The Medieval Soldier by Vesey Norman was originally published in 1971, but Pen & Sword publishers have brought out a new edition. At less than 300 pages, the book is filled with details, facts and figures, photos and pictures, and Norman never hesitates to go into detail. The book is divided into two parts: the first covering the beginning of the feudal period, the second on feudalism and chivalry, essentially breaking up the Middle Ages into an early period and a late period, as styles of weaponry and the forms of combat, and things like armor and tactics, were quite different.
In the first part, Norman goes into detail with chapters on the barbarian tribes of the Lombards, Franks, Vikings, and Saxons. Each group held a specific geographic location, with their own forms of combat and weaponry, though there was also an important overlap taking place between these groups, due to trade, as well as ongoing battles between them. In the second part Norman thoroughly explains the system of feudalism, how it worked, and how it relates to the medieval soldier. With improvements in armor, weaponry and forms of combat, Norman delves deep into chivalry, the idea of the medieval knight, and wrapping up with the monumental crusades which were important for religion and history, but also served as a popularity contest in some ways for nobles of stature and wealth.
The Medieval Soldier seems like a small book at first, but is filled with lots of facts and important details, serving as a great reference tool for any would be historian, or any idle reader interested in this subject. At the end of the book Norman provides a strong bibliography, and a thorough index to help readers easily navigate around The Medieval Soldier, should they be looking for something specific and quickly.
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Originally written on July 24 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.