Cover image for Western warfare in the age of the Crusades, 1000-1300
Western warfare in the age of the Crusades, 1000-1300
France, John.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xv, 327 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D160 .F73 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This authoritative and concise work surveys the range of warfare in the high Middle Ages while reflecting on the society that produced these military struggles. The book brings together for the first time a wealth of information on such topics as knighthood, military organization, weaponry and fortifications, and warfare in the East. In 1095 with the launching of the First Crusade, Europeans established a great military endeavour to save the Holy Land, an undertaking that remained a central preoccupation until the end of the thirteenth century. While the expeditions that went forth to fight the Muslims involved armies of exceptional size, much of the warfare within western Europe itself was conducted by small armies on behalf of landowners who were often neighbours and kin. In his approach to his subject, John France considers political, social, and economic development in the age of the crusades. He emphasizes the significance of four factors in shaping medieval warfare: the dominance of land as a form of wealth, the limited competence of government, the state of technology that favoured defence over attack, and the geography and climate of western Europe. His coverage of the castle and the knight in armour depicts the role of landowners in producing these characteristic medieval instruments of war. In addition, France provides an extensive analysis of battles in which he reconstructs a series of encounters in superb detail.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Most military historians regard the Middle Ages as a time when there was no generalship, little strategy or tactics, and poor technology. Soldiers fought as mobs, with no organization, and were completely dominated by any knight riding a horse. Medieval military historians have, naturally, been trying to fight this mythological stereotype for many years. The latest work in that fight is this fine book. France (Univ. of Wales, Swansea), whose Victory in the East (CH, Mar'95) is undoubtedly the finest military history of the First Crusade, has turned here to a general study of the military history of Europe from 1000 to 1300. His numerous chapters discuss all the important matters of high medieval warfare: weapons, cavalry, infantry, castles, sieges, organization, commanders, tactics, strategy, ideology, crusading, and society. Unique facts and novel ideas come to the reader at a furious pace, but with France's clear footnotes and ample bibliography, anyone with a question will know where to seek further explanation. Such a book should lead students and researchers alike to fresh discussions of what it was like to fight wars during the Middle Ages. Undergraduates and above. K. R. DeVries; Loyola College in Maryland

Table of Contents

The means of war
The men of war
Causes, aims and objectives
Battle and war, 1000-1152
War and the state in the 12th century
War, ideology and chivalry in the 11th and 12th centuries
Bouvines and its myth
Battle and warfare in the 13th century
Civilization versus the barbarians
Warfare and change