Friday, April 12, 2013

The Knight at War. How did his role change and was their any place for chivalry on the battlefield during the late medieval period?

When William I invaded England in 1066 he did so on horseback. In the battle of Hastings the foot-soldier based army of the English wilted under the charge of the Norman knights. With this conquest, Marcus Bull argues, the old era of foot-soldier armies was wiped away and the new era of the horse-backed knight began.

Up until the end of the 13th century the mass cavalry charge was the ace-card of battle. The destructive furor of a group of firmly armoured knights could break any unit. Knights lived their entire life to fight. They trained all day in the art of war and at tourney they practised war-games constantly. As time progressed they developed more discipline and cavalry units began to reorganize and hit second or third units with a charge. However, throughout the period the discipline of knights was always suspect and the pursuit for ad hominem glory a priority. What would a peasant warrior do when face up with the charge of this blood-crazed battalion?

By the fourteenth century the peasants had quite a simple plan of action. They drew back their longbows and they let free a hail of arrows that could massacre even the most heavily armoured unit of chivalric knights. By the time of the nose candy years war, one might argue that Chivalry was on its way out.

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All-ready the mounted knight was demounting and fighting on foot, so the cavalry charge was less of a factor solely other factors contributed to this.

Set piece engagements formed little part of upstart medieval warfare. Famous battles such as Crécy, battle of Poitiers and Agincourt were famous because of their rarity. The tactic of the day was chevaucheé where knights would go on a foray to pillage, destroy and intimidate locals whilst constantly being on the moove. After enough had...

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