War, Justice, and Public Order: England and France in the Later Middle Ages

By Richard W. Kaeuper | Go to book overview

more recently produced a revisionist attitude, emphasizing the innovative qualities of the fourteenth century and often casting scorn on any emphasis on its problems. At its most vigorous such a view comes close to boosterism; scholars have found a forward movement in the fourteenth century and have argued that economic growth characterized an age more often discussed in terms of a great depression.

Moreover, if critical evaluation of the character of medieval civilization on a scale of centuries poses one problem for a fourteenth-century study, there is a second and no less troublesome issue. War and the control of violence were central issues to fourteenth-century people. Yet they are difficult subjects for historians, and they sometimes carry an emotional freight which complicates analysis. Historians have perhaps generally written about war with an aim not far different from that of Froissart, the recounting of great deeds as a celebration of the human spirit and an encouragement of heroism, even if in modern writing the beneficiary has become the impersonal state rather than the individual warrior demonstrating prowess and seeking profit. Far fewer historians seem to be inclined to take such a view in the late twentieth century, probably sharing what may be a widespread disinclination to glorify war. Calm appraisal of the effects of war fought in an age which revelled in its very sights and sounds thus becomes a challenge. Can we disengage our analysis from our own values? Should our analysis rest with an understanding of the medieval values?

Confronting the issues of value judgements is thus as important asII is obvious. The present book investigates and emphasizes a set of closely related problems concerning the role of the state and the effects of war organized by the state in north-western European society in the fourteenth century. These problems were numerous and they seem to have been serious. But such a focus does not imply a value judgement on the people involved or on the institutions they inherited or created. The study does, however, assume that there is some merit in considering the several centuries between the millenium and the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century, often termed the High Middle Ages, as having their own unity and that important new problems relating to the capacity of the state and an expansion of warfare, acting in conjunction with economic, demographic, and intellectual

-viii-

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War, Justice, and Public Order: England and France in the Later Middle Ages
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • Abbreviations xii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Enterprise of War 11
  • 2 - Royal Justice and Public Order 134
  • 3 - Chivalry, the State, and Public Order 184
  • 4 - Vox Populi 269
  • 5 - Conclusion 381
  • Bibliography 393
  • Index 425
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