The Arms of Greece and her Balkan Neighbours in the Ottoman Period

The Arms of Greece and her Balkan Neighbours in the Ottoman Period

  1. Robert Elgood
  • ISBN 9780500251577
  • 31.00 x 23.80 cm
  • Hardback
  • 352pp
  • With over 500 colour illustrations
  • First published 2009
‘Fresh and convincing … will undoubtedly become the standard reference on Balkan weapons’ – Military Illustrated
' … a pioneering study of the subject that will remain the standard reference work long into the future’ – The Burlington Magazine

This magnificent, comprehensively illustrated book traces the history of firearms and edged weapons in the Balkans during the Ottoman era, when the region was home to the greatest centres of arms manufacturing in the Islamic world.

Robert Elgood’s masterly text weaves together the story of these weapons – their technology, manufacture and trade – with the deeds of their owners and the history of the region.

Guns and swords were richly ornamented with silverwork or sometimes ivory, mother-of-pearl or coral. Each town developed its own style in weaponry, decoration and costume, often with splendid results. Weapons were an essential part of a man’s attire, carried at all times from around the age of twelve. The quantity of silver they bore indicated the owner’s status, and he would keep it polished and shining to suggest he was a great warrior. When times were hard he might detach a piece of silver to pay a bill.

Balkan weapons were traded in bazaars from North Africa through Arabia to India, while firearms might incorporate gun barrels and locks imported from Italy, France or England. Decorations were often applied by silversmiths in workshops far from the place where a weapon was made. Until now these arms have been loosely described as Ottoman;
Dr Elgood’s groundbreaking research opens a new frontier in arms history.

The Greek war of independence in the 1820s brought to the country large numbers of the Sultan’s soldiers from diverse parts of the Empire. Many captured weapons found their way into the hands of freedom fighters and ultimately into Greek museums. These arms form the nucleus of this book. Some are magnificent; others so poor that one wonders that a man should risk his life with such a thing. Yet it is from these arms, wielded by men of remarkable courage and determination, that a free and independent Greece emerged.

Published to coincide with a major exhibition of Greek and Balkan arms at the National Historical Museum, Athens.

Dr Robert Elgood is a world authority on the arms and armour of the Islamic world. Formerly Sotheby’s Oriental Arms expert, he is now Research Fellow in Eastern European, Islamic and Asian Arms and Armour at the Wallace Collection, London, and a consultant to various other museums.