Monday, September 10, 2012

Norman Infantry and Recommended Reading

As I continue my work on my Conquest Norman Infantry, I am impressed with how useful they are in a variety of roles.


Here is a group of unarmored Normans set up as Breton skirmishers.  I shortened the spears to javelin length and added a few bare heads from other manufacturers.  


A unit of Normans 



Another option included in the box is a double handed axeman.  Paint him a mustache and you have an Anglo-Dane huscarl.


Non-Fiction:

Haskins, Charles Homer The Normans in European History.  Haskins deserves praise as one of the greatest medievalists of the early twentieth century, while he was less than successful as a close advisor to Woodrow Wilson at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.  Although close to a hundred years old,  The Normans in European History is an excellent description of how the Normans evolved from Viking settlers (or extortionists of the Franks) into an organized medieval state in under two centuries.  Haskins' historical viewpoint is a product of his times, and he attempts somewhat unsuccessfully to view and define the duchy of Normandy in twentieth century nation-state terms. Available as a free ebook on Google Play and Amazon.com

O'Brien, Harriet Queen Emma and the Vikings. Popular history about a central, but often forgotten figure in the great game of pursuing the throne of England in the eleventh century.  Emma, a Norman princess, was married to two kings of England, Aethelred and Cnut, and mother to two as well, Harthacnut and Edward the Confessor, and finally, aunt to William the Bastard (Conqueror).

Fiction:

Duggan, Alfred. Knight in Armor. Finest piece of historical fiction on the Crusades that I have read.  The eponymous knight, a young Norman who joins the First Crusade, is not particularly likeable or intelligent.  Published in 1950, it rests both chronologically and spiritually between nineteenth century romanticism and late twentieth century revisionism.  The march across the Near East is shown as a bloody, sordid and mostly unholy affair, and yet the final few pages capture the elation, desperation and triumph of achieving such an unlikely conquest.

Duggan, Alfred. The Lady for Ransom.  This time Duggan follows a band of Italian Normans who become Byzantine mercenaries and are present as the empire fell apart in chaos after the Battle of Manzikert. If Duggan wrote a bad book, I have yet to come across it, and this is one of my favorites.

Ludlow, Jack - The Conquest Trilogy.  Ludlow's trilogy is comprised of Mercenaries, Warrior and Conquest and recounts the de Hauteville family's conquest of southern Italy. Obviously impressed with Norman military prowess, Ludlow begins book one with the practical eldest brother William Ironarm who sought his fortune in Italy as one of many Norman adventurers. The series finally finishes with the domination of Southern Italy by the youngest brother, Robert Guiscard. The dialogue is terse and efficient, and it captures the political and military machinations of the Normans, Lombards, Byzantines and the Papacy very well.  Stylistically however, Ludlow is dry and clinical, and almost never evocative, as the setting demands.  Having finished the series on audiobook, the excellent narration by Jonathon Keeble compensates for the lack of mood in the prose.



2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the links, the Conquest Normans look quite useful.

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  2. Great stuff! I've got some myself and have just started painting - love 'em.

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