L.J. Andrew Villalon and Donald J. Kagay (eds.).

Crusaders, Condottieri and Cannon:
Medieval Warfare in Societies around the Mediterranean
.

History of Warfare, Vol. 13 (Leiden & Boston: E.J. Brill, 2003), ISBN: 90-041-2553-1. €140/US$175.


This impressive and weighty volume (nearly 500 pages) is the third volume of articles edited by L.J. Andrew Villalon and Donald J. Kagay. It is divided into six parts, presenting a total of seventeen articles concerning mediaeval warfare in the states surrounding the Mediterranean.

Part One, "The Laws of War," presents three articles focusing on the legal aspect of war, as presented in three examples from mediaeval Iberia. Joseph F. O'Callaghan, in " War (and Peace) in the Law Codes of Alphonso X," and David A. Cohen, in "Secular Pragmatism and Thinking about War in some Court Writings of Pere III El Cerimoni—s," examine the attitudes towards war of, respectively, Alfonso X, King of Castile-Leon (1252-84) and Pere III, King of Aragon and Count of Barcelona (1336-87). In both cases, particular emphasis is placed on the relative importance given by each ruler to ideological concerns and practical realities. The third article in this section, "The National Defense Clause and the Emergence of the Catalan State: Princeps Namque Revisited," by Donald J. Kagay, examines the history of the use by the rulers of Catalonia of the national defense clause (Princeps namque) in the traditional Catalan law, the Usatges of Barcelona. Originally produced with the rest of the Usatges in the twelfth century, this clause, which allowed the rulers of Catalonia to summon their subjects to the defense of the region, was invoked explicitly up to the seventeenth century, and in spirit up to the twentieth.

The second part of this volume, entitled "Crusaders at War," is concerned with events taking place further east. The first of the articles, Douglas Sterling's "The Siege of Damietta: Seapower in the Fifth Crusade 1217-1221 A.D.," is, frankly, disappointing, as it contains serious basic errors; for example, Sterling does not seem to understand the basic political landscape of Egypt in the period. He asserts that Egypt was ruled by the Fatimids (p. 102), who had ceased to rule in 1171, then later refers (correctly) to the Ayyubid rulers, al-'Adil (1200-18) and al-Kamil (1218-38), without appearing to see a distinction between the two dynasties. His knowledge of western politics is equally shaky; he later suggests that Conrad IV of Hohenstaufen (whom, as he acknowledges, reigned from 1228-54, but whom he calls Conrad III [who actually reigned in Germany from 1138-52]), was involved in military action at Acre during the Fifth Crusade (p. 125), when he was not actually born until 1228! These are merely two of a number of errors to be found in this article.

The other two papers in this section are, fortunately, of much higher quality. In "The Mongol Presence and Impact in the Lands of the Eastern Mediterranean," Timothy M. May examines the impact of the Mongol invasions on the Eastern Mediterranean, paying particular attention to the interplay of military action and diplomacy, and how they affected not only the Muslims and Christians of the area, but also the Mongols themselves. Kelly DeVries then shifts the focus of the volume further north and east in "The Effect of Killing the Christian Prisoners at the Battle of Nicopolis," in which he examines the impact of the Ottoman massacre of prisoners in the wake of the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396, showing how it contributed to the fearful image of the Turks held by westerners, although he is careful to avoid drawing the otherwise unsupportable conclusion that this explains why it was over a hundred years before another expedition against the Ottomans was launched from the West.

With Parts Three ("The Spanish Reconquest") and Four ("The Conquest of Granada") the volume again turns its attention to Iberia. In the first article of Part Three, "Enemies and Allies: The Crown of Aragon and al-Andalus in the Twelfth Century," Josep-David Garrido i Valls traces the history of relations between the Kingdom of Aragon and the eastern part of Muslim Spain, a mixture of military conflict and diplomatic agreements that was influenced by the Muslim rulers' attempts to resist conquest by the Almohads. The next two articles, Cynthia L. Chamberlin's "'The King Sent Them Very Little Relief': The Castilian Siege of Algeciras, 1278-1279" and Nicolas Agrait's "The Experience of War in Fourteenth-Century Spain: Alfonso XI and the Capture of Algeciras (1342-1344), both examine Castilian campaigns against the city, the first a failure and the second a success, with careful consideration of the reasons for each outcome.

Part Four presents two articles challenging existing scholarly opinions of the Castilian reconquest of Granada and its importance to military history. In "An Appreciation of the War for Granada (1481-1492): A Critical Link to Western Military History," Albert D. McJoynt demonstrates that developments in the conduct of warfare during the campaign, particularly the widespread use of gun-bearing infantry, had a significant impact on the way wars would be fought in the future in Europe as a whole. Weston F. Cook, Jr. focuses more specifically on the use of cannon in the Granada campaign in "The Cannon Conquest of Nasrid Spain and the End of the Reconquista," arguing that the success of the Castilian forces hinged greatly upon the superiority of their artillery, both in terms of number and tactical use.

The first two articles of Part Five, "Fourteenth-Century Warfare," are concerned with the activities of the so-called "free companies" of mercenaries in the fourteenth century. In "Slaying the Hydra-Headed Beast: Italy and the Companies of Adventure in the Fourteenth Century," William Caferro discusses the problems these companies posed for the Italian communes, and how they attempted to deal with them, showing in particular that it was usually more effective to "buy off" the companies than to attempt to oppose them with force. In "'Seeking Castles in Spain': Sir Hugh Calveley and the Free Companies' Intervention in Iberian Warfare (1366-1369)," L.J. Andrew Villalon discusses the activities of the free companies in the War of the Two Pedros (1356-66), paying particular attention to the career of one of the most distinguished participants, Sir Hugh Calveley (d. 1393). The third article in this section, "The Master's Hand and the Secular Arm: Property and Discipline in the Hospital of St. John in the Fourteenth Century," by Mark Dupuy, demonstrates that the prospect of material gain also led to misconduct in the ranks of Hospitallers, and that changes in the administration of the properties of the Order of the Hospital in the fourteenth century encouraged this trend.

Part Six, "New Answers for Old Questions," contains three articles, all of which question existing views of history. In "The Geography of Power: Matilda of Tuscany and the Strategy of Active Defense," Valerie Eads reviews the conflict between Pope Gregory VII (1073-85) and Henry IV of Germany (1056-1106) that formed part of the Investiture Controversy, demonstrating in particular the vital, but previously neglected, role that Matilda of Tuscany (d. 1115) played in the military proceedings. Theresa M. Vann's "Reconstructing a 'Society Organized for War'" challenges the scholarly assumption that municipal militias were the primary actors in the Christian reconquest of Iberia, arguing instead that the Christian armies contained important components from a variety of different sectors of society. Finally, Steven Bowman's "Twelfth-Century Jewish Responses to Crusade and Jihad" seeks to question the popular view of mediaeval Jews as slaughtered victims of Muslim jihad-warriors or Christian Crusaders, by showing that the Jewish responses to invasion by other religious groups were much more varied, including not only the well-known cases of ritual suicide and flight, but also military opposition and real or feigned conversion.

The volume contains a number of helpful maps, and concludes with an extensive bibliography and a useful appendix containing lists of mediaeval popes and rulers for reference.

As the Introduction acknowledges, the focus of Crusaders, Condottieri and Cannon is for the most part on Iberia, and the majority of the papers deal with the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The volume will, therefore, be of most use to historians working on this region and period. However, the majority of the other papers will also be of use to appropriate specialists, and the volume as a whole presents a number of interesting comparisons and fresh viewpoints that will be of general interest to scholars.


Niall Christie

University of British Columbia

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