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The Soldier Experience in the Fourteenth Century

The Soldier Experience in the Fourteenth Century

Adrian R. Bell
Anne Curry
Adam Chapman
Andy King
David Simpkin
Volume: 36
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    The Soldier Experience in the Fourteenth Century
    Book Description:

    The "long" fourteenth century saw England fighting wars on a number of diverse fronts - not just abroad, in the Hundred Years War, but closer to home. But while tactics, battles, and logistics have been frequently discussed, the actual 'experience' of being a soldier has been less often studied. Via a careful re-evaluation of original sources, and the use of innovative methodological techniques such as statistical analysis and the use of relational databases, the essays here bring new insights to bear on soldiers, both as individuals and as groups. Topics addressed include military service and the dynamics of recruitment; the social composition of the armies; the question of whether soldiers saw their role as a "profession"; and the experience of prisoners of war. Contributors: Andrew Ayton, David Simpkin, Andrew Spencer, David Bachrach, Iain MacInnes, Adam Chapman, Michael Jones, Guilhem Pepin, Remy Ambuhl, Adrian R. Bell

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-008-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Contributors
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    There are few areas of medieval studies that have flourished so much in recent years as military history. This volume represents a further flowering. The seeds of its contents were sown at a conference held at the ICMA Centre, University of Reading, in July 2009. They germinated there thanks to the energetic discussion of all participants, have subsequently been nurtured and pruned by reviewers, and are now presented in full bloom as significant contributions to the study of the individual soldier in the fourteenth century.

    From the outset, our intention had been to invite contributors carrying out grass roots research...

  6. 1 Military Service and the Dynamics of Recruitment in Fourteenth-Century England
    (pp. 9-60)
    Andrew Ayton

    The study of military service in late medieval England, of the men who fought and of the circumstances and mentalities that caused them to take up arms, has been transformed in recent years. In 1994 it was possible to write that ‘[t]here are few aspects of medieval English history as worthy of investigation, yet as neglected, as military service’.¹ Indeed, the principal aim of the book that opened with these words was to establish methodological and interpretative foundations for the study of the armies and military communities of fourteenth-century England. Such foundation-laying could not have been achieved in an academic...

  7. 2 Total War in the Middle Ages? The Contribution of English Landed Society to the Wars of Edward I and Edward II
    (pp. 61-94)
    David Simpkin

    The association between landholding, wealth and military obligation in the Middle Ages has been a much studied subject.¹ It is axiomatic that in an age before the rise of professional, standing armies the successful recruitment of large numbers of soldiers, both mounted and foot, depended, in the main, on the exploitation of essentially private resources, both material and human. In other words, warfare in the Middle Ages was a collective private enterprise that could, through the muster process and (at least from the later fourteenth century) the issuing of military ordinances be made into a centrally controlled public enterprise for...

  8. 3 A Warlike People? Gentry Enthusiasm for Edward I’s Scottish Campaigns, 1296–1307
    (pp. 95-108)
    Andrew Spencer

    One of Edward I’s defining characteristics is his single-mindedness, and his conduct of war in the last decade of his reign is one of the most conspicuous examples of this. Edward had clear objectives in mind: from 1294 to 1297, the recovery of Gascony, and from 1298 onwards the subjection of Scotland; and he was not going to allow anyone or anything to stand in his way if he could possibly help it. This article examines how willing the English gentry were to aid their king in his struggles.¹

    Edward is generally recognised as having created a harmony of interests...

  9. 4 Edward I’s Centurions: Professional Soldiers in an Era of Militia Armies
    (pp. 109-128)
    David Bachrach

    In the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, a wide range of occupations in England were characterised by a high degree of professionalisation.¹ In the military sphere, this type of professionalisation has received considerable attention with regard to engineers, and particularly those employed in the construction of siege engines of various types.² Similarly, the men who constructed the king’s crossbows and fabricated his crossbow quarrels have garnered significant attention from scholars.³ With respect to military personnel, professional army chaplains have been identified as serving in considerable numbers in the armies of Edward I.⁴ Members of the military households of English kings...

