Syllabus: Medieval Warfare (Kowaleski)

Medieval Warfare

Fordham University: Fall 2002

Dr. Maryanne Kowaleski

I.  COURSE DESCRIPTION :  This course examines the social, economic, and political history of warfare from the fall of the Roman Empire to the fifteenth century.  Several themes are emphasized: 1) the impact of technological developments in weaponry, fortifications, and armor on the conduct of war and society; 2) the influence of the Christian Church on warfare; 3) the relationship between social stratification and the conduct of war; and 4) the social consequences and economic costs of warfare.  The course is divided into units of lectures accompanied by a Discussion period that focuses on primary sources relevant to the topics covered in the lectures.  Students are expected to contribute actively to class discussions.  There will be a midterm exam on Tuesday, Oct. 15, an essay of about 2500 words (10-12 pages) due on Thursday, Nov. 21,  and a final exam on Tuesday,  Dec. 17 at 9:30 a.m.


Midterm Exam                            25%

Essay                                       30%

Discussion                                15%

Final Exam                                30%


Note that attendance is required at all class meetings.  The Discussion grade will be reduced by one whole grade for every three unexcused absences.  To receive an excused absence, students must show evidence of a good reason for their absence; for example, a note in writing from a doctor if they miss class because of illness, or advance notice in writing from the Athletic Department if they miss class because of participation in an athletic event.  Assignments for the essay will be handed out at a later date.


The following can be purchased from the Fordham Bookstore. They are also on reserve in Walsh Library.  They are abbreviated by the word enclosed in square brackets on the syallbus READINGS, below.

·        Kelly DeVries.  Medieval Military Technology. Lewiston, NY: Broadview Press, 1992. [DeVries]

·        Trevor Cairns. Medieval Knights. Cambridge University Press, 1992. [Knights]

·        Maurice Keen, ed. Medieval Warfare: A History. Oxford University Press, 1999. [Warfare]

·        Philip Warner. The Medieval Castle: Life in a Fortress in Peace and War. 1971; Penguin, 2001 [Warner}


The following readings are on reserve at Walsh and on ERES.  Students are strongly advised to have copies of all of these readings well in advance of when the syllabus requires they be read.

·        Sources, Nos. 1-8, are selections from primary sources that serve as the basis of Discussions [Sources]

   Students MUST bring a copy of the assigned Source to the appropriate DISCUSSION period.

·        Malcolm Todd, “Weapons and Warfare,” The Barbarians, 1972, pp. 96-122. [Todd]

·        Richard Barber, “The Knight on the Battlefield,” in The Knight and Chivalry, rev. edn. Boydell and Brewer, 1995, pp. 225-46. [Barber]

·        John Keegan. “Agincourt, 25 October 1415,” in The Face of Battle. Penguin Books, 1978. Chapter 2, pp. 78-116. [Keegan]

·        John Barnie, “The Popular Response,” in War in Medieval English Society: Social Values in the Hundred Years War 1337-99. Cornell Univ.     Press,1974; Chapter 2, pp. 32-55. [Barnie]

·        Michael Prestwich. “Infantry,” in Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages: The English Experience. Yale University Press, 1996, pp. 115-45. [Prestwich I]

·        Michael Prestwich I. “Rewards,” in Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages: The English Experience. Yale University Press, 1996, pp. 83-113. [Prestwich II]

·        Williams, Paul L. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Crusades. Alpha, 2002. [Also available at bookstore as a recommended text]. 

