Kelly DeVries and Robert Douglas Smith. Medieval Military Technology, Second Edition. Toronto. University of Toronto Press Incorporated, 2012. XVIII + 356 pp. Illustrations, bibliographical references, Index. ISBN 978-1-4426-0497-1.
This second edition of DeVries and Smiths’ book, Medieval Military Technology, encompasses many of the weapons, fortifications, vessels, machines, and armour developed throughout the medieval period, to provide a brief cultural history of the relationship between military technology and medieval society. DeVries and Smiths’ purpose in compiling this book was to lay out their argument in a way to which the reader can understand the purpose of medieval military and its relationship to society. The central argument of this book is that, unlike Lynn White’s thesis, which emphasized the medieval military technology of the stirrup as the beginning of feudalism , DeVries and Smith use their book to allow the reader to see that both medieval society and technology influenced each other of the course of the development of medieval military technology. Hence, DeVries and Smiths’ thesis points to concentrating on looking at Middle Age military technology to gain an understanding and appreciation for the technologies that influenced medieval society, and have provided the modern twenty first-century with legendary histories. Their argument is further enforced in the books conclusion, with examples of military revolutions that happened throughout the medieval period, and a concise segue into how military technology has influenced the modern world. All of which helped Devries and Smith succeed in proving their thesis.
Over the course of this book, DeVries and Smith used many primary and secondary sources to back up their argument, with the aid of visual sources as well. To provide an example of how DeVries and Smith prove their argument, I have chosen two examples. The first example, is a stone fortification, that portrays how medieval technology influenced society, by providing a more permanent form of protection . Figure 9.5 of Chateau-Gillard Castle in France , is an example of a twelfth century fortification which allowed protection from outside threats. The second example I have chosen to look at is used to show how society influenced military technology. Due to the types of weapons being used in fourteenth century, knights came to favour plate armour over chain mail . DeVries and Smiths’ section on plate armour, along with figure 2.7 , helps to describe how medieval society used plate armour to influence their military technology. These examples provide an insight to how DeVries and Smith portray a comprehensive argument, that explains the significant roles both society and technology had during the Middle Ages.
DeVries and Smith have succeeded in laying out and proving their argument, which is that medieval military technology was influenced both by that of society on technology, and technology’s influence on society;...