Fortress Builder

BookFortress Builder

Fortress Builder

Bernard de Gomme, Charles II's Military Engineer

2004

August 4th, 2004

£80.00

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This is the first study dedicated to the military engineer Bernard de Gomme, builder of many English citadels and forts. Very heavily illustrated, and produced in a large format, it includes reproductions of many of de Gomme's original plans and drawings. Bernard de Gomme started his English career when Prince Rupert recruited him as a fortifications expert at the beginning of the English Civil War; after the Restoration he became Surveyor-General of the Ordnance Office. Though Dutch in origin, he was the contemporary equivalent of Louis XIV's great engineer Vauban. De Gomme personifies the development of English military engineering during the late 17th century, at a time when bastioned fortification in Europe was at its most sophisticated. De Gomme's life and work are the central elements of the book. But the book also provides an education in 17th century military fortification theory and practice.

An authority in the field of military architecture, both of early medieval castles and later artillery fortifications, he acquired an international reputation. His other books include “Fortress Britain: Artillery Fortification in the British Isles and Ireland” (1989); “Exploring England’s Heritage: Devon and Cornwall” (1991); “The English Heritage Book of Channel Defences” (1997); and numerous official guide books to castles and fortifications.

Andrew Saunders is an authority with an international reputation in the field of military architecture, both of early medieval castles and later artillery fortifications. He was formerly Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings (Department of the Environment/English Heritage), and has been at various times President of the Royal Archaeological Institute, Chairman of the Fortress Study Group, Chairman of the International Fortress Council and Chairman of the Advisory Panel of the Defence of Britain Project. He has directed archaeological excavations at Lydford Castle in Devon, Launceston Castle in Cornwall, and St Augustine’s Abbey Canterbury. He has written on a wide range of fortification topics; his previous books include Fortress Britain: Artillery Fortification in the British Isles and Ireland (1989); Exploring England’s Heritage: Devon and Cornwall (1991); English Heritage Book of Channel Defences (1997); and numerous official guidebooks to castles and fortifications.

... places de Gomme in the larger context of military engineering and describes in detail his specific works in England. While truly scholarly, the book is well and clearly written, and does not demand prior expertise in the field. Many historian-authors will envy Saunders for the investment that the University of Exeter Press, supported by a grant from English Heritage, has made in this quality book. It is an unusually attractive work, with numerous plans vital to understanding de Gomme’s work. It is good to see such an important book so well produced. This book, then, is the happy combination of an authoritative author and a committed publisher. The resulting work does justice to a major figure in the history of English fortifications, and is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in either 17th-Century fortifications or English fortifications. While not inexpensive, it is clearly an excellent investment.

The Coast Defence Journal

This rounded analysis sets the work and achievement of de Gomme in its wider historical, political and technical context and skilfully traces his growing influence on design through his fortification commissions and his state appointments.

Antiquaries Journal. Volume 86

On all counts this volume is warmly recommended.

Antiquaries Journal. Volume 86

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About The Author

Andrew Saunders is an authority with an international reputation in the field of military architecture, both of early medieval castles and later artillery fortifications. He was formerly Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings (Department of the Environment/English Heritage).