New issue Revista Universitaria de Historia Militar, Vol. 6, No. 11

Miguel Alonso's picture

Dear colleagues,

The Revista Universitaria de Historia Militar is proud to announce the publication of its next issue, Vol. 6, No. 11 (June 2017). You can download it in our website, in the following link:



“Guerra y competencia entre Estados en el Mediterráneo Medieval (siglos XIV-XV) [War and rivarly between states in the Western Mediterranean]

Coord. by Mario Lafuente Gómez (Universidad de Zaragoza)


-Presentation (Mario Lafuente Gómez)


-Costi della guerra e forze in campo nel secolo xv, tra verità storiografiche e manipolazione dell’informazione [Costs of War and Armies on the Scene in the 15th Century, between the Historiographical Reality and the Manipulation of Information]

Elisabetta Scarton (Università degli Studi di Udine)

How can we nowadays quantify the costs of a medieval war? There is no clear answer, because there are too many factors to count on and not all of them can be expressed in figures: the acquisition of men and animals, weapons and supplies; and, together with them, the costs of maintaining a whole host of commissioners, ambassadors, informers, spies... The credibility of the available numbers also plays against us: data on money handled, men, weapons or the fleet were often consciously manipulated by those who used them, according to their own interests. Thus, when it was intended to dissuade the enemy, the potential of the own forces tended to increase; while, in order to get aid from the Allies, the tendency was to reduce the value of the own army. In the wars of the first Renaissance, the powers in conflict used to fight with propaganda and information, so it was in the diplomatic arena that conflicts were often resolved. Until Charles VIII of France declared on Italy a real war: cruel, quick and without intermediaries.

This paper offers an original view about how to generate, spread and perceive information related to the size and potential of the armies in southern Italy in the late Middle Ages. From a wide diplomatic and chronistic documentary collection, this work shows that the conscious manipulation of the information became a useful political tool and that, in fact, the success of the diplomatic missions depended, mainly, on the expertise of the intermediaries to operate successfully in this area. Depending on the context and, above all, on the interlocutor with whom contact was made at any moment, the message and the arguments held by the representatives of each of the opposing powers could vary substantially, although the underlying reality was essentially the same. The holders of political power and their ambassadors and intermediaries were aware that the content of the message depended, to a large extent, on the identity and pretensions of its interlocutor. Thus, there was a clear difference between addressing their subjects, an allied lord, or the enemy.


-«Car més val contendre ab la quartana que ab flaquea». Conflictividad marítima en tiempos de carestía en la Corona de Aragón a principios del siglo XV [«Car més val contendre ab la quartana que ab flaquea». Maritime conflicts in times of scarcity in the Crown of Aragon in the early fifteenth century]

Victòria Burguera I Puigserver (Universitat de les Illes Balears/Institució Milà i Fontana-CSIC

Throughout the Late Middle Ages, the cities of the Crown of Aragon obtained by the sovereign several resources to stock up on cereals and especially wheat. One of these was the royal grant generally known as Vi vel gratia, that allowed them to seize shipments of foreign victuals in cases of extreme need. That privilege, applied to maritime transport of grain, involved the authorization of practices previously considered as piratical, now protected by provisions of the King applied only in times of famine. Even so, such activities were the basis of conflicts, especially between the maritime cities of the Crown.

This article analyzes the use of this royal grant by the great coastal cities of the Crown of Aragon –notably Barcelona, Valencia and Mallorca– in order to ensure their own supply by sea, particularly during dearth. The strategy deployed to this effect is, in fact, a form of institutionalized violence, legally sustained thanks to the support of the Aragonese kings from the first third of the fourteenth century. As can be seen, the objective that legitimated this type of action carried out by the cities was, ultimately, the need to ensure the supply of consumer goods –and especially wheat– to the population. However, it is difficult to think that the adoption of this type of measures would respond exclusively to the solidarity of the agents of the local power. Rather, we are dealing with coercive formulas used by urban elites to safeguard their interests in a context of conflict, such as the Mediterranean world, during the two last centuries of the Middle Ages. Likewise, the use of these strategies by the urban powers, supported by the officers of the king, became a cause of conflicts between the authorities of Barcelona, Valencia and Mallorca.


-Uomini d’arme nel territorio estense alla fine del xv secolo [Men-at-arms in the Este’s Lordship at the End of the 15th Century]

Enrica Guerra (Università degli Studi di Ferrara)

Through the analysis of several accounting books and correspondence, this paper analizes the composition of the armies mobilized in the service of the Este Household (Duchy of Ferrara) and it specially focuses on the presence of foreign contingents and their relationship with the non-combatant population in the second half of the 15th Century.

