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Page history last edited by Rob Brennan 11 years, 6 months ago

The bookshelf is for people to recommend books that they regard of good historical accuracy and quality to help others research armies they are interested in.


Tibetans by Duncan Head

The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia by Beckworth


Spring and Autumn Chinese by Duncan Head

There's a 1992 edition of Burton Watson's translated extracts from the Tso Chuan which has some battle descriptions - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tso-Chuan-Selections-Narrative-Translations/dp/0231067151/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316446120&sr=1-1

Chris Peers' "Warlords of China" covers the period quite well - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Warlords-China-Chris-Peers/dp/1854094017/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316446228&sr=1-1

Otherwise, not all that much. General histories of ancient China, the Needham volume on missiles and sieges, Selby's Chinese Archery, all include this era. Ditto any edition of Sun Tzu (Sunzi) or Sawyer's "Seven Military Classics", though _most_ of that is dealing with later stuff. Sawyer's recent "Ancient Chinese Warfare" only goes up to the Shang, though I think it may originally have been intended to cover a wider peiod.


Oh, and of course Cho-yun Hsu's "Ancient China in Transition" (1965 or so, various reprints) is primarily about the increasing frequency and intensity of warfare in the Spring-Autumn period - but has relatively little that's of direct battlefield/gaming interest.

Historical Fiction by rooster_fan75

Michael Ford - Fall of Rome (Odoacer), Sword of Attlia, The Last King (Mithridates of Pontus), Gods and Legions (Emperor Julian)
Ben Kane - Forgotten Legion, Silver Eagle (both about the survivors of the Crassus disaster at Carrhae)
Scott Oden - Memnon, Men of Bronze (set in era of Persian conquest of Egypt)
Simon Scarrow - Macro and Cato series
Steven Pressfield - Gates of Fire (Thermopylae), Tides of War (Alcibiades) Alexander, The Afghan Campaign
David Durham - Hannibal
William Napier - Attila trilogy
Robert Low - Whale Road, Wolf Sea (Vikings)
Obviously also Christian Cameron and Sidebottom
All great reads with excellent historical detail

Later Swiss by Duncan Head and Peter Kershaw

The bits that I've chipped in have come from Douglas Miller's old "Swiss at War" Osprey, Oman's "Art of War in the Middle Ages", and Vaughan's "Charles the Bold". Ian Heath's "Armies of the Middle Ages v1" gives a decent introduction.

I'm sure there's a lot more, especially if you read German.

On the web try http://www.murtenpanorama.ch/en/home/index.php and http://www.1499.ch/ausstellung/inhalt.html which has pictures from a chronicle of the Swabian War 1499.

http://juillot.home.cern.ch/juillot/guerres_de_bourgogne.html on the Strasbourgers, some of their German city allies. (There was a good site on the Strasbourg militia at http://guerriers-avalon.ovh.org/accueilXV.html but it's not available at the moment.)


For c. 1470 there is the Tschactlanchronik.
Some pictures at

Pictures (c. 1480) by Deibold Schilling the Elder are also useful - you can
get some with a google search such as here
His son produced some too ( a generation later, unsurprisingly). 

Sassanid Persia by Doug Melville

al-Tabari, "Conquest of Iraq, Southwestern Persia, and Egypt," translated by Juynboll, G. H. A., v.13 (SUNY, 1991).
Bivar, A. D. H., "Cavalry Equipment and Tactics on the Euphrates Frontier," Dumbarton Oaks Papers, v.26
Frye, R. N., "Heritage of Persia"(London, 1962).
Inostrancev, C.A., "The Sasanian Military Theory," translated by Bagdanov, L., K.R. Cama Oriental Institute, v.7 (1926), 7-52.
Julian 'Orationes'
Libanius 'Oration ' XVIII
Marcellinus, Ammianus, "The Later Roman Empire," translated by Hamilton, W. (Penguin, 1987).
Maurice, "Strategikon," translated by Dennis, G. T. (Philadelphia 1984).
Procopius, "History of the Wars," translated by Dewing, H. B. (Harvard, 1962).
Rawlinson, George, "The Seventh Great Oriental Monarchy" (Tehran, 1976).
Scriptores Historiae Augustae
Theophylact Simocatta 'History', trans. & notes Michael & Mary Whitby, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1986. ISBN 0-19-822799-X
Yarshater, E., editor, "The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 3" (Cambridge, 1983).
Zachariah of Mytilene 'Church History' IX. 2  (92.25 - 93.27) (ref to 528AD)
Zosimus 'Nea Historia' Book III

and also Prudence Harper,

"The Royal Hunter: Art of the Sasanian Empire" by Prudence Oliver Harper.

