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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. I hope you find it helpful and entertaining.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Mercenaries

Just finished this book by Jack Ludlow. First in his Conquest series about the Normans in Italy. Historical fiction but firmly rooted in the history of the 11th Century. Based on the story of the de Hautevilles this is a fast paced narrative with some larger than life characters. A good read if, like me, you are a fan of this genre.

I have been fascinated by the history of the Normans in Italy ever since reading John Julius Norwich's books Normans in the South and Normans in Italy.

Balkan interest as well. In May 1081 Robert Guiscard and his Norman/Italian army landed at Avlona on the Albanian coast. He marched north to lay siege to the Byzantine regional capital Dyrrachion (modern Durres). Robert was a member of the Hauteville clan of Normans who had carved out an empire in Southern Italy at the expense of the Lombards and the Byzantines. His aim was to do the same in the Balkans assisted by his son Bohemund who of course played a major role in the First Crusade.

The story of this battle is covered in Dyrrachion 1081 and you can also link to a GDWS display game we did at the Wappinshaw show in 2005. Norman Sicilian is also the army I use in our WAB competition. It has the punch of a typical Norman army but with the Arab mobility. The Normans in Sicily were pretty pragmatic about religion and created a powerful and culturally strong state with a degree of religious toleration.

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