Rumours from the East

Word hasn’t spread far and wide yet, but a few of you might have already come across the word ‘Special’ in one of our previous newsletters. Yes, the rumours (assuming, of course, that the net is buzzing with anticipating posts, tweets and funny yet enticing Youtube clips related to this topic) are indeed true: we are planning to release the very first Special of Medieval Warfare! The idea is simple: A Special is basically an upgraded version of the regular issues of Medieval Warfare. The Special will have more pages, will be better looking, and will only include articles focused on the main theme, which will also be much more narrowly defined than our usual themes. Many of you will already be familiar with the concept from the Ancient Warfare Specials, of which there are three by now (excluding the Edge of Empire book which has appeared a few months ago): The Varian disaster, The Roman imperial centuria, and the Battle of Marathon. Each of these Specials include articles written by experienced and knowledgeable writers, dozens of relevant and often unique pictures, and several beautifully crafted illustrations visualizing warriors, equipment and battle-scenes, as well as several extensive maps focusing on the events related to the theme.

I’d certainly understand if you are dying to know the theme of our upcoming Medieval Warfare special. However, you will have to wait until the ‘official’ announcement (official as in that we’ll be hanging some garlands around the office when the day comes, as well as drinking an additional cup of coffee) for that kind of information.

Nonetheless, what I will tell you on the next part might already give you some hints.

A few weeks back, I was one of those lucky travellers who found themselves in the back of a rather dubious taxi-van driven by someone who was… let us say a chauffeur ‘experienced’ with chaotic traffic around (and across) the Bosporus. Those of you familiar with European/Middle Eastern topography can now easily deduce where I was (and if you can’t, shame on you): in Istanbul, once the sprawling capital of the East Roman (or Byzantine) Empire for nearly a thousand years until the Ottoman Turks managed to conquer the city, after which it was granted its current name. The history of the city dates back until the Greek colonization period, and since then, it has played an important part in historical events. It was the capital of the Byzantine Empire starting from the time of Constantine the great, and it managed to survive for nearly a thousand years after the Western Roman Empire fell to the Goths. Of course, while one can fill many bookshelves with monographs about the Greek and especially Roman period of the city, it was not why we were there. The reason for our visit was rather more medieval in nature. Of course, we weren’t about to attack the walls and the cities’ peaceful inhabitants with swords, spears and arrows, but the fact that such things did take place during the cities’ medieval history was why we decided to make the journey.

Of course, I won’t bore you with a detailed account of our experiences during our visit. I will tell you that it is indeed an amazing city; vibrant, lively, with many beautiful sights (though it has several quite less-attractive streets as well, of course) and friendly people. If you are still thinking about visiting the city in the future, then I can only advise you to stop that, and simply go and take look for yourself. The city can be overwhelming at times. A look at the map will not properly prepare you for the immensity of it all, and your first impression will likely be one which I myself simply summarized by uttering the word ‘Wow’. One of the (granted: less important) goals of our journey was to get a feel of the city and its surrounding, but we quickly learned that the ‘surroundings’ part was a lost cause: standing on one of the higher parts in town, the buildings stretched from horizon to horizon. Of course, this shouldn’t have been all that surprising, seeing that, according to some sources, the city is home to nearly 25 million people.

Nonetheless, once you spent some time in the more touristic parts of the city, you’ll find that most things to do and to see are located within a relatively close distance from each other. During our stay, we visited the most important sites and museums which the city has to offer. The Hagia Sophia (quickly turned into a mosque after the capture of the city by the Ottomans) and Blue Mosque face each other, and are only a few minutes walk apart, and both the Topkapi Palace and Archaeological Museum can be found around the corner (well, close by at least). Visiting Yedikule Fortress (initially built as part of the Theodosian Walls) obliged us to take a taxi. I’ll have to admit that it was rather surprising to find that, in a city which has seen so much violence during the Middle Ages, it was the traffic which seemed to be the most likely to kill you; however, the same can be said for many Mediterranean cities, and we managed to survive without too much trouble.

Reason of our stay was, on the one hand, to meet up with some potential authors who were interested in sharing their expertise in our special, and on the other to take pictures of the many medieval objects, buildings and fortresses which can be found in the local museums and city proper. This included a visit to the Topkapi Palace, the Archaeological Museum, the Army Museum, as well as the Theodosian Walls, Yedikule Fortress and some other fortresses further along the Bosporus. You can be certain that many of the pictures taken will be shown in our special, and I can tell you that it was certainly worth the visit.

The Special of Medieval Warfare will appear at the end of 2013. More information will soon be shared on Facebook, twitter and via our newsletter, so keep an eye out for those posts, tweets and Karwansaray Publishers-emails.

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