THE ART OF WAR
IN THE MIDDLE AGES
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the detail below
Bradbury, Jim. The Medieval Siege
Contamine, Philippe. War in the Middle
Peters, Edward, ed. The First Crusade
(sources in translation)
Smail, R.C. Crusading Warfare, 1097-1193
Vegetius, Epitome of Military Science.
N.P. Milner, trans.
There is no one (or two or three) text
that adequately covers the course. Library time or energetic
photocopying will have to make up the difference.
two one-hour exams plus the Final
two short (5 pp.) analytical essays, at
least one of which must be on a primary source
regular class attendance and active
Students are expected to have read at
least the required readings before each class. For example, for the
second class meeting you will be familiar with Bachrach's "On Roman
Ramparts." Under each topic there are lists of papers and chapters
of books in addition to the reading from the texts. You are not expected
to read all of these! Required reading is indicated by an asterisk (*).
The others are to help you follow up on points raised in lecture and
discussion or to choose topics for essays. Remember to pay especial
attention to the primary sources for the actions discussed.
WEEK I: Introduction
-Scope of the course, requirements,
goals, methods, etc.
-The primacy of primary sources; nature
of the sources; bias of the sources
You are beginning the study of medieval
military history at a time when the field is very lively. The course
will include new interpretations and the standard works on the topic at
hand. We will be considering these variant views with the primary
sources, written and archeological, close at hand, in order to
understand each historian's conclusions. Maps will be an important part
*Bachrach, Bernard. "On Roman
Ramparts" in Parker, pp. 64-91 [reserve]
This is probably a bit different from
what you were expecting. How? We will discuss how the historians who
developed this picture of medieval warfare arrived at their
conclusions. Have many new sources been discovered? Are we reading the
old sources in new ways? Or are we asking different questions?
Whatley, N. "On the Possibility of
Reconstructing Marathon and Other Ancient Battles." Journal of
Hellenic Studies 84 (1964) pp. 119-139.
This paper was originally presented in
1920 and is by now an artifact of military history in itself. Many of
the points Whatley raises are equally valid for the study of medieval
WEEK 2: Romans vs. Barbarians
*Contamine, chap. 1, pp. 3-22
*Bradbury, chap. 1, pp.1-8, 12 (bottom)
*Vegetius. Start with Book II, caps.
15-18 and Book III. Skip the elephants.
-Strassbourg, AD 357
-Adrianople, AD 376
-Chalons, AD 451
Take enough time to figure out the maps
and diagrams in whichever account(s) you read. What are the primary
sources for these engagements?
Ammianus Marcellinus, (translation by
J.C. Rolfe; Loeb Classical Library). Peruse relevant chapters.
Delbrück, vol. 2, pp. 261-284. Also
peruse Delbrück's general discussions of the Roman and Germanic
Ferrill, chaps. 3, 7. If you plan to do
one of your essays on Romans vs. Barbarians read more extensively in
Oman, vol. 1, pp. 3-21
[Oman and Delbrück are out-of-date; why
are we reading them?]
Tomlin, Roger. "The Late-Roman
Empire" in Hackett, pp. 222-249
-The Alleluia Victory, ca. AD 440
Constantius, Life of St. Germanus
in The Western Fathers, ed. F.E. Hoare.
Jones, Michael E. "The Historicity
of the Alleluia Victory," Albion, 18 (1986), pp.
Gamber, Ortwin. "The Sutton Hoo
Military Equipment: An Attempted Reconstruction." [reserve]
WEEK 3: The Empire Strikes Back
*Review Contamine, Bradbury, and Bachrach
on Justinian's efforts to retake the Western Empire.
-Taginae, AD 552
Delbrück, vol. 2, pp. 340-383;
especially 351-361 (Taginae)
Oman, vol. 1, 22-37.
NB: Oman's opinion on the "Age of
Infantry" and "Age of Cavalry" is no longer generally
accepted. Read critically and see if you can find the problems from
his own descriptions.
Dennis, George T., trans. Maurice's
Strategikon: Handbook of Byzantine Military Strategy.
Philadelphia, 1984. Introduction and Book 11.
