The Art of Warfare in Western Europe during the Middle Ages from the Eighth Century

The Art of Warfare in Western Europe during the Middle Ages from the Eighth Century

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Warfare is a major feature of the history of the middle ages, but its study has often been the province of amateurs; only recently have the technical details of warfare and its organisation been subject to proper scholarly investigation. Professor Verbruggen's major work, outstanding in its field, applies rigorous standards in analysing often very obscure surviving evidence, and reaches conclusions very different from earlier generations of military historians.
He begins by analysing the sources for our knowledge of the military history of the period, assessing their reliability: some chroniclers exaggerate, others are careful observers or have access to official records. There follows an examination of the constituent parts of the medieval army, knights and footsoldiers, equipment and terms of service, behaviour on the field, and psychology, before the problematic question of medieval tactics is addressed through analysis of accounts of a series of major battles. Strategy is discussed in the context of these battles: whether to seek battle, fight a defensive war, or attempt a war of conquest.
Originally published in Dutch in 1954, now translated and updated.

J.F. VERBRUGGEN is a distinguished Belgian military historian of wide experience. Prisoner of war, student, and a member of the resistance movement during the second world war, he subsequently obtained his Ph.D., with greatest distinction, for research into warfare in the middle ages, and remained in the army as a lecturer at the Royal Military School in Brussels until in 1956 he went to the Belgian Congo. He spent twenty years teaching in Africa, retiring as Professor of History, University of Congo, and University of Bujumbura (Burundi) in 1976.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 410 pages
  • 153 x 234 x 24.64mm | 576.06g
  • The Boydell Press
  • Woodbridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 2nd Revised ed.
  • 6 Line drawings, black and white; 12 Illustrations, black and white
  • 0851155707
  • 9780851155708
  • 502,433

Table of contents

Part 1 Historiographical problems: weaknesses of modern military historians in discussing medieval warfare; the strength of medieval armies; the combat; limitations of the clerical sources; secular and other reliable sources; the importance of the vernacular; changes in tactics revealed by lesser-known sources; generalizations from detailed accounts; accounts of battles by eye-witnesses. Part 2 The knights: the knight and his equipment; the "scara"; the Marchfield and the Mayfield; the knight's training; collective training - private wars; collective training - tournaments; the psychology of knights on the battlefield; mass flight and panic; fear in knights facing foot-soldiers; self-interest and profits of war; the able commander; sense of honour and duty; rough manners and knightly customs; faith and religious conviction; the arming of knights and its influence; solidarity in the knightly families and clans, and a lord's retinue; tactical units in knightly warfare; discipline in camp and on the march; battle discipline; orders by trumpets and banners; commands and evolutions - a comparison with Byzantium; the tactical significance of the standard; the re-grouping of units and the manoeuvre of feigned flight; the importance of order within the formation; tactical aims; protection of the flanks; the place of the commanders in battle; the knights fighting on foot; the course of a battle. Part 3 The foot-soldiers; the foot-soldiers and their remarkable development in the 14th century; historical survey; the numerical strength of the foot-soldiers; the equipment of the foot-soldiers; solidarity or cohesion of the foot-soldiers; the battle psychology of the foot-soldiers; the tactics of the foot-soldiers; the Battle of Courtai, llth July 1302; the Battle of Arques, 4th April 1303; the Battle of Mons-en-Pevele, 18th August 1304. Part 4 General tactics: choice and exploitation of terrain; the march into battle; battle order; co-operation of cavalry and foot-soldiers in battle; the position of the supreme commander and the reserve corps; retreat and flight from the field of battle; the Battle of the Lake of Antioch, 9th February 1098; the sortie and the Battle of Antioch, 28th June 1098; the Battle of Thielt, 21st June 1128; the Battle of Arsuf, 7th September 1191; the Battle of Bouvines, 27th July 1214; the Battle of Worringen, 5th June 1288. Part 5 Strategy: the knowledge of strategy; plans for wars; offensive strategy; defensive strategy; the influence of the church on methods of warfare.
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Review quote

For medieval strategy and tactics there is nothing better than this book. MILITARY HISTORY [US]
La traduction integrale en anglais...est la consecration internationale, bien tardive, d'un grand classique du genre. MOYEN AGE
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