Medieval Warfare: A Bibliographical Guide

Medieval Warfare: A Bibliographical Guide

Medieval Warfare: A Bibliographical Guide

Medieval Warfare: A Bibliographical Guide

Synopsis

Hono sapiens, homo pugnans, and so it has been since the beginning of recorded history. In the Middle Ages, especially, armed conflict and the military life were so much a part of the political and cultural development that a general account of this period is, in large measure, a description of how men went to war.

Excerpt

Homo sapiens, homo pugnans, and so it has been since the beginning of recorded history. In the Middle Ages, especially, armed conflict and the military life were so much a part of the political and cultural development that a general account of the period is, in large measure, a description of how men went to war. Even in times of peace, the customs of a warrior aristocracy which held the power and set the standards, whose members lived in castles, wore armor, carried swords, rode to tournaments, and had an inclination to settle disputes by violent means, lent a martial air to everyday life. Nor did the fortified towns and bridges, and the towers and houses of a wealthy urban class, contribute any less to the idea that this was a society organized by men ready to fight their neighbors and prepared to defend themselves. Strength in arms was celebrated in epic verse, it was the way of honor for the lord, and it formed the basis of the chivalric ethic. Both the literary image of the hunt and the poetry of the lover’s quest were expressions of knightly valor. On a wider stage, success in war turned kings into heroes, as well as heroes into kings, and ultimately helped to forge the elements of a national identity from the multitude of feudal states. Defeat could mean diminished authority, domestic revolt, and conquest by a foreign power. War in the name of Christ was the instrument used by churchmen to punish the obdurate, to subdue the nobility, and to promote the ambiguous, but nonetheless potent, idea of the Christian soldier. The conduct of war encouraged practical experiment and technical innovation, and brought in its train new products, industrial expansion, and greater employment. War in the medieval period became big business, combining wealth and politics in a

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