Procopius. History of the Wars
(translation by H.B. Dewing; Loeb Classical Library). Although the Secret
Histories (Anecdota) are more fun, read the sections on the
campaigns of Belisarius and Narses against the Vandals in North Africa
and the Goths in Italy. Procopius was Belisarius' secretary; what are
the problems with this well-informed source?
After Rome, what? Early Medieval Armies
*Contamine, chap. 1, 22-29; chap. 5,
175-188; chap. 7, 208-218.
*Bradbury, chaps. 2-3, pp. 20-66.
Bachrach, Bernard S. "Charles
Martel, Shock Combat, the Stirrup and Feudalism," Studies in
Medieval and Renaissance History, 7 (1970), 45-75.
This paper and that of White below are
discussed by Contamine.
Beeler (1971) chaps 1-2
DeVries, Kelly. Medieval Military
Technology. Pp. 95-110.
A good rundown of the stirrup debate.
Also valuable for arms and armor, seige engines, etc. And a real
McNamara, Jo Ann and Suzanne Wemple,
"The Power of Women Through the Family in Medieval Europe:
500-1100," in Becoming Visible: Women in European History.
Renate Bridenthal and Claudia Koonz, eds.
As we shall see, for women born into a
military nobility, this could include military power.
Wenham, S.J. "Anatomical
Interpretations of Anglo-Saxon Weapon Injuries," in Hawkes.
White Jr., Lynn. "Stirrups,
Mounted Shock Combat, Feudalism, and Chivalry," in Medieval
Technology and Social Change. Pp. 1-38.
WEEK 4: The Vikings
*Contamine, chap. 2, pp. 30-54
*Bradbury, review "Alfred's
*"The Battle of Maldon,"
handout of text w. map
*The Burghal Hidage," handout
-Alfred the Great's measures against the
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle [relevant
The Chronicle originated during
the reign of Alfred the Great. What is so special about it? How is it
Bachrach, Bernard S. and Rutherford
Aris. "Military Technology and Garrison Organization: Some
Observations on Anglo-Saxon Military Thinking in Light of the Burghal
Hidage" in Technology and Culture 31 (1990) pp.
Oman, vol. 1, pp. 89-100
Wainwright, F.T.R., "Æthelflæd,
Lady of the Mercians" in Scandinavian England. Pp.
-The Battle of Maldon, AD 991
Abels, Richard. "English Tactics,
Strategy, And Military Organization in the Late Tenth Century,"
in Scragg. Pp. 143-155.
Clark, George. "The Hero of Maldon:
Vir Pius et Strenuus," Speculum, 54 (1979) pp.
257-82. [reserve; with the Latin quotes translated]
John, Eric. "War and Society in
the Tenth Century: The Maldon Campaign," Transactions of the
Royal Historical Society, 27 (1977), 173-195.
Mills, A.D. "Brytnoth's Mistake in
Generalship," Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, 67
(1966) pp. 14-27
Samouce, W.A. "General Bryhtnoth,"
JEGP, 62 (1963) pp. 129-35
Tolkien, J.R.R. "The Homecoming of
Beorhtnoth Beorhtfirth's Son."
WEEK 5: The Norman Conquest
-Fulford, Stamford Bridge, Hastings
*Contamine, chap. 2, pp. 50-54
*Bradbury, chap. 3. Read this chapter
now even though the Conquest is not its focus.
Because of an impressive amphibious
operation before the battle, the size of the armies and the decisive
political results, the Battle of Hastings has been a favorite of
military historians. You will have noticed that your texts don't say
much about it. Why? Read at least one of the general accounts from the
list below to get the sequence of events and the cast of characters:
Abels, Richard, Lordship and
Military Obligation in Anglo-Saxon England. Judicious use of the
index will add to your understanding of the Fulford, Stamford,
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. As you
would expect, this is not an unbiased account. Don't worry, there are
plenty of Norman sources and we will refer to them as do several of
the papers below.
The Bayeux Tapestry. There are several
books with photos of all or part of the tapestry. Spend some time with
one of them.
Brown, R. A., "The Battle of
Hastings," Anglo-Norman Studies 3 (1980) pp. 1-21.
