Category Archives: Primary Sources

The French Chronicle of London on the Battle of Sluys and the Siege of Tournai

The French Chronicle of London, detailing events from 1259 to 1343, provides one of the best accounts of the naval battle of Sluys, and the siege of Tournai by Edward III in 1340. Continue reading

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Warfare Between England and Scotland, 1299 – 1301, according to Documents from the English Government

In the following section, one can see the preparations and actions that the Edward I and his forces undertook in their ongoing war with Scotland at the turn of the fourteenth-century. Continue reading

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Warfare between England and Scotland in the late 13th and early 14th centuries from the Chronicle of Lanercost

The Chronicle of Lanercost covers the period 1201 to 1346. The sections given below involve the ongoing warfare in Scotland between Edward the Second and Robert the Bruce Continue reading

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Warfare between England and Scotland in the late 13th and early 14th centuries from the Scalacronica

In 1355, Sir Thomas Gray of Heton, warden of Norham Castle, was captured during warfare with Scotland. While being held at Edinburgh Castle, Thomas began writing the Scalacronica, a history of England up to the reign of Edward the Third, with the work ending in 1362. Continue reading

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The Battle of the Bannockburn in 1314, according to the Vita Edwardi Secundi

The anonymous author of the Vita Edwardi Secundi provides one of the best accounts of the reign of Edward II. This includes his description of the battle of Bannockburn in 1314, where the Scots under Robert Bruce defeated Edward and his army. Continue reading

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The Siege of Florence in 1312, according to Giovanni Villani

One episode in the continuous warfare between the Holy Roman Empire, the Papacy and the Italian city-states was the siege of Florence by the forces of Emperor Henry VII in 1312. This account of the siege was recorded by the Florentine historian Giovanni Villani (d.1348) Continue reading

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Naval Contract by the Papacy against the Turks (1334)

The Aegean Sea became a new theatre of warfare between Crusaders and the Turks in the early fourteenth-century. In the following document, the papal camera contracts four fully equipped galleys for service in the first naval league against the Turks. The contract is dated March 7, 1334. Continue reading

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Descriptions of warfare in The Rhyme Chronicle of Livonia

The Rhyme Chronicle of Livonia (Liulandische Reimchronik) is an account of the activities of the Teutonic Order . It was written around the end of the thirteenth century, and consists of 12017 lines of rhyming couplets written in Middle High German. It is the only major source of Baltic history for the years 1225 to 1290, since the only other chronicle, the one by Henry of Livonia, covers the period 1143 to 1225. Continue reading

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The Battle of Stillfried, 1278, from the Gesta Hungarorum

The Gesta Hungarorum, or The Deeds of the Hungarians, was written by Simon of Keza around 1280-2. Simon was a court cleric to King Ladislas IV of Hungary, and his work is highly laudatory of his king. In the following section, the writer describes the battle of Stillfield, in which the forces of Ladislas and Rudolf of Habsburg, the German king, defeated King Otakar of Bohemia. The battle was fought on August 26, 1278. Continue reading

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Military Organisation in the Guta Saga

The Guta Saga is a short chronicle, written sometime between 1220 and 1275, which details the history of Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic Sea. One of the last sections in this saga describes the arrangements made regarding what obligations did Gotlanders have in providing ships and men for the military campaigns of the Swedish kings. Continue reading

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Warfare in Thirteenth Century Iceland

The collapse of Iceland as a self-governing country in the mid-thirteenth century is highlighted by several conflicts between various powerful chieftains. The various sagas and histories that make up the Sturlunga Sagas were written soon after the events they record, and their descriptions of some of the battles that took place on the island are among the most interesting medieval accounts of warfare. Continue reading

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Warfare between Bologna and Faenza in 1275

Salimbene de Adam, a Franciscan, produced his Chronicle in the 1280s. He left one of the most interesting and wide-ranging histories of the Middle Ages, in which he covers a variety of matters, from the political maneuvers of the Italian city-states to the practical jokes that his fellow monks played upon each other. Continue reading

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The surrender of Gaston Castle (1268), according The Catalan Rule of the Templars

The following is clause 180 of this text, which describes the surrender of a Templar castle after the fall of Antioch in 1268. It was against the Order’s rule for members to abandon their castles without permission, with a punishment of expulsion from the Templars to those who transgressed. Continue reading

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Muslim accounts on warfare in al-Andalus (Spain)

The second account describes the death of Sancho Ramirez, son of the Aragonese king Ramiro I, while at the siege of Huesca in 1094 (Christian accounts have Sancho Ramirez being killed by an arrow while at the siege). The third section details how James I invaded and captured the island of Majorca in 1231 Continue reading

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Three sources on the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212

One of the most important battles fought on the Iberian peninsula, this was the culmination of a major campaign by Alfonso VIII of Castile against the Almohads. The battle took place on July 16, 1212. The first account comes from … Continue reading

