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Date of Publication: 2007
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Medieval Russian Fortresses AD 862-1480 Paperback – 10 Apr 2007

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (10 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846030935
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846030932
  • Product Dimensions: 18.3 x 0.4 x 25.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 633,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

The author presents a clear history of the development of fortifications during this period... The drawings are excellent and...the book is a valuable edition to coverage on medieval fortifications. "Coastal Defense Journal""

Book Description

This book is a history of the key fortresses that dominated the landscape of medieval Russia from its legendary foundations in the 9th century to its conquest by the Mongols and the eventual rise to power of the principality of Muscovy.

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By JPS TOP 100 REVIEWER on 20 May 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a rather good title on Medieval Russian fortresses from the 9th to the end of the 15th century, when these started to be increasingly built of brick or stone. It is also a valuable title because there is little in English on this subject, as the title’s list of references shows all too clearly. The implication here is that it is difficult to go much further for anyone who does not read Russian, although the author can hardly be blamed for such a limitation.

With regards to the title’s contents, it follows the usual structure of Osprey’s “Fortress” series. After an introduction and chronology, the “principles of defence section describes the types and layouts of the various fortifications, including regional differences. This is followed by the “design and development” section, where the various components of these fortifications are presented, including ramparts, ditches, walls, gates and towers. The remaining sections describe a selection of sites, living conditions within them, how some of these sites withstood, or not, as the case may be, attacks and sieges, and how and why these fortifications evolved over time.

I found this title valuable, if only because it makes four main points. The first was to show to what extent ditches and earth and wood ramparts were effective in protecting settlements and populations from the endemic raids of nomad horse archers from the 9th through the 12th century. This was in fact the only way to defend against them because of their superior mobility allied with their lack of siege equipment.

The second is to show how quickly these fortifications could be overcome when the enemy was more sophisticated and disposed of such siege equipment, as the Mongols did.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x931d7e94) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9314d51c) out of 5 stars Medieval Russian fortresses 12 Jan. 2014
By John Sloan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have both Nossov's books - and I have been to many Russian fortresses - typical Russian history texts do not discuss the significance of siege warfare in medieval Russia - neither offense or defense - when teaching Russian history years ago i certainly would have loved to have Nossov's books to show students. In fact back in 1992 I commissioned Russian military historians to prepare such a reference, but we didn't get beyond a preliminary draft - The history of fortifications in Rus - Muscovy - Russia is vast and under rated - Nossov's books, while much needed still only touch the surface. I have photos taken at many Russian fortresses on my web site. We need much more on how these fortifications were constructed, by whom, and their impact on society.
john sloan
HASH(0x91b90d2c) out of 5 stars Medieval Russian Fortresses – Construction Techniques, Layouts, Challenges 19 Jun. 2015
By Anibal Madeira - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Let’s face it. As far as I know, at the present time, there is simply no other alternative way to get better information regarding Medieval Russian Fortresses. This is it. The books of Konstantin Nossov on this subject, although small, have so much extremely interesting information and analyses that simply eclipses every other attempt on the subject. There is another book regarding Russian fortresses from 1480 to 1682 by the same author.

This book focus on the Russian fortresses during the period of AD 862 – 1480, and those were interesting times indeed. From the rise of Kievan Rus, the omnipresent nomadic raids and the importance of the fortified settlements and border forts, the onslaught of the Mongol, conflict with Western powers and finally the ascent of the principality of Moscow. The author structured the book in a way that even someone without any knowledge of the complex power structure in medieval Russia can understand the basic geographic boundaries and particular challenges faced by the major principalities.

The layouts and construction methods of the fortifications are explained with clear text and pictures. The author is obviously aware of the target of this Osprey title, so pays particular attention to the differences between medieval Russian fortifications and their western counterparts, such as construction materials and techniques, tower positioning, asymmetrical design, the secret posterns (thin masonry that was supposed to break to allow a sally), the secret accesses to water sources, and other interesting particularities.

The effectiveness of the fortifications are also analyzed, along with the siege equipment used by the Russians and their foes. Some examples are detailed along with a more generic data study that clearly shows that the Russians weren’t inferior to their enemies in siege warfare.

The bibliography is slightly useless for a non-Russian speaker – almost all titles are in Russian. In fact this is the best English title I’ve read with information on Russian fortresses. A useful glossary is included; particularly interesting due to the fact that some expressions had different meanings throughout the years.

You'll find in this volume photos of impressive archeological remains of remarkable fortifications such as the Pskov Krom (including interior views of walls, Zakhab and loopholes), Porkhov fortress, Izborsk fortress, etc. and huge ramparts such as the ones found at Vladimir, Mstislav, Suzdal or Pereyaslavl, among many others. Detailed line drawings clarify aspects like fields of fire in towers, the construction of a rampart, the several different plans of Gorodishches or the methods of using the palisade Tyn over a rampart and its different forms.

Two color maps are provided; one with the locations of the fortified settlements mentioned in this work and another with the extension of the enormous fortified lines of the snake ramparts - Smievy Valy.

