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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 30 Mar, 2015 7:41 pm    Post subject: Top Ten Books on Arms & Armour         Reply with quote

myArmoury.com is a tremendous online resource for enthusiasts interested in arms and armour. In addition to what can be found here, myArmoury also includes book recommendations, since many of the best photographs and much of the best information is still found within published texts. My question for the reader is: if you were to compile a list of top ten books on the subject of arms and armour, what books would you choose?

For the purpose of this list, do not include general history books, nor books related to historic European martial arts. Likewise, books on armies and battles are out. This list is a top ten for books specifically to do with antique arms and armour.

Anyone who looks at my reading list will realize that I have very few books on arms and armour in my collection. I have a few more books on historic European martial arts, but the great majority of my books are related to medieval history in general, rather than to historic arms and armour. So I should be upfront in saying that nearly every book in my top ten list, below, is included based upon what I have heard about the book, or my impression of the book. In other words, I have not personally read most of the books on my list. But as long as I am upfront about this I will not give anyone a false perception about the extent of my reading or knowledge of these books.

Obviously, trying to create a top ten list of arms and armour books is extremely challenging and problematic. As you can see from my list below, I have not included any books specifically on the Viking era, unless you count Alfred Geibig's book although he has swords from slightly later as well. I have no entry for 19th century weapons, an unforgivable sin for those who love swords from this time. Nor have I included any books that exclusively focus on firearms despite the fact that guns were one of the key developments in the history of arms. Similarly, I include no books on shields, yet surely Jan Kohlmorgen's Der Mittelaltliche Reiterschild deserves inclusion, as does I.P. Stephenson's The Anglo-Saxon Shield. I only included two books on armour--one of which is devoted to helmets-- and I would not be surprised if there were myArmoury forum members who feel there are other far more important books as far as armour goes.

In addition to what I have mentioned above, this list is admittedly Western-biased. I know virtually nothing about the best books on arms and armour in North America prior to European arrival, nor about arms and armour from Africa, nor Asia and Oceania. The only book in my list that is not Western-European is a book on samurai swords and armour.

While it would probably be much easier to make a top twenty list, being limited to ten books means that you have to choose your entries carefully knowing that your list will be limited and problematic. When you create your top ten list, you do not have to rank the books in order of importance; you can arrange them in any order that you like.

So what is your top ten list? Remember, no books on historic fighting techniques nor books on general history- these are your top ten books on arms and armour.

My List

1) Records of the Medieval Sword- Still the classic introductory book on swords from the late Viking age to the early Renaissance. Lots of great black and white photos, with interesting text and observations from Mr. Oakeshott.

2) The Archaeology of Weapons: Arms and Armour from Prehistory to the Age of Chivalry: It's the book where Ewart Oakeshott first created his typology of medieval swords, and it has information on arms and armour spanning the ancient to medieval world.

3) Beitrage zu morphologischen Entwicklung des Schwertes im Mittelalter: Eine Analyse des Fundmaterials vom ausgehenden 8. bis zum 12. Jarhundert aus Deutschland- Dr Geibig's book is a pioneering work because it established a new typology for swords from the 8th through 12th century based upon measurements and ratios. It also is an outstanding resource for those interested in swords from the Viking era through to the early High Middle Ages.

4) 2,500 Years of European Helmets: 800 B.C.-1700 A.D.- The go-to book on helmets from Europe.

5) Armi Bianche Italiane- A rare book, noted not only for its images of medieval swords, but also for its Renaissance weaponry.

6) Hafted Weapons in Medieval and Renaissance Europe: The Evolution of European Staff Weapons from 1200 and 1650- Probably one of the most important texts on hand-to-hand weapons outside of swords.

7) Swords & Blades of the American Revolution- This book contains nearly 750 examples of different swords and weapons used from 1650-1800 A.D., and is a broad and excellent resource on the subject.

8) The Rapier & Small Sword: 1460-1820- One of the most important books on the evolution of the rapier and small sword and a classic for anyone interested in these weapons.

9) The Knight and the Blast Furnace: A History of the Metallurgy of Armour in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period- Alan William's book is a classic, ground-breaking text that belongs in the library of anyone who wants to understand the metallurgy of arms and armor, particularly during the age of plate.

10) Arms & Armor of the Samurai: The History of Weaponry in Ancient Japan- My only non-European entry, based upon the fact that the samurai are among the most popular warriors in popular culture and their prowess rivaled that of European knights.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,198

PostPosted: Tue 31 Mar, 2015 6:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can narrow it down to twelve but, between them, the subject is covered pretty comprehensively.