[Williams I]: “First Crusade,” pp. 25-35, 51-87

[Williams II]: “Military Orders; and Fourth Crusade,” pp. 103-8, 209-34

[Williams III]: “Christians and Moslems,” pp. 109-14, 146-56, 162-70



LECTURE                                                                                           READINGS


Aug. 29:            Introduction                                                                                 Warfare (Keen): 1-9


Sep.  3:            Rome and the Barbarian Invasions                                                 DeVries: 7-11, 50-8, 125-32,  174-87

Sep.  5:            Barbarian Warfare, 400-700                                                           Knights: 4-8; Todd: 96-122


Sep. 9:             The Byzantine Military System                                                         DeVries, 140-2


Sep. 10:            DISCUSSION                                                                               Sources #1 and Readings


Sep. 12:            The Carolingian Empire and the Rise of Cavalry                                 Knights: 9-20; DeVries: 11-24, 59-66;

                                                                                                                                Warfare (Reuter): 13-35


Sep. 16:            The Feudal Military System                                                              DeVries: 95-110, 187-201


Sep. 17:            The Norman Conquest and English Military Organization                    Knights: 48-52


Sep. 19:            Diversity in Feudal Society and Military Organization                        Warfare (Gillingham): 59-88


Sep. 23:            DISCUSSION                                                                                Sources #2 and Readings


Sep. 24:            Castles and Military Architecture                                                      Warner: 1-14, 29-46; DeVries: 235-49


Sep. 26:            Sieges and Siege Techniques                                                          Warner, 47-91, 218-24;

        DeVries: 133-40


Sep. 30:            Movie: Castle                                                                                  Warner, 134-65, 230-6


Oct. 1:              Slides and DISCUSSION                                                                 Warfare (Jones): 163-85

        Sources #3 and Readings


Oct. 3:              The Knight: Equipment and Training                                                   DeVries:16-28, 44-9, 60-85;

        Warner, 92-113, 225-9;


Oct. 7:              Knighthood and Chivalry                                                                 Knights: 30-47, 53-64

      Warfare (Ayton):186-208


Oct. 8:              The Knight in Battle                                                                          Barber: 225-46


Oct. 10:            DISCUSSION                                                                                Sources #4 and Readings


Oct. 14:            No Class. Columbus Day


Oct. 15:            (Monday schedule: 12:30 classMidterm Exam


Oct. 17:            Movie


Oct. 21:            The Church and Warfare                                                            Knights: 21-29;

                                                                                                                          Williams I: 26-35, 51-87


Oct. 22:            The Crusades and Military Orders in the Holy Land                   Williams II: 103-8, 209-34;

  Warfare (Edbury): 89-112

Oct. 24:            Other Crusades and The Teutonic Knights            


Oct. 28:             The Islamic Military System                                                       Williams II: 109-24, 146-56, 162-70


Oct. 29:            DISCUSSION                                                                            Sources #5 and Readings


Oct. 31:            The Foot Soldier: Equipment and Training                                    DeVries: 28-44, 85-94


Nov. 4: The Foot Soldier in Battle                                                                        Prestwich I: 115-45


Nov. 5: The Hundred Years War                                                                         Warfare (Rogers): 136-60


Nov. 7: Tactics and Strategy                                                                               Keegan: 78-116


Nov. 11:            Slide Lecture: The Medieval Infantry                                    


Nov. 12:            DISCUSSION                                                                           Sources #6 and Readings


Nov. 14:             The Mongol Military System


Nov. 18:            Mercenaries                                                                                 Warfare (Mallett): 209-29


Nov. 19:            Diplomacy, War Propaganda, and Spies                                        Barnie: 32-55


Nov. 21:           The War at Sea ESSAY DUE                                                        Warfare (Fernández-Armesto): 230-52

       DeVries: 283-308


Nov. 25:            DISCUSSION                                                                              Sources #7 and Readings


Nov. 26:            The Costs of War and the Non-Combatant                                   Warfare (Allmand): 253-72


Nov. 28:            No Class. Thanksgiving.


Dec. 2:             The Profits of War                                                                           Prestwich II: 83-113


Dec. 3:             Late Medieval Warfare: Infantry and the Rise of Artillery                  Warfare (Keen): 273-91;

       DeVries: 143-63, 263-70


Dec. 5:             DISCUSSION                                                                                Sources #8 and Readings

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