Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe

I have just finished reading Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe by Bert S. Hall. 

It examines several aspects of warfare in the later middle ages and sixteenth century, but concentrates on the effect of gunpowder in western Europe, gunpowder production, gunpowder weapon development and tactics, and its consequences in relation to other military arms and tactical development; heavy cavalry and pike squares.

It is a fine and detailed study, and although there was nothing that I did not know already, outside of gunpowder production and how it works as it is not as simple as "it goes bang", it does state WHAT IS KNOWN about firearms and tactics very clearly.

One thing, which I found most interesting, was his interpretation of arquebus "volleys" during the Battle of Pavia. He has deduced that the volley fire came about due to the heavy fog. The arquebusier being 'loaded', saw a unit of French loom out of the mist at close range and fired at all at once, the French unit would disappear back into the mist and having no target the arquebusier would reload and await the next target looming out of the mist.

I can see this, and it is a very clever conclusion as to how fire control during this battle was different to that in other battles; they were allowed time to reload because the French could not see them, at a distance, and were therefore unable to launch an organised charge against them. The mist became 'the wall' for the arquebusier to operate behind.

The book is a good addition to my library. I can recommend it in the 'further reading' category for those with a keen interest in 16th century warfare. It does not provide much in the way of information that will be directly useful for war gaming the period.

I bought it from Amazon; it is a fine second hand copy in hardback, which I managed to pick up at a similar price to a new paper back (£18.50 including postage). This is something I've noticed before, and I much prefer hardbacks, even if they are not exactly in perfect condition.

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