The Military Revolution from a Medieval Perspective

Medieval WarfareThe Military Revolution from a Medieval Perspective

Andrew Ayton and J.L. Price

The Medieval Military Revolution: State, Society and Military Change in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

Although there is continuing disagreement concerning the essential nature of the military revolution; and also with regard to its timing, there is nevertheless general agreement that it occurred in the early modern period of European history. Both the general history of warfare in European society during these centuries,1 and more specifically the military revolution itself;2 have been well covered by recent publications. Only a brief historiographical sketch of the early modern period needs to be given here, therefore, and the greater part of this introduction will consider to what extent viewing the military revolution from a medieval perspective sug–gests a reinterpretation of both its nature and, consequently, its timing.

The idea of a military revolution was introduced by Michael Roberts, who argued that the tactical reforms pioneered by the Dutch army at the end of the sixteenth century and perfected by the Swedish army under Gustavus Adolphus, together with the accompanying rise in the size and cost of these new armies, constituted a radical break with the immediate past.3 Subsequently, the concept of such a revolution has been very generally accepted by historians of the period, but only with considerable disagreement over both its content and its timing. Geoffrey Parker criticized Roberts for overlooking the developments, especially in the Spanish armed forces, of the earlier years of the sixteenth century, and it has since become conventional to stretch out the military revolution to cover the period from the beginning of the sixteenth century to the middle of the seventeenth,5 although Jeremy Black has recently suggested that more importance should be given to the century after 1660.6 Similarly, with regard to the nature of the revolution, the emphasis has moved from the rather specific changes in tactics and organization highlighted by Roberts to a range of broader, perhaps less well-defined, but certainly more far-reaching developments which took place in the course of the early modern period.


Three elements have been regarded as constituting the essence of the military revolution, but there is as yet no consensus as to their relative importance. Firstly, there is the supplanting of heavily armoured cavalry by infantry as the most effective component of armies in battle, first in the form of English longbowmen and dismounted men-at-arms and of Swiss pikemen, then by varying combinations of pike and shot throughout western and central Europe.7 Associated with this development was the introduction of gunpowder weapons, which in the form of artillery rapidly – though perhaps only briefly – transformed siege warfare,8 and as handheld weapons rather less swiftly changed the character of infantry fighting. The third aspect of the revolution, closely involved with the other two, but in the end perhaps even more far reaching in its consequences, was the rise in the size of armies. All these developments were intertwined: for example, the switch from heavily armoured knight to footsoldier not only changed the social basis of battlefield strength but – as infantry could be trained more quickly and could be hired simply for wages – made possible the expansion in the size of armies from the late fifteenth century onwards. Similarly, the new siege warfare of the sixteenth century required large armies to surround towns and fortresses, and the development and diffusion in this period of new types of fortification designed to combat artillery meant that these besieging forces had to be held together for increasing lengths of time. Thus there is also a fourth element, rarely given the importance it deserves, of the new warfare: time. Campaigns were slower to achieve definite results, and wars tended to become a series of long sieges and to last years, often with indecisive results. The decision as to what should be considered most important among these developments depends in part on the historian’s perspective: from a purely military point of view, infantry, firearms and siege‑techniques (both offensive and defensive) must loom large but, when the impact of the revolution on European society in general is considered, the continuous growth of the size, and thus the cost, of armies can be seen as the most important. Perhaps the best example of this line of argument has been the attempt to link the military revolution to the growth of the state in this period.

Recent theories concerning the relationship between the development of the early modern state and war have approached the problem from a number of directions – political, fiscal and bureaucratic – but all centre very largely on the effects of the increase in the costs of war. Briefly, the argument is that the military revolution encouraged something akin to an arms race among the competing states of Europe, which stretched their resources to the utmost. The leading powers spent up to, and beyond, the level of bankruptcy to keep up with their rivals; the chief problem facing most governments was how to squeeze the maximum of resources out of what were still essentially low‑productivity economies. The answers were found in the strengthening of royal power, and of central government in general, at the expense of local autonomy, and in the growth of bureaucracies.9  The other side of the coin is that these apparently stronger governments were permanently hag‑ridden by the problem of satisfying the insatiable financial demands of military expenditure.

In what became a contemporary cliché, attributed to a number of prominent generals, it was said that there were three necessities for making war successfully – money, money, and more money. The main reason for the escalation in the cost of warfare in the early modern period was the rise in the size of armies, together with the greater length of time such armies had to be kept together. In this period, all other things being equal, the biggest armies won, and thus governments were under heavy pressure to produce the largest forces they could possibly muster and support. In consequence, it often seems that few states could wage a major war for long in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries without coming close to ruining their finances. The general increase in real costs was exacerbated by the inflation of the sixteenth century, which racked up the apparent costs of warfare at a time when governments were finding it politically difficult to ensure that revenues rose enough to compensate for the fall in the value of the money.

Of all the costs of warfare, the payment of troops was by far the most important. From the late fifteenth century onwards the size of armies increased enormously. Field armies grew, but there was at least a practical limit to the number of men who could be organized and supplied on the battlefield; there was no such limit to the total number of troops in the pay of a state, and this is where the most spectacular rises can be seen, notably the estimated 200,000 men supported by Spain in the 1590s and the 400,000 soldiers employed by France a hundred years later. (This latter figure needs to be treated with some scepticism, but so do all the figures of troop strength in this period.) The real weight of these large numbers of troops was greatly increased by the length of time they needed to be kept under arms. After a brief period in the later fifteenth century when the use of the new artillery rendered most fortifications in Europe obsolete, there were few decisive battles and warfare became a series of sieges and manoeuvres around sieges. Campaigns were lengthened by the introduction of effective anti-artillery fortifications, and towns and fortresses had to be reduced by – starvation or by technically elaborate and time – consuming sieges. The consequence was that wars could, and did, drag on indecisively for years and, although some troops could be paid off in the autumn, they had to be re-engaged in the spring, and the saving was meagre in comparison with the cost of ever longer wars.

