Mike Loades – Writer / Author

Mike is an experienced writer, both for print and the screen. He has had three major books published, Swords and Swordsmen, War Bows and Dogs: Working Origins and Traditional Tasks, with more commissioned books in the pipeline (about horses). Other works include The Longbow, The Crossbow and The Composite Bow for Osprey and he was a primary contributor to The Worldwide History of Warfare (Thames and Hudson) and to ‘Masters of the Steppe: The Impact of the Scythians and Later Nomad Societies of Eurasia’ (Archeopress).

In addition he has scripted documentaries for television broadcast, as well as writing for dvd releases, for short-form films and for the video games industry. He has also written a large portfolio of articles for journals and magazines.

His writing style adapts to the task from tight tv sound-bites to flowing narrative prose, from the serious and academic to the light, quirky and comedic. Whatever the genre his writing is always engaged and energised by his passion for the subject and his desire to communicate ideas.

Books

Dogs: Working Origins and Traditional TasksWith his signature hands-on style, Mike Loades experiences what it is like to handle various dogs engaged in their traditional tasks. These adventures take him to the Jordanian desert, where he shares the saddle of his camel with a Saluki and to the green hills of Wales, where he works cattle with a Corgi. He mushes Huskies in Alaska, drives carriages with Dalmatians and flies falcons with Spaniels.

Each encounter not only highlights the bond between humans and dogs, it also frames that connection in its historical context.  Different types of dogs appear the way they do because, at some stage in their development, they were bred selectively for a specialist job.

The author takes key types on a walk through history. Along the way he explores the methods and practices of their original occupations. He delves into when, where and why they were first bred as the types we recognize today. The fascinating and engaging text is supported by over 250 stunning colour photographs of dogs in action. It results in an illuminating journey through many cultures and time periods. This book is a personal and heartfelt tribute to the enduring partnership between humans and dogs.

Chapters: Herding and Droving Dogs. Flock Guardians. Sled Dogs. Cart Dogs. Carriage Dogs. Water Dogs. Game Finders (Spaniels, Setters, Pointers and Tollers). Sighthounds. Scenthounds. Mastiffs. Terriers. Companion Dogs.

War BowsThis superbly produced and lavishly illustrated hardback volume incorporates material on bows in military use – the longbow, the crossbow, the composite bow and the Japanese bow.

The longbow rose to military prominence in Europe towards the end of the 13th century, though it was in existence much earlier. Longbows were made from a single stave of wood, principally, though not exclusively, yew. The length of the longbow allowed for a long draw, increasing the force with which arrows could be shot. It was a mainstay of English armies during the 100-Years-War.

The crossbow’s chief advantage lay in the ability to ready a shot and then hold it until the optimal moment. This made it ideal for siege situations. It was also a significant battlefield weapon in Ancient China. On the European battlefield, it was the principal missile weapon from the 11th to 14th centuries. It was first superseded, in English armies, by the longbow, and subsequently, in all armies, by gunpowder weapons.

The composite bow was the elite weapon for Steppe Nomads and for high status warriors of numerous other Eastern and Near Eastern cultures. It appeared in a variety of forms and sizes. All composite bows were constructed from an assembly of wood, horn, sinew and glue, with techniques that enabled them to be preformed into recurved shapes. Composite bows were the weapon of the horse-archer and they were shot with a thumb draw.

The Japanese bow – the yumi – was the defining symbol of the samurai class in Japan until the late 16th century. The yumi was a distinctively asymmetric longbow. From the 9th century it was constructed in laminate form, using bamboo and haze wood. Various configurations of lamination evolved in the ensuing centuries but the external profile remained the same. Its history is steeped in custom and ritual as well as triumph on the battlefield.

3D_bookshotSwords and Swordsmen has been received with wide critical acclaim in the press and has over 50 favourable reviews on the UK and US Amazon combined.

Lavishly illustrated, Swords and Swordsmen chronicles the history of the sword, its methods of manufacture and its systems of use, interwoven with tales of the men who lived and died by it. It spans many cultures and periods from Ancient Egypt to the American Civil War and is an in-depth study that is a must for anyone with an interest in swords or military history.

Swords and Swordsmen  has been written with a style and approach seldom found in non-fiction work. It is at heart a factual book but it has been written in a narrative style and peopled with characters that combine to make it read as a compelling story. One that reaches out to be read and understood by the general history buff as well as the sword expert.

Chapters:  The Sword of Tutankhamun .  Swords of the Iron Age . The Sword of King Raedwald . The Swords of the Northmen . The Sword of King Henry V . Medieval Diversity .  The Sword of Maximilian I . The Sword of Uesugi Kenshin . The Sword of Honour and the Rise of the Civilian Duel . The Sword of Henri IV, King of France . The Sword of Oliver Cromwell . The Gentleman’s Companion: Age of the Smallsword .  The Many Swords of George Washington:  The Sword of Lieutenant Henry Lane, Hussar at Waterloo . The Swords of J.E.B. Stuart and G.A. Custer.

Television

Mike has considerable experience as a pitch writer; working up ideas and outlines for tv series and specials. He works regularly on development projects for both tv and other media.

He wrote the script for the widely acclaimed Going Medieval – a two-hour special about medieval life for History’s H2 channel; a film that he also presented.

Mike writes his own material, including devising action sequences, for all his television appearances. Additionally, he wrote the scripts for the dvds Blow By Blow To Swordfighting (96 mins) and Archery – Its History and Forms (72 mins) and frequently collaborates on other scripts whether as director, presenter or historical advisor.

He wrote produced and directed nine short films about historical trrop types, which were featured VTs in the popular BBC series Time Commanders. These comprised, Napoleonic Muskets, Artillery and Cavalry; Hunnic Horse archers, the Plumbata and the Cheiroballista; the Gladius, the Pilum and the Sling.

Games Industry

Historically based video games are often supported by regular video films, either as promotional tools for the game or incorporated within the game as an informational feature. Mike wrote (produced and directed) films about the Roman army (The Throwing War, The Legionary War and Teutoberger Forest) for Creative Assembly’s ‘ROME: Total War’. He wrote (produced and directed) NINETEEN short films on a range of topics for a world famous video game that remains confidential until the release of the new version later in 2020.

As a historical consultant, Mike also writes comprehensive dossiers about tactics, troop types, weapons systems and lifestyles that are used by game developers. He advised on Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed IV (Black Flag).

Other

Factual prose writing includes articles on Arms and Armour published in magazines and journals.

Available online is an article about experiments with a medieval kite bomb published in the Hilary 2009 issue of the Christ Church, Oxford Library Newsletter. 
http://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Newsletter-Hil09.pdf

Also available online is an account of Mike’s experiences leading an experimental archaeology team to build an Iron Age British Chariot. An abridged version was commissioned in 2001 by the BBC for their website and full version is available online here.