At the crescendo of the Second Barons' War were the battles of Lewes and Evesham. It was an era of high drama and intrigue, as tensions between crown and aristocracy had boiled over and a civil war erupted that would shape the future of English government. In this detailed study, Richard Brooks unravels the remarkable events at the battles of Lewes and Evesham, revealing the unusually tactical nature of the fighting, in sharp contrast to most medieval conflicts which were habitually settled by burning and ravaging. At Lewes, Simon de Montfort, the powerful renegade leader of the Baronial faction, won a vital victory, smashing the Royalist forces and capturing Henry III and Prince Edward. Edward escaped, however, to lead the Royalist armies to a crushing victory just a year later at Evesham. Using full color illustrations, bird's eye views and detailed maps to generate an arresting visual perspective of the fighting, this book tells the full story of the battles of Lewes and Evesham, the only pitched battles to be fought by English armies in the mid-13th century.
Even though I spent parts of two years at university in the UK literally on the door step of the Lewes battlefield, I had little idea of the enormity of what happened there. (Imagine someone going to college in Gettysburg and being clueless of that battle, for example.) This book has helped enlighten me.
I was not sure what to expect of this book. What I found was a thoughtful monograph on two pivotal battles in a civil war. From the Introduction: “These were our events; knightly battles were almost as scarce as fleet actions between dreadnought battleships. Outcomes were unpredictable, and the risks extreme, especially for the commanders….Lewes and Evesham were the only significant battles fought by English armies in the mid-13th century, our only evidence for how the English fought before the longbow became the national weapon.”
This is a book about the campaigns and “the big picture.” For those seeking detailed studies of the weapons and tactics, Osprey has several other excellent works on those topics. The contents of this volume include:
- Opposing Commanders
- Opposing Forces
- Opposing Plans
- The Lewes Campaign
- The Campaign of Evesham
- After the Battle
- The Battlefields Today
- Further Reading
I enjoyed reading this book and learning much more about these turning point events. Mr. Brooks continues his notable success (Pevious books for Osprey include Solferino 1859 and Walcheren 1944. He was also Consultant Editor for The Times History of War). Mr. Turner adds life to the story with his illustrations. I found that the accompanying numbered explanatory keys to these pictures was a great help in understanding the scope of the depictions.
Many thanks to Osprey for continuing to publish these informative books. Thanks to Dave Morrissette and Dick Montgomery for all their hard work with the review crew and for letting me review this book.
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