of Medieval Burgundy comes to mind.
Other books in the series will definitely be coloured by the author's perceptions and biases. Anything by David Nicole, for instance. While he's a brilliant historian, he also seems to believe that NOTHING was ever done by the Europeans, and that everything they have came from the East. This arrogant bias is found all throughout his work. But if you ignore statements obviously just opinion, his works also have a great deal of solid information.
Other authors are wholly terrible and need to be avoided. Such authors will write in all seriousness that the katana is the uber-sword of doom from the East and everything else is just a pale hunk of iron in comparison. There is one Osprey book, about the 'Ninja' - that is the laughing stock of the historical community because it's nothing more than what society would like to believe about ninja, rather than what is actually the truth. There's one claim in that book that ninja could stand on the guard of their swords, with the blade pointed against the ground. I mean, first of all - we know for a fact that the famous 'ninja-to' never even existed (the katana-like ninja sword). But we also know that it is physically impossible to stand on a sword in this manner, especially a Japanese sword, as it will break.
Therefore, avoid Osprey titles about Japan, as those tend to be written by Eastern-centric sycophants rather than real historians. But since your interest is in European history, you shouldn't encounter a problem.
The best thing about Osprey titles is that they have very complete 'Further Reading' lists. So pick up a book on your favourite subject and the Further Reading list in the back of the book should give you plenty of stuff to get afterwards. This also helps in fact-checking. The more you read, the more you can pick out the instances where an author may be colouring his own opinions into the text.
Also, if you want to know more about the military structure of medieval armies, there are few easier-to-find and better-equipped books than Osprey, despite their faults.
Forge not works of art but swords of death, for therein lies great art.
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