Knights - Chivalry and Violence

Knights - Chivalry and Violence

Rosie Serdiville and John Sadler
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
“Knights – Chivalry and Violence” by Rosie Serdiville and John Sadler is the fourth book I’ve reviewed in the Casemate Short History series.

Designed to give you a bite-sized taste of history, these books are great. They’re informative, well written and concise. “Knights” doesn’t break this trend.

Out of all four Casemate Short History books, this topic was the one I had the most knowledge on, but even so, I learned plenty.

Covering The Hundred Year War, Agincourt, The Battle of Hastings, Braveheart and all the old favourites, Knights covers the change in ethos from the “bruiser” mercenaries to the chivalric “modern” form of knights, participating in tournaments, that most people associate with the term.

The period covered by “Knights” is 1066 – 1522, when muskets are introduced into the fray and signals the end of Knights as an effective fighting force.

The book covers the evolution of weapons and tactics from the early days to the heavily-armoured mini-tanks that were knights in full plate armour, sitting astride armoured destriers warhorses. It covers a multitude of topics including what they ate, how they formed up in battle, the supply train required to service the soldiers and everything in between.

Despite my familiarity with the subject matter, taught to me in school and various books and podcasts since, there was plenty of odd information which I didn’t know. “Every day is a school day,” they say and they’d be right.

If I had gripes, they’d be along the lines of finding a few modern colloquialisms which are quite jarring (PBI – poor bloody infantry, squaddies etc.) and remove immersion in the book. I stand to be corrected, but both of those terms are newer than the Crusades, I’d wager.

Regardless, “Knights” is written in an easy-to-follow style that would be suitable for any level of reading, whether it’s GCSE revision or a middle-aged duffer like me who just enjoys learning.

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It’s a really informative book which won’t wear out its welcome. It whets the appetite to learn more, which is really the greatest compliment I can give it.

4 out of 5 Destriers
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