Book Review: Mercenaries and their Masters: Warfare in Renaissance Italy

Pen and Sword

A while ago this book was part of an discount of ebooks bij Pen and Sword. I bought and downloaded it, hoping to have some 15th century warfare stories inside. So I would have a better period feel for the 15th century projects. I am not really interested in the Italian wars, but it is part of Europe, and even in that period soldiers (and mercenaries) could already travel for long distances. So these soldiers could also fight in the other wars closer to the Netherlands.

The book itself does tell the story of Italian warfare, diving into the political aspects. Also the intrigues and conflicting city states. Naming a lot of companies and there commanders. It does occasionally describe some battles but only in general matters, focusing on the outcome and impact on the development of the mercenaries systems, and rise and fall of the different companies.


The book did focus on a different subject than I was interested in, and did not include the detailed descriptions on tactics and fights with mercenary groups I hoped for. If interested in the Renaissance Italian wars, this book is probably better suited, but cannot tell how well this is compared to other books. Probably not a very helpful review for others.

Holiday battlefield tours

Last couple of weeks have been holidays for me. We had decided to visit Ypres and Normandy. Both places I have been before and new some camping sites.

Off course when visiting Ypres you cannot ignore the battlefield and memorial at the Menin gate. We did only visit one museum as we only had a couple of days here. We went to the Paschendale museum.

Nowaday sight of Hill 60 to the left, and the crater on the right side of the track
The view during ww1

After the first couple of days we went to Normandy. Were we visited multiple battlefield sites.

Next to the well known we visited also some less well known battlefields. Long before D-day there were already enough battles in the area. Most well known is the Bayeux Tapistery, which we didn’t visit this time as we have seen it before.

The first was a visit to Tatihou. A defensive island for the coast. On the island is a maritime museum, which describes the battle of Hogue. And the destruction of the French fleet by an Anglo Dutch force in 1690 just off the coast of this island. Next to this story you can see some old fortess works. And some German ww2 bunkers which are build within this old fortress.

Fortress on Tatihou island

The next visit was to Formigny battlefield. Here an English force which landed in Cherbourgh was defeated by the French in 1450. This battle was the start of getting rid of the English in Normandy. There is not much to see, except from some farmland, and two monuments. But it is located slightly more land inwards at the height of Omaha beach.

Maisy castle

The last was just a lucky stumble. I found a sign telling the story of this old castle. It was of the landlord of the area at the start at fifteen century. This was one of the most important stronghold for the surrounding country, as he had counsel rights. It got destroyed around 1412 by one of the English raids into Normandy, and has been in ruins since then. On the horizon of the photo the sea is visible. On the coastline you can nicely walk, and find lot of German bunkers and Atlantik wall positions.