Syllabus: Medieval Military History (DeVries)


Professor:  Dr. Kelly DeVries


The Middle Ages was a bellicose era.  From the Germanic Invasions to the Hundred Years War, from the Vikings to the Crusaders, the Middle Ages seem to have been one large conflict followed by, or in fact sometimes simultaneous with, another.  This course will trace the history of warfare throughout the Middle Ages as well as covering strategy, tactics, combatants, technology, diplomacy, the role of religion, and the effects on non-military society.


Contamine, Philippe.  War in the Middle Ages.  Trans. Michael Jones.  Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984.

Ferrill, Arther.  The Fall of the Roman Empire.  London: Thames and Hudson, 1986.

DeVries, Kelly.  Medieval Military Technology.  Peterborough: Broadview Press, 1992.

Morillo, Stephen, ed.  The Battle of Hastings: Sources and Interpretations.  Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1996.

Riley-Smith, Jonathan, ed.  The Oxford History of the Crusades.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999

Allmand, Christopher.  The Hundred Years War:  England and France at War, c.1300-c.1450.  Cambridge, 1988.

Keen, M.  Chivalry.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984.


Jan 13-15            Introduction: Sources and Background


Week 1 (Jan 17, 22):  Fall of Rome / Barbarian Invasions

Contamine pp. 2-22.



Week 2 (Jan 27-31):  Feudalism / Charlemagne

Contamine, pp. 22-29, 179-84.

DeVries, pp. 95-110.

White, Lynn, Jr.  “Stirrup, Mounted Shock Combat, Feudalism, and Chivalry.”  In:  Medieval Technology and Social Change.
Oxford, 1962, pp. 1-38.

Bachrach, Bernard S.  “Charles Martel, Mounted Shock Combat, The Stirrup, and Feudalism,”
Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History 7 (1970), 47-75.

Ganshof, François.  “Charlemagne’s Army.”  In:  Frankish Institutions under Charlemagne.
Trans. B. and M. Lyon.  New York, 1968, pp. 59-68.


Week 3 (Feb 3-7):  Viking Invasions

Contamine, pp. 30-40.

DeVries, pp. 192-201, 289-94.

Sawyer, P.H.  Kings and Vikings:  Scandinavia and Europe, AD 700-1100.  London: Methuen, 1982, pp. 78-130.

Coupland, Simon and Janet Nelson.  “The Vikings on the Continent,” History Today 38 (Dec 1988), 12-19.

Brooks, Nicholas.  “England in the Ninth Century:  The Crucible of Defeat,” 
Transactions of the Royal Historical Society
 (5) 29 (1979), 1-20.


Week 4 (Feb 10-14):  Norman Conquests

Contamine, pp. 50-55.

DeVries, pp. 292-94.



Week 5 (Feb 17-21):  The First Crusade

Contamine, pp. 55-64.

Riley-Smith, ch. 1-4 (skim ch. 5, 7, 8)

DeVries, pp. 225-36.

Cowdrey, H.E.J.  “Pope Urban’s Preaching of the First Crusade,” History 55 (1970), 177-88.


Week 6 (Feb 24-28):  The Later Crusades

Riley-Smith, ch. 6, 9-13




Week 7 (Mar 10-14):  High Medieval Warfare

Contamine, pp. 65-118.

France, John.  Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades, 1000-1300.  Ithaca, 1999, pp. 53-76, 150-86.

Gillingham, John.  “Richard I and the Science of War in the Middle Ages.”  In:  War and Government in the Middle Ages:  Essays in Honour of J.O. Prestwich.  Ed. John Gillingham and J.C. Holt.  Cambridge, 1984, pp. 78-91.

DeVries, Kelly.  “The Battle of Courtrai, 1302.”  In:  Infantry Warfare in the Early Fourteenth Century:  Discipline, Tactics, and Technology.  Woodbridge, 1996, pp. 9-22.

Lourie, Elena.  “A Society Organized for War:  Medieval Spain,” Past and Present 35 (1966), 54-76.


Week 8 (Mar 17-21):  Tactics, Technology, and Armies (battlefield/on sea)

Contamine, pp. 173-92, 208-37.

DeVries, pp. 1-94, 281-312.


Week 9 (Mar 24-28):  Tactics and Technology (sieges)

Contamine, pp. 193-207.

DeVries, pp. 123-280.


Week 10 (Mar 31-Apr 4):  The Hundred Years War



Wee     Week  11 (Apr 7-11):  Chivalry

Contamine, pp. 250-302.



Week 12 (Apr 14, 16) Judicial, Ethical, and Religious Aspects of Medieval Warfare

Bainton, Roland H.  Christian Attitudes toward War and Peace:  A Historical Survey and Critical Re-evaluation.
Nashville, 1960, pp. 85-121.

Allmand, C.T.  “The War and the Non-Combatant.”  In:  The Hundred Years War.  Ed. K. Fowler.  London, 1971, pp. 163-83.

DeVries, Kelly “God and Defeat in Medieval Warfare:  Some Preliminary Thoughts.”  In:  The Circle of War in the Middle Ages.
Ed. Donald Kagay and L.J. Andrew Villalon.  Woodbridge, 1999, pp. 87-97.

Coupland, Simon.  “The Rod of God’s Wrath or the People of God’s Wrath?  The Carolingian Theology of the Viking Invasions,” 
Journal of Ecclesiastical History
 42 (1991), 535-54.

Bliese, John R.E.  Rhetoric and Morale:  A Study of Battle Orations from the Central Middle Ages,” 
Journal of Medieval History
 15 (1989), 201-26.


EASTER BREAK (Apr 17-21)


Week 13 (Apr 23, 25, 28):  End of Feudalistic Warfare

Contamine, pp. 208-37.

Eltis, David.  “Towns and Defence in Later Medieval Germany,” Nottingham Medieval Studies 33 (1989), 91-103.

Warren, W.L.  “The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381.”  In:  English Society and Government in the Fifteenth Century.
Ed. C.M.D. Crowder.  Edinburgh, 1967, pp. 41-70.

Fowler, Kenneth.  “Sir John Hawkwood and the English Condottieri in Trecento Italy,” Renaissance Studies 12 (1998), 131-48.

Bean, Richard.  “War and the Birth of the Nation State,” Journal of Economic History 33 (1973), 203-21.



Class Participation:                                            30%  (including “reaction” papers)

Written Assignments:

Topic Choice (due Jan 27)                                 0%

Bibliography (due Feb 10)                                 5%

Article Report (due Feb 24)                              5%

Original Source Report (due Mar 10)                5%

Secondary Source Report (due Mar 24)          5%

Research Paper (Due May 7)                           50%

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