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The Battle of the Bannockburn (1314), according to the Vita Edwardi Secundi

The anonymous author of the Vita Edwardi Secundi provides one of the best accounts of the reign of Edward II.  This includes his description of the battle of Bannockburn in 1314, where the Scots under Robert Bruce defeated Edward and … Continue reading

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The Career of Robert Guiscard, according to the Annales Lupi Protospatharii

Robert Guiscard was one of several brothers who came to Italy from Normandy to work as mercenaries and gain their fortune. After arriving in Italy in 1046, he served in several campaigns before taking the place of his brother Humphrey … Continue reading

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Journal of the Movements of King Edward I in Scotland, 1296

The following account is a short journal that describes the expedition of Edward I into Scotland. Starting on March 25, 1296, it runs to September 16th, and describes the various movements and events very tersely. This was Edward’s first expedition … Continue reading

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Medieval warfare from The King’s Mirror, a thirteenth century Norwegian text

This Norwegian work, written in the mid-13th century, is in the style of a son asking his father various questions, ranging from the reasons for the shorter days in Scandinavian lands to the power and authority of kings.  Halfway through chapter 36, … Continue reading

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Philippe de Remy’s description of a fictionalised tournament at Ressons-Gournay (c.1241)

Translated by David Crouch Philip de Remy (d.c.1264) was a poet, novelist and knight from the region of the northern Ile-de France. He was in royal service by the 1230s, being bailiff of the Gatinais from Count Robert of Artois, … Continue reading

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Jacques de Vitry: Sermons to a Military Order

Translated by Helen J. Nicholson Sermons 37 and 38 from his sermon collection, Sermones Vulgares, ‘Sermons to the People’, published by J. B. Pitra, ed., Analecta novissima spicilegii Solesmensis: altera continuatio 2, Tusculana (Paris, 1888). This translation is copyright H. … Continue reading

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The Siege of Termes (1210), according to the Historia Albigensis

Peter of les Vaux-de-Cernay is one of the most important sources for the Albigensian Crusades. It is likely that he traveled with the Crusader armies of Simon de Montfort, and was an eyewitness to many of the events he describes. … Continue reading

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The Siege of Termes (1210), according to the Song of the Cathar Wars

The flourishing of a dualist heresy in Languedoc at the end of the twelfth century, known as Catharism, led to conflict with the Catholic Church. After the murder of a Papal legate in 1208, Pope Innocent III ordered a crusade … Continue reading

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The Siege of Toulouse in 1217-18, according to The Chronicle of William of Puylaurens

William of Puylaurens covered events relating to the history of Languedoc from the twelfth century to the mid-1270s.  The main subject of his history is the Albigensian Crusade, which lasted from 1209 to 1229.  Along with the Historia Albigensis of … Continue reading

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The Battle of Lincoln (1217), according to Roger of Wendover

Roger of Wendover (d.1236) was a monk at St.Alban’s monastery in England.  His work, Flores historiarum (Flowers of History) is a chronicle that starts at creation and goes to 1235.  From 1201 to 1235 his work is original.  In the … Continue reading

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Two Poems by the Twelfth-Century Knight-Troubadour Bertran de Born

Bertran de Born (c.1140-1202), lord of Autofort, was one of the most famous French troubadours of the Twelfth century. His poetry covers a wide variety of topics, including warfare. Be’m plai lo gais temps de pascor[1] Well do I love … Continue reading

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The Battle of Gisors, 1198, according to Roger of Hoveden

The Annals of Roger of Hoveden provide an account of the Battle of Gisors between Richard I of England and Philip Augustus of France, which took place in 1198. Hoveden writes down two versions of this battle, and includes a … Continue reading

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Warfare in England and France in 1173-74, according to William of Newburgh

William of Newburgh (d.1198) was one of England’s most important historians in the twelfth century.  In the following section, he details the war that broke out in 1173 between Henry II against his son, Henry, called ‘The Younger’.  Henry II … Continue reading

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Description of a Motte and Bailey Castle from Flanders, from the 12th century

Walter, archdeacon of the diocese of Thérouanne, spent his youth among the regular canons of Saint Martin of Ypres whence he was called by John of Warneton, bishop of Thérouanne in 1115. John made him archdeacon of Flanders in 1116 … Continue reading

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Warfare in Flanders, according to Galbert of Bruges’ The Murder of Charles the Good

Galbert of Bruges was a cleric who worked principally in the fiscal administration of the castellany of Bruges. He was thus a marginal member of the count’s curia, at least when the count was in Bruges, and it is reasonable … Continue reading

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A Plan to regain the Holy Land from the Master of the Hospitallers (c.1305)

Following the expulsion of the Crusaders from their last outpost of Acre in 1291, several attempts and plans were made to bring back Christian rule to Jerusalem and the Holy Land. In the following memorandum, Fulk of Villaret, master of the Hospitallers, proposes this invasion plan. Continue reading

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