More Late Roman Books

Sumner's "Roman Military Dress" ISBN 978 07524 4576

Warfare and Society in the Barbarian West, 450 - 900 by Guy Halstall - Highly recommended by Nik Gaukroger

"Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376-568" by Guy Halstall - Also recommended but buy second by Nik Gaukroger

'Ruling the Later Roman Empire' by Christopher Kelly - recommended by Jim Webster

"Corruption and the Decline of Rome" by Ramsey Macmullen - recommended by Jim Webster

My favourite [for arms and armour] is still H.Russell Robinson "The Armour of Imperial Rome", which you might be able to find on Abebooks. - Phil Barker

Alternatively [for arms and armour] "Roman Military Equipment from the Punic Wars to the Fall of Rome" by M.C. Bishop, J.C. Coulston - much cheaper , Tom Adamson



Norman conquest and Anglo Norman England and Western Europe to c1200

from Duncan Head:

Matthew Strickland (ed.) "Anglo-Norman Warfare" (1992) - essays

Stephen Morillo, "Warfare under the Anglo-Norman Kings, 1066-1135" (1994)

Richard Abels and Bernard Bachrach (eds) "The Normans and their Adversaries at War" (20001) - essays

John Beeler, "Warfare in Feudal Europe 730-1200" (1971) - a good introductory text

J F Verbruggen, "The Art of Warfare in Western Europe during the middle ages" (1954, English ed, 1997). Covers about 800 to 1300. A masterpiece.

Jim Bradbury's "Stephen and Matilda - the civil war of 1139-1153"

Jim Webster adds:

"Western Wargare in the age of the crusades' 1000 - 1300 by John France


Duncan Head on  7th-8th Century AD Sogdians (Central Asian City States)

> Can anyone help with how 7th-8th Century AD Sogdian army (Central

> Asian City States) looked ie the Chakars and Diqhan etc.

> WRG Dark Ages book has a short line to say they were essentially

> a Sassanid successor state with same arms and armour is this the

> case ?

Not really.

See http://www.silk-road.com/newsletter/december/pre-islamic.htm as an introduction.

Then the Pendzhikent and other pictures at http://www.kroraina.com/ca/pict/images.html

http://www.transoxiana.org/Eran/Articles/yatsenko.html (and http://www.transoxiana.org/Eran/ in general)


Tom A's Khitan Sources

Michal Biran summarises it well in her "The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History: Between China and the Islamic World".  She is the only current historian I know of that has worked much on them.  Archaeology has found archives and a group in China are currently attempting to translate thousands of documents [dual language Khitan small script and an obscure Uighur dialect].

Barthold's "Turkestan Down to the Mongol Invasion" may be old but has good, very readable [even in the English translation] and comprehensive detail on the interactions between various groups at the time.

The Liaoshi has extensive information, Wittfogel and Feng translated most of it back in the 40's.

Several of the Persian histories cover it. Raverty's translation of the Tabat i Nasiri is the best.

They got quite a lot of coverage in the early histories as they were seen as a precursor power to the Mongols [who had close links with the Khitan and adopted the Khitan state model to a very large extent].

Phil Barker's master source for the Varangian guard:

"The Varangians of Byzantium", Sigfus Blondal, translated from the Icelandic by B.S. Benedikz, CUP, 1978 ISBN 0 521 21745 8

Phil Barkers West Sudan sources:

"Warfare in the Sokoto Caliphate" J.P.Smaldone

"Warfare in Atlantic Africa" J.K. Thornton.


Graeco-Bactrian Books

Osprey produce a large range of books of very variable quality.

However, Duncan Head has said 'But the Thracian and Sarmatian ones are worth getting, as well as most of Ross Cowan's Roman ones.'

Early and Late T'ang Chinese

David A Graff : Medieval Chinese Warfare, 300-900AD for 3 Kingdoms, Early and Late T'ang Chinese and their enemies. Not much detail on battles but an authorative overview.




Classical Sources:

 Contributed by: Duncan Had, Steve Burt and Nik


- http://www.humanities.uci.edu/sasanika/Library.html (extracts from

Agathias, Herodian, Theophylact, Menander, as well as Sasanian and

other texts)


- http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/ (maybe the one Adrian means, as

it has the authors he mentions)


- Corpus Scriptorum Latinorum



- LATO - Library of Ancient Texts Online



- Lacus Curtius

(http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/home.html) for the

earlier periods, but not so much for LIR, though it has Ammianus


The Kyropedia available in english on line









Phil Recommends:

"The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323-281 BC" by Bob Bennett and Mike Roberts. Pen & Sword Books ISBN 978 1 84415 761 7 £19.99 Vol.1 Commanders & Campaigns. This is a proper history with full notes. Very good as far as I have got (p.150). Very readable and based entirely on the sources. Especially interesting insights about the latent tensions in Alexander's command structure and how they affected the army after his death.



