Friday 11 August 2023

Armies of the Italian States, 1660-1690, part 1

One of the more prolific of authors, Bruno Mugnai has recently seen the publication of the sixth volume in his superb series covering the ‘Wars and Soldiers in the Reign of Louis XIV’ with the ‘Armies of the Italian States, 1660-1690, Part One’. As is frequently the case, in my opinion at least, this book series just keeps getting better and better with the arrival of each new volume, and this one is no exception.

Starting with some quite detailed discussion on the geopolitical background of the Italian peninsula, this volume covers just about everything one might wish to know about the armies of Savoy-Piedmont and the Venetian Republic and her allies, such as the Papal States, the Order of St John and Tuscany. We are introduced to a detailed explanation of different troop types, recruitment methods, training, weapons and equipment, dress/uniform, organisation and leadership. There is even a diagram which serves to explain the chain of command of the Savoy-Piedmont army. As noted earlier there a wealth of background information covering the ever changing political situation, the numerous military operations of these two powers and their relationships with their often more powerful neighbours makes fascinating reading and gives some useful context. 

The author is also an accomplished artist, and there are eight pages of gorgeous specially commissioned colour paintings that take pride of place in the centre of the book, depicting a wide range of dress, uniforms and troop types. The Venetian ‘Oltramarine’ troops illustrated look especially interesting. There are also a large number of contemporary black and white images, and both these and the colour plates are each accompanied by a detailed and very helpful commentary.

As an admirer of Bruno’s work I wholeheartedly recommend this book as it is a valuable addition to the series, whether for general historical and military research purposes or for wargamers searching for something by way of a different sort of project. I await Part 2 with a high degree of impatience.

ISBN 978-1-915113-57-3 Soft cover, 232 pages.

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