Medieval Mercenaries: The Business of War

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Greenhill Books, 2006 - History - 304 pages
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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. 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. A mercenary was a professional soldier who took employment with minimum concern for the morals, ethics or cause of the paymaster. But within these confines we discover a surprising array of fighting-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. Shocking, informative and hugely entertaining, Medieval Mercenaries is a compelling account of the business of war in the age of chivalry.

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User Review  - ex_ottoyuhr - LibraryThing

Clumsy and poorly focused. I expected a book that could compete with Braudel; I got something that is basically a cursory history of the entire Middle Ages, plus assorted meanderings in the varied ... Read full review

About the author (2006)

William Urban is the Lee L. Morgan Professor of History at Monmouth College, Illinois. He is the author of numerous works, including the highly acclaimed The Teutonic Knights.

Terry Jones, best known for his part in Monty Python's Flying Circus, is also a distinguished medieval historian.

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