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Henry VIII was a great military man, under his guidance Tudor Warfare became very advanced, he established a well trained and equipped army Read more about the Tudor Warfare >>
Dicover why a Castle moat was needed in Medieval Warfare! Read more about the Under Siege – Purpose of a Castle Moat >>
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During the medieval period which spanned around 1000 years medieval warfare tactics changed and evolved, the materials used for making weapons, the type of weapons used, and the role of the cavalry and infantry also changed significantly during the period.
The Knight who for long periods of medieval history was a dominant force on the battlefield began to be replaced by infantry soldiers such as Crossbowmen and longbowmen during this long period of medieval warfare.
Castles came to be used as a central element of fortifications during wars and new techniques to lay down sieges were constantly being invented. With the development of new weapons, new methods of defense were also created.
In earlier medieval periods swords were cast in the Bronze, but in later times they could be forged using the iron by skilled bladesmiths, with the invention of sharp iron blades that could pierce chain mail, plate armor was created that could ricochet away the blade’s blow.
This led to the replacement of swords with axes and other weapons to effectively tackle the new improved Armour. In this way, weapons used in attack and methods used in defense both evolved side by side.
Battle of Tours in 732 The Battle of Tours was a battle fought between the Burgundian and Frankish forces under the leadership of Charles Martel against the Umayyad Caliphate on 10th October 732.
Hundred Years War 1337 – 1453 – 116 Years of Warfare was a series of battles between England and France over 116 years from 1137 to 1453.
The Battle of Hastings in 1066 changed the course of English history and led to Norman rule which brought the Norman Feudal system and its way of life with it.
The medieval knight was dominant on the battlefield for a long period of medieval history, but in the latter parts foot soldiers such as crossbowmen and longbowmen began to dominate the once unrivaled full-plated knight in shining armor!
In the later Middle Ages, wars came to be heavily dependent on the infantry (foot-soldiers) with a smaller number of knights backing them.
The switch to infantry soldiers over the once-dominant knight also happened as a result of the rising costs of warfare which meant it was cheaper to arm and operate foot soldiers such as Crossbowmen rather than the vast cost of maintaining medieval knights.
During the early period of the Middle Ages, infantry did not have an important role during actual battles. Wars primarily depended on horse-riding warriors and later, knights.
These knights typically came from the aristocracy who made use of expensive equipment which they used to participate in battles and wars. Over time, this mode of warfare became too expensive to be affordable.
The need for a greater number of men led to the use of infantry (foot-soldiers) which comprised peasants and common men. These foot-soldiers were clad lightly and made use of cheaper weapons.
The trend caught on from the 14th century onwards and grew further as a result of the Black Death which resulted in a shortage of manpower.
The Crusades also encouraged the use of infantry since battles fought during the Crusades required a greater number of men to match the enemies’ armies.
Knighthood in the medieval era began with Emperor Charlemagne. Mounted warriors of the 11th and 12th centuries proved very fruitful during wars. By the 12th century, knights were already a social class and formed the backbone of the warfare of that age.
They usually served as vassals to a particular lord and bore his banner.
Knights were typically clad in Armour, equipped with expensive and well-made weapons, and mounted on well-bred horses. In the later Middle Ages, knighthood also came to be identified with chivalry and bravery.
Crusades led to the creation of different Knight Orders which served Christianity and amassed significant powers.
Different weapons were used in warfare during different eras of the Middle Ages. Usually, an army carried three types of weapons.
One of them was wielded by the lords, nobles, and knights who fought on horseback.
The second type was used by the foot soldiers and archers. The third type of weaponry was used to lay siege to a city or a fort.
A number of siege techniques were used during the medieval era to affect the collapse of a besieged enemy city or fortification.
These included the mining of the walls which was attempted to damage them enough to bring about their collapse. As a result, defense mechanisms to thwart sieges also improved.
This led to the creation of concentric castles for fortifications, constructions such as moats, drawbridges, portcullises, and Barbicans were added to a castle, and arrow slits were dedicated to allowing defense from the castle walls.
Ships were primarily used for transporting troops to the site of a battle during the early medieval period. In later times, galleys were used to throw missiles on enemy ships, and attempts were made to board enemy vessels for hand-to-hand combat.
Towards the end of the medieval period, ships with increasingly grander fortifications were used. These warships had towers at both the bow and the stern.
Early medieval wars were fought by nobles mounted on horseback. As time passed, the need for a greater number of men and the expensive nature of a horseback fighter became obvious.
This led to the creation of larger armies, relying also on foot soldiers.
Initially, nobles were required to bring a certain number of troops to the battlefield, including knights and foot soldiers as part of the Vassal overlord relationship.
Within the medieval feudal system, a Vassal was usually a high ranking noble who provided a service ‘commonly military services’ such as a standing army ready to fight for the king, in return the king would allow the noble to use huge areas of his land, this area of land was called a fief or fiefdom.
The noble would then become a Vassal of the king, commonly a personal ceremony would take place in which the lord would pledge his homage and fealty to the King in his new role as his Vassal.
Over time, permanent and paid armies were created for the sake of conquests and campaigns. This also led to the rise of mercenaries who would fight for an army in return for payment.
Medieval warfare was a period during which every aspect of warfare evolved rapidly. A countless number of wars were fought during the Middle Ages and many invaders raided Europe, including the Vikings, Mongols, Turks, and Muslims.
The intensity of warfare led to the creation of newer weapons, better armors, new siege techniques, and better fortification methods.
The use of the battering ram began during the Middle Ages and it coincided with the construction of large stone castles and fortifications that were built to withstand the sieges.
Battlefield combat also rapidly evolved. Initial medieval wars were fought by horseback riders, mostly noblemen. This later led to the creation of knighthood as a designated social rank.
During this period, cavalry was considered the most important part of an army. In later medieval periods, infantry came to play an increasingly greater role. It comprised of foot soldiers who were lightly equipped but far greater in number.
Medieval Warfare: A History Illustrated Edition
Medieval Warfare: History of the Art of War, Volume III Revised ed. Edition
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