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Special Operations in the Age of Chivalry, 1100-1550


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Alongside the familiar pitched battles, regular sieges, and large-scale manoeuvres, medieval and early modern wars also involved assassination, abduction, treason and sabotage. These undercover operations were aimed chiefly against key individuals, mostly royalty or the leaders of the opposing army, and against key fortified places, including bridges, mills and dams. However, because of their clandestine nature, these deeds of `derring-do' have not been studied in any detail, a major gap which this book fills. It surveys a wide variety of special operations, from the eleventh to the sixteenth century. It then analyzes in greater depth six select and exciting operations: the betrayal of Antioch in 1098; the attempt to rescue King Baldwin II from the dungeon of Khartpert in 1123; the assassination of Conrad of Montferrat in 1192; the attempt to storm Calais in 1350; the `dirty war' waged by the rulers of France and Burgundy in the 1460s and 1470s; and the demolition of the flour mill of Auriol in 1536.
Dr YUVAL NOAH HARARI teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is the author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.


Unequivocally illustrate[s] the importance of special operations and of small scale initiatives in medieval warfare. Harari's prose and research will appeal to both academics and enthusiasts of military history. Special Operations in the Age of Chivalry, 1100-1550 is a great contribution to the field and should inspire many more studies. DE RE MILITARI

The prose is detailed but very clear and coloured plates, maps, etc., help. BIBLIOTHQUE D'HUMANISME ET RENAISSANCE

A scholarly but eminently readable account of undercover operations in medieval warfare. CLASSIC ARMS & MILITARIA
An entertaining but also learned book, from which it is possible to glean much about medieval military history. BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE
A wide-raing study, which sets medieval warfare in a novel perspective. EHR
Highly readable.[...] This is a popular book, but a scholarly one and a worthy addition to the well-known series Warfare in History. CRUSADES
Recommended. CHOICE


First Published: 18 Jun 2009
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843834526
8 colour, 6 line drawing illustrations
Pages: 248
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Paperback
Imprint: Boydell Press
BIC Class: HBLC1

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015


  • 1  Special Operations, Strategy and Politics in the Age of Chivalry: An Analytical Overview
  • 2  The Gateway to the Middle East: Antioch, 1098
  • 3  Saving King Baldwin: Khartpert, 1123
  • 4  The Assassination of King Conrad: Tyre, 1192
  • 5  For a Sack-full of Gold Écus: Calais, 1350
  • 6  Princes in the Cross-Hairs: The Rise and Fall of Valois Burgundy, 1407-1483
  • 7  The Mill of Auriol: Auriol, 1536
  • 8  Conclusions
  • 9  Works Cited
  • 10  Index