Medieval Military Technology

Medieval Military Technology, Second Edition

By Kelly DeVries and Robert D. Smith

University of Toronto Press, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4426-0497-1

First published in 1992, Medieval Military Technology has become the definitive book in its field, garnering much praise and a large readership. This thorough update of a classic book, regarded as both an excellent overview and an important piece of scholarship, includes fully revised content, new sections on the use of horses, handguns, incendiary weapons, and siege engines, and eighteen new illustrations.


Chapter 1: Arms

  • The Spear/Lance
  • The Axe
  • The Sword
  • The Dagger
  • The Staff-Weapon
  • The Mace
  • The War Hammer
  • The Sling
  • The Bow
  • The Crossbow

Chapter 2: Armor

  • Early Medieval Armor
  • Armor in the Bayeux Tapestry
  • Twelfth-Century Armor
  • Shields, Helmets, and Heraldry in the Thirteenth Century
  • Fourteenth-Century Body Armor
  • Cloth-Covered Armor from the Battlefield of Visby
  • Later Fourteenth-Century Armor Developments
  • Plate Armor
  • Late Medieval Infantry Armor
  • Late Medieval Helmets
  • Late Medieval Shields and Barding

Chapter 3: The Stirrup, Mounted Shock Combat, Chivalry, and Feudalism

  • White’s Thesis
  • Criticism of White’s Thesis

Chapter 4: Non-Gunpowder Artillery

  • Torsion Catapults
  • Traction Trebuchets
  • Counterweight Trebuchets
  • Greek Fire

Chapter 5: Gunpowder Artillery

  • Early History of European Gunpower Weapons
  • Siege, Battlefield, and Naval Applications
  • Types and Manufacturing of Gunpowder, Gunpowder Weapons, and Projectiles
  • Societal Impacts and Administrative Changes

Chapter 6: Siege Machines

  • Ladders
  • Siege Towers
  • Battering Rams and Mining Devices

Chapter 7: Early Medieval Fortifications

  • Late Roman and Barbarian
  • Carolingian
  • The Viking Invasions and Reactions

Chapter 8: The Motte-and-Bailey Castle

  • The Influence of William the Conqueror
  • Construction Techniques

Chapter 9: Stone Castles

  • The Origin of Stone Castles
  • Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century Stone Castles
  • Crusader Castles
  • The Golden Age of Castle Construction
  • Edward I’s Castles in Wales

Chapter 10: Urban Fortifications and Fortified Residences

  • Fortified Residences
  • Town Walls
  • The Influence of Gunpowder Weapons

Chapter 11: Early Medieval Warships

  • Late Roman and Early Medieval Ships
  • Viking Ships
  • William the Conqueror’s Fleet

Chapter 12: High and Late Medieval Warships

  • Crusader Ships
  • Thirteenth-Century Ships
  • Technological Innovations
  • Later Medieval Ships


Excerpt from the Introduction: In this, the second edition, almost all of the original text has been substantially rewritten with the collaboration of a second author, Robert Douglas Smith, an artefactual scholar, whose expertise has come from more than a quarter of a century of studying, curating, and conserving the very arms, armor, and artillery presented in the book. Of course, the medieval military technology is still the same, and this has allowed the organization of the book to remain unaltered. However, the interpretation of this technology has changed and developed. Since the first edition many historians and artefactual experts have made medieval military history and technology one of the liveliest and most interesting fields in all of historical research and scholarship, let alone in the fields of medieval and military history. Many of these scholars have retrodden old ground, although more often than not presenting new ideas and interpretations of it, but many others have opened new roads of research.


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