Monday, 25 November 2013

Elizabethan Small Wars: Part 2: Background Reading

I thought I'd follow this project through here in more detail, so I'll begin with the main references I have to hand. These are:

Irish Battles, G A Hayes-McCoy (Appletree)
From Clontarf (1014) to Arklow (1798) this is the best book on its subject.

The Irish Wars 1485-1603, Ian Heath and David Sque (Osprey)
Thanks to the old WRG range of uniform books, Ian Heath has been my staunchest authority for uniform detail throughout my miniatures painting career.

Armies of the 16th Century, Ian Heath (Foundry)

Galloglass 1250-1600, Fergus Cannan (Osprey)
This is a new acquisition. Ospreys can vary. This one looks good.

The Border Reivers, Keith Durham & Angus McBride (Osprey)
Another good Osprey with good illustrations of Elizabethan clothing. I may move on to the Borders later.

Renaissance Armies 1480-1650, George Gush (PSL)
An old book, but it still provides a good overview.

British Military Uniforms From Contemporary Pictures, W Y Carman's  (Spring)
Another old book but it may have some information of interest.

For more general background, I also have John Sturt's Revolt in the West and Anthony Fletcher's Tudor Rebellions. There are some other titles I might find in my book collection and I've ordered a few other books which I will mention later if and where relevant.

One clothing issue I've encountered already is the question of sleeveless doublets. Despite the assumptions of Hollywood as well as some re-enactors and illustrators, it appears that sleeveless doublets were rare. I guess that if you are going to wear a jacket it might as well have sleeves, and that shirts were regarded as underwear and not normally exposed except when doing heavy labour. This will be important when painting English and similar infantry.


  1. If you want to get deeper into the reading on the Irish Wars, the classic overview is Cyrill Falls "Elizabeth's Irish Wars"

    Hiram Morgans "Tyrone's Rebellion: The Outbreak of the Nine Years War in Tudor Ireland" is excellent for explaining the build up to the conflict and "The Elizabethan Conquest of Ireland: The 1590s Crisis" by John McGurk is equally good. It goes into great detail about recruitment, transporting the troops to Ireland and how unpopular the war was. From what I recall there is a great chapter on English experiences in combat.

    History tends to focus on the Earl of Tyrone when talking about the Nine Years war but "Red Hugh O'Donnell and the Nine Years War" by Darren McGettigan is an interesting study of the other leader of the rebellion.

    For the Desmonds, Richard Berleths' "Twilight Lords: The Fierce Doomed Struggle of the Last Great Feudal Lords of Ireland Against the England of Elizabeth I" is an entertaining read but not as academic as the above books.

    For the Redshanks there is Hayes-McCoys "Scots Mercenary Forces in Ireland, 1565-1603" and "Fire and Sword: Sorley Boy MacDonnell and the Rise of Clan Ian Mor, 1538-90" by J Michael Hill. Both are extremely detailed and quite heavy going but contain very useful information on the Scots and their presence as mercenaries and settlers in Gaelic Ireland.

    1. Thanks very much indeed for this very detailed and helpful reading list. I was aware of some of these but by no means all. I was very impressed by your early 16thC collection pictured on your blog.

  2. Sounds an interesting period- I have a 28mm Tudor force that is a bit earlier than Elizabethan but is probably usable. I am now a follower of your blog and will look out for more posts on this subject

    1. Welcome aboard! The early Tudor period is covered by Irregular Wars and included several historical risings which would lend themselves to the scale of operations modelled in these rules.