- Paperback: 248 pages
- Publisher: Boydell Press (July 11 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1843834529
- ISBN-13: 978-1843834526
- Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 1.9 x 22.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 363 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #212,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Special Operations in the Age of Chivalry, 1100-1550 Paperback – Jul 11 2017
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Unequivocally illustrate(s) the importance of special operations and of small scale initiatives in medieval warfare. Harari's prose and research will appeal to both academics and enthusiasts of military history. Special Operations in the Age of Chivalry, 1100-1550 is a great contribution to the field and should inspire many more studies. DE RE MILITARI
The prose is detailed but very clear and coloured plates, maps, etc., help. BIBLIOTHÈQUE D'HUMANISME ET RENAISSANCE
A scholarly but eminently readable account of undercover operations in medieval warfare. CLASSIC ARMS & MILITARIA
An entertaining but also learned book, from which it is possible to glean much about medieval military history. BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE
A wide-ranging study, which sets medieval warfare in a novel perspective. EHR
Highly readable.(...) This is a popular book, but a scholarly one and a worthy addition to the well-known series Warfare in History. CRUSADES
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This book is generally broke down into two sections. Part one with chapter one sets the tone with an explanation of special operations which sets the conditions for the remaining chapters. The second part of the book are the remaining chapters on specific operations analyzed through attributes discussed in chapter one. Overall this academic study is ideal for the casual reader, military student of warfare and military Special Forces operators.
- List of Illustrations
Chapter 1: Special Operations, Strategy, and Politics in the Age of Chivalry - An Analytical Overview
- The Definition of Inland Special Operations
- Special Operations in Contemporary Warfare, Culture and Scholarship
- The Targets of Inland Special Operations in the Age Chivalry
- Special Forces?
- Historiographical Considerations
Chapter 2: The Gateway to the Middle East - Antioch 1098
Chapter 3: Saving King Baldwin - Khartpert 1123
Chapter 4: The Assassination of King Conrad - Tyre 1192
Chapter 5: For a Sack-full of Gold Ecus - Calais 1350
Chapter 6: Princes in the Cross-Hairs: The Rise and Fall of Valois Burgundy, 1407-83
Chapter 7: The Mill of Auriol - Auriol 1536
Chapter 8: Conclusion
- Works Cited
The book is divided into two parts. The first one is an analytical overview of special operations between 1100 and 1550, therefore covering part of the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance. It aims to outline the main characteristics of "special operations" during the period and it also introduces some of the features of war in the age of chivalry. The second part is made up of six chapters, each of which presents one operation. The book is aimed at "non-professional readers" with little prior knowledge of warfare during the period under consideration. This explains why notes are listed at the end of each chapter (something that I, at least, found much handier than having them all at the back!) and why the discussion of sources is kept to a minimum.
I did, however, have some mild reservations. One is the author's comparison between "contemporary special forces" and those of the period he reviews. The contrast that is drawn between highly trained and specialized forces and largely non-professional soldiers of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance are interesting but feels at times at bit far-fetched. Apart from mercenaries, which even in the age of chivalry were more numerous than traditionally acknowledged, listing knights as non-professional soldiers may be a bit of an over-simplification. The parallel drawn between the targets during the two periods - in both cases capture of infrastructures (fortifications), destruction of infrastructures to deny them to the enemy, acts against people (murders or abductions) and against symbols also could be seen as somewhat superficial. Besides, a study of "special operations" during Antiquity would have also led to identify a very similar set of targets.
Some of the author's statements may be a bit sweeping, at times. For instance, Richard the Lion-Hart is presented as "winning the war" against the French King in 1199 when he got himself killed at Châlus. The reality seems to have been more complicated, with Richard exhausting himself in having to put down one rebellion after another across his huge domains in France, with each rebellion backed by Philippe Auguste. While Richard did manage to defeat his enemy several times, this war of attrition was certainly taking a heavy tool so that the assertion that he was winning would probably need to be toned down somewhat and is also debatable.
I was a bit surprised by the selection of episodes, partly because I expected them to be spread across the whole period and partly because I also expected them to be geographically more diverse. No special operation has been selected for the thirteenth century and, out of the six, the first three take place in the Holy Land between the 11th and 12th century whereas the three others take place in France during the 14th, 15th and 16th century, respectively. This is not, however, a criticism in any way: the narratives are rather good, entertaining, lively and enjoyable.
His book certainly meets its objectives and is worth a solid four stars, but not quite five stars, in my view. Warmly recommended.