Burg Waldeck in Waldeck, Germany

Below is a series of photos I took recently when my family and I visited the castle ruins of Burg Waldeck in Waldeck, Germany.  The top photo is a screen shot from Google Earth showing the layout of the castle as it appears today. Burg Waldeck is a typical Keep and Bailey type castle.  There is a rounded keep at the center of the complex with a small courtyard and various outbuildings.  It is surrounded by a curtain wall that is currently about 10-15 foot high with rounded turrets defending the most vulnerable parts of the wall.  It sits on top of fairly steep hill that rises about 300-350 feet … Read more…

Book Review: The Last Full Measure: How Soldiers Die in Battle by Michael Stephenson

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the publisher for purposes of reviewing it. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Michael Stephenson’s work The Last Full Measure: How Soldiers Die in Battle follows somewhat in the tradition of classics such a Keegan’s The Face of Battle and Victor David Hanson’s The Western Way of War. Where it differs from these two works as that while Keegan and Hanson focus on specific battles or time periods this book aims to be a more general description of the experience of combat throughout recorded history.  In that, the book is amazingly … Read more…

Saint John of Nepomuk in Prague

I went to Prague last weekend with my family and took the opportunity to walk across the Charles Bridge where St. John of Nepomuk was martyred. There are two shrines to St. John on the bridge and both are crowded.  I took some photos while I was there and they are blow with description sin the captions.  It was interesting to walk across the Charles Bridge because it is full of statuary and shrines along its entire 520m length.  Man are difficult to interpret and the inscriptions are so worn that it is difficult to make out what they say.  Well, the pictures are below.  It was cold and cloudy … Read more…

The Combat of the Thirty

Here is an interesting episode that occurred in March, 1351 during the Hundred Years War.  It occurred during the Hundred Years War but was only really a peripheral part of it.  The combat occurred between the French garrison of Josselin Castle and the English garrison of Ploërmel Castle Brittany, part of modern day France. It was instigated because the English were not abiding by the terms a truce that had been made locally. The challenge to combat was issued by the French commander Jean de Beaumanoir to Robert Bramborough. On 26 or 27 March, 1351 the challengers met each other midway between the two castles with 29 retainers giving each … Read more…

The Peace of Augsburg and Modern Germany

The Peace of Augsburg is the settlement between the Holy Roman Emperor and all his princes and nobility that established that the religion of a locality in Imperial Germany will be the same as that of its ruler.  The only two religions allowed were what we today call Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism.  At the Peace every German state and principality had its religion determined. Many people may wonder what the 460 year old Religious Peace of Augsburg has to do with a modern European state.  I did too until recently when I started to think about it.  Let me lay out my train of thought.  It all started with the … Read more…

Medieval Armor was heavy; Is this a Surprise?

I ran across this article on discovery news today: Heavy Armor Led to French Knights’ Loss.The article immediately irritated me. Perhaps it was the way the article was written or perhaps it was the content of the interviews with the guys who did the study. The gist of the story is that some English researchers had some medieval reenactor volunteers don period medieval armor and do various exercises on a treadmill while their various bodily functions were measured such as breathing, heart rate, etc. The article makes out as if it is a surprise that one, medieval suits of plate mail were heavy and two, that knights tire rapidly while … Read more…

Book Review: The Face of Battle by John Keegan

I have to caveat this review somewhat.  I wrote this book review for an undergrad military history course I took almost six-years ago.  I still think that the The Face of Battle is an excellent book.  I have modified my opinion of Keegan as a historian somewhat though.  I think he is somewhat overrated and he tends to simplistic British-centric judgements in his analysis of military history.  He is a good historian, but sometimes his interpretations of events are not all they could be. “The Face of Battle” by John Keegan has become a classic in the thirty years since it was published.  The book is an attempt to examine … Read more…

Book Review: On Roman Military Matters by Vegetius

This little tome by the Roman scholar Flavius Vegetius Renatus was written sometime in the 5th Century A.D. and is known by several titles, the original Latin title is De re Militari but is variously known as the Epitome of Military Science and On Roman Military Matters, the copy I have uses the latter title. This is one of the few works that survived from antiquity in continuous publication, if you will. It was used as a text on military operations throughout the Middle Ages and has survived to this day. Just about every king, noble, and military leader of the Middle Ages had a copy of this book and … Read more…

Photo Essay: Geichberg Castle

Geichberg Castle from the North with NW Tower and Schoss

I got a chance to visit the Geichberg Castle yesterday and decided to post a picture esay of the castle and a brief description of the fortifications and discuss the strong and weak points of the fortifications. The Geichberg is a castle located about 10km west of Bamberg Germany in Unter Franken or Lower Franconia in English.  The castle was completed no later than 1125 as that is the first time it was recorded in documents.  It has been destroyed and rebuilt several times in in its history.  The current incarnation originally dates from 1390 but was extensively renovate in the early 17th century. According to the history piece at … Read more…

Europe and the Crusading Impulse

Europe in the tenth and eleventh centuries was a continent in transition.  The states of Europe were still in flux and the kings of Europe had limited authority outside their own personal demesne.  Although individual French kings did wield considerable power, they waged a constant struggle to have their authority recognized by the great magnates in France, especially after the fall of the Carolingian dynasty in the ninth century[1].  The rest of Europe was no exception, in England the king was engaged in a great struggle with his leading barons and the Pope that would not be settled until the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215[2]. The deciding factor … Read more…