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Bibliophile price: £9.00
When the fleet of Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus (Octavius) crushed that of Cleopatra and Mark Antony off a promontory of Epirus called Actium on 2nd September 31BC, the Mediterranean became a Roman lake. Following the fall of Rome, the sea is increasingly the stage upon which the human struggle of western civilisation is played out. In a world of few roads, maritime warfare was played out on the surface of the sea, where power is projected and wealth sought. This chaotic aspect and period of history has rarely been studied and Stanton depicts the development of maritime warfare from the end of the Roman Empire to the dawn of the Renaissance. He details the war waged in the Mediterranean by the Byzantines, Muslims, Normans, Crusaders, the Italian Maritime Republics, Angevins and Aragonese as well as those fought in northern waters by the Vikings, English, French and Hanseatic League. Each seaborne struggle is illustrated by a vivid reconstruction of a key engagement. Despite the limited documentary and archaeological evidence, Stanton paints a plausible and captivating picture of how nautical architecture, navigation and armament evolved in the course of these conflicts spanning the Middle Ages. He shows how, even though maritime technology gradually advanced to the compass and the canon, crew conditions remained onerous and battle tactics crude, with most encounters at sea degenerating into bloody hand-to-hand mèlées. Each chapter is illustrated by a vivid reconstruction in this pioneering, graphic account. 359pp, maps and 40 colour plates.

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