Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades, 1000-1300

By John France | Go to book overview

Chapter Thirteen

Battle and the development of war

In the early thirteenth century there were a number of battles, some of which had far-reaching consequences. In 1212, the Spanish Christians defeated the Almohads at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, opening the way for Christian domination of the entire Iberian Peninsula. On 12 September 1213, Simon de Montfort won the Battle of Muret, which determined that the Languedoc would be attached to the French Crown rather than to that of Aragon-Catalonia. On 13 October of the same year, the Bishop of Liège was victorious over the Duke of Brabant at the Battle of Steppes. On 27 July 1214, Philip Augustus's victory at the Battle of Bouvines had enormous consequences: Flanders was firmly attached to the French Crown, King John's hopes of restoring the Angevin Empire were dashed, and the imperial pretensions of Otto IV destroyed to the advantage of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen. Bouvines set the pattern of European politics for centuries to come. 1 On 19 May 1217, the victory of the Regent of England, William Marshal, at the second Battle of Lincoln effectively ensured the succession of Henry III and ended the claim of Prince Louis of France to the English throne.

These battles were very diverse. Only one, Muret, was fought exclusively by cavalry. But at Muret and Bouvines cavalry played an important and disciplined role, and came to a prominence which it had not previously reached. Although cavalry charges were infrequent in the Welsh and Scottish wars of Edward I, the presence of cavalry exerted enormous influence on events. The importance of cavalry was a result of social and political factors as well as the development of tactical thought: in the end, it was the increased professionalism of the cavalry, already noted, which gave them their edge. This is not to say, however, that the armies of the thirteenth century were very much more cohesive than those of the twelfth, but only that elements

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