Also in Strickland, pp. 161-81, 273-77. If you read only one paper on
Hastings . . . .
Beeler (1971) chap. 4
---- (1966) chap. 1
Gillingham, John. "William the
Bastard at War," in Harper-Bill. Pp. 141-158. Also reprinted in
Glover, Richard. "English Warfare
in 1066," English Historical Review, 67 (1952) pp.
1-18. Politely described as controversial . . . .
Hollister, C. Warren. Anglo-Saxon
Military Institutions on the Eve of the Norman Conquest. Peruse.
Prestwich, J.O. "Military
Intelligence Under the Norman and Angevin Kings" in Garnett. Pp.
Harold's mother made William's life
interesting for a while after Hastings. Does this remind you of
another story? The early papers of J.O. Prestwich are being reprinted
even as the new ones are published in volumes honoring his students
who are retiring! Read and learn.
Smail, Richard C. "Art of
War," in Medieval England, vol. 1. Austin Lane Poole, ed.
Vegetius. What does he have to say about
Hastings is also discussed in May, Oman,
WEEK 6: Between Conquest and Crusade
Several of the features we have been
discussing: active defense, defense in depth, warfare of position,
ravaging, etc. are prominent in the warfare of the Investiture
Controversy, yet there is just about nothing in your texts, or any
other. If you were revising Contamine or Bradbury, where would you put
your description of the Investiture Controversy?
*Contamine, pp. 54-55; chap. 3, pp.
65-73, 77-109; chap. 10, pp. 270-284 Although chapter 3 deals with a
later period, much of what is described here is helpful for the late
11th century as well. Chap. 10 discusses the theory of just war, a
very important consideration in this conflict and one that will carry
over into the next topic, The Crusades.
*Bradbury, chap. 4, 67-92; chap. 9, pp.
*Documents relevant to the military
history of the Investiture Controversy. [reserve]
*Eads, V. "Matilda of Tuscany and
the Strategy of Active Defense," in Kagay. [reserve]
Beeler (1971) chap. 3
Cowdrey, H.E.J. "The Peace and
Truce of God in the Eleventh Century," Past and Present 46
(1970) pp. 42-67.
Delbrück, vol. 3, pp. 131-146 [The
campaigns of Henry IV, except in Italy]
Erdmann, "Militia Sancti Petri"
and "For and Against Ecclesiastical War." Each of these
chapters is about 40 substantial pp. on the theory of just war. At
least look it over if this topic interests you.
Robinson, I.S. "Gregory VII and
the Soldiers of Christ," History 58 (1973) pp.
169-192. See also Robinson's book Authority and Resistance for
the war of words that complemented the military actions.
WEEKS 7-9: The Crusades
This is a very broad and complex field.
We will select topics from the first and third crusades for our
discussion, with a segue into the military orders. If you have any
particular interest (cannibalism, assasins, camp followers) bring it up
a few weeks in advance and we can perhaps treat it more fully.
+Contamine, review pp. 59-64
+Bradbury, chap. 5, pp. 93-116; also get
started on chap. 9
*Peters, pp. 45-64 (Fulcher of Chartres);
pp.121-143 (the crusaders at Constantinople; compare and contrast Anna
Comnena's view with that of the other writers) pp. 151-194 (the siege of
-Getting there; the logistics nightmare
of getting tens of thousands of soldiers, and many more non-combatants,
from Western Europe to Jerusalem.
-Turkish Tactics 101, Civetot
-Battle of Dorylaeum; the March across
Asia Minor; Siege of Antioch; on to Jerusalem
France, pp. 169-185, esp. 176-79 (Dorylaeum);
caps. 7-9, pp. 197-296 (Antioch). This book is difficult as it
presumes a good knowledge of the First Crusade. It is, however, a
current examination of this legendary campaign.
Porges, Walter. "The Clergy, the
Poor, and the Non-Combatants in the First Crusade" Speculum,
21 (January, 1946) pp. 1-21. [What non-combatants?]
