The Artillery of the Dukes of Burgundy, 1363-1477
The four Valois Dukes of Burgundy created, in little more than a century, a fabulously wealthy and independent state. Their centralised control and chancellery have bequeathed to us a vast treasure trove of documents, including accounts and inventories of the Masters of the artillery under the later Dukes. Although many of these were extracted and transcribed in the late nineteenth century, modern historians have largely ignored their unprecedented insights into fifteenth-century guns and their use.
When Charles the Bold, the last Valois Duke, took on the combined Swiss confederate forces in 1476 he lost not just the battles and his personal fortune, but much of his artillery train as well. Of the dozens of cannons captured, at least 25 pieces survive in Swiss museums.
The documents that survive from the Valois state give us, almost for the first time in medieval Europe, the ability to see the course of history in a period when Europe was undergoing some of the most profound changes before the 20th century.
The Artillery of the Dukes of Burgundy is the first attempt to combine all these sources, bringing new and fresh insights into the development and use of artillery in the fifteenth century. Moreover this is the first modern study of medieval cannon, one of the most important discoveries of the post-classical world.
KELLY DeVRIES has authored numerous books and articles on medieval warfare. ROBERT DOUGLAS SMITH formerly Head of Conservation in the Royal Armouries, Tower of London, is an acknowledged expert on medieval artillery. This study is the first major fruit of their combined researches.