Reading List

UPDATED 09/01/2023

Armour of the English Knight 1400 – 1450
by Tobias Capwell
“For the first time, many unknown or rarely published visual and documentary sources have been brought together to reveal the beautiful and intimidating accoutrements of the war-like English. Huge sums were paid by the chivalric elite for human exo-skeletons of hardened steel glittering with engraved and gilded decoration, the form, function and style of which was as characteristic of the English as were their feared longbowmen.

Arms and Armor of the Medieval Knight: An Illustrated History of Weaponry in the Middle Ages
by David Edge and John Miles Paddock
“More than two hundred illustrations trace the development of medieval arms from their crude beginnings to the beautiful ceremonial armor of the Renaissance.”

Arms and Armour of Late Medieval Europe
by Robert C. Woosnam-Savage
“In this introductory guide, replete with fabulous photography and marvellous anecdotes, internationally-renowned edged weapons expert Robert Woosnam-Savage describes the brutal reality of personal protection and attack in the so-called ‘age of chivalry’.”

Arms and Armour of the Medieval Joust
by Tobias Capwell
“Here, Tobias Capwell explains the glitz and glamour of a sport that attracted enormous popular audiences throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Though he deals almost exclusively with weapons and warriors, Capwell tells a story not of war and destruction, but of pageantry and valor. This is the story of the armor of peace.

How to Read European Armor
by Donald J. LaRocca
“This engaging book offers an introduction to and overview of armor in Europe from the Middle Ages through the 17th century, focusing in particular on the 16th century when plate armor reached its peak of stylistic beauty and functional perfection.”

The Real Fighting Stuff: Arms and Armour at Glasgow Museums
by Tobias Capwell
“Tobias Capwell looks at the different types of armour in Glasgow museums, the stories behind some of the weapons, and explores some of the myths surrounding the way we used to fight.

1381: The Peel Affinity: An English Knight’s Household in the Fourteenth Century
by La Belle Compagnie
“The text draws extensive details from historical accounts, records, chronicles, and literature, as well as modern historical and archaeological research. All this potentially dull and dusty detail is brought to vibrant life with a narrative that follows an English knight and family, his servants, officials and tenants, associates and soldiers through a year in their lives.”

A Cheese-monger’s History of the British Isles
by Ned Palmer
“Every cheese tells a story. Whether it’s a fresh young goat’s cheese or a big, beefy eighteen-month-old Cheddar, each variety holds the history of the people who first made it, from the builders of Stonehenge to medieval monks, from the Stilton-makers of the eighteenth-century to the factory cheesemakers of the Second World War.”

Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle That Made England
by Juliet Barker
“Drawing on a wide range of sources, Juliet Barker paints a gripping narrative of the October 1415 clash between the outnumbered English archers and the heavily armored French knights.”

The Art of Medieval Hunting: The Hound and the Hawk
by John Cummins
“In vivid and engrossing detail, here are all the appropriate methods for hunting deer, boar, wolves, foxes, bears, otters, birds, hares…even unicorns! A dazzling diversity of sources … illustrate how hunting and hawking appear throughout medieval art and literature as metaphors and motifs for everything from romance to combat.”

The Book of the Medieval Knight
by Stephen Turnbull
“This book begins with the early history of the Hundred Years War and ends with the ending of the Wars of the Roses. What’s beneficial of this book is that fact that Turnbull covers so many battles that are usually kept out of or overlooked in the history books. He show’s how some tactics were derived by accident in small skirmishes with later on became the tried and true method of battle for the English armies as the War progressed. Not only does he present small skirmishes all the way up to the major battles but this book lists all the major players on the English, France, Burgundian, and minor figures involved in this nearly 200 year history. Written in a very comfortable to read style, but packed with information. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the 100 Years War through the Wars of the Roses. I reference this book more than any in my library.” – as recommended by Todd Eriksen

Daily Life in Chaucer’s England
by Jeffrey L. Singman and William McLean
The first book on medieval England to arise out of the living history movement, it recreates the daily life of ordinary people, not just the aristocracy, by combining a hands-on approach with the best of current research.”

I love this book, and re-read it every few years.

Dress Accessories, c. 1150- c. 1450 (Medieval Finds from Excavations in London)
by Geoff Egan and Frances Pritchard
“Over two thousand such items dating from the period 1150-1450 are described and discussed here, all found in recent archaeological excavations in London… These finds constitute the most extensive and varied group of such accessories yet recovered in Britain,”

Froissart Chronicals (Online)
hosted by The Digital Humanities Institute of The University of Sheffield
An online translation. “Jean Froissart’s Chroniques cover the period from around 1326 to around 1400 and are the single most important contemporary prose narrative about the first part of the Hundred Years’ War.”

Life on a Mediaeval Barony
A Picture of a Typical Feudal Community in the Thirteenth Century

by William Stearns Davis
“This book describes the life of the Feudal Ages in terms of the concrete. … No custom is described which does not seem fairly characteristic of the general period.”