The changes in naval warfare consequent on the introduction of firearms and especially shipboard artillery were perhaps slower to take universal effect, but in the end they were similarly burdensome to state finances. The particular nature of galley warfare in the Mediterranean limited the effects of big guns, and even the consequences of the introduction of handguns was perhaps less than might have been expected at first,10 but the need for large numbers of troops on board meant that costs rose just the same. Elsewhere, until well into the seventeenth century governments were able to limit the cost of naval defence by hiring merchant vessels for particular campaigns, thus avoiding as far as possible the expense of a permanent navy. They also tried to shift the military costs of colonial competition to the private sector through privateering and, especially, monopoly trading companies, but by the middle of the seventeenth century the slow shift from boarding and hand-to-hand fighting to artillery duels at a distance, together with the related growth in the size of ships, brought about the need for permanent navies using specialist warships and thus another standing drain on state resources.11

When the costs of building the new anti-artillery fortifications to protect strategic towns and fortresses and of supplying the ever-growing armies with firearms are added to those already considered, then it is hardly surprising that states seemed almost permanently to be on the verge of collapsing under the financial strain.12

Indeed, if the functions of the early modern state are assessed by what they spent their money on, then they were primarily organizations for the preparation or prosecution of war. The expenditure of governments in this period is notoriously difficult to estimate and even more difficult to analyse, but it seems tolerably clear that in all states it was devoted largely to supplying the cost of war in one way or another.13  It is difficult to express the cost of war as a percentage of total expenditure, because such a high proportion of the spending of all states was in the form of repayment of loans; although many if not most of such debts were incurred to finance war, it is rarely possible to give anything like an accurate estimate. The figures that can be presented – however cautiously they must be treated are impressive enough: France in the last years of Louis XIV’s reign was a spending 75 per cent of its income on war, and in England in the 1650s about 90 per cent of government expenditure went to the upkeep of the army and navy.14  Under Philip II the proportion in Spain rose to over 75 per cent in the 1570s and if anything the situation was even more starkly unambiguous during the dominance of Olivares.15

Those that live by the sword shall die by the sword, and this can be applied in a sense to governments and even states as well. States went bankrupt, at least technically, through the cost of war, and the fiscal strain of long-term involvement in warfare was perhaps the single most important threat to political stability even in this most turbulent of periods. From the middle of the sixteenth century, Spain had to suspend payment of its debts and employ other expedients which were damaging to its credit at frequent, almost regular intervals (1575,1596,1607,1627,1647,1653),16 and increasing fiscal pressure led directly to the Catalan revolt and the collapse of the monarchia as a major power in Europe after 1640. This is only an extreme case of a general phenomenon: heavy involvement in war over a prolonged period overstrained the financial capacities of states and caused severe internal political problems. Even England’s small-scale war with Scotland at the end of the 1630s exceeded the financial capacity of royal government and proved to be the trigger for the collapse of the state.17

Admittedly, most states survived through one expedient or another, but in the process their very nature was affected: the demands of war finance encouraged political centralization, with its accompanying bureaucratization and the strengthening of governments at the expense of local rights and privileges.18 The basic argument is relatively straightforward: the cost of warfare overstretched the fiscal resources of the early modern state but was unavoidable, so some way of increasing revenue from reluctant taxpayers, in economies which produced little surplus wealth, had to be found. In order to achieve this end, central governments had to take control over taxation away from representative institutions, and also find ways of enforcing its demands for increased taxes. In other words, absolutism was the standard answer to the problem of how to pay for war in this period. This solution also brought its own problems, with the growth in the number of officials needed to collect taxes and administer the increased revenues as well as to organize and supply the new armies, navies and fortifications. In practice, absolutism may well not have been very efficient, but it did enable states to survive in the dangerous world of early modern Europe. France survived severe internal problems to become the ideal type of the militarily successful absolutist state by the late seventeenth century; Poland-Lithuania retained its ancient aristocratic freedoms and ceased to be able to compete as a major power, suffering the ultimate fate of the militarily incompetent in the eighteenth century by disappearing altogether. In contrast, while Spain may have faded as a power on a European scale, the monarchy survived, and even managed to retain most of its territories. England is a special case to the extent that its island position largely freed it from the necessity of developing a modern military system, until increased prosperity enabled it from the end of the seventeenth century to pay for large modern armies and navies and yet retain a constitutional system of government. Even here the scare of 1588 and the invasion of 1688 remind us how vulnerable the English state remained before it modernized its military system. As J.L. Price discusses in chapter 9, only the Dutch Republic (together with the English state after the 1690s) proved capable of supporting the enormous costs of the new forms of warfare while maintaining traditional political freedoms.

If such considerable consequences are to be attributed to the military revolution, it becomes all the more necessary to be clear about what it was and when it happened. Was it really an early modern phenomenon? Although there are few recent general studies of war and society in the later Middle Ages to compare with those available for the early modern centuries, enough is emerging from more specialist works to cast at least some doubt on the picture of the military revolution developed by historians of the early modern period.

Some aspects of the early modern military revolution were firmly rooted in the experience of the later medieval period: this is certainly the case with the emergence of gunpowder weapons and innovations in fortification design, together with the effects that these developments had on the character of warfare. If some of the weapons most characteristic of the Middle Ages – crossbow, longbow, trebuchet and arme blanche – do indeed mark it out as a quite separate era of warfare, then it must also be conceded that gunpowder weapons were known and used in western Europe before the mid-fourteenth century; and it would not be an exaggeration to suggest that the fifteenth century actually witnessed an `artillery revolution’.19 It is true that slow rate of fire, modest range and immobility severely limited the effectiveness of gunpowder artillery on most battlefields, and continued to do so until the early seventeenth century.20 But cannon had proved their worth in siege warfare, for both attack and defence,21 by the early decades of the fifteenth century, and by the middle of that century, an artillery train had become a potentially decisive weapon. Indeed, the mere threat of bombardment might be enough to induce surrender, as we find, for example, in Charles VIPs rapid reconquest of Normandy in 1449-50.

Admittedly, the supremacy of tactical offence in siege warfare, so evident at the end of the fifteenth century, was not to last for very long, for as Philippe Contamine has noted, `by a dialectical process which may be found in all periods, progress in the art of siege was answered by progress in the art of fortification, and vice versa’.22 Charles VIII’s invasion of Italy in 1494 demonstrated the potency of siege artillery; but in this region by the early years of the sixteenth century there were beginning to emerge fortifications which had been designed specifically to resist artillery bombardment 23 If the full impact the fifteenth-century `artillery revolution’ was comparatively quickly blunted by the development of the bastion and the trace italienne, the military supremacy which the possession of a powerful siege train conferred contributed in no small degree to that strengthening of royal authority which we find in some European states in the later fifteenth century?24

With the exploitation of gunpowder weapons, then, we find that the origins of one major thread of the early modern military revolution stretched back to, and indeed flourished in, the last century of the Middle Ages; and continuity from the medieval centuries had further dimensions. The emphasis on fortifications and siege warfare during the early modern period represented in effect a return to the conditions of the fourteenth century and earlier.25 This is one matter upon which most medievalists who have written on war have agreed: medieval warfare revolved essentially around the control of castles and fortified towns, strongpoints with which western Europe was thickly studded. In these cautious wars of attrition, battle was avoided because the outcome was too often unpredictable; far more energy was expended on the pillaging of the countryside – the aim being to destroy an enemy’s economic resources and undermine his political credibility – and on the control of fortresses.26

This characterization of war in the Middle Ages (which bears more than a slight resemblance to early modern warfare) does not, of course, fit the circumstances of each and every medieval conflict. Not every experienced medieval commander had fought as few real battles as Richard I (or indeed his father) after 25 years of campaigning?27 Yet it must be seen as significant that the period during which fortifications were temporarily at the mercy of siege artillery – from about 1450 to about 1530 – was also a period marked by `an exceptional number of pitched battles in European warfare’.28 As for systematic ravaging, this too was a feature of much campaigning activity throughout medieval Europe, from Scotland to the Balkans; there are exceptions, but they serve only prove the rule.29  Unfortunately it is rarely possible to trace the economic impact of ravaging with any precision.

