Furies

  • by Lauro Martines
  • Narrated by Simon Brooks
  • 10 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

During the European Renaissance, an age marked equally by revolutionary thought and constant warfare, it was armies, rather than philosophers, who shaped the modern European nation state. "Mobile cities" of mercenaries and other paid soldiers - made up of astonishingly diverse aggregations of ethnicities and nationalities - marched across the land, looting and savaging enemy territories.
In the 15th century, Poland hired German, Spanish, Bohemian, Hungarian, and Scottish soldiers. Later, Sweden fought in Muscovy with Irish, English, Scottish, French, and German troops. Units of Croats, Germans, Walloons, Albanians, and especially Swiss, served in French armies. In the Netherlands, Italians and Spaniards fought beside Irishmen, Germans, Dalmatians, and Walloons. Regiments of Swiss pikemen fought for Spain, France, and Venice, as well as for German and Italian princes. Companies of Poles, Hungarians, and Croatians fought in German regiments.
Growing national economies, unable to pay or feed massed armies for any length of time, thus became war states, an early nationalism which would later consume modern Europe. Furies: War in Europe, 1450-1700, by acclaimed historian of the Renaissance Lauro Martines, compellingly and simply delivers the story of modern Europe's martial roots, capturing the brutality of early modern war and how it shaped the history of a continent.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Untroubled by the narration

Audible's painless returns policy lead me to take a punt on this. For some time I'd wanted to know more about the military free companies which revolutionised war on the European continent from the late medieval period. There aren't may audiobooks in English which cover the subject and Lauro Martins seems to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of their history, their significance in the development of European states and the colourful/psychotic characters who lead and comprised them. A number of listeners seem to have had their enjoyment spoiled by the narrator but on the basis that I could return the thing if I felt the same it seemed like a worthwhile gamble. From a wholly personal perspective I have to say that the narrator is absolutely fine for the majority of this listen. His delivery is nicely varied, he sounds like he's actually reading and understanding the text and the production quality is clear. He does pronounce many foreign place names in very odd ways. I began to wonder if the producers were too cheap or slack to go back and edit in the correct pronunciations but it just didn't bother me that much because the book itself is brilliant. It has a great balance of detail, first hand accounts of ordinary people from letters and diaries alongside interesting historical analysis of how the states of Europe changed over this period. My advice to anyone who likes history but feels put off by reviews from listeners who really hated the narration is to get this but be ready to return it if the eccentric pronunciation proves too much for you. I'm very glad I got it. It covers stuff that I simply couldn't find in other books and Lauro Martins is an excellent historical writer.
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- Jim

Soldiers and peasants say war is hell

The author makes it clear at the start and in the conclusion that his aim is to tell the stories of war and early modern Europe from the view of those that fought and suffered, namely the empressed soldiers and abused civilians, rather than that of the military strategy or political historian.

The book focuses on themes rather than chronology, which is at times confusing and only offers lessons on the establishment of modern states towards the very end. The majority of the book is a litany of suffering (starvation, disease, pillage, destruction, violence, facial mutilation and sexual violence) brought to life by quotes from first hand sources. Expect to listen to stories of e.g. how a woman, crying over a dead husband or child, was grabbed by plundering soldiers and raped in the middle of the street, on top of the familial corpse.

Whilst the topic gives a different and interesting perspective it is a though slog to listen to such deprivations for 10h straight. This book is likely better read than listened to.
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- Andreas

Book Details

  • Release Date: 31-10-2013
  • Publisher: Audible Studios for Bloomsbury