Smail, pp. 165-68 (the sources and the
problems); pp. 117-19, 168-71 (Dorylaeum); pp. 171-174, 199-202
(Antioch). "The Muslim Armies," pp. 64-87 is suggested. (By
now you should have a pretty good idea of the nature and capabilities
of the Latin army.)
-The Military Orders
+Contamine, pp. 74-77
Bernard of Clairvaux, In Praise of
the New Knighthood. C. Greenia, trans. If this is Bernard's idea
of praise, imagine when he was angry.
Bennett, Matthew.n "La Règle
du Temple as a Military Manual or How to Deliver a Cavalry
Charge," in Upton-Ward.
The Rule of the Templars,
Upton-Ward. Peruse, especially the sections mentioned in Bennett.
The military orders were not actually
"monks of war," but laymen under monastic vows and a response
to the specific strategic situation of the Latin East.
Richard the Lionheart and Saladin
The march from Acre to Arsuf- Did Arsuf
make Richard's reputation as a general or did his reputation as a leader
enable him to pull this one off?
*Bradbury, pp. 120-127; finish up chap. 9
*Ambroise et al.,
selections to be assigned
John Gillingham, "Richard I and
the Science of War in the Middle Ages," in Gillingham and Holt,
eds. War and Government . . . .
Smail, pp. 161-65
WEEK 10: The Mongols
*Primary sources, selected from Latin,
Arabic, Armenian, and Chinese sources.
One of the last successful military
actions undertaken in the Latin East was against the Mongols at the
Battle of _Ayn Jal_t. We will first establish a bit of background about
their military success and the legends surrounding it and then go on to
study counter-measures that worked against them.
McEwen, Edward, et al.
"Early Bow Design and Construction," Scientific American
(June 1991) pp. 76-82.
Morgan, David. The Mongols.
Cambridge MA, 1986. The introductory material will follow Morgan.
--- "The Mongols in Syria,
1260-1300" in Edbury. Pp. 231-235.
Thorau, Peter. "The Battle of _Ayn
Jal_t: A Re-examination" in Edbury. Pp. 236-241.
WEEKS 11-12: The Hundred Years War
Agincourt is probably more discussed than
even Hastings, but it has long been realized that there is more to the
Hundred Years War than Henry V and Joan of Arc (Heroic woman or image of
female heroism? Time permitting we will consider this question.).
*Contamine, chap. 4, pp. 119-138;
*Bradbury, pp. 153-178
Alban, J.R. "Spies and Spying in
the Fourteenth Century," in Allmand. Pp. 73-101.
Allmand, Christopher. "New Weapons,
New Tactics" in Parker. Pp. 92-105.
Barnie, John. "The Popular
Response," in War in Medieval English Society: Social Values
in the Hundred Years War, 1337-99. Pp. 32-55.
Christine de Pizan. A selection from
her writings on military subjects. How does Christine's Vegetius
compare with the text you have? How does her view of Joan of Arc tally
with your reading of the sources? [reserve]
Delbrück, vol. 3, pp. 453-472
DeVries, 33-44 (on bows); 79-94 (late
----- "The Impact of Gunpowder
Weaponry on Siege Warfare in the Hundred Years War," in Corfis.
The class will be kept up to date on
the running debate between DeVries and Cliff Rogers on the armor
piercing capabilities of the English longbow.
----- "A Woman as Leader of Men:
Joan of Arc's Military Career" in Wheeler. There are other articles
of interest in this collection including two on Christine de Pizan's
Froissart, Jean. Chronicles. Any
translation. Look up his description of the battle of Crécy.
Geoffrey de Charney, Book of Chivalry
in Kaeuper and Kennedy.
Geoffrey died in the battle of Poitiers;
he wrote his book at the height of the War. Read with Christine,
Froissart and Vegetius.
Keegan, John. "Agincourt" in The
Face of Battle. Pp. 78-116.
Nofi, Albert A. "Agincourt, the
Triumph of Archery over Armour," Strategy and Tactics, #68
(May-June, 1978), 25-37. [reserve] This article is the book of
the same title cited by the Dictionary of the Middle Ages for the
entry on Agincourt. (Yes, the DMA goofed!)
