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Syllabus:
THE ART OF WAR
IN THE MIDDLE AGES

Valerie Eads

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REQUIRED TEXTS:

Bradbury, Jim. The Medieval Siege

Contamine, Philippe. War in the Middle Ages

RECOMMENDED:

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.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS:

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 participation

CLASS PROCEDURE:

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

-Historical speculation

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 of lectures.

*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 military actions.

WEEK 2: Romans vs. Barbarians

*Contamine, chap. 1, pp. 3-22

*Bradbury, chap. 1, pp.1-8, 12 (bottom) to 19

*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 armies.

Ferrill, chaps. 3, 7. If you plan to do one of your essays on Romans vs. Barbarians read more extensively in this book.

May, 86-88

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. 363-373.

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)

May, 91-105

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 bargain.

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.

May, 105-110

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 England"

*"The Battle of Maldon," handout of text w. map

*The Burghal Hidage," handout

-Alfred the Great's measures against the Danes

 

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle [relevant sections]

The Chronicle originated during the reign of Alfred the Great. What is so special about it? How is it organized?

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. 1-17.

Oman, vol. 1, pp. 89-100

May, 105-111

Wainwright, F.T.R., "Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians" in Scandinavian England. Pp. 305-324.

-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, Hastings series.

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 Strickland; recommended.

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. 1-10.

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. Pp. 128-136.

Vegetius. What does he have to say about feigned retreats?

Hastings is also discussed in May, Oman, & Delbrück.

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. 241-259, 270-281.

*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 Antioch)

-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.

Third Crusade

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 mdvl armor)

----- "The Impact of Gunpowder Weaponry on Siege Warfare in the Hundred Years War," in Corfis. Pp. 227-244.

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 writings.

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. 34-53.

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 Attendance

1-hour exams Final

Analytical essays

  

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Reference:

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, 1999.

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.

General:

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. (1941)

Anna Comnena. The Alexiad. any translation

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 book.

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 these sources.]

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 writer.

Gillingham, John and J.C. Holt, eds. War and Government in the Middle Ages. Totowa NJ: Barnes & Noble, 1984.

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 hardcover edition.)

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 3rd crusade.

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 re militaris.

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.

 

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