Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages: The English Experience

Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages: The English Experience
April 10th 1999 by Yale University Press
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Medieval warfare was hard, gruelling and often unrewarding. While military life in this era is sometimes pictured in terms of knights resplendent in armour and bearing colourful standards and coats of arms, the reality more often consisted of men struggling against cold, damp and hunger, pressing elusive foes who refused to do battle. In this fascinating book, Michael Prestwich re-creates the real experience of medieval warfare, examining how men of all ranks of society were recruited, how troops were fed, supplied, and deployed, the development of new weapons, and the structures of military command. Michael Prestwich challenges many common assumptions about medieval warfare. He shows that medieval commanders were capable of far more sophisticated strategy than is usually assumed: spies were an important part of the machinery of war, and the destruction of crops and burning of villages were part of a deliberate plan to force a foe to negotiate, rather than an indication of lack of discipline. Sieges, often lengthy and expensive, were more prevalent than physical battles. And in actual engagement the mounted knight was never as dominant as is often supposed: even in the twelfth century, many battles were won by unmounted men. Medieval warfare was not, on the whole, any more chivalric than warfare of other periods, although there were many instances of individual heroism, particularly during the Hundred Years War, that brought glory and renown to those who performed them.