This work analyzes, firstly, the categories of combatants within the ranks of the armies mobilized at the service of the Dukes of Este, as well as the social profile of the individuals integrated in them during the last two decades of the fifteenth century. Thanks to the preservation of important accounting sources, the author shows how a good part of the forces placed under command of the Dukes of Ferrara came from the military potential of the regional aristocracy, linked to the household of the Duke through vassalage formulas or other personal links. This system of military organization achieved a greater development in those states in which the feudal aristocracy power over the whole political field was stronger.

Secondly, this paper also describes the logistic needs of the armies of the Duchy of Ferrara and the public order conflicts they generated. In relation to this aspect, it is observed that the existence of direct links between the majors of the army and the ducal household did not serve, in practice, to discipline the behavior of the combatants. In fact, conflicts unleashed among them and, above all, between them and the population were frequent. According to the documentation handled, this problems derived from cases of robbery and extortion over the non-combatant population. The accused justified themselves by alleging all kinds of negligence in the payment of their wages. As a reaction to all these forms of institutionalized depredation, it is noted a clear social response articulated around the duchess Leonor de Aragon, who run the complains issued by the municipal authorities and, in general, by the victims of the ducal army.


-La marina da guerra genovese nel tardo medioevo. In cerca d’un modelo [The Genoese Army in the Late Middle Ages. Looking for a Model]

Antonio Musarra (Ahmanson Fellow, Villa I Tatti [Florence] – Laboratorio di Storia marittima e navale, Università di Genova)

In this paper, the analysis of the structure of the Genoese warship in the late Middle Ages, conducted through the study of some of the the main sources available – chronicle, legislative sources, accounting records – allows the author to verify the validity of some theoretical frameworks related to the application of the concept of sea power to the medieval Mediterranean and to propose further interpretative schemes.

The present article analyzes the problems related to the military mobilization and the organization of the Genoese armies in battlefield. It brings to light the need for a systematic scrutiny of the abundant administrative documentation preserved in the documentary collection called Antico Comune of the Archivio di Stato di Genova and offers a solid theoretical background to carry out a new interpretation. With this aim, it proposes to critically review some of the prevailing theories managed in recent decades to explain the Mediterranean expansion of the city of Genoa. Specifically, it checks thoroughly the approaches that have considered the expansion a consequence of a long-term strategy focused on the control of the key points of the maritim route to the Levant. The author suggests the existence of diverse and not always coincident interests within the Genoese political society and the protagonist role of the private initiative in the endowment and the control of the republic armies from the thirteenth century. In such conditions, the effectiveness of the system was based on the development of elements capable of safeguarding the common interest. Among them, he emphasizes two main factors: a powerful system of recruitment, with which to assure the crew and crossbowmen; and a strict naval legislation, which would allow to regulate the characteristics of the boats built in the domains of the city and, therefore, susceptible of being put to its service in a warlike context.


-El armamento y sus innovaciones en el Aragón de la segunda mitad del siglo XIV [Arms and their Innovations in Aragon during the Second Half of the 14th Century]

Álvaro Cantos Carnicer (Independent Researcher)

In this article armour and weapons in Aragon in the second half of the 14th century are analysed, making a comparison with the previous century to define their evolution and innovations. Up to now, no overall research has been carried out about this subject in Aragon, in contrast to other Spanish territories, such as Catalonia and Castile. In fact, many data about Catalonia is also valid for Aragon and can be taken, to a great extent, as a starting point or a comparative element. This study uses documentary (documents of the Archive of the Crown of Aragon, Aragonese medieval laws, municipal rules, inventories…) and iconographic sources (Aragonese and Catalonian gothic painting and sculpture).

It has been confirmed that the previous types of elements to protect the head, the neck and the body (mail defences) continued to be used but others were developed, such as the bascinet and the cuirasses with internal iron sheets; an attempt has been made to distinguish between other not well-known elements, such as suellasespalderasiubetesjaques… It has been verified that the metal pieces of armour to defend the legs and the arms began to be used early in the 14th century and their use increased over the century. However, only in the last decade of the 14th century the use of an armour totally constituted by pieces of metal is detected, even the breastplate, as in other territories of the Iberian Peninsula. With regard to the arms, different references are shown about the use of spears, darts, crossbows and their types, etc.

Concerning the artillery, it has been confirmed the only use of counterweight war machines or engines and their division into three types: ingenios, trebuchets and cabritas. It has been deduced that all of them had the same basic components but different size and power. Firearms appeared around 1360, including not only canons (bombards) but also portable weapons.


