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Medieval Mercenaries

The Business of War

William Urban



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01 March 2016
History; Medieval history; Military history; Mercenaries
The Middle Ages were a turbulent and violent time, when the fate of nations was most often decided on the battlefield, and strength of arms was key to acquiring and maintaining power. Feudal oaths and local militias were more often than not incapable of providing the skilled and disciplined warriors necessary to keep the enemy at bay. It was the mercenary who stepped in to fill the ranks. A mercenary was a professional soldier who took employment with no concern for the morals or cause of the paymaster. But within these confines we discover a surprising array of men, from the lowest-born foot soldier to the wealthiest aristocrat the occasional clergyman, even. What united them all was a willingness, and often the desire, to fight for their supper. In this benchmark work, William Urban explores the vital importance of the mercenary to the medieval power-broker, from the Byzantine Varangian Guard to fifteenth-century soldiers of fortune in the Baltic. Through contemporary chronicles and the most up-to-date scholarship, he presents an in-depth portrait of the mercenary across the Middle Ages. AUTHOR: WILLIAM URBAN is the Lee L. Morgan professor of history and international studies at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois. He is considered a leading expert on the Crusades and the Teutonic Knights. His many books include Matchlocks to Flintlocks, Bayonets for Hire and the highly acclaimed The Teutonic Knights. SELLING POINTS: Explores why mercenaries were employed to defend or expand territory before massed national armies existed Gives the professional soldiers who came to dominate the battlefields of the Middle Ages their due place in history Absorbing and entertaining account written by acclaimed author of The Teutonic Knights With an introduction by renowned medieval historian Terry Jones, also of Monty Python fame Draws on contemporary chronicles and up-to-date scholarship REVIEWS: 'This is a different kind of history book that is highly recommended for the curious or for the academic researcher' Syd Wigzell 'Medieval Mercenaries will enlighten, delight, and fascinate anyone interested in reading how nations thrive in a wartime economy and profit from perpetual conflict' - Lee L. Morgan, Professor of History at Monmouth University, Military History Magazine 16pp b/w plates
By:   William Urban
Imprint:   Frontline
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 156mm, 
ISBN:   9781848328549
ISBN 10:   1848328540
Pages:   256
Publication Date:   01 March 2016
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Unspecified

William Urban has written more than twenty books, most on military history; some of these books have been translated into Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Italian, Swedish and Lithuanian. He is an acknowledged expert on the Teutonic Order and the Northern Crusades, and he has written extensively about warfare between 1500 and 1800.

Reviews for Medieval Mercenaries: The Business of War

Mercenary armies were a common thing in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. In this fascinating book based on contemporary chronicles and the latest research, William Urban tells the tumultuous story of soldiers of fortune at the service of various rulers. swarming anecdotes, the book offers an immersion into the complex and precarious world of professional soldiers whom war was primarily a matter of profit. It provides many individual portraits of mercenaries and studies their presence in works of writers as well known as Geoffrey Chaucer or Arthur Conan Doyle. --Pretorien, No. 40

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