Late Roman book list



I am sure all of us have at one time or another experienced the frustration of attempting to find information and books that cover our particular ancient armies and nations of interest.

To this end I thought I would share the book list I have compiled from my own collection that covers a wide range of topic concerning the Later Roman Empire.

Please note that the comments made about the books are purely mine and your own thoughts and comments may differ.





Martijn Nicasie (1998)- ‘Twilight of Empire: The Roman army from the reign of Diocletian until the battle of Adrianople’-

Hugh Elton (2004)- ‘Warfare in Roman Europe, AD 350-425’

Richard Cromwell (1998)- ‘The Rise and Decline of the Late Roman Field Army’

Phil Barker (1981)- ‘The Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome’

John Peddie (1997)- ‘The Roman War Machine’

Pat Southern & Karen R. Dixon (2000)- ‘The Late Roman Army’

Benjamin Isaac (2004)- 'The Limits of Empire- The Roman Army in the East'

A. D. Lee (2007) 'War in Late Antiquity: A Social History'

M. C. Bishop & J. C. N. Coulston (2006) 'Roman Military Equipment From the Punic Wars to the Fall of Rome'

Adrian Goldsworthy (2004) 'The Complete Roman Army'

Adrian Goldsworthy (2007) 'Roman Warfare'



Of the above books ‘Twilight of Empire’ and ‘Warfare in Roman Europe’ are absolute essentials. To be honest if you buy ‘Twilight of Empire’ then there is no need to waste your money on Cromwell’s over-priced and under researched book. Crowell’s only saving grace in my eyes is that he agreed that the Roman cavalry during this period were prone to brittleness. If you have more money than sense, or can find a cheap copy as I did, then by all means purchase Cromwell’s book, otherwise just stick with 'Twilight of Empire'. A word of caution here about ‘The Late Roman Army’. Whilst it contains much that is of interest, it also contains a number of errors and mistakes, some of them quite glaring. Take a look near the beginning under the table of Emperor’s for example. Valens is quoted as dying from a natural death. I don’t know about you, but I thought that being shot by an arrow then being burned alive does not equate to a natural death! The table is also wrong as he was Emperor of the East, therefore both he and Valentinian should appear under the table of the Divided Empire. Peddies book is a good source book on all aspects of a Roman army, from supplies, baggage, to building field and permanent fortifications. Phil Barker’s book is essential for history buffs and wargamer’s alike. Full of illustrations, will keep figure painters amused for hours! Goldsworthy's books are a bit 'thin' when it comes to the Later Roman Empire and what he says is not always correct. Bishop & Coulston are to be recommended for an very good insight into the equipment used.




Herwig Wolfram (1990)- ‘The History of the Goths’

Peter Heather (2007)- ‘The Goths (The Peoples of Europe)

Peter Heather (1991)-  ‘Goths and Romans, 332-489’

Michael Kulikowski (2007)- ‘Rome’s Gothic Wars: From the Third Century to Alaric’

Thomas S. Burns (1995)- ‘Barbarians within the Gates of Rome: Study of Roman Military Policy and the Barbarians, 375-425 AD’

Alessandro Barbero (2007)- ‘The Day of the Barbarians: The Battle that led to the fall of the Roman Empire’

John F. Drinkwarter (2007)- ‘The Alamanni and Rome 213-496 (Caracalla to Clovis)’

Beate Dignas & Englebert Winter (2007)- ‘Rome and Persia in Late Antiquity: Neighbours and Rivals’

Michael H. Dodgeon & Samuel N.C. Lieu (2003)- ‘The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars (AD 226-363)’

Geoffrey Greatrex & Samuel N.C. Lieu (2002)- ‘The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars (AD 363-628)’

Dr Kaveh Farrokh (2007) 'Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War'

David S. Potter (2007) 'The Roman Empire at Bay AD 180 - 395'

Herwig Wolfram (1997) 'The Roman Empire and its Germanic Peoples'


All of the above books I would consider worthy of being in the library of anyone interested in the Late Roman Empire and those who it fought against. Barbero’s book is good for references, but he relies too much on the Osprey ‘Adrianople’ book for information about that battle and falls into the trap of supporting the author of the above books belief that the Goths had wagon barricades, purely because that author does not believe that the wagon laager could be circular due to the number of wagon’s he surmises must have been present. These barricades are not mentioned by any ancient author. Farrokh has been critised for making too many assumptions, but due to the lack of material on the Sasanid Empires armies I have included it for completness.