-La diffusione delle armi da fuoco nel dominio visconteo (secolo XIV) [The Spread of Firearms in the Visconti’s Lordship (14th Century)]

Fabio Romanoni (Independent Researcher)

Fabio Bargigia (Independent Researcher)

It may be generally observed that the military historiography about medieval Italy has been paying very little attention to the history of weapons; and it is in particular possible to say that the studies available on the diffusion and use of fire arms are very few –and mostly old– in Italy, especially related to the 14th century. Yet, analyzing the documentation available for the Visconti domain, which was certainly capable of fielding massive armies, they appear as an increasing presence and then constant, among the various available weapons. The purpose of this work is, therefore, to fill this gap by proposing an initial analysis of the problem, and showing the need for wider and organic work, to define more precisely the scope, techniques, and contexts in which firearms were used in Italy during the fourteenth century.

Although it is true that there are reports of the use of this type of weapons in the Italic Peninsula from the earliest dates –specifically from 1326 in Florence and from 1327 in the Castle of Gassino– the exhaustive scrutiny of unpublished sources coming from the visconteo domain made by the authors, has allowed them to define the conditions in which the reception and diffusion of these important technical innovations took place in this territory.

Among the results derived from their research, it is possible to verify the use of artillery machines in both offensive and defensive operations. Nevertheless, the use of artillery was concentrated mainly in the defense of cities and fortified places only from 1350 on, while the spread of portable firearms began later. Indeed, the first examples of this instruments actual use of these instruments are dated in the middle of the 1360s. However, the reception and effective use of these weapons are two phenomena synchronous to the expansion of the artillery detonated with gunpowder and, in fact, as in the first case, its expansion took place, in its initial phase, around the control and the defense of fortifications. On the other hand, and beyond the technical level, it should also be noted that the manufacture and the commercialization of firearms was strongly directed from power, as it was the lord who had the authority to grant licenses of production of this type of armament.



-Entre la tradición épica y la historia: la conquista espartana de Mesenia [Between Epic Tradition and History: The Spartan Conquest of Messenia]

César Fornis (Universidad de Sevilla)

The two Messenian wars, culminating in the Spartan conquest of the fertile neighboring region of Messenia and the enslavement of its inhabitants, who became helots, remain largely unknown, mainly due to the lack of sources. Apart some verses of Tyrtaeus, the Spartan poet of the mid-seventh century BC, the literary sources are belated and gather suspicious and contaminated ancient traditions riddled with legendary elements and subjected to the ideological debate about the enslavement of Greek people (and as Dorian as their Spartan conquerors). This has caused sharp controversies in modern historiography, which affect both the chronology and the credibility (and even the historicity) of certain episodes. According to a hypercritical posture, the possibility of reaching a minimum reconstruction and understanding of the historical events has even been denied, in such a way that the need to obviate them has been postulated. From our point of view, the historian himself/herself can (and should) perform this task of analysis and interpretation, but while taking extreme caution with these sources and, whenever possible, approaching the data provided by Archaeology; it is also essential to insert the two Messenian wars in structural problems and developments of the early Archaic Age, and not to isolate them, as has often been done. In this way, the conquest of Messenia emerges as an enterprise undertaken by the recently unified Lacedaemonian state as part of its process of territorial, identity and ideological definition. With the completion of the conquest, Sparta reaches the recognition as a model state for Greek political theorists because there is full identification between the political and military body, that is, between citizens and hoplites, who can devote themselves to the work deemed worthy (the management of public affairs and war) thanks to the existence of dependent masses who work the land owned by their masters.


-Aspectos de militarização e defesa costeira no Garb al-Ândalus: o caso de Cascais [Aspects of militarization and coastal defence in the Garb al-Ândalus: the case of Cascais]

Marco Oliveira Borges (Universidad de Lisboa)

Between the 8th and the 12th centuries the territory of the current municipality of Cascais played an important role on the coastal defence system of the Garb al-Andalus. Being part of the Western maritime area of the district (kura) of Lisbon, this territory was endowed with defensive and alarm structures engaged in a system that would gain its shape from the coast of Sintra, and at the same time its port and local anchorages helped support the maritime and military activities. Using an interdisciplinary methodology that brings together historical and archaeological data, the geographical recognition of the territory and the study of toponymy, we bring a further contribution that systematizes the information available and is part of spatially more expanded investigations that have been developed. In fact, these ongoing investigations have highlighted the Sintra-Cascais geographical complex, bringing new perspectives and a reinterpretation on the Islamic occupation of this area. The coast of the present municipality of Cascais extends between the port of Touro and Carcavelos, being endowed with a very rich maritime cultural landscape that has also been exploited in the scope of underwater archaeology. The port of Touro, flanked by the archaeological site of the Espigão das Ruivas, was also used by Muslims, although it is still unclear in which context. From this location to Carcavelos there are some toponyms that may be associated with the Islamic past and maritime and defensive activities, so they will also be our focus. Recently, even the place name Cascais has been related to the former Islamic presence of this area, and this is a subject that needs to be further explored. Finally, we will approach the port of Cascais and its adjacent area, which is known for a fact to have had human occupation ever sincethe Roman Period. Given its strategic position for navigation and its proximity to Lisbon, it is very likely that it was already permanently occupied and provided with a fortification during the Islamic period.