The Livery Collar in Late Medieval England and Wales
Politics, Idenity and Affinity

by Matthew Ward
From the fifteenth century the collar was regarded as a powerful symbol of royal power, the artefact associating the recipient with the king;”

The Master of Game
by Edward, Second Duke of York; 1413
In this online resource “The text, of which a modern rendering is here given, is taken from the best of the existing nineteen MSS. of the “Master of Game,”

Medieval English Literature
(Oxford Anthology of English Literature)

Edited by J.B. Trapp, Douglas Gray, Julia Boffey
“It provides an authoritative and representative selection from the vast riches of Anglo-Saxon and Middle English literature of the period between AD 700 and AD 1500. The texts are presented either in full or in ample selections, helpfully and fully glossed and annotated according to the most recent scholarship.”

The Medieval Household:
Daily Living c.1150-c.1450 (Medieval Finds from Excavations in London)

by Geoff Egan
“This book brings together for the first time the astonishing diversity of excavated furnishings and artefacts from medieval London homes.

The Medieval Soldier:
15th Century Campaign Life Recreated in Colour Photographs

by Gary Embleton and John Howe
“In a dazzling series of some 270 specially posed photographs, the authors recreate the fighting men of the High Middle Ages set in their 15th century environment.

Medieval Warfare
A History

Edited by Maurice Keen
“[T]he richly illustrated Medieval Warfare illuminates this era, examining over seven hundred years of European conflict, from the time of Charlemagne to the end of the middle ages (1500).

The New Cambridge Medieval History VI & VII
by Michael Jones and Christopher Allmand respectively
“The publication of The New Cambridge Medieval History is a major landmark in the field of historical publishing. Written by leading international scholars and incorporating the very latest research, the History will become the essential reference tool for anyone interested in the medieval world.”
VI & VII cover the time periods focused on here, previous volumes have progressively earlier time periods.

Soldier’s Lives Throughout History
The Middle Ages

by Clifford J. Rogers
Rogers illuminates the history of medieval soldiers in wartime and in peacetime, describing the lives of those who attacked, and those who defended, the fortified castles, towns, and lands of Europe and beyond in the Middle Age.

The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England
A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century

by Ian Mortimer
All facets of everyday life in this fascinating period are revealed, from the horrors of the plague and war to the ridiculous excesses of roasted larks and medieval haute couture.”

English Martial Arts
by Terry Brown
“This book investigates the weapons, history and development of the English fighting system and some of the beliefs and social pressures that helped mould it. The second half examines various English fighting techniques drawn from historical texts and manuscripts including bare-fist fighting, broadsword, quarterstaff, bill, sword and buckler and sword and dagger.”

English Swordsmanship: The True Fight of George Silver
By Stephen Hand
“Stephen Hand has delivered what may well be his Magnum Opus, a detailed study in text and photographs of his best form, the swordsmanship of the 16th century English swordmaster, George Silver. In nearly 800 photographs, Mr. Hand explores the depth of Silver’s technique, presenting for the student a clear and concise path to fighting with the single-handed sword.”

Le Jeu de la Hache
Anonymous c. 1400
“(“The Play of the Axe”, MS Français 1996), is a French fencing manual written in ca. 1400 by an anonymous Milanese fencing master in service to Philip II “the Bold”, duke of Burgundy… The earliest extant treatise on the use of the poleaxe, the manuscript is possesses detailed descriptions of a variety of techniques.”

Master Of Defence: The Works of George Silver
by Paul Wagner, 2003
“George Silver’s Paradoxes of Defence (1599) and Brief Instructions upon my Paradoxes of Defence (ca. 1605) are probably the most important works ever written on the Western martial tradition, straddling the medieval and Renaissance worlds and summing up the collective experience of centuries of European warcraft. With in-depth analyses by the author and others, this is an indispensable reference.”

Medieval Wrestling
by Jessica Finley
“In this first of its kind book, Jessica Finley of the renowned medieval martial arts association, the Selohaar Fechtschule, guides the reader on a journey that begins with the historical background of Ott’s wrestling and culminates in step-by-step instruction for practicing the techniques of this ancient fighting art. Both the lover of history and the wrestler on the mat will find this work an invaluable resource.”

The Schoole of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defence
by Joseph Swetnam, 1617
“An English fencing manual written by Joseph Swetnam and printed in 1617. This book contains both instructions for the use of weapons, and an in-depth discussion of both proper and improper behavior of those who would wield said weapons, particularly in the context of settling quarrels. The weapons focused on in this book are rapier and dagger, sword and dagger, backsword, single rapier, short sword, and staff.”

Veni Vadi Vici
by Guy Windsor, 2013
“A transcription, translation and commentary of Philippo Vadi’s De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi manuscript, by Guy Windsor.”

Archaeological Footwear: Development of Shoe Patterns and Styles from Prehistory til the 1600’s
by Marquita Volken 
“The knowledge of how to make a shoe pattern was certainly the ancient shoemaker’s most closely guarded secret, passed from master to apprentice but never written down. Now, after 20 years of research, the principles for making ancient shoe patterns have been rediscovered.”

