Medieval Warfare

 

Medieval Warfare
The Medieval era was violent. Castles were built to act as power bases. Lands were subject to invasion. There was always the threat of war or land disputes. Armies of paid Mercenaries were available to fight for the highest price. War was expected and everyone trained for Medieval warfare. Skill in the use of Medieval weapons and understanding the strategy of Medieval Warfare was necessary and a played a vital part in Medieval life. Medieval warfare changed as new weapons, such as the Crossbow and the Longbow were developed. The castles led to a different kind of Medieval warfare - Siege warfare. During the early Medieval era there was not a 'Standing Army'. An army had to to be raised from the inhabitants of the land. Enter the Feudal Levy - vital to early Medieval Warfare!

 
 
 
Medieval Weapons
Castles Index 

Medieval Warfare

  • Medieval Warfare - raising armies
  • Medieval Warfare - weapons changed over time from the short bow, to the crossbow and then the English longbow
  • Medieval Warfare - Castles and siege warfare techniques used

Medieval Warfare

Medieval Warfare - The Feudal Levy
The Medieval era was dominated by the Feudal System which demanded that everyone owed allegiance to the King and their immediate superior. When war erupted troops were raised by the Feudal Levy when there was a 'Call to Arms'. Under the Feudal Levy men were required to fight for a limited period of 40 days - under certain circumstances this could be increased to 90 days. Nobles and lords of the land were expected to provide trained soldiers to fight for the King and to provide clothes and weapons for the soldiers. The limited time requirement of the Feudal Levy was designed to ensure that the land would not suffer from neglect. This also applied pressure on both the Attackers and Defenders to reach a swift agreement for peace.

Medieval Warfare - The Archery Law 1363
The whole of the English population was involved in Medieval Warfare. In 1252 the 'Assize of Arms' was passed which decreed that those men owning land worth between 40 and 100 shillings were required to equip themselves with a sword, dagger, bow and arrows. Every man between the age of 15 to 60 years old were ordered to equip themselves with a bow and arrows. The Plantagenet King Edward III took this further and decreed the Archery Law in 1363 which commanded the obligatory practice of archery on Sundays and holidays! The Archery Law "forbade, on pain of death, all sport that took up time better spent on war training especially archery practise". The Law also encouraged craftsmen who made longbows and arrows. Henry I later proclaimed that an archer would be absolved of murder, if he killed a man during archery practise!

Medieval Warfare - Financed by Taxes
The Feudal Levy was not popular and as time went by Nobles preferred to pay the King rather than to fight and raise troops. Armed men were paid a wage and Medieval warfare was financed by taxes and loans.

Medieval Warfare - The Battlefield
The Medieval battlefield was dominated by the Knights. These warriors were well trained and well armed. The Norman Invasion of 1066 saw the introduction of English cavalry - up to this point the English fought on foot. One Knight was said to be worth 10 foot soldiers.

Medieval Warfare - The Weapons
Medieval warfare changed as new weapons were developed.

Medieval Warfare - The Crossbow
The crossbow was introduced to England by the Normans in 1066. The crossbow range was 350400 yards but could only be shot at a rate of 2 bolts per minute. The crossbow was easy to use, requiring minimal training and required little strength to operate. But it shot too few bolts!

Medieval Warfare - The Longbow
The longbow was invented in the 12th Century and the English eagerly trained their men in the skill of this new weapon of Medieval warfare. The Reason? The longbow launched arrows faster than any previous bows. A skilled longbowman could release between 10 - 12 arrows per minute. The longbow could also pierce armour at ranges of more than 250 yards. The medieval knight had no protection against the arrows of the longbow. The English gained great victories over the French at Crecy, Agincourt and Poitiers. The power of the longbow was so great that at the Battle of Crecy, in 1346, the French army was decimated. It is estimated that nearly 2000 French knights and soldiers were killed by the longbow arrows. The English lost just 50 men!

The Musket
The musket was invented towards the end of the Medieval era in 1520. By 1595 all bows were ordered to be exchanged for muskets.

Medieval Warfare - Siege Warfare
The Medieval era saw the construction of hundreds of castles. Prior to the Norman Invasions there were few castles in England. A totally new form of warfare was introduced to England with the castles - siege warfare. (Cities were also subject to this type of warfare.) Castles had featured in many other countries and the Romans were responsible for the invention of many siege weapons. Medieval Siege warfare tactics varied according to the role of Castle Defender or Castle Attacker. The castle owners ensured that their castles were built to withstand or combat a siege. Medieval Castles were built with access to fresh supplies from the sea. Various forms of defence including the Barbican, Portcullis, Gatehouse, Moat, Crenellations, Murder Holes etc were included in castle design. Castle attackers employed siege Warfare including starvation tactics. Castle walls could fall due to bombardment from Siege Engines such as the ballista, the Mangonel, battering ram and the trebuchet.

Medieval Warfare
Medieval warfare was dependent on men and weapons. Men at Arms were first raised by the Feudal Levy and then armies were raised by taxes and loans. Eventually every country had a 'standing army'. Medieval Warfare changed from fighting pitched battles to castle siege warfare and the adoption of massive siege engines. The hand weapons used by the English moved from the short bow and arrow, to the crossbow, to the Longbow and finally to the musket. Medieval warfare was violent, frightening and constantly changing.

Medieval Warfare

Medieval Warfare

  • Medieval Warfare - The weapons used by the Medieval Knights - Swords - Broadsword, Falchion,
  • Bastardsword, Cutting sword and the Greatsword
  • Medieval Warfare - The Mace, the Dagger and the Lance
  • Medieval Warfare - The Medieval weapons used by the armed men and archers including:
    • The Crossbow, The Longbow, The Battle Axe
    • The Poleaxe and Pikes
  • Medieval Warfare - The massive Siege Weapons

Medieval Weapons

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