This is a story I would have read in the '90s, I think.

The beginning involves a bunch of aliens landing on Earth back in the Knights on Horseback era. They wave their ray guns around, intending to cow the lowly natives, but the lowly natives are a bunch of knights on horseback, who promptly ride up the ramp, skewer the aliens, and take over the ship.

I don't remember much of the plot after than, except they go on as you would expect and conquer right and left.


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This is Poul Anderson's The High Crusade (1960) It's been reprinted several times, but if you read it in the 1990s you might have seen the Baen cover.

Cover of The High Crusade depicting a crowned knight, and a party of footmen including a banner man, archers, pikemen and a swordsman facing a tall spaceship with an alien descending from it

The alien ship lands in 14th century England and the knights take the ship. From the summary on Wikipedia:

It is 1345, and in the English town of Ansby (in northeastern Lincolnshire), Sir Roger, Baron de Tourneville, is recruiting a military force to assist king Edward III in the Hundred Years' War against France. Suddenly, an enormous silver spacecraft lands outside the town. It is a scouting craft for the Wersgorix Empire, a brutal dominion light years from our solar system. The Wersgorix attempt to take over Earth by testing the feasibility of its colonization. However, the aliens, having forgotten hand-to-hand combat since it was made obsolete by their advanced technology, are caught off-guard by the angered Englishmen, who mistake the craft for a French trick. The villagers and soldiers in Ansby storm the craft and kill all but one Wersgor, Branithar.

Sir Roger formulates a plan that with the captured ship, he can take the entire village to France to win the war, and then liberate the Holy Land. The townspeople, with all of their belongings, board the ship at the baron's instruction, and prepare to take off. The people of Ansby are mystified at the advanced technology aboard the ship, which they come to call the Crusader. Being unable to pilot the Crusader Sir Roger directs the surly Branithar to pilot them to France. Instead, the alien wrecks the baron's plan by throwing the Crusader into autopilot on course to Tharixan, another Wersgor colony.

The Crusader arrives at Tharixan in days, and Sir Roger learns of this new world: it is sparsely-populated, with only three fortresses, Ganturath, Stularax, and Darova (the chief base). The humans capture Ganturath but destroy the Crusader in the process. Word spreads of the invaders and a meeting is arranged between Sir Roger and his soldiers and the chief of Tharixan, Huruga.

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    This sounds massively silly -- was it a serious or comedic story?
    – releseabe
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 2:35
  • Not as I recall. It was kind of space opera ish as I recall. But it has been a while :) Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 2:46
  • This is defintely it. I re-read the first part under 'look inside' on Amazon, and I remember that it was all written as if written by some priest that was there for the whole thing. Thanks again! Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 2:53
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    There is a degree of ridiculousness to it, especially with future Earth having to deal with the equivalent of the Holy Roman Empire in space, but it was also a tale of higher technology not always trumping current know-how and the dangers of underestimating someone. Plus an aversion of "Medieval Morons" where people sometimes assume that no one was intelligent back then.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 10:28

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