-Managing the Army, governing the State: the Italian military élite in national politics, 1882-1915 

Jacopo Lorenzini (Instituto Italiano per gli Studi Storici)

According to several contemporary witnesses, and many nowadays historians, one of the key instruments used by the Italian social and political élite of the 19th century to secure the national unifica- tion (and the monarchy as the leading institution of the newborn state) was the army. What few of them has noted, however, is that the army and the military who controlled it were more than an in- strument: they were an essential part of the Italian national élite, capable of influencing the nation- building process itself. The Italian army officers, and specifically the general staff ones, attended univer- sity-level military academies where social sciences were taught along with general history, human geog- raphy and foreign languages. They travelled the world and confronted themselves with fellow officers from different social, political and cultural contexts. They took part in politics and local administration, as well as in economical enterprises. Above all, they were well aware of the role the army was supposed to hold in the institutional and symbolic panorama of unified Italy and pre-war Europe. And they wrote about all of this.

The research project is grounded on two main sources. On one hand, the quantitative analysis of the careers and the biographies of 250 general staff officers who attained specific roles of great responsibility and relative autonomy from 1882 to 1915. On the other hand, correspondence, diaries, unpublished memoirs found in several private and family archives – in other words, those unofficial, unseen writings that we think could be more telling than the formal ones in revealing the military personal beliefs and cultural affiliations and influences. Crossing the quantitative and qualitative outputs, we can explore in depth the influence of military in the conception of politics, education, nationalization processes or social relationships in a case study, the Italian one, that is either peculiar and well integrated in the wider belle époque European context.


-La película La Malcasada como ejemplo de la proyección de la imagen estereotipada de los militares africanistas en los medios de comunicación [The film La Malcasada as an example of repercussion of Africanistas soldiers' stereotyped image in mass media]

Cristóbal Marín Molina (Universidad de Granada)

Demarcated inside the Communication theory, this article is based on studies of American journalist and political analyst Walter Lippman, where it is explained how the mass media create, through stereotypes, the reality of different matters which escapes from the direct experience of citizens (mental imagery which settle a classification on individuals, groups and different realities). Apart from this, the theoretical foundation relies on agenda-setting theory too, which study how mass media implant newsworthy matters (news and problems that have to be discussed in the public space) and the frames of the interpretation of social realities, as well as the influence that they have in public opinion and the establishment of their long term effects.

The movie La Malcasada, where different soldiers (general Francisco Franco, colonel Millán Astray, general José Sanjurjo) of the Spanish Colonial Army in Morocco (which is called Africanista army), is a vehicle to give an appearance of modernity, from a traditional society to a mass society based on urban way of life and consumption, and where propaganda plays a fundamental role. The film is a fixed view of the leader social class, where ancient social elements (aristocracy, politicians, bullfighters…) are mixed with new social agents (artists, doctors, engineers…). The army wanted to participate in that trendiness too, and the cinema, together with other mass media, constituted an excellent opportunity to propagate its stereotypes to a refractory public who was against its military interventions in the Spanish Protectorate in Morocco.

The film is a point of departure and an example to analyze how the Spanish army, particularly those Africanistas soldiers, used all mass media to their range to create a positive image of their political and military actions in the Protectorate in Morocco. All this was made a reality through different ways: movies (documentaries and fictional films), novels, photos, songs, toys, etc. carrying out a great effort to combine images and words. To get that target, they turned to control of news through censorship, biased information, governmental grants and support of opinion leadership agents, and, in this way, the army stereotypes inside Spanish society were reinforced.

For this study, different sources has been used, such as specialized bibliography about military Africanismo phenomena, mass media (specifically cinema and press), as well as the information provided from files of digital newspapers libraries. In addition, material coming from the movie La Malcasada and other films has been watched for their analysis.