The color plates and illustrations by Peter Dennis are great, and include an amazing birds eye view of the following fortresses: Vladimir (12-13th Cent), Suzdal (13th cent), Ladoga (1114), Kamenets (late 13th cent), Mstislavl (early 13th cent), Citadel of Tustan fortress (14th cent), Porkhov (15th cent); other plates shows the construction of the Zmiev Val; the interior of a wooden log wall built in the Gorodni style; illustrations of defensive long narrow passage between walls (attackers would be under crossfire) - Zakhabs; a Tainik (secret stairs leading to underground source of water and a Tainichnaya bashnya (tower with a secret stairway leading to water sources); a dramatic battle scene of the siege of Vladimir by the Mongols (February 6, 1238); the Moskow Kremlin by 1339-1340 and several views of Kiev showing its gates in the 12-13th centuries.

This is an excellent title from a “c(k)onstantly” excellent author (pun intended).
HASH(0x91b96864) out of 5 stars Good, as far as it goes… 20 May 2014
By JPS - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a rather good title on Medieval Russian fortresses from the 9th to the end of the 15th century, when these started to be increasingly built of brick or stone. It is also a valuable title because there is little in English on this subject, as the title’s list of references shows all too clearly. The implication here is that it is difficult to go much further for anyone who does not read Russian, although the author can hardly be blamed for such a limitation.

With regards to the title’s contents, it follows the usual structure of Osprey’s “Fortress” series. After an introduction and chronology, the “principles of defence section describes the types and layouts of the various fortifications, including regional differences. This is followed by the “design and development” section, where the various components of these fortifications are presented, including ramparts, ditches, walls, gates and towers. The remaining sections describe a selection of sites, living conditions within them, how some of these sites withstood, or not, as the case may be, attacks and sieges, and how and why these fortifications evolved over time.

I found this title valuable, if only because it makes four main points. The first was to show to what extent ditches and earth and wood ramparts were effective in protecting settlements and populations from the endemic raids of nomad horse archers from the 9th through the 12th century. This was in fact the only way to defend against them because of their superior mobility allied with their lack of siege equipment.

The second is to show how quickly these fortifications could be overcome when the enemy was more sophisticated and disposed of such siege equipment, as the Mongols did. This is where one of the plates (the siege and storming of Vladimir over a handful of days) comes in handy and supports the main text rather superbly. It is largely because of this that the fortifications evolved, with brick and stone replacing earth and wood over time, although even these would prove insufficient once cannons were developed.

The third aspects describes the impressive range of fortified settlements that the Russ came up with, and how these evolved, with the plate showing the expansion of the Moscow Kremlin from the middle of the 12th century onwards, and a double page of plates showing seven other fortresses being particularly helpful.

A fourth aspect which is illustrated by a plate showing how these fortifications were built and which also includes the plates presenting the various fortifications is to emphasise how effective these were against the nomad raids alluded to above. It is essentially thanks to these fortifications that the Russ and their various settlements survived, avoided being overrun and managed to resist, except for a few cases when defenders may have been caught by surprise.

I can only warmly recommend this excellent and well-presented title which I would rate four solid stars, while deploring that it is hardly possible for a non-Russian speaker to go beyond once it had wetted your appetite.
HASH(0x9314d954) out of 5 stars Well researched and illustrated 16 Nov. 2013
By Yoda - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Any review of this book would have to start by first mentioning the fact that it is part of Osprey’s “Fortress” series. These are short books of 64 pages, about a third of which are dedicated to one form of illustration or another. Hence the book is not of much use for those seeking a scholarly tome on the subject but instead for those interested in a succinct introduction to the topic. For this audience the book does a very good job.

The book’s emphasis is on the physical characteristics of the fortresses and how they were made. They were almost always made of wood instead of stone (wood was almost universally available in Russia while stone was not). The forts themselves were made on artificially created hills that were very soundly supported with wooden structures. The book does a good job at illustrating this along with providing many illustrations of the forts and key defensive aspects. The forts (or at least the larger ones) themselves were surrounded by moats that were either filled with water or spiked wooden stakes. When possible, they either included wells or were built near rivers. Near rivers secret tunnels could be run from the fort to the river to obtain water (there are also good illustrations of this).

The book also discussed how the forts actually performed in defense in terms of a high level analysis. Aggregate numbers of forts built along with number of successful and unsuccessful sieges figures are provided. These show that the overwhelming of sieges of these fortifications were successful albeit there is little discussion if these fell through long term factors such as starvation or thirst or direct assault. The book also provides some examples of how such forts were fell under direct attack.

All and all a fairly decent succinct introduction to the topic that can be read in an hour and a half or so.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9314db04) out of 5 stars MEDIEVAL RUSSIAN FORTRESSES will enhance any military or Russian history collection. 7 July 2007
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Fortress imprint title MEDIEVAL RUSSIAN FORTRESSES AD 862-1480 by Konstantin S. Nossov covers a myriad of Russian fortifications which revolutionized fortification-building strategies. From the history of medieval Russian fortresses from their first appearance to their evolution through the 14th century both in Russia and abroad, MEDIEVAL RUSSIAN FORTRESSES will enhance any military or Russian history collection.
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