Medieval Mercenaries: The Business of War
by William Urban
List Price: $39.95
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Greenhill Books
Publish Date: November 27, 2006
New in Print
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.
About the Author:
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.