Editor’s Choice: Caroline Palmer talks Pietro Monte Collectanea

The prolific Jeffrey Forgeng is doing his best to maintain the Boydell Press armour and weapons list single-handedly. Here, he offers a translation of a wide-ranging treatise by the Spanish-turned-Italian solder, Pietro Monte, written at some point in the 1480s. It is quite extraordinary. Not only does it offer advice on the usual jousting techniques, the right sort of armour to wear, how to fight with a sword, etc. – but it takes a much more “holistic”, almost modern view, thinking about the psychology of motivating an army and soldiers, and how each type of person will behave in a certain way.

And I have never before read a detailed description of the medieval equivalent of water-wings/flotation devices!

This is an absolutely crucial resource for knowledge of military matters, fighting techniques, etc. at the time; it really does give huge insights into the role of the knight, and what actually happened. But because it has had a rather complicated textual history (which need not detain us here…), it’s been rarely consulted. Forgeng’s easy, readable translation will change this. A number of illustrations of contemporary battles, armour and weapons illuminate the text further.

It will appeal of course to historians (notably military ones, of course, and those looking at chivalry), but also to re-enactors.

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