This is where Domesday Book has been thought to be of considerable value, since it contains voluminous data on manorial wealth for the periods before and after the Norman Conquest, and it has often been argued that its folios preserve a clear imprint of `the Conqueror’s footprints’ in various parts of England. Re-examining the Domesday evidence, J.J.N. Palmer (chapter 1) questions `the assumption that war damage inflicts characteristic patterns which can almost always be detected in the record of Domesday valuations’, and suggests, in particular, that the course of Duke William’s campaigning in south-eastern England between October and December 1066 is largely undetectable in Domesday Book.

Altogether more enduring as landmarks of the Conquest were the castles which the Conqueror and his followers built in England. But, as Barbara English argues in chapter 2, the earliest urban castles were likely to have been improvized affairs, `ring-works, perhaps of small size, built as quickly as possible in difficult military circumstances … usually within the angle of former town defences’. The mottes –  and the great stone keeps, epitomized by the White Tower – which are so closely associated with the arrival of the Normans, came later. Despite the spate of castle-building in the post-Conquest period, England, comparatively secure behind its `moat defensive’, was not to be one of the more intensively fortified kingdoms of Europe. Recent studies of castle-building in later medieval England have stressed the importance of structural symbolism and status affirmation, rather than military considerations;30 and, similarly, D.M. Palliser, surveying the `patchy picture of urban fortification’ in England (chapter 5), concludes that `enhancing the communal image’ was one of the chief motives lying behind the construction of town walls. This is certainly a far cry from continental Europe, where towns were more uniformly protected by mural defences. In Saintonge in south-western France, a sensitive `frontier of war’ during the Hundred Years War, there were 70 castles and fortified towns and about 90 fortified. churches.31 On the south-eastern fringe of Christendom, the survival of the kingdom of Hungary in the fifteenth century depended very largely upon two lines of fortifications along its southern border.32 Whilst most of Europe adopted the trace italienne during the sixteenth century, England remained a lightly fortified kingdom. As R.W. Ambler shows in chapter 8, `repair rather than fundamental refurbishment’ was the order of the day; and when an Englishman became what passed for an expert in siege-craft and fortification design, as we find with Sir William Pelham, this expertise was learned, and largely given expression, overseas.

Turning from military engineering to the manpower employed in war, here surely we will find that the developments of the early modern period – the massive increase in the size of armies, swelled by unprecedented numbers of infantry – do indeed mark a significant break with the later Middle Ages. It is not that infantry played an insignificant part in medieval warfare; far from it. The defeat of heavy cavalry by armies fighting on foot is one of the most striking features of warfare in the first half of the fourteenth century: witness the triumphs of the urban militias of Flanders at Courtrai (1302), of the Scots at Bannockburn (1314), the Swiss at Mortgarten (1315) and Laupen (1339), and of the English at Crecy (1346).33 Admittedly some of the most effective `foot soldiers’ were in fact `mounted infantry’, troops who shared the day-to-day mobility of mounted men-at-arms and who dismounted merely to fight, rather in the fashion of the dragoons of later centuries.34  But even if the real `transformation of the infantry’ did not occur until the mid-fifteenth century,35 it is nevertheless undeniable that a more prominent role for foot soldiers – for men of subgenteel status – from the early to mid-fourteenth century did have practical consequences. Foot soldiers were cheaper and much more plentiful than aristocratic men-at-arms. They also had an effect on the nature of warfare. Lacking the chivalric mentality of the knightly class and armed with weapons designed for indiscriminate slaughter, the infantryman’s rise `made the European battlefield a much more sanguinary place’.36

Yet it would surely be wrong to argue that mastery in battle had passed from the heavily armoured, mounted man-at-arms to the `common infantryman’ by the middle of the fourteenth century. The aristocratic warrior was not so easily to be ousted from the battlefield; the fabric of medieval warfare has a more complex pattern woven into it. Solutions to the challenges posed by pike and arrow were actively sought. The English developed a tactical system based upon the dismounting of men-at-arms, to allow them to fight in a coordinated fashion with archers; they would remount their warhorses only to pursue a beaten enemy or to retreat from the field. These tactics proved spectacularly successful for the English; but experiments with dismounted men-at-arms by other European states often led to disaster – as at Poitiers (1356), Nicopolis (1396) and Agincourt (1415)37 – and, by and large, the enduring importance of the aristocratic warrior in continental Europe was not to rest upon the abandonment of his warhorse. The full development, in the fifteenth century, of plate armour for both man and horse, combined with the use of the arret (lance rest) which could support a heavier lance, ensured that the heavy cavalryman remained a formidable warrior, providing the `core and the most prestigious arm of every major fifteenth-century army, including the new standing armies of France, Burgundy, Brittany, Venice and Milan’.38 Charles VIII’s army for the invasion of Italy in 1494 is notable not only for its powerful siege-train, but also for the number of its heavy cavalrymen.39 It would not be an exaggeration to say that `without cavalry, a fifteenth-century army was unlikely to achieve a decisive victory on the field of battle’; that `the issue of a battle might be decided by archers or pikemen, [but] a retreat could only be cut off effectively or followed-up by cavalry.40

It was only in the sixteenth century that the heavily armoured warrior was overwhelmed by massed infantry armies, hand-held firearms and field artillery. It was only then that aristocratic warriors no longer comprised a proportionately substantial elite contingent in field armies. Yet even in the early modern period they remained a `military class’ in so much as they provided the bulk of the professional officer corps of armies composed very largely of their social inferiors.41  Although lacking a standing army, Elizabethan England was not without such men. As R.W. Ambler shows in chapter 8, Sir William Pelham was both landowner and `wise and experimented in martial affairs’; and like many medieval younger sons of gentry stock, he had actually made his way in the world, and had established his landed estate, through his career in arms.

Admittedly, much in the character of war had changed since the later fourteenth century, when Pelham’s counterparts gave evidence before the Court of Chivalry. Indeed, the central matter of the disputes discussed by Andrew Ayton in chapter 4 – rightful possession of certain armorial bearings, which were essential for battlefield recognition, as well as for aristocratic self-esteem and family honour – would have hardly seemed relevant to the warfare of the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, conducted as it was by armies in which uniforms and rank insignia, tight discipline, drill and training had become commonplace.42 But there is a continuous thread of mentality connecting such exploits as Sir Richard de Baskerville’s feat of arms outside Paris in 1360, as recalled by the veteran Sir Thomas Gray in his military memoirs,43 and those of the teenaged Captain John Evans in the Crimea and the Indian Mutiny, commemorated by a tablet in Chagford parish church, Devon.44 The medieval idea of a warrior class, in which the pursuit of honour bulked large, lasted long after the early modern military revolution converted the aristocratic soldier from a numerically significant battlefield player to an army officer.  Soldiering, hitherto the spiritual raison d’etre of the secular landholding class, had become a profession for gentlemen.