Claude Blair, European Armour
Oakeshott, Archaeology of Weapons
Waldman, Hafted Weapons in Medieval and Renaissance Europe
Bottomley & Hopson, Arms and Armour of the Samurai
Khorasani, Arms and Armor from Iran.
Connolly, Greece and Rome at War
Bishop & Coulston, Roman Military Equipment
Robinson, Oriental Armour
Sim & Ridge Iron for the Eagles
Williams The Knight and the Blast Furnace
Taylor, Native American Weapons
For the Bronze Age I would humbly submit my own book.

Stone's Glossary should probably get an honourable mention as well even though it is outdated.[/url]

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books


Last edited by Dan Howard on Tue 31 Mar, 2015 6:14 am; edited 1 time in total
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Kuo Xie




Location: Chicago, IL
Joined: 29 Feb 2012

Posts: 76

PostPosted: Tue 31 Mar, 2015 6:13 am    Post subject: Re: Top Ten Books on Arms & Armour         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:

9) The Knight and the Blast Furnace: A History of the Metallurgy of Armour in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period- Alan William's book is a classic, ground-breaking text that belongs in the library of anyone who wants to understand the metallurgy of arms and armor, particularly during the age of plate.


I'm not well-read enough to list off a top ten, but I do second this item. "Knight and the Blast Furnace" cleared up so many questions I had about medieval metallurgy. Is there something like this book, but focusing more on mail armor instead of plate?
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Tue 31 Mar, 2015 9:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great thread, Craig. My own list will be biased towards later swords from Britain, but since there are not that many that are of a very high caliber, I will add my favorite titles on other arms and armour subjects. I will include only books with which I have first-hand experience.

My list, in no particular order:

Robson, Swords of the British Army , The Regulation Patterns 1788-1914
Dellar, The British Cavalry Sword 1788-1912, Some New Perspectives
Wilkinson-Latham, Wilkinson Sword Patterns and Blade Rubs
Neumann, Swords and Blades of the American Revolution
Aylward, The Small-Sword in England: Its History, Its Forms, Its Makers, and Its Masters
Norman, The Rapier and Small-sword: 1460-1820
Mazansky, British Basket-Hilted Swords
Oakeshott, Records of the Medieval Sword
Edge & Paddock, Arms and Armour of the Medieval Knight
Howard, Bronze Age Military Equipment
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Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 1,494

PostPosted: Tue 31 Mar, 2015 2:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Goll, Iron Documents, http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=31261
Jiang Huangfu, Iron and Steel Swords of China
Khorasani, Arms and Armor from Iran
Klopsteg, Turkish Archery
Museu de Arte de Macau, History of Steel in Eastern Asia, http://www.arscives.com/historysteel/introduction_main.htm
Oakeshott, Records of the Medieval Sword
Pant, Indian Arms and Armour (3 vols)
Robson, Swords of the British Army, The Regulation Patterns 1788-1914
Stone, Glossary
Van Zonneveld, Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago

Short-listed, but didn't make the final cut:
Howard, Bronze Age Military Equipment
Norman, The Rapier and Small-sword: 1460-1820
Robinson, Oriental Armour
Williams, The Great Warbow

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Jussi Ekholm




Location: Tampere, Finland
Joined: 16 Jun 2004
Reading list: 38 books

Posts: 93

PostPosted: Tue 31 Mar, 2015 3:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm going to focus only on books about Japanese swords, as others have provided great suggestions on other books. I'll make it 5 good beginner books and 5 good advanced books. Some might wonder what "advanced" books are, they are amazing books filled with information that is usually too boring and difficult to get into for beginners. However once you really start getting into Japanese swords you'll realize the importance of more advanced books as they are fantastic source of information.

For beginners

Samurai - Clive Sinclaire
The Japanese Sword - Kanzan Sato
The Art of the Japanese Sword - Yoshindo Yoshihara, Leon & Hiroko Kapp
Facts and Fundamentals of Japanese Swords - Nobuo Nakahara
Arms and Armour of the Samurai - Ian Bottomley & A.P. Hopson

For advanced readers

Kantei Zenshu ( 2 volumes ) - Markus Sesko
Yamanaka Newsletters ( 4 volumes ) - Albert Yamanaka
The Connoisseurs Book of Japanese Swords - Kokan Nagayama
Nihonto Koza ( 5 volumes) - Kanzan Sato, Honma Junji
Zusetsu Nihonto Yogo Jiten - Kotoken Kajihara

Jussi Ekholm
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