The Medieval Military Engineer

April 2018
30 black and white illustrations
365 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Armour and Weapons
ISBN: 9781783272785
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
BIC HBLC1, 1D, 2AB, 3H
BISAC HIS037010, HIS027130, HIS002020

The Medieval Military Engineer

From the Roman Empire to the Sixteenth Century

Peter Purton

Sheds light on the skills and techniques of the medieval military engineer, over a thousand year sweep.
The results of medieval engineering still surround us - cathedrals, castles, stone bridges, irrigation systems. However, the siege artillery, siege towers, temporary bridges, earthwork emplacements and underground mines used for war have left little trace behind them; and there is even less of the engineers themselves: the people behind the military engineering achievements. The evidence for this neglected group is studied here.
The author begins by considering the evolution of military technology across centuries, and the impact of new technologies in the context of the economic and social developments which made them possible. He looks at how military engineers obtained their skills, and the possible link with scholastic scientific awareness. With the increased survival of government records from the middle ages, engineers acquire names and individuals can be identified. And the fifteenth century - the age of polymaths such as Leonardo da Vinci - saw a new type of literate military engineer, part of a recognized profession, but with its roots in a thousand years of historical development.

Peter Purton, D Phil (Oxon), FSA, has written extensively on medieval fortifications and siege warfare; his publications include the comprehensive two-volume history of the medieval siege (Boydell, 2010).

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Table of Contents

Military engineers in the Middle Ages
Late Antiquity and the early "middle ages": were the "Dark Ages" really dark?
Anonymous but effective: the engineers and technicians of the ninth to eleventh centuries
The engineer recognised
Engineers in demand: innovation and development in the thirteenth century
Old and new technology and its operators in the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries
Polymaths and specialists in the fifteenth century
Postscript: from medieval to [early] modern in the sixteenth century
Appendix: Military engineers and miners in the Pipe Rolls of the English Exchequer
Bibliography of primary sources
Bibliography of secondary sources

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