Dress Accessories, c. 1150- c. 1450 (Medieval Finds from Excavations in London)
by Geoff Egan and Frances Pritchard
“Brooches, rings, buckles, pendants, buttons, purses and other accessories were part of everyday dress in the middle ages. Over two thousand such items dating from the period 1150-1450 are described and discussed here, all found in recent archaeological excavations in London … These finds constitute the most extensive and varied group of such accessories yet recovered in Britain, and their close dating and the scientific analysis carried out on them have been highly revealing.”

A Dyer’s Garden: From Plant to Pot, Growing Dyes for Natural Fibers
by Rita Buchanan
“Touching on the history and nature of dye plants, this comprehensive guide walks readers through a garden season from design to planting to harvesting for the dyepot, discussing 18 dye plants in detail.”

Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince: A Study of the Years 1340-1365
by Stella Mary Newton
“Stella Mary Newton broke new ground with this detailed study, which discusses fourteenth-century costume in detail. She draws on surviving accounts from the Royal courts, the evidence of chronicles and poetry (often from unpublished manuscripts), and representations in painting, sculpture and manuscript illumination. Her exploration … offers new insights into the social history of the times, and she has much to say that is relevant to the study of illuminated manuscripts of the fourteenth century. “

Medieval Garments Reconstructed: Norse Clothing Patterns
by Lilli Fransen, Shelly Nordtorp-Madson,
Anna Norgard, and Else Ostergard
“This volume begins with a short introduction by Else Ostergard to the amazing finds of garments from the Norse settlement of Herjolfnes in Greenland. It then features chapters on technique – production of the thread, dyeing, weaving techniques, cutting and sewing – by Anna Norgard. Also included are measurements and drawings of garments, hoods, and stockings, with sewing instructions, by Lilli Fransen. A practical guide to making your own Norse garment!”

Medieval Tailor’s Assistant. 2nd Edition: Common Garments 1100-1480
by Sarah Tursfield
“The Medieval Tailor s Assistant is the standard work for both amateurs and professionals wishing to re-create the clothing of Medieval England for historical interpretation or drama. This new edition extends its range with details of fitting different figures and many more patterns for main garments and accessories from 1100 to 1480. It includes simple instructions for plain garments, as well as more complex patterns and adaptations for experienced sewers.

Purses in Pieces: Archaeological Finds of Late Medieval and 16th Century Leather Purses, Pouches, Bags and Cases in the Netherlands
By Olaf Goubitz
“The use of purses, pouches, bags, sheaths and other containers saw its heyday in the Middle Ages. The purse became a fashion item and was an essential part of a persons outfit. This book provides a typology for all types of purse-like artefacts, in some cases inventing new terminology to describe them. The book is illustrated with finds from the Netherlands, woodcuts and other contemporary depictions, and with Goubitzs gloriously detailed reconstruction drawings.”

Shoes and Pattens (Medieval Finds from Excavations in London)
by Francis Grew, Margrethe de Neergaard, and Susan Mitford
“…nearly 2,000 shoes, many complete and in near-perfect condition, have been discovered preserved on the north bank of the Thames, and are now housed in the Museum of London. This collection, all from well-dated archaeological contexts, fills this vast gap in knowledge, making it possible to chart precisely the progress of shoe fashion between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries.

Stepping Through Time: Archaeological Footwear from Prehistoric Times until 1800
by Olaf Goubitz, C. Van Driel-Murray, and W. Groenman van Waateringe
“Drawing on 25 years’ experience as a conservator of leather, Goubitz presents a typological catalogue of footwear dating from 800-1800 AD. The study is based on Goubitz’ analysis of an important assemblage of shoes recovered from excavations at Dordrecht in the Netherlands but the volume’s aim is to offer guidance for the identification of shoes found on sites across north-western Europe.

The Techniques of Tablet Weaving
by Peter Collingwood
“…complete with dozens of detailed photographs, pattern examples, and step-by-step instructions for each of the techniques presented. In addition to instructional information, Techniques of Tablet Weaving contains pages of historical context for a variety of weaving techniques with clear and helpful tips on reproducing them precisely, as well as modern variations on the classics.”

Textiles and Clothing : Medieval Finds from Excavations in London, c.1150-c.1450
by Elisabeth Crowfood, Frances Pritchard, and Kay Staniland
“This highly readable account will be of wide general interest; dress historians and archaeologists will also find a wealth of new insights into the fashions, clothing and textile industries of medieval England and Europe.

Woven into the Earth: Textile finds in Norse Greenland
by Else Ostergard
“Woven into the Earth recounts the dramatic story of Norlund’s excavation in the context of other Norse textile finds in Greenland. It then describes what the finds tell us about the materials and methods used in making the clothes. The weaving and sewing techniques detailed here are surprisingly sophisticated, and one can only admire the talent of the women who employed them, especially considering the harsh conditions they worked under.

All the books on these lists have been put here because I have confidence they are worthy of recommendation, though many of them have received this recommendation based on their endorsement by those who’s credentials I trust. The ToA (Turnip of Approval) identifies books which I have read and are on this list due to my own personal thumbs up as to their usefulness.

Suggest an entry

Have a book you know should be on this list? Submit it below and include the title and the author minimum, the books ISBN if it exists, a link to a place it can be purchased on Amazon or elsewhere preferred, and a little bit about what the book’s about.