  10. 5 Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Bruce? Balliol Scots and ‘English Scots’ during the Second Scottish War of Independence
    (pp. 129-144)
    Iain A. MacInnes

    During the Scottish Wars of Independence many Scots chose, or were forced to choose, the apparent security of English allegiance. In the years when, for example, Edward I appeared most likely to win his war with Scotland, many opted to enter the English king’s peace in the hope of retaining their lands, rights and privileges under the new administrative order. This acknowledgement of the likelihood of an Edwardian victory prompted a practical response from most leading Scottish figures. The war in Scotland, as Edward I himself discovered, was not, however, simply a choice between Scottish independence and English overlordship. There...

  11. 6 Rebels, Uchelwyr and Parvenus: Welsh Knights in the Fourteenth Century
    (pp. 145-156)
    Adam Chapman

    The role of the knight in the fourteenth century is well explored, his expectations of military service are well understood, and knighthood’s place in chivalric expression as a cultural phenomenon is well known. The place of the Welsh in England’s wars in this period is perhaps less comprehensively understood, though a cursory glance at the campaign accounts of the first half of the century in particular reveal it to be substantial and, at times, truly extraordinary. The Shires and the March of Wales, a combat zone in the thirteenth century, became a recruitment ground for foreign wars in the fourteenth....

  12. 7 Breton Soldiers from the Battle of the Thirty (26 March 1351) to Nicopolis (25 September 1396)
    (pp. 157-174)
    Michael Jones

    In Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, towards the end of her tragic life the eponymous heroine enters for the first time the church in which her distant forbears were buried. They included ‘Sir Pagan d’Urberville, that renowned knight who came from Normandy with William the Conqueror, as appears by the Battle Abbey Roll’. Contemplating the mournful sight of tombs ‘canopied, altar-shaped, and plain; their carvings being defaced and broken; their brasses torn from the matrices, the rivet holes remaining like martin-holes in a sand-cliff ’, she was forcibly reminded ‘that her people were socially extinct’.¹ In Roman Polanski’s film...

  13. 8 Towards a Rehabilitation of Froissart’s Credibility: The Non Fictitious Bascot de Mauléon
    (pp. 175-190)
    Guilhem Pépin

    In the chronicles of Jean Froissart, one of the most famous passages is the interview by the author of the Gascon routier named the Bascot de Mauléon (given as Maulion in the text) which took place when Froissart was in Orthez to meet Gaston Fébus, count of Foix and vicomte of Béarn, in early December 1388. This passage in Book Three of Froissart’s chronicles has been used many times by historians to illustrate the life of a typical mercenary of the fourteenth century as it provides the only contemporary coherent narrative of the routiers’ history stretching from 1356 to the...

  14. 9 The English Reversal of Fortunes in the 1370s and the Experience of Prisoners of War
    (pp. 191-208)
    Rémy Ambühl

    In the debate over the costs of the Hundred Years War, Postan famously considered that until a complete tally of prisoners (and ransoms) on both sides had been compiled we should consider profits and losses to be in balance.¹ McFarlane and M. K. Jones did not share this opinion. According to them, the balance was undoubtedly highly favourable to the English.² Adding to the debate, however, M.C.E. Jones carefully remarked that the misfortunes of English prisoners in the 1370s remain relatively obscure.³ Building on this comment, the purpose of this essay is to explore the fate of English (and English-obedient...

  15. 10 The soldier, ‘hadde he riden, no man ferre’
    (pp. 209-218)
    Adrian R. Bell

    The later fourteenth century is blessed with sources enabling historians to create portrayals of colourful careers in arms. The testimony of deponents before the Court of Chivalry gives the soldiers’ own accounts of their activities,² while the portrait of the knight in the Canterbury Tales delivers an image of (allegedly) perfect military accomplishments.³ To this, we can now add the online database produced during the ‘Soldier in Later Medieval England’ project, which provides evidence of both actual and intended service for the English crown.⁴ Combining these sources, we can reconstruct a number of detailed case studies of soldiers and where...

  16. Index
    (pp. 219-232)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 233-235)