-Víctimas invisibles: representación de la mujer y la vida cotidiana en los noticiarios Luce de la Segunda Guerra Mundial (1939-1945) [Invisible victims: The portrait of women and their daily issues in the Luce cinema newsreels during the Second World War (1939-1945)]

Carlota Coronado Ruiz (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)

The Second World War brought about a number of consequences and social changes that left its mark in Italy: the daily lives of the civilian population was disrupted by continuous bombings and hunger. Civilians, especially women, had to adapt to the social changes: as well as mobilise themselves, Italian women had to suffer and face the difficulties of day to day survival. This article analyses how the Luce cinema newsreels portrayed these issues, focusing on the image depicted by the participation of women on the home front.

There are other studies about the portrayal of women in cinema during both the fascist and Franco regimes, but these focus primarily on gender stereotypes spread by fascist propaganda. This article, however, focuses on the Second World War, and especially on the everyday lives of the civilian population. It addresses in depth the consequences of the war on the daily lives of Italian women and this presents a new angle to previous studies which focused specifically on the depiction of the Second World War in the Luce newsreels. It also makes a comparative study of the presentation of these topics in the Italian media - especially the press- as well as the female models in war propaganda in countries involved in the conflict such us Germany.

In order to explore these ideas, this article makes a quantitative as well as qualitative analysis of the Luce newsreels, the main source used. The newsreels were an important propaganda tool given that their screening was compulsory and they held the monopoly on audiovisual communication during those years. This analysis reveals the propaganda intentions of the Mussolini regime: military aspects take centre stage, death is censored, news about bombings or food shortages are avoided. This results in an image of the war far removed from the reality lived by civilians, and in particular, by women.


-Símbolo por partida doble. El capitán Astiz, la Armada y la transición democrática argentin [Double Symbol. Captain Astiz, the Navy and Democratic Transition in Argentina]

Daniel H. Mazzei (Universidad de Buenos Aires)

This article proposes to reconstruct the relationship between the government of President Raúl Alfonsín (1983-1989) and the Argentine Navy during the so-called democratic transition, whose main axes were the revision of the recent past and human rights. During that period the political situation of the Navy was relatively stable. At least if we compare it with what happened with their comrades of the Army. Throughout his term, President Alfonsin maintained the same Naval Chief of Staff and promotions occurred in a normal way. There were moments of great tension but didn´t have media coverage and happened almost behind the scenes. In all cases was present the figure of Liutenant Alfredo Astiz. Minister of Defense Borrás was the first to realize that Astiz had become a double symbol that reflected the gap between the Society and the Armed Forces. To many he was a repressor, a murderer without compassion who had infiltrated Madres de Plaza de Mayo, had kidnapped two nuns, and also the coward who had surrendered without fighting in the Georgias Islands, during the Malvinas War. For his comrades in arms he was the officer who followed orders, a victim of the Navy that publicly exposed him after having assigned him intelligence missions, but also a witness case. If in 1984 his summons was the prelude to many others, in 1988 his early retirement by an administrative decision could mean the first of a long list.

President Alfonsin couldn´t satisfy his desire to see Astiz out of the Navy. That is why he doesn´t hesitate to speak of “painful circumstances” and use the word “failure”. Moreover the Navy showed all united and in solidarity with officers, of any rank, prosecuted or detained, and hug in defending the officer who had become, for the Society, the most visible face of repression.



-La transformación de la moral militar: armas y soldados en el campo de batalla del siglo XIX [Military Morality Transformed: Weapons and Soldiers on the Nineteenth-Century Battlefield]

Peter H. Wilson (University of Oxford) [Translated by Esther Montañés Sánchez]



-Estado, violencia, violencia de Estado. Una panorámica sobre el continente americano, en la segunda mitad del siglo XX [State, Violence, Violence of State. A panoramic view of the American continent in the second half of the Twentieth Century]

Julio Lisandro Cañón Vorín (Institute of Latin American Studies, Columbia University)

In this essay, we present a general outline, a conceptual and analytical overview to historicize the beginnings of the processes that led to State terrorism. But it is not an essay on the origins of state terrorism. On the contrary, it is a reading about the survival of ways of doing and thinking that are con- stantly at the root of current phenomena and that, instead, are usually presented as an exceptional re- birth of violence. It is necessary to understand how exploitation, domination and violence, intertwined in their capacity to produce terror, intensified during the Cold War at the hand of imperialism, in a coun- terrevolutionary conception to combat communism. If these processes are historicized, analyzing each of the experiences, locating them in a meaningful whole, inserting them in the discourse or thought that sustains it will be the Metis of the state terrorism under the seat of Zeus. Although each national process responds to specific circumstances (linked to the way and when the practices of state violence have oc- curred, as well as to the actors involved), it is necessary to underline the common characteristics that allow identifying their fundamental characteristics through an analysis of their Its roots and its effects, regardless of its secondary aspects.




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