‘The Wars of the Roses is one of the most dramatic and fascinating periods in medieval history. Much has been written about the leading personalities, bitter dynastic rivalries, political intrigues, and the rapid change of fortune on the battlefields of England and Wales. However, there is one aspect that has been often overlooked, the role of castles in the conflict.

Dan Spencer’s original study traces their use from the outbreak of civil war in the reign of Henry VI in the 1450s to the triumph of Henry VII some thirty years later. Using a wide range of narrative, architectural, financial and administrative sources, he sheds new light on the place of castles within the conflict, demonstrating their importance as strategic and logistical centres, bases for marshalling troops, and as fortresses

Dan Spencer’s book provides a fascinating contribution to the literature on the Wars of the Roses and to the study of siege warfare in the Middle Ages.’

The Castle in the Wars of the Roses (Pen & Sword, 2020)


‘One of the most important technological developments of the Middle Ages was the adoption of gunpowder weapons in medieval Europe. From the fourteenth century onwards, this new technology was to eventually transform the conduct of warfare beyond all recognition with important implications for European and global history. Guns came to be used in all aspects of military operations, with kings, nobles and burgesses all spending large sums of money on these prestigious weapons. The growing effectiveness of gunpowder artillery prompted major changes in the design of fortifications, the composition of armies, the management of logistics and administrative systems.

This book is the first full-length study of the unique English experience of gunpowder weapons, tracing their development from their introduction in the reign of Edward III to the end of the fifteenth century. The rich records of the English Exchequer and urban accounts are used to explore their role in campaigns, in sieges, on the battlefield, at sea and their role in the defence of towns, royal castles and the fortifications of the Pale of Calais. It provides a comprehensive framework for the speed of technological advances and the factors responsible for these changes, as well as an in-depth discussion of individual gun types.’


‘This is original and high-level scholarship that breaks genuinely new ground and deserves to be read beyond the field of medieval military history.’ MEDIEVAL ARCHAEOLOGY
‘A clear, comprehensive, and detailed study that will no doubt prove influential in encouraging the further examination of these weapons and their use.’ JOURNAL OF BRITISH STUDIES

Royal and Urban Gunpowder Weapons in Late Medieval England (Boydell & Brewer, 2019)


‘This ground-breaking book traces the story of castles at war in England and Wales from their introduction by the Normans in the eleventh century until the end of the reign of Henry VIII in the sixteenth century. The central role that these fortresses played in medieval warfare is explored by Dan Spencer, with his narrative covering the conflicts, civil wars and rebellions of the period.

Notable rulers such as William the Conqueror, King John, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and Edward I feature prominently as the builders and conquerors of castles.

Dramatic events such as the epic sieges of Rochester in 1215 and Kenilworth in 1266 are covered, as well as details of castle building, garrisoning and provisioning.

Changes in castle architecture, military technology and weaponry are traced, including the rise of gunpowder weapons. A wide range of chronicles, administrative sources, archaeological evidence and other historical research is used to bring the story of the castle at war to life.’

The Castle at War in Medieval England and Wales (Stroud: Amberley Publishing, 2018)

Co-authored books


‘The Battle of Agincourt on October, 25, 1415, remains one of the most glorious victories in British history, with a legacy that endures today. A pivotal moment in the Hundred Years War between France and England, it reinvigoratead the English campaign in France and bolstered the English crown’s hereditary claims to French land. Published to mark the 600th anniversary of this famous victory, The Agincourt Companion tells a wider story about warfare in the middle ages. Delving into the development and advances in weaponry, armor and tactics during this period and the impact this had on the battlefield, this is a richly detailed look at the world of medieval warfare.’

Anne Curry, Peter Hoskins, Thom Richardson, Dan Spencer, The Agincourt Companion (London: Andre Deutsch, 2015)

Journal articles

‘Italian Arms and Armour for the Royal Household of Edward IV’, Arms & Armour, 17:2 (2020), 111-21

‘Royal Castles and Coastal Defence in the Late Fourteenth Century’, Nottingham Medieval Studies, (2018)

‘”The Scourge of the Stones”: English Gunpowder Artillery at the Siege of Harfleur’, Journal of Medieval History, 43:1 (2017), 59-73

‘The Tower of London and Firearms in the Reign of Edward IV’, Arms & Armour, 13:2 (2016), 98-110

‘The Provision of Artillery for the 1428 Expedition to France’, Journal of Medieval Military History, 13 (2015), 179-192

‘The Lancastrian Armament Programme of the 1450s and the Development of Field Guns’, The Ricardian, 25 (2015), 61-70

‘Adapting to New Technology: Roxburgh Castle and the Scottish Marches’, Emergence, 6 (2014), 1-7

‘Edward Dallingridge: Builder of Bodiam Castle’, Ex Historia, 6 (2014), 81-98


The Medieval Military Engineer: From the Roman Empire to the Sixteenth Century, Peter Purton (Boydell & Brewer, 2018), History, 2019

The Tower Armoury in the Fourteenth Century, Thom Richardson (Leeds: The Royal Armouries, 2016) Reviews in History, 2017

Saltpeter: the Mother of Gunpowder, David Cressy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013) Reviews in History, 2014