Monday, December 30, 2013

Barbarians, Marauders, and Infidels: The Ways of Medieval Warfare by Antonio Santosuosso

I would love to be an armchair historian. It's too much work though. I tend to read the same thing over and over from different resources and have some vague sense of where and when things happened but never get those specifics unless I'm digging for them.

Despite that, I enjoy reading historical material. Having some ideas on how history actually went, or was recorded at least, provides me with some fuel for role playing games that I enjoy, especially those that tend to be based on themes or ideas of 'dark ages' or non-modern eras where war was the common treat of the day.

Barbarians, Marauders, and Infidels fits that criteria perfectly. There is so much packed into this book that I could do several posts on it. The only problem with that is that I didn't mark it enough for that. But there were a few things I did mark down.

Kahina:I knew nothing about this Berber queen before reading this book. Reading it, and looking up further details though? She's almost mythical in terms of theme and stance and role in the fighting.

Or how about Alboin, a king who drank wine from a goblet made form the skull of a king killed by his hands in the lands of Pannonia?

There are also other bits I found interesting. For example, it talks about "Chinese salt" or gunpowder being used first in major battles by the Mongols, especially in their attempted invasion of Japan in 1274-1781, from whence it then passed to the Muslims, until finally landing in Roger Bacon's work.

Sadly, as much awesome as there is in this book, it was my 'car' book so I read it pretty much whenever I was waiting for my g/f or mom so while there is a ton of awesome in there, like how one group of conqueror's would allow a defeated army to leave unmolested, but kill the citizens of the lands that the conqueror's had already defeated because they were not loyal, or how knightly chivalry was image enhancing nonsense, my recollection of specifics is woefully weak and I've got a ton of other books to read over and forget.

The good news is that there are a ton of foot notes, and a ton of other books referenced here. If you are an actual armchair historian or someone who really digs into history, Antonio has a lot of reading planned for you.