IMC 2012: Sessions

Session 316: Rules of Warfare

Monday 9 July 2012, 16.30-18.00

Moderator/Chair:Ben Snook, Queen Mary, University of London
Paper 316-aThe Rules of War in Carolingian Hagiography
(Language: English)
Kelly Gibson, Department of History, University of Dallas, Texas
Index terms: Hagiography, Historiography - Medieval, Lay Piety, Political Thought
Paper 316-bRules of Engagement: Law, War, and War Crime in the Venetian Terrafirma, 1509-16
(Language: English)
Simon M. Pepper, School of Architecture, University of Liverpool
Index terms: Law, Military History
Paper 316-cRules of Siege Warfare in 12th-Century England: Narrated Sieges and Stephen's Reign
(Language: English)
Kimberly Kilmartin, Hertford College, University of Oxford
Index terms: Military History, Social History

Paper -a:
The accounts of past battles in saints’ lives and miracle stories present the rules of war in narrative form. These exemplary sources, although rarely utilized in studies of kingship and war, offer new insights into these pivotal aspects of Carolingian history. A comparison of several 9th-century hagiographers’ descriptions of the conduct and emotions of kings and warriors indicates that the rules of war changed as war moved from primarily offensive during the reign of Charlemagne to largely defensive during Viking incursions and as biblical ideas and late Antique theories of just war gained greater influence.

Paper -b:
Did those engaged in late medieval warfare adhere to rules? Were there still ‘rules of war’ by the early 16th century? The closely-reported events of the war of the League of Cambrai against Venice (1509-16) allow these questions to be discussed against the background of a conflict that involved great powers in battles and sieges, as well as the engagement of civilians and irregular forces in ‘small war’ and counter insurgency (the arena in which so many atrocities and war crimes are reported today).

Paper -c:
The medieval castle was one of the most central facets of medieval society. Its role in society, politics, and especially military engagements was fundamental in its identity. However, the rules that governed its possession relate to not only politics and social status but also to the culture and laws of siege warfare. This paper will use chronicles of the reign of King Stephen of England (1135-1154) to analyze the rules of siege warfare. This period of civil war and power hungry castellans is also rife with siege encounters. Many rules of siege warfare apply to the castle itself and the transfer of possession. For example, Baldwin de Redvers’ garrison at his castle of Plympton surrendered to King Stephen before appealing for help from their lord. They are reprimanded as being ‘utter cowards and irresolute’ and ‘traitors’ by the Gesta Stephani. While many castles surrendered to the king when under siege, it was the rules of warfare ignored by the garrison that branded them as traitors. What this paper will demonstrate that even in this period of possible anarchy, the rules of war were considered, followed, and those who ignored them were dishonored or punished. How did contemporaries view these rules and those engaged with them? Were there punishments for breaking these rules? How was society affected by the breaking or disregard of these rules of warfare? By analyzing the text of chronicles, we can evaluate how the rules of war concerning sieges were understood, followed and broken.