The Armies of the Ottoman Empire 1645 -1719 - a review

It is difficult to know where to begin in describing the importance and value of this book. Bruno Mugnai has created what may become the definitive reference work on a remarkable military machine. The legacy of its achievement echoes across the Balkans and central Europe even to this day.

The Ottomans engendered terror in Christendom. Absorption into their cultural, economic and religious orbit was the stuff of continued nightmares for king and commoner alike. Fear created an extremely hazy perspective obfuscated by prejudice, lack of knowledge and a desire to minimize the threat through making it appear amorphous, cruel and in a progressive state of decay. No empire of such size and power could survive for almost five hundred years being all these things.

Bruno takes the widest possible sweep through a huge amount of source material. From this he distils a sharp, clear and objective explanation about the world of the Ottoman soldier. Concentrating on the phase after the empire’s apogee, he decodes unfamiliar terms and complex social and military hierarchies in a clear and simple way.

The evolution of the military machine is explained from recruitment to battle tactics. The confusing multitude of names used to describe troops types is clarified. Weapons, standards, allies, campaigns and fortifications are explored in a concise and informative way which is easy to read and packed with data essential for historian, wargamer, modeller and casual reader alike. Those of us passionate about 17th century owe a growing debt of gratitude to Bruno Mugnai who is rapidly becoming a leading authority on the period. Enjoy this masterful work. It sets the benchmark for others to follow.

The above text is the foreword for Bruno's wonderful book which I was asked to write a few months back. Now that it is published I can happily say the finished product is a wonderful and weighty reference source. It is a substantial book weighing in at 369 pages. The level of detail on the various  component elements of Ottoman armies is impressive.

For those interested in the Ottoman army during the period of its clash with Western Europe's late 17th century forces, this is essential reference material.

Interesting, generously illustrated with extensive colour plates and a large selection of Black and white drawings, print and photographs in addition.

Don't hesitate - it falls into the category of 'essential component of reference library'.