Parker, Geoffrey. "The Gunpowder
Revolution" in Parker, pp. 92-117. This chapter extends to a
later period than we are studying, but there is material relevant to
the 15th century.
Postan, M.M. "The Costs of the
Hundred Years War," Past and Present 27 (1964) pp.
Rogers, C.J. "The Military
Revolutions of the Hundred Years' War," Journal of Military
History 57 (1993) pp. 241-278.
Wolfe, Michael, "Siege Warfare and
the Bonnes Villes of France during the Hundred Years War,"
in Corfis. Pp. 49-66.
How your grade is calculated-TBA
Preparation, Participation, and
1-hour exams Final
The Dictionary of the
Middle Ages 13 vols. in the ref. section. Use it to look
up general ideas ["Crusades" might not be a bad place to
start] as well as specific persons or more specialized topics such as
"Cavalry, Islamic" "Castles," etc. A very useful
gadget to have around.
The Encyclopedia of Islam
Be warned that the standard transliteration from Arabic [the way words
are spelled] is often different from what you are used to seeing. Look
up "djihad" not "jihad."
The Catholic Encyclopedia
Hooper, Nicholas and Matthew Bennett. The
Cambridge Illustrated Atlas of Warfare:
The Middle Ages. Cambridge, 1996.
Knowing where you are has high survival
value both in the field and in this course.
Nicolle, David. Arms and Armour of
the Crusading Era, 1050-1350. 2 vols. London and Mechanicsburg PA,
There was a limited edition, very
expensive and now very hard to find, of this work published in 1988.
Let's hear it for high-tech and low prices!
The Osprey Men-at-Arms (sic)
Series. Actually not bad although some of the illustrations take some
liberty with the sources.
Riley-Smith, Jonathan. An Atlas
of the Crusades.
Allmand, Christopher T., ed. War,
Literature and Politics in the ate Middle Ages. Liverpool, 1976.
Ambroise. The Crusade of
Richard Lion-Heart. M.J. Hubert and J.L.Lamonte, trans.
Anna Comnena. The Alexiad. any
Baha' ad-din. Life of Saladin. C.W.
Wilson, trans. (1897)
Beeler, John. Warfare in England,
1066-1189, Ithaca NY, 1966.
----- Warfare in Feudal Europe,
730-1240. Ithaca NY, 1971.
Corfis, Ivy A. and Michael Wolfe, eds. The
Medieval City Under Siege. Woodbridge UK, 1995
Dennis, George. Three Byzantine
Military Treatises. Dumbatron Oaks Texts 9 (1985).
DeVries, Kelly. Medieval Miltary
Technology. Peterborough ON, 1992.
---- Infantry Warfare in the Early
Fourteenth Century. Woodbridge UK, 1996.
---- JOan of Arc: A Military Leader.
Stroud UK, 1999.
Hint: Chapter 2, "Why Joan of Arc
Was Needed," is a great quick into to the Hundred Years War.
Delbrück, Hans. A History of the
Art of War, 4 vols. Walter Renfroe, trans.
Ferrill, Arther. The Fall of the Roman
Empire. London, 1986.
Edbury, Peter, ed. Crusade and
Settlement. Cardiff, 1985.
Erdmann, Carl. The Origins of the
Idea of Crusade. Trans. M. Baldwin. Princeton, 1977.
Originally published 40 years earlier.
At least have a look at it if you are interested in theoretical
aspects of warfare.
France, John. Victory in the East: A
Military History of the First Crusade. Cambridge, 1994.
---- Western Warfare in the Age of the
Crusades, 1000-1300. Ithaca NY, 1999.
Fulcher of Chartres. Historia
Hierosolymitana, trans. F.R. Ryan and H.S. Fink (1969). Also, Chronicle
of the First Crusade, trans. M.E. McGinty
(1941). This is simply another translation of Fulcher, not a different
Gabrieli, Francesco, ed. and trans. Arab
Historians of the Crusades.
[Selected translations of arabic
sources; differs from Maalouf who gives a narrative history based on
Garnett, George and John Hudson, eds. Law
and Government in Medieval England and Normandy. Cambridge, 1994.