The watershed in warfare which we see with the early modern military revolution rests not on the emergence of a prominent battlefield role for infantry, but on the sheer numbers of fighting men that were involved. The heavy cavalryman was overwhelmed by numbers; the major change was in the size of armies. The largest armies raised in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were no more than a few tens of thousand men strong. The largest English royal army of the Middle Ages was probably the host raised by Edward I for the Falkirk campaign of 1298 – perhaps 3,000 heavy cavalry and over 25,700 infantry;45 but once the unwieldy and poorly disciplined infantry armies of the Anglo‑Scottish wars had been abandoned, very few English field armies exceeded 10,000 men. Most of the classic chevauchees of the fourteenth century were conducted by armies of half this size.46  J.R. Strayer has doubted whether Philip IV of France `ever had more than 30,000 men concentrated in one theater of war’,47 whilst surviving pay accounts suggest that, in September 1340 in northern and south-western France combined, Philip VI fielded 28,000 men-at-arms and 16,700 foot soldiers. The very differently composed permanent French army of the late fifteenth century numbered 20,000 to 25,000 fighting men!48 The permanent peacetime armies of Milan and Venice in the fifteenth century fluctuated in size from about 10,000 men to over 20,000, though it was not impossible to mobilize larger numbers.49  In 1486 King Matyas Corvinus of Hungary’s standing army, mustered at Vienna, numbered 28,000 men, over two-thirds of whom were cavalry.50 These were the largest armies that late medieval European states could manage to raise; most were on an altogether smaller scale, consisting of a few thousand men.51 Only the huge Ottoman hosts of the later Middle Ages (for example, 100,000 men at the siege of Belgrade in 1456) rival, in terms of size, the standing armies of the major states of early modern Europe. By comparison with the military might of the sultan, crusading expeditionary forces were often very small: for example, Count Amadeus of Savoy took the fortress of Gallipoli in August 1366 with an army numbering no more than 3,000 to 4,000 men.52

If the early modern period witnessed a massive increase in the size of armies, then it should surely follow that the cost of war at this time also reached unprecedented levels. Whilst this cannot be denied, it must also be recognized that the later Middle Ages did experience wars that were both prolonged and extremely expensive. For most states of Europe the later medieval period witnessed profound changes in military institutions: the disappearance of unpaid service based upon various forms of obligation, and the emergence of wholly paid armies. As Bernard Guenee has neatly put it: `between the age of the feudal army and that of the standing army, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were the era of the contract army’53 It has become customary to see the late thirteenth century as marking the start of a `new age’ of war 54 as paid armies were mobilized for ambitious, large-scale wars and the costs of war soared to levels not previously experienced, prompting novel fiscal and institutional developments.

Just how far the later thirteenth century marked a watershed in European warfare is open to debate. Paid military service was certainly not a new phenomenon. In England, mercenaries were routinely employed during the eleventh and twelfth centuries,55 and it is consequently no surprise to find that the wars waged during the reigns of Richard I and John were indeed very costly. Perhaps, therefore, we should view the `new age’ of expensive warfare ushered in during the last decades of the thirteenth century as `a reversion to earlier levels of expenditure’.56 The monumental scale of warfare in the 1290s was certainly thrown into sharper relief for contemporaries by the relative peace of Henry III’s reign; but, for the modern historian, what makes this decade seem so significant as the start of a new age of war is that, thereafter, there was to be scarcely any abatement for a century and a half. Edward I’s multi-faceted military operations in 1294-98 cost £750,000, while his grandson, Edward III, spent so heavily in the early years of the Hundred Years War (£400,000 in 1337-40) that his government slipped into financial chaos, helping to bring about the ruin of the Florentine merchant-bankers Bardi and Peruzzi, who had provided war loans.57  The particularly intensive phase of warfare from 1369 to 1380, which witnessed no decisive battles and the loss to the French of many of the earlier territorial gains, cost the English government over £1 million.58 Since the `ordinary’ revenues of the English crown amounted, in the later thirteenth century, to less than £30,000 per annum, such ambitious and costly campaigning could be paid for only by recourse to `extraordinary’ fiscal measures: direct taxation of the laity and clergy, and indirect taxation, principally customs duties and subsidies levied on wool and cloth exports. By these means, the English crown raised more than £9.5 million during the course of the Hundred Years War.59

Opinion has been divided over the institutional effects of so massive an exploitation of the financial resources of the kingdom to support the war: whether state-building was advanced more by war or peace; whether war strengthened or weakened royal authority.60 What is clear is that later medieval England did acquire distinctive military institutions. This period did not witness the establishment of a proper standing army, but this was not because England was backward in the military sphere: she had experienced her `military revolution’ during the middle decades of the fourteenth century.61 This involved, amongst other things, the development of contract armies composed of privately recruited aristocratic retinues serving for the king’s pay for prescribed periods. Such a degree of `privatization’ of the war effort brought with it potential problems of control; but rigorous `muster and review’ sought to ensure that manpower numbers and standards of equipment were maintained, and the crown issued ordinances to regulate the conduct of armies in the field (the first surviving version dates from 1385). Moreover, the martial courts – the Court of Chivalry and the courts with temporary jurisdiction in individual hosts – would deal with disputes and disciplinary matters that arose during the course of campaigns. Perhaps most notably, these courts ensured the orderly settlement of armorial disputes, such as those, discussed by Andrew Ayton in chapter 4, which erupted during Richard II’s campaign in Scotland in 1385. Such disputes became more frequent as contract armies drew their personnel from all corners of the realm and as heraldic arms were increasingly adopted by men of sub-knightly status, while the cult of chivalric knighthood made all members of the armigerous community jealous of their armorial sense of identity and sensitive to encroachments by others.

