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

By Richard W. Kaeuper | Go to book overview

1
The Enterprise of War

1. THE EMPHASIS ON WAR

War was an essential and characteristic function of medieval states, commanding a vast share of the treasure of governments, a major part of the time and energies of kings and their advisers. That war has been an absorbing preoccupation of kingdoms and empires before and since the Middle Ages is equally obvious. But in recognizing this fact we are not reduced to homilies about the darker content of the human soul in any age or its likely expression through wars directed by some state-like mechanism. If the concentration of the medieval state on war is manifest, there were specifically medieval forces at work, and even factors specific to the emergence of the medieval states themselves.

At the broadest level we must take into account the deep and persistent influence of the warrior mentalité, the ethos which glorified war as the greatest test and expression of manhood. This ethos, of course, was already very old by the Middle Ages. But the characteristic medieval form seems to have emerged only from the late eleventh century as new cavalry tactics triumphed, as the social group to fill the ranks of knighthood rose in prestige and political status, as a sense of social exclusiveness was built and buttressed by new cultural (and especially literary) forms,1 Some scholars have stressed even more the influence of the Peace Movement and Gregorian Reform. They note that Churchmen proclaimed that the mailed warriors were not merely fulfilling a

1 Maurice Keen offers fascinating comments on the secular origins of knighthood in Chivalry, ch. 2. I am indebted to Dr Keen for the opportunity to read this book in manuscript. Georges Duby argues the case for the importance of clerical views and the peace movement in ‘Les Origines de la chevalerie’ and ‘Les Laics et la Paix de Dieu’. An English trans, of these studies by Cynthia Postan appears in Duby, The Chivalrous Society chs. 8 and 11. See also Morris, “Equestris Ordo”: Chivalry as a Vocation in the Twelfth Century’, 87–98.

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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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