Warrior 104. Oxford: Osprey Publishing 2006. 64pp. £ 11.99. ISBN 1-84176-970-3.
Not always blessed with good leaders and hampered by corruption at all levels, the armies of Tudor England still had mounted knights as their main shock troops. Chivalry was still alive, with tournaments held before the sovereigns (such as the well known Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520), and books printed to inspire valiant deeds, but this did not mean that men with a knightly background were always eager to fight. Many other activities such as business and politics were becoming popular among the nobility. When recalled, the nobles went to war with their own retinues and the monarchs did not feel the need to have a standing army. Things were slowly changing, though: handgunners increased in number while the bow became obsolete, the artillery train was brought up to date.
It was popular unrest, alarming but at the same time lacking training and equipment, which more than once kept the Tudor armies busy in England. There were also plenty of chances to fight abroad. France, Scotland, Spain and Portugal saw the English go into action, but it was Ireland, with its boggy and woody terrain and guerrilla warfare, which provided different experience.
As a former Senior Curator at the Royal Armouries, Tower of London, the author lays great stress on armours worn by Tudor knights and their weapons. In 1511 Henry VIII set up the royal workshop at Greenwich, to move it five years later to Southwark, but soon it was back at Greenwich, where it remained for more than a century. It took some time to the royal workshop to develop, but soon it was able to match other top European centres and its style became easily recognizable. A concise and useful glossary explains the technical terms found in the text.
Once more Christopher Gravett has written a sound book which clearly introduces the reader to a fascinating subject.