The English contract armies of the fourteenth century, at their best composed of mounted retinues of men-at-arms and archers, fast-moving and tactically proficient if brought to battle, were wholly appropriate to a war strategy based upon the chevauchee. They were, however, less well suited to strategic commitments requiring long-term occupation. The `indenture system’ had to be adapted to meet the military demands of conquest and occupation in Lancastrian Normandy.62 This can be seen, for example, in the parliamentary legislation of 1439, which made desertion the breach, not merely of a private contract with a captain, but of a more solemn public undertaking. But neither the demands of garrisoning Normandy and the pays de conquete – nor indeed those which required permanent garrisons at Calais and in the northern marches with Scotland – were such as to bring about the establishment of a standing army in England. The force which Edward IV led to France in 1475 was recruited and organized along lines very similar to those employed for the contract armies of the fourteenth century, and English armies continued to be based upon aristocratic retinues until the 1540s.63

Turning to the experience of the kingdom of France, here too the end of the thirteenth century witnessed an escalation in the scale and cost of war, as a state ‘whose capacity for fighting had mounted significantly in the general administrative development’ of the relatively peaceful thirteenth century flexed its muscles.64  J.R. Strayer has shown that Philip IV spent as heavily as Edward I on the Anglo-French war of 1294-1303.65  Yet, by comparison with England, the war finance of the French crown `shows a distinctly more ramshackle, ad hoc character’: it was only during the decade after Poitiers (1356) that the taxes of early modern France emerged and began to be levied frequently – aidesgabellesand fouages (later, tailles).66 Moreover, the Hundred Years War plunged the Valois kings of France into a maelstrom in which the kingdom, weakened by provincial particularism, was torn asunder by the chevauchees, battlefield triumphs and territorial gains of the English, by periods of civil war and by the depredations of routiers.67 From these desperate conditions emerged, in several stages, a reformed royal army, which in the guise fashioned under Charles VII achieved the decisive victory against the English in 1449-53, and which by the last decades of the century had become established as a standing army.68 Given the circumstances, it is hardly surprising that France’s late medieval `military revolution’ went a good deal further than England’s. Nor is it surprising that it set France on the road to absolutism, for the Hundred Years War had left Frenchmen with a `sentimental attachment’ not to assemblies but to a strong ruler. In England, parliament was strengthened by the king’s wars of the later Middle Ages, the crown’s financial needs ensuring that the Commons, whose members – representatives of shire and borough communities with full power to consent to royal requests for taxation – became an active and essential element (over 80 per cent of parliaments held during the period of the Hundred Years War involved grants of taxation). `Parliamentary assent was no real barrier to continuous taxation in time of war [consent was `procedural’ in cases of military necessity], but it did force the crown into a dialogue with its subjects over their respective political obligations’.69 By contrast, in France no such national assembly had ever become established, and the multiplicity of general and regional Estates were never able to check the development of royal fiscal authority.70  Small wonder that, in order to finance the standing army, the taille was increased threefold between 1470 and 1484, while in England, parliament played a significant part in the process whereby yields from both direct and indirect taxation declined in the later fourteenth and the fifteenth centuries, the fall denoting `an inability on the part of the state to adapt to new economic conditions’ and `a reduction in the willingness … of the political community to pay’.71

How far should the development of standing armies be regarded as a distinctive characteristic of the last century of the Middle Ages? Some states, like England, resisted the transition from contract armies to a standing army; some, indeed, continued to rely upon the unpaid service of able-bodied men, mobilized at times of crisis (for example, Scotland, and Moldavia and Wallachia).72 Then again, there had been `permanent’ forces before the fifteenth century. Long-service garrisons and the military households of kings and magnates were commonplace, while the free companies, which both Charles V and Charles VII drew upon to man their reformed armies, have been rightly described as `autonomous martial societies, already mustered as miniature standing armies, and internally well organised, with their own governing councils, treasuries and secretariats’.73

Another institutional model of sorts was provided by the military orders. At their best, as La Regle du Temple sought to ensure, these were strictly regulated and rigorously trained permanent forces;’ and, as John Walker considers in chapter 3, they were (in theory at least) properly resourced permanent forces, fuelled by aristocratic manpower and revenue-generating preceptories in western Europe.75 But as `standing armies’, the military orders were pitifully small (the garrison of Rhodes at the time of the 1480 siege included no more than a few hundred Hospitallers; the Teutonic Order had only about 1,200 brethren in Livonia and Prussia in the early fifteenth century),76 and for the emergence of true standing armies it is necessary to focus on developments in several fifteenth-century European states.77 The ordonnance companies of France provided a model, in the 1470s, for Duke Charles the Bold of Burgundy’s own army reforms; and regular forces can also be seen in Castile at the very end of the fifteenth century. The major Italian states established `permanent, well-trained and loyal armies’ during the fifteenth century (indeed, Philippe de Commynes suggested that Charles VIPs army reforms were strongly influenced by Italian military structures). These forces – the companies of condottieri, together with individual soldiers paid directly by the state consumed about half of the disposable revenue of Italian states.78

Nor was the standing army a uniquely western European phenomenon. If we turn to the kingdom of Hungary, Christendom’s bulwark against the Ottoman advance in the fifteenth century, we find that the cultural renaissance under Matyas Corvinus was accompanied by the establishment of a permanent army. Matyas recruited mercenaries from a variety of central and eastern European peoples and his army’s effectiveness was based upon the synergy brought about by the mixing of complementary military skills. The army was financed, somewhat precariously, by a combination of existing taxes, more rigorously administered, and extraordinary taxation (subsidia), the latter levied almost annually once the Diet had been won over by the confirmation of their privileges.79 As in France, Matyas’s army was a response to a formidable military challenge; but unlike France, the military pressures of a border defence war were near-continuous and the financial burden was crippling, particularly since the mercenary army was employed mostly in wars in Moravia, Bohemia, Silesia and Austria – wars of conquest aimed at expanding the kingdom’s tax base, in order, ultimately, to mount a decisive campaign against the Ottomans (a grand strategy which collapsed, along with the standing army, following Matyas’s untimely death in 1490).

The militant pacifism of Erasmus, considered in chapter 7 by Howell A. Lloyd, can be regarded as a reaction to the changing nature of warfare at the beginning of the early modern period, with the increasing scale and evident brutality of these wars calling into question the conventional arguments in favour of the `just war’. However, it may be that there is another line of continuity between the conditions of late‑medieval and early-modern Europe to be perceived here, as Peter Heath’s chapter on Gower and Erasmus suggests that even in court circles the changing nature of the English experience of warfare in the later fourteenth century may have inspired a similar revulsion to that shown by Erasmus in reaction to the shock of the `military revolution’. So, even when viewed from the perspective of changing perceptions of the reality of war, developments which have been seen as peculiar to the early modern period, and as a specific response to the changing nature of warfare of the time, would now seem to have a history which stretches back into the fourteenth century, if not earlier.

In so far as a conclusion can be drawn from such reconsiderations, it would seem to be that the main innovations which have been seen as the core of the `military revolution’ of the early modern period of European history do not appear so new when viewed from a medieval perspective. The rise of infantry to dominance on the battlefield was a steady rather than a revolutionary process and can be traced back to the fourteenth century at least, while even the introduction of firearms was less of a novelty and changed military practice less than was once thought. Even in the case of siege warfare, the transformation brought about by artillery was relatively short-lived as a consequence of the development of new types of fortification effective against gunfire. Long sieges became common again, and it was the success or failure of such sieges rather than pitched battles which determined the outcome of campaigns – much as in the late Middle Ages. Even in the case of the significant growth in the size of armies in the early modern period, the supposed consequences – as a result of fiscal pressure – for the nature of the state in the form of increased centralisation and a drift towards absolutism were not as ineluctable as is often argued. The main point of J.L. Price’s chapter is that the Dutch Republic was able to fight modern wars with `medieval’ political institutions.

