The Arte Militaire

The Application of 17th Century Military Manuals to Conflict Archaeology

Warwick Louth

Publication date:
November 2016
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Century of the Soldier
Illustration :
25 b/w ills, 8 b/w diags, 15 photos, 11 colour diags
Format Available     Quantity Price
ISBN : 9781911096221

Dimensions : 248 X 180 cm
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Military manuals have been used as a source through a range of historical studies, but only recently has their potential to Conflict Archaeology truly been recognised. Military manuals allowed the progression of the Military Revolution from the informed amateur towards the scientific, mathematical choreography for massed troops at the height of the Military Revolution, and their use as a viable historical resource often taken at face value - negating their worth. Using correlated GIS, landscape archaeology, metal detecting, military knowledge and experimental archaeology, we might understand more fully the limitations and strengths drill books provide us. Like a dance, military theory provides a certain number of ways individuals may progress through a landscape. Using examples taken from recent investigations at sites such as Edgehill, Lutzen and Lostwithiel, this paper shall examine to what extent individual drill can be identified in the archaeological record.

This publication hopes to prove to what level and extent this can be applied to predictive modelling of artefact collections on battlefields - thus providing depth to the archaeological study of fields of conflict. Like investigations on the Little Bighorn battlefield, through use of wear analysis of the material remains of conflict, we can effectively tell the nuances of individual drill, practice and movement of people across a landscape; their drill actively mirroring subtleties in our understanding of interpretation. Taking the works of such writers and artists as Bariffe, de Gheyn and Ward, the author attempts to actively break down how individual and group drill will leave material remains and the archaeological means these might be taken down, but equally, this work also attempts to investigate and breach the subject of whether such manuals can also be used to dictate the survivability of 17th century fortifications - often within urban landscapes devoid of their civil war origins, as can be seen at Alton and Basing House. Theoretical in its nature and utilising and combining elements of research not previously collaborated, The Arte Militaire is unique in not merely showing how military manuals were used, but rather how they can still be seen within the historical landscape.


A well-researched and an extremely useful and unique study…the author's coverage is a reflection of the relative newness of this area of research. There is enough here already to appeal to the fortress historian.
Casemate Journal - Fortress Study Group

Overall this is a well-researched and extremely useful - indeed, unique - study. If your interest is archaeological approaches to the battlefield, then this is a must.
Military History Monthly

Engaging and fascinating!
Books Monthly

Louth's knowledge of contemporary manuals, and his application of living history experience in positing theories about artefact deposition, are especially interesting aspects of the publication...will be of interest to all those involved in conflict archaeology.
Current Archaeology

It is liberating to read this book and see both experimental archaeology and re-enactment applied together with classical archaeological traditions. The book shows how far we as a field can go if we work together and use the methods available.
Experimental Archaeology Journal