A.H.M. Jones (1973 1st reprint)- ‘The Later Roman Empire 284-602: A Social, Economic and Administrative Survey’

Averil Cameron (1993)-‘The Later Roman Empire’

John Mathews (2008)- ‘The Roman Empire of Ammianus’

Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli-'Rome, the late Empire;: Roman art, A.D. 200-400 (Arts of mankind series)

R. Malcolm Errington (2006)- 'Roman Imperial Policy from Julian to Theodosius'

R. C. Blockley 'East Roman Foreign Policy: Formation and Conduct from Diocletian to Anastasius'

Stephen Mitchell (2007) 'A History of the Later Roman Empire AD 284-641)'



There are a vast number of books out there dealing with the Later Roman Empire. I chose these three in particular as they cover all the bases as far as I am concerned. Jones work is still widely available in a 1986 reprint. Matthews has been slated for his books over-indulgence. However, the man’s passion for Ammianus and the age he lived in is totally forgivable in my opinion. 'Rome- The Late Empire' is an absolute treasure and should be sought out at all costs!





Peter Heather (2006)- ‘The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History’

Arthur Ferrill (1990)- ‘The Fall of the Roman Empire: The Military Explanation’

Michael Grant (2003)- ‘The Fall of the Roman Empire’

Bryan Ward-Perkins (2005)- ‘The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization’


Again, there are a vast amount of books that deal with the fall of the Roman Empire. The ones above are thought to be essential reading.

Heather, Ferrill and Ward-Perkins all argue that it was the ‘barbarians’ who led to the direct downfall of the Roman Empire. Grant takes a different view, believing that social factors led to the fall.




Ammianus Marcellinus- ‘Res Gestae’ (Various translations are widely available, also online)

Anonymous- ‘De Rebus Bellicis’ (Translated by E. A. Thompson 1952)

Anonymous- 'Chronicon Paschale 284-628D'  Translated by Whitby & Whitby

Aurelius Victor- 'De Caesaribus' (Translated by H.W. Bird)

Claudian (Various translations available, also online)

Eutropius (Various translations available, also online)

Eunapius, Olympiodorus, Priscus and Malchus in 'The Fragmentary Classicising Historians of the Later Roman Empire' (Translated by R. C. Blockley)

Festus- 'Brevarium' (online for free)

Jordanes – ‘The Origin and Deeds of the Goths’ (Translated by Charles C. Mierow (1908)

Julian- ‘The Works of Julian the Emperor’ (Various translations, some of which can be found online for free)

Libanius- ‘Oratations’ ‘Letters’ etc (Various translations are available, some of which are online for free)

Paulus Orosius- ‘The Seven Books of History Against the Pagans’ (Translated by Roy J.Deferrai)

Sozomon (Various translations available, also online)

Themistius Select Oratations etc (Various translations are available)

Various- 'In Praise of Later Roman Emperors: The Panegyrici Latini' (Translated by C.F.V Nixon and Barbara Saylor Rodgers.)

Vegetius- ‘The military institutions of the Romans’ (Various translations, can be found online for free)

Zosimos ‘Historia Nova’ (Various translations, can be found online for free)


All of these translations are essential for those who want to read the history directly from those who were there to either witness it, or were living contemporary with the age they are describing.


Well there you have it, your be broke buying all that lot, but your have some of the best books on the Later Roman Empire to show for it!


 Tom Adamson's Chinese Links



For example, some background on the Warring States list (2-4)




Start with the summary on Ah Xiang's ugly chinese site




nb. this site was created by people with a very strong political point

to put across, however the historical pages are surprisingly good

summaries, but as with any secondary source need corroberation before

you fully trust them.




Then use the Chinese Dynasties site


<http://www.paulnoll.com/China/Dynasty/index.html>   another one man

effort that pulls together various items,


eg maps showing the major states:









Then armed with some basics go to the EASL links page


<http://www.sino.uni-heidelberg.de/igcs/>   and spend several years

looking at the on-line info :-)




For rigerous scholarly detail use The Warring States Project

http://www.umass.edu/wsp/ <http://www.umass.edu/wsp/>  an outstanding



I've been catching up on other fora etc and just realised that

Bonsall's translation of the Records of the Warring States is online



So inspirational reading time..


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