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Recommended Books on Renaissance Warfare

If you have navigated this far in, you probably share an interest in this period of history, and are always on the lookout for some worthwhile books to read.

I have collected some of the works which I particularly enjoyed reading into this page.  It's not so much a review, as a mark of approval, since it would take far too long to go back and re-read enough of all of them to make a decent review worth writing.

There is no particularly order, and some will prompt me to add a few words, while others will not, but do not take that as any particular measure of quality.  Presence here indicates a book worth looking out for, according to me.
These are from my Renaissance collection.
I am adding this link from the NYPL Digital Gallery to historical French uniforms, since I may return to this at some stage, and this is where I want to remember I put it.

 Robert Knecht

The French Civil Wars

A great overview of the French Wars of Religion.  Knecht also write the useful Osprey primer on the wars too, but this has more detail over the same ground.  Part of the excellent 'Modern Wars in Perspective' series.


 James Wood

The Kings Army

Soldiers and Society during the Wars of Religion in France, 1562-76

A detailed look at the Royal Army of one of the participants.  It is quite remarkable that such a book could be produced for such a chaotic period in time.


 Ernle Bradford

The Great Siege

Fantastically readable, and written by someone who actually understood the problems facing the Ottomans at sea, this is an essential book for anyone interested in this pivotal siege in European history.

I've just upgraded my copy from a pocket Penguin paperback to an earlier hard back edition.


 Roger Crowley

Empire of the Seas

Another of my favourite popular historians of the moment, Crowley's first book was an account of the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans.  This covers the waxing and waning of Ottoman sea power in the 16th century.  I am hoping for something more from him in the near future too.



Thomas Arnold

The Renaissance at War

Another in the excellent Cassell history of war series, this is an excellent background to this transition period in military history.  John Childs Warfare in the Seventeenth Century is also worth looking out for in this series.



Fernand Braudel

The Mediterreanean

 Some proper academic history from one of the giants of the subject.  I also have the 'Identity of France'

Probably my second favourite historian, after Eric Hobsbawm.

Not light reading, but always reliable.



Roger Crowley

Venice :How Venice Won and Lost a Naval Empire  

Crowley's latest (August 2011), nicely puts the Venetian context around his previous books on their interaction with the Ottomans.  As ever with Crowley, it is highly readable and never flags even on the bits you think you already know enough to be going along with on.

The modern Ernle Bradford (for my money anyway, its darn high praise verging on hyperbole), he and Tom Holland are worth buying sight-unseen on the strength of their past works alone.  And there is a new Holland on Islam due in February 2012, I saw on Amazon when I was posting this.


 Donald M Nicol

Byzantium and Venice: A Study in Diplomatic and Cultural Relations

Almost a precursor to the above volume - and if you are the sort who buys books in threes, well worth adding in with Crowley's Constantinople for a summer's reading on the beech.

This was the first book I found which really made sense of the interaction between these two states, and fully explained what (and more importantly why) Venice was doing in the 4th Crusade.    


Bert Hall

Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe

I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy this, which I picked up at the Falkirk B & B earlier in the year.  I had seen a lot of warnings that it was dry and hevily focussed on the mechanics of gunpowder, but instead I found an interesting read on the introduction of technology from the end of the medieval and start of the renaissance periods.

It also chimed in well with some of the medieval readings I have been doing, and I have no hesitation in recommending it at all.


 The Italian Wars

Mallett and Shaw

Something I know a lot of people have been looking for - a single volume in English which covers the narrative of the full sixty years of this great conflict.

I came within a whisker of abandoning all project plans for the year in order to do a couple of armies for this period while I was reading this, so much so that I ended up reading the last third in a rush after work in order to break the thought out.

If that is not a recommendation, I don't know what is.

Subpages (1): Renaissance Books