Christine de Pizan, The Book of Deeds of Arms and of Chivalry (circa 1410)

Pizan wrote The Book of Deeds around 1410 during the Hundred Years’ War, a time of conflict between France and England, as well as among various factions for control of France itself. In most of her writings related to politics, her purpose was “to advise the French royal family against the disastrous political infighting that brought the monarchy to the brink of civil war.” The work was written in “the plainest language possible” (Middle French) instead of Latin because she wanted to have an impact on the French military, nor just the court.  As a military manual it tells us a great deal about the strategy, tactics, and technology of medieval warfare and is one of our most important sources for early gunpowder weapon technology.

Read More

Geoffroi de Charny, The Book of Chivalry (circa 1350)

Unlike previous manuals of arms and warfare, such as Vegetius or Christine de Pizan, or those that would follow soon after like Machiavelli’s Art of Warfare, Charny does not spend much time discussing the theory of operations or strategy. For Charny, understanding war comes with understanding the knight’s way of life. Charny explains the chivalric ethos, the virtues and the education of the knight and how one can acquire the military prudence needed to be successful in warfare, rather than battlefield methods.

Read More