In the production of books on military architecture, this must be one of the most important to have been written in the last half-century. The choice of the subject is appropriate for the works of the Knights of St John cover a long period stretching over six centuries, these were vital in the emergence of new ideas on defence pitted against changing methods of attack.
“Very rarely does a book emerge that astonishes one. This is such a book. In the production of books on military architecture, this must be one of the most important to have been written in the last half-century. The choice of the subject is appropriate for the works of the Knights of St John cover a long period stretching over six centuries, centuries that were vital in the emergence of new ideas on defence pitted against changing methods of attack.
From the twelfth to almost the nineteenth century, the Knights’ architecture displays nearly all the emerging devices of fortification which were to influence the nations of the west. Considering the size of the Order, it is remarkable that its knights and military engineers were not only capable of keeping abreast of developments, but were able, on so many occasions, to lead the field. They were early in the development of concentric defences, the pentagonal bastion, the caponier, the fougasse, and the counter-mining. At best, their fortresses could rival in effectiveness, splendor, and power, those of any nation. From the castles of Syria and the kingdom of Jerusalem, to Cyprus, to Rhodes and the other Dodecanese islands with their many castles and lookout towers, to Bodrum and on to richness of Malta and Gozo, and across to forlorn Tripoli, the story unfolds in words and dramatic pictures.
This book … is a remarkable tribute to their work … and in (its) pages there is packed a wealth of material illustrated with splendid drawings which do more to explain the characteristics of the architecture than hundreds of written pages of text could possibly do. Stephen Spiteri provides a panorama of the evolution of fortification. His enthusiasm, energy, and remarkable talent shine through these pages. This is a book which every important library, each serious researcher, and all lovers of military architecture must obtain and study.”
Review by Prof. Quentin Hughes of the book ‘Fortresses of the Cross’ published in Fort-International Journal of Fortification and Military Architecture, Volume XXII 1994 ( Fortress Study Group publication).
This new version of the book, produced by Book Distributors Limited, not only captures all the merit of the original work but has now been produced to a higher production quality, with a larger colour content, in order to make the subject ever more appealing to the general reader and enthusiast of fortification alike. Fortresses of the Knights is not, however, simply a second edition but a totally new book, revised and rewritten to include new material.