Wars and Soldiers in the Early Reign of Louis XIV. Volume 3 – The Armies of the Ottoman Empire 1645-1718

Published: April 8th, 2021     
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Author: Bruno Mugnai
Reviewed by: Luke R. Bucci PhD - IPMS# 33549
ISBN #: 978-1-91311-884-6
Other Publication Information: Softbound, 160 Pages: 121 b/w illustrations, 9 b/w maps, numerous tables, 16pp color plates
Price: $59.95
Product provided by: Casemate Publishers

Bruno Mugnai is a prolific author and illustrator who has specialized in history of eastern Europe in the 16th-18th centuries, ancient Italian states and South America after Spanish conquest. He has previously published titles for the Italian Army and Helion & Company (UK), including five volumes on Wars and Soldiers in the early Reign of Louis XIV, and the Cretan War (1645-1671). He also an illustrator for his books.

This book is No 55 of the Century of the Soldier 1618-1721 series by Helion, and is an update in English of the original title published in Italian in 1997. This time period saw warfare escalate into serious national business, fostering a steady stream of advances, changing rulers, nations and history. Pike to musket era. This book focuses on the Ottoman Empire armies that occupied much of Eastern Europe.

What You Get

This 9 3/4 X 7 1/16 inch (246 X 180 mm) softbound book is almost 3/8 inches (17 mm) thick. Production quality is excellent. This book has been carefully edited and is easy to comprehend. There are 368 pages between the covers, with small print - a lot of info! There is one organization chart, 18 maps, 57 B&W print reproductions (persons, uniforms, battle scenes), 45 B&W photos (mostly of weapons, armor and gear from museums), 22 B&W drawings by the author (persons, gear, clothing, weapons), and a 16-page insert of color plates by the author in the middle of the book depicting uniforms and ensigns (flags). Sometimes we forget that history from the past (300+ years ago in this case) was not sepia or B&W, but vibrantly colored. The color plates are the highlight of the book and give life to the narrative.

There are 16 sections to this book, including an Ottoman chronology of events, Foreword, Preface to the prior Italian-language version (1997), Preface to current book (in English), Acknowledgements, and a Note on Ottoman Currency. Six main sections follow detailing the Sublime Porte (Ottoman Government), the Ottoman Commonwealth and Allies, Ottoman Armies, Allies and Tributaries, Ottoman Art of War and Dress, and Equipment and Ensigns. A large Appendix of the Orders of Battle with Tables, Colour Plate Commentaries, Glossary and Bibliography wraps up this history lesson.

This book professes to have greater detail of this time period than anything previously, and the detail presented leads me to believe that this statement is correct (at least in the English language). Anyone interested in the time period would enjoy this book and be immersed into the Ottoman way of life. Even if you are not a fan of this time period, this book is enticing, enthralling and unnerving. This knowledge certainly helps us all to understand the current issues of the countries of the former Yugoslavia and surrounding countries from Poland to Turkey. The wars, soldiers and leaders involved in this time period have repercussions felt today. Getting back to the details - lots of interesting facts pop up, such as probably the first mobile artillery and forerunner to the tank - a camel-mounted cannon, which actually was a disaster not repeated (see page 300).

This book highlights the revolution in warfare during this era. The Ottoman Armies did not progress as the European armies did on a number of areas, not just technical, but mostly socioeconomic. By 1718 (when the Treaty of Passarowitz was signed), the Ottomans had lost huge tracts of Europe, never to be regained. This period marked the transition of the Ottoman Empire from being the major power in the Western world (China was by far the major world power), to a lesser power, but still large, powerful and entrenched. The details in this book help explain why, making for good reading.

Summary

This book is extremely detailed, and highly useful for historians, the inquisitive, war gamers and figure modelers. The subject is not well known and has been viewed through the eyes of victors over the centuries.  Bruno Mugnai brings a welcome addition to the conversation, fleshing out pivotal events and conclusions that affect us today. The text is well written and explains the intricacies of Ottoman life and practices understandably. But be aware this is a massive amount of information from harsh times. Recommended if you fall into these categories and want to intimately know about the Ottoman presence that still has an effect on present-day Europe, Russia, former Russian Republics, Turkey and the Middle East.

Thanks to the author for spreading this history, Helion Books for publishing this history, and Casemate Publishers for getting this book to us.

Thanks to Casemate Publishing & IPMSUSA for the review copy!

Figures

  • Figure 1: Front cover of The Armies of the Ottoman Empire 1645-1718.
  • Figure 2: Back cover of The Armies of the Ottoman Empire 1645-1718.
  • Figure 3: A B&W photo from a museum of an Ottoman karabela infantry sabre hilt captured at Slankamen, 1691.
  • Figure 4: Janissaries were the foot soldiers of the Ottoman Empire, and their classic tactic was the Janissary Charge. After getting hopped up on an herbal honey drink (maslach), and after a musket volley, charged their enemy fiercely with swords and knives until successful or dead.
  • Figure 5: Calvary was an important part of Ottoman warmaking, and the Serhaddkulu dely were an elite group designed to strike fear into adversaries, both civilians and troops. Gaudy dress with furs, feathers and wings was their identifying trait.
  • Figure 6: Ottoman troops were often deployed on the battlefield behind embankments and ditches fortified with poles and sand bags. Open spaces were made to allow cavalry maneuver and artillery placements.
  • Ottoman karabella hilt
    Ottoman karabella hilt
  • Ottoman Army Janissary Charge
    Ottoman Army Janissary Charge
  • Ottoman Army Serhaddkulu Charge
    Ottoman Army Serhaddkulu Charge
  • Ottoman Army Artillery
    Ottoman Army Artillery

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