The 14th century was a hugely tumultuous period for those living in the borders, especially for those living in the direct path of the Scottish raids. Raiding often occurred in spurts, coming in dense clusters and then ceasing or slowing for years, creating an opportunity for the northern counties to recoup and fortify, often along the same routes which had previously been ravaged. Eslington Tower, licenced in 1335 along an invasion route from 1333, makes a prime example. This paper seeks to unpack the process of licencing and building a 14th-century fortification in Northumberland, and to what extent Scottish raiding made these fortifications necessary.
The present study derives from a research carried out, through the last 20 years, on the medieval fortification of the Western World built between 12th and 14th century. The primary aim of my work, in its complex, is to reveal the one-to-one correspondence between the technical development of the art of poliorcetics of the assailants and the consequent architectonical solutions for the defenders’ fortifications. One of the most powerful arms in the hands of the assailants was absolutely immaterial: the fear they could strike into the defenders. Chronicles and medieval representations of sieges, for example, tell us how attackers have developed apparently simple but efficient strategies to oblige the defenders to resign, without even starting to fight.
The terminology of medieval German fencing literature is somewhat obscure and inconsistent as early as the earliest written primary sources, resulting from both corruption in oral transmission and the interaction of schools using different types of jargon. My paper will discuss what I argue to be an archaic set of terms that uses warfare as a metaphor for single combat, transposing higher-level military vocabulary into a literary exposition of the technical details of weapon use. I will also put this metaphor into context by contrasting it with other sets of terminology and discussing the implications for traditional fencing history.