The military revolution of the early-modern period, as identified by some scholars, needs, therefore, to be placed in the context of the almost equally radical changes which took place in the later Middle Ages, not to mention the very varied military experiences of the Middle Ages as a whole. The period covered by the military revolution must in consequence be extended backwards well into the later medieval centuries, but this change would bring the question whether a transformation which took place over such along period – perhaps from the early fourteenth to the end of the eighteenth century – can be usefully called a revolution at all.


1. J.R. Hale, War and Society in Renaissance Europe, 1450-1620 (London,

1985); M.S. Anderson, War and Society in Europe of the Old Regime, 1618-1789 (London, 1988); F. Tallett, War and Society in Early Modern Europe, 1495-1715 (London, 1992); A. Corvisier, Armies and Societies in Europe in Europe, 1494-1789 (Bloomington, 1979).

2. G. Parker, The Military Revolution. Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500-1800 (Cambridge, 1988); J. Black, A Military Revolution? Military Change and European Society, 1550-1800 (Basingstoke, 1991).

3. M. Roberts, The Military Revolution, 1560-1660 (Belfast, 1956).

4. G. Parker,`The “military revolution”, 1550-1660 – a myth?’, Journal of

Modern History 48 (1976), pp 195-214, reprinted in his Spain and the Netherlands, 1559-1659 (London, 1979).

5. E.g. B.M. Downing, The Military Revolution and Political Change. Origins of Democracy and Autocracy in Early Modern Europe (Princeton, 1992), pp. 64-74.

6. Black, A Military Revolution?, pp 20-34.

7. The conditions in much of eastern Europe allowed cavalry to play a dominant role almost until the eighteenth century.

8. See C. Duffy, Siege Warfare. The Fortress in the Early Modern World 1494-1660 (London, 1979).

9 . For this general argument, see M. Mann, The Sources of Social Power, 2 vols

(Cambridge, 1986; 1993), I, pp 453-8, 475-83.

10. Cf. J.F. Guilmartin, Gunpowder and Galleys. Changing Technology and Mediterranean Warfare at Sea in the Sixteenth Century (Cambridge, 1974).

11. For these changes in naval warfare in one particularly significant case, see J.R. Bruijn, The Dutch Navy in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Columbia, SC, 1993).

12. See also W. Brulez, `Het gewicht van de oorlog in nieuwe tijden. Enkele aspecten’, Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis 91 (1978), pp 386-446.

13. See Mann, The Sources of Social Power, I, chapter 14.

14. Parker, The Military Revolution, p 62.

15. See also Tallett, War and Society in Early-Modern Europe, pp 176-8.

16. Parker, The Military Revolution, p 63.

17. C£ C. Russell, The Fall of the British Monarchies, 1637-1642 (Oxford, 1991), pp 72ff; C. Russell, The Causes of the English Civil War (Oxford, 1990), chapter 7; A. Hughes,The Causes of the English Civil War (Basingstoke, 1991), pp 13-15.

18. R. Bean, `War and the birth of the nation state’, Journal of Economic History 33 (1973); Downing, The Military Revolution and Political Change, passim.

19. On the development of gunpowder weapons, see P. Contamine, War in the Middle Ages, trans. M. Jones (Oxford, 1984), pp 137-50,193-207; see also R. Smith, `Artillery and the Hundred Years War: myth and interpretation’, in A. Curry and M. Hughes, Arms, Armies and Fortifications in the Hundred Years War (Woodbridge, 1994), pp 151-60. For the concept of an `artillery revolution’, see C.J. Rogers, `The military revolutions of the Hundred Years War’, The Journal of Military History 57 (1993), pp 258-75.

20. Contamine, War in the Middle Ages, pp 198-200. Such battles as Castillon (1453) were exceptions, as were the Wagenburg tactics, involving guns mounted on carts, employed by the Hussites in the 1420s and later by Janos Hunyadi’s Hungarian armies against the Ottomans: J.W. Sedlar, East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500 (Seattle and London, 1994), pp 234, 247.

21. On the use of handguns and artillery for defence, see M. Vale, War and Chivalry (London, 1981), pp 133ff.

22. Contamine, War in the Middle Ages, p 101.

23. J. Hale, `The early development of the bastion: an Italian chronology, c. 1450‑c.1534′, in J. Hale, J.R.L. Highfield and B. Smalley, eds, Europe in the Late Middle Ages (London, 1965), pp 466-94; Contamine, War in the Middle Ages, pp 202-5. Cf. Vale, War and Chivalry, p 133, for the earthwork boulevards constructed to protect Gascon towns in the 1430s and ’40s.

24. Rogers, `The military revolutions of the Hundred Years War’, pp 272-5.

25. It is true that, from the sixteenth century, effective fortifications tended to be larger than before, with consequential increases in building and garrisoning costs, and encouraging the deployment of larger siege armies.

26. For eloquent expression of this view, see J. Gillingham, `Richard I and the science of war in the Middle Ages’, in J. Gillingham and J.C. Holt, eds, War and Government in the Middle Ages (Woodbridge, 1984), pp 78-91; on the strategy of devastation, see H.J. Hewitt, The Organisation of War under Edward III (Manchester, 1966), chapter 5.

27. Gillingham, `Richard I and the science of war’, p. 80-81. Cf. Janos Hunyadi’s military career and the Turco-Hungarian wars in general: J. Held, Hunyadi: Legend and Reality(New York, 1985), chapters 5-9; yet much also hinged on the control of fortresses (F. Szakaly, `Phases of Turco-Hungarian warfare before the battle of Mohacs (1365-1526)’, Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 33 (1979), pp 65-111). Civil wars in England, by the fifteenth century a lightly fortified realm by continental standards, were unusually battle-oriented: J. Gillingham, The Wars of the Roses (London, 1981), chapter 2; A. Goodman, The Wars of the Roses (London, 1981), chapter 8.

28. Vale, War and Chivalry, p 171.

29. See, for example, A. Tuck, `War and society in the medieval north’, Northern History 21(1985), pp 33‑52; L. Carolus-Barre, `Benoit XII et la mission charitable de Bertrand Carit dans les pays devastes du nord de la France’, Melanges d’archeologie et d’histoire 62 (1950), pp 165-232, on which cf. H.J. Hewitt, The Organisation of War under Edward III, pp 12331, and R.W. Kaeuper, War, Justice and Public Order: England and France in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford, 1988), pp 80-88. See also, on the impact of war on the French countryside, R. Boutruche, `The devastation of rural areas during the Hundred Years War and the agricultural recovery of France’, in P.S. Lewis, ed, The Recovery of France in the Fifteenth Century (London and Basingstoke, 1971), pp 23-59; M. Jones, `War and fourteenth-century France’, in Curry and Hughes, Arms, Armies and Fortifications in the Hundred Years War, pp 103-20. Cf., for other parts of Europe, M. Burleigh, Prussian Society and the German Order (Cambridge, 1984), pp. 73-6, 87-8; R.C. Hoffmann, Land Liberties and Lordship in Late Medieval Countryside. Agrarian Structures and Change in the Duchy of Wroclaw (Philadelphia, 1989), chapter 10.

