Book Review: Siege Warfare during the Crusades

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by Michael S. Fulton

Barnsley, Eng.: Pen & Sword / Philadelphia: Casemate, 2019. Pp. xxiv, 344. Illus., maps, plans, graphs, tables, appends., gloss., notes, biblio., index. $42.95. ISBN: 1526718650

The Art of Siege in the Crusading Era

Dr. Fulton (University of British Columbia), a specialist on medieval military practice, gives us a comprehensive survey of siege operations during Crusades, from the Christian capture of Nicaea in 1097 to the Moslem capture of Acre in 1291.

Fulton opens with a chapter that reviews the general course of the Crusades, during which fortification became a vital aspect of military practice, enabling usually outnumbered Crusaders to capture, and later cling to portions of the Levant for nearly two centuries. He follows this with five chapters each of which is devoted to a particular aspect of the development of siege warfare during the wars.

So we get a chapter discussing the planning and building of castles and other fortifications, with an explanation of the importance of place. This followed by a chapter devoted to the organization and management of attacks on fortified places, the complexities of laying siege, and one on the on the weapons and techniques used for the attack on or defense of fortified places. Only then does Fulton offer us a chapter on the design of defenses, taking into account the various measures need to address the threat of specific weapons and tactics.

Fulton ends the book with a chapter reviewing overall trends in the evolution of fortification design and siege techniques during the period, and a conclusion in which he examines the final siege of the Crusades, the six week investment of Acre that brought about the final expulsion of the Crusaders from the Levant.

Siege Warfare During the Crusades is well written, and Fulton provides a glossary and a number of side bars to help the reader better understand the often arcane arts of fortification and siege, and includes an impressive appendix listing an enormous number of sieges that took place in the region during the Crusades. This is well worth reading for anyone with an interest in the Crusades or the history of fortification and siege.

 

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Note: Siege Warfare During the Crusades is also available in several e-editions.

 

StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


Buy it at Amazon.com




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