Gesta Francorum et aliorum
Hierosolimitanorum, ed. and trans. R. Hill (1962). This is the
work of the Norman Anonymous, aka Old Anonymous and the only account
listed here that comes from a soldier rather than from a clerical
Gillingham, John and J.C. Holt, eds. War
and Government in the Middle Ages. Totowa NJ: Barnes & Noble,
Hackett, John (General Sir), ed. Warfare
in the Ancient World. New York, 1989.
Harper-Bill, Christopher, et al.,
eds. Studies in Medieval History Presented to R. Allen Brown.
Woodbridge UK, 1984.
Hawkes, Sonia Chadwick, ed. Weapons
and Warfare in Anglo-Saxon England. Oxford, 1989.
Kagay, Donald and L.J.Andrew Villalon,
eds. Medieval Mediterranean Warfare. Forthcoming.
Kaeuper, Richard W. and Elspeth
Kennedy. The Book of Chivalry of Geoffroi de Charney: Text,
Context, and Translation. Philadelphia, 1996.
Maalouf, Amin. The Crusades
Through Arab Eyes. New York, 1984.
A pleasant read and based on primary
sources, but not a translation.
Marshall, Christopher, Warfare in the
Latin East, 1192-1291. Cambridge, 1992.
The continuation of Smail.
May, Elmer C., et al. Ancient and
Medieval Warfare (The West Point Military History Series). Wayne
NJ, 1984. Very good for maps and diagrams.
Morillo, Stephen J., ed. The Battle of
Hastings. Rochester NY, 1996.
A very handy little pony including most
of your reading list.
Oman, Chas. A History of the Art of
War in the Middle Ages, 2 vols.
(There is a one-volume abridgement of
Oman available. Page citations in the syllabus are to the two-volume
Parker, Geoffrey, ed. The Cambridge
Illustrated History of Warfare. (1995)
Robinson, Ian. Authority and
Resistance in the Investiture Controversy. New York, 1978.
The Rule of the
Templars. J.M. Upton-Ward, trans. Woodbridge UK, 1992.
Scragg, Donald, ed. The Battle of
Maldon, A.D. 991. Oxford, 1991.
The millenium of the Battle of Maldon
in 1991 was noted with several conferences and a book.
Setton, Kenneth M. (ed.-in-chief), A
History of the Crusades, 6 vols. Madison
WI: Univ. of WI Press, 1969-1991.
The bib in vol. 6 is comprehensive
through 1989; a worthwhile place to look for further information on a
topic that interests you.
Smail, R.C. Crusading Warfare,
1097-1193. Cambridge, 1956.
Stone, E.N., trans. Three Old French
Chronicles of the Crusades. Seattle: Univ. of WA Press, 1939.
Ambroise and two anonymous writers on the
Strickland, Matthew, ed. Anglo-Norman
Warfare. Woodbridge UK, 1992.
The late R. Allen Brown and his
students and colleagues have been leading the charge of new approaches
in medieval military history. Many of their papers, originally
published elsewhere, have been conveniently collected in this volume.
Umar ibn Ibrahim al-Awsi al-Ansari. A
Muslim Manual of War. George T. Scanlon, ed. & trans. Cairo:
American Univ. at Cairo Press, 1963. [Translation of a 15th century
ms. containing information on Franks and Mongols as well.]
Usamah ibn Munqidh, An Arab-Syrian
Gentleman . . . . Phillip K. Hitti, trans. Usamah's memoirs
have also been translated by G.R. Potter as The Autobiography
of Ousama. Either translation will do.
Vegetius, Flavius Renatus. Epitomata
There are many reprints of Vegetius;
almost all of these are abridgements of Lt. Clark's 18th-century
translation. Any one will do. The recommended translation of Milner is
complete and inexpensive. The edition of L.F. Stelten (1990) has both
the Latin and an English translation.
Verbruggen, J.F. The Art of Warfare
in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. Woodbridge UK, 1997.
Finally, an almost-complete translation
of the book that challenged the view of military history represented
by Oman and Delbrück. First published in 1954 and partially
translated in 1977.
Wheeler, Bonnie and Charles T. Woods,
eds. Fresh Verdicts on Joan of Arc. New York, 1996.