30. For example, C. Coulson, `Some analysis of the castle of Bodiam, east Sussex’, in C. Harper-Bill and R. Harvey, eds, Medieval Knighthood IV (Woodbridge, 1992), pp 51-107; cf. M.W. Thompson, The Decline of the Castle (Cambridge, 1987).

31. Jones, `War and fourteenth-century France, pp 110‑11.

32. E. Fugedi, `Medieval Hungarian castles in existence at the start of the Ottoman advance’ and F. Szakaly, `The Hungarian-Croatian border defense system and its collapse’, both in J. Bak and B. Kiraly, eds, From Hunyadi to Rakoczi (Brooklyn, 1982), pp 59-62;141-58. See also E. Fugedi, Castle and Society in Medieval Hungary1000-1437 (Budapest, 1986).

33. J.F. Verbruggen, The Art of Warfare in Western Europe During the Middle Ages (Amsterdam, 1977), chapter 3: `The foot soldiers’. Cf. C.C. Giurescu, ‘Les arms Roumaines dans la lutte pour la defense et l’independance du pays du XIVe au XVIe siecle’, Revue internationale d’histoire militaire 34 (1975), pp 6-7, for the defeat of King Charles I’s Hungarian army in a defile at Posada (9-11 November 1330), which the author compares with the better-known battle of Mortgarten (1315). Clifford Rogers has recently argued strongly for an `infantry revolution’ in this period: `The military revolutions of the Hundred Years War’, pp 247-57.

34. On the `mounted archers’ recruited by various states of Europe, see Contamine, War in the Middle Ages, pp 129-30; and A. Borosy, `The militia portalis in Hungary before 1526′, in Bak and Kiraly, eds, From Hunyadi to Rakoczi, pp 63-80. The English mounted archer was described by J.E. Morris as the `finest fighting man of the Middle Ages’: `Mounted infantry in medieval warfare’, TRHS, 3rd series, 8 (1914), p 78.

35. Contamine, War in the Middle Ages, pp 132-7; and Vale, War and Chivalry, pp 154-61.

36. Rogers, `The military revolutions of the Hundred Years War’, p 256.

37. T.F. Tout, `Some neglected fights between Crecy and Poitiers’, EHR 20 (1905), pp 726-30; M. Bennett, Agincourt, 1415: Triumph Against the Odds (London, 1991), pp 61-85. At Nicopolis, the western European contingents `leaped off their horses, as is their custom, intending to fight as footsoldiers’: Janos Thuroczy, Chronicle of the Hungarians, ed F. Mantello and P. Engel (Bloomington, Indiana, 1991), pp 57-8.

38. M. Vale, War and Chivalry (London, 1981), pp 100-28, at 101; M. Mallett, Mercenaries and their Masters (London, 1974), pp 146-51.

39. F. Lot, Recherches sur les efectifs des armees franfaises des Guerres d’Italie aux Guerres de Religion, 1494-1562 (Paris, 1962), chapter 1.

40. Vale, War and Chivalry, p. 127.

41. On one aspect of this development, see J.R. Hale, `The military education of the officer class in early modern Europe’, in J.R. Hale, Renaissance War Studies (London, 1983), pp 225-46. On duelling, `a compensatory interest’ for the nobility: Vale, War and Chivalry, pp 165-6.

42. Vale, War and Chivalry, pp 147-54.

43. H. Maxwell, ed, Scalacronica. The Reigns of Edward I, Edward II and Edward III as Recorded by Sir Thomas Gray (Glasgow, 1907), p 157.

44. Evans, of the 88th Connaught Rangers, fought at the siege of Sebastapol in 1855, where he took part in the attack on `the quarries’ (7 June) and the Redan (18 June), and where he was badly wounded in the trenches on 8 August. In India, he was severely wounded at Cawnpore on 27 November 1857, `from the effect of which he died at Babbicombe on 5 October 1861, at the early age of 23 years’.

45. M. Prestwich, War, Politics and Finance under Edward I (London, 1972), p 113; M. Prestwich, Edward I (London,1988), p 479. Edward III’s army for the siege of Calais in 1346-7 is unlikely to have been as large as this: on the difficulties of interpreting the well-known but misleading `Calais roll’, see A. Ayton, `The English army and the Normandy campaign of 1346′, in D. Bates and A. Curry, eds, England and Normandy in the Middle Ages (London, 1994), pp 260-68.

46. A. Ayton, `English armies in the fourteenth century’, in Curry and Hughes, eds, Arms, Armies and Fortifications in the Hundred Years War, pp. 21-38.

47. J.R. Strayer, The Reign of Philip the Fair (Princeton, 1980), p 379.

48. P. Contamine, Guerre, etat et societe a la fin du Moyen Age (Paris, 1972), pp 68-70, 313-19; Contamine, War in the Middle Ages, pp 169-71; P. Contamine, ed, Histoire militaire de la France: I – Des origines a 1715 (Paris, 1992), pp 135-9, 230-32. From 16,000 to 20,000 French combatants served in Charles VIII’s grande armee in Italy in 1494-95: Lot,Recherches sur les efectifs des armees frangaises, p. 21.

49. Mallett, Mercenaries and their Masters, pp 116-19.

50. G. RAzs6, `The mercenary army of King Matthias Corvinus’, in Bak and Kiraly, eds, From Hunyadi to Rakoczi, pp 125-40.

51 . See, for example, M.C. Bartusis, The Late Byzantine Army: Arms and Society, 1204-1453 (Philadelphia, 1992), pp 258-69. Duke Charles the Bold of Burgundy’s `model army’ of the 1470s numbered no more than 10,000 combatants: Contamine, War in the Middle Ages, p.171; R. Vaughan, Valois Burgundy (London, 1975), chapter 7, especially pp 123-4.

52. E. Cox, The Green Count of Savoy. Amadeus VI and Transalpine Savoy in the Fourteenth Century (Princeton, 1967), p. 220, note 41; N. Housley, The Avignon Papacy and the Crusades, 1305-1378 (Oxford, 1986), pp 44-5.

53. B. Guenee, States and Rulers in Later Medieval Europe (Oxford, 1985), p 142.

54. See Kaeuper, War, Justice and Public Order, pp 88-9 and citations there.

55. See, for example, C.W. Hollister, Anglo-Saxon Military Institutions on the Eve of the Norman Conquest (Oxford, 1962). chapter 1; J.O. Prestwich, `War and finance in the Anglo-Norman state’, TRHS, 5th series, 4 (1954), pp 19–-43; and S.D.B. Brown, `Military service and monetary reward in the eleventh and twelfth centuries’, History 74 (1989), pp 20-38.

56. M. Prestwich, `War and taxation in England in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries’, in J-P. Genet and M. Le Men6, eds, Genese de Vetat moderne (Paris, 1987), pp 181-92, especially p 183.

57. On the cost of the war effort under Edward I, see M. Prestwich, War, Politics and Finance under Edward I (London, 1972), pp 169-76; and Prestwich, `War and taxation in England in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries’. On Edward III, see Kaeuper, War, Justice and Public Order, pp 52-4; but cf. E.S. Hunt, `A new look at the dealings of the Bardi and Peruzzi with Edward III, Journal of Economic History 50 (1990), pp 149-62.

58. J. Sherbome, `The cost of English warfare in the later fourteenth century’, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research 50 (1977), pp 135-50.

59. W.M. Ormrod, `The domestic response’, in Curry and Hughes, Arms, Armies and Fortifications in tile Hundred Years War, pp 87-94, which revises K.B. McFarlane’s calculations in England in the Fifteenth Century (London, 1981), pp 142-3.

60. G. Harriss, `Political society and the growth of government in late medieval England’, Past and Present 138 (February 1993), pp 28-57; recent writing on this subject is surveyed on pp 28-32.

61. See Ayton, `English armies in the fourteenth century’.

62. For an excellent discussion, see A. Curry, `English armies in the fifteenth century’, in Curry and Hughes, Arms, Armies and Fortifications in the Hundred Years War, pp 39-68. Apart from `brief experimentation in 1430-1′, garrison troops continued to be paid through their captain, not individually: cf government pressure to shift to a system of individual payments in the 1560s and 1580s (C.G. Cruickshank, Elizabeth’s Army, 2nd edn (Oxford, 1966), pp 152-3; and R.W. Ambler’s chapter in this volume).

63. J.R. Lander, `The Hundred Years War and Edward IV’s 1475 campaign in France’, in Lander, Crown and Nobility, 1450-1509 (London, 1976), pp 220-41 and appendix E; H. Miller, Henry VIII and the English Nobility (Oxford, 1986), pp 159-60.

64. Kaeuper, War, Justice and Public Order, p 23.

65 . J.R. Strayer, `The costs and profits of war: the Anglo-French conflict of 1294-1303′. in H.A. Miskimin, D. Herlihy and A.L. Udovitch, eds, The Medieval City (New Haven and London, 1977), pp 269-91.

66. Kaeuper, War, Justice and Public Order, p 63ff; E. Fryde, `Royal fiscal systems and state formation in France from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries, with some English comparisons’, Journal of Historical Sociology 4 (1991), pp 236-87.

67. On the control of the free companies by recruiting them into standing companies in the service of the French crown, see M. Keen, `War, peace and chivalry’, in B. McGuire, ed,War and Peace in the Middle Ages (Copenha–gen, 1987), pp 106-12. An alternative approach was to re-direct the routiers’ energies into a crusade: N. Housley, `The mercenary companies, the papacy and the crusades, 1356-1378′, Traditio 38 (1982), pp 253-80.

68. Contamine, War in the Middle Ages, pp 168-71: a convenient summary of his own work. .

69. G. Harriss, `War and the emergence of the English Parliament, 1297-1360′, Journal of Medieval History 2 (1976), pp 35-56.

70. P.S. Lewis, The failure of the French medieval Estates’, in P.S. Lewis, ed, The Recovery of France in the Fifteenth Century (London and Basingstoke, 1971), pp 294-311; Guenee, States and Rulers in Later Medieval Europe, pp 180-81,185-7.

71. Ormrod, The domestic response’, pp 93-4.

72. A. Grant, Independence and Nationhood: Scotland 1306-1469 (London, 1984), pp 34-5; Sedlar, East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500, p 255.

73. Keen, `War, peace and chivalry’, in McGuire, ed, War and Peace in the Middle Ages, p 103.

74. M. Bennett, `La Regle du Temple as a military manual, or how to deliver a cavalry charge’, in C. Harper-Bill, C.J. Holdsworth and J.L. Nelson, eds, Studies in Medieval History Presented to R. Allen Brown (Woodbridge, 1989), pp 7-19; A. Forey, The Military Orders from the Twelfth to the Early Fourteenth Centuries (Basingstoke, 1992), chapter 5.

75. See also Forey, The Military Orders, chapter 4.

76. N. Housley, The Later Crusades, 1274-1580 (Oxford, 1992), pp 228, 340.

77. Contamine, War in the Middle Ages, pp 165-72.

78. Mallett, Mercenaries and their Masters, chapter 5, at p 109; M. Mallett and J.R. Hale, Military Organisation of a Renaissance State: Venice, c. 1400 to 1617 (Cambridge, 1984), chapter 4.

79 . Razso, `The mercenary army of King Matthias Corvinus’; J. Bak, `The price of war and peace in late medieval Hungary’, in McGuire, ed, War and Peace in the Middle Ages, pp 161-78, especially pp 172-4; J. Bak, `The late medieval period, 1382-1526′, in P. Sugar, A History of Hungary (London and New York, 1990); pp 70-76. Cf. Muscovy, where the `crown had neither the technical means nor the economic resources to create a military establishment of the type coming into being in Western Europe … pay, as always, came largely in the form of booty’: G. Alef, `Muscovite military reforms in the second-half of the fifteenth century’, in G. Alef, Rulers and Nobles in Fifteenth-Century Muscovy (London, 1983), chapter 7, at p 81.

This article is the introduction for The Medieval Military Revolution: State, Society and Military Change in Medieval and Early Modern Society, edited by Andrew Ayton and J.L. Price (I.B. Tauris, 1998).

This volume contains nine further essays, namely:

J.J.N. Palmer, The Conqueror’s Footprints in Domesday Book

Barbara English, Towns, Mottes and Ring-Works of the Conquest

John Walker, Alms for the Holy Land: The English Templars and their Patrons

Andrew Ayton, Knights, Esquires and Military Service: The Evidence of the Armorial Cases before the Court of Chivalry

D.M. Palliser, Town Defences in Medieval England and Wales

Peter Heath, War and Peace in the Works of Erasmus: a Medieval Perspective

Howell A. Lloyd, Josse Chichtove and the Just War

R.W. Ambler, ‘Wise and Experimented’: Sir William Pelham, Elizabethan Soldier and Landlord, c.1560-87

J.L. Price, A State Dedicated to War? The Dutch Republic in the Seventeenth Century

For more information about this work, please view the I.B. Tauris website.

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