Sunday, May 9, 2010

Book Review : David Carpenter's 'The Battles of Lewes & Evesham 1264/5'

In researching and understanding the battle of Lewes, until such time as Osprey Campaign Series release an attempt at our subject, this work remains the one essential buy if you purchase no other. Don't be dismayed by this slender, 83 page work because it is economical and value packed, succinctly drawing upon all primary sources and running invaluable comparisons across subject issues such as the numbers present at Lewes and the location of the battlefield.

Specific to the battle of Lewes is chapter 4 The Road to Lewes and chapter 5, The Battle of Lewes running to a total of 25 pages but, as I say, all particularly useful pages. Of special interest is the bibliography which Carpenter offers which points the student in the direction of all pertinent primary sources, near to contemporary sources (the thirteenth century chroniclers) and specific new research emerging at the time of writing.
Just a quick note on the author, David Carpenter whose credentials in brief at the time of publishing (1987) can be read on the back cover. An historian whose speciality remains very much in thirteenth century England; he is currently championing the translation and publication on-line of the fine rolls of John, Henry III and Edward I which has yielded and continues to yield an exponentially developed understanding of the period. He pops up from time to time in historical documentaries on subjects ranging from the church to castles to architecture generally. Thanks to his life's work I am aiming in the humblest of ways to take a small slice (the narrowest of subjects) and delve to the depths which can only be of interest to a military historian or wargamer. If I ever had the chance to meet this eminent mind I would only have one thing to say to Dr Carpenter - RESPECT.

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