"The War of the Sicilian Vespers has undeservedly languished in the historical shadows. Mott has rescued this fascinating and important conflict from obscurity and given us a fascinating analysis of war at sea in the High Middle Ages . . . with an account of the campaigns of the Aragonese admiral Roger of Lauria, one of the most remarkably successful naval commanders of all time."--John Guilmartin, Jr., Ohio State University
Lawrence Mott’s study of the War of Sicilian Vespers provides an unprecedented view of the internal organization and operations of a medieval fleet. While the conflict of 1282-1302 between France and the crown of Aragon for control of Sicily had broad geopolitical implications, it was also notable for having been fought primarily at sea. Mott draws on previously overlooked archival materials, most notably the battle fleet accounts of Roger of Lauria discovered in the Archives of the Cathedral of Valencia, in order to produce an account of unprecedented detail, full of original insights into the mechanics of naval warfare in this early period.
Mott provides detailed information about ship construction, manning, naval tactics and strategy, and especially administration, illustrating how the fleet was created, organized, and maintained despite its composition: a polyglot of different groups, including a significant but previously unknown Muslim contingent. He also offers a military biography of the inexplicably obscure naval commander Roger of Lauria, among the great maritime leaders of all time. Challenging assumptions concerning the war and medieval naval warfare in general, Mott demonstrates that it was remarkable fleet organization and leadership, not “luck” as many have claimed, that defeated the French and ultimately removed them as a major player in the Mediterranean for several centuries.
Finally, Mott puts the details and statistical and typological information of his account in perspective with an analysis of the nature of sea power and its changing character over time, challenging the assumption by recent scholars that Mahanian doctrine does not apply to medieval naval warfare.
Lawrence V. Mott is assistant professor of history at the Center for Maritime and Regional Studies at the University of South Denmark, Esbjerg, and the author of The Development of the Rudder.
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"an important scholarly work, a product of extensive archival research that sheds considerable new light on Mediterranean sea power."
--The Northern Mariner/Le Marine du nord
"Using a wide variety of archival sources (their wealth almost entirely uninvestigated previously) , Mott is able to trace not only the travels and engagements of the Catalan-Aragonese fleet during the War of the Sicilian Vespers (1282-1302) and the leadership of its admiral, Roger de Lauria, but also the fleet's construction, type of vessels, administration, provisioning, manning, and, especially important, its funding.
"Highly Recommended" K.R. DeVries, Loyola College in Maryland
"This meticulously researched and fascinating volume examines the rise of Aragon as a maritime power in the western Mediterranean, and particularly the role of the commander of the Catalan-Aragonese Fleet, Roger of Lauria."
--Int'l Journal of Maritime History
"Mott provides a thorough analysis of medieval naval warfare ranging from types of ships, methods of warfare, and logistics."
"If we accept that the Catalan-Aragonese navy was the model of efficiency Mott claims, then it was truly a marvel not only for the thirteenth century but well into the early modern period. His vision of the fleet no doubt exceeds the capabilities of what many considered possible for a medieval navy. This is a book that lives up to its billing: it does shed light on medieval seapower . . . and calls into question a number of assumptions held by maritime historians and naval buffs."
--The Sixteenth Century Journal
"Persuasive and well documented...it offers real insight into the foundation of Aragonese dominance while displaying Roger of Lauria's remarkable skill in achieving a naval force unparalleled until the sixteenth century."
--American Historical Review