Just Wars and Moral Victories: Surprise, deception and the normative framework of European war in the later Middle Ages (History of Warfare)

Just Wars and Moral Victories: Surprise, deception and the normative framework of European war in the later Middle Ages (History of Warfare)

David Whetham

Language: English

Pages: 277

ISBN: 2:00144755

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


While recognising the sophistication of the practice of medieval warfare, many people still have problems reconciling the widespread use of surprise and deception with the code of chivalric warfare. Was chivalry really just a meaningless veneer? If true, perhaps more perplexing are the many cases where surprise or deception were not employed and advantages were therefore sacrificed. This work argues that understanding these apparent inconsistencies requires an appreciation of the moral and legal context of medieval strategic thought. Through taking this approach, chivalric warfare can be seen for what it was - a very real framework or system of rules that allowed a result or decision to be reached which could be accepted by both sides.

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qualitative assessment of the behaviour surrounding examples that clearly fit into our model. While it is conceded that the grey area here may be substantial, this area may also prove to be the most interesting. The use of the word “trickery” in the quotation above leads us onto the other question that this chapter will discuss. There are clearly words that are, or have been used as, synonyms for surprise and deception and there are other words that are so inextricably linked to these concepts

middle ages 97 Guy from him … so that Guy, now prostrate, gave up, crying that he was conquered and dying.98 Guy was hanged for his crime, although some would not even survive the process of the duel itself. Froissart tells us of a well-known case in 1387 that aroused public interest in Paris and can tell us much about what the processes involved by this time. His account tells us that while John de Carogne was undertaking a voyage to the Holy Land, it appeared that James le Gris, being

disrupting the enemy’s economic plans. A chevauchée, such as that conducted by Edward III in 1346, relied upon just the effect that Fuller speaks of in the opening quote when he said that one must ‘accentuate surprise by movement, not so much through rapidity as by creating unexpected situations. We must never do what the enemy expects us to do; instead, we must mislead him’ .43 Fitting with this perfectly the English historian (and retired colonel) Alfred Burne noted that Edward refused to allow

374 and French Chronicle of London (Ed.) G.J. Aungier (Camden Society, 1844), XXVIII, p. 72. Froissart referred to it as occasioning ‘trop grant blasme’ . Jean Froissart, Oeuvres, Kervyn de Lettenhove (Ed.) (Brussels, 1867–77), iii, p. 44. the epitome of military science 165 French should have given battle’ .219 The loss of honour was significant and weakened Philip politically, even if his action was the most prudent tactical choice. Clearly, being able to distance the commander from such a

32. the works of geoffroy de charny 187 fighting to the death.91 That different categories of armed force existed is made very clear by Charny’s questions thirteen to sixteen concerning the three different types of fighting that could take place in the field. The questions makes clear that a bataille was not the same and nor did it have the same implications as a simple armed clash or rencontre or even the same rights and duties as everyday work or besoigne. Even though a rencontre might look

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