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By Sword and Fire: Cruelty And Atrocity In Medieval Warfare: The Savage Reality of Medieval Warfare (Cassell Military Paperbacks) Paperback – 20 Aug 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; New Ed edition (20 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0304366951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0304366958
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 346,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Gory, but compelling reading (NORTHERN ECHO)

a much needed corrective to the view that chivalry definied medieval fighting (CONTEMPORARY REVIEW)

Book Description

A vivid and original account of warfare in the Middle Ages and the cruelty and atrocity that accompanied it.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a well written account of some examples of the butchery man is capable of. I have long studied military History,so the content wasn't surprising to me.I read these newer texts mainly for fresh takes on the Histories i learned long ago. This book gives excellent insight into the thoughts and reasoning of men in the middle ages, examples must be made of traitors and the disloyal, the more brutal the execution , the better the deterrent was the thinking. In this modern era it is the same, except nowdays we are not talking nearly so savagely,people are dismissed or publicly humiliated through the press etc, but the principles are still the same. The book is not for the squeamish,it is quite graphic in descriptions of atrocities, but it makes compelling reading for the newcomer to this subject. A good book at a reasonable price.By Sword And Fire: Cruelty And Atrocity In Medieval Warfare: The Savage Reality of Medieval Warfare (Cassell Military Paperbacks)
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Based on the reviews of other customers I expected this book to be full of horrifying stories. That was not the case. This book gives good insight in the logic of warfare why sometimes it is prudent to apply atrocity, while in other cases it might be better not to do so. For readers that are new in medieval warfare it may look very grimm sometimes but for those who have already red a lot about that topic it will be less shocking and will give you valuable new insights.
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Format: Paperback
By Sword and Fire is a fine book. A history of war in a period that was surrounded by it. The Crusades, Wars of Independence in Scotland, the Hundred Years War-the list could go on. There were stories of hardship: the fall of Chateu Galliard in 1204 for example, or the Siege of Calais in 1347. Or battles like Bouvines in 1214, Striling in 1297, Poitiers in 1356. A great book.

Sean did his homework for this book. He balance evidence with good storytelling. The very eccence of this book was that is was a story of how the ordinary people could get in the way of a looting army that could destroy their homes and livelyhoods. A book on how war was waged to achieve a final goal. Anyone who got in the way was free range. This was a spetacular book of war, famine, sword, and fire.

I loved this book and the way it was written. It was a good story of how war will destroy more than it creates. A wonderful book.
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I've always been interested in the medieval era, I used to have trouble understanding why they did what they did. But despite being rather cruel, what they did usually served a purpose and was rarely seen as an atrocity in those days. The wellknown and much respected Richard I killing a whole garisson of prisoners would be a fine example.
But that did not stop him from becoming one of the most famous kings of Europe, because such atrocities were not considered crimes in his day. He won his battles, according to medieval chronicles(and people) it meant that he had 'just cause'.

This book will give you a good, sometimes graphic explanation of why atrocities took place and why these were accepted as ligitimate actions. Those interested in the subject will also enjoy the first chapter which deals with crime and punishment in civilian life. The book is wellwritten and easily draws you into that world.
I will sound cruel now but it really is enjoyable to read.
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This has been waiting for me to get to it for a while; now seemed a good time to dive into it. Having read a very large amount of history from a number of periods and countries, I'm not really surprised by what may be classed as "cruelty and atrocity" in medieval warfare - it happened, there's no doubt - and for whatever reasons. But it's interesting to see it incorporated as a theme into a historical non-fiction book. This book is particularly important due to the wide geographical and chronological scope in which the theme is explored. Having said that, the focus is on England, France and the Crusades - there is no in-depth exploration of the theme in the context of Italy or Sicily, Scandinavia, the Iberian states or other European areas.

To balance out the other side of the story i.e. why would knights who portray themselves as perfect examples of chivalry appear to commit such acts - I suggest reading around chivalry and its role in the middle ages - perhaps The Knight and Chivalry by Richard Barber would be a good start - and even some specific reading around histories of the Knights Templar, Knights Hospitaler and the Teutonic Knights. It's important to understand that while chivalry (and its concomitent rights and responsibilities, codes and literature) may have played little to no part in actual warfare, it was still, and for many valid reasons, a very important part of medieval culture, and remained relevant to large sections of society.

It's also important to realise that savagery, cruelty, atrocity, whatever you want to call it, was not absent from political or religious life outside warfare in medieval times (or any other time, for that matter).
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