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IMC 2019: Sessions

Session 1722: Medieval Warfare: Irresistible Forces and Immovable Objects

Thursday 4 July 2019, 14.15-15.45

Sponsor:De Re Militari: Society for the Study of Medieval Military History
Organiser:John France, Department of History, Swansea University
Moderator/Chair:Daniel Franke, Department of History, Richard Bland College of William & Mary, Virginia
Paper 1722-aKilling in Pinball Warfare
(Language: English)
John France, Department of History, Swansea University
Index terms: Architecture - Secular, Military History
Paper 1722-bWhen Good Tactics Turn Bad: Medieval Generalship in Action
(Language: English)
Kelly DeVries, Department of History, Loyola College, Maryland / Royal Armouries, Leeds
Index terms: Mentalities, Military History
Paper 1722-cGap-Crossing Operations during the Crusades
(Language: English)
John Hosler, Department of History & Geography, Morgan State University, Maryland
Index terms: Crusades, Military History

Paper 1 France
In war turning on fortifications could killing be as limited as has been suggested? A number of historians have suggested that war, at least between knights, was severely restrained and even ritualistic. However, I would argue that this is based on limited evidence and, most particularly, favours field warfare at the expense of siege, which is a bloody business. This is about force meeting (almost) irresistible objects.

Paper 2 DeVries:
How did medieval generals plan and execute battle? Good medieval generals planned their tactics long before engaging in battle. They considered their soldiers’ training, skill and maneuverability; they also knew their enemy’s strengths and weaknesses and altered their tactics to anticipate these before entering battle. Good medieval generals also put their tactical plans into action in the battles they fought. And they worked well ... until they didn’t. This paper will look at several medieval battles where what appear to be superior tactics were used initially – as well as other advantages – but then failed to carry the day: Hastings (1066); Campaldino (1289); Courtrai (1302); Crécy (1346) and Castagnaro (1387). Although not explicitly stated in the sources, we can discern the tactics used, and we can also see where they failed. Was it that these generals faced better generals, that they could not respond to or communicate their responses to tactical changes quickly enough or something else that led good tactical plans to fail?

Paper 3 Hosler
How did crusader armies face physical obstacles? This paper discusses how to project combat power across physical obstacles. This is ubiquitous question. Gap-crossing principles are essentially unchanged over time and modern methods/technologies vary only in form, not function, from their medieval precursors. It follows, then, that medieval warfare remains instructive for